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Incident At Exeter
: The Story of Unidentified Objects Over America Today!

by John G. Fuller

"The weirdest, best documented, and least explained of all the UFO cases..." occurred in Exeter, New Hampshire most notably on September 3, 1965, but continued for over three weeks with some sixty reports filed, according to the popular national magazine LOOK.

J. Allen Hynek — the astronomer who began as an admitted, “...outright debunker,” but became, by the late 1960s, a true believer in the reality of the UFO phenomenon — considered the case “...a fine example of a Close Encounter of the First Kind” (1977, pp.1, 154), terminology he created. Hynek observed that the Pentagon was unable to explain the September 3, 1965 Exeter phenomenon and that “...the scientific establishment”... in failing to deal with the evidence...” was, like the Pentagon, “...actually admitting that it had no explanation” (Hynek 1977, pp.165–166).

As Jerome Clark summed up in his The UFO Encyclopedia (1998, p. 366) after noting the case had received much notoriety, “The attention ensured that this particular close encounter of the first kind would be remembered in a way few have been. Still, by any standard the sighting remains puzzling and impressive.”




Editorial Reviews

The story begins at 12:30 AM on September 3, 1965, at Exeter, New Hampshire. A policeman cruising on Route 101 came upon a woman parked beside the road. She told him excitedly that a flying object with red flashing lights had chased her for some distance. She pointed to a bright light on the horizon. The policeman, Eugene Bertrand, watched it for a short time and, unimpressed, left after reassuring the woman there was nothing to worry about.

Then at 2:24 AM, eighteen-year-old Norman Muscarello burst into the Exeter police station, “white, and shaking,” according to patrolman Norman Bertrand. He had been hitchhiking along Route 150 toward his home in Exeter when he saw what he called 'the Thing,' as big as or bigger than a house, according to Fuller's report. As Muscarello later (1965) described it in a signed statement:

"A group of five bright lights appeared over a house about a hundred feet from where I was standing. The lights were in a line at about a sixty-degree angle. They were so bright, they lighted up the area. The lights then moved out over a large field and acted at times like a floating leaf. They would go down behind the trees, behind a house and then reappear.

"[The lights] always moved in the same sixty-degree angle. Only one light would be on at a time. They were pulsating: one, two, three, four, five, four, three, two, one. They were so bright I could not distinguish a form to the object. I watched these lights for about fifteen minutes and they finally disappeared behind some trees and seemed to go into a field. At one time while I was watching them, they seemed to come so close I jumped into a ditch to keep from being hit."

Officer Bertrand drove with Muscarello to the site just before 3 AM. The two walked into the field, and Bertrand himself witnessed the lights Muscarello had described. He stated, “At one time they came so close I fell to the ground and started to draw my gun.” The officer stated that there were “...five bright-red lights”; indeed they were “...extremely bright and flashed on one at a time.” He added, “The lights were so bright, I was unable to make out any form.” The pair ran to the police car. Bertrand radioed Patrolman David Hunt, who arrived and also witnessed the lights, which finally moved away, eastward, toward the ocean.

Over the next several weeks, some sixty reports of UFOs followed in the area around Exeter. The case resulted in an article in LOOK Magazine (February 8, 1966), and has stimulated a host of articles, entries in UFO encyclopedias (e.g., Clark 1998, 364–67), and discussions in books (e.g., Hynek 1977, 154–66), as well as lectures, radio shows, and television documentaries.

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