This one is for all those who love a story about cover-ups, a story about a controversial incident with an FBI office relentlessly searching for the truth. What did the witnesses see that day, and why did the mysterious people they met go to such lengths to try and stop them revealing what they had seen?
For decades, there have been rumors of government contact with aliens, and attempts to suppress or conceal the truth of such relations. Many assume these stories to be false, just more wide-eyed conspiracy theories or the deranged wonderings of fringe thinkers drunk on paranoia and ridiculous speculation.
But after reading of this incident, some may think again.
The Maury Island Incident
The “Maury Island Incident” as it came to be known happened in 1947 on Puget Sound’s Maury Island in the US state of Washington. Two men, Harold Dahl and Fred Crisman, described seeing debris that had fallen from the sky that day.
The story starts on 29th June 1947 when Kenneth Arnold, a private pilot, reported that he saw around nine unknown craft in the sky. The craft were seen flying in the area of Mount Rainier at a speed that he estimated to be around 1,200 mph (1,930 km/h), almost one and one half times the speed of sound and unheard of at the time.
That report became sensational and garnered nationwide news coverage. The newspapers started calling the objects flying discs, or flying saucers. 10 days after the incident, Capt. E.J. Smith and his co-pilot also reported seeing some UFOs in the area.
Not we come to Harold Dahl. On 21st June 1947, Dahl was patrolling in a boat off the coast of Maury Island in Puget Sound. He was with his son, dog and two crewmen. When later interviewed about that day, he said that he saw around six large disc-shaped objects flying in the sky just above his boat.
Then he added that, as he watched, one of the objects or saucers exploded, and pieces of a strange metal substance started falling from the sky. One of these pieces of metal hit the boat, killing the family dog and burning the arm of Christopher, his son. The injury was serious, and it was clear: something had happened that day.
Steve Edmiston, who made a short film based on this incident, said that the occupants of the boat were so terrified that they ran the 50 foot (15 m) boat straight up on the nearest beach so that they could hide in the cliffs. Whatever fell from the sky, they feared it so much that they ran for their lives.
After the incident, Dahl said that he had been approached by a mysterious man in a black suit, whom he took to be a government official of some kind. The man warned him not to talk about what he had seen in a threatening manner.
Dahl ignored him and reported the incident to his superior officer, Fred Crisman, who in turn looked into the incident. When later interviewed, Crisman said he had travelled to Maury Island and recovered debris there which was consistent with Dahl’s story, and that he too had seen a UFO in the sky while he was there.
What Did the Investigation Reveal?
Kenneth Arnold, feeling that the two men’s story might be linked to what he had witnessed, started to investigate. He first spoke to E.J. Smith, a commercial pilot who had also witnessed a UFO in the area, but this proved to be a dead end.
He also contacted Lt. Frank Brown, who was working with Military Intelligence in California. Brown along with Cpt William Davidson travelled up to Washington and carried out multiple interviews and collected some fragments, which were still strewn about the beach when the arrived.
The metal substance turned out to be ordinary aluminum, and it seemed that the whole thing might be a big mistake. However everything changed on 1st August 1947, when Brown and Davidson died when their transport aircraft suddenly crashed near the Washington town of Kelso when they were returning back to California.
This brought the attention of the FBI, who began an investigation to resolve the mystery of the appearance of UFOs. After the investigation, largely completed behind closed doors, the FBI concluded that Dahl and Crisman’s sightings of UFOs were just a hoax.
Some, including Arnold who wrote a book related to that case, speculated that the investigative officers died as they knew about the incident. However, others consider the whole thing to be a hoax.
A Natural Explanation?
When the transport aircraft carrying the military intelligence officers went down, the crash site was subject to the usual scrutiny to understand the cause behind the downed plane. The plane had been carrying metal parts recovered from Maury Island, and a mysterious black fragment was recovered from the wreckage.
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A research engineer at the University of Washington was given the black fragment to study following the incident, but concluded the debris he had received was not from a UFO. He said that that was probably a meteor chunk.
He further added that he is not a professional geologist, but the collected material looked like old lava. It is full of small gas pockets, and the inner walls are coated with crystal. Could the “UFO” in the sky have been a meteor, one that exploded and showered the area with debris?
Meteors are known to explode in Earth’s atmosphere as they are subjected to enormous tidal forces as they come into contact with the thick air. Such forces can often cause what are called “airbursts” where the meteor literally explodes before it hits the surface, as happened in the Russian region of Tunguska in 1908.
But this explanation can only be partial at best. It would explain the strange objects in the sky, confirmed by multiple people, and would offer a plausible explanation for one of them exploding and showering the witnesses with burning fragments. It would also be consistent with the material recovered from the later plane wreck, which was found to be consistent with a meteoric origin.
However this crystalline black material is nothing like the metallic fragments Dahl and his family saw. Neither does it explain the mysterious suited man who warned Dahl to keep what he had seen a secret, something he thankfully ignored.
It is possible that Dahl and the others with him on the boat made up there side of the story, and that this was a combination of a meteor strike and a hoax. But if Dahl was being honest, then it is possible that the truth is still out there, hidden by those who do not want you to know what they were doing in the skies over Washington in 1947.
Top Image: What exploded in the sky over Maury Island, and why did someone try to suppress the incident? Source: Rolffimages / Adobe Stock.
By Bipin Dimri