I am often stunned by the mental gymnastics of some to keep a cherished belief alive in the face of documented facts and reliable testimony. I am often surprised when something that I believe to be obvious from the evidence available is rejected for speculation that has no supporting proof. When the facts line up, when there is good evidence for a conclusion, when it all seems to be so obvious to me, I simply fail to understand how it is that others can’t see with the same clarity. And yes, I know there are those who believe Roswell to be a Mogul balloon will point at me and say the same things but this isn’t about Roswell or Mogul balloons (and besides, I can point at the Mogul explanation and say the same thing about that conclusion).
This is about the Eisenhower Briefing Document (EBD) and the fatal flaw that is contained in it. I am going to lay all the facts out at length because those other postings which contain the information are spread throughout this blog. I haven’t put it all together into a single document until now. There is a caveat, however. I am not going to review all the other problems with the EBD including a lack of provenance, the other factual errors, or the misspellings and incorrect security classifications. I am going to deal with the one paragraph that relates to another UFO crash that is a hoax and as such shouldn’t have been included in a briefing written for the incoming president. That entry said:
On 06 December, 1950, a second object, probably of similar origin, impacted the earth at high speed in the El Indio – Guerrero area of the Texas – Mexican boder [sic] after following a long trajectory through the atmosphere. By the time a search team arrived, what remained of the object had been almost totally incinerated. Such material as could be recovered was transported to the A.E.C. facility at Sandia, New Mexico, for study.
The first mention of this report of a crash in any sort of a public arena came from Robert Willingham, a pilot in the Civil Air Patrol (CAP), which is identified as an official auxiliary of the United States Air Force. To be clear, it is not a part of the Air Force, members of the CAP are not paid for their service, they do not earn retirement points, and they are not considered to be part of the Reserve Component of the United States military. They are civilians who wear modified uniforms and provide a valuable service in search and rescue operations. But understand, they are not part of the military.
Willingham, and several other CAP pilots, were interviewed in the late 1960s about their experiences with UFOs. This was done for a small “shopper” type of newspaper, and while I have been unable to find that specific article, I did find a summary of Willingham’s statements in MUFON’s Skylook, which was their newsletter/magazine in the 1960s. According to the March, 1968 issue:
Col. R. B. Willingham, CAP squadron commander, has had an avid interest in UFO’s for years, dating back to 1948 when he was leading a squadron of F-94 jets near the Mexican border in Texas and was advised by radio that three UFO’s “flying formation” were near. He picked them up on his plane radar and was informed one of the UFO’s had crashed a few miles away from him in Mexico. He went to the scene of the crash but was prevented by the Mexican authorities from making an investigation or coming any closer than 60 feet. From that vantage point the wreckage seemed to consist of “numerous pieces of metal polished on the outside, very rough on the inner sides.”
For those keeping score at home, please note that it clearly states that Willingham is in the CAP, that the date of the sighting is 1948, that he was flying an F-94, there were three UFOs instead of just one, that he saw them on his plane’s radar and was told that one had crashed in Mexico. I mention these things because this is the first time that Willingham told the story in public and it was written down in an article for those who wish to verify the accuracy of the statements… which is not to say that what he was saying was true, only that I have reported here exactly what was reported in 1968.
I did find another 1968 article about Willingham that is important to this discussion because it proves Willingham had a long interest in UFOs. I found, in the NICAP UFO Investigator for March 1968 on page one:
During the early morning hours of January 12, Colonel Robert Willingham, of the Civil Air Patrol, a member of the Subcommittee, was alerted by Chairman George Cook to a UFO seen by a police dispatcher near Camp Hill.
Col. Willingham sighted the orange-and-white glowing object at an altitude of not more than 150 feet, as it traveled toward North Mountain. The UFO appeared to be between 30 and 40 feet in diameter. The former jet pilot followed the object by car until it disappeared behind trees in the Mountain section.
In other words, NICAP was so unimpressed with the crash story, they didn’t even mention it. Instead, they published a Willingham UFO sighting that was rather mundane. It was just an object in the sky, noting that Willingham was a colonel in the CAP but said nothing about any association with the Air Force Reserve. It also said that Willingham belonged to NICAP underscoring his interest in UFOs.
We all know that W. Todd Zechel tracked down Willingham and got a statement from him. Zechel made that point repeatedly, and there is no dispute that it is accurate. Zechel found Willingham and talked to him. In fact, Zechel was able to get Willingham to sign an affidavit about his experiences in 1977. That date does not seem to be in dispute.
That affidavit does little to enhance the credibility of the tale. It does allow us to make some comparisons, however. It said:
Down in Dyess Air Force Base in Texas, we were testing what turned out to be the F-94. They reported on the [radar] scope that they had an unidentified flying object at a high speed to intercept our course. It came visible to us and we wanted to take off after it. Headquarters wouldn’t let us go after it and it played around a little bit. We got to watching how it made 90 degree turns at this high speed and everything. We knew it wasn’t a missile of any type. So then we confirmed it with the radar control station on the DEW Line (NORAD) and they kept following it and they claimed that it crashed somewhere off between Texas and the Mexican border. We got a light aircraft, me and my co-pilot, and we went down to the site. We landed out in the pasture right across from the where it hit. We got over there. They told us to leave and everything else and then the armed guards came out and they started to form a line around the area. So, on the way back, I saw a little piece of metal so I picked it up and brought it back with me. There were two sand mounds that came down and it looked to me like this thing crashed right in between them. But it went into the ground, according to the way people were acting around it. But you could see for, oh I’d say, three to five hundred yards where it had went across the sand. It looked to me, I guess from the metal that we found, chunks of metal, that it either had a little explosion or it began to disintegrate. Something caused this metal to come apart.
It looked like it was something that was made because it was honeycombed. You know how you would make a metal that would cool faster. In a way it looked like magnesium steel but it had a lot of carbon in it. I tried to heat it with a cutting torch. It just wouldn’t melt. A cutting torch burns anywhere from 3200 to 3800 degrees Fahrenheit and it would make the metal hot but it wouldn’t even start to melt.
Please notice here that he is in his F-94 and that DEW line radar picked up the object but it says nothing about where the object was first sighted nor does it mention where Willingham was flying at the time. Most importantly, this affidavit gives no date for the sighting which is a major oversight. That becomes important later.
Len Stringfield, a well-respected UFO researcher who took an interest in UFO crashes when the rest of us were ignoring them, collected many stories of crashes. In 1978 he wrote a paper for the MUFON Symposium, which allows us to date this next chapter in this case. He wrote, “...Months later in 1977, I was to learn more about a crashed disc occurring in 1948. This came from researcher Todd Zeckel [sic], whom I had known since 1975 when he became Research Director of Ground Saucer Watch... The crash occurred about 30 miles inside the Mexican border across from Laredo, Texas, and was recovered by U.S. troops after it was tracked on radar screens... Zeckel pieced together other eyewitnesses to the 1948 crash event.”
According to Stringfield, Zechel reported:
I traced another Air Force colonel, now retired in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. He had seen the UFO in flight. He was flying an F-94 fighter out of Dias [sic] Air Force base in Texas and was over Albuquerque, New Mexico, when reports came of a UFO on the West Coast, flying over Washington State. Radars clocked its speed at 2,000 miles per hours.
It made a 90 – degree turn and flew east, over Texas. The colonel, then a captain pilot, actually saw it as it passed. Then suddenly it disappeared from radar screens. At Dias [sic] base, the radar operators plotted its course, and decided it had crashed some 30 miles across the Mexican border from Laredo. When the captain got back to base, he and a fellow pilot got into a small plane and took off over the border after the UFO. When they landed in the desert at the crash site, U.S. troops were there before them.
The craft was covered with a canopy [tarpaulin?], and the two pilots were not allowed to see it. They were then called to Washington, D.C. for debriefing and sworn to secrecy about the whole event.
It’s clear from the above information that Zechel was reporting on the story told by Willingham. We know, based on documentation available, that Willingham was living in Pennsylvania at the time and the other details of the story are close to what Willingham had originally reported. Please note here that Willingham is still flying his F-94, that the crash site is near Laredo, Texas, that it happened in 1948, and that it was tracked on radar. Also note that the radars put the UFO over Washington state which will become important later.
What we have here is a single witness tale that is believed because the man telling it is a retired Air Force colonel and a veteran fighter pilot. These two facts lend to his credibility and I know that when I first heard this story and was told it came from a high-ranking Air Force officer, I was inclined to believe it, especially since we had Jesse Marcel and so many others around Roswell talking of the crash there. This simply means that I was a little less suspicious of tales of crashes, given what I knew about Roswell. Please remember here, that I learned of Willingham’s crashed saucer tale after several trips to Roswell, rather than coming upon it cold.
There was another fact that came out later. According to Zechel, the crash didn’t take place in 1948 but in December 1950. Bruce Maccabee, another respected UFO researcher had been sending Freedom of Information (FOIA) requests to the FBI, among other places. His persistence paid off and he received a huge stack of documents that included some that related to some sort of alert in December 1950.
The question becomes did the alert have anything to do with UFOs. According to the documents found by Maccabee and others, on December 6, 1950, unidentified objects were spotted by radar heading toward the eastern seaboard. This triggered an alert and was discussed at the highest levels of the government. The consensus, from various memoirs and other documents, suggests that at about 10:30 a.m. Deputy Secretary of Defense Lovett called Dean Acheson, then secretary of State to tell him that the Pentagon’s phone system was about to shut down because the early warning system in Canada had picked up formations of unidentified objects, presumably aircraft heading to the southeast on a course that would put them over Washington, D.C. in two or three hours. Given the state of the world at the time, that is a major war in Korea that involved Chinese and UN forces (the majority of which were American and South Korean); it was thought that the Soviets might have been sending bombers toward the United States, probably armed with atomic weapons.
Truman, in his memoirs, suggested that the objects had been detected by radar stations and fighters had been launched to reconnoiter, though I personally would have wanted every fighter launched to intercept if I had thought the Soviets were sending bombers, which probably explains why I won’t be president.
There is another version of these events that suggest that the formations were over Alaska, which makes you wonder how they could have reached Washington, D.C. in just two or three hours unless their speed was considerably higher, that is, something on the order of 2000 miles an hour. This doesn’t have the same kind of documentation that the other version has and might be where Zechel got the idea that the UFOs were near Washington state and traveling at 2000 mph.
Within an hour, that is, by 11:30 a.m., the alert was cancelled, and once again there are multiple answers. Acheson reported that he was called back by Lovett who told him that the objects had disappeared. Lovett apparently thought the objects were geese but that seems a little strange to me… but I do remember reading about a strange event during WW II in which London radar operators reported that each morning an object appeared, rose into the sky and then seemed to fade away. It was found that it was caused by birds awaking and taking flight about the same time every day from the same London park.
Truman said that some sort of Atlantic weather disturbance had thrown off the radars. I suppose you could say that the disturbance could have caused the geese to be misidentified. The point is that the alert lasted about an hour.
These descriptions are based on the memories of the men (or the ghostwriters) who were there at the time. But as there is in many UFO–linked stories, there are some documents from the time. One of the major news services, INS reported:
A warning of an impending air attack resulted in a false alarm in this capitol [sic] city today. No air raid alarms were sounded, but functionaries charged with Civil Air Defense of Washington [D.C.] were alerted that an unidentified aircraft had been detected off the coast of the State of Maine at mid-day. Later, a spokesman for the Air Force stated that interceptor aircraft had been dispatched, and that the object in question had been identified shortly thereafter as a North American C-47 aircraft which was approaching the continent from Goose Bay, Labrador. The warning was said to have been useful in verifying the efficient of the Washington Civil Defense System. Civil Defense officials declined to comment on the incident.
Yes, there is a letter written by Colonel Charles Winkle, Assistant Executive in the Directorate of Plans that said that 40 aircraft were spotted at 32,000 feet. He noted that at 1104 hours the original track had faded out and it appeared that the flight was friendly.
While all this is interesting, it is irrelevant. This has nothing to do with the Willingham and his alleged sighting, which, until Zechel got involved was set in 1948. Then, seeing an opportunity to add some credibility to the Willingham crash report, he changed the date of the sighting to December 1950. Now Willingham’s sighting was not stand alone. There was a historical perspective to it.
There is one other aspect to this, again which is probably not related at all, other than it happened on December 8, 1950. Maccabee found, in the FBI files, an “Urgent” message that was labeled, “Flying Saucers.”
This office very confidentially advised by Army Intelligence, Richmond, that they have been put on immediate high alert for any data whatsoever concerning flying saucers. CIC here states background of instructions not available from Air Force Intelligence, who are not aware of the reason for alert locally, but any information whatsoever must be telephoned by them immediately to Air Force Intelligence. CIC advises data strictly confidential and should not be disseminated (sic).
And this would suggest some credibility to the Willingham tale. Here, just two days after the crash, the Air Force was requiring all intelligence information to be relayed to them. But, again, it is clear from Willingham’s original story, the crash took place in 1948, and not 1950. In fact, Willingham told me that in December 1950, he was serving in Korea (no evidence to support this claim), and the real date of the crash was in 1954 or 1955.
What that tells me is that no matter what Air Force Intelligence wanted in December 1950, this incident is irrelevant because there was no crash in December 1950. Remember, Willingham first claimed it was in 1948 and said that Zechel had changed the date to December 6, 1950. Willingham later said that it couldn’t have happened in December 1950 because he was in Korea at the time.
The question then becomes, how did this sighting get into the Eisenhower Briefing Document if it is a hoax? According to Zechel, he shared the information with Bill Moore and Moore, believing that Willingham was a retired colonel and that his story was credible, accepted it. We know that Moore was aware of this because he wrote about it, briefly, in The Roswell Incident. Moore wrote:
Then a second group, Citizens Against UFO Secrecy (CAUS), was formed in 1978 under the directorship of W. T. Zechel, former research director of GSW [Ground Saucer Watch] and a one-time radio-telegraph operator for the Army Security Agency. CAUS’s announced aim was nothing less than an “attempt to establish that the USAF (or elements thereof) recovered a crashed extraterrestrial spacecraft” in the Texas – New Mexico – Mexico border area sometime in the late 1940s.
This establishes that Zechel, as he claimed, had been talking to Moore about this crash. Since the book was published in 1980, and because the lead time between manuscript submission and actual publication is a year to eighteen months, it means that Zechel was talking to Moore in the late 1970s. In other words, it verifies part of what Zechel claimed when he said that Moore knew about this crash, and because Moore accepted the information from CAUS as authentic, it provides another reason that the Willingham crash had to be included in the EBD.
They all thought it real, and if it was real, it had to be mentioned in the document.
It is clear from the details, that the Del Rio crash is the El Indio - Guerrero crash. The location selected is between the original site of Laredo and Del Rio. Zechel changed the date to correspond to the December 6, 1950 alert, though he suggested the event as December 5. The accepted date in the EBD is a compromise between that date and the December 8, 1950, request by the Air Force to the Army’s CIC. There were no documents to contradict this and Willingham said that he knew the December 6 date was wrong, but said nothing about that until years later.
Everything points to the December 6 crash as being the Willingham crash, and if that is true, then there was no such crash. And without a December 6, 1950 crash, anywhere in the Texas – Mexico border area, then the EBD must be a hoax.
You can reject everything that Zechel said, but the facts here are verified through other sources. Willingham confirms that he gave all this information to Zechel, he confirms that it was Zechel who came up with the December 1950 date, and Bill Moore, in his book, confirms that Zechel and CAUS were pursuing this crash case.
All the dots line up and the facts now argue against the authenticity of the EBD because there is nothing true about the case except that Zechel investigated and the original source was Willingham.
Here is the real point. The December 6, 1950, alert has no relevance here. The information for the crash has come from a small circle of people and it all goes back to Willingham. He has changed the story to cover the facts that were in error and Zechel changed it to make use of the 1950 alert. There are no documents about it, nothing printed in any newspaper such as there was for Roswell, Kecksburg, or Shag Harbour to name just three, and there is a single witness, which again is unlike those other cases.
Unless someone can come up with some evidence that hasn’t passed through the hands of Willingham, Zechel or Moore, there is nothing left for this case. It is a hoax and if that is true, then the Eisenhower Briefing Document is a hoax. That is the only rational conclusion to be drawn.