Friday, December 30, 2011

Brad Meltzer's Decoded

Those of you who have been reading the comments about the Fact or Faked: The Paranormal Files know that there has been some criticism about the same old, tired voices being interviewed on various TV shows (not that I’m particularly tired). Some viewers have liked the interjection of new blood into game and appreciate the new points of view.

While I agree with the philosophy, I will also note that there is a problem with these new voices. They often do not know the subject well enough to make intelligent comments about it... Or, they seemed surprised by the information they discover, never knowing that it has been circulating for years among those of us who study the field.

My latest case in point is Brad Meltzer’s Decoded on History (please note that History removed the “channel” from it’s name a while back). They decided to look into UFOs and seemed stunned to find that the reports come from more than the guys in bib overalls who quit school in the eighth grade (please note that this stereotype is suggested by the intellectuals who are too sophisticated to believe aliens have visited Earth.)

Here’s where I’m coming from. They go to Roswell and interview Julie (seen here), the daughter of Walter Haut, the PIO who issued the press release about finding the “flying saucer.” Of course, this is second-hand testimony, and Julie clearly believes what she is saying about what her father mentioned to her. But they don’t discuss the affidavit that Haut signed, and if they had asked some of us, we could have supplied video and audio tape of Haut himself talking about the things that Meltzer’s crew was getting second hand.

Meltzer mentions that while we all know something fell at Roswell, what we might not know was that just two weeks earlier, Kenneth Arnold had made the first sighting of a formation of objects. Well, sorry, but anyone who has paid any attention to UFOs, knows about Arnold’s sighting, knows when it took place, and even knows that the term “flying saucer” was coined at that time.

So, they talk about the Roswell (Main Street looking south toward the museum seen here) case but give us nothing new about it. Two people who were not involved describe the events in the briefest terms. If there was anything good about it, they rejected the balloon theory and didn’t even mention Project Mogul, that was, essentially, the balloon answer dressed in new clothes (I mention this with the fear that it will start another debate where everyone can copy and paste everything that they have said before, but this time I might just delete those comments).

Meltzer also talks about Project Blue Book, but says nothing about Sign, Grudge or Moon Dust (and for my skeptical friends, we do know that Moon Dust had a UFO component based on documentation). I don’t know if he didn’t know about them, or didn’t want to confuse the issue by talking about them.

They finally trot out to Area 51, mention the Extraterrestrial Highway (I bet the Air Force was thrilled when Nevada did that) and show the bullet-riddled sign announcing the route. But they drive toward the base, see the base security on the ridge watching them, and start climbing, on foot, toward the Air Force (or is it Wachenhut?) vehicle. When it moves toward them, they scramble back to their car and beat feet for Las Vegas.

They find a guy who was in security at Area 51 and he explains that he had access to everything on the base because of his security clearance... with the exception of one hangar. One weekend, on a fluke, he got a look inside, but he wouldn’t say what he had seen. It could have been anything or nothing. It was a good story, but it didn’t advance our knowledge at all. We know nothing now that we didn’t already know.

Oh, we’re treated to the Janet aircraft on the corner of McCarran, and we’re told that employees at the base fly out there everyday. But we already knew that, too.

We see John Lear and we learn about Bob Lazar, but there is nothing new there either. Meltzer does suggest that Lazar is surrounded in controversy, but then, we already knew that.

In the end, they sit around and we listen to them talk about the number of stars and the number of galaxies, and the size of the universe. But then, we’ve heard these discussions too and that aren’t particularly insightful. What we need is someone to tell us how to short circuit those vast distances.

Yes, I enjoy the show, but this one disappointed. It was a bunch of new people coming into the UFO arena, but they hadn’t done their homework (or they assumed that most people were as ignorant as they when it came to UFOs). They did suggest there are some strange things out there, but again, I believe that even my skeptical friends will agree that there is something strange out there.

In the end, it was a way to see where we stand in our search and we know that we’re way down the road from Meltzer and crew. Too bad they didn’t take time to learn a little more before they leaped into this one.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

David Rudiak Joins the Dream Team

We have expanded the team yet again. Dr. David Rudiak, who has done a great deal of work on the “Ramey memo” has accepted our invitation to join us as a consulting researcher along with Tony Bragalia and Chris Rutkowski. I’ll add here that we had planned on this long ago, but Tom thought I had sent the invitation to David and I thought he had. When we learned that neither had, I then sent one.

Rudiak (seen here at the International UFO Museum in Roswell, photo courtesy of Tom Carey) is one of the experts (and maybe only expert) about what happened in Ramey’s office on July 8, 1947. He wrote to me that, “I've reconstructed the debris in a computer ray-tracer and proven there is only one radar target there and probably one balloon (or what would fit in shoe box), in other words NOT what you would expect from a multi-balloon, multi-target Mogul but perfectly consistent with Ramey and Newton's description of a singular balloon/target and Dubose/Marcel's substituted weather balloon.”

He also said, “Another of my Roswell specialties are my various histories of the period. I have expertise in how the story was reported in numerous news outlets, not just a few. I think I have compiled the most extensive collection of U.S. and international Roswell stories anywhere. These stories present many angles and contradictions that just a few articles do not provide and tell us a lot about how the cover-up was handled. E.g., I have found only two or three newspapers out of hundreds carrying a rare AP sub-version quoting Sheriff Wilcox declining to answer further questions about the "disc" saying he was ‘working with those fellows at the base.’ That I consider to be very telling and corroboration for what his family was telling us decades later. Why are Marcel, Brazel, Wilcox, Ramey, and the press release telling sometimes very different stories, often contradicting the balloon story? Why do the AP, UP, and RDR versions of the press release differ in many details?”

David’s expertise isn’t limited to just the Roswell case, but includes the history of the time. He emailed me that, “And I think I may have the most extensive collection of UFO reports from the area, which I compiled from reviewing every regional paper I could lay my hands on. This demonstrates that Roswell didn't happen in a vacuum, which may have prompted Ramey, Kalberer, and White Sands commander Turner debunking the saucers over a week before Roswell blew up. One very interesting news article I have from a Las Cruces newspaper recounts how on the night of July 8 a fireball steaking out of the south over the Organ mountains broke up, followed by search lights from White Sands Proving Grounds sweeping the sky afterward for an indefinite period of time.”

He, along with Brad Sparks, reworked the mathematics of the Mogul flight number 4, which the skeptics claim is responsible for the debris, showing that it did not come nearly as close as Charles Moore, a Mogul engineer, suggested. (I’ll point out here the Moore’s calculations couldn’t bring the balloon array closer than seventeen miles.) Rudiak’s figures suggested that the balloon array launched from Alamogordo wouldn’t have come as close as Moore suggested. More importantly, it appears that there was no flight number 4.

Combine David’s training and research with the expertise and knowledge of other team members, including their various experiences in researching UFOs, participation in the military, and their understanding of the history of UFOs from the beginning (which is to say as far back as the nineteenth century and farther) and allows for the most comprehensive look at the Roswell case ever undertaken. David’s assistance and knowledge will prove invaluable in this research project.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

The FBI Memo and Roswell

Over the decades, a few documents relating to the Roswell UFO crash (or the Roswell events if you wish to remove UFO from the discussion) have been found. One of those developed after Army Brigadier General George F. Schulgen asked for FBI help “ locating and questioning individuals who first sighted the so-called flying discs...”

On July 10, 1947, an FBI memo was created by D. M. Ladd for E. G. Fitch, outlining the Army request. That request was forward to Clyde Tolson, the number two man in the FBI at the time. Tolson endorsed the memo, writing on July 15, “I think we should do this.”

Hoover then endorsed the endorsement (seen here). He wrote, “I would do this but before agreeing to it we must insist upon full access to discs recovered. For instance, in the La. case the Army grabbed it and would not let us have it for cursory examination.”

But Hoover’s handwriting was sloppy and the crucial point, the location, as “in the La case” has been disputed for years. It seems that it can also be read as Sw or Sov or 2a. Of course, if it said, “Sw” then that could refer to the Roswell case.

Tom Carey and I have been discussing this through email for a couple of weeks. I am of the opinion that Hoover wrote “La” and this refers to a case from Shreveport, Louisiana. It is clear that the Shreveport report is a hoax, given that the disc was recovered and examined.

According to information from the Project Blue Book files, the Headquarters, Air Training Command, the office of the AC of S, A-2 [Assistant Chief of Staff, Air Intelligence] Barksdale Field, LA, had received a report that a “Flying Disc [had been] found in Shreveport, Louisiana [on] 7 July 1947.”

In the course of their investigation, they found that the disc was small (seen here), there was an electronic starter attached to it that came from a fluorescent light and two condensers from electric fans. The man who built it, and whose name had been removed from the file, also said that he had used a torch to put soot on the edges so that it looked as if the disc had been spinning.

In other words, the evidence of a hoax is well established.

But there is more.

According to the documentation available, the FBI was alerted to the Shreveport case and FBI agents did interview one of the sources. The FBI memo on the case also said that the Army had taken the disc into their possession.

This case seems to fit facts and it is an “La.”

There is another piece to this. On July 24, 1947, there is another FBI memo. This one mentions the Hoover note but now it is typewritten. It says the same thing but the term has been identified. The crucial sentence says, “For instance, in the La. case the Army grabbed it and would not let us have it for cursory examination.”

That seems to end the discussion, but Tom isn’t as sure as I am. He believes that J. G. Fitch, who provided the typewritten version, in his memo might have suffered from the same problems as the rest of us, meaning that he wasn’t sure what Hoover meant and that question remains open. Tom wants to pursue this a little further to see if he can find a concrete answer.

Tom plans to chase this using a couple of resources he has developed over the last few years. He thinks it is important enough to invest a little additional and effort in finding a solid, final conclusion. And that, really, is the purpose of the Team. To find final, solid answers to the questions that remain about the Roswell case.

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Fact or Faked: Paranormal Files - A Third Time

I know that I have been quite critical of Fact or Faked: Paranormal Files in the last few weeks. I said then, and I will repeat now, that I enjoy the show. In the last couple of episodes, I have found nothing about which to complain.

Let me explain.

In a recent episode,, they were going to investigate a picture of a ghost taken at the Birdcage in Tombstone, Arizona. This was a gambling hall and house of prostitution back in the days of Wyatt Earp. A couple of dozen people were killed there and there have been reports of all sorts of ghostly occurrences inside, including an interesting picture of what looked like a man in a coffin.

They interviewed the photographer who said that he had tried to explain the picture but could not. They studied the photo and tried a number of different ways to duplicate with props on the table and a moving flashlight, but could not. Then one of the team noticed an old-fashioned coffee grinder sitting on the table and wondered if a light passing behind it would create the effect seen on the video. When they flashed a light through it, the shadows on the wall matched, perfectly, the ghost picture. They had found the solution.

In another investigation of a formation of UFOs taken in Mexico, they attempted to duplicate the taped image. They ran a couple of experiments, but nothing looked like the video they had. Finally the tried launching white, helium-filled balloons as is often done during weddings in that region. Their formation of balloons matched the motion, speed, and the grouping of the objects on the tape. They had found the solution.

Finally, they had a tape of a UFO seen above the Griffin Park Observatory taken by a motorist one night as he traveled down an LA freeway. They couldn’t run their experiments on the freeway for obvious reasons. Instead, they recreated the section of the freeway down to the lights and freeway signs to an amazing degree of accuracy. Again they ran their experiments but couldn’t quite duplicate the video.

What they eventually did, was use a helicopter, apparently with either the landing lights or a searchlight on, which overwhelmed the navigation lights and the anti-collision beacon. The bright object looked just like that on the video, as the helicopter hovered. They then had it accelerate and it looked like the object that had been filmed except that there wasn’t a sudden, rapid acceleration at the end of the video, as the object disappeared.

However, with a little digital editing, something that nearly everyone can do in today’s environment, they were able to duplicate the original video. They then used a voice stress type analysis of the witness. While I’m not a big fan of these sorts of things, and I think the jury is still out on the validity of such tests, they determined that the man who took the video was not being completely candid. Given all that, I believe they had found the solution.

They have done some other very good work in the last few weeks. They found what produced a ghostly image in a Nevada grave yard. It was the same solution that I found while investigating the Joplin, Missouri Spooklight a long time ago.

Once again, I believe that we all should watch Fact or Faked: Paranormal Files because they do put the claims of paranormal activity to the test. They do find the solutions for many of the stories, legends, claims and videos they examine. Anyone who does this kind of work, without becoming just debunkers searching for any solution, deserves our support.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Roswell Dream Team - A Brief Update

By examining a little of the material about the Roswell case, and here I mean a combination of documentation and testimony, we can draw a couple of conclusions in a limited way. I will note that I hold all the documentation for this, meaning I have copies of the relevant material, and I conducted the interviews with the witnesses, which include recordings of the conversations.

Here’s what we know and what we can prove.

According to the mythology of Roswell, the officers at Roswell were so confused by the Mogul arrays, they didn’t know that what they had were mere weather balloons and rawin radar reflectors. They flew the material to Fort Worth, their higher headquarters, where a low-ranking weather officer identified it all as nothing more than a balloon and foil-like rawin.

The problem here is that the timing doesn’t really work out if we believe that the men at Roswell didn’t know what they had until they got to Fort Worth. That would mean that the men in Fort Worth would be unable to identify it until the stuff arrived.

According to the time lines it was at 5:30 p.m. local time that the Dallas Morning News interviewed Major E. M. Kirton. According to the newspaper, the material found in Roswell was nothing more than a weather balloon.

But it was 6:00 p. m. local time that Warrant Officer Irving Newton (seen here with the rawin radar reflector) reported for duty, according to what he told me. The telephone in the office rang and he was ordered to report to Brigadier General Ramey’s office. He said that he was alone in the office and that he couldn’t leave. Ramey himself then called and told Newton, “to get your ass over here now. Use a car and if you don’t have one, take the first one with the keys in it,” according to what Newton said.

When he arrived, a colonel briefed him in the hallway (and if I was going to speculate here, I’d say that would be Colonel Thomas DuBose (later brigadier general), the Chief of Staff of the Eighth Air Force). Newton said that he didn’t remember who it was but that the message had been clear. “These officers from Roswell think they have found a flying saucer, but the general thinks it’s a weather balloon. He wants you to take a look.”

At that point, you might say, the air went out of the Roswell saucer. Nothing more than a weather balloon and a rawin radar target. Newton identified it as ordered and there is no question that the material, spread out on the floor, is the remains of a weather balloon and a radar target. From the photographs available, that is quite clear.

Okay, you say. So what?

How is it that Major Kirton could identify the material as a balloon before Newton arrived on duty, was called to Ramey’s office, and then identified it as a balloon? How did Kirton know this, at least, thirty minutes before anyone else supposedly knew?

Or is it that the cover story had already been decided upon and the actors in that little play were given their scripts. Kirton read from his, but he was more than thirty minutes too early. He should have said that the material was in Ramey’s office and it would be looked at by various experts...

In fact, why is it that only Newton was called forward to identify the material? Doesn’t this suggest that the fix was in?

And on a related point, while rereading the newspaper (specifically The Boston Herald of July 9, 1947) articles, I came across a statement by Brigader General Donald N. Yates, who in 1947 was the chief of the Army Air Forces weather service. He said, about the weather balloon and rawin radar targets, that only a very few of them are used daily, at some points where some specific project requires highly accurate wind information from extreme altitudes.

I mention this for two reasons. One is that in a letter to me, Newton used similar wording. He wrote, in 1995 I might add, that “The rawin target and balloon in question, was only used at limited locations...”

The suggestion here was that they were unusual and it wouldn’t be difficult for the men at Roswell to confuse this debris for something more exotic... except, the rawins and balloons were used at Operation Crosswords. These were the atomic tests in the Pacific in 1946, carried out with crews from the 509th, so the men at Roswell might well have been familiar with the look of the rawins.

And, second, there is the find from Circleville Ohio, as reported around the country in the days prior to the announcement from Roswell. Here a farmer found a weather balloon and rawin target in his field, but knew what it was. He took it to the sheriff, who knew what it was, and it was displayed in the window of the local newspaper, where, apparently everyone else knew what it was. Oh, they couldn’t have told you it was a rawin, but they would have told you that the object was a weather balloon and something attached to it.

Yet the guys in Roswell couldn’t identify it, even though they had the balloon envelop and the torn up target on display in Ramey’s office... and no one explained why the rawin was so torn up.

The real point here is that the timing was off, based on the documentation and testimony available. The timing of the announcements make it sound as if the answer was prepared before Newton arrived to give it. He was the window dressing. The expert who had worked with the rawins and the balloons and would know what it was. And the press, who ever they were (Newton mentioned several reporters) took that answer, as did Fort Worth Star-Telegram reporter, J. Bond Johnson, and returned to their city rooms. In a couple of hours, it was reported that the Roswell debris was a “weather forecasting device.”

And that was the end of it... for more than thirty years.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Chris Rutkowski Joins the Team

The Roswell Dream Team has expanded again. This time Chris Rutkowski (seen below), a well-known Canadian researcher has joined us.

We wanted to bring in someone with a skeptical bent but not someone who was rabidly anti-extraterrestrial. We wanted someone with an open mind, who would point out where we might have slipped off the rails, but not someone who would assume that we were wrong simply because there is no possibility of alien visitation. It is a fine line to walk, but we believe that Chris can walk that line.

Chris himself said, “Although I've been called both a skeptic and a believer (depending on whether you're hearing it from a ‘true believer’ or a skeptic), I tend to think of myself as an objective cynic. I sit on the fence when it comes to the question whether or not some UFOs are alien spacecraft. (The pointy slats are painful, but they can be endured.)”

About the Roswell crash case, Chris said, “I think we're a long way from declaring Roswell an ‘alien’ incident. True, according to some witnesses, the material recovered was unlike anything they had seen, and there certainly was an attempt by the military to cover up or obfuscate information about the event. It's a matter of speculation as to whether or not the material recovered was non-terrestrial in origin, since we don't have any on hand to test.”

He cautioned, and rightly so, that “We're relying on decades-old testimony in some cases, and more recently on memories of family members who may or may not recall with any accuracy statements or events from long ago. Furthermore, some military witnesses may still be reluctant to talk and some may still adhere to their military code of secrecy.”

Chris did provide us with some background information that is probably of interest to all. He wrote in a recent email to me, “My background in astronomy and education (BSc and MEd, respectively) fits well with my interest in science education, particularly when it comes to astronomy-related topics. I have greatly enjoyed showing people Jupiter's moons through small telescopes at public star fests, and telling them stories about how constellations got their names. And yes, the topic of UFOs falls under this broad category of astronomy-related subjects, although by history, not accurately. Astronomers are no better equipped than stock market analysts when it comes to dealing with objects reportedly moving low over witnesses' heads and over airports.”

Chris and Donna Rutkowski.
And he is not a newcomer to the world of UFO investigation. He told me, “... I've been investigating reports of UFOs since the 1970s. I've also been writing about cases and theories since about that time. With many hundreds of case investigations under my belt, I can say that there does not seem to be a single simple explanation for all reports. They're not all hoaxes or misidentifications of stars and meteors. They're not collective illusions. There's a residual percentage of cases which have enough data and detail to explain them as aircraft, stars, planets, balloons, etc., except they are not.”

The plan is to share everything with Chris and get his take on the importance of the information, the evidence, and the thinking involved. Chris said that he liked the idea of a “cold case” investigation and thought with Roswell it was something that was long overdue.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Tony Bragalia Joins Roswell Dream Team

The response to the announcement of the creation of a “Dream Team” has been met with nearly unanimous approval. There have been the detractors, but there will always be detractors... Nothing can be done about that, other than to say, we haven’t completed the team, and why not wait for the results before you condemn the research.

Tony Bragalia, who is known to many of us as a tireless researcher and who has an interest in a wide range of topics inside Ufology, has agreed to come on board as a consulting researcher. He’ll be working with us as we begin our new research into the Roswell case.

We all have worked with Tony on a variety of investigations. He and I collaborated on a review of the Mac Magruder story that was given to researchers by Magruder’s sons. We tried to find out when Magruder would have reported for duty at the Air War College and if he would have been available to travel to Wright Field for some sort of involvement in the research about the Roswell crash.

The reason I remember this well was because I was in Des Moines after the Iowa National Guard had been activated for duty during the devastating floods in 2008 (yes, we’re still recovering from that but you’d never know by all the news coverage of it). We shared information over the Internet, backing up each other’s findings.

The thing here is that we all don’t agree on some aspects of the case. Tony and I learned that Magruder wouldn’t have made it to Ohio until April 1948 as part of his training, which seemed to suggest Magruder wouldn’t have been deeply involved. He and I agreed, but Don and Tom do not... though it is a relatively small point and one we will revisit during the investigation.

Tom, Don and I don’t agree with Tony’s conclusion that students from the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology were responsible for the hoax in Socorro. Tony believes, based on some documentation and an interview with some that the landing was a trick played on Lonnie Zamora, though he might not have been the target. We, Tom, Don, and I think the evidence of a hoax is weak.

I mention these things just to show that we all are not in agreement on everything. It is a team of researchers who have their own opinions and read the evidence as individuals rather than by committee. This divergence of opinion should allow us to consider many different aspects and solutions as we attempt to put all this together.

I will note here that this is not the whole team. Other invitations have been issued and we plan to build a team of people that is diverse in opinion and complete in scope. There will be more announcements later.

Friday, November 04, 2011

Fact or Faked: Paranormal Files - Revisited

I got to thinking some more about the Fact or Faked: Paranormal Files video of a UFO crash at the White Sands Missile Range and found it strange that they had not spoken to anyone who worked there. I know that during different aspects of my research, whether into the treasure hidden in Victorio Peak (no, I don’t think there is one) to other aspects of the UFO phenomenon, the Public Affairs Office had always been courteous. So I sent them a note asking about this.

Monte Marlin, of that office, replied quickly to me. He said that he once had a email response prepared that he sent out to all that asked about the tape, which struck me as a smart thing to do. It also struck me that for him to do that, it meant that there were others who also asked the question about the footage which isn’t a bad thing. I mean there were enough people asking about the validity of the tape that he felt compelled to create a generic response to save himself some time. (The missile park at White Sands seen below.)

He suggested that this particular test was part of “an infrared shot of a Navy missile test...The high powered optics tests are part and parcel of our test mission here at the missile range. The data we collect belongs to our ‘customers,’ the weapons developers and is used for technical purposes. Once in awhile the clips make their way to the general public...”

Marlin also noted, “There are many, many launch areas and instrumentation sites on this enormous missile range. It is not uncommon to see poles in video footage. The poles may carry cabling related to the test or some poles have markings so that when we look at the footage, we can measure time/space distance.”

Which I found interesting because one of the experiments they ran on Paranormal Files was an attempt to duplicate the footage using an array of cables. It suggests that they had talked to the PAO, understood how some of the tests were conducted, but that wouldn’t have been very dramatic on TV. So, they just passed on that and ran their test.

This, I think answers one of the questions about the show... but hey, don’t get the wrong idea. I enjoy it. They have done some very useful experiments and solved some interesting mysteries. In this specific case, I think the answer was handed to them but they had thirty minutes to fill. Talking to a guy in an office isn’t nearly as exciting as running experiments in the desert, especially when you get to blow up a model rocket.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Rowell Investigation Dream Team

Tom Carey, (seen here signing a book at the Roswell festival in 2011) a UFO researcher living in Pennsylvania and one of the authors of Witness to Roswell, realized that there was a great deal of work left to be done on the Roswell UFO case. You might say that his dream was to pull all the information together, to locate and interview the witnesses who have yet to tell their stories, verify as best as possible the facts of the case, and write it all down in a coherent and rational analysis. To help with this project, Tom worked to bring together a team of researchers who understood this case. He succeeded in convincing both Don Schmitt and me to join him in his quest.

Don Schmitt had, in the late 1980s, realized there was still work to be done on the Roswell case. The surface had only been scratched by others. With the support of the J. Allen Hynek Center for UFO Studies, he began his research. One of the things he did was invite me to join him, believing that my military experience would be of help in understanding Army operations and in communicating with retired military personnel on their level.

As everyone who has been paying attention knows, Don (seen here are the Roswell Festival in 2011) and I had a falling out over some research techniques and matters unrelated to the investigation. While these seemed important then, it could be said that in time we reevaluated these issues. We reconnected after I returned from Iraq and it was as if no time had passed.

A couple of months ago Tom asked me if I was willing to join him in putting together what he thought of as the ultimate Roswell crash book. I was enthusiastic about the idea and readily agreed.

After Tom and I had discussed what we thought needed to be covered, Tom approached Don with the same idea. Don also thought it a good idea and the Dream Team was born (can I, as a participant, refer to it as a Dream Team?).

Although we are still, more or less, in the planning stages, we have already made some discoveries. I have learned of a doctor who might have participated in an autopsy of the alien creatures. True enough, we have heard this before, but the man is a doctor, was a doctor then, and is now willing to talk about what he had seen.

Also true, I have not verified all of what he said, but there are some indications that he is who he claims to be. I mention this only because it is one of the first things that we have learned.

We have also begun, again, to use FOIA in an attempt to learn more about the Air Force investigation of the Roswell case. This means, simply, that we have again gone to the Office of the Secretary of the Air Force to review documents that relate to their Roswell investigation. We wanted to know what transpired in the meetings, what was written in the memos, and what the internal reports might have said.

I tried this once before. I spent three years chasing this information, finally locating what they had at the National Archives in Washington, D.C. But all that was there was the results of that investigation and nothing about the internal operations of it (Air Force Roswell investigation files seen here. Instead there were video tapes of witnesses, most of them gathered for the Fund for UFO Research, a Court Martial of a doctor who was having an affair with a nurse in 1957 and completely irrelevant to the investigation, lots of reports on balloons and Mogul, but nothing that answered my basic questions. So now we’ve started that process all over.

What we want to do is distill the information. We want to eliminate the nonsense from the case, whether it is Air Force explanations or witness testimony that is irrelevant or untrue.

You might say that we are starting all over, on a cold case, reviewing everything related to determine what is important. Sure, we all believe that what fell at Roswell was alien, but we are going to take the path that leads to the truth. We will attempt to eliminate our personal biases in favor of determining what happened now nearly 65 years ago.

Periodically we will provide updates about the investigation, letting people know where we are going. We plan to pull it all together in a book that will answer the various questions as best we can. Yes, we know that we won’t be able to please everyone... what if we find a terrestrial explanation that actually works? Then the UFO community will be angry... And if we find that it was something alien, well, I doubt that the Skeptics will be satisfied.

So now we begin again, not from our own goal-line to be sure but somewhere down the field and this time we will find the answer and the proof to support that answer.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Fact or Faked: The Paranormal Files

I watched Fact or Faked: The Paranormal Files today and had some questions. First, I enjoy the show and am all in favor of anything that brings a note of skepticism and research into these tales. But I sometimes wonder if they know the answer before they attempt their recreations.

Not all that long ago they aired some footage of a nighttime object falling that broke into three pieces before fading out. They interviewed a couple, here meaning a man and woman which I believe were mother and son, who had seen the lights and were puzzled by them. But they didn’t interview the photographer who took the video footage and who was known to them, about it.

They eventually put together a scenario that made sense, that is, parachutists with flares strapped to their boots. They confirmed that members of the Army’s Golden Knights expert parachute team had been practicing in the area and had been using flares. Nothing faked here, but an explanation in the mundane.

Good for them... but I wondered why they hadn’t interviewed the cameraman. He worked for a local TV station and would have had access to all sorts of equipment. But they didn’t talk to him... or rather, we saw no footage of them interviewing him. I suspect it was because he knew what he had filmed. Oh, maybe not right away, but by the time the team from Paranormal Files arrived, I suspect he knew the answer.

I mention all this because in the latest episode they had footage of a UFO crash that was taken at White Sands Missile Range in 1996 or 1997. The bright object comes down, strikes the ground, skips upwards, falls and then crashes and explodes. They went to New Mexico to see what they could learn about this event.

They never made onto the White Sands Missile Range, or if they did, they showed nothing from that. Instead, they showed warning signs about the range, a long distance photograph of it, and a short interview with a UFO researcher who didn’t even know that the unit at Roswell was the 509th Bomb Group and not a squadron, let alone much about anything else... or rather the interview seemed to show that.

Then they were off to California where they conducted their experiments. They made some elaborate attempts, eventually using a model rocket fired at a low angle that did skip across the ground but did not explode. They suggested that if the object in the film was some of sort of missile test that got away from those at White Sands, it wouldn’t have been designed the way a model rocket engine is. In other words, the White Sands test might well have exploded.

While their last attempt does resemble the original footage, I still wonder why they went to New Mexico and didn’t do anything there. Why didn’t they hit the missile range and ask some questions. At worst, they would have been turned away at the gate. The last time I was there, I had to show proof of auto insurance to get on the base but had no trouble. I’m sure that someone in the public affairs office would have been delighted to speak with them. It just struck me as a hole in their investigation.

They did no better with the second segment which was of a ghost taped in a Tonopah, Nevada cemetery. The image that had been captured on tape was striking in the way that it appeared, moved across a short stretch of the cemetery and then disappeared.

They noticed that the appearance of the phantom seemed to coincide with the lights on a nearby highway. They set up an experiment to test this and were able to recreate the image on their equipment. The answer seemed obvious, but one of those reviewing the tape mentioned there had been many eyewitnesses to these apparitions. He was suggesting that there might be something paranormal there because of the multiple reports.

Not so fast. I had spent time at the site of the Joplin Spooklight and know there are hundreds of witnesses to it. But that doesn’t make it a spirit or ghost. It is quite obvious that the Spooklight is the result of light refraction from a nearby section of highway. So, a boatload of eyewitnesses does not mean the Spooklight is anything paranormal. It means that those people have seen an ambiguous light and identified it as something paranormal. The same would apply to the Tonopah apparition.

My point here is that I am a little surprised at the direction some of their investigations take. I’m surprised that they don’t interview those I would think would be critical to understanding what is being seen and photographed and taped. It seems to me that they leave out some steps... but eventually get to the correct answers... and that, I suppose, is the real point.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

We Have the Wrong Roswell Crash Site?

This one is so funny that I have to laugh. I got into a discussion with someone about the location of the debris field as described by Bill Brazel. I was told that I had the wrong location.

How can this be?

Bill Brazel took me there himself.

It was early morning and we, and by we, I mean Don Schmitt and I, meant Brazel at a café in Capitan. He was driving an old red pickup and we left my car at the café. As we drove out of town, Brazel asked us if we wanted a beer. Don said he didn’t and I thought that one of us ought to have one with Brazel so I said, “Sure.”

Ah, there is nothing I like more than warm beer at eight o’clock in the morning.

Anyway, we drove out toward Corona, taking the back roads and arrived at the location where the thing, whatever it might have been, hit.

Brazel got out of the truck and pointed to the ground at his feet... No, there wasn’t a bit of debris there now. He just said that this was where he’d found a couple of the scraps.

I took a couple of pictures with Don and Bill standing there (which might be the only pictures of one of the prime witnesses on the actual debris field... and the pictures have been copyrighted, reproduction is prohibited.)

Brazel then explained where it had hit, how it had scraped along the ground, leaving a narrow neck that widened to about ten feet and then tapered again as if it had skipped. The ground was scraped to about a foot or so deep and Brazel said that it had taken a couple of years to grass back over.

No, I really don’t want to discuss all the variations about this and how Jesse Marcel never said anything about a gouge... Though “Reluctant,” Karl Pflock’s witness who was really Walt Whitmore, Jr., talked about an area of disturbed ground he had seen in one of his versions of events.

Anyway, it was Bill Brazel who showed me the site so I figure that I must have it right. (Please note these are two different pictures, though taken about the same time.)

When CUFOS did their archaeological site survey out there, we planted those little “utility” flags along the ground in a line about a half mile long where it seemed that Brazel had said the thing skipped. When we left, we pulled up all those flags, not wanting to leave anything behind that would annoy the ranch owners who had kindly allowed us to make the survey.

Archaeological dig on the ranch..

Sometime after that, Bud Payne, a Lincoln County judge who said that he had seen the military out there doing something, took us, meaning Don, Paul Davids, Robert Hastings, and me out to the site. As we got out of the truck, I looked down and saw one of the flags we had missed.

In other words, Bud Payne put us on the same stretch of New Mexican desert as did Bill Brazel. That would seem to confirm the location as given to us earlier.

Tommy Tyree, who worked for Brazel, told us of riding the range with Brazel when he pointed down into a sinkhole that had water in the bottom. Floating on it was a bit of debris... and before you ask, no, we didn’t find the sinkhole, Tyree didn’t know precisely where it had been, and the water would have been long gone (and the hole probably filled in). But he gave us directions out there and it was on the same bit of range as that shown to us by Bill Brazel.

(Off on a tangent, because I know people are going to start asking all sorts of questions... We were unable to locate the sinkhole and figured the sides had collapsed in the forty years or so before we got there. When we did the site survey, we dug around the roots of plants that looked old enough to have been there when the crash happened... We looked into animal burrows, hoping to find a scavenger that had found a bit of the debris... We used metal detectors and even tried an aerial survey in a rented plane... and no, we had no success in any of that.)

The real point here is that I’m certain we were in the right place because it is the place the witnesses took us to... independently of one another. True, there could have been some discussion over the years about the location among these various witnesses, but the point is Bill Brazel showed it to Don and me. I am not aware of him showing it to anyone else (though he certainly could have, I’m just not aware of it).

So, when people tell me I’ve got the wrong place, I wonder what is the source of their information. It didn’t come directly from Bill Brazel as did the information that I have. It didn’t come from a first-hand source, as did my information. It might have been derived some something that was told to me, or something that I, or Don, said, or from people we took out there said, but as far as I know, the two of us are the only two Brazel took out there. We have the right place.

Saturday, October 01, 2011

Where Have the UFOs Gone?

The late Karl Pflock and I used to talk about why there were no more really good UFO sightings. We weren’t getting the kind of reports that had been so prevalent at the beginning of the modern era. Nothing as robust or as interesting as those over Washington, D.C., or at Levelland, Texas. In today’s world, it seem as if the UFOs stayed up in the air, usually away from the witnesses, and did nothing other than cross the sky in a straight line. 
Karl Pflock (right) and me.

We can point to all sorts of interesting sightings in the past, some of which had mundane answers and some of which are still puzzling today. There was, of course, the Arnold sighting. He believed he saw a number of objects that he timed as traveling at 1800 miles an hour, or much faster than anything flying at the time, other than rockets and missiles, and they didn’t fly in formation.

There is a possibility that another man, Fred Johnson, saw the same objects about the time that Arnold lost sight of them. He reported that his compass spun wildly while the objects were overhead, but when they disappeared, the compass settled down. You can argue, and I’m sure some will, that the Johnson sighting isn’t related to that of Arnold, or that it is a hoax based on the Arnold sighting, or if related, doesn’t really add much to our overall knowledge.
But the point is that there are two sightings that seem to go together to create a nice little anomaly. Arnold might have been fooled. Johnson might have been inventing the tale. Or maybe they both witnessed something unusual that provided interesting descriptions and even one of the first cases with electro-magnetic effects.
Or take the Washington Nationals from late July 1952. Here was a series of sightings spread over two Saturday nights in which airline pilots, jet interceptor pilots, people on the ground, and radar operators reported strange lights and strange blips over Washington, D.C.
I talked to both Al Chop and Major Dewey Fournet, both associated with the official UFO investigation in 1952, and who had been in the radar room on that second Saturday. They told me there had been one intercept that had gotten “hairy,” meaning dangerous. According to them, and they were watching in the radar rooms at Washington National and listening to the interceptor pilots talking to one another, as they Air Force attempted to catch the UFOs the interceptor pilot found himself surrounded by the lights. It was all tracked on radar. What the pilot, William Patterson said over the radio, the men in the radar center could see on the scope. Patterson decided to break off the intercept at that point.
It doesn’t matter here if you believe that Patterson intercepted and the radar showed alien craft. What matters here is the nature of the sighting, meaning it was robust. There were those in radar centers who watched it all on the scopes, there were the pilots seeing the objects where the radar said they were. The sightings lasted for hours, though not continuously, and there were many witnesses.
True, the Air Force eventually wrote the sightings off as temperature inversions, and it does seem that temperature inversion was responsible for some of the radar returns, but that doesn’t explain the lights in the sky and it doesn’t square with what the controllers, who saw the blips, said. They told investigators that they were familiar with the way weather phenomena were displayed on the radar scopes and these blips didn’t look like that.
In today’s world, we get nothing as interesting. Nothing with multiple chains of evidence, with literally dozens of witnesses. We have one or two people seeing a light, or we get a cell phone video that doesn’t do much to increase our knowledge. Just some image that could be almost anything but that has fooled the person who recorded it.
Karl and I tried to figure this out. I suppose you could say that people today don’t have the imagination of those fifty years ago. I suppose you could say that people today are more familiar with what is in the sky around them. I suppose you could say that we are all more in tune with our environment.

Or maybe you could say that the aliens, from wherever they came, have now gone home to study the data they collected. Think of it as our exploration of the moon. In 1969, and for the next couple of years, if you were living on the moon, you would have had lots of UFO sightings, including landings. But, since 1972, there hasn’t been a whole lot of activity. We gathered our samples and went home.

Oh, sure, the analogy breaks down when you say, “But we left physical evidence behind to prove we were there... and it was only the landings of astronauts that have ended. Other moon missions have been lost.”
But then I say, “Yeah, but the robust sightings have ended.”

Yes, there have been some interesting sightings. There are those from Bentwaters and, of course Belgium, but these are the exceptions. The older sightings have more witnesses, more data, more evidence than those of today, with rare exception.
Karl and I never really came to a conclusion about this, other than collecting more sighting reports wouldn’t expand our knowledge much. We never really found a satisfactory answer for the change. We agreed that older cases were more interesting than newer case but we didn’t really know why.
Oh, Karl believed that the Hills had been abducted, but I disagreed. I believed the answer would be found in the terrestrial. Neither of us thought much of the widespread claims of abduction, though it might have supplied part of the answer. Too many research assets were diverted into abduction research without much in the way of tangible results.
I suppose I could say the same thing about crop circles. These had once been called UFO landing sites, or UFO nests, but evolved into crop circles, which were another subset of the UFO phenomenon.
And I know the number of sightings has increased recently, but these are sightings, often with pictures that don’t add much to the case. Sometimes it’s clear that the pictures are lens flares, clouds, or other natural phenomena, and some times the cases are simple hoaxes.

The point, again, is that the sightings aren’t nearly as exciting as they were forty or fifty years ago, and I have no explanation for that. Maybe it’s all just a matter of perspective.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Kecksburg UFO Crash, Tim Printy and Steven Paquette

Not all that long ago (this last week, actually) Tim Printy sent me a question about part of the Kecksburg UFO crash. He noted that I had mentioned an Air Force officer named Steven Paquette. I wrote in Crash – When UFOs Fall from the Sky, that a document in the Project Blue Book files suggested that he was stationed in New Hampton, Massachusetts, but he had been ordered to participate in the search. Printy wrote that he had been through the Blue Book files and couldn’t find this document.

He also found that an officer with the same name seemed to be stationed much closer to Kecksburg and that he had participated in other UFO investigations. In fact, it seemed that Paquette had an additional duty of investigating UFO sightings in his area, an assignment that fell to many lieutenants in the 1960s.

Printy wanted to know if I knew this about Paquette, and if I could supply the document that I had used as a source, and if there really was a New Hampton, Massachusetts. All very good questions.

So, I went through my Kecksburg file which is about six inched thick and located the document. It was a teletype message that is part of a newspaper story about the Kecksburg sighting. I had gotten it when I asked CUFOS to send me a copy of the Blue Book file on Kecksburg.

Then I looked through the Project Blue Book files, which I now have on microfilm thanks, in part, to Michael Swords and CUFOS, figuring I would find the document there. I was surprised at the size of the Blue Book file, but only because it was so thin. There were a number of “Memos for the Record,” and a final conclusion that the sighting was “Astro, Meteor.”

But the teletype message, and a large number of newspaper clippings that I had thought were part of the Blue Book file were not there. Clearly, the fellows at CUFOS sent me everything they had and that included research that had probably been part of the NICAP files and later the CUFOS files. It was a very complete package and based on what I had seen in the Blue Book files of other, similar cases, I wasn’t surprised by all the extra material. I now know that very little of this information made it into Blue Book.

Printy sent me links to a couple of files for Blue Book that were online and Paquette appeared in them. He wanted to know if I thought it was the same officer. Well, yeah, since the name is not Smith or Johnson, I think it was the same guy, though the spelling of the first name is Stephen rather than Steven.

Of course, this is the world of the internet, and I found that there were quite a few people named Steven Paquette running around. I also found a number of them named Stephen Paquette. Still, how many of them would have been lieutenants in 1965 and 1966 when the various Blue Book investigations were accomplished.

And what about this New Hampton, Massachusetts, which apparently doesn’t exist?

From reading the teletype (a copy of which I did email to Printy and no, the highlighted part does not mention Paquette, that's higher on the message) it seems the reporter was giving a nod to Paquette’s hometown, though it was obviously not in Massachusetts. Printy mentioned a New Hampton, New Hampshire and I know of one in Iowa (but a check of my Britannica Atlas shows only New Hamptons in Iowa and New York). With the information supplied by Printy, it’s clear that Paquette wasn’t stationed in Massachusetts at the time. He was probably from the east coast and the reporter just screwed up the state. And it seems that the spelling of his first name was screwed up by the reporter as well (at least that seems to be the most logical assumption here).

Paquette’s whole role in this seems to be clearer today thanks to Printy. There is no evidence that Paquette ever went to Kecksburg, and while I speculated he would not have had a role in this unless he was assigned to some kind of special unit, that speculation seems to be in error. Paquette was stationed in Pennsylvania at the time, seems to have been assigned as a UFO officer as an extra duty and was quoted by the newspaper simply because he was an Air Force officer who talked to a reporter about Kecksburg.

Thanks to Printy, we now have a little more information about the Kecksburg case and we know a little more about this, at the time, low-ranking Air Force officer. We can clarify his role and move on to other aspects of the case.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Philip Klass and the Socorro UFO Landing

Although my posting had been about Philip Klass and some of his letter writing campaigns (which, of course, got nasty, his letters, not my posting), we have diverted into the Socorro UFO landing case and Klass’ investigation of it. We have gotten into arguments over semantics and site locations and just who owned what and when.

Philip Klass centered

First, the semantics. Some of us have suggested that Klass claimed the landing was a hoax created by the mayor of Socorro at the time, Holm Bursum and perpetrated by police officer Lonnie Zamora. Others suggested that Klass never said it, at least not in so many words.


Klass wrote, in his 1974 book, UFOs Explained (and I have a personalized, autographed copy), “The property where the UFO reportedly landed had, prior to the incident, been worthless ‘scrub land.’ But now, if the site became a long-lived tourist attraction, there could be need for refreshment stands, perhaps even a motel for those who might like to spend the night near the spot where an extraterrestrial spaceship had seemingly landed. By a curious coincidence, the property where the UFO reportedly landed was owned by Mayor Bursum, officer Zamora’s boss! The mayor’s principal business? He was the town banker and as such would not be unhappy to see an influx of tourist dollars.”

In his interview with Gary Posner published on the web at:

Klass makes this claim again. He said, “And I found out that Socorro's mayor owned the ‘landing site’ property and the town's only bank, and earlier had sought approval to build a new road to the UFO site for the benefit of tourists. So, when I wrote UFOs: Identified, I was confident enough to suggest that this case might be a hoax. And by the time my second UFO book, UFOs Explained, was published, I did unequivocally characterize the case as a hoax, as I've done subsequently regarding a number of other highly suspicious cases.”

For those of us who can understand this, Klass is saying that there was some kind of plot to develop a tourist attraction and the mayor was behind it. His subordinate was Lonnie Zamora. No, Klass doesn’t say they were working together on this, he just hints at it, knowing that we all can put it together. Since he is not actually making the allegation, he is safe from legal entanglements.

Posner (who is shown as “Skeptic,” in the online interview) said that the tourist attraction was never built. Klass has an answer for that, as well. He said, “Yes, but the plan had been initiated. On the first anniversary of the ‘landing,’ a newspaper article quoted a city official as saying outright that they intended to use it as a tourist attraction, and it reported that the road to the site had recently been upgraded. It also mentioned that a movie about UFOs had recently shot some scenes in Socorro. Perhaps when members of the City Council learned the truth, they opted not to proceed any further with the plans.”

But what is not said is that there is no evidence of this plan prior to the landing. They would have had no way of knowing that the landing report would get any sort of national publicity because most UFO sightings go unreported by the national media. They would have had to count on the Air Force investigation getting attention and that the attention would be from the media. If they were planning this all out, it was a very clever plan that worked... at least the part where they drew the national media attention.

The real flaw in Klass’ logic, however, is that the plan seemed to have been created after the media attention and someone thought there was a potential there. The real point is that even after they thought about it, the tourist attraction was never built.

Or maybe that’s not the real flaw... it seems that the mayor didn’t own the land in 1964. According to the Socorro newspaper, El Defensor Chieftain, which did a long story about the Socorro landing after it was suggested in 2008 that a historical marker be erected at the site, noted that the land in question had been part of the estate of Delia Harris in 1964. In 1968, the land was bought by the Richardson family and they apparently still own it. Mayor Bursum had never owned it. I don’t know where Klass got that idea. Maybe someone mentioned it to him and he believed it, figuring they should know.

Or maybe it was because in 1966 the Chamber of Commerce president, Paul Ridings, suggested they do something to promote tourism and thought the landing site would be a good place to start. They created a path lined with stones around a landing site, but it was in the wrong place. Apparently there was a lack of vegetation at the real site that frightened people. Some believed there was residual radiation, so they just moved the site over an arroyo or two. The mayor didn’t seem to have a hand in this aspect of it either.

But this leads to a second question. Which site did Phil Klass visit? If he was unaware that the Chamber of Commerce had moved the site, then his investigation would be flawed. His observations about the location and who could see what would be in error. Can we, at this late date, determine which site Klass “toured?”

Klass mentioned, in his book, “Although the policeman [Zamora] said the UFO’s [sic] roar could be heard over the noise of his speeding patrol car, from a distance of 4,000 feet, Mr. and Mrs. Felix Phillips, who lived only 1,000 feet from the UFO site reported they heard no such noise though they were home at the time.”

Klass also wrote (page 108, hardback, UFOs Explained), “During Hynek’s visit, he talked with one local resident who suggested that the case might be a hoax. The man was Mr. Felix Phillips, whose house is located only one thousand feet south of the spot where the UFO allegedly landed. Phillips said that he and his wife had been home at the time of the reported incident, and that several windows and doors had been opened – yet neither of them heard the loud roar that Zamora reported during takeoff... Hynek briefly mentioned the man’s suspicions in his second trip report to the USAF, but he strongly rejected all possibility of a hoax.”

In the online interview, Klass said, “When I interviewed a man who lived right near the landing site, and had been working in his garden when the UFO supposedly blasted off, he told me that he hadn't heard a thing, and that when he visited the site soon afterwards he saw no physical evidence to support Zamora's story and suspected that it was a hoax.”

Dr. J. Allen Hynek

Let’s answer the question about which site Klass visited. Based on this, I believe that Klass was on the correct site. He found the man who Hynek had interviewed. In the report that Klass cited, Hynek had written, “Although I made a distinct attempt to find a chink in [name redacted but is obviously Zamora] armor, I simply couldn’t find anyone, with the possible exception of a [name redacted, but I believe is Phillips] who has a house fairly near the site of the original landing, who did anything by completely uphold [again, the name is redacted but is Zamora] character and reliability, and I again talked with people who had known him since childhood.”

This then, suggests that Klass was on the right site. He is talking to the same man who Hynek interviewed. But then Klass slips off the rails, telling us the man was in his garden and that he saw nothing on the site.

One of the landing pad prints.

While I will give Klass the benefit of the doubt, and assume that he is talking from memory rather than inventing facts not in evidence, his claim that the man “visited the site soon afterwards he saw no physical evidence,” simply doesn’t make any sense. Why would he inspect the site if he heard nothing? What would be his motivation to walk over there?

More importantly, what about the claim that he saw nothing? This is in direct contradiction of the police officers, FBI agents, and Air Force officers who toured the site on the evening of the landing.

From Hynek’s first report (which I must assume that Klass saw since he was talking about the second report), “I questioned Mr Art Burns of the FBI, and several others who had been on the site within the first hours after the sighting as to the alleged freshness of the tracks. They were all of the opinion that the tracks were, indeed, fresh.”

Hynek also reported, “Although Zamora was the only witness to the actual sighting, nine people in all saw the markings.”

In Hynek’s second report, dated March 12 and 13, 1965, Hynek wrote, “All that seem definitely to agree on is that the green snakeweed and the green greasewood, which are notoriously hard materials to ignite, showed evidence of having been charred, as though they have been seared by a hot flame and not burned in an ordinary fashion.”

Regardless of the claim the Phillips saw nothing, there is good testimony that markings were there and that burning (or charring) of the bushes were there. Klass’ claims were in error, and if he had been speaking as one who thought that the UFO was extraterrestrial, these claims would have been challenged. They have not, until now.

Klass suggests that Phillips and his wife were home at the time. In his book, he wrote, “Phillips said that he and his wife had been home at the time of the reported incident, and that several windows and doors had been opened – yet neither of them heard the loud roar that Zamora reported during takeoff.”

In the Posner interview, he took it further, saying, “When I interviewed a man who lived right near the landing site, and had been working in his garden when the UFO supposedly blasted off, he told me that he hadn't heard a thing...”

This is a much more damaging statement. Rather than being inside with their doors and windows open, now Phillips is outside, where he should have been able to hear the UFO.

The maps that I have, crude though they all are, show that Phillips lived to the southeast of the landing site. This is important because, according to Hynek’s report, “The wind at that time was blowing very strongly from the south...”

Which means, of course, that the sound was blown away from Phillips. If he was inside, as had been suggested in the earlier accounts, including that by Klass, then there is a real possibility that he would have heard nothing. And, importantly, if he was inside, it would explain why he and his wife saw nothing. With no sound, they wouldn’t have gone to the windows so see what was making all the noise.

What we learn in this brief little study is that, semantics aside, Klass did hint that the mayor and Zamora were involved in a hoax to create a tourist attraction. It might be suggested that Zamora had been fooled, but the implication is clear. The fact is that no evidence has ever surfaced that anyone talked about a tourist attraction prior to the landing.

Klass was wrong about the ownership of the land and never presented any evidence that he knew who the owner was. He merely slung his allegation as evidence that the mayor wanted to create a tourist industry in Socorro, and by implication, make some money.

Klass has claimed the case was a hoax because Felix Phillips, who lived close to the site heard nothing. But Klass moves him from inside his house to the outside, working in his garden. He also claimed that Phillips walked the area of the landing but saw nothing.

But that doesn’t track with the evidence. There were a number of people who were there, who saw the physical evidence and who photographed it. While you might claim that the mayor and Zamora were involved in a hoax, you could not make a case for the FBI agent, Air Force officers and Hynek who did see the physical evidence.

Hynek, in his investigation made one observation that is important to us. He said the wind was blowing strongly from the south, and the map in Klass’ book puts the Phillips house to the southeast, meaning that the wind is blowing away from the witness. It is possible he heard nothing because of the wind.

For these reasons, we can reject the Klass conclusion of hoax because his evidence is, to put it kindly, quite thin. Does this mean that an alien craft landed in Socorro? No. It means that the case for a hoax, as identified by Klass, does not exist.

And, we’ve caught Klass in a couple of mistakes in his reporting of the case. I believe that there was nothing nefarious in his embellishments. It was, as the skeptical community is quite happy to point out, probably a problem with memory. Klass might truly have believed what he said in the online interview, but he was just as clearly in error.

But, I could say that Klass had accomplished his mission, which was to explain the Socorro landing. He said it was a hoax, and continued to say that far and wide. He said it enough that some people believe that it was a hoax. The problem is that Klass never proved it to be a hoax and he offered no evidence that it was.