STAN GORDON - PA’s Foremost UFO and Cryptid Researcher By Deborah Painter
FATE / ISSUE 72
Stan Gordon is an adventurous fellow who has been conducting investigative research in southwestern Pennsylvania for five decades. The “Steve Irwin” of Pennsylvania’s unidentified craft and creatures, Stan and his fellow investigators have driven thousands of miles to walk the hills and forests of southwestern Pennsylvania, interview witnesses, take photos of the locales and, when possible, make plaster casts of footprints of reported cryptids. These are a bigger challenge to study than your average kangaroo or crocodile.
The creatures Stan Gordon studies are not supposed to even exist! He is also interested in Unidentified Flying Objects. His first case was the Kecksburg incident of 1965, which occurred just miles from his home. As a teenager, Stan set up a UFO hotline in 1969. In 1970, Stan formed the Westmoreland County UFO Study Group. It was the first of three groups he established to collect data on unusual phenomena in the Keystone State. Just three years after this group was established, a major UFO and Bigfoot “flap” perplexed and frightened residents in several counties. Stan is a former Pennsylvania state director for the Mutual UFO Network (MUFON). He was the first to receive the MUFON “Meritorious Achievement in a UFO Investigation Award.” Since November 1993, Stan continues to document and investigate the odd reports that come to him almost daily. He has been a guest on many popular radio shows, including Coast to Coast, and has been interviewed for the television pro- grams Creepy Canada, Unsolved Mysteries, Sightings, the Close Encounters series on the Science Channel, and Inside Edi- tion, among many others. Stan travels widely to give lectures on Pennsylvania UFO and cryptid reports. In September 2015 he was a featured speaker at the Point Pleasant, West Virginia Mothman Festival. Three weeks later he was the keynote speaker at the first annual Fayette County, Pennsylvania UFO-Bigfoot-Paranormal Expo. Stan Gordon’s latest of a three-part book series is the August 2015 release, Astonishing Encounters: Pennsylvania’s Unknown Creatures Casebook Three. This one definitely contains some mind boggling cases. Stan’s books are not sensationalist like so many others on the subjects. Instead, they quietly draw you into a Pennsylvania you might never have known, a place with strange aerial objects and beings that emerge from the fields and forests to startle and terrify. Stan him- self radiates level- headedness. I am sure he has experienced more than his fair share of disbelievers, but he is patient with them. He also possesses an admirable restraint. Stan does not pick a favored idea about what Bigfoot and UFOs are and run with it. This is the mark of a truly competent researcher. DP: Stan, I recall hearing you say in one of your lectures that you have been interested in UFOs since you were a child but never saw a UFO, is that right? SG: My original interest in UFOs and anomalist events occurred when I was ten years old in 1959. I have never personally seen a UFO or a Bigfoot. I have been working as an independent researcher since November of 1993. DP: Close encounters have been reported in Pennsylvania. UFOs do come close to autos and even affect them. In your book Silent Invasion: the Pennsylvania UFO-Big foot Casebook you detail a case in which a UFO actually gained pos- session of a motor vehicle and turned it around in the middle of the road to face the opposite direction while the driver was seated in it. SG: On October 15, 1973, Edward Deutsch was driving to work around 5:30 a.m. He was headed up Crooked Mountain between Catawissa and Ringtown when he noted flashing lights reflected on his automobile hood. He looked up to see an aerial object the size of a truck tire with green, red, and white blinking lights that flashed on and off. Mr. Deutsch became aware that his car’s wheels were turning. After the object sped off, the driver saw that his car was now facing opposite his original direction of travel. He saw a hunter com- ing up the mountain. He stopped to talk to Mr. Deutsch and reported also seeing the strange object. Mr. Deutsch did not obtain the name of the hunter. Westmoreland County UFO Study Group investigator Robert Daley followed up with an investigation and the account was published in the Philadelphia Inquirer. There was another similar case, also de- scribed in Silent Invasion that occurred in July of 1973, on Three Mile Hill (Route 31) between Acme and Laurelville. A woman and her child were heading home at midnight when rapidly moving solid illuminated objects, both larger than the car, approached them from just above, one from the right and the other from the left. The light was so intense that it hurt the woman’s eyes. Suddenly she could no longer control the brakes or the steering. Her engine cut off and with it the radio and lights. Her car was now completely controlled by the UFOs. The automobile came to a gentle stop at the bottom of the hill and the UFOs flew off. The woman’s car now functioned normally. DP: That encounter would certainly leave me with a severe case of the jitters.
Have you heard of cases of UFOs landing in Pennsylvania? Where? SG: From my recollection, there had been reports of alleged UFO landings in Pennsylvania during the 1960s, and possibly even in earlier years. The case that first comes to mind is the December 9, 1965, UFO crash- landing of an object that fell near Kecksburg in Mount Pleasant Township. I began to record details of that incident as the news mystery as to what that strange metallic acorn- shaped object was that was seen semi-buried in the ground down in the wooded ravine. The quick response to the area by the military to re- cover the object indicates that there was something at that location of government interest. Another famous case was the July 31, 1966, UFO landing at Presque Isle Park in Erie. That case was officially investigated by the Air Force. There were, however, a number of other reported UFO touchdowns around the greater Pitts- burgh area in the 1960s as well which did not receive any publicity. The 1970s was a very active decade with UFO encounters in the Keystone state and a number of landings were re- ported during that time period. The case that stands out was the October 25, 1973, UFO landing on a farm in Fayette County. A state trooper who had just returned from investigating the incident called me to provide details and request that I send a research team to the area immediately. A barn-sized, red spherical object was ob- served descending towards a pasture that evening by multiple witnesses. Three fellows went to investigate and came upon the object about 250 feet away that now appeared to look like a bright white dome and making a high-pitched sound. At the same time they noticed two very tall Bigfoot-like creatures with very long arms, walking along a barbed wire fence in their direction about 75 feet away. After taking some gunshots at the creatures which had no effect, they ran from the field and called the state police. The trooper who arrived about 45 minutes later reported seeing a large, glowing area in the pasture where the object had rested. There are many more details to the story which becomes much stranger. The en- tire account is discussed in my book, Silent Invasion: The Pennsylvania UFO-Bigfoot Casebook. DP: Are UFOS in Pennsylvania associated with gas wells, above ground tanks, and high tension power lines? SG: Many years ago during my field investigations I began to notice that many low level and close range UFO encoun- ters occurred in the vicinity of various en- ergy sources. These commonly took place near power stations and high tension power transmission lines, gas wells, gas lines, and fuel storage tanks. Also near radio and TV transmission towers, and near railroad tracks, etc. I have noticed that this association also commonly oc- curs at locations where Bigfoot, Thunder- birds, and other cryptid encounters have taken place. DP: Stan, have you seen any trends in UFO encounters in Pennsylvania over the decades since you began your research? SG: I remember people at lectures in the late 1960s and 1970s asking me why UFO sightings seemed mainly to occur in rural locations rather than in more populated areas. Many sightings in Pennsylvania, however have occurred over or near large cities and towns and over major highways, including the Turnpike. For example, there have been sight- ings over downtown Pittsburgh and nearby communities, and over Harris- burg and Philadelphia. In February of 1992 there was a major UFO incident over Williamsport, Pennsylvania, where a large, metallic, boomerang-shaped object was observed by many people and was in the news locally for days. While I still receive sightings of the classic disc-shaped UFO over the years, I am receiving more sightings of cigar and triangular-shaped objects. In more recent years there has been an increase in large solid box-shaped or rectangular objects. In some cases they appear to be solid black. In April of 2015, a huge, black box- shaped object with what appeared to be a series of windows was observed in the morning sky in Butler County. Two people who saw it from their car pulled over and readied their camera as the object moved into a cloud. They waited 45 minutes and the object was never seen again. I have also seen more reports in the last few years of what I call,“mini-UFOs.” These objects are generally spherical in shape and range from a few inches to a foot in diameter. On occasion these small objects have entered vehicles and homes where the windows were open. DP: Strange attributes of some Big- foot sightings you have identified are: vocalizations like babies crying; self-lumnous eyes; a few sightings where the creatures seemingly appear out of nowhere and disappear as quickly; and an extremely rapid gait for any primate or similar animal. According to your casebooks, they are usually seen at night between 10 PM and 4 AM, al- though occasionally are seen in broad daylight. They also commonly emit a bad smell, like rotted vegetation or sulfur. Can you add other strange attributes? SG: When I began investigating Big- foot encounters in Pennsylvania in 1965, I had always believed that these creatures were some unknown zoological specimen. Over the years some strange Bigfoot en- counters began to come to my attention which suggested that the Bigfoot phenomena was much more complex and un- usual. During that major wave of UFO and Bigfoot activity that was taking place in 1973-1974 in the Keystone State, some very strange, yet very well documented incidents occurred where a UFO and Big- foot were seen together at the same time and place. One of the most unusual cases was the October 25, 1973, incident where a UFO was on the ground and two Big- foot creatures were in the field at the same time. There were cases of trails of foot- prints that just stopped and vanished when there should have been more tracks. Stranger cases were reported such as the 1974 incident near Ohiopyle, where a woman who lived deep in the mountains, shot at a seven-foot-tall, hair covered creature only a few feet away. The woman blasted the creature with one round from her 16-gauge double-barrel shotgun. It disappeared in a bright flash of light. I have wondered for years as to why no Big- foot bodies have ever shown up. The Ohiopyle case and other similar events I am aware of might give us a clue. I am not suggesting that Bigfoot is an alien, since we don’t know for sure what the UFOs are that on occasion are seen nearby. I am of the opinion that there is more than one origin for the UFO cases that can’t be explained. The more I look into some of the low-level close encounter UFO cases and cryptid reports, the more I think it is possible that in some cases we are dealing with something that is inter- dimensional. What if some of these visitors are time travelers? Some cases I have looked into suggest that under certain conditions these objects and beings come into our reality and appear physically solid. They at times can leave behind physical evidence, and then suddenly vanish. I don’t have the answers as to what the explanations are for these encounters. While many very strange cases continue to occur yearly, I believe that we need to look deeper into these incidents to try to find some answers. While in many cases observers report a putrid odor when a Bigfoot is present, in many other Bigfoot encounters, how- ever, no such smell is noticed. DP: I’d like to talk about odd human responses, including cases of inexplicable forgetfulness concerning the encounter. I recall in your new book, Astonishing Encounters, a report of bluish-lighted rings and a human-like translucent entity seen in a tree in August 1985. Can you tell us about that unusual encounter and why the humans did not behave as they felt they should? SG: A boy and his parents were driving at dusk on a country road near the Loyalhanna Dam when their headlights caught a strange, large-headed entity larger than a human being, lying on a horizontal tree limb overhanging the road. The mother drew for me a detailed sketch of what she saw. The slender, glittering entity appeared to have no nose or ears. It was above two bluish-white lighted ring devices that seemed to be drawing some twigs, sticks, and pebbles into a tubular structure in which the rings were contained. The being looked at the three of them and placed its hand into the tube area. The three witnesses drove away, in- tending to return, but for some reason they felt that something was keeping them from going back. They could not account for their unexpected reaction, since it would have been, in the mother’s words, the normal thing to do. DP: Do we see the strange, three-toed footprints in Bigfoot tracks noted in Penn- sylvania anywhere outside of the state? SG: Three-toed footprints have been reported from throughout the U. S. and other countries where Bigfoot-like creatures have been seen. Both three- and five- toed tracks have been reported in many states where there has been a history of Bigfoot encounters. The five-toed tracks are more common here in Pennsylvania. To add to the mystery, sometimes four- toed tracks have shown up along with a series of other strange footprints that don’t appear to be hoaxed. For example, over the years there have been a number of pongid or ape tracks found across the state. DP: In Silent Invasion: the Pennsylvania UFO-Bigfoot Casebook a Youngstown woman visited a cemetery on September 1, 1973, to place flowers on a grave. A Big- foot approached her crying child. The mother snatched up her baby when the Bigfoot was just a few feet away, got in her car, drove to her parents’ home five miles away and was doubly frightened when the four saw a Bigfoot in the woods near this house. This all happened within a few hours of the first encounter and the mother considered the terrifying notion that the Bigfoot somehow followed the car. Was this an isolated instance of a Big- foot encounter twice in one day in two widely separated locations by the same person? SG: There was at least one other case of a woman who had a face-to-face en- counter with a Bigfoot in August of 1973, near the community of Beech Hills. She was staying at a friend’s home at the time and was very upset. She asked her friends to drive her home, which was several miles away. A short time after she arrived home, the same or similar creature appeared at that location. DP: You had a long career in advanced consumer electronics. How did being in this profession make more feasible your demanding research in unusual phenomena? SG: I worked with electronics most of my life. I watched the technology change as I grew up I did a lot of work with radio communications and this helped quite a bit with research efforts. Back in the 1970s some equipment that we needed for field investigations was unavailable for pur- chase or just too expensive. Some of my colleagues and I built some of the equipment. DP: I will play the Devil’s advocate for a Stan Gordon minute, Stan. Someone with more time and money than sense could build Big- foot suits of human hair, make big and heavy boots to leave odd footprints, have glow in the dark false eyes inserted in the costumes, make recordings of babies cry- ing or some blood-curdling screams, hire some very tall people to wear the costumes, smear the costumes with rotten meat to make the stench often associated with Bigfoot, and then have them go forth to make their presence known. Why can we not use this hypothesis to explain away all Bigfoot encounters and tracks? I know that some skeptics would love to do that. SG: My first of three volunteer re- search groups, the Westmoreland County UFO Study Group that investigated UFOs, Bigfoot, and other phenomena was established in 1970. These groups were made up mainly of people who had specialized training or research experience. There were scientists, engineers, technicians, former military intelligence officers, and police officers. There were people working with us with backgrounds in physics, biology, and anthropology, and even psychologists and others in the med- ical field. Most did so anonymously be- cause of their positions. We all did this around our regular jobs and were kept very busy with ongoing cases. By 1973, the group was covering the entire state of Pennsylvania, and many strange reports were being referred to us to investigate by law enforcement and the news media. In many cases we were on the scene of a Big- foot encounter within minutes to hours. The police investigated some cases as well during that time period. With my electronics background, I established a major radio communications center in my home and set up a radio dispatch system so we could get investigators out to an incident quicker. Over the years I interviewed hundreds of people who claim to have encountered Bigfoot. These people came from all walks of life and backgrounds. There were police officers, hunters, farmers, engineers, and even children reporting these incidents. In most cases, even in more recent reports, witnesses are seeking no publicity and were reluctant to talk about what they encountered. When we arrived at some locations, the witnesses were very emotional and frightened by what they saw. In some cases there was physical evidence at the scene such as trails of foot- prints, and in rare cases physical property damage. There are ways to tell if footprints have been hoaxed...that is why we had specialists on our team. The weight of the tracks into the ground, and how toes were separated in the footprints, were among features we looked at. Yes, there were hoax cases over the years, but we were able to determine that quickly in most instances. One of the most convincing types of evidence that police and I did see was the unusual animal reactions after a Bigfoot had been seen close by. While this effect has been noticed with various farm animals such as horses and cattle, it was very common with even the most vicious dogs. The canines that were close to a Bigfoot commonly trembled in fear, refused to bark, and quickly hid and wouldn’t move. You can fool people but not the animals. DP: Stan, here is a perplexing problem that has been nagging me for decades whenever I see a person on a TV program about cryptids, talking authoritatively about Bigfoot being some undiscovered species of North American primate, or the Thunderbird being an undiscovered bird species. My experience as an ecologist has taught me that the larger the animal, the more territory it needs to pro- cure food, cover, and success at reproduction. The likelihood of large animals like the elephant-sized Lake Monster a man reported seeing at Presque Isle Beach at Pennsylvania’s Lake Erie shore, or the feathered “mothman” that frightened many in western Pennsylvania in the late 1960s in your latest book, Astonish- ing Encounters Pennsylvania’s Unknown Creatures Casebook Three, or the 300 pound, smelly Bigfoot being able to sustain large enough populations to success- fully reproduce in a region like western Pennsylvania seems unlikely. I have visited the areas of Butler, Cranberry Township, and Washington, sites of many a re- port. These areas are rural, suburban, and semi-rural hill country and have infra- structure and industry. They cannot be considered to be remote or unpopulated. The unknown large creatures, if native animals, would have been discovered by science by now and the US Fish and Wildlife Service would list them in their database. If these species had any Federal status as threatened or endangered, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service would have a Recovery Plan in place. Tiny mammals, reptiles, and insects literally zip about and hide in the leaf litter and shrubbery al- most at our feet without our awareness of their presence. I can see how a tiny animal yet unknown to science and no bigger than five inches or so could remain undetected by casual observers and could live undetected in a natural area for many decades. Large animals tend to be conspicuous at all seasons of the year, especially large birds and other large flying animals. Any bird bigger than a small heron will have a really hard time hiding. Any large wild animals would have to either migrate from some nearby area on a seasonal basis, or they would have to be year- round residents and neither of these makes sense scientifically. SG: There is no doubt that a lot of these very strange encounters make no sense at all. But year after year when ob- servers from widely separated areas reluctantly report such creature encounters, these incidents need to be documented and studied. As I mentioned previously, the only thing that seems to make sense it that we are dealing with phenomena that has a physical and non-physical component to it. Is this something interdimensional in nature or possibly related to time travel? I sure don’t have the answers at this time. I believe however, that as our technology advances, we will develop the analytical equipment that will reveal the nature of some of these mysteries. DP: Have West Virginia counties just to the west and south been visited by Big- foot, Thunderbirds, and mothmen too? SG: I haven’t investigated sightings in West Virginia. I am, however, aware that many sightings of these creatures have been observed in that state as well. DP: Does anyone ever see these creatures enter a nest or a cave? SG: Over the years when a Bigfoot was seen in the vicinity of a cave or mine, my research teams searched but never found any evidence that the creature was making a shelter there. DP: What is it about this area that makes it different from other regions? Mineral resources, perhaps, or military installations? SG: I have never found anything that stands out as to why Pennsylvania is such an active area for various phenomena. There are a lot of forested regions and mountainous areas across the state. The Chestnut Ridge area of Westmoreland, Fayette, and Indiana Counties continues to be active yearly with UFO and cryptid reports. The ongoing pattern of energy sources in the vicinity of close range UFOs and cryptids continues to show up. There are many caverns and mines across the state but rarely do they seem associated with a Bigfoot incident. The presence of military installations across the state does- n’t seem to play any major role with the ongoing cases that I am aware. DP: Do you notice any trends over the decades in Bigfoot or UFO encounters worldwide? SG: I have been in touch with Bigfoot researchers throughout the world since the early 1970s. Many were aware of some of the high strangeness cases involving Bigfoot and UFOs and sometimes other phenomena as well. Many researchers back then and even in more recent years acknowledge that they are aware of such reports but are reluctant to discuss their findings or publish them for fear of ridicule from their colleagues. Since the publication of my Silent Invasion book, which covers some very strange aspects of some Bigfoot cases I investigated, many Bigfoot researchers have contacted me and revealed similar cases that they knew had taken place. In the last few years I am seeing more people in the Bigfoot field beginning to show more of an open mind to the stranger aspects of the Bigfoot mys- tery. Many are asking the same question that I have asked for years: “If Bigfoot is a flesh and blood animal, why, after so many years, do we still have no body?” I keep an open mind as to what Bigfoot may be, but there may well be more to this mystery than many want to accept. I am aware that in recent years, various Big- foot researchers who were out in the woods searching for evidence of a Bigfoot in locations where there had been sight- ings, had an encounter with strange un- explained lights or a UFO instead of a Big- foot. DP: Stan, your research has certainly raised a lot of issues that give food for thought! Thank you for our interview, and for the benefit of FATE readers who would like to purchase your intriguing books and the DVD, Kecksburg: the Untold Story, they can be purchased from Stan Gordon Productions. http://www.stangordon.info/wp/ Stan’s books are also available from Amazon.com