Photo courtesy of researcher Vicente-Juan Ballester Olmos of:
Pennsylvania's ‘U.F.O.’ Just a Flash in the Pond
CARBONDALE, Pa., Nov. 11 (AP)—An old
railroad lantern glowing underwater in a silt pond near an abandoned coal
breaker kept this rural eastern Pennsylvania community talking of
unidentified flying objects over the weekend.
A diver retrieved the 12-inch lantern
today after the pond was drained.
Three teen-age boys told the
Carbondale police Saturday they had seen a brightly shining object flash
across the sky and seconds later saw a light shining in the pond. One
patrolman, dispatched to the scene, fired at least four shots at the object.
The police tried to retrieve the object, but it fell to the bottom.
This reference: The New York Times, November 12, 1974,
p. 78, col. 1
Submerged UFO Really Identified?
On November 9, 1974, three teenagers
and several anonymous callers reported seeing a mysterious glowing object
fall from the skies into a small silt pond behind Russell Park
in Carbondale, Pennsylvania, and even though police have
written off the affair as a massive hoax, doubts continue to exist.
Some of the reasons for the doubt
include the testimony of a Russell
Park employee who arrived on the
scene 15 minutes after the alleged splashdown. He said the brightness of the
object fluctuated, brightening and dimming alternately. A volunteer fireman
backed up the statement, and said that the object he saw glowing in the pond
could not have been the railroad lantern, which was retrieved by police the
next day. Police had tried to hook the thing into a net on the end of a long
pole on Sunday, the 10th, but had no luck. A policeman, speaking "off
the record," said that what he saw in the water could not have been a
railroad lantern. Other points which lend doubt were the facts that a scuba
diver from New York State retrieved the lantern, his wife said she would not
comment when asked whether he had been requested to go to Carbondale by
authorities there, and a police scuba diving team as well as divers from the
Wallenpaupack Scuba Club (located in Carbondale) were not asked to search for
A Carbondale merchant who sells
lanterns such as that retrieved from the pond said the lantern couldn't have
stayed lit for nine hours (from the time it was seen to come down until it
was retrieved). Consequently, a large number of people in the Carbondale area doubt
that the police retrieved the real source of the glow.
This reference: The APRO Bulletin, January/February 1975,
AND FINALLY – A HOAX
Years Later, Man Admits to UFO Hoax
THE SUNDAY TIMES
If fictional FBI special agents Fox Mulder
and Dana Scully came to Carbondale today, they could stamp the borough's
25-year-old X-File "CASE CLOSED."
After a quarter century, Northeastern
Pennsylvanians now know what caused the strange glow on Nov. 9, 1974, in an
old mine silt pond in Russell Park near Carbondale Area High School: The water's
mysterious green-tinged glow, which lasted nine hours, apparently came from a
sealed beam lantern tossed into the water by a then-14-year-old boy.
"I created the story," said
Robert J. Gillette Jr., who is now 39 and still living in Carbondale.
He said he tossed the flashlight into
the water that day in an effort to frighten his sister, Maria, and her
"There was nothing to do in Carbondale
— it's still the same way — so we had them come over and said there was a
monster in the water or something bizarre," he recalled. "The
flashlight burned out in the meantime and we had to get another one and that
happened to be the lantern. We got that out of a car."
Somebody called the police, too.
Retired Carbondale Police Lt. John Barbero recalled this past week that the
caller sounded young.
Mr. Barbero, then a patrolman, and
Officer Joseph Jacobina responded. They were the first on the scene.
When police arrived, Mr. Gillette and
his friends, Bill and John Lloyd, spun a tale of a whirring, sparking, red
ball flying over Salem Mountain and plunging into the pond.
"The way it was in the water,
glowing ... it stayed lit for quite a while," Mr. Barbero said. "It
looked like it was pulsating, but it was the waves making it look like that.”
police arrived, the prank suddenly looked serious. The boys didn’t think they
could alter their story.
cops came up, I said, 'Oh, oh, we’re in trouble,’ ” Mr. Gillette explained. “I
was thinking Boys’ Town or reform school. So I made the story up and they
this was the first time anyone admitted to creating the hoax. John Lloyd declined
to be interviewed when called.
scene could have been straight from a 1950s sci-fi movie. Patrolman Jacobina
fired a shot at the glowing object. It missed.
time, witnesses said the light moved out of the bullet's way. Military
personnel with Geiger counters, scientists, and UFO “experts” arrived.
was there for three days straight, never leaving.
days, we were the talk of the country,” he added. Experts came from as far
away as Canada to check on it."
dumbfounded,” Mr. Gillette said. "You see all these government officials
and all the press coverage they had. I couldn’t believe it.”
Police Chief Dominick Andidora, then a young patrolman, said it was a combination
of factors that made the boys' tale seem plausible, at first.
When they threw the lantern in, it flipped over
the right way and landed (with the light pointing) straight up in the
air," he said. "The pond is green from all of the sulfur and stuff.
It looked like the son-of-a-gun pond was green and glowing. To add to it, the
warm water was getting cooled off and it was steaming. People thought it was
elements were right there to where everybody thought it was a UFO," Chief
thickened thanks to another coincidence: A piece of construction equipment at
the coal breaker next to the pond had been wrecked. They moved it the night
the “UFO” was reported.
they did was they loaded it up on the lowboy (trailer) and covered it with a
big canvas and took it out at 6 o'clock in the morning," Chief Andidora
explained. "When the machine went out at 6 that morning, all the people
said, 'Oh my God, it's a piece of the UFO.' It was just a piece of machinery
from the breaker."
always thought the UFO tale was bogus and said, "It’s good someone came
some people will never believe it was a hoax.
expert — UFO experts, the military — they all came in and searched the bottom
of the pond, sent a diver in, and that (lantern) is the only thing they ever
came up with," he said.
still think an actual UFO landed 25 years ago. A number of Internet sites
list it as a UFO landing site.
Chief Andidora said even his late mother
continued to believe the incident was something other than a hoax.
"People to this day think we're covering it (up),” he said.
This reference: “Chronicles
of a UFO Sighting” – News clip – The
Sunday Times, Scranton, PA, November 7, 1999.
UFOCAT PRN – 81016 [DOS: 11-??-1974]
UFOCAT URN – 081016 J. Allen
for UFO Studies, Nov. 15, 1974, on-site investigation
UFOCAT PRN – 80984 [DOS: 11-09-1974]
UFOCAT URN – 080984 J.
Allen Hynek Center for UFO Studies, Nov. 09, 1974
UFOCAT URN – 103793 J. Allen Hynek Center for UFO Studies, Nov. 11, 1974,
UFOCAT URN – 081015 The New York Times, November 12, 1974, p. 78, col. 1
UFOCAT URN – 081014 J. Allen Hynek Center for UFO
Studies, Nov. 12, 1974
UFOCAT URN – 092270 The APRO
Bulletin, January/February 1975, pp. 8-9
UFOCAT URN – 148176 A
Geo-Bibliography of Anomalies by George Eberhart,
#0765, © 1980
UFOCAT URN – NONE The Sunday Times, Scranton, PA, November 7, 1999
UFOCAT URN – 159871 Fate
Magazine, May 2002, p. 23 by Mathew Graeber
North American – United States,
Carbondale - Latitude 41-34 N,
Longitude 75-30 W (D-M)
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,
UFO Location (UFOCAT) Latitude 41.57 N, Longitude 75.50