It is now time to consolidate all the information we have gathered about the date of the Aztec UFO crash. It began when it was claimed that the date had been identified and agreed to by all the various UFO researchers for a long time. That didn’t seem to be right to me so I decided to take a look into it.
Yes, in my book, History of UFO Crashes, I said the date was March 25, 1948. I had gone through some of the literature on the subject and like everyone else; I liked the precision of having a single date for it. I also noted that this was a hoax, one that I believed everyone in the UFO community had accepted… well, there were a few who didn’t, but they seemed to be unaware of the history and in a relative minority.
|Aztec, New Mexico. Photo courtesy of Paul Kimball.|
I began a search for the original source of the March 25 date and couldn’t find it in the Scully’s early writing about UFO crashes. In fact, he didn’t even mention Aztec in the first article that he wrote in Variety in 1949.
I scanned his book, Behind the Flying Saucers, but found no date for the crash. There were a lot of dates in the book, but none for the Aztec crash. I also looked through J. P. Cahn’s article exposing the crash as a hoax. I found a reference for the Roswell crash with an exact date, or rather the date that the Army released the information that it had really been a weather balloon (or for the purists, it was the date that most of the newspapers in the country explained the Roswell crash.)
In the 1970s, the Aztec case resurfaced, but now there was a date associated with it. According to Robert Spencer Carr, the crash took place on February 13, 1948, (or more accurately, this is what Mike McClellan said in his Official UFO article.) But that date seemed to have slipped from the public consciousness because I don’t know if anyone else ever used it.
I also ran across a couple of references that suggested the crash took place in either the spring of 1949 or in October of that year. Both of these were rather obscure which might explain why no one mentioned them very often.
Then along came William Steinman and it seems that he was the one who pinned the date down to March 25. After Steinman, all who talked about the Aztec crash used that date.
All this actually proves is that the date had been relatively fluid with dates as late as October 1949 and as early as February 1948. That many now accept the March 25, 1948, date as accurate strikes me as somewhat absurd. Do we really want to accept this date by consensus or would we rather have something a little more tangible?
Here’s where I now dive into the pool. According to Scott Ramsey, his witnesses arrived at the scene of a fire that might have ignited some drip storage tanks that were nearby. He tells us that when Doug Nolan arrived, the fire was contained and the tanks were no longer in danger.
Okay, that makes sense, but what we’re being told is that this was not some small brush fire, but something larger that drew many people to the location of the UFO crash. The military arrived sometime later and took control of the area. Although this does not agree with much of what Scully had written in his book, the question that springs to my mind is, “What do the newspapers say?”
Granted, no one has found a newspaper article about the crash from that time in that area, but I think what we should have been looking for was a story about the fire. This is, or was, remote New Mexico and a fire of the magnitude of the one described would have drawn the interest of the local newspaper. There should have been an article about the fire in the newspaper.
Back in 1976, when McClellan wrote his article, he interviewed George Bowra, who had been the editor of the Aztec newspaper in 1948. According to that article, Bowra was convinced that “Nobody could have gotten in there and out without attracting a lot of attention.”
The follow up question is, “Did anyone check the newspaper for an article about a fire in Hart Canyon in 1948?” It would seem to me that if such an article appeared in the newspaper, it would be some corroboration for the tales told by some of these witnesses. Not much, but some.
I currently have no way of checking the newspaper records, other than a letter or email to the publisher, who might not be all that interested in looking for the story. I’ll give that a shot, but if there is someone in that area that wouldn’t mind taking a look through the newspaper (which would be the Aztec Independent-Review which ceased publication in the 1980s) for late March 1948 (or for some of the other dates mentioned for that matter), we might find the fire story and that might give us the opportunity to verify that much of the tale. If, and when, I get an answer, I’ll publish it here. Until then, the question remains, “Why did everyone settle on the March 25, 1948, date?”