The Levelland UFO Incident


On the night of November 2, 1957, many people reported sightings of flashes of blue light, a rocket- or egg-shaped craft and the failure of automobile engines and radios.
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Several People Saw...Something

The mystery began within hours after Sputnik II was launched by the Soviet Union. It was the late evening of November 2, 1957, in Levelland, Texas. Two migrant workers, Joe Salas and Pedro Saucedo, were driving just west of town. They observed a blue flash of light located near the road. The engine of their truck stalled and they were unable to drive. Suddenly, a rocket-shaped object raised into the air and approached the truck. They heard an extremely loud noise and felt a rush of wind as the object passed over them. They reported to incident to Officer A. J. Fowler of the Levelland police department who promptly dismissed their report as a hoax.

One hour later, Jim Wheeler, reported seeing a brightly lit egg-shaped object blocking his way in the road. The object was approximately 200 feet long. His car engine also died. He exited his vehicle and the object left the area. His car started as soon as the object departed. More calls followed. Officer Fowler stated that all of the callers were quite excited or frightened.

Reports Pour In

By the end of the incident, there would be 15 reports of UFO sightings. The reports gained credibility when it became known that Sheriff Weir Clem and Fire Chief Ray Jones also witnessed the phenomenon. The news of UFO sightings in the small Texas town spread like wildfire and gained national attention. The case was investigated by the U.S. Air Force’s UFO investigative group, known as Project Blue Book. Many ufologists and other paranormal scholars find the Project Blue Book’s report severely limited. The investigators only spent a few hours in the Levelland area. They interviewed only seven of the potential witnesses and dismissed Pedro Saucedo’s account due to his lack of education.


Some have suggested that the UFO was mistaken for natural weather phenomena, such as St. Elmo’s fire or ball lightning.
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Project Blue Book concluded that the visual anomalies and automotive disturbances were caused by a severe electrical storm or a weather phenomenon known as St. Elmo’s fire. To many, it seemed to be a pat answer to a question the government did not want to answer.

Could It Really Have Just Been Lightning?

The mystery was not easily explained away. Some critics do not accept the investigation reports. Dr. J. Allen Hynek, an astronomer from Northwestern University, is one. It is important to note that he also consults to Project Blue Book. Dr. Hynek argues that there is not any evidence of an electrical storm on the night of November 2, 1957. He does concede there was some rain and thunderstorms in the surrounding area. However, he stresses that even ball lightning could not interfere with headlights or stop vehicle engines in the way witnesses describe.

A 2002 television interview with Sheriff Clem’s widow confirms that the Sheriff held firm in his belief that he witnessed something other than a lightning storm.

Sadly, there aren't any definitive answers. It is essentially impossible to conduct a scientific investigation of this incident 60 years after the fact. Would a more thorough investigation in 1957 have yielded more conclusive proof of an extraterrestrial visit? We may never know.