Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The Roswell Festival

Yes, I have returned from Roswell, my first visit there in nearly fifteen years. The town has grown quite a bit and it is surprising the number of new, top line hotels, franchise operations and the improvements to the city. The UFO business has been very good.

The UFO Festival, held over the Fourth of July weekend, which is the anniversary of the crash so many years ago, is a well planned and well executed event. The speakers and presenters cover the range of those inside the UFO field from abductees and abduction researchers, to UFO investigators to those who have had some kind of spectacular UFO sighting. And this doesn’t even mention the TV and movie stars who attended including Roy Thinnes of The Invaders (in color).

I arrived in mid-afternoon on Friday and found my table, in the museum where I could attempt to sell a few books and DVDs. I was paired with Robert Salas of the nuclear weapons intrusion fame. He is a retired government employee who served in the Air Force as a captain (but then who didn’t... which is just my way of saying that I had once been a captain in the Air Force, too).

The next day I managed to offend him but in this case actually proves the adage that no good deed goes unpunished. I had been joking with those circulating through the area, talking with them and not really pushing the books. A couple of people had asked the prices and I was explaining the charges and pointed at Salas’ single book to give the price.

He snapped, “I’m getting really tired of that.”

I thought it a somewhat unprofessional thing to say in front of those people but let it slide until they had moved on and we had a momentary break. I said that I had just been trying to help by directing their attention to his book, but he said that he didn’t need my help.

About thirty minutes later I went to lunch and when I came back, I was preparing for my presentation. I kiddingly said a couple of things (though I was sort of annoyed at his earlier outburst) about what had happened. When I returned from the presentation he’d taken his books and found another location, which meant I had the table to myself. That was fine with me.

Of course, while I was interviewing a very nice woman about her involvement with the Roswell crash, Salas was quick to join our private conversation and take over. Some of the questions he asked were those that I wanted to ask anyway, but he did just butt in. I said nothing to him about that, either in front of the woman or after she was on her way.

Salas, it seems, likes to be the center of attention. I had unknowingly taken that from him as I talked to those who had come to our table. But then, it is also true that some people have no sense of humor... and mine is sometimes a little over developed.

Anyway, I gave my presentations (there were two of them) without interruption or trouble (other than kicking the power cord out of the computer so it went into hibernation mode.) We got that fixed in minutes and I went right back into the presentation.

The museum had multiple presentations going on from nine to five or six but the highlight might have been the Roswell researchers panel held on Saturday night. Stan Friedman, Tom Carey, Don Schmitt, Frank Kimbler and I shared the stage talking about how we had been dragged into the Roswell investigations. (The people from the left are Kimbler, me, Schmitt, Carey and Friedman. Photo courtesy of Alejandro Rojas at www.openminds.tv/top-ufo-roswell-researchers-728/.)

The room was packed and there were people standing outside on the sidewalk waiting for an opportunity to get in. We all talked about how we became involved in the case and some of the side, often funny experiences we’d had in working the case.

Frank Kimbler told of his experiences in using a metal detector and other search techniques in an attempt to locate anything left over from the crash in 1947. I mention this only because people are always asking if we have ever attempted that and the answer was “Yes.” Included in that were archaeological site survey techniques and other accepted practices in an attempt to locate material of significance.

I provided a number of programs on my experiences as a UFO investigator going back to my high school years. At that time, when I interviewed my first witness, I had but one question that was important to me. I asked her if the object had been distinct or if it had been fuzzy. She told me it was about 200 feet over the barn and it looked quite solid.

By Monday, I was getting worn out. Right next to me was display that included the Headline Edition of ABC News which was a report on the UFO crash. It started with a number of loud beeps and never quieted down. It seemed to me that the moment it ended, someone else would push the button and it would start all over again.

That’s not to mention a rather impressive flying saucer display that went off with a roar every fifteen minutes or so, complete with smoke pouring out the bottom. That was a conversation stopper but it was also becoming tiring after three days of watching it.

Tom Carey and I went to lunch Monday (early because I was getting tired) and then, because of a report of something (alien bodies to be precise) buried on the outskirts of town, we went to look for that. The story was that we would find to headstones near a wall. It took us about fifteen minutes to find the location and then another fifteen to find the stones. Later, with digging equipment (read shovels here) others went out, but they found nothing alien buried.

No, I didn’t go to some of the other venues. There were all sorts of vendors selling everything from T-shirts to cold drinks. There were some tours and space related exhibits, but I spent most my time in the museum.

I did have breakfast every morning with Roy Thinnes (seen here), which was interesting and we went to dinner one night. That included Tom Carey and Don Schmitt. Other nights the three of us, Carey, Schmitt and I went to dinner without Thinnes (the Golden Corral if you must know because they have a very nice salad bar, vegetable bar and desert bar.)

I did talk to Stan Friedman on a couple of occasions. He made it clear that he believed that Robert Willingham was being less than candid about his UFO experiences, but that didn’t affect the MJ-12 papers. Carey wondered why he would bring that up one morning and I told him about Willingham being the only witness to the Del Rio UFO crash (and there will be more on this in a later posting).

Monday night there was a very nice little dinner in the museum for those of us who had done programs and for the staff who had worked so hard to make the Festival a success. The people behind the scenes, who make sure the rooms are cleaned, the equipment is in place and working, that the gift shop is manned, that the guests (meaning not only the speakers but all those who came to learn a little more about UFOs) were helped as needed, and that a thousand other little things were ready, were there to mingle with the rest of us. I hesitated too long and only managed to get one slice of pizza, but it was a good slice.

I blew out of town early on Tuesday morning for the long drive home. I hit no storms (and was told it hadn’t rained in Roswell since October), but did pass one SUV that was engulfed in flames. No one had been hurt and the ambulances and fire trucks were near so they had all the help they needed.

For me, and I sure for many others, the Festival was well worthwhile. I met some nice people, renewed a couple of old friendships, and wasn’t at all surprised that Travis Walton didn’t even say “Hi,” back to me. He had obviously read The Abduction Enigma and probably wasn’t too happy with our take on alien abduction.

Julie Shuster (seen here) has done a fine job of keeping her father’s vision of the museum alive. Walter Haut had told me long ago that he wanted to encompass everything in the UFO field, not just a narrow niche of Roswell or crash retrievals. He wanted all points of view covered, even those with which he might have disagreed including those of the skeptics. The museum reflects that vision. It covers quite a bit, even those things with which I disagree but that’s what makes this a good museum. It’s not just the one point of view, but many.


purrlgurrl said...

You broke bread with Roy Thinnes! Okay, now I'm impressed.

cda said...

Has Roswell any attractions other than this annual bash? Goddammit does the town ever have anything going on not connected with the perpetual celebration of this (alleged) saucer crash?

KRandle said...

purrlgurrl -

Yes, I broke bread with Roy Thinnes and we only talked about The Invaders in passing... I did learn more about his background before he broke into acting.


Can't you "Google" this to learn of the other attractions in Roswell? There is the Goddard Museum where there is Harrison Schmitt's spacesuit used on the moon, a very interesting replica of Goddard's lab and a display about Charlie Reynolds who was killed with George Custer at the Little Bighorn... or the Greasy Grass if you want the Indian name.

I haven't even mentioned a rather impressive art museum, a home built by Pat Garrett for his daughter, the Billy the Kid festival and if you don't mind a bit of a drive, some interesting mountains and even White Sands, both the monument and the missile center.

I could go on, but I'll let you use the Internet to learn more.

Turk OVNI said...

I don't know why the comment about Robert Salas. Personal attacks such as that are what makes ufology in the mess it is.

Turk OVNI said...

Robert Salas is a class act and an honorable man. I disagree with your comments about him.

M. said...

I FOUND THE TRUTH ABOUT ALIENS AND 12 21 2012!!!!! it is located here


Hmmm, I guess it was a cookbook after all (Twilight Zone) lol lol lol Alien visitation and 12 21 2012

KRandle said...

TurkeyCasebook -

I don't understand why you suggest this was an attack. I merely reported my observations and my interaction with Salas. I certainly didn't appreciate his attitude. We were sitting at the same table and I was talking to those who came to our shared table. He seemed to believe I was attempting to steal customers from him which is simply not true.

Had he said something to me about this privately, well, I would have not addressed those who stood at his end of the table. What annoyed me the most was that I was telling several people standing at my end of the table, who asked me the prices of the books, what they were. I pointed to his to mention the price, taking their attention from my material and drawing it to his. That seems to have offended him in some way.

Later I said, by way of apology, I was merely trying to help, but he said that he didn't need my help (which is probably true...).

I thought this an interesting little aside so I included it. I did not mention my long discussions with Frank Kimbler, our mutual interest in lost mines and meteors, nor his research in material he recovered on one of the crash sites... I await more of the test results.

Nor did I mention much about the little expedition that Tom Carey and I went on, but only because I await the pictures that Tom took. I didn't have my camera with me and I know that Tom is busy this week with some personal issues.

But the point is, Salas was a bit rude... but this was no attack. For crying out loud, can we not discuss these things without it turning into an "attack?" Are we not allowed to offer criticism when it seems justified? And how long am I suppose to suffer real attacks without saying something in return?

And before you read more into that than I mean, the attacks on me have not come from Robert Salas...

KRandle said...

M -

I nearly deleted your comment because I don't appreciate others using my blog to sell their unrelated wares (though I nearly said wears... pun intended). I let it stand because of the cookbook comment... I don't know how many others caught, but I understand it completely.

Lance said...

Well if you're gonna allow that, I want to be able to sell my Soylent Green here as well!


KRandle said...

Lance -

Soylent Green... No.

Soylent Red, Yellow... Yes.

Nick Redfern said...

I met Roy Thinnes a few years ago, and can attest that he's a very cool guy.

Coincidentally, I did a write-up on this a couple of months ago, which you can find here:


Unknown said...

i lived in roswell from about 1978 to 1984, and i can tell you, until the ufo thing got recognized for the draw that it has become, roswell n.m. was one of the most boring places on the face of the earth...i'm glad things have developed the way they have...i was fortunate to have gone to see stanton friedman at the n.m.m.i.(new mexico military institute), great experience,in a little chapel i like to call 'chapel of the immaculate warhead' because the windows look and are the size of nuclear warheads...one of, if not the, most memorable experience i have had in roswell...i have some good friends who are involved with development of the museum, and hope they are still there...it has been many years since i have been there.

Randel Smith said...

Hi Kevin,

Thanks for the well written report on the festival. I love your humor, like: The Invaders-In Color. That does bring back memories, when color broadcasting was a big thing! That show, when I was just 11, really got me interested in aliens and saucers! I still have all my saucer comics. I lost my Invaders saucer model that I built, but am going to buy a replacement-and now you can make it light up. Groovy, huh guys.

My take on Mr. Salas from listening to him and reading his letters on-line impress me that he is short tempered and very defensive so no wonder he got mad so easily. Oh well. You are one of the most level headed and easy going guys in the whole saucer hobby I might add, and one of the best respected and well liked, regardless of what the view on Roswell may be. Thanks again for keeping everyone informed and putting your time and work into this blog.

Randel Smith

Randel Smith said...

p.s. fyi,

my family and I just returned from a family vacation during which we visited my birthplace of Denison, Texas, up on the Oklahoma border.

While there we visited what was Perrin AFB. We visited the nice museum there, run by veterans of the cold war era. There was a ufo siting over the base (lights in the sky-daylight) back in the mid fifties. I asked the men there if they had heard of it and neither of the two had, unfortunatley. Perrin had F-102s and T-33 jet trainers primarily. Sadly they had none of those planes to display. My sister was one of several kids who won an essay contest and became 'commander for the day' in 1953, so I have the 8x10 glossies the Air Force took of them as well as her certificate. Neato. I sent that info the a chap in England about a year ago who is trying to write a book about the siting.

When I lived in Denison briefly in 1967 I remember hearing the jets coming over and thought that was so cool. Even built a beautiful model of a T-33 when my Dad told me what they were. That's another lost model I'm going to get and display hanging from the ceiling . . but with a saucer model next to it! Who knows . . .