THE IMPROBABLE JOURNEY OF MANUEL SANDOVAL
Considering the timing related to the finding of the disc, I think it is reasonable to assume that it landed (crashed?) in Hart Canyon between 4:00 a.m. and 5:00 a.m. With sunrise being at 6:08 a.m., it had to be quite dark at the time the disc arrived. Why is this important? Because some time after the sun rose, Mr. Sandoval who followed the disc all the way from Cuba finally arrived at the site. What we know about Mr. Sandoval is based upon interviews Mr. Ramsey conducted with Johnny Hernandez, Town Historian of Cuba, other residents of Cuba and from what Doug Noland told Mr. Ramsey.
As related to Mr. Ramsey, Mr. Sandoval worked part time for the Cuba police department with the title of deputy sheriff. He replaced a Sam Sambrano who had been promoted to sheriff. These titles don’t make any sense. Bernalillo is the county seat of Sandoval County and that is where the sheriff’s office is located. In two visits with the Sandoval County sheriff’s office, they were unable to locate a Sam Sambrano who was sheriff in 1948. Normally, a sheriff is elected, not appointed unless there is a vacancy in the sheriff’s office. I suspect Mr. Sambrano was actually the police chief of Cuba. On page 2 of the Ramsey book, Doug Noland told Mr. Ramsey that “…Manuel Sandoval, explained that he was from the town of Cuba, N.M., and that he had followed the low flying disc-shaped craft in a northerly direction during the early morning hours…”. When Mr. Sambrano came to work on the morning of March 25, I suspect he wondered what happened to his night officer and his patrol car.
So what we are supposed to believe is that sometime after midnight on the morning on March 25, 1948, this craft flying very slowly and low enough for Mr. Sandoval to follow it, flew from Cuba to Counselors, turned north and headed down Largo Canyon towards Blanco. Don’t forget, Mr. Ramsey maintains that this was the correct route to Aztec in 1948 and that even today the trip (down Largo) is long and slow. So either the craft flew as slow as 20-30 miles per hour or perhaps it dropped bread crumbs for Mr. Sandoval to follow. Anyway, the craft turned left on SR 17 when it exited Largo Canyon, continued west through Blanco to Bloomfield. Why did the craft turn left on SR 17 when it exited Largo? Because that is the only bridge over the San Juan River in the area. Why do I know it went west out of Blanco? Because Sandoval said it almost hit a mesa near Bloomfield which is 9 miles straight west of Blanco. Now a Valentine Archuleta suddenly appears on the scene and says he saw the saucer pass over his ranch in the early morning hours(perhaps around 4:00 a.m.?), strike a ridge and head north towards Hart Canyon. I think this is the first time a Valentine Archuleta is mentioned in the Ramsey book so where did he come from? Is this the V. A. mentioned in Steinman’s book (page 258)? As related by Mr. Steinman, all V.A. could remember was that he saw the craft somewhere between 1948 and 1950!!!!!! In addition, V. A. lived in Blanco (although on the wrong river). So, did it hit the mesa at Blanco or at Bloomfield?
Let’s go back to Mr. Sandoval and the craft. After it hit the mesa near Bloomfield, it must have either turned north and went over Aztec or flew northeast from Bloomfield to Hart Canyon. This is apparently where Mr. Sandoval lost sight of the craft because if it crashed between 4:00 and 5:00 a.m., it took Mr. Sandoval another two hours or so to reach the crash site. If he followed the craft to Bloomfield from Blanco and if the craft flew to the northeast, the only logical way for him to go was through Aztec and then turn north on Highway 550. How did he know to turn up the Hart Canyon road? It must have been those danged bread crumbs again. There is another option we should consider. Maybe the captain of the craft knew that SR 44 was paved all the way from Cuba through Counselors to Aztec and decided not to force Mr. Sandoval to drive that bumpy road down Largo Canyon in the dark.
On page 146, Mr. Ramsey again demonstrates his lack of knowledge of the New Mexico highway system. Don’t forget, Mr. Ramsey maintains that to get to Aztec from Cuba, the road turns north at Counselors and goes down Largo Canyon. Yet Mr. Sandoval reportedly watched for speeders on Highway 44 that connected Bernalillo to Farmington. This is the same road one uses to get to Aztec. SR 44 goes from Bernalillo through Cuba to Bloomfield. At Bloomfield you either continue north to Aztec or turn left and go to Farmington.
Mr. Hernandez told Mr. Ramsey that Andy Andrews, New Mexico State Police from Farmington and Mr. Sandoval got into an argument with Dr. Lincoln LaPaz from the University of New Mexico who was investigating “green light” sightings in the Cuba area. Mr. Hernandez said that one of the two officers “almost came over the table at LaPaz”. I asked Andy’s daughter, Evaleene, if her dad ever patrolled from Farmington to Cuba and had he ever mentioned anything about green lights and the incident with Dr. LaPaz. She said he did patrol to Cuba but that he never mentioned seeing any green lights or the incident with Dr. LaPaz.
MOVING THE CRAFT TO LOS ALAMOS
In chapter nine, Mr. Ramsey and Mr. Metzger go into great detail about how one could move the craft, separated into three pieces, using an Army M26 6X6 tractor and an M15 semi-trailer. I think the equipment as shown on page 159 would have worked quite well for the move of the craft. According to Wikipedia, the M26 had a crew of seven, a top speed of 26 mph and a 140 gallon gas tank. To me, the devil is in the details and so I pose the following questions:
1.With the craft broken into three sections, were three M26’s used for the move?
2. Where were they located and how long did it take them to arrive on the scene?
3. If two 60 foot cranes were required, how were they transported to the site?
4. Assuming two bulldozers were required, were they driven to the site or hauled in on low-boy trailers?
Given the strange appearance of the M26 (the armored version) and M15 semi-trailer, how could they, along with the 60 foot cranes, not have been noticed on the way to the site, lumbering along at a top speed of 26 MPH.
We are now all loaded and ready for the move. I assume we will have a convoy of three loaded M26’s, perhaps a fuel truck, 2 semi’s pulling low-boy trailers for the bulldozers (unless they were driven all the way) and an unknown number of support vehicles including outriders to clear the road ahead of oncoming traffic because of a load 50 feet wide. Let’s assume we make it down Pump Canyon to the San Juan River without being seen(Right!!!). Pump Canyon enters the San Juan River just west of Archuleta, NM and east of Blanco, NM. Now I think it is important to discuss a little history of the area between Blanco and Archuleta.
The following information is taken from The Place Names of New Mexico -Revised Edition” by Robert Julyan: 1998 University of New Mexico Press
ARCHULETA : “…settlement on S bank of the San Juan River…at Gobernador Wash…The Archuletas were among the first Hispanic settlers in this area in the 1870’s and their descendants still live in and around this tiny community…”.
BLANCO : When Hispanic settlers moved into the San Juan Basin in the 1870’s, Blanco was among their first communities, and because it was more centrally located with respect to Largo Canyon, site of much farming and ranching….”
The point I wish to make here is that the area between Blanco and Archuleta has been continuously occupied and farmed since the 1870’s. On June 29-30, 2012 my wife and I drove both the north and south sides of the San Juan River from Blanco past Archuleta to the San Juan River Bridge (this bridge did not exist in 1948) on NM 173 and NM 173 did not run this way until 1963 when Aztec volunteers with help from the Ray L. Atchison Construction Company built the Navajo Dam road from Aztec. In 1948, NM 173 was a 14 mile long dirt road from Blanco to Aztec. When we drove the area we found that both sides of the river are extensively farmed and fenced. I suspect that hasn’t changed much since 1948 or earlier. This is important when you consider how the convoy crossed the San Juan River.
One can’t cross the river at the Pump Canyon entrance because of the high bluffs on the south side of the river. So you have to start moving down the north side of the river for a few miles until you can find a crossing. You may have to make your own road, go through fences, cross private property and ultimately find a place to cross the river. No matter where you cross the river, the bulldozers would be needed to blade an entrance into and out of the river for the crossing to be made. This convoy would have been the major topic of conversation in the valley and I suspect the property owners might have taken umbrage with their fences being cut and roads being cut across their property. Does anyone find it odd that there is no report of such an event ever happening in the area? Unless, of course, it didn’t happen at all. Certainly George Bowra would have reported it in the Aztec Independent Review. More about him later.
So now the convoy is headed up Largo Canyon as described by Mr. Metzger in his report to Mr. Ramsey: “The tightest clearance on Largo Canyon Road is 39 feet above ground level. Largo Canyon would have been the natural choice, since “U.S. HIGHWAY 550 HADN’T BEEN BUILT YET”(emphasis added) . He goes on to say it would be a simple matter to make it to Counselors. If this is the major road to Aztec, where is all the oncoming traffic and what about all the traffic following the convoy? How did they get around a 50 foot wide load? Apparently it was no problem.
Then Mr. Metzger makes one of the most incredible statements in the book when on page 158, he states “Once out of the canyon, traveling across the high desert north of Cuba, through Gallina, Abiquiu and Espanola northward around to the eastern slope of the extinct volcano where Los Alamos is located would be a relatively easy matter”. He obviously doesn’t know the difference between deserts and mountains and he overlooked the fact that you have to turn south at Abiquiu to head towards Espanola. I suspect he and the Ramseys have never even been on this road (SR 96).Before I get back to all the problems he overlooked in the easy drive from Counselors to Los Alamos, I wish you could all see the map of the recovery route as shown on page 160 of the Ramsey book. His route doesn’t even go through Gallina, Abiquiu and Espanola!!!! Instead, it goes from Cuba south to Bernalillo(not named on the map), through Santa Fe (not named on the map) and then on to Los Alamos. Credibility, Credibility, Credibility!
From Counselors, it is approximately 36 miles to where one turns left on NM 96 for the drive over to U.S. 84 so I will just mention a few issues worthy of consideration:
At Counselors, NM 44 goes SE towards Cuba. The load is 50 feet wide. I recently measured the width of old U.S. Highway 85 south of Socorro. This is the road on which I drove to college in 1952. The pavement is 24 feet wide. I suspect that in 1948, NM 44 was about the same width. That means that if the M26 drove down the center of the road, the load would extend 13 feet past the pavement on each side of the road - and this on the main road from Albuquerque to the San Juan Basin. The convoy could easily have been a quarter of mile long, perhaps even with a state police escort to clear the way of traffic. And no one saw it?????????
SR 96 from north of Cuba through Gallina to U.S. Highway 84 was a graded dirt road about 60 miles long. On this route, you pass by the villages of La Jara, Regina, Gallina and Coyote where you then had to cross the Chama River to reach U.S. 84. These villages were settled between 1818 and 1911 (The Place Names of New Mexico, Second Edition 1998 by Robert Julyan). Surely, someone would have seen and reported this strange looking convoy. How did they cross the Chama River near Abiquiu? No mention is made of this feat.
North of Abiquiu, SR 96 ends at U.S. Highway 84, the major north/south route from Chama and Tierra Amarilla to Santa Fe, Albuquerque and points south. Again, here is a convoy going unnoticed with a 13 foot overhang on each side of the pavement on a major north/south route. The highway would have to be cleared. It seems that someone would have mentioned it.
And how about the town of Espanola? How do you get a convoy with a load 50 feet wide and 86.5 feet long unseen through a town the size of Espanola?
How do you get from Espanola to Los Alamos? In the late 1940’s, I was returning to New Mexico from visiting relatives in Kansas. My uncle wanted to see Taos, so we drove from Taos to Espanola and my uncle decided to take a shortcut over the Jemez Mountains to Cuba. We went up a very steep and narrow road and ended up at the entrance to Los Alamos where we were turned around and ultimately found our way across the Jemez Mountains to Cuba. Remembering this steep and narrow road up to Los Alamos, I talked to the Los Alamos Historical Society, related my story to them about my trip with my uncle up the steep road and I asked them if, in 1948, it would have been possible for a load 50 feet wide and 86.5 feet long to have made it up that road. The answer was definite “No.” I was told that when they ultimately widened the road, the trucks moving the rocks had to backup several times just to negotiate the curves.
This, dear reader, concludes my review of the three books mentioned earlier. When I started this review I was a skeptic, but now, like George Bowra before me, I have not seen anything to convince me that a UFO landed in Hart Canyon. In Mike McClellan’s article (as reprinted on page 213 of the Steinman book,)the following is stated about George Bowra: “Bowra had been in Aztec for 70 years. He ran the paper for 44 years. “Nobody could have gotten in there and out (Hart Canyon) without attracting a lot of attention…Bowra stated emphatically that the roads have never been cordoned by anyone. He became interested enough in the story to speak with what he estimates to be over 100 people…None of them recalls the UFO landing or subsequent military movement…”.
Mr. Ramsey relied in a large part on his interviews with Mr. Noland, Mr. Farley. Mr. Riggs and Mr. Hernandez. I don’t doubt their veracity, but I certainly do question their memories. I have already given my opinion on some of Mr. Ramsey’s research, particularly the highway routing in northwest New Mexico and his lack of detail on how the disc could have been moved. When Mr. Steinman placed Blanco on the banks of the Animas River, he lost credibility with me immediately.
It is my intent to give credit to everyone whose work I have used. If I overlooked someone, I apologize. I have not used any UFO sites or books other than those I have mentioned. My conclusions are my own. I would encourage everyone to buy and read the three books I have here reviewed and draw your own conclusions about what did or did not happen in Hart Canyon. I would love to hear rebuttals from Mr. Ramsey, Mr. Steinman and Dr. Friedman about my review of their work. I am sorry I never had the opportunity to challenge them during the Aztec UFO Symposiums but I do thank them for helping raise money for the new Aztec Library. It is a far cry from the old one room Altrurian Library where I gained my love of reading.
If I were to give an overall opinion of the three books I have just reviewed, I would have to quote one of my favorite college professors, Dr.. Claude Dove who would describe something questionable as “PIFFLE, PURE DAMN PIFFLE”.
I could not close without noting that I have seen three UFO’s but they were just that -- unidentified flying objects. The first one I saw was in the late 1940’s. It was later reported to be a weather balloon. In the mid-1990’s, my wife and I were camped at Snow Lake in the Gila National Forest of SW New Mexico. Well after dark, I pointed out to her what I thought was a satellite moving from east to west in the night sky but when it was directly overhead, it made an abrupt left turn and headed straight south. I had never seen a satellite do that before. The other sighting looked like a hot air balloon on fire moving at low level from east to west. It was a short distance north of our house but then it abruptly turned north and disappeared in the distance. Dear Reader, your guess is as good as mine.
Since finishing my review of the three books about the alleged Aztec flying saucer, I decided to check the internet to see what information was there about UFO’s. It appears there has developed quite a “cottage industry” about UFO’s. This industry seems to feed on itself. I think Frank Scully did a great job of describing this cottage industry, although in a different context when he said “Men stay with what they believe, or fight for buggy whips in an era of automobiles for the simple reason that their livelihoods are all tied up in buggy whips”.
A Mr. Kevin Randle, in a May 30, 2012 posted on the internet, had two very interesting comments about the Ramsey book. As noted in the Ramsey book, The Aztec Incident - Recovery at Hart Canyon, Mr. Ramsey relied quite heavily on information he obtained for Doug Noland and Virgil Riggs. Mr. Randle notes that “Doug Noland tells a robust tale, but is slightly contaminated because he approached William Steinman who wrote about the Aztec Crash in the mid-1980’s”. He also notes that Mr. Riggs relied on a story about the Aztec Crash that was told to him by a Donald “Sam” Bass who was in the Air Force with Mr. Riggs.
According to Mr. Ramsey, his research revealed that Sam Bass had been killed in a hit-and-run accident while in the Air Force in Vietnam. On the other hand, Mr. Randle notes “No one named Bass was killed by a hit-and-run driver in Vietnam and no one who served in the Air Force named Bass died in Vietnam. Clearly, the story told to the Ramsey’s was untrue”.
If Mr. Randle is correct in what he reported, then I think the veracity of both Mr. Noland and Mr. Riggs must be questioned.
Monte ShriverLas Cruces, NM