Monday, February 27, 2012

Willingham - A 1978 Interview

It seems that when you begin to spin lies, and when you provide interviews about those lies, you have an obligation to keep the information straight. If you say the event took place in 1948, then you can’t move it to 1950 or to 1955 without someone noticing. And you should know what type of military aircraft were available in the inventory in 1948 so that you don’t claim to have been flying something that wouldn’t appear for years. (I might point out that you should also remember the type of aircraft you were flying and I base this on my own experiences as a military pilot.) If you’re going to tell a good story, you should make sure that you have enough facts straight so that it can’t be broken apart quickly and easily, when people begin to investigate.

What brought this on?

Well, I just was given a transcript of an interview with Robert Willingham and his claim to have seen a crashed flying saucer. It is dated May 1978 and provides us with still another version of his story, or rather a modified version of that story.

According to it, in May 1978, he was a lieutenant colonel (an O5 in the military vernacular) in the Air Force, or so he said. Actually, as I have pointed out time and again, he was in the Civil Air Patrol, an auxiliary of the Air Force. It is made up of civilians who receive no real compensation for their service and are a vital part of the country’s search and rescue component, but who are not part of the Air Force or the Air Force Reserve.

The important point is that he was claiming to be a lieutenant colonel in 1978, because in a later interview given to the American Legion, he said that he was promoted to full colonel (O6) when he retired. That article, entitled, “Robert B. Willingham marks 60th year in American Legion,” said, “He did return to Archer City in 1980, on disability leave, when his mother became ill. He was a Lt. Colonel at the time, but President Johnson made him a full colonel after retirement.”

Lyndon Johnson wasn’t president after 1978 (or 1969 for that matter if you count the days prior to Nixon’s inauguration) and in fact had died in 1973. There is no way that Willingham could have been promoted to colonel by Johnson. The idea of President Johnson promoting someone appeared in one of the novels by W.E.B. Griffin. I don’t know if that is where Willingham got the idea, but it just doesn’t work the way Willingham said... or Griffin for that matter.

That 1978 interview provides another clue. They are talking about the analysis to the piece of metal that Willingham said that he had recovered at the crash site. He said that he had taken it to a lab in Hagerstown, Maryland for analysis. He claimed that he had given it to a Marine major who worked there. When he tried to learn what the major had found, he was told the man did work there but he couldn’t follow up on it. According to Willingham, that was because “we were getting ready to go to Korea...”

While nowhere in the interview do they discuss an actual date for the crash, this puts it before Willingham claimed he went to Korea, and in other interviews, he suggested he served there at the beginning of the war, or in 1950. So, while Willingham claims that Todd Zechel came up with the December 6, 1950 date, the fact is that Willingham himself came up with both the 1948 date and the later 1954 date.

I could go on because in this interview Willingham claims he was flying a F-94, but these weren’t in the inventory in 1948 or 1950... He talks about the UFO being confirmed by radar on the DEW Line, but it didn’t exist in 1948 or 1950.

But this is becoming overkill. Clearly the story has evolved, contains elements that are impossible given the timing, and is littered with contradictions. This 1978 interview, which was clearly coached given the questions and wording of the answers, proves that there is little truth in the December 6, 1950 crash or any other that Willingham claims to have seen. I hope this will end it, but given the nature of UFOlogy, I know that it won’t. Nothing ever dies in UFOlogy, it’s just repeated endlessly.


Lance said...

Nice piece.

When these people spin their tales, they really count on the fact that most people won't know the historical details well enough to detect problems in their stories.

Do you remember me descibing Phil Imbrogno's radio interview in which he claimed Hyneck dismissed Roswell and favored the Project Mogul explanation?

I immediately knew this was bogus since Hynek died long before Mogul was discussed as a possible cause.

But the radio host didn't know and I never heard ANYONE ever dispute any of Phil's dubious tales (until after his exposure). Most folks just don't know the history of the field well enough.

And that is why these guys thrive.


Terry the Censor said...

Reading through the Hill material, I had to input the different versions into a spread sheet to keep myself from going crazy.
It's a method I picked up from textual critics of the Bible, who have to keep straight numerous manuscript "witnesses" (as they call them) to a particular text.

cda said...

Yes, you are right Kevin. Nothing ever dies in ufology. Very soon a spanking new book is coming out (so we are told) about the Aztec crash. And STF goes along with it fully.

Oh and remember we have already had a massive tome on this crash from Steinman and Stevens c. 1988, plus a number of articles and of course Scully's book, etc. So you better watch out, Aztec MAY one day replace Roswell in the public eye.

David Rudiak said...

cda snarkily wrote:
Yes, you are right Kevin. Nothing ever dies in ufology. Very soon a spanking new book is coming out (so we are told) about the Aztec crash. And STF goes along with it fully.

Oh and remember we have already had a massive tome on this crash from Steinman and Stevens c. 1988, plus a number of articles and of course Scully's book, etc. So you better watch out, Aztec MAY one day replace Roswell in the public eye.

I was a speaker at the Aztec conference and met Scott and Susan Ramsey. Scott is a straight arrow and an intelligent man. The ONLY reason he has pursued this and is putting out the book is because he believes the evidence he has collected points to the crash actually happening. It has already cost him a great deal of time and money, so it's not exactly the usual skeptobunker charge that he's trying to get rich off of bringing an old case back to life. Sometimes these old cases need to be reviewed in depth because of their obvious importance if true.

If cda wants a dead horse to whip about "explanations" that never die, try Project Mogul for Roswell. Mogul records alone should have made it obvious that there was no Flight #4, the reputed Roswell crash object, just like there was no Flight #2 or #3. All were explicitly stated as being aborted for one reason or another, and there is a blank in the numbered summary sequence. Flight #5, not #4, is stated in various official histories as being the real first N.M. Mogul flight.

Despite this, modern-day Air Force counterintelligence debunkers along with Mogul's Charles Moore brought all three back from the dead. And the debunkers on this blog and elsewhere still defend the totally mythical Flight #4 to the death.

At least with the Willingham story, there was a little circumstantial evidence at the beginning that he might be telling the truth. (There was some sort of UFO alert in progress in December 1950.) It just didn't pan out. Honest skeptics should take note and trash Project Mogul as well.

KRandle said...

David -

Willingham's original story, as published in Skylook, was that the crash took place in 1948. There were three objects sighted and one crashed. It wasn't until later that Willingham (Zechel actually) moved the crash date to 1950 and later still that he moved it onto the mid-1950s.

The only reason I accepted this tale was the thought that Willingham was a retired Air Force colonel. Turned out he had served in the Civil Air Patrol.

Had anyone, in the beginning including me, checked out his military credentials, there would have been no acceptance of this story. If Willingham wasn't an Air Force officer, then he wasn't a fighter pilot and he wouldn't have been where he was doing what he said.

cda said...

Do I detect possible support for the Aztec crash from DR? Or is it a bit too hot to handle?

I am pretty certain Aztec will not get any help from Congress as did Roswell via Steve Schiff. Thus DR (and Kevin) need have no fear that the USAF will repeat their mistakes in CASE CLOSED or that the GAO will even bother to look for secret Aztec documents.

All right, a few dedicated investigators have decided there is 'something to it', including one (STF) who previously pooh-poohed it but now embraces it. All right, another crashed saucer book is coming and inevitably a small flare of publicity.

Seriously, I doubt that Kevin and the 'dream team' are unduly worried. Roswell stands head and shoulders above all the other crash yarns. And no amount of reviving of another New Mexico tale is going to usurp it.

So relax, Kevin, Roswell is quite safe.

Steve M said...
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Steve M said...
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Steve M said...


You say that Roswell could not be Flight #4 as it was aborted but was it aborted before or after launch? If it was aborted after launch them it could still be the Roswell crash debris. Flight#5 may well be classed as the first flight, if it was the first flight to actually be used for a surveillance mission.

As for your comment that debunkers “still defend to the death” is this not true of uncritical believers who still defend Roswell, Aztec, Rendlesham, Berwyn Mountain incident, MJ12 etc long after they have been shown to have either prosaic explanations or proven to be fakes.

Lyall M said...

Someone using the handle mexicosroswell put up an old Willingham interview:

This one is 1955 with a B-47 an illustrated with F-86's as escorting which is odd.