When it comes to early historical UFO reports, the Roswell accident and the Kenneth Arnold sighting, both of which happened in 1947, spring to mind. Because many UFO investigators believe the Maury Island encounter was a fake, the 1947 Maury Island incident is rarely recalled or discussed in the literature.
Others, on the other hand, feel the case had all the hallmarks of an intelligence cover-up. Whether or not Harold Dahl and Fred Crisman saw six UFOs flying over Maury Island in June 1947, the Maury Island case contains several unusually bizarre, but historically proven facts, including the first reported case of government-sponsored “men in black,” two suspicious crashes of planes transporting case evidence back to their home base, several shadowy deaths of witnesses and participants, and a historically proven tie-in to the John F. Kennedy assassination.
When all of the information is put together and compared, it becomes evident that there may have been more to the Maury Island event than academics have given credit for. The Maury Island event is a really odd case study.
Six UFOs were observed above Maury Island, Washington, in the Maury Island Incident.
Harold A. Dahl, his 15-year-old son Charles, the family dog, and two crewmen were patrolling the Puget Sound port just north of Seattle, Washington, on June 21, 1947. It was typical practice in Puget Sound at the time for logs to break free from “jams” and drift freely in open seas. Informal “harbor patrols” operated to pluck the logs from the water and sell them for a salvage fee to the timber mills. Dahl was hunting for timber in his workboat at 2:00 p.m. when he noticed six enormous, round, metallic objects hovering about 1,000 feet in the air above Maury Island.
The objects were saucer or round-shaped (media reports characterized them as doughnut-shaped), roughly 100 feet in diameter, and had a 25-foot space in the middle that was either lighted with intense light or had a hollow chamber, according to Dahl. Dahl observed spherical portholes or windows on the aircraft’s edges (other versions claim the windows were inside the aircraft’s interior illuminated region), and he concluded that the mysterious items were intelligently operated.
Dahl and the other witnesses were on the island’s eastern side (at the time, Maury Island was not connected to Vashon Island by a causeway, and the only way to get there was by boat) when they saw five of the objects circling a sixth item that looked to be experiencing mechanical issues. The distressed object sank gently to around 500 feet above the water’s surface and lingered there silently.
One of the objects broke loose from the circle after approximately five minutes and plummeted to join the ailing ship. The two items “touched,” and stayed in contact for several minutes. According to Dahl, one of the objects suddenly made a loud “thud” sound, and the ailing UFO began spewing metallic debris. Dahl initially mistook the thing for a newspaper dropper. Investigators learned the following from him:
“As soon as this sound was heard, the center aircraft began spewing what seemed to be thousands of newspapers from somewhere inside its core. The newspapers, which turned out to be a white sort of very light metal, flew to earth, with the majority falling in the water.”
The material descending from the item looked to be made of a lightweight metallic composition, according to Dahl. Some of the debris landed on the beach at Maury Island, while others fell into the ocean and generated steam when they breached the surface. As debris poured down on Dahl’s boat, he beached it on the sands of Maury Island. One of the pieces burned his son’s arm and killed his dog. Dahl dashed onto the beach, dragging his son by the arm, and found safety under a stack of adjacent logs. Another piece of debris dropped on a bird, killing it, he remembered.
He went on to explain two different sorts of metallic detritus. Some of the material was characterized as a bright, white metallic substance, while others were described as darker, larger chunks like “lava rock.” Dahl was photographing the weird craft when all six of them “started heading west, towards the ocean” (the ailing craft appearing no worse for the wear).
Dahl tried to call for aid on his radio as the items sailed out into the distance, but the radio was broken. He hastily grabbed some of the beach trash, dropped the dead dog into the water (giving it a sort of “burial at sea”), and boarded the boat to return to Tacoma. He brought his kid to the hospital emergency department upon arriving at the port, then reported what he had seen to his boss, Fred Lee Crisman.
“We gathered some of the metal that appeared to be dropping newspapers… I told Fred L. Crisman about our experience… As confirmation of our claim, we delivered him the camera with its film and the metal bits we had brought on board.”
Pilot Fred Crisman, who participated in the Korean War, was skeptical. He didn’t trust Dahl’s fancy account and was enraged by the boat’s damage. Our tale begins to branch in various directions at this point, becoming much weirder.
Kenneth Arnold investigation.
Dahl and Crisman sent a letter and pieces of the debris to Ray Palmer, the editor of eight Ziff-Davis publications, including the popular magazine Amazing Stories, which specialized in bizarre and unusual tales (Palmer was later fired from Ziff-Davis and went on to found an even more popular paranormal magazine – Fate magazine).
Palmer was captivated by Dahl’s account and dialed Kenneth Arnold (yes, *the* Kenneth Arnold) from his Chicago office. Arnold, who was already in the Pacific Northwest examining other sightings of UFOs in the region, was informed about the encounter.
Kenneth Arnold is credited as being one of the first witnesses to a UFO sighting (read more about the Kenneth Arnold sighting here). He was so touched by his encounter that he began looking into additional UFO sightings around the country in an attempt to learn more about the weird objects he had seen in the sky earlier that month.
Captain E.J. Smith, a longtime friend and United Airlines pilot, was phoned by Kenneth Arnold in late July 1947 to beg for help with the inquiry. Smith agreed immediately and traveled to Tacoma to see Arnold. Meetings were set up in a local Tacoma hotel (Winthrop Hotel, room 502) to interview Dahl and Crisman and look through the physical evidence they had gathered. Oddly, they discovered that Dahl’s son, Charles, had “disappeared” and was unable to be interviewed when they arrived (it was later reported that he was found in Montana with no recollection of how he got there).
In an aircraft crash, two Air Force investigators died.
Captain Davidson piloted the plane, which took off at 2:00 a.m. on August 1st, with Brown serving as the acting copilot in the cockpit. They were joined by two more crew members: a Crew Chief and a “hitchhiker.” The B-25 they were flying caught fire fifty minutes into the trip and crashed in Kelso, Washington, at 2:50 a.m. The two crew members parachuted to safety and made it out alive. Because of the dense fog in the region, an immediate search for Brown and Davidson was impossible, but they were eventually confirmed to have died in the collision. They had just recently become the first victims of the newly founded United States Air Force combat arm.
The loss of two Air Force officers in an unexpected jet crash, as well as evidence from witnesses on the ground who claimed to have heard a loud shot before the accident (implying that the plane had been shot down), sparked a frenzy of activity inside the US government. In addition to the plane accident inquiry, the Air Force looked into the Maury Island event further. J. Edgar Hoover, the FBI Director, initiated his own inquiry into the matter.
Meanwhile, Tacoma Times writer Paul Lance began getting multiple unusual phone calls from the same anonymous caller less than an hour after the B-25 crashed into the ground and before any official information of the deaths had been revealed. Before the identities of the pilots lost in the jet disaster were disclosed by the Air Force, a caller gave Lance the names of the pilots killed in the plane crash. The jet had been shot down with a 20mm gun, according to another caller. Three more calls followed each one providing additional information about the bizarre accident and its connection to the Maury Island tragedy.
The Tacoma Times printed a front-page story the next day that read, “Sabotage Hinted in Crash of Army Bomber at Kelso,” with a subtitle that read, “Plane May Hold Flying Disk Secret.” The plane had been damaged or shot down, according to the story, to prevent the transport of flying disk shards to Hamilton Field, California, for study. The Air Force, needless to say, was not amused.
Crisman and Dahl have withdrawn their claims.
Crisman and Dahl officially withdrew their claims the next day, on August 3, 1947, and refused to grant any additional interviews. Friends recalled Dahl being furious about the affair years later, and according to an FBI report, Dahl told friends that “he was sick of the entire business and that if the was ever contacted by the Army or the authorities, he was going to deny ever having seen anything and claim to be ‘the biggest liar that ever lived.”
In the meantime, Frank Arnold’s probe into the situation came to a standstill. Arnold packed his belongings, boarded his single-engine plane, and flew home, enraged by the entire situation. Arnold’s jet, in an unexpected twist, also crashed – at Pendleton. An inspection of the grounded jet found that a fuel valve had been purposefully shut off, despite the fact that he was unharmed in the accident.
More unsolved fatalities and the FBI isn’t certain it’s a fake.
On August 14, 1947, 11 days after Crisman and Dahl withdrew their statements, Tacoma Times reporter Paul Lance (who received the anonymous phone calls about the Maury Island event) died unexpectedly. His corpse was examined for 36 hours by pathologists, but no cause of death was discovered.
Ted Morello, a United Press “stringer” covering the Seattle region, died shortly after Tacoma Times writer Paul Lance died. The Tacoma Times continued to publish for a few more months before quietly closing its doors for good.
FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover sent a teletype to FBI Seattle field agent George Wilcox on the same day Lance died. Hoover stated in it:
“It also appears that Dahl and Crisman did not tell the army superiors about the fake.”
The following is what George Wilcox had to say in response:
“Please be noted that Dahl did not acknowledge to Brown that his narrative was a fraud, but merely claimed that if questioned by authorities, he would say it was a hoax to avoid any more difficulty.”
Crisman and Dahl’s retraction of their story appears to have been forced upon them.
Crisman told Fate magazine in January 1950 that the incident did occur and that the assertions that he withdrew his report were a “blatant fabrication.”
Crisman’s life was still full of thrills and spills. An unknown gunman peppered his automobile with gunfire as he drove home from work in 1968. Crisman was subpoenaed by New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison to testify in the John F. Kennedy assassination inquiry two weeks later. Crisman stated that he was unaware of the incident.
Although Garrison took no further legal action against Crisman, early JFK scholars recognized Crisman as one of the three mystery “hobos” who were apprehended and photographed immediately after President Kennedy’s killing.