If there are two things we can say for sure about reports of alleged crashed UFOs, it's that (A) there are a hell of a lot of them; and (B) many are highly controversial in nature. And one of those cases that falls firmly into category B is alleged to have occurred off the coast of Norway on the island of Spitsbergen in mid-1952. It's a case that a few UFO researchers accept as being genuine, but that a great many believe to be nothing less than a complete and outrageous hoax. There's another possibility too, however: that the story was a deliberate, government-created "plant" to confuse the truth about tales of UFOs crashing to earth, whatever that truth might really be...
Now-declassified CIA files of 1952 on the Spitsbergen affair begin: "Writing in the German magazine Der Fliger, Dr. Waldemar Beck says that a flying saucer which recently fell at Spitsbergen has been studied by eminent Norwegian and German rocket experts. He writes that Dr Norsal, a Norwegian expert in rocket construction, went to the place where the flying saucer had fallen a few hours after it had been discovered in the mountains of Spitsbergen by Norwegian jet planes."
The CIA continued: "In the wreck of the apparatus the expert is said to have discovered a radio piloting transmitter with a nucleus of plutonium transmitting on all wavelengths with 934 hertz, a measure that has been unknown so far. The investigation has also shown that the flying saucer crashed because of a defect in its radio piloting system. The saucer which carried no crew has a diameter of 47 meters. The steel used in the construction is an unknown ally. It consists of an exterior disc provided at its peripheral with 46 automatic jets. This disc pivots around the central sphere which contains the measurement and remote control equipment. The measurement instructions have an inscription in Russian."
Was there some substance to this report? And if so, was this crashed flying saucer Russian or extraterrestrial in origin? Having an interest in the case, I dug further, and came across several pages of U.S. Air Force material that showed shortly after the incident was reported by the media, the intelligence arm of the U.S. Air Force made inquiries with the Norwegian military who asserted that they had no knowledge of the crash. But still the story refused to die.
Three years later, I discovered, a seldom-seen account of the crash was printed in a Stuttgart newspaper, the Stuttgart Tageblatt. A translation of the account read:
"Oslo, Norway, Sept. 4, 1955 – Only now a board of inquiry of the Norwegian General Staff is preparing publication of a report on the examination of remains of a UFO crashed near Spitsbergen, presumably in early 1952. Colonel Gernod Darnbyl, during an instruction for Air Force officers, stated: 'The crashing of the Spitsbergen disc was highly important. Although our present scientific knowledge does not permit us to solve all the riddles, I am confident that these remains from Spitsbergen will be of utmost importance in this respect.'"
I continued to review the article, and was intrigued to see that Colonel Darnbyl was now specifically denying that the disc was Russian in origin: “Some time ago, a misunderstanding was caused by saying that this disc was of Soviet origin. It has – this we wish to state emphatically – not been built on earth. The materials used in its construction are completely unknown to all experts who participated in the investigation.”
The Stuttgarter Tageblatt had still more data to impart: “According to Colonel Darnbyl, the Board of Inquiry is not going to publish an extensive report until some sensational facts have been discussed with U.S. and British experts. We should reveal what we found out, as misplaced secrecy might lead to panic.”
The newspaper continued: “Contrary to information from American and other sources, Second Lieutenants Brobs and Tyllenson, who have been assigned as special observers of the Arctic regions since the event at Spitsbergen, report the flying discs have landed in the polar regions several times."
Said Lieutenant Tyllenson: 'I think the Arctic is serving as a kind of air base for the unknowns, especially during snow storms when we are forced back to our bases. I have seen them land and take off on three separate occasions. I notice that, after having landed, they execute a speedy rotation around their discs. A brilliant glow of light, the intensity of which is variable with regard to speed at landing and at take off, prevents any view of the things happening behind this curtain of light and/or inside the disc itself.'"
These are certainly fantastic revelations, but how much can be authenticated? The British researcher Philip Mantle looked into the case in 1985 and had received an outright denial that anything remotely resembling the Spitsbergen crash had ever occurred on Norwegian soil. “The whole story seems utterly unfounded,” Mantle was told by Arild Isegg, the head of the Information Division, Norwegian Royal Ministry of Defense. Moreover, despite its 1952 interest in the matter, the CIA later came to accept the whole thing as a complete fabrication that the media ran with and which spiralled wildly out of control.
However, Spitsbergen refused to roll over and die. UFO investigator Bill Moore spoke with the French investigator Jean Sider, who had uncovered a clipping from a Nancy-based newspaper that referred to a Nazi-developed craft built in the closing stages of the Second World War, the description of which sounded remarkably like the craft recovered at Spitsbergen.
By far the most intriguing aspect of this saga, however, came from none other than the National Security Agency. From the NSA I obtained a translation of a 1960s Russian media article on the UFO subject. Contained within the article, I was interested to see, was a passing reference to the Spitsbergen incident, which stated:
"An abandoned silvery disc was found in the deep rock-coal seams in Norwegian coalmines on Spitsbergen. It was pierced and marked by micro-meteor impacts and bore all traces of having performed a long space voyage. It was sent for analysis to the Pentagon and disappeared there."
This was certainly a new slant on the case; but what really caught my eye was the National Security Agency’s reaction to the mention of Spitsbergen. Instead of dismissing the matter as a hoax, a still-unidentified NSA agent circled the paragraph of the article referencing Spitsbergen, and wrote in the margin the intriguing word “PLANT” in bold capitals.
Had the NSA been exposed to data that could conclusively lay the legend of Spitsbergen to rest, once and for all? If that was the case, the NSA weren’t saying, and no further evidence pertaining to National Security Agency involvement in the Spitsbergen incident came to light.
And yet, that curious one-word note, scrawled many years previous by an anonymous NSA employee, continues to puzzle me. Rather than indicating an outright hoax, the “PLANT” reference suggested that the Spitsbergen story (even if bogus) had been disseminated officially, possibly to cloud and confuse the rumors surrounding crashed-UFO incidents in the late 1940s and early 1950s.
Of course, this begs the questions: (A) How many more "UFO crash" stories may have had their origins in the world of government/intelligence-orchestrated programs of disinformation and psychological warfare; and (B) why the need for such actions?
Perhaps certain governments really do have crashed UFOs in their possession and wish to swamp the real data with so much faked material that the former will get buried, hidden and confused by the latter. Or, maybe there has never been a real crashed UFO event - ever - but certain governments, at the height of the Cold War, dearly wished to promote such scenarios as a means to frighten and intimidate the enemy.
After all, effectively telling your potential foe that "We have alien technology in our hands and you don't" may have worried more than a few generals - whether in the Kremlin or the Pentagon, or both - when the Flying Saucer mystery kicked off all those years ago. And that the stories of crashed UFOs may not even have been true demonstrates how a well-placed lie can have a profound effect...