'Fireball' Brightens Sky
Object Sighted in Area, Far West as California
A ball of fire, which might have been a meteorite or even the reentry and explosion of orbiting satellite hardware, touched off a wave of telephone calls early Thursday night to area law enforcement agencies and air traffic control towers throughout the Great Lakes region and as far west as California.
Only two persons reported to The Repository that they actually had seen the fireball. The most descriptive report was made by Herman Fletcher, an air traffic controller at Akron-Canton Airport. He was off duty and was driving north on Cleveland Ave. NW when he sighted the fireball.
"It was one of the brightest things I have ever seen," Mr. Fletcher said. "It looked about the size of a baseball held at arm's length."
He said the object, which appeared to be dropping into Lake Erie, was the color of the mercury-vapor streetlights on Canton's expressways.
Mr. Fletcher said as it descended, it fell through a 2,000-foot layer of cirrus clouds, leaving a wide vapor trail in its wake. He said the vapor trail remained in the sky for about three minutes after the fireball had disappeared.
The air traffic controller, who is experienced at observing most normal lights in the sky, said he was inclined to agree with a pilot who had reported seeing the fireball drop into Lake Erie near Mentor.
Miss Cecelia Smith of 1256 Fulton Dr. NW said she saw the fireball while she was waiting for a bus and that "it looked like a red streak about 15 feet long and was funnel shaped at the tail."
Meanwhile, the State Highway Patrol barracks near Massillon was deluged with telephone calls from others who had reported seeing the "light in the sky."
Stark County’s sheriff’s office received some calls, as did the U.S. Weather Bureau at Akron-Canton Airport.
The Air Traffic Control headquarters near Oberlin collected and transmitted to headquarters 100 lines of typewritten reports of the sightings. Air towers in the entire Great Lakes region collected reports from both fliers and people on the ground.
At 4:59 p.m., an American Airlines pilot flying near Toledo at 33,000 feet altitude reported that he saw a satellite booster burning and exploding on reentry and trailing smoke.
Almost all reports of the object mentioned trailing smoke while they varied about the colors. Some said it was orange, others blue-green, incandescent white, and red.
Dr. Paul Annear, director of the Baldwin-Wallace College Observatory at Berea, said that
the earth's orbit now is entering the Gemini constellation and that meteor showers are due and expected at this time of the year.
Dr. Annear said that the meteor showes (sic) will increase in intensity to a maximum next
He suggested that one of the meteors entered the earth's atmosphere and became a meteorite.
“These fireballs are the brightest of all the meteors," Dr. Annear said, “The different sightings could possibly be from different meteors but are most likely from the same meteorite breaking up as it enters the earth's atmosphere."
Some reports said the object fell onto the ground. Plane pilots reported observing it in the air, 30,000 or more feet, as they passed under the exploding, smoking object.
"It undoubtedly was a fireball," said Dr. William P. Bidelman, an astronomer at the University of Michigan.
A spokesman for the Defense Department in Washington said first reports indicate it was a natural phenomenon. All aircraft, missiles and the like are accounted for, he said.
Fireballs are bits of stone or metal which rain from the sky at all times of the year. A fireball is a brilliant meteor. Any piece or fragment that survives the flight and impact is called a meteorite.
At Elyria, 20 miles west of Cleveland, firemen said they found 10 small grass fires burning in a small area, and they quickly put them out with no major damage.
Mrs. Ralph Richards, who lives nearby, said she saw a fiery object the size of a volleyball fall among some trees just before the fires broke out.
Just south of Lapeer, Mich., deputies checked reports that an unidentified object fell into a field.
Sheriff Kenneth A. Parks of Lapeer County said his men found some pieces of shiny metallic foil, each four to six inches long and about a quarter inch wide. But he said similar material was found in the same area about two years ago.
Across the country, four California highway patrolmen reported sighting a large meteor with a greenish glow and a tail.
They said it appeared to be exploding and falling in the northwest corner of California.
This reference: Canton Repository, Canton, Ohio, December 10, 1965
Note: Also in my file Chronicle-Telegram, Elyria, Ohio, December 10, 1965, and the Bucyrus Telegraph-Forum, Bucyrus, Ohio, December 10, 1965. With thanks to Barry Greenwood for supplying the articles.
UFOCAT PRN - 76806
UFOCAT URN – 76806 - Invisible Residents by Ivan T. Sanderson, p. 228, © 1970
North America – United States, Ohio, New York, Pennsylvania, Michigan
Akron-Canton.Latitude 40-54-59 N, Latitude 81-26-33 W (D-M-S) Airport [OH]
Berea Latitude 41-21-58N, Longitude 81-51-16 W [OH]
Cleveland Latitude 41-29-58N, Longitude 81-41-44 W [OH]
Elyria Latitude 41-22-06N, Longitude 82-06-28 W [OH]
Lake Erie Latitude 41-40-00N, Longitude 82-00-00 W
Lapeer Latitude 43-03-05N, Longitude 83-19-08 W [MI]
Massillon Latitude 40-47-48N, Longitude 81-31-18 W [OH]
Oberlin Latitude 41-17-38N, Longitude 82-13-03 W [OH]
Toledo Latitude 41-39-50N, Longitude 83-33-19 W [OH]
Reference: The National Gazetteer of the United States of America, prepared by the U.S. Geological Survey in cooperation with the U.S. Board on Geographic Names, Washington, D.C., 1990