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My Visit to the Locations Associated with the Exeter Incident

I've lived in New England for half of my life and have been interested in UFOs since I was a kid, yet I only recently heard of the Exeter Incident. It involved a series of UFO sightings in central New Hampshire, one of which captured national attention because it was witnessed by two local police officers who gave the account credibility. A year after the sighting, investigative journalist John G. Fuller popularized the event when he interviewed the witness and published their accounts in Incident at Exeter.

Although known as the Exeter incident, the sighting actually occurred in the adjacent town on Kensington. It involved Norman Muscarello, an eighteen-year-old resident of Exeter who had recently graduated high school and would be leaving to join the Navy in three weeks. Norman was walking home along Route 150 at 2 AM on the evening of 3 September 1965 after visiting his girlfriend in Kensington. He noticed five bright, flashing red lights in the distance which he initially thought might be the lights of a police car or fire engine. As Norman drew nearer, he noticed the lights hovering in the air just above the trees and illuminating in brilliant red light a nearby field and a house that belonged to the Dining family. Norman estimated the object to be eighty to ninety feet in diameter. It made no sound. He became terrified when the object moved toward him. Panicking, he dived into a ditch beside the road. The lights then changed direction and hovered over the Dining farmhouse. Norman ran to the Russell house across the street, pounded on the door, and yelled for help. No one answered (the Russells later stated they heard Muscarello at the door but were too frightened to open it). The object then disappeared into the nearby woods.

This is the house and barnyard that belonged to the Dining family where Norman spotted the UFO. Today it's the Kensington Equestrian Center. If you do go to see the site for yourself, the owner doesn't mind people taking photos but insists that no one enter his property.

Seeing the headlights of an approaching car, Norman ran into the road and forced it to stop. The couple drove the frightened teenager to Exeter police station where Norman, pale and visibly shaken, told his story to officer Reginald Toland who was working the night desk. Norman was considered by the police to be a good kid, not known to pulling pranks or exaggerating. However, the teenager was agitated and genuinely scared, so Toland radioed police officer Eugene Bertrand Jr., and asked him to swing by the station.

Norman repeated his story to Bertrand who believed him. Earlier that evening, the officer had come across a distressed woman sitting in her car on the shoulder of Route 108. When Bertrand stopped to ask if she had a problem, the woman told him that a "huge object with flashing red lights" had followed her car for twelve miles from Epping and hovered over it before flying off. Although Bertrand considered her a "kook," he stayed with her for fifteen minutes until she had calmed down and ready to resume her drive. Norman's story gave credence to the woman's claim.

Bertrand drove Norman back to the area of his sighting. When they left the car and walked into the field toward the woods where the teenager had first seen the lights, horses in a nearby corral began kicking the fence and sides of a barn, making loud, frightened noises. Dogs in the area also began barking and howling. An object slowly rose from the trees beyond the corral. Bertrand described the UFO as "this huge, dark object as big as a barn... with red flashing lights on it." The object moved silently toward them, swaying back and forth. Instinctively remembering his police training, Bertrand dropped to one knee, drew his revolver, and pointed it at the object. He then decided shooting would not be wise, so he reholstered the revolver, grabbed Norman, and both ran back to the patrol car.

Bertrand radioed another Exeter policeman, David Hunt, for assistance, and while the two waited in the car for Hunt to arrive they continued to observe the object. They "observed the object as it hovered one hundred feet away and at a one hundred foot altitude. It rocked back and forth. The pulsating red lights flashed in rapid sequence, first from right to left, then left to right, each cycle consuming no more than two seconds. The animals continued to act agitated." The object was still there when Hunt arrived, and he witnessed it. The object finally rose over the trees and disappeared. All three men drove back to the Exeter police station and immediately filed separate reports on what they had seen.

Below is the town hall in Exeter, which hasn't changed since 1965. The police station was located in the rear right corner of the building, which is now a public restroom.

Although the sightings in Kensington on 3 September received national publicity and became the most famous, other sightings of UFOs were reported for weeks before and after that evening. Many of those took place in this field off of Shaw Hill Road, halfway between Exeter and the Dining home.

This was the first major UFO incident reported in New Hampshire. Even though Betty and Barney Hill claimed to have been abducted by aliens outside of Lancaster, New Hampshire on 19-20 September 1961, that would not be made public until several months after the Exeter Incident.

Not surprisingly, the government attempted to brush off the incident. When reported to nearby Pease Air Force Base outside of Portsmouth, the base dismissed it as the reflection of lights from their airfield, even though there was a twenty-mile difference between the two locations. The Pentagon informed reporters that the three men had seen "nothing more than stars and planets twinkling... owing to a temperature inversion." Project Blue Book's supervisor, USAF Major Hector Quintanilla, wrote policemen Bertrand and Hunt that "in addition to aircraft from this operation [Big Blast], there were also five B-47 aircraft flying in your area during this period.... Since there were many aircraft in the area, at the time, and there were no reports of unidentified objects from personnel engaged in this operation, we might then assume that the objects [you] observed between midnight and two A.M. might be associated with this military air operation."

What do you think?

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