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The UFO Files
I-Team: New UFO Mystery Surfaces
July 31, 2008

I-Team: New UFO Mystery Surfaces
George Knapp, Chief Investigative Reporter
July 31, 2008

A large object with a turquoise hue plummeted out of the sky earlier this summer and plowed into the earth south of Las Vegas near Needles, California.

Eyewitnesses say this was no meteorite, especially since a bunch of helicopters came looking for it and then hauled it away.

The object was seen in the early morning hours of May 14. It appeared to crash into the ground just west of the Colorado River. And that's when things got interesting for residents of the area.

Somewhere in the rough terrain just west of the Colorado River and south of Needles is a point of impact, maybe some burn marks, created by something that fell from the sky. Frank Costigan saw it because he got up at 3 a.m. to let his cat out -- a fiery object that flashed across the sky, but it wasn't a meteor he says.

"It was bright, bright enough that it illuminated the ground," he said.

For seven years, Costigan worked as the chief of airport security at L.A.X.  He says the mystery object flew out of the north east, heading southwest, traveling very fast, but at one point it slowed down, then sped up again.

"It went behind a hill, and I waited to see if I could hear it crash because as big as it was, it was bound to make noise," he said.

But he didn't hear a crash. Hours later, David Hayes, the owner of KTOX Radio in Needles, was coming to work when he spotted an odd formation of dark vehicles getting off the highway. He drew a picture of the lead vehicle, a large truck with a dome on top and a black structure that reminded him of a stealth fighter.

"It seemed like it was some kind of surveillance vehicle -- four-wheel drive. It had government plates, U.S. government plates and behind it were a couple of vans that looked like support vehicles," said Hayes.

The men inside had a military bearing, Hayes said, but weren't in uniform. He made eye contact with one of the drivers and the guy followed him. Later in the day, one of the vehicles was parked outside the station, seemingly conducting a surveillance of the place.

"These guys staring you down had a 'Men in Black' feel to it?" asks Knapp.

"Absolutely. Very serious, serious as a heart attack," said Hayes.

Coincidentally, Costigan, the ex-cop, works on investigations for Hayes. When he came in to the radio station, he told Hayes about the thing he had seen in the sky, and Hayes told him about the Men in Black.

Then they got another piece of the puzzle -- a call from a man who lives in a houseboat on the river, who said he saw the fiery object -- that it had crashed about 100 yards west of the river, that it landed with a thump. Hayes says he's known the witness for years by the name Bob on the river. Bob thought a plane had crashed and tried to call 911 but his cell wouldn't work, so he moved his boat out into the river, and then heard the helicopters.

In an interview with journalist Linda Howe, Bob says he saw at least five helicopters flying in formation, including a large sky crane. The crane picked up the oval shaped object, still glowing, and flew away, heading in the direction of Las Vegas. One odd detail, the choppers arrived only 17 minutes after the object crashed. He described it to Hayes.

"It was about the size of a semi-trailer, he says, oblong shaped thing," said Hayes.

Out of the blue, the station got a call from a friend in Laughlin who said the Laughlin Airport had been inundated on the night of the crash with so-called Janet planes. That's the airline that flies workers to top secret Area 51. Costigan says the airport could not confirm this because no one is on duty after 6 p.m. at night, not even in the tower.

The black vehicles have left Needles. Bob the houseboat guy can't be found either.

"The fact that there were people here the next day, it was almost like they were doing some sort of cleanup or whatever. The point is, something definitely happened.

The I-Team phoned nearly every agency we could think of to see if they had received any report or knew anything. We were not surprised to learn that no one knew anything.

Here's the list -- police agencies in three states, the Laughlin Airport, the weather service, the FAA and several military bases.

A military watchdog group found a public record showing there was at least one army helicopter in the air in that area at that time. The helicopter, oddly enough, is listed as being attached to a U.S. base in Europe.

We are filing freedom of information requests and will report back when we get responses.

You can learn more by clicking here. 

SOURCE: Channel 8 News George Knapp

Related Links:Update:

These articles are no longer posted on KLAS Channel 8 News and George no longer works there. They are also not available on the Wayback Machine

I-Team: Was the Needles UFO a Secret Military Craft
May 20, 2010

I-Team: Was the Needles UFO a Secret Military Craft
May 20, 2010
Chief Investigative Reporter George Knapp and Photojournalist Matt Adams

NEEDLES, Ca. -- It's a UFO, in the literal sense -- it's still unidentified. Half a dozen witnesses say they saw something in the sky over Needles and Bullhead City or watched it being carried away by a phalanx of military helicopters. Was it a spy plane or a drone or something more exotic?

Several eyewitnesses say the mystery object blazed out of the sky in the early hours of May 14, 2008. The long cylinder with the turquoise glow was seen over Bullhead City by former cop Frank Costigan and others. It seemed, at one point, to slow down in its descent.

South of Needles, a fisherman in a houseboat saw the light pass over and slam into the riverbank 50 or so yards west of the Colorado River. Minutes later, at least four military type helicopters appeared in the area and a giant sky crane was used to haul the object into the air and away toward the north.

The fisherman, who uses the nickname Bob on the River, said what he saw. "It didn't look like a meteor. I've seen meteors before. It looked like a plane crashing."

In the two years since the story broke, a lot of people have traveled to the rough terrain of the tri-state area to search for the point of impact -- UFO enthusiasts, TV producers, aviation buffs -- but the shifting sand and thick salt cedar defied efforts to identify a crash site. 

The I-Team traveled with Houseboat Bob to whittle down the search area, though we still did not locate the spot. But Bob kept looking. 

He traded in the houseboat for an RV and now lives in the desert, not on the river, but he never stopped searching, driven by one thing.

"Everybody thinks I'm an idiot. Everybody thinks I'm looney tooney in the cabooney," he said.

His weekly one-man safaris into the riverbank region came up with something no one else noticed, not even those who searched by air. A large, flat clearing where someone used heavy equipment to remove the gnarly brush, about 70 yards west of the river at almost the exact spot where Bob says the object landed. 

It's an unusual spot, he says. "You would not see another hardened ground clearing like this anywhere between here and Needles. It's all sugar sand everywhere."

Ex-cop Frank Costigan is one of those who searched for the crash site. He's also amazed to find the clearing, but says area residents encountered members of what was described as a clean up team in the weeks after the crash.

"There was a cleanup crew dining at the Topock Marina on occasion, after that thing had been removed and we were hunting for the spot," he said.

But if this is the spot, we still don't know what hit the ground. Retired intelligence Colonel John Alexander speculates it could be any number of high tech UAV's -- unmanned spy planes being developed at several western test ranges, including Area 51 in Nevada, or Edwards in California.

"It's also the possibility it lost control and flew off the range. It's not that far from Edwards or the test ranges," he said.

Last month, a classified object was launched into space by the Air Force. The Pentagon has confirmed it's the X-37B space plane, an unmanned spy plane, sort of the military's version of the space shuttle. A few images of the X-37 have been made public, along with video of a sister vehicle the X-40. 

The military acknowledges these crafts have been test flown at Edwards and Vandenberg, not too far from Needles. The shape and the size are a near perfect match for what the witnesses saw.

Bob confirms it looks like the object he saw. "Without the horizontal surfaces, yes. Without the wings," he said.

Houseboat Bob said even though the glow from the object was blue green, the object appeared to be black and shiny as it was being airlifted away. Photos of the X-37 show black, shiny tiles on the exterior.

The I-Team sent records requests to numerous agencies and none were able to shed light on what the Needles object might have been. The Air Force won't say much about the mission of the X-37, but military analysts have some guesses.

"What they say they will use it for testing space technologies, and certainly having a re-usable vehicle would be a way of sending up prototypes, batteries, cooling systems, electronics, testing them then bringing them back down so you can modify them. Possibly, it's a space maneuver vehicle so it can duck back in the atmosphere and change its orbit so next time it flew over China, the Chinese wouldn't expect it coming," said military watchdog John Pike.

Another military analyst who spoke on the condition of anonymity says he thinks it could be part of a weapons program known as the Rods from the Gods, which we know has been tested out at Area 51. These are spaced-based kinetic weapons that literally fall out of the sky and cause problems for the bad guys. 

But for now, the best guess of the witnesses is the X-37.

SOURCE: Channel 8 News George Knapp


Excerpt from: Mysterious Crash Near Needles, California

Bob: Whatever crashed, I thought at the time it was a plane crashing.


Bob: No, because it was flaming.


Bob: Oh, yes, but a turquoise-blue fire with some green in it. And it hit the ground and bounced. But there were many other pieces – there were at least nine other pieces that bounced up in a circle around the turquoise blue-green object.

(further on)
Bob:That’s the funny part. I could not figure that out. I was there trying to call 911 about an airplane crash and I went back up to get the phone signal and the skycrane already had the big object in the air! I could tell because it was still glowing – it was still red hot.

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