The Maury Island Incidents

10628678_821418497880409_2948595587989534113_oOn June 24, 1947, Kenneth Arnold launched the UFO phenomenon, though he wouldn’t be the first to report the strange activity in the sky (his account made it in the newspapers across the U.S. ‘if not the world!’) But the story at the center of this story is an event that allegedly occurred on June 21st 1947 at Maury Island in the state of Washington.

The Maury Island Incident refers to claims made by Fred Crisman and Harold Dahl which discusses falling debris and threats by men in black directly following sightings of unidentified flying objects in the sky o’er Maury Island in Puget Sound in June of 1947.

Harbor master Harold Dahl spots 6 UFOs from his patrol boat. During their flight, they covered the boat in metal fragments. Dahl reports the incident to his supervisor Fred Lee Crisman whom made sure that some of the metal fragments were safely preserved. They also decide to report the incident to the magazine Amazing Stories a pseudo-science magazine that was geared at the publication for the paranormal and generally unusual. Crisman was already known to its editor, Ray Palmer.

Not long after the second world war, the magazine had run a series of articles on Richard Shaver who claims that he’d found traces of an underground civilization that consists of a race he personally labelled the “Deros”. The claim was that the civilization lived in a system of caves and was in the possession of knowledge that far exceeded our own.

In June of 1946, Crisman wrote a letter to the magazine stating that during the War, he had a Deros cave in Kashmir. The magazine then publishes this letter, and in May of 1947, Crisman followed the story up with a new allegation—together with an individual named Dick he travelled to Alaska where he’d discovered a cave of the Deros. Dick supposedly died during this expedition.

When Crisman reported the UFO phenomenon, the first letter was notorious for its absence of any reference to the UFO itself. The story he reported was solely about the strange type of metal that he discovered on Dahl’s boat. Palmer then phoned Crisman with the question of whether or not UFOs may have a thing to do with the incident. Crisman replied to it being a possibility and then Palmer decided that it would be a good idea to involve Kenneth Arnold into the investigation in which he accepted. After hearing the story and being shown a lump of the material, Arnold decided he needed some help, so he called his friend and fellow UFO witness, United Airlines Captain E. J. Smith. Smith said he would be glad to help, so Arnold flew up to Seattle and brought him back to Tacoma.

Both Arnold and Smith examined the debris that Dahl and Crisman brought them while hearing the story over several times. Dahl had claimed that the pictures had come out spotted almost as though they were exposed to some sort of radiation. Somehow, neither man was truly able to produce any pictures whether spotted or likewise. A local United Press representative called and said that he was receiving anonymous phone calls from somebody who claimed to know everything that Arnold and Smith were saying and doing.

After seeing the debris and hearing the story, Brown and Davidson decided that it was a hoax. They took a box of the debris and told Arnold they had to leave. They drove to McChord Field and told the intelligence officer there that they felt it was a hoax. They hadn’t told Arnold because they didn’t want to embarrass him; he was so taken in by Dahl and Crisman. The next morning, August 1, they boarded a B-25 back to Hamilton Field. A few hours later, they were killed when the B-25 crashed.

The newspapers hinted that the plane had been sabotaged because they were carrying classified material about flying saucers. They made much of the fact that the crew chief and a passenger were able to bail out, but that Brown and Davidson were not. The official explanation was that the only classified material they were carrying was a file of reports that had nothing to do with flying saucers.

The plane crashed because an engine caught fire. Brown and Davidson couldn’t bail out in time because a wing broke loose and tore off the tail section. Under questioning, Dahl and Crisman later admitted that the “debris” was only worthless slag from a local smelter. There had been no UFOs. They had only been telling publisher Raymond Palmer what he wanted to hear. The Air Force considered prosecuting the two men, but decided that they hadn’t actually meant to cause any harm.

Arnold packed up and flew home in disgust. On the way home, however, he crashed his plane at Pendleton because somehow the fuel valve had gotten turned off. He wasn’t hurt. Crisman and Dahl seem to have vanished. No one could find them. According to Jenny Randles, two intelligence analysts who studied the case in 1980 said it had all the earmarks of an intelligence operation intended, perhaps, to discredit Arnold’s original UFO sighting.


Booth, B. (n.d.). 1947-Maury Island UFO Crash.
Coppens, P. (2006). The Strangest UFO encounter… or a Hoax?