New film explores mysterious Puget Sound UFO sighting

New film explores mysterious Puget Sound UFO sighting
The mysteries behind many UFO sightings may never be explained, but what happened over Puget Sound on June 21, 1947 is a mystery that's getting new life in a film.

It's a complex story with many facets, but it that can be summarized like this: At 2 p.m., Harold Dahl was on a fishing boat salvaging logs with his young son when he said he saw six flying discs appear above him over the water.

One of the donut-shaped discs appeared to be in trouble and dropped what appeared to be tons of a hot molten substance in the water and the beach. As the story goes, the heat and debris killed his dog and burned his son.

Days later he was visited by a mysterious "man in black," who told him not to talk about what he saw. He was then visited by two Air Force investigators who were on a classified mission to see him and gather evidence. On the investigators' return to a California airbase, the B-25 they were piloting crashed, killing both of them and destroying whatever evidence they were carrying. The FBI closed the case without any resolution.

It's known as the Maury Island Incident.

"They are just many unanswered questions and that makes it an intriguing mystery and maybe a solvable mystery, we don't know," said Philip Lipson, Co-director of the Northwest Museum of Legends and Lore.

Lipson and the museum's other co-director, Charlette LaFevre have been investigating the incident for the last 10 years.

What makes the Maury Island Incident significant in UFO lore is its timing. It happened three days before pilot Ken Arnold's famous sighting of "flying saucers" over Mt. Rainier. The media called Arnold's account of what appeared to be disc's skipping across sky as flying saucers and that's where the term first originated.

Two weeks after Dahl's sighting came Roswell, which is arguably the most famous claim of an alien crash landing on earth. After that, the floodgates of UFO sightings opened wide as it seem everyone had a story to tell. But to UFO buffs, the Maury Island Incident started it all.

"It's not promoted like Roswell but I always say it's the Roswell of the northwest," LeFevre said.

Seattle's Northwest Museum of Legend and Lore has a collection dedicated to the incident, including a piece said to be from the B-25 that crashed new Kelso Washington on August 1. That date also has some significance as it was the first day the Air Force separated from the Army and became a branch of the armed services. The crash is considered the first Air Force Crash ever.

Lipson says people have written off the Maury Island Incident as a hoax.

"We don't know for sure if it's a hoax, but the reality of it is two people were killed and that's definitely not a hoax," he said.

The Incident is significant in UFO folklore for another reason, too. It's the first reported sighting a so-called "man in black," made famous by the series of comic books and movies where men dressed in simple black suits and white shirts show up mysteriously when aliens appear.

"The movie is a comic version but the people that met them were scared out of their mind so it wasn't very funny to them," said Lipson.

Dahl met with a man in black at a Tacoma café and according to Lipson it was the "first incident in modern history of this sort of thing happening".

Now, some local filmmakers think the story is worthy of making a movie.

"It's got the first man in black, it's got great conspiracy, investigations, tragic death and a guy's who's life changes for the worse," said Scott Schaefer, the producer and director of the upcoming movie which is going to be based on FBI documents that were declassified ten years ago.

Schaefer is a TV veteran having worked on a national cable channel show about UFO's, and with Almost Live and Bill Nye the Science Guy. The film is due to be shot beginning in June.

As part of a promotional stunt, the film's Executive Producer John White is building a 50 foot wide flying saucer that will crash into a 1947 Buick Roadmaster, the original man in black car.

"Building a flying saucer on top of a car is ok in your mind but quite frankly I'm overwhelmed," said White, covered in sawdust.

His flying saucer is due to land on the night of April Fool's in downtown Burien as part of the first annual Burien UFO Day to promote the upcoming "The Maury Island Incident" movie.

"This is a Maury Island incident but Burien can steal it and capitalize on it, no one else has, said White.

Clearly, White is making a flying saucer that is fake. The real question mystifying UFO buffs is what Harold Dahl saw 65 years ago. Was that real. Dahl once said it was a hoax but then recanted.

"Obviously the crash is true and I think he saw something," said Lipson. "We just don't know what he saw and that's the real mystery. What did he see?"