[meteorite-list] A Meteorite Now Doin' 20mph in the fast lane.....

MARSROX at aol.com MARSROX at aol.com
Sat Jan 4 12:46:29 EST 2003

Many of us get a chance to investigate freshly reported meteorite falls of 
which 99.99% are quickly resolved. Here's one that's going to remain a 

I've just spoken with a 72-year-old gentleman who believes that a meteorite 
fell through his R.V.  

All of the information contained herein is from this individual and I haven't 
researched the particulars.

The alleged event occurred last September, at about 7:30PM during a sunset 
obscured by threatening clouds. The Lehigh Acres, Florida retiree, was parked 
at a campground on the banks of the Potomac River. He believes he endured "a 
warning shot from God" when an object crashed into the roof of his 30' (9 m) 
Itasca motorhome penetrating the fiberglass roof, continuing through 3/8" (8 
mm) plywood ("the hole looked rounded like someone hit it with a ballpeen 
hammer"), apparently becoming embedded somewhere within 4" (10 cm) of hard 
foam insulation. 

He was standing next to the door of his R.V. (recreational vehicle) when he 
heard the crash. 

He looked up to see what was falling, and told me upon questioning that he 
saw no smoketrail. However, his view was blocked by adjacent trees in a 
wooded area with threatening skies. 

He said that "had it been 12" (30 cm) over, it would have hit me in the head."

He crawled up the ladder attached to the side of the vehicle high enough to 
note that there were no tree branches that had fallen. He observed a 2" (5 
cm.) diameter hole and that the object had continued through the plywood 
ceiling. He was surprised at the angle of descent and estimated it at 45-60 
degrees from the West. It was going to rain so he covered the hole with 
plastic, and called his insurance agent. 

A Hartford Insurance representative visited the next day and assessed the 
damage as due to "either a meteorite or a falling object from a plane." 
Because rain was still imminent, repairmen immediately repaired the 
fiberglass roof without searching for the object possibly embedded somewhere 
in the insulation. No one thought it was worth the trouble.

Notably, this gentleman tells me that the campground is across from a US 
Government military installation in Indian Head, Maryland, an area of 
restricted airspace.

Kevin Kichinka

[meteorite-list] A Meteorite Now Doin' 20mph in the fast lane.....

John Gwilliam jkg at theriver.com
Sat Jan 4 16:06:52 EST 2003

Hello All,

Sorry for the length of this email, but I think most of you will find the 
two stories entertaining.

I have done more than my fair share of investigating meteorite falls and 
finds reported by the general public.  My conclusion is that most folks 
have great imaginations and tend to overlook very obvious facts when 
they're blinded by the prospect they might have found something of great value.

Three years ago, I received a call from an elderly gentleman who lived in a 
mobile home sitting on five acres of desert about 30 miles Northwest of 
Phoenix.  During our initial phone conversation, he told me he had live on 
the property for several years and hadn't noticed all the meteorites on his 
property until he read an article somewhere about meteorites. He  had 
gathered almost 50 pounds of them which he had found with his new metal 
detector and a magnet on a string. I went over the usual questions with him 
and all his answers were positive. He said that he had checked adjoining 
neighbors property and they were none of these rocks to be found anywhere 
except on his property.

I've always been apprehensive about investing a lot of time and effort into 
leads like this, but since it was only a 90 minute drive from my house, I 
took the bait.

After getting out of my truck and walking up to the trailer, my heart sank 
when I saw a 5 gallon bucket of basalt rocks sitting next to the 
door.  Trying to be polite, I decided to educate this octogenarian since he 
did have a metal detector and he lived in an area close to where a couple 
of other Arizona meteorites had been found.  During our 30 minute 
conversation, he must have asked me 20 times if I was sure his rocks 
weren't meteorites.  "But they look just like some of the pictures in this 
magazine I have," he kept insisting.  I asked to see his magazine which 
turned out to be a tattered copy of Bob Haag's Field Guide of Meteorites.

My conclusion was that he was overwhelmed by the idea that there might be 
meteorites to be found on his property.  In reading Haag's Field Guide, he 
discovered that some meteorites were worth a fortune and if he were to find 
some, it would help solve his financial problems.  Just before I left, I 
pointed out to him that  his neighbor's property was literally littered 
with similar rocks, all basalt. He wouldn't listen and just stood there 
shaking his head as I talked.  He was still convinced his rocks were 
different and insisted they were meteorites

  I referred him to ASU to get a more professional opinion...sorry Carleton.

This next incident happened about 18 months ago.  I received a lead from a 
friend that a meteorite might have fallen in a mobile home park in North 
central Phoenix.  A call to the owner lead to lots of questions for which 
he had quite convincing answers.  He claimed there was a hole in one of his 
aluminum awnings and the impact the night before had been so great he had 
actually felt it when it struck his mobile home.

Again, I was apprehensive, but I'd never know for sure unless I actually 
went and checked it out. My good friend, Bob Holmes, agreed to meet me 
there and help with the search.

There was, in fact,  a hole in the sheet aluminum over one of the patio 
areas, but there was no impact mark or crushed rock on the concrete below 
it.  We did a quick search with metal detectors of the surrounding gravel 
yards and turned up the usual metal trash.  More questions to the old 
fellow revealed some interesting facts.  One, there had been a tremendous 
windstorm the night before.  Two, one of his neighbors had been by several 
days before to complain about a large TV antennae  blocking his view of the 
nearby mountains.  The old man had been hooked up to cable for over a year 
but had never removed the antennae.  When we went back outside, we 
discovered that the antennae and it's one inch mounting pole were nowhere 
to be found.  A closer look at the hole in the awning showed it to be 
circular and one inch in diameter.  Conclusion - the wind had blown the 
antennae off the roof of the trailer and the mounting pole had punched a 
hole in the awning as it tumbled across the roof before disappearing into 
the neighborhood.
Our stubborn old friend was still convinced it was a meteorite.  He said he 
initially decided to not show us the meteorite because he was afraid we 
would try to talk him out of it ( this was the one thing he was correct 
about) and he knew it was very valuable.  He disappeared into the trailer 
and came out with a black rock with some white quartz embedded in it. It 
was six inches in diameter.  When I asked him to explain how a six inch 
rock had made a one inch hole, he didn't have an answer but still insisted 
his rock was a meteorite.

"See the fusion crust," he said, " and the interior is white where it has 
been broken open."

I asked him how he knew about fusion crust and the probability of 
meteorites having a light interior.  "Oh, I read about it in a magazine the 
night before the meteorite hit my mobile home."  Well, I asked if I might 
see his magazine, and it turned out to be, you guessed it, another of Bob 
Haag's Field Guide of Meteorites!

My list of questions I ask folks who claim they have found a meteorites now 
includes,"do you own any books or magazines about meteorites...especially 
one written by Bob Haag?


John Gwilliam

Meteorwrongs in the News