2008 UFO Crash at Needles, California

The Colorado River at Needles, California, looking northwest, was photographed by Stan Shebs on December 23, 2006.
The Colorado River at Needles, California, looking northwest, was photographed by Stan Shebs on December 23, 2006. | Source

Needles, California Trivia

  • In the Charles M. Schulz comic strip Peanuts, Snoopy has seven siblings. One of them, Spike, lives alone in the desert near Needles.
  • There is a street in Needles named "Schulz," and another street named "Spike."

Where is Needles, California?

Needles is a city in the Mojave Desert on the west bank of the Colorado River in California. It is located in San Bernardino County—the largest county by area in the United States. According to the US Census Bureau, the population of Needles in 2011 was 4,917.

Read what happened in Needles on May 14, 2008 and learn what the official explanation is of the event.

show route and directions
A markerMohave Desert -
[get directions]

B markerNeedles, California -
[get directions]

C markerLaughlin, Nevada — across the Colorado River from Bullhead City, Arizona -
[get directions]

A markerNeedles, California -
[get directions]

How did the term "UFO (Unidentified Flying Object)" originate?

Unidentified flying object (UFO) is a term first used by the United States Air Force (USAF) in the mid-twentieth century to describe mysterious, unexplained, or unconventional-looking objects seen in the sky. Research has shown that anywhere from 80 to 95% of the sightings of purported unidentified flying objects are night (noctilucent) clouds, polar stratospheric (nacreous) clouds, aircraft, balloons, or hoaxes.

The remainder of the observations—5 to 20% of the sightings—can be classified as unidentified flying objects. There are several theories which attempt to explain what the UFOs are. A hypothesis supported by believers in extraterrestrial life is that the UFOs are alien spacecraft.

What happened in Needles on May 14, 2008 regarding a UFO?

On May 14, 2008, at approximately 3:00 am, an object the size of a semi-trailer truck (18-wheeler / transport) plummeted out of the sky. The object, with a turquoise glow or hue, appeared to crash somewhere in the rough terrain just west of the Colorado River and south of the town of Needles.

According to eyewitnesses, the glowing, fiery object wasn’t a meteorite. Before anyone could reach the location of the apparent crash—only 17 minutes after the object plummeted out of the sky—five helicopters, including a sky crane, appeared. The sky crane used a hook to lift the object off the ground. It then flew away with it.

Frank Costigan's Report

Frank Costigan, a retired chief of airport security at Los International Airport (LAX), lived in Needles in May 2008. He got up at 3:00 am to let his cat out. Costigan saw the object traveling very fast. He said it slowed down and sped up again. The object went behind a hill in the rough terrain, but Costigan didn’t hear it crash. He was surprised, since an object the size of an 18-wheeler should have made a loud noise when it crashed.

David Hayes' Report

A few hours after Frank Costigan saw the glowing turquoise-hued object plummet out of the sky, David Hayes, owner of KTOX Radio in Needles, saw an unusual site as he was driving to work. A convoy of dark vehicles got off the highway. Hayes stated that the lead vehicle was a large 4-wheel drive truck with a dome on top and a black structure which reminded him of a stealth fighter. This strange-looking truck, which had a US government license plate, was followed by some vans which had the appearance of support vehicles.

David Hayes reported that the men in the vehicles weren't in uniform, but that they had a military bearing. Hayes made eye contact with the driver of one of the vans, and the van driver followed Hayes to work. Later in the day, Hayes saw one of the vans outside his radio station. It appeared to him that the "mystery men" were conducting a surveillance of his station.

Costigan and Hayes Compare Notes.

Frank Costigan, retired head of security at LAX, works as an investigator for David Hayes, owner of radio stattion KTOX. Costigan told Hayes about the object he saw fall out of the sky, and Hayes described the "mystery men" he had encountered.

"Bob on the River" Phones KTOX

While Frank Costigan and David Hayes were discussing the events of the morning, a man known to the locals in Needles as "Bob on the River" telephoned the radio station. Bob lived on a houseboat on the Colorado River. He told Hayes he saw the fiery object in the sky,and that it had crashed with a thump about 100 yards west of the river.

Bob tried to call "911" since he thought a plane had crashed. He wasn't able to get a signal for his cell phone where his houseboat was tied up, so he moved his boat onto the river. While out on the Colorado River, Bob stated that he saw at least five helicopters, and that one of them was a sky crane.

Laughlin Airport, "Janet Planes," and Area 51

Bob Hayes, owner of radio station KTOX in Needles, received a telephone call from a friend in Laughlin, Nevada regarding Laughlin Airport. The friend reported that numerous Janet planes were seen departing Laughlin Airport on May 14, 2008, the date the object crashed just south of Needles in the early morning hours.

Janet planes is the name given to a fleet of passenger aircraft operated by the United States Air Force from their terminal at McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas, Nevada. The USAF flies military and government contractor (civilian) personnel on their Janet planes to such sites as Area 51, part of the Nevada National Security Site.

Area 51 appears to be a site used for highly classified military / defense projects such as the research and development and testing of new aircraft and weapons.

Television News Report Regarding the UFO Crash

Scenes from Needles, California

Click thumbnail to view full-size
This Needles, Calfornia sign was photographed by Stan Shebs on December 23, 2006.This large wash on the east side of the southern Dead Mountains, near where the Needles Highway meets the River Road in Needles, California, was photographed by Stan Shebs on December 23, 2006.Spirit Mountain, seen from Needles, California, was photographed by Stan Shebs on December 23, 2006.This residential street in Needles, California, was photographed by Stan Shebs on December 23, 2006.Broadway Street in Needles, California, was photographed by Stan Shebs on December 23, 2006.Needles Airport was  photographed by the United States Geological Survey, an agency of the United States Department of Interior.The Colorado River at Needles was photographed by Stan Shebs on December 23, 2006.
This Needles, Calfornia sign was photographed by Stan Shebs on December 23, 2006.
This Needles, Calfornia sign was photographed by Stan Shebs on December 23, 2006. | Source
This large wash on the east side of the southern Dead Mountains, near where the Needles Highway meets the River Road in Needles, California, was photographed by Stan Shebs on December 23, 2006.
This large wash on the east side of the southern Dead Mountains, near where the Needles Highway meets the River Road in Needles, California, was photographed by Stan Shebs on December 23, 2006. | Source
Spirit Mountain, seen from Needles, California, was photographed by Stan Shebs on December 23, 2006.
Spirit Mountain, seen from Needles, California, was photographed by Stan Shebs on December 23, 2006. | Source
This residential street in Needles, California, was photographed by Stan Shebs on December 23, 2006.
This residential street in Needles, California, was photographed by Stan Shebs on December 23, 2006. | Source
Broadway Street in Needles, California, was photographed by Stan Shebs on December 23, 2006.
Broadway Street in Needles, California, was photographed by Stan Shebs on December 23, 2006. | Source
Needles Airport was  photographed by the United States Geological Survey, an agency of the United States Department of Interior.
Needles Airport was photographed by the United States Geological Survey, an agency of the United States Department of Interior. | Source
The Colorado River at Needles was photographed by Stan Shebs on December 23, 2006.
The Colorado River at Needles was photographed by Stan Shebs on December 23, 2006. | Source

The "Best Guess" of the UFO's Identity

Many people have speculated that the unidentified flying object (UFO) which apparently crashed in Needles, California on May 14, 2008 was an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV)—an unmanned spy plane. High tech UAVs are being developed at Area 51 in Nevada and Edwards Air Force Base in California.

It is more likely, however, that the object was an early version of an X-37 Orbital Test Vehicle—OTV (a Boeing X-37). The X-37 is a reusable unmanned spacecraft which is boosted into space by a rocket and which lands as a spaceplane after it reenters the earth’s atmosphere. There have been two successful orbits of an X-37 Orbital Test Vehicle.

The first successful launch of an X-37B occurred on Apri 22, 2010. An Atlas V rocket was used to launch the X-37B. The spaceplace returned to earth on December 3, 2010. A photograph of that X-37B, taken nine days before the launch, is shown below.

The second successful launch of an X-37B occurred on March 5, 2011. The spaceplane returned to earth on June 16, 2012.The most recent launch was on December 11, 2012.

This photograph of the X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle in the encapsulation cell at the Astrotech facility in Titusville, Florida was taken on April 13, 2010. The X-37B is the US's newest and most advanced unmanned re-entry spacecraft.
This photograph of the X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle in the encapsulation cell at the Astrotech facility in Titusville, Florida was taken on April 13, 2010. The X-37B is the US's newest and most advanced unmanned re-entry spacecraft. | Source

Have you ever seen an Unidentified Flying Object (UFO)?

See results without voting

More by this Author

  • The Aztec, New Mexico UFO Crash
    48

    Aztec is a small city in northwest New Mexico known for its Anasazi pueblo ruins from the 11th to the 13th centuries and a UFO landing hoax perpetrated by two con man against a magazine columnist.

  • The Farmington, New Mexico UFO Armada
    48

    Farmington is a city located in the Four Corners region of northwest New Mexico. On March 17-18-19, 1950, an armada of UFOs—200 to 500 of them—was seen by more than half the population of Farmington.

  • Claustrophobia and the MRI Machine
    259

    The MRI procedure can be very scary and upsetting for an anxious or claustrophobic person. This article offers information and coping methods to help you cope with your anxiety.


Comments 38 comments

Mhatter99 profile image

Mhatter99 3 years ago from San Francisco

Thank you for this. You might like the radio show "Coast to Coast".


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 3 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

Martin (Mhatter99),

Thanks for reading my article and being the first person to comment. I have listened to "Coast to Coast," but not for quite some time.


TToombs08 profile image

TToombs08 3 years ago from Somewhere between Heaven and Hell without a road map.

That's some very interesting stuff, Daisy! Nice work! Voted up and sharing.


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 3 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

Terrye (TToombs08),

It's nice to "see" you again. Thanks for readng my article, commenting in it, and sharing it.

I really enjoyed doing the research for this article. It was fun pulling everyone's stories together.


rcrumple profile image

rcrumple 3 years ago from Kentucky

Daisy - Very interesting, especially about the the "watching men" after the event occurred. Strange there. They could have monitored the broadcast from distance without having been seen. With a radio station being a public place, I'm sure one wouldn't anticipate foreign powers sending reps to hear about "men in trucks." Very interesting stuff. Great Job!


Jools99 profile image

Jools99 3 years ago from North-East UK

Daisy, very interesting article. They certainly were in a hurry to remove whatever it was that fell from the sky. I wonder if the US military still want to remove anything that comes back through our atmosphere very quickly to stop Russian (and other?) satellite scanners picking it up? Thise satellite photos are amazingly clear now and I suppose even if its returning to earth after twenty or thirty years, they military would not want other countries to see it? Now if something opened a door on it and stepped out of it....that would be very different!


Vellur profile image

Vellur 3 years ago from Dubai

Very interesting, Wonder if there are UFO's. It is more likely to be a unmanned aerial vehicle but we never know what surprises are in store for us!! Great hub voted up.


mary615 profile image

mary615 3 years ago from Florida

This is a very interesting Hub. Who knows?? I swear I saw a UFO one night. This big round object hovered over, came down low to the river I was on, and then went straight back up into the night sky. My friends thought I'd been drinking, but I was cold sober. I'll never know, but I'll always wonder......


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 3 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

Rich (rcrumple),

Thanks for reading my article and adding your comment. I appreciate your continued support of my writing.

If the object was something being researched and developed in Area 51, I can understand a group of helicopters and a sky crane flying in formation 17 minutes later to retrieve it. I don't see why the US government sent the ground convoy...unless it was to look for pieces of the object which had broken off.


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 3 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

Julie (Jools99),

Thanks for reading my article and commenting in it. The US Air Force was probably anxious to retrieve the object so quickly because they were testing a "secret" aircraft about which the general public was not supposed to know.

The area in which the object crashed (or landed with a thump) is not far from areas of restricted air space used by the US Air Force for testing the aircraft they develop before they are are turned over to the CIA. I think what might have happened is that the Air Force was conducting a test flight, and the secret aircraft or spacecraft they were testing went off-course and landed in an unplanned-for location.


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 3 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

Nithya (Vellur),

Thanks for reading my article, commenting in it, and sharing it on Google+.

Technically-speaking, the object I described in my article is a UFO...No one not associated with the US Air Force knows what the object is. It is "unidentified."

The Air Force was probably testing an early version of an X-37 Orbital Test Vehicle, but the general public doesn't *really* know what the purpose is of the OTV.


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 3 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

Mary (mary615),

Thanks for reading my article and adding your comment. After the US Air Force is finished with their research and development and testing in the California / Nevada / Arizona area, the aircraft or spacecraft they have developed seem to be turned over to government agencies in Florida for further testing, and for training.

What you probably saw was some type of aircraft or spacecraft being tested by the government...but, who knows?!?


Mike Robbers profile image

Mike Robbers 3 years ago from London

Well ,, I strongly believe that other civilizations do exist as there are trillions of stars / solar systems counted in universe .. Unfortunately as far as I know it is impossible to travel around those solar systems as the distances are un-imaginably huge (thousands of light years). Earth can only communicate with the 8 planets of our solar system - Mars, Jupiter, Venus etc - which are not and can't ever be civilized :(

I love reading such UFO stories but I'm really sure at the same time that they can't be real ..

Daisy thanks for sharing , voted and shared


Laurinzo Scott profile image

Laurinzo Scott 3 years ago from Phoenix, Az.

This kind of things just makes you wonder what other sorts of things are being hidden from us

I don't understand why it is generally felt by those powers that be that the more ignorant we are the better... oh yes "that's it" to keep their power!!!

Excellent hub, and really makes one think . voted up!!!!


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 3 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

Mike,

Thanks for reading my article, commenting in it, and sharing it. I live in California and yet, somehow, this news item escaped me when it occurred in May 2008.

I think what "crashed" in Needles was a spacecraft still being developed and tested by the US Air Force, and that it landed where it wasn't supposed to land. The Air Force was tracking it, so that's why five helicopters materialized in formation only 17 minutes after the object landed.


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 3 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

Laurinzo,

It's nice to "see" you again. Thanks for reading my article and commenting in it.

I had a conversation with a friend of mine who worked for an aerospace company in Southern California for a number of years. He said that if the US Air Force let the general public know that the X-37B had three successful launches in Florida after leaving Area 51 in Nevada or Edwards Air Force Base in California, *and* they released a photograph of the X-37B, they're not telling us *why* they have developed the spacecraft. We don't know the *real reason* for what they're doing.


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 3 years ago from England

Hi Daisy, fascinating story, I think the trouble is these days if something like this happens there are so many futuristic looking planes out there that it could be any one of them, back in the day when something strange was seen it could well have been a real ufo if you believe in them, but today most of the military planes look like ufo's, and you are probably right about which one it could have been, but you never know! wish it was a real ufo! lol!


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 3 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

Nell,

Thanks for reading my article and adding your comment. The term UFO describes any unidentified flying object, not just alien spacecraft from other planets.

The object which landed in Needles, California in 2008 was a UFO, since we don't know for certain what it was. We "think" it was an early model of an X-37, but we can't verify that.

Somehow, I had a feeling that you would wish it were an alien spacecraft type of object.


alocsin profile image

alocsin 3 years ago from Orange County, CA

I'd not heard about this incident and I live in California. Good to finally find out about it though. Voting this Up and Interesting.


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 3 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

Aurelio (alocsin),

Thanks for reading my article and commenting in it. We both live in Orange County. I hadn't heard of the incident, either. I can't understand how I missed it...unless the US Air Force "prevented" the story from being publicized.


Glimmer Twin Fan profile image

Glimmer Twin Fan 3 years ago

Very interesting Daisy! How come we never hear about this stuff on the national news. Up and Interesting and a fun read on this snowy morning here in PA.


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 3 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

Glimmer Twin Fan,

Thanks for reading my article and adding your comment. I think the reason we didn't hear about this incident is because "something" the US Air Force was testing landed where it wasn't supposed to land, and the general public wasn't supposed to know about it.

The incident not only didn't make the national news, it apparently didn't make the California or Arizona news.

It's a little after 6:00am here in Southern California, so the mountains aren't yet visible. I won't know whether we've had snow until later this morning. It's 44°F, so there might be snow on Saddleback Mountain.


teaches12345 profile image

teaches12345 3 years ago

You write with great style and creativity -- good coverage on such an interesting topic. Another mystery to add to the UFO series. Sounds like the Air Force had a part in this one -- maybe testing something? Voted up!


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 3 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

Dianna (teaches12345),

Thanks for reading my article and adding your comment. Thanks, too, for your very kind words. I appreciate your support of my writing.

A few of my readers and I either live in Southern California or in Arizona, and none of us heard of this incident. The more I think about it, the more I feel that the US Air Force "prevented" the story from being publicized. The Air Force couldn't deny the existence of the object since their helicopters and sky crane were seen 17 minutes after the object landed. The USAF has said that was the object was an X-37 Orbital Test Vehicle—OTV (a Boeing X-37). What they haven't told us is *real reason* or *purpose* for which the OTV was developed.


Asp52 profile image

Asp52 3 years ago from England

Voted Up, Awesome and Interesting. With any UFO there is always the chance it could be something domestic, alien or a hoax. I think a hoax can be ruled out in this case, so it leaves the options down to Alien craft or experimental project. This does make you think.....

Thanks for a great hub.


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 3 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

Andy (Asp52),

It's nice to "see" you again. Thanks for reading my article and adding our commenting.

With this incident, I think there was an experimental aircraft involved. The article I wrote about the incident in Aztec, New Mexico was definitely a hoax.

I can't figure out what happened to Travis Walton in Arizona. There were witnesses, and they passed lie detector tests. With the UFO armada in Farmington, New Mexico, I just don't know what to think.


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 3 years ago from England

Fascinating story Daisy, and the video was really interesting. it probably was some sort of new plane, but the trouble is we will never really know, makes you wonder though doesn't it?


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 3 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

Nell,

Thanks for reading my article and adding your comment.

Of all the UFO articles I've written, I think this one really does have some elements of the United States Air Force being involved. My guess is that some type of aircraft was being tested, and it made an unscheduled landing. As you commented, "we will never really know."


wabash annie profile image

wabash annie 3 years ago from Colorado Front Range

A very interesting report of this incident. Thanks for writing about it.


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 3 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

wabash annie,

It's nice to meet you. Thanks for reading my article and posting your comment. If the subject matter of my Hub is of particular interest to you, you might like to read the other articles I've published about UFOs.


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 3 years ago from New York

There are so many unexplained events and this is certainly one of them. It was a great read and does lead one to speculate.

Voted up, useful, and interesting.


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 3 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

Mary (tillsontitan),

Thanks for reading my article and posting your comment. I appreciate your support of my writing.

This is one purported "UFO incident" in which I think the United States Air Force and Area 51 were involved.


Paula Atwell profile image

Paula Atwell 2 years ago from Cleveland, OH

I am not much of a believer but I do like reading about them. Great article again. :)


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 2 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

Paula,

Thanks for reading my article and posting your comment. I really think that the US Air Force is involved in what happened in Needles.


vocalcoach profile image

vocalcoach 20 months ago from Nashville Tn.

I'm a bit surprised at the amount of readers voting that they've seen a UFO. How exciting this would be. This is really an interesting and exciting read Daisy. It's been a long time since I've been to needles. Your photos are striking and the video is worth viewing again. Voted Up and UABI. Will do some sharing and thanks so much.


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 20 months ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

Audrey (vocalcoach),

Thanks for reading my article and adding your comment. I felt like an investigative reporter when I wrote this Hub, piecing together bits and pieces of information from many sources.

I've published a few UFO-related articles, but this one is different from the other. The US Air Force really does appear to be involved this time.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 20 months ago from Queensland Australia

I find all sightings of UFOs very interesting reading Daisy. I had not heard of this one.Thanks for sharing. Voted up.


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 20 months ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

John (Jodah),

Thanks for reading my article and posting your comment. I live in Southern California and had not heard about the incident at the time it occurred. I read an obscure reference about two years ago, and decided to dig into the story a bit.

    Sign in or sign up and post using a HubPages Network account.

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.


    Click to Rate This Article
    working