A series of New Jersey police sightings after a reported disc landing in a reservoir — important because police and several newspapers openly rejected an attempted «hoax» explanation.
The action began on September 15. At 5 p.m., two shiny discs were seen over Oradell, N.J. At 6 p.m., two shiny round UFOs were sighted by former Navy flying officer J. J. McVickers, just across the state line. At 7:50, NICAP member Victor Cipolla saw a glowing object descend toward Oradell, and other witnesses saw it dart back and forth near the reservoir. At 7:55, three teen-aged boys saw a bright oval-shaped ob ject land in the reservoir, with a loud splash. A man working nearby also heard the splash, according to police. After a moment the strange device took off, climbed silently at high speed.
As McGuire AFB began an investigation, new reports came in. On September 21, four Hawthorne police officers watched a device with two beams like headlights hover over a quarry. Officer George Jediny, in a report to NICAP, said the UFO — which he sketched as a disc — seemed to revolve. The quarry night watchman, Wm. Stocks, said the UFO had also appeared the night before. When he drove a Jeep nearer to check up, the object maneuvered to keep out of the headlights. (Similar reaction often reported. )
Just after midnight, September 24, the same or a similar device was seen over the quarry by over a dozen Hawthorne police officers and the chief reporter of the N. J. State Press, George Della Penta. When a police-car spotlight was pointed up at the UFO, it began to move. Before it left, Mr. Della Penta shot 18 feet of color film. (Analysis not completed. )
Later, Oradell police received a letter signed «The Bergenfield Pranksters,» purporting to be from some boys who said they faked the sightings with aluminum-coated model aircraft supported by helium balloons. This was promptly rejected by the police and newspapers that checked the facts, among them:
The Newark Evening News, Science Writer Philip Del Vecchio. «It would have been impossible for them (the Bergen County boys) to put their model planes so high that they could be seen in Hawthorne… No object such as they could have put together could have moved at the lightning speeds attributed to the UFO. The light.., could not have been produced by amateurs. This newspaper makes an appeal to other residents …with the assurance that reports will be treated with dignity.
The Hawthorne Observer, rebuking those who accepted an unsigned letter from a town miles away, said it was time to treat the reports seriously.
The Riverdale Sunday Trend: «Suppose the real hoax is the letter purporting to explain the whole thing?»
The Hawthorne News Record: «To imply so flippantly that our police officers spent almost half an hour looking at a balloon and then watched it speed away at an incredible rate — all in quite an opposite direction from Oradell—is insulting.»
The Newark Sunday News: «Flying saucers are still a big mystery…are seen with great regularity by sane and logical inhabitants of the planet Earth. What they are and where they come from and what their mission is has not yet been satisfactorily explained.»
Regardless of the final outcome, these New Jersey sightings have shown that an increasing number of newspapers no longer accept quick brush-off answers to sightings by competent witnesses.