Saturday, June 23, 2007

Northeast 1965 Power Blackout Revisited

Before I post NICAP's "The Year of the UFO" for November in a day or two, let's take a few lines to revisit an incident you'll find listed in the calendar's November 9 box.

The fact that you're reading this means in a few seconds you'll be "one up" on people, news accounts, books, magazines and other means of communication regarding what is commonly known as "The Great Northeast Power Blackout" of November 9, 1965. Many sources associate this monumental historical event that deprived Northeastern U.S. states of electricity for several hours with UFO activity (perplexing questions still remain about the cause) -- and as a researcher who was indeed involved in checking reports in the key Central New York area, seemingly a hot spot of UFO activity on that evening, I concur that something mighty strange was going on there and in other areas of the Northeastern U.S. at the time (see the late Dr. James E. McDonald's report during Congressional hearings, for example, available online). As recently as a year or so ago, in fact, I spoke with a Syracuse woman, still concerned 40 years later by a strange light witnessed from her window during the blackout.

Nevertheless, one witness often mentioned in reference to UFOs observed during the blackout is former Syracuse deputy aviation commissioner Robert C. Walsh, a pilot who saw something himself while flying locally that evening. His experience was reported by the Syracuse Herald-Journal (I spent some time one afternoon with one of their top reporters, who kindly shared information with me) and other media. As a NICAP member at that time, my interest involved encouraging witnesses to fill out detailed NICAP UFO report forms.

However, unknown to many investigators and members of the media to this day, who persist in quoting Walsh as seeing UFO activity, this ultimately was not his story. Now, I don't know whether there were other factors in his report, or whether he changed his mind for reasons unknown, because from what I recall of initial reports he saw a strange sight. All I can really do here is respect his integrity, assume I have the truth and final word on the incident from him, and offer the letter he sent me in which he declined to complete a NICAP report form because he determined, from his aspect, no UFO involvement.

Aside from this, keep in mind that the skies were awash with reported UFO activity all over the Northeastern U.S. on the evening of November 9, 1965, and 1965 was also a year sprinkled with reports across the U.S. of smaller power blackouts associated with UFOs and UFOs seen near or over power lines. As mentioned previously, author John G. Fuller's nonfiction book chronicling the Incident at Exeter (New Hampshire) is a great reference source about 1965, and if you haven't read it, well, it might scare the pants off you when you do.

One final curious note: In the weeks following the Northeast blackout, I spoke with a power company official intent upon anonymously sharing some apparently important information with me, possibly related to UFOs. The deal was that he either would or would not get back to me with the story. I never heard from him again.