The 1949 Pennsylvania Crashed
Disc, part of our series on Captured Flying Saucers
A flying saucer was seen
crashing by multiple witnesses in Laporte, Pennsylvania, in the summer of 1949.
Somehow it was kept out of the papers until the disc was turned over to the
Army. What’s so strange is that the saucer was left where it crashed for over two
Laporte is a borough and
township in Pennsylvania the county seat of Sullivan County in the USA.
Moths before the sighting, Major George D.
Stephens was transferred to the Army’s Susquehanna Sub-Depot of Letterkenny Ordnance
Depot in late spring 1949. Chances are, he never expected to be in charge of a
|The News-Chronicle, Shippennsburg, PA, June 7, 1949|
On August 5, 1949, an
unidentified flying object crashed in Laporte at about 10 P.M., in a park near
the county courthouse. The county supervisor, M. R. Stepp lived nearby and was a
witness himself. Stepp was responsible for relaying much of the witnesses’ testimony,
but it’s unclear how much he experienced for himself. About 50 people claimed
to have heard multiple explosions connected with the crash and saw the object
in flames on the ground, and a smaller number of people claimed to have seen
the saucer burning in flight beforehand. The disc lay on the scorched grass where
it landed in the park, and the next day about 500 people came around to see it.
The saucer was about 4
feet in diameter, weighed about 25 pounds. It appeared to be manmade, perhaps a
military device. An alpha numeric project number was stenciled on its surface, something
like XK-5360. According to Stepp, he UFO had
been decked out with a jet tube, condensers, relays, transformers and
some other equipment, until curious children step stripped it down for
souvenirs. The saucer sat there as a conversation piece for over two months
until Samuel W. Nichols was there on business from nearby Williamsport and
heard about the crash. He spread the word and set things in motion, and that’s how Major Stephens and the US military became involved. The next week, the story hit the press in the Williamsport Sun-Gazette, Oct. 15, 1949.
The saucer story was reported nationally by the United Press. The next day, even
though the investigation was not complete, Major Stephens was quoted by the
Associated Press as saying the saucer was a hoax. “It was somebody’s joke.”
|The Evening Star, Washington, DC, October 16, 1949, Page A-36|
Sheriff C. Raymond Kschinka of Sullivan County revealed how the saucer had gone unreported to the U.S. military for two months, and why he had let the saucer lie in the park. “It was something for people to look at.”
|The Evening Sun, Hanover, Pennsylvania, October 17, 1949|
The Official Investigation
The Project Blue Book
file on the investigation is only five pages long. On Oct, 14 the disc was brought to
the Susquehanna Army Sub-Depot where Major George Stephens had it examined. Project Grudge had a file card and a 4-page report and photograph by the Army’s Col. Frederick
R. Pitts and Col. R. W. Daniels from Oct. and Nov. 1949. Unfortunately, it’s mostly illegible due to the poor quality reproduction.
|Negative image of the photo from the PBB saucer file.|
Project Grudge: 5 Aug 1949, La Porte, Penna The file card’s short summary:
“Obj. rptd descended
at low alt (50’) with evidence of minor explosions & light. Obj. recovered
and made of thin sheet iron or steel. Donut shaped. The entire obj. weighing 20
pounds, was painted a dull black.” Evaluation: “Hoax”
There’s little doubt
the Air Force got this one right. But…
What about the multiple witnesses who reported seeing the flaming saucer in
. . .
The Crashed Saucers of
For STTF readers who
enjoy captured saucer cases, we have a recommendation. An excellent article
in English appeared in the Italian magazine, CIELO INSOLITO #6, March
2018, “Here they are! Early crashes of flying saucers: a short visual history”
by Maurizio Verga. It’s a superb collection
of newspaper photographs of captured UFOs from 1947, with a focus
mainly on hoaxed saucers, but also includes a section on the publicity stunts
that exploited the saucer fever of the time.