Levelland UFO Case
The Levelland UFO Case occurred on November 2-3, 1957 in and around the small town of Levelland, Texas
Levelland, Texas
Levelland is a city in Hockley County, Texas, in the United States. As of the 2010 census, the city population was 13,542. It is the county seat of Hockley County. It is located on the Llano Estacado, west of Lubbock. Major industries include cotton farming and petroleum production...

. Levelland, which in 1957 had a population of about 10,000, is located west of Lubbock
Lubbock, Texas
Lubbock is a city in and the county seat of Lubbock County, Texas, United States. The city is located in the northwestern part of the state, a region known historically as the Llano Estacado, and the home of Texas Tech University and Lubbock Christian University...

 on the flat prairie of the Texas panhandle. The case is considered to be one of the most impressive in UFO history, mainly because of the large number of witnesses involved over a relatively short period of time.

The incident

The incident began late on the evening of November 2 when two immigrant farm workers, Pedro Saucedo and Joe Salaz, called the Levelland police department to report a UFO sighting. Saucedo told police officer A.J. Fowler, who was working the night desk at the police station, that they had been driving four miles (6 km) west of Levelland when they saw a blue flash of light near the road. They claimed their truck's engine died, and a rocket-shaped object rose up and approached the truck, which rocked from the object's blast. As it moved away the truck's engine restarted and worked normally. Believing the story to be a joke, Fowler ignored it. An hour later, motorist Jim Wheeler reported an egg-shaped object was sitting in the road, four miles (6 km) east of Levelland, blocking his path and glowing bright blue. He claimed his vehicle died and as he got out of his car the object took off and its lights went out. As it moved away, Wheeler's car restarted and worked normally.
At 10:55 pm a married couple driving northeast of Levelland reported that they saw a bright flash of light moving across the sky and their headlights and radio died for three seconds. Five minutes later Jose Alvarez met the strange object sitting on the road 11 miles (17.7 km) north of Levelland, and his vehicle's engine died until the object departed. At 12:05 am (November 3), a Texas Tech
Texas Tech University
Texas Tech University, often referred to as Texas Tech or TTU, is a public research university in Lubbock, Texas, United States. Established on February 10, 1923, and originally known as Texas Technological College, it is the leading institution of the Texas Tech University System and has the...

 college student named Newell Wright was surprised when, driving 10 miles (16.1 km) east of Levelland, his car suddenly died. When he got out to check on the problem, he saw a "100-foot-long" egg-shaped object sitting in the road. It took off, and his engine started running again. At 12:15 am Officer Fowler received another call, this time from a farmer named Frank Williams who claimed the egg-shaped object's blue glow pulsated, and each time it glowed brightly, his engine died. Other callers were Ronald Martin at 12:45 am and James Long at 1:15 am.

By this time, several Levelland police officers were actively investigating the incident. Among them was Sheriff Weir Clem, who saw a brilliant red object moving across the sky at 1:30 am. At 1:45 am Levelland's Fire Chief, Ray Jones, also saw the object and his vehicle's lights and engine sputtered. The sightings apparently ended soon after this incident.

Air Force explanation and controversy

The Levelland sightings received national publicity, and were soon investigated by Project Blue Book
Project Blue Book
Project Blue Book was one of a series of systematic studies of unidentified flying objects conducted by the United States Air Force. Started in 1952, it was the second revival of such a study...

, a research group that had been created by the US Air Force in 1951 to investigate UFO reports. After interviewing three of the eyewitnesses - Saucedo, Wheeler, and Wright, and after learning that thunderstorms were present in the area earlier in the day, the Air Force investigators concluded that a severe electrical storm was the major cause for the sightings and reported auto failures. The Air Force did not interview any of the other witnesses, nor were they mentioned in Project Blue Book's final report on the incident. However, two prominent UFO researchers - Dr. James E. McDonald
James E. McDonald
James Edward McDonald was an American physicist. He is best known for his research regarding UFOs. McDonald was senior physicist at the Institute for Atmospheric Physics and professor in the Department of Meteorology, University of Arizona, Tucson.McDonald campaigned vigorously in support of...

, a physicist at the University of Arizona
University of Arizona
The University of Arizona is a land-grant and space-grant public institution of higher education and research located in Tucson, Arizona, United States. The University of Arizona was the first university in the state of Arizona, founded in 1885...

 and Dr. J. Allen Hynek
J. Allen Hynek
Dr. Josef Allen Hynek was a United States astronomer, professor, and ufologist. He is perhaps best remembered for his UFO research. Hynek acted as scientific adviser to UFO studies undertaken by the U.S. Air Force under three consecutive names: Project Sign , Project Grudge , and Project Blue Book...

, an astronomer at Northwestern University
Northwestern University
Northwestern University is a private research university in Evanston and Chicago, Illinois, USA. Northwestern has eleven undergraduate, graduate, and professional schools offering 124 undergraduate degrees and 145 graduate and professional degrees....

, disputed this explanation. Both men argued that there was no electrical storm in the area when the sightings occurred. In 1999 UFO researcher Antonio Rullan published a detailed analysis of the Levelland sightings. After examining various weather records and the competing claims of the Air Force, Dr. McDonald, and others, he concluded that "there was no severe thunderstorm in Levelland during the time of the sightings...there could have been a few clouds with light rain in Levelland despite no rain being reported at the [nearby] Lubbock weather station". Rullan also added that "conditions for scattered lightning, however, cannot be discounted...lightning conditions did exist."

Media Coverage

In March 2002, Dallas-based television station KDFW
KDFW, virtual channel 4 , is the Fox owned-and-operated television station in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex designated market area....

aired a lengthy report about the Levelland UFO case. Reporter Richard Ray's piece recounts how at least 15 people, including Sheriff Weir Clem, had encountered the huge lighted disc. Ray spoke to Weir's widow and friends, who maintain that the lawman definitely saw something otherworldly. The story also detailed the investigation and controversial conclusion issued by the Air Force – that weather phenomena known as ball lightning was to blame.
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