“It is December 21, 1964 and things are quiet in the Shenandoah Valley. Gunsmith Horace Burns is heading to Fishersville from Staunton on Route 250 when his vehicle breaks down. What he is about to see will change the Valley for the next 6 months.”
The Staunton News Leader is the leader in unearthing this story, and reporter Jacob Fife did an excellent jobthis week. Fishersville is a small city in the Shenandoah Valley area of north central Virginia. While Fife says the incident was well covered by the media in the surrounding areas, he decided to go with the UFO Investigation conducted at the time by an organization called the “Flying Saucer Investigation Committee”, possibly an early group of UFO investigators. . This was said to be based in Akron, Ohio, a few hundred miles from Fishersville. That report stated that Mr. Burns claimed that around 5:00 pm he saw a flying metallic object coming from the north. As he passed his car, the engine died and the car “stopped abnormally quickly.” At that moment, all he could do was go outside and watch as the metallic object landed in a field about 100 yards from him. He later described it as “125 feet in diameter and 80 to 90 feet high” and shaped like a solid beehive with no windows, doors, wings, or seams. (A drawing based on that description made by a researcher who interviewed Burns .) Burns said he saw the craft as it “rested for 60 or 90 seconds,” then heard a “hissing” sound as it lifted off and flew northeast. A quick glance at a map will tell you that this is the direction for Washington DC. Coincidence
There were no cell phones and few pocket cameras in 1964. Could it have looked like this?
“I can’t help but feel that these sightings have prophetic significance.”
Things quickly turned chaotic for Horace Burns. About the only thing that worked was his car, which he immediately started so he could drive home and tell his wife what he saw. He didn’t tell anyone else until a few days later, when he was watching TV and heard about a UFO club at Eastern Mennonite College in Harrisonburg, Virginia. After hearing the story, EMU professor and UFO Researchers Club president Ernest Gehman arrived in Fishersville with a Geiger counter and went to the field. Despite being almost ten days later, the counter was said to have registered a great deal of activity of more than 60,000 counts per minute. A religious man, Gehman said in a later interview that these sightings (yes, there have been more since Burns) “could possibly predict the second coming of Christ.”
That sparked talk of the spread of the apocalypse among area churches, a conversation that was also aided by other reported UFO sightings: A 10-year-old boy claimed to have seen a metallic ‘ship’ in Waynesboro near the Burns sighting. On the same night and at the same time as the Burns sightings, nearby homeowners reported to the Virginia Electric and Power Co. that their lights were dimmed and their radios and televisions stopped working for several minutes at 5 p.m. A family of 6 she said she saw a cigar-shaped craft near Staunton High School, and a woman near Harrisonburg reported that a bright object in the sky was “following” her. On February 1, 1965, the Dayton, Ohio, Journal Herald reported that Virginians had been seeing UFOs “almost daily,” with an Augusta County sheriff saying, “This has gotten completely out of hand.” Little did he know that he was about to get worse.
“I think we need a psychiatrist here. What does a person need to eat to see a traveling hive
After his visit to Fishersville, Professor Gehman contacted the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base Project Blue Book, and News Leader reported that on January 12, 1965, Sgts. David Moody and Harold Jones arrived to investigate the UFO landing. His report said that “the witness appeared normal,” but Jones later told a superior that Burns, and perhaps the others who had reported seeing the beehive-shaped craft, needed a psychiatrist. Moody was helped to be one of the lead investigators for Project Blue Book, and word that he was reviewing UFO reports in Fishersville spread quickly.
According to Jacob Fife, Moody was known to be a skeptical researcher, but was said to be concerned about sightings that kept being reported in Fishersville. The director of the Blue Book Project, Major Héctor Quintanilla, listened to the reports and requests from citizens and local officials to escalate the National Guard or the Air Force. Finally, Moody was said to have asked Quintanilla for more agents. They were sent?
“Quintanilla wrote to Moody about an ‘incident’ in Ohio between an unidentified flying craft and an air force fighter plane, and that Moody would bring all agents back to Wright-Patterson. No records or incidents were found about it, but it had to be quite a major event. As the Blue Book agents started to leave, people demanded a final explanation.”
According to Fife, instead of sending more Project Blue Book investigators to Fishersville, Quintanilla took Moody and his team out of town and back to work on another UFO case that was never revealed. Needless to say, the locals were furious, but officials were unable to get any answers from the government. By spring, sightings had dropped to zero. Had they been driven by locals who wanted to be a part of the local UFO excitement? Fife said Project Blue Book released a report saying they found no evidence of a UFO landing in Fishersville and reiterated the call for Horace Burns to be examined medically. The case was dropped despite Project Blue Book records indicating that between December 1964 and May 1965,
It is now 2023. Jacob Fife has done an excellent job bringing the 1964 Fishersville UFO incident to light after nearly 60 years of being forgotten. Is there still anyone from the Flying Saucer Investigative Committee or the East Mennonite UFO Researchers Club? The Office of All Domains Anomaly Resolution said again at its Senate hearing last week that it was investigating hundreds of previous reports of UFO sightings. Is the 1964 Fishersville UFO incident one of them?</span