Tucson UFO Sighting

Tucson UFO Sighting

Date: June 25/26, 1962

Location: Tucson, AZ

Some doors opened in the bottom and something came out.

An unconventional aerial object hovered for a period of time at Tucson, AZ and a strange device had lowered to the ground.

The boy relating the details was 14 year old John Westmoreland. He and his brother James and next door neighbor Ronnie Elack had spent the night of June 25, 1962 in the tent in the Westmoreland back yard and during the course of 4 hours had witnessed a strange but revealing chain of events. On the evening of the 26th of June I opened the Tucson Daily Citizen newspaper.

When I came to the local news section, these words seemed to pop right out of the page:

Saucers, Rockets Inhabit Night Sky

I scanned the article briefly and reached for the telephone book. Seconds later I was talking to Mrs. Logan Westmoreland, the mother of John and James Westmoreland. She graciously invited Mr. Lorenzen and me to come to her home and interview the boys.

3 hours later we were seated in the comfortably furnished living room of the Westmoreland home in southeast Tucson. The boys were eager to talk about their adventure, partly I suspect, because they were met with doubt at first. As soon as we got the gist of the story we started the slow process of cross examination.

The 3 boys had been given permission to spend the night in the tent, so, armed with a deck of playing cards, pad and pencil, they settled down to a game of 500 Rummy by lantern light. Shortly before 9:00 p.m. they were bored with cards and not sleepy, so they decided to go outside, watch for meteors and look at the stars and try to catch an errant, cooling breeze.

The summer rains were in the offing and the air was warm and humid. The day had been hot, the night air was a welcome change. At about 9:15 p.m. John noticed a star at 5° south of due west, 30° to 40° elevation, which didn’t behave like a star.

It was very bright, white in color, and moved around a little, in the boys’ words. Soon it dimmed, moved a little toward the south, lost a few degrees in altitude and then became stationary. The boys soon lost interest and went back into the tent to another game of Rummy.

From time to time they peeked out and took a look at the strange star but it just stayed there. Then at about 11:45 p.m. things began to happen. The bright star became much brighter and seemed to move closer. Instead of looking like a star, it assumed a triangular shape as it grew larger.

Then it became stationary again. How long this process took the boys did not know, but according the kitchen clock, they kept peeking in the window to check the time, a surprising thing happened at 12:15 a.m.. 3 green flares or rockets were fired horizontally from the main object. At this time, John scrambled into the tent and emerged with the score pad and pencil. He decided to keep notes.

On the pad he wrote:

At 9:15 p.m. we saw a flying saucer.

At 12:15 a.m. it shot 3 green things that traveled faster than any plane.

These rockets were too fast to track visually. After the first rocket was fired, John noticed the second saucer which we will hereafter refer to as Number Two. It came in racing from the west to east across the northern sky, turned a flip and came to rest at about 15° east of north at a slightly greater elevation than #1. Shortly #2, which appeared closer and larger than #1, was approached by the flare like object, which came in from underneath and appeared to be absorbed through the bottom of #2. Then the first saucer spat out another of the small objects.

About 3 minutes later #2 was again approached by the tiny object and again the boys watched as it seemingly disappeared into the bottom of #2. #1 was still in the same position, appearing to be triangular in shape, and #2 appeared much closer and round shaped with 2 leg like or stilt like protuberances on the underside.

A third flare emerged from #1, and was shortly received by sauce #2. Things were getting interesting. #2 then shot out a rocket which quickly disappeared into the night sky. #2 began to dim and fade into the night sky and was not seen again. #1 retained its same position.

At this time, Saucer #3 was spotted at about 100° to 110° and about, 45° elevation. It appeared the largest and highest of the 3, which suggests that it was closer. The detail reported by the boys bears this out.

But the best part of the show vas yet to come. #3 sported a cone shaped superstructure above an apparently round airfoil. Its color was white and like the others it made absolutely no sound. At 1:16 a.m. a jet plane went over we later decided it was probably in the flight pattern of Davis-Monthan AFB, a Strategic Air Command installation a scant 3 or 4 miles from the Westmoreland home.

The new visitor closed in and 3 of the stilt like protuberances popped out. Then the object gained altitude. An elongated dark something slid out from above the circular rim and 3 of the small rocket like objects emerged in quick succession.

In a few brief minutes they were back. 2 doors swung open, down, and back up against the underside of the saucer. As the doors opened, the legs receded into the object. The little rockets, now clearly seen, swiftly entered the opening, one by one. The big object elevated slightly, and moved sideways, then became stationary again.

The newspaper had printed only the boys’ notes which were not detailed except for general movement of the objects. In describing saucer #3, John had written:

Something lowered from the bottom. Something came out.

I asked John what he meant by that. He said that:

Something which looked like a rope or cable came out and lowered to the ground.

I asked him what color it was, and 2 voices, his and James’, piped up and said brown.

I wondered how they could tell colors at that time of the night and asked them.

From the Iight, they said.

What light was that? I asked.

Then they told me that when the doors opened a red light shone down from the inside in a perpendicular narrow beam, that extended to the ground. When the long, ropelike object began to come out, it was clearly visible and appeared to be brown in color.

The boys estimated that the rope was extended for from 3 to 5 minutes, after which it began to come up into the saucer again. After it had cleared the top of the ridge bordering the wash, they realized that something was on the bottom of it. It was slowly pulled up into the large object, the doors closed and the object moved up and into the east until it was out of sight.

The youngsters stayed up a little longer, watching for more activity in the sky but before long the excitement of the Saucers Shoot the night and their lack of sleep overcame their curiosity and they retired into the tent.

As soon as they had awakened in the morning they rushed in to tell Mrs. Westmoreland what they had seen. Pat Westmoreland, about 40, is an understanding mother but a firm one. She thought at first that perhaps the boys had had a touch of imagination and set about using all the trapping tricks she knew to trip them up in their story, but to no avail.

She began to realize that they had had a real experience. She decided the newspapers should know what had happened the preceding night and called them. Thus the article which had drawn my attention came about. It should be noted here that the newpaper printed the notes, pointing out that it could be imaginary or real they printed it because it was a sensational story.

The matter of the boys’ honesty comes to mind as a matter of course in the:e investigations. After 3 long visits with the boys, during which time Mr. Lorenzen walked with them to the wash over which they thought the UAO had hovered, and I had sketched the objects from their instructions, we found no indication that the boys were not telling the truth.

Mr. Lorenzen said that he had not caught any signs of strain, rehearsed conversation or trickery during his talks with them while walking to and from the wash. Nor did I ever detect any evidence that the boys were attempting to perpetrate a hoax.

Some of the things which impressed me concerning the sighting as well as the honesty of the boys were these:

When attempting to describe the object which was brought up by the rope or cable, John Westmoreland said he got the impression that the object was about as long as his father, in other words, its length equalled approximately the height of his father who is about 6' tall. If saucer #3 was above Pantano wash as the boYs felt it was, we have an idea of its size as well as the size of the rockets or flares and the size of the object which was pulled up into the large object.

The rim of the saucer appeared to have the same angular displacement as a 5' cross arm on a utility pole at the corner of the Westmoreland lot. If it was over Pantano wash, ¼ mile distant, it was approximately 80' in diameter. The small objects then would be about 6' long, and the object which was taken up into the saucer would be about the same size as the rockets, and certainly the same general configuration.

It is interesting and tempting to speculate that one of the rockets, at some time or other, had become disabled, a search initiated, and eventually, a recovery effected.

The latter phase of the sighting, in which a device was lowered to the ground and returned to saucer #3 with a triangular shaped object at the end of it, could have been that “recovery.” This may further be supported by the fact that after the object was taken into the saucer, the saucer left. The recovery of that object may have been the sole purpose of the presence of the saucers that night.

Also intresting to note, is that after the case was fully investigated, the loca1 newspapers were not interested in further information or a follow up story.

On the 29th, a group of local college students sent up some balloons filled with ordinary kitchen gas and lighted by candles encased in fireproof crepe paper. Although this was not accomplished until 3 days after the Westmoreland sighting, the idea of saucers had been firmly implanted in the public mind.

A local professor of atmospheric physics who is interested in UFOs, was told of the strange lighted object in the sky, and went to the U. of A. meteorological lab to track the thing.

The story of his sighting was in the Arizona Star morning paper for Friday June 29, 1962. Upon reading the details, plus his theory that the thing was an extended source of light, I wondered if some hoaxers might have been at work. I called the Tucson Citizen asking that they mention APRO, and ask for further sightings of the Thursday evening object and suggested that the object seen that night might have been the result of a prank. Later, I talked to the physicist who had been viewing the object and found that he had also decided that the object was a hoax. Later news stores stated that the college boys involved in the prank were carrying out experiments dealing with wind velocity and other weather conditions.

Considering the type of homemade balloon, and the fact that it contained dangerous highly inflammable gas which was tied to a device with an open flame, it is not likely that any such experiment was being carried out. It appears more likely that a childish prank was being played and the young men involved did not want to admit their part in it, attempting to write it off as an experiment. It is lamentable that the newspapers were satisfied with the experiment explanation and stated that these experiments may have been the cause of the saucer sightings in Southern Arizona in the past few months.

Certainly, the easiest way to dispose of the perplexing UFO problem is to ignore the evidence which prolongs its mysterious nature. A large percentage of the press is inclined to do precisely that. In the case of this latter sighting, the only two observers of the lighted plastic bags who called me felt the object was a balloon. The local press gave the impression that those who viewed the hoax objects were completely fooled, but that certainly was not the case.

The events of the week of June 24 through 30 very aptly demonstrated the contention that I have had lor years concerning the psychology of the disbeliever.

The skeptic is often so intent upon disproving that which he does not care to believe, by attempting to label it a hoax or a misconception of a conventional object, that he sets about to perpetrate a hoax to support his own convictions and allay his subconscious fears. A thorough perusal of newspaper stories concerning the Westmoreland sighting as well as ensuing reports of unidentified sky objects emphasizes the foolhardiness of accepting as a whole, the information pertaining to UFO sightings as presented by the news media and points up the need for thorough investigation. Had I accepted the Westmoreland story as presented by the Tucson Citizen, I would have had a short dissertation completely lacking in detail. A few hours spent in investigation yielded some very important facts, and enabled APRO to log one of the most detailed sightings of an unconventional aerial object which has ever been observed.

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