From the Feb. 19, 1960 edition of the Vineyard Gazette:

Excitement in the U. S. Geological Survey in Washington has been stirred by the finding at Gay Head last August of a tektite, the third or fourth to have been discovered in this hemisphere, by John N. Chase of Vineyard Haven, who is studying for his Ph. D. in vertebrate paleontology at Harvard. With Mr. Chase were Clifford A. Kaye of the Geological Survey, who has been engaged in a study of the Gay Head Cliffs, and J. Gordon Ogden 3rd, Vineyard summer resident, bio-geologist and Yale Ph.D., now of the Department of Botany and Bacteriology at Ohio Wesleyan University.

The tektite is described as bottle green in color and of an original saucer shape suggesting that it cooled while spinning rapidly in space. This particular saucer — a genuine flying saucer, but not one of those mysterious visitors from space — appears to have been about four inches in diameter, but only a quarter of the entire object has been found.

The dictionary describes a tektite as “a glassy body of unknown origin and rounded but indefinite shape.” Because of the rich, bottle green color, it is known in Germany as a “bottle stone.”

Dr. John A. O’Keefe of the National Aeronautics and Space administration at Washington is a supporter of the view that tektites come from the moon. It is likely, in any case, that the Gay Head tektite came down in a great meteor procession on Feb. 9, 1913, which, according to Walter Sullivan, writing in the New York Times, “stimulated some of the earliest speculation on the possibility of visitations from other planets.”

After the Gay Head tektite was found last August, it was taken to Boston by Mr. Kaye and in September was submitted to an expert at M.I.T. who has specialized in this field. The identification of the fragment as a tektite was confirmed beyond a doubt, and it was then sent to the Geological Survey at Washington.

The only other tektites known to have been found in the Western Hemisphere were discovered, one in an area in Texas, and one in an area in Georgia. There is a possibility that a third was found in Peru, but this is still subject to verification. The extreme rarity of tektites and the great interest attaching to outer space at the present time account for the stir caused by the Gay Head find.

Mr. Kaye, discussing the find with the Gazette, said that undoubtedly the falling of the tektite at Gay Head must have been accompanied by a display of light that should have attracted attention. If any older residents of Gay Head recalls any unusual heavenly phenomena that took place on Feb. 9, 1913, any information that can be supplied on the subject may be important.

The description of the 1913 meteor shower given in Mr. Sullivan’s New York Times article is as follows:

“The meteor procession was observed from Saskatchewan to the ocean south of Bermuda, It consisted of five or six bunches of about half a dozen meteors. The display lasted about five minutes, each group crossing the sky in a minute or two.

“Normal meteor showers last for hours and emanate from a single point in the heavens. Individual meteors may break up in the atmosphere, but such a display lasts only a few seconds. Hence it has long been thought that the 1913 meteors were in orbit around the earth.”

It is added that the fall of Sputnik II as it disintegrated was strikingly similar to the 1913 meteor display. The Sputnik developed a comet-like tail sixty miles long, and what appeared to be drops of molten material broke off from the rocket, developed tails of their own, and then vanished. This is, in Dr. O’Keefe’s view, the way tektites may be formed.

If lumps of lunar crust do go into orbit around the earth from time to time, they might possibly be picked up by missile-tracking devices.

Among those listed as opposing the idea that tektites are of lunar origin are Dr. Harold C. Urey and Dr. Virgil E. Barnes. Some argue that tektites are plashes of sedimentary earth rock, melted and thrown into the sky when large meteorites hit the earth. Others believe that they are relics of comet-heads that have hit the earth.

An odd little building with a peculiar cone-shaped top will soon appear on the broad expanse of the Martha’s Vineyard Airport. It will probably resemble the fairy tale dwelling of a magician more than anything else, and in a sense this will not be misleading, for the building will house the modern wizardry of a pilot guidance system impressively called Visual Omni-Range — major improvement for the Vineyard’s most dramatic public facility.

The VOR system is but the latest project at the airport, which has seen many changes and additions since Dukes County took over the old Navy air station in 1946.

Thus the airport seems likely to occupy a position of growing significance in Vineyard affairs in the years to come, and its state of development is a matter of direct concern to the community.

Compiled by Hilary Wallcox