Gary Wilcox was a busy man. He owned a 300 acre farm on Davis Hollow Road, approximately 2.1 miles northeast from the Village of Newark Valley. He worked alone caring for 100 head of stock and milked some of his cows three times a day. After doing his morning chores, he proceeded to bring his daily ration of manure for his fields, many of which would soon be part of his spring plowing duties. The time was around 10 a.m. As he approached a lower field above his house and barn, he saw a bright flash of light on the hill. The flashing was intermittent, like a mirror reflecting sunlight. Although there was an old abandoned icebox near the flashing light, Gary realized that the light wasn't coming from that object and decided to investigate. When he was about 300' away, the flashing light turned into an egg shaped object. At first he thought that it was the wing tank from a fallen airplane. Wilcox shut off his tractor and walked the remaining 100 yards. When he came in close proximity to the object, this was the description given in the police report:
The first thing I noticed was that it was off the ground, it was a little bigger than a car in length. It was an oblong shape something like an egg. There were no seams, rivets or anything like that. It was completely smooth. It was aluminum color. I touched the thing and the metal was harder than aluminum and it did not move. I don't know whether it was on legs or hovering in the air. It was about 20' in length, 4' high and 15'- 16' wide. While I was feeling it there was no vibration or sound and it was not hot or anything. While I was touching it, two small men about 4' high came out from under the tank object. I don't know where they came from. Each of them was carrying a tray about a foot square. The tray looked like it was made of the same stuff the ship was made of. Inside the tray was what appeared to be sod. I was standing about a foot away from the ship.
Wilcox was quite frightened. He also thought that this might be some kind of trick, perhaps a Candid Camera stunt, but he was able to communicate with them. One of the figures advanced to within 5' of Wilcox and said:
Don't be alarmed. We have talked to people before. We are from what you know as the planet Mars.
In his police report, Wilcox gave a very detailed description of the two figures:
I could understand what was said but cannot tell whether they were speaking English or not. One of the men was standing in rear of the other. I could see that both of these 4' high men had arms and legs the same as us. I couldn't tell whether they had feet or hands the same as us. They were quite broad for such short persons or individuals. I could not distinguish whether they had shoulders or not, they seemed to just go straight down. They had no face, such as eyes, ears, nose, mouth, or hair. The voice seemed to be coming from about them rather than from either of them. There was a voice, but I don't know where it was coming from insofar as their body was concerned. They seemed to have a sort of suit on that covered where the head would normally be located all the way down. When they raised their arms, you could see a wrinkle where our elbow would be located. The color of this completely smooth cover all type suit was whitish aluminum tint color. There was no evidence of hair. The only thing I noticed was the wrinkle when they moved their arms at the elbow.
A conversation followed that would last about two hours. Wilcox couldn't tell which figure was speaking to him, but it appeared to be the one closest to him. They told him that they had been watching him for some time. In fact, they, assuming their race, had been watching people on earth for some time. He was asked questions about the tractor, the manure and the manure spreader. They were very interested in organic substances, such as soil. Martians obtained their food from the atmosphere and had a very rocky terrain that was not suitable for growing. They knew little about agriculture, but were visiting earth in the hope that they could restore their soil and raise food crops. Cows were quite a mystery to them. They could only come to earth every two years and on this voyage they were collecting samples from the Western Hemisphere. The figure expressed an interest in commercial fertilizer and Wilcox made an offer to bring them some.
Wilcox expressed an interest in visiting Mars, but was told that the thinness of the atmosphere would make that impossible. In fact, earths atmosphere was so thick that they can't stand it. Wilcox admitted later that he would have refused an interplanetary vacation. They also told Wilcox that landing in congested areas was impossible because traffic fumes effected the performance of their vehicles. Although they had a variety of ships, they usually did not appear after dark because their crafts were much more observable then. The figure expressed great concern that their ship had been seen. When Wilcox explained how this happened, he was told that no one should be able to see the ship beyond 100'. The conversation ranged into other topics other than crops, fertilizer, and agriculture. The figure spoke of space, their ship, and of other subjects that went over Wilcoxs head.
Part of the reason for learning about soil and agriculture concerned a potential cataclysmic change that might take place:
Mars and Earth will be trading environments, due to the rockets, missiles, and miscellaneous objects ejected into space from Earth.
According to Wilcoxs police report, other planets might be involved as well. They also advised that people from Earth should not send individuals into outer space. They predicted that the astronauts Glenn, Grissom, and the two cosmonauts from Russia would die within a year due to exposure from space.
Before they left, Wilcox was advised:
For your own good, not to say anything about the experience to anyone, but the visitor made no threats nor extracted a promise from him to keep the encounter secret.
According to the police report, this was how the encounter came to an end:
They then walked back under the ship and disappeared. They ducked a little bit when they went under it. The ship then seemed to hover. I heard a noise that sounded like a car motor idling. It was not loud. Then it just took off slowly forward above the ground in a gliding manner and flew over the valley in the direction of Ed Sokoloskis barn and disappeared into the air after it was about 150' away. There was no heat, blasting, wind, dust, noise, other than the idling sound, light, or anything else left behind when the ship took off.
They did not try to harm me in any way and there was nothing with them that looked like a weapon. They did not raise or lower their voice. It was the same throughout the conversation. They did most of the talking.
After the vehicle left, Gary noticed pairs of 2½" square depressions in the ground where the figures had stood. There was also some red dust where the vehicle had rested, evidently from propulsion. It disappeared after a couple days.
Gary went back home and called his mother, giving her the highlights of the experience. He milked cows again and did some other chores. He went back up on the hill again at 4:30 p.m. and took a 75# bag of fertilizer along with him. He dropped it where the craft had been. When he returned on Saturday morning, April 25th, the fertilizer was gone. When asked if he thought that the aliens had returned for it, his response was:
Well, anybody who would walk all the way to that field to get an 80¢ bag of fertilizer would be crazy.
The police report ends this way:
I have read this statement and it is true. I realize that the incident described above is unusual, but I do certify that it is a true and accurate account of what actually happened.
Signed: Gary T. Wilcox
Witness: George E. Williams
Witness: Paul J. Taylor
Whether Gary told his mother not to say anything about the story isn't known. What is known is that the news got around. His mother, naturally, had her doubts about the incident and jokingly asked if he had been drinking. Reportedly Wilcox replied:
What, at 10 o'clock in the morning?
A neighbor of his, Miss Priscilla Baldwin, became especially interested. Miss Baldwin had been a radar technician during World War II. She sat with Gary on April 28th and took detailed notes of his experience. On April 29th she accompanied Gary to the site of the encounter. She took some pictures and collected some rocks and leaves where the red dust had accumulated. Recent rain had eliminated any evidence of dust.
Miss Baldwin then contacted the Tioga County Sheriffs Department and Officer George Williams carried out an investigation on both April 29th and May 1st. Miss Baldwin was free at the time as well. Since Wilcox did not want to interrupt his chores, Miss Baldwin took Officer Williams up to the field where the encounter had occurred. Officer Williams was shown where the red dust had been and where the fertilizer had been left. Because of recent rain there was no evidence of any red dust. On May 1st when they came back to the barn, Officer Williams asked Wilcox if he would be willing to come to Owego that evening to make a formal statement. He agreed and subsequently went to Owego at 7:00 p.m. When Miss Baldwin stated that she had taken notes of her conversations with Wilcox, Officer Williams asked if he could borrow them. She gave these to the officer. On May 7th she traveled to the Sheriffs Office and these notes were returned to her.
Officer Williams did note what he felt was a discrepancy in the account. Wilcox had driven to the sight on the afternoon of April 24th with his tractor to drop off a bag of fertilizer. On April 29th he drove up to the same spot with his tractor accompanied by Miss Priscilla Baldwin. Williams could not find a second set of tractor tire marks when he came to the site with, Baldwin and Williams could not understand this. He also did not investigate for any depressions in the ground as evidence of the visitors taking earth samples. This piece of information was not conveyed to him at the time of his onsite examination for some reason. Williams did give this assessment of Wilcox's character:
He admitted that he drank a little but he was not drinking at the time of this reported incident. He also stated that he had some marital difficulty, but this did not encourage him to drink any more than he had been accustomed. This man does not appear to be unstable or mentally disturbed in any way, He is a hard worker. The complainant in this case says that she has no reason to doubt him.
Miss Baldwins interest may have stemmed from two reasons. First, she had known Gary for quite some time and knew that he was a very quiet, reliable individual. She couldn't imagine that Gary would do anything like this for the publicity. Her experience during World War II may have also been a contributing factor:
I was in the Air Force for 3 years and my career field was A.C. & W. In my work I plotted UFO blips, as they were called at the time, on the radar screen in the control center. Many times blips were not identified. The speed in most cases was unbelievable. However, I don't know if any of that was ever the reason for my interest or not, but I do believe it had a lot to do with it.
After the police report was filed, Sheriff Taylor contacted the FBI office in Binghamton and the Boston, Massachusetts, Atlantic Coast Air Command. The Binghamton FBI office contacted their superiors in Albany who consequently contacted the Air Force. Although Hancock Air Force Base, Syracuse, claimed that the case was under investigation, Wilcox claims that the U.S.A.F. never contacted him. Wilcox also claimed that officials from the Space Guidance Center in Owego had paid a visit to the farm. According to Walter Webbs report:
The FBI, or federal agents of some kind, visited the sheriffs office and, according to Wilcox, pointed out to the sheriffs office certain items in the story that should not be divulged. These items might alarm the public.
Wilcox also claimed that the civil defense checked a soil sample from the site for radioactivity. He received a letter stating that the sample gave a reading of 1.5 roentgens with the plug out and 2.5 roentgens with the plug in. The reading should have been zero, with a reading of 3.5 roentgens considered contamination level. This statement has never been independently confirmed.
The first newspaper report that the author could find came from the Binghamton Press and the Owego Times dated May 8th, 1964. The general viewpoint was one of disbelief, but also that the source of the story, Gary Wilcox, was someone of exceptional reliability. Newark Valleys own newspaper, the Tioga County Herald, did not report the story until May 15th. The paper was run by a husband & wife team, Justine F. Brandes, editor, and Leon G. Brandes, publisher. It's article expressed great dismay over missing what was probably the biggest scoop in the papers history. Assuming that Justine was writing copy, she first became aware of the story from talk circulating in the local village. Her first reaction was to investigate, but thought she should ask the advice of a more experienced newspaper man.
This is what she was told:
The advisor thought the story much too fantastic to be more than another rumor. He advised against spending the time at a critical juncture just before publication. It was rotten advice. So the Herald came out without a line just before the waves of publicity began to roll in by newspapers, radio & television with stories and pictures.
The article did include one of the many testimonials to the character of Wilcox:
It is well known that he is a person of integrity and soundness, of fine character, and in no sense a notoriety seeker. Any statements he makes cannot be lightly dismissed.
The Heralds view was similar to many in the village:
They couldn't believe that Wilcox would make up such a story, but they also couldn't believe that such an event could ever take place. They were in their own twilight zone. A local dry goods and variety store, Kalkans, did make an effort to extend hospitality. They advertised that the Martians were indeed welcome at their store and could purchase souvenirs if they ever came to the village.
Editorials for the paper were written by Clyde Allen in a column entitled Lookout by Clyde. While never saying that Wilcox was spinning a yarn, much of Clydes treatment of the event was spent debunking the theory that space travel of that magnitude was even possible. Newark Valleys one and only article on the story ends with a bit of self-deprecation, but includes the fact that Wilcox was not the only one who saw strange objects in the sky:
In the village here there was hardly any other topic of conversation for days. There were believers and unbelievers, a surprising number of the former. As the story spread it inevitably grew. There were stories that others had seen similar objects in the past in this area, but were too awed to tell about it.
This is likely the to be last visit of Martians to Tioga county we fear, and the Herald will probably never get another chance to redeem itself as a news media.
Exactly what papers carried the story outside of Tioga and Broome Counties has yet to be determined. Radio & television accounts, likewise, have not been documented.
The following year, another journalist paid Wilcox a visit. His reaction wasn't as accommodating:
Mr. Wilcox did not seem particularly happy to see a reporter show up on his farm.
Two stories did appear in the Binghamton papers about this time. They were the typical follow-up stories for an event of this magnitude. A variety of rumors had been in circulation:
His dairy farm had gone belly up because nothing would grow any more, he had been in New York City being treated for radiation burns, the government was guarding his land as part of a study, and there was a darkened patch of ground in his pasture where nothing would grow. None of this was true.
Wilcox was even busier at this point than the year before. Besides running his farm he was working nights as a janitor at the Berkshire school. Wilcox stated that the notoriety that he had gained had not hurt his personal life, in spite of all the varied rumors.
I just don't worry about it. I know what I saw and other people have seen things. I even thought somebody was playing a joke on me, but I was in the service for 6 years and not even jet planes take off that fast.
When asked if he would keep the incident a secret if he had to do it over, this was his reply:
No. I've got nothing to hide. I would report it. If I saw another one today, I'd do the same thing. Then people would say I'm crazy.
He would like to think that this was part of some big joke, but knows that this was not the case. He was hopeful that someday an explanation would be forthcoming to him and the rest of the world. A man down in Berkshire says he saw something like this recently, too. I'm not the only one.
In 1968 Dr. Berthold Eric Schwarz was the Assistant Attending Psychiatrist at the Montclair Community Hospital in Montclair, New Jersey. He first learned about Wilcoxs encounter with alien beings while he was studying a variety of UFO sightings that had occurred in Towanda, Pennsylvania. On October 18, 1968, Gary Wilcox was psychiatrically examined in his home. His wife was interviewed as well. He also spoke to Wilcoxs two brothers, Floyd & Barry, his mother & Sheriff Paul J. Taylor. Another interesting contact was Vic Kobylarz, a neighboring farmer and steelworker. Vic was a relative by marriage to Mrs. Theresa Krajewski, who happened to be a friend of Dr. Schwarz. Vic spoke with Wilcox shortly after the UFO event.
At the time of the interview Gary was no longer a farmer. He was now a highly skilled mechanic and had received several promotions. According to Dr. Schwarz, Wilcox had never had any UFO, psychic, or other very unusual experiences before, nor has he since. The details that he gave Dr. Schwarz coincided very accurately with statements that he had made to Miss Baldwin and to Sheriff Taylor.
Wilcox had no past history for neonatal disturbances, serious illness in the formative years, neurotic character traits, dissociative or amnestic experiences, fugues, sociopathic behavior, school problems, head injury, encophalopathy, surgery, or any kind of aberrant behavior. He had never been hospitalized, and he did not have a family physician. Review of all his bodily systems revealed no disease stigmata. He was a good student in school and had one semester in college. He spent 3 years in the Army, being stationed in Germany. He was a sergeant in the Engineers and received an honorable discharge.
Wilcox had two brothers and a sister. There was no family history for mental illness or sociopathic behavior, such as lying, stealing, cheating, delinquency, drug usage, alcoholism, et cetera. Wilcox had called his mother within one hour after his encounter. No one in the family had ever experienced anything like this before. Wilcox had never shown any particular interest in UFOs or any other kind of exotic subject. According to his brother, Floyd, Wilcox had turned down a considerable sum of money from a leading national magazine for the publication rights to his story, this in spite of Gary not being especially affluent. He also refused payments for lectures of his experience.
He graciously consented to psychiatric study and freely gave permission for publication of this story in a scientific journal with the understanding that his current address would not be revealed.
Study of Gary Wilcoxs, and his wifes, answers to the Cornell Medical Index Health Questionnaire, Rotter Incomplete Sentences Test, and the computer automated Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory revealed answers consistent with physical and emotional health. On the MMPI, a configural search for positive traits and strengths showed correlations for describing the subject as compliant, methodical, orderly, socially reserved, and sincere.
Dr. Schwarz conceded that single UFO experiences do have drawbacks, but that the report by Gary Wilcox was exceptional because of his unusually healthy background, during and after the purported incident, and the rarity of such close-range UFO occupant encounters. It should also be noted that Wilcox did not learn about the Socorro, NM Landing until May 11th when Wilcoxs father brought a newspaper clipping describing the event.
The predictions made by the aliens do present a bit of a dilemma. Their prophecy concerning the death of various astronauts was never fulfilled as stated. However, Virgil Grissom & 2 other astronauts did perish in a tragic Apollo capsule fire on January 27, 1967. Russian astronaut Vladimir M. Komarov was actually the first known man to be killed in space. This happened on April 24, 1967, exactly three years after the prophecy, when his capsule plunged to earth under unopened parachutes.
Komarov, Schwarz noted in his study of Wilcox, had some other unusual experiences in outer space. On October 12, 1964, he was scheduled to orbit for at least 5 days, but returned to Earth after 24 hours. As reported by London newspaperman Bruce Sandham:
Recording of radio transmissions indicates that the spacecrafts crew had seen something strange and inexplicable in orbit, something that terrified them so much that they made a hasty and unscheduled descent from space.
This account appeared in the Daily Gleaner, Jamaica, Monday, February 26, 1968. Komarov also shared another experience with world famous telepathist Joseph Dunninger at the Seattle World's Fair in 1962. He had observed in space, strange phantasms, odd things that appeared before his eyes. He was sure his mind was not playing tricks on him, and that it was not an illusion. It should also be noted that a number of American astronauts in the period of 1963 through 1969 reported strange objects in space.
In another testament to Wilcoxs mental stability, Schwarz stated that Wilcox had no mental disturbance, no history of being hypnotized, no suggestion of paranoid thinking, no hints of specific psychopathology, and no cultural religious like determinants that could account for his experience. His encounter with alien beings had much in common with accounts shared by others worldwide. There are also a variety of references to other people in Northern Tioga County seeing something strange or unusual either on April 24th or in that general time period. Wilcox was told that a respected gentleman of Berkshire was out in his field that day and saw something that was unexplainable. A letter sent to Schwarz by Walter Stevens recalled that he and a friend had seen a possible UFO that almost blinded us for a moment, on April 18, 1964, on Route 38. Vic Kobylarz also stated how one or two people saw something near Gary Wilcoxs farm that day.