Grayton’s meteoric moment: 30 years later, resident recalls discovery

Grayton Beach Meteorite_2

Meteor expert Harold Povenmire holds what has been classified as the Grayton Beach Meteorite.

Published: Thursday, November 21, 2013 at 03:12 PM.

Self-described treasure hunter Phil Gibson has been trying to top his most impressive find for 30 years.

On Oct. 30, 1983, Gibson and his hunting partner, then-Destin-doctor John Green, were out on Grayton Beach sand dunes with their metal detectors looking for Spanish and Indian artifacts.

"We only got one signal, three feet down in the sand," Gibson remembers.

The two men started digging until they reached a large mass of mystery. Gibson thought it might have been five or six cannonballs corroded together and threw it in the back of his truck and took it to his home in Santa Rosa Beach .

"I took it home and hit it with a hammer. The fused crust fell off and the underside looked like aluminum foil," he said. "That's when John said, 'That's not a cannonball.' Not knowing any better, I put it back my in truck. For about four days it was rolling around back there."

Gibson eventually brought the mass to Wayne Wooten, of Pensacola State College (it was Pensacola Junior College back then). Wooten, an astronomy professor, finally gave Gibson and Green the answer they couldn't find: It was a meteorite. Wooten got the men in contact with Harold Povenmire, a meteorite expert from Indian Harbor Beach .

"Within 24 hours, he was in Destin," Gibson said. "He looked at it closely, sent a sample to the Smithsonian for final verification. This is when things started getting bizarre."

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