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The Incident at Exeter High

Beyond the Incident at Exeter/ Art by


Forty year ago, Norman Muscarello saw something weird above a field near Exeter, NH. Fifteen years later he talked about that day to a group of high school journalists. Norman is gone now, but his 15 minutes of fame will never die. Read the exclusive story here and no where else.




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READ the entire Norman Muscarell INTERVIEW


Norman Muscarello gripped the yellow paperback book that had made him famous as he spoke to my high school Journalism class. The year was 1980, 15 years after a flying saucer, or something, had swooped out of the clear night sky on the Kensington Road near the Dining Farm on the way to Exeter, New Hampshire. Muscarello was back at Exeter High School in New Hampshire, only this time he was the teacher.

muscarello"I assume the speed must have been something terrific, because it came up on me all of a sudden like THIS," Muscarello said, snapping his fingers for emphasis. The night was silent, he recalled, with no crickets, only the sound of the horses braying loudly in the nearby field. Then came the lights.

"I don't have to tell you, you get kind of nervous out there. I'm all alone... I mean, is this guy smoking something?" Muscarello said of himself, and the Exeter High School students tittered. "I just froze up. I didn't know quite what to do. I got scared."

Standing uncomfortably, at first, at the head of the class, Muscarello looked like a big kid giving a book report rather than a celebrity guest speaker. Still, my students were at full attention, empathizing with his awkwardness, drawn to his candor. For days we had been reading "The Incident at Exeter", the best-seller by John Fuller about a UFO spotted in Seacoast, New Hampshire on September 3, 1965. Muscarello, they knew, was the real deal, what Journalism teachers call "a primary source." This, to my knowledge, was one of the few interviews he ever recorded after the incident. My students got it all on tape.

Muscarello and Hunt in 1965 / Manchester Union Leader"I fell into the ditch and I lay there with my head down," the speaker continued. "I looked up and it was like the whole side of this house...the whole side of the building seemed to turn out like a blood red. ...It was a white house and these lights were still pulsating in erratic positions. I couldn't make out any designs or silhouette at all, and then -- it took off." Muscarello made a noise like a slide whistle, indicating the disappearing UFO.

In the last 40 years Muscarello's story and those of other eye-witnesses have been analyzed to smithereens in countless books, white papers, TV shows and web sites. It's part of the Hynek Report where the term "close encounters" was coined. It's documented in Air Force reports and police reports, even the Congressional Record. Skeptics have called the phenomenon everything from fire balloons to a perceptual illusion of the planet Jupiter. For believers, this story is tucked so deeply into the foundation of UFOlogy that removing it would disrupt the infrastructure of the whole system. For doubters, it is pseudo-science taken to its most ridiculous conclusions – perception canonized into a pop culture bible.

It's the cops that hold the whole wild tale together. Three days after the incident, a statewide newspaper photo showed a sullen teenaged Muscarello with three smiling Exeter officers -- David Hunt, Eugene Bertrand and dispatcher "Scratch" Toland. After crawling from the ditch, Muscarello told the class, he knocked on a couple of doors. No one answered, but they later corroborated the fact that he had been there. Muscarello flagged down a car and got a ride to the local police station. The driver of the car, he told the students, was never identified in Fuller's book because the woman with him at 2 am wasn't the driver's wife. By the time Muscarello rushed frantically into the station near the famous Exeter bandstand, Scratch Toland had already received a call from another witness.

Toland asked Officer Bertrand to accompany Muscarello out to the field and he too saw something. It was about the size of a plane, Bertrand later told my student investigator in a separate interview. It defied the laws of gravity, "floating like a leaf". Officer Hunt then pulled up and all three men watched the object disappear seaward toward Hampton. Minutes later they heard a police radio dispatch from Hampton -- a UFO had been spotted there. According to Muscarello, Bertrand had even removed his gun from its holster during the flyover.

CONTINUE: Incident at Exeter Interview

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