Maury Island Incident

The Maury Island incident is said to be an early modern UFO encounter incident, which allegedly took place in 1947, shortly after the sighting of the original flying saucers by Kenneth Arnold. It is also one of the earliest reported instances of an alleged encounter with so-called "Men in black". Opinions remain divided as to the case on whether it was genuine or a hoax.


The incident took place shortly after June 21, 1947. On that date, seaman Harold Dahl, out scavenging for drifting logs, claimed to have seen six UFOs near Maury Island (which is now a peninsula of Vashon Island, in Puget Sound, near Tacoma, Washington, United States). Dahl, his son, and their dog were on the boat. Dahl claimed to have taken a number of photographs of the UFOs, and reported that one UFO shed some type of hot slag on to his boat. The slag, he said, struck and killed his dog and injured his son.

The next morning, Dahl reported, a man arrived at his home and invited him to breakfast at a nearby diner. Dahl accepted the invitation. He described the man as imposing at over six feet tall and muscular, and wearing a black suit. The man drove a new 1947 Buick, and Dahl assumed he was a military or government representative.

While the two men ate, Dahl claimed the man told him details of the UFO sighting, though Dahl had not related his account publicly. The man also gave Dahl a nonspecific warning which Dahl took as a threat that his family might be harmed if he related details of the sighting.

Some confusion and debate over Dahl's statements have occurred. Dahl would later claim the UFO sighting was a hoax, but has also claimed the sighting was accurate, but he had claimed it was a hoax to avoid bringing harm to his family.


In spite of the threat Dahl had reported the incident to his immediate superior, Fred Crisman, who had long claimed to have experience with unusual phenomena (and who was later linked to the John F. Kennedy assassination)[1]. Crisman gathered more of the slag, then called in the press, who in turn called in Kenneth Arnold to investigate the incident.

Albert K. Bender seized on Dahl's story, and printed it in his newsletter. In 1953, Bender claimed three men in black visited him, and warned him to stop his UFO research.

Arnold, realizing the story was beyond his capacity to investigate, called in the United States Army Air Corps, which dispatched two investigators. The investigators were largely unimpressed with Crisman and with his evidence, but agreed to take some of the slag with them for further inquiry. The plane carrying the two investigators and the UFO evidence crashed shortly after leaving Tacoma, killing both men. In April 2007 it was reported that the crash site had been found and some material recovered.

Capt. Edward Ruppelt, chief of Project Blue Book in the early 1950s, wrote that he was convinced that the entire sighting story was a hoax.

Hoax Claims

To some in the UFO community, the Maury Island Incident is still highly controversial, dismissed by many as a complete fabrication by the wildly imaginative and conspiracy-obsessed Crisman, while others think it may be among the most important encounters in modern times.[citation needed] Others speculate that the incident, although clearly a hoax, was employed by the US government to draw public attention away from claims hazardous waste from a breeder reactor located in Hanford was being secretly and unlawfully dumped on Maury Island.

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