Levelland, 1957


In the film Close Encounters of the Third Kindthere’s a famous scene where a UFO makes the electronics in a car go haywire. The real-life inspiration for that scene came from an incident in 1957, when dozens of citizens of Levelland, Texas, individually reported seeing a rocket or strange lights that interfered with their vehicles: Engines died, lights cut out.

Though the police initially thought the reports were a hoax, they, too, saw the mysterious lights, as they investigated the situation. Project Blue Book was assigned to investigate the case. Their findings? It was an electrical storm and ball lightning that caused the lights and the mechanical malfunctions—despite the fact that there were no reported thunderstorms in the area that night.

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