This Florida Man: The Betz Sphere

This Florida Man

By Kelly Eyer

The Betz Sphere

Hello, Again Space Travelers!

What I have for you today is a story from the current area I live in, Jacksonville, Florida. Sometime in March or April of 1974 (accounts aren’t consistent), three members of the Betz family were walking in the woods around their property on Ft. George Island. Terry Betz found a strange metallic sphere, about the size of a bowling ball. Thinking it odd enough to make a sweet souvenir, Terry, then a 21 year old pre-med student, took the ball home.
The family didn’t really think much about the sphere until one day Terry started playing his guitar near it. According to Gerri, who pretty much became the spokesperson when it came to the orb, something strange happened. The ball started humming back. Soon after, it started displaying other unusual properties. It would roll around on its own, changing directions, and stopping abruptly. It would even vibrate and send out such a high-pitched sound that it would send the family dogs whining and covering their ears.

Soon after, the Betz sphere started to attract some attention. Local paranormal radio host, Ron Kivett, was one of the first people to inspect it. He also witnessed the odd acts that the sphere would do. He, like many others, was convinced it was of extraterrestrial origin.

It is unclear if the Betz family started contacting the media. However, within one or two weeks of the local papers and news sources reporting on it, the sphere made national headlines. Gerri Betz, the matriarch of the family, wrote up a contract when the US Navy came knocking. She gave them two weeks to inspect the ball at Naval Station Mayport, and committed them to return it if it turned out not to be government property. The Navy could only determine it was not their property, but they did insist it was just a stainless steel ball.
Next on the list to examine the sphere were scientists. They made up a panel of five UFO investigators, brought in by the National Enquirer. Among them was none other than J. Allen Hynek. The Enquirer flew Terry Betz to New Orleans, and all of them came to the same conclusion as the US Navy.
A year and a half or so after the sphere beame national news, the family just stopped talking about the ball. They were getting calls about it 24 hours a day, and people were coming to their house at all hours of the day and night. With the Betzes no longer answering sphere related inquiries, it was never definitively proven what the thing was, or how it had gotten on Ft. George Island.
Without any of the family talking about the sphere for 40 years, tons of “theories” have opened up about it. It even got its own episode on Ancient Aliens. The sphere’s supposed attributes have grown in direct contrast to actual information about it. Today, websites will tell you that it’s made of elements heavier than anything found on earth, and that if it were to be drilled into, it would explode with the power of an atomic bomb.

So why this story? This seemed like an interesting story I could try to check up on, considering that Fort George Island is roughly 35 minutes away from my house. However, the amount of local coverage of it leads me to believe one of two things: First, the Betz family did find something extraterrestrial. However, after the family stopped talking about it, nobody has seen the sphere in over 40 years. There also is a rumor that J. Allen Hynek swapped out the ball with a decoy when he visited the family home sometime after he deemed it just a stainless steel ball. Lastly, there was a paper mill on the northside of Jacksonville that used bowling ball-sized stainless steel ball check valves that were decommissioned 15 years before the Betz sphere was found. THAT my friends could be why they stopped talking about the ball, altogether.

If you want more information on this story, hit me up on facebook, or go check out the “odd ball” podcast on WJCT.org. This is a really interesting Jacksonville story.

Own the night Space travelers,
Kellys Beard.

Author: Gail Hodson Shirk

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