Mystery in the Hoosier National Forest

Freakish things and people are plentiful--all over the world.

In the rolling hills of southern Indiana are several huge tracts
of wilderness land know as the Hoosier National Forest. These areas
comprise more than 400,000 acres and consist of enormous stands of
hardwoods, cedars, and pines. The forests are adorned with large lakes,
caves, sinkholes, springs, and streams. Hiking, camping, boating, hunting,
and horseback riding are among the many recreational activities
pursued here. Certain wilderness areas within these forests are
considered so rugged and primitive that only foot traffic is permitted.

On April Fool's Day (major clue?), transcripts of an intriguing
chat line dialog began circulating through the InterNet. This dialog,
dated as Sunday, March 31, 1996, occurred between three individuals,
one of whom was ostensibly making inquiries about how to find
investigators of the paranormal. The inquiring keystrokes
purportedly belonged to a chap who identified himself as "ALindy,"
a producer and photographer for the NBC affiliate television
station (WTHR-13) in Indianapolis, Indiana. Mr. ALindy, at the urging
of the other two chat line participants, began to describe a most
unusual news assignment he had been a part of the night before.
He claimed that around 10:00 PM on March 30, he was part of a news
team sent to the Hoosier National Forest to cover the crash of a
small plane. During the course of that news coverage, he allegedly
perceived strange and suspicious situations and behavior among both
witnesses on the scene and officials performing the forest search.
These oddities in conduct, he claims, led him to the uneasy
conclusion that something far stranger than a plane crashed in
the Forest that night.

Pat Mason of the Mid-Ohio Research Association forwarded a copy
of the chat line dialog to me on Monday, April 1, 1996. The
inferences of something "strange" crashing--complete with hints
of the ubiquitous government agents covering up--sufficiently
intrigued me to investigate the story myself. For the last three
weeks, I have scoured the InterNet for corroboration of this curious
tale. I was surprised when I actually found newspaper verification
(see Lafayette Journal & Indianapolis Star) that a search of the
Forest was conducted to find an imperiled plane. As my search for
evidence continued, I was fortunate to find the online newscripts
of Indianapolis television station, WRTV-6. These transcripts
mentioned key officials involved in the search operations and thus
enabled me to contact them personally. A synopsis of each conversation
is presented below.

The Following information was derived from a conversation that
I had with DNR Conservation Officer, Steve McClain (April 22, 1996).
Officer McClain guided Forest Service search operations at the Hoosier
National Forest during the following incident. -Michael A. Frizzell

On Saturday, March 30, 1996 at about 8:50 PM, a few miles N. of Lake
Monroe, Indiana, Jake Watson (pseudonym) stepped out of his isolated
cabin to survey the night sky. He immediately noticed a small twin-engine
plane with its landing lights on at low altitude and descending
several miles south of his location. From his vantage point the plane
was beginning to dip below the tree line. He called his wife to
take a look and they trained their eyes skyward. Within sixty seconds
of the plane's disappearance they were startled to see a "fireball"
and five seconds later heard an explosion.

Jake phoned local authorities to report a possible plane crash. His
report was taken quite seriously because it was well known that Jake
was a retired aircraft pilot. By 9:30 PM fire fighting equipment
from several local companies as well as patrol cars from the Monroe
and Brown County Sheriff's offices had converged on a fire observation
tower, south of Lake Monroe, to study the terrain for signs of trouble.
At about the same time, the Indiana State Police got to the scene and
they were soon joined by U.S. Forest Service police and Department
of Natural Resources Conservation Police (in talking with Officer
McClain, I pointedly asked him if the FBI or any other government
intelligence agency was present during the incident. He replied that
the FBI was not present and only those agencies mentioned above were
on the scene).

In addition to Jake's account, other people in the Forest quickly
corroborated the crash scenario. Several fishermen around Lake Monroe
and some campers south of the Lake also reported a fireball and
explosive report.

Observations at the fire tower yielded no clues. So, using all the
available witness information as to where the fireball was seen,
Forest Service officials quickly narrowed the possible crash site.
They selected a 3 square mile section of remote forest area near
Browning Ridge Road and Salt Creek. This area is among what is
known as the Charles C. Deam Wilderness, a rugged, desolate tract
that covers over 12,000 acres south of Lake Monroe in Jackson, Brown,
Lawrence and Monroe counties. (In "ALindy's" controversial chat
line dialog, allegations were made that the entire search area had
been closed to the public during the course of the search operations.
I asked Officer McClain about this point. He stated that no portion
of the Forest had been closed or otherwise restricted to the public
during the entire episode. He explained that the particular area
being searched is so desolate and rugged that effectively closing
it would be very difficult, if not impossible).

By 10:30 PM, an Indiana State Police Helicopter equipped with
sensitive infrared viewing gear was carefully scanning the target
area for any trace of crash-related heat or debris (DNR Conservation
Officer, Steve McClain explained to me that the infrared viewers
used were very sensitive. He said that they would detect residual
temperature variations on trees caused by limbs being broken as in
a swath being cut by a crashing plane). On the night of Saturday,
March 30, more than three hours of ground and aerial searching
took place. Nothing was found.

The following day (Sunday, March 31, 1996), the search resumed.
A small plane was used for aerial reconnaissance in addition to
efforts on the ground. Another five hours were devoted to the
cause. In all, more than 8 hours and fifty people were spent
searching. By Sunday afternoon the operations were called off
as absolutely no trace of a plane crash, fires, or any other
disturbance could be found. In fact, the search was aided
significantly by the time of year. Many of the forest trees were
not yet sporting leaves. In the weeks that have followed the
incident there have been no official follow-up searches or
on-site investigations.

Due to a glaring lack of evidence, the possible relationship
(if any) between the reported plane and the fireball/explosion
cannot be resolved. Newspaper articles on this incident have
stated that no local planes were reported missing or overdue.
Officer McClain finds the whole episode to be a bit unusual in
that several unrelated individuals within the forest saw the
"fireball" and heard the explosion yet extensive searching
provided no evidence that a destructive event occurred.

For lack of a better explanation, Forest Service officials
have entertained the theory that the fireball/explosion may
have been the result of someone testing homemade explosives.

The Following information was derived from a conversation that
I had with Fire Chief, Scott Garrett, of the Perry Clear Creek
Fire Company (April 23, 1996). Chief Garrett and his crew were
among the first officials to arrive at the forest to begin
investigating reports that a plane had crashed there. -Michael
A. Frizzell

After receiving a report that a plane had crashed in the Hoosier
National Forest near Lake Monroe, Fire Chief Scott Garrett and
his crew arrived at the wilderness area at about 9:30 PM
(Saturday, March 30, 1996). The fire fighters drove for 20
minutes along undeveloped roads to reach a fire observation
tower several miles into the forest. On reaching the tower,
Chief Garrett discovered that a DNR Conservation Officer was
already there trying to get a fix on anything that might verify
a possible emergency. The observation tower is located across
Lake Monroe, a couple of miles south of Jake Watson's cabin.

Within the tower, Chief Garrett and the conservation officer
carefully surveyed the entire area with binoculars. Garrett reported
that while the sky was somewhat overcast, generally visibility
overlooking the forest was good. Despite their intensive efforts,
they saw no visual indication that anything was amiss in the Hoosier
National Forest on that chilly Saturday night.

Adding some sense of urgency to Jake Watson's report was an
unsubstantiated rumor that a plane was overdue at the municipal
airport in Bloomington. Subsequently, Chief Garrett determined
that the overdue plane report was false after checks
were made with the local airport tower.

Following fire tower observations, ground search operations
commenced. As the evening progressed, Garrett noticed as many
as 15 college students hiking in and around the area asking
questions about the crash. These adventure seekers were apparently
made curious by late-breaking radio and television broadcasts
which announced the suspected crash.

In spite of all endeavors by Chief Garrett and his firefighting
team, no evidence of a downed plane or fires could be found.

The material offered here is not meant to be an exhaustive or
all-inclusive study of the "crash" incident. It is one investigator's
report that is intended to help clear the air on the controversy
and to focus on what was actually sighted, reported, and investigated
in the Hoosier National Forest from the dates of Saturday,
March 30, 1996 through Sunday, March 31, 1996. I must also note
that I have made multiple attempts to contact "ALindy" over
the last three weeks using the email address he provided in the
dialog. All my queries have gone unanswered. I have established
that his email address uses an Indiana webserver. I did not
personally contact the television station he claims to work
for, though I did access their online personnel listing. None
of the individuals included have initials such as "A.L." or "A. Lindy."
Also, during the same time period, I made several attempts
(two through email and one through phone mail) to contact
WRTV-6 Feature Reporter, Marilyn Carter, concerning her
on-the-scene coverage of the incident. I have not heard from her.

To say that any UFO investigator/ researcher would be interested
in being a part of the fabled "crashed disk" scenario is
probably an understatement. I am certainly no exception to
that appealing idea. However, where the Hoosier National
Forest case is concerned, I have found no evidence that indicates
we should assemble private militias and comb the forest for
extraterrestrial debris. The news reports I've read and the
people I've talked to have been forthright and sincere in
their reporting that this was a rather uneventful event. I
did not detect any hint of collusion or dishonesty.

Based on the evidence I've obtained, I feel that the most
intriguing elements of "ALindy's" claims were likely the
products of a fertile imagination. Nonetheless, though there were no alien bodies or "blue teams" dispatched to clean up the mess, there may
still be a mystery in all this.

The fact remains that a small plane was seen dangerously close
to the tree line and that it descended from view. Consequently,
several witnesses reported seeing a "fireball" and hearing
an explosive sound. Unfortunately, no evidence of wreckage,
debris, or residual fires was ever found. If a plane did crash,
where is it? There were no bonifide reports of missing or
overdue planes in the area. One theory is that the plane was
an illicit drug shipment that went wrong. Another, is that the
fireball/explosion was the result of some local people
using the cover of dense wilderness to test homemade
explosives. The fact remains that several unrelated people
in that forest saw something unusual that should have
left physical evidence but for which none has appeared.
Perhaps time will tell...

Michael A. Frizzell, Research Director
The Enigma Project
April 25, 1996

Back to the Enigma Project Special Reports Page

© 2000 M.A. Frizzell


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