Wednesday, March 03, 2021

Kingman Rises from the Dead?

Like so many of the crashed UFO tales, this one is basically a single witness. Or rather, a single identified witness, and then some testimony from another source that suggests corroboration. That second witness is second hand, having heard the story from her late husband. And then a hint of additional witnesses that seemed to have leaped on the Kingman bandwagon later. In other words, in the final analysis, it is not a strong case but had the potential to be one.

Kingman, Arizona. Photo by Kevin Randle.

When first reported by Raymond Fowler in the April 1976 issue of Official UFO, it seemed that it might be one of those reports that went nowhere. Without some corroboration and some documentation, it would be impossible to accept, and it is next to impossible to verify.

Fowler, however, accepted the report because he had interviewed the witness, had a signed affidavit and a few documents that seemed to support the story. The evidence was flimsy, but it did exist. And that put Fowler, at least in the minds of some, ahead of most who had found other single witness UFO crash cases.

The first interview of the witness was conducted on February 3, 1971 by Jeff Young and Paul Chetham, two young men with an interest in UFOs. In fact, in a newspaper article published in the Framingham, Massachusetts, edition of the Middlesex News, Young was identified as a boy writing a book about UFOs for juveniles. The article mentioned that Young had interviewed a man who had claimed he worked with Project Blue Book and had made contact with a spaceship.

According to Young, the witness, later given the pseudonym “Fritz Werner” by Fowler to protect his identity (but known to us in today’s world as Arthur Stansel... I will use the Werner name throughout to avoid later confusion), had been at the site of a flying saucer crash about twenty years earlier. Werner, according to the information provided, was a graduate engineer who had degrees in mathematics and physics and a master’s degree in engineering. He graduated from Ohio University in 1949 and was first employed by the Air Materiel Command, which, according to UFO history, was responsible for the reverse engineering of the Roswell craft.

During the Young and Chetham interview Werner first told of just seeing a UFO during one of the atomic tests in Nevada. He and his colleagues had been drinking beer when they heard a humming and whistling noise and ran outside. The object, coming toward them, hovered for a while, but they couldn’t see much because it was night.

During the initial interview Werner told Young that he had worked for Project Blue Book. He speculated that Blue Book was created because the Air Force “was getting too much publicity and there were too many people, other than official people seeing these things and reporting them.”

Young and Chetham finally asked specifically about the UFO crash in Arizona and Werner said, “The object was not built by anything, obviously, that we know about on Earth. This was in 1954 [actually, according to other information, 1953]. At that time, I was out of the atomic testing, but I was still with the Air Force and this was the time I was on Blue Book. There was a report that there was a crash of an unexplained vehicle in the west and they organized a team of about forty of us. I was one of the forty.”

According to Werner, he had been alerted “through official channels and on a private phone line from the base commander at Wright Field [later Wright-Patterson AFB] saying that you’re a member of Blue Book and we would like for you tomorrow to get on a plane, go to Chicago and from there to Phoenix.” According to Werner, the object had crashed about twenty-five miles from Phoenix.

The object was twelve feet long and fairly intact, according to Werner. “It was more like a teardrop-shaped cigar... it was like a streamlined cigar.” It was made of a material that Werner said he’d never seen before and it was dull.

Young mentioned that there had been stories of an object crashing in Arizona and that one person had claimed to have photographed an occupant in a silver spacesuit. Werner responded, saying, “I saw the creature you’re talking about. It was real and I would guess about four feet tall.”

Werner described the creature as being dark brown and speculated that the skin might have darkened because of exposure to chemicals in the atmosphere. He saw two eyes, nostrils and ears. The mouth looked as if it was used “strictly for feeding, though Werner didn’t explain how he knew this. He hadn’t gotten a good look at the body because, at the time he saw it, the military had already moved it into a tent.

Once he left the crash site, Werner wasn’t through with UFOs. According to the second part of the interview, Werner claimed to have made contact with other beings from the saucers. It seemed that Werner had not only seen the body, but later conversed with the flying saucers. Werner told Young, “Now we’re getting into things where you’ll just have to take my word for it because I can’t... prove it.”

In subsequent interviews, Werner didn’t mention his “contact” with UFOs. He would provide those later investigators with an excuse for this, but one that seems to hurt his overall credibility rather than help it.

Raymond Fowler, who later learned of the crash and Werner though the newspaper, had figured it was just another tall UFO tale. He received a couple of telephone calls from friends interested in the case and decided to look into it. Fowler contacted the witness and set up his own interview.

Werner told a slightly different version of the story to Fowler. None of the changes seemed significant at the time, and most could be explained as the normal shifts in the retelling of a tale. However, Werner also made some disturbing claims.

According to Werner, he was working in the Frenchman Flats area of Nevada when he was called by his boss, Dr. Ed Doll, and told he had a special assignment. Werner boarded an aircraft at Indian Springs Air Force Base, north of Las Vegas, Nevada, and was flown to Phoenix. Once there, he was put on a bus with others who had already gathered. They were warned not to talk among themselves and then were driven into the desert to the northwest.

The windows of the bus were blacked out so that the passengers couldn’t see where they were going. Werner believed they drove about four hours until they reached an area near Kingman, Arizona. Night had fallen before they reached their destination.

This is the first of the problems. Anyone who looks at a map realizes that it would have been quicker to take them from the Indian Springs Air Force Base to the Kingman area rather than travel first to Phoenix. I suppose you could suggest that they, meaning those running the operations, did that in an attempt to hide the real location. Or it could mean that Werner’s guess about the location was in error. It might mean that the real site is somewhere in the Phoenix area rather than in the northwestern corner of the state.

When the bus stopped, they climbed out, one at a time, as their names were called. Although they had been told not to talk to one another, here was an officer providing the names of all those on the bus to everyone else by calling them out. It would provide those involved with a way of learning more about the assignment after they were returned to their regular duties because they now had the names of the others on the bus. That seemed to be a curious way to maintain security. It was a major breach. It also suggests the second of the problems with the Kingman report.

Werner was escorted from the bus by military police. Two spotlights illuminated an object that looked like two deep saucers pressed together at the rims. It was about thirty feet in diameter and had a dark band running around the center. The craft was dull, looking as if it was made of brushed aluminum. Werner estimated that the craft weighed about five tons.

There was no landing gear visible on the underside of the object and no sign of damage to it, although it had slammed into the ground. Werner could see no dents, scratches, or marks on the surface.

The only sign of impact was the evidence from the desert floor and the fact that a small hatch seemed to have sprung open. Werner said the hatch was curved and the interior of the ship was bright, but that could have been because of the lighting installed by the Air Force, rather than anything from the interior.

Werner made his examinations, including measurements of the trench the ship had gouged out of the sand, the compassion factors involved and estimated the weight of the ship. He believed that the craft had been traveling about twelve hundred miles an hour when it struck the ground.

According to Werner, as each specialist finished his examination of the craft, he was interviewed in front of a tape recorder and then escorted back to the bus. None of the others was allowed to listen to his debriefing and he was not allowed to listen to any of theirs.

Before he got to the bus, Werner saw a tent that had been erected on the site, guarded by armed military police. Inside the tent was a single body of a four-foot-tall humanlike being. Werner said it was wearing a silver suit that had a “skullcap” that covered the back of the head but left the face visible and unprotected. The skin of the face was dark brown, but again Werner thought the coloration might be a result of exposure to the Earth’s atmosphere or the effects of the crash. This would be another breach of the tight security around the site.

It is interesting to note here that in the descriptions of the aliens, that one theme is mentioned again and again. The skin is a dark brown and it is believed that the color is the result of either something to do with the crash, or exposure to the atmosphere. I’m not sure if this detail is significant. It might be a coincidence born of thoughts of fire during the crash.

Werner did have a chance to talk to one of the others. The man had looked inside the craft. He’d seen two swivel-like seats and instruments and displays, but that was about all. And here is still another breakdown of the security measures.

Before Werner learned much more from the man, one of the guards saw them talking and separated them, warning them not to compare notes. He did nothing else, such as getting their names and reporting the security breach to his superiors.

On the bus, everyone was required to take an oath of secrecy. They were not to talk about what they had seen or done to anyone at any time. They were then returned to Phoenix and their regular assignments.

Werner supplied a long professional resume that listed not only his engineering status, but his educational background and a list of his professional publications. It suggests that Werner is a highly trained engineer, and it doesn’t seem likely that he would jeopardize his professional standing with a hoax about a flying saucer crash. However, he didn’t want his name reported so it could be argued that he was not jeopardizing his career but having a good time with those interested in UFOs.

In fact, Fowler, in his report to NICAP, documented a number of contradictions between what Werner had told him and what he had said to Young during that first interview. The major problem was that Werner originally reported that the object was twelve feet long and five feet high and looked like a teardrop with a flat bottom, not like two deep saucers fastened together at the rims.

Fowler pointed out that Werner told him that the object was disk-shaped, thirty feet in diameter and about twenty feet from top to bottom. Fowler wrote:

When confronted with this contradiction, the witness appeared flustered for the first time and said that he had described the object he had seen over Thule, Greenland, to the boys [Young and Chetham]. I reminded him that he had described the Thule sighting to me as having been a black disc seen at a distance. He started to insist until I produced the copy of the transcript, which clearly indicated that he had described the crashed object, not the Thule object, to the boys. At this point, he backed down and admitted that he had lied to the boys. He said that the description given to me was accurate because I was really conducting a serious investigation into the matter. In my opinion, this is the most significant and damaging contradiction without a completely adequate explanation.

There were a series of other discrepancies between what Werner told Fowler and Young and Chetham. Most of them could be attributed to memory lapses, or, as Werner suggested, his exaggerations to the boys. It wasn’t that he was intentionally trying to mislead them, he just wanted to tell them a good story. This, he suggested was a result of the martinis he had consumed before the interview with the boys began. Note here that he drank the martinis before the boys arrived and continued with beer once the interview began.

For Fowler, he produced a page from his daily calendar dated May 20 and 21, 1953. It seemed to corroborate part of the story. The entries said, “May 20 – Well, pen’s out of ink. Spent most of the day on Frenchman’s Flat surveying cubicles and supervising welding of plate girder bridge sensor which cracked after last shot. Drank brew in eve. Read. Got fully call from Dr. Doll at 1000. I’m to go on a special job tomorrow.”

Stansel's calendar pages that prove very little about his story.

The only interesting point was the reference to the special job given to him by Dr. Doll. But it doesn’t tell us much and it could refer to practically anything at all. It could have been added at any point.

“May 21 – Up at 7:00. Worked most of the day on Frenchman with cubicles. Letter from Bet. She’s feeling better now – thank goodness. Got picked up at Indian Springs AFB at 4:30 p.m. for a job I can’t talk about.”

Again, nothing to suggest that Werner was involved in a crash retrieval, only that he had some kind of special assignment. And yes, it does seem strange that he would note in his unclassified desk calendar that he was involved in a special project that he can’t talk about.

Fowler, to his credit, tried to verify as much of the story as he could. He tried to verify Werner’s claim that he had worked with Blue Book. Fowler, in his report to NICAP, explained that he had spoken to Dewey Fournet, a former Pentagon monitor for Project Blue Book and Fournet had said that he didn’t recognize the witness’ name, but then, he didn’t know all the consultants assigned to Blue Book over the years.

Since that proved nothing one way or the other, Fowler talked to Max Futch, who had been a temporary chief of Blue Book. Futch said that he thought he had known all the consultants and didn’t remember Werner, under his real name, being among them. Importantly, Futch was assigned to Blue Book during 1953, the time frame suggested by Werner.

On the other hand, Fowler called three friends of Werner’s as character witnesses. Each of them said essentially the same thing. Werner was a good engineer and a trusted friend, and never lied or exaggerated, which, by the way, is probably a lie or exaggeration.

However, noticing the differences between this interview and that conducted by Young and Chetham, Fowler had his doubts. Fowler said that he met Werner at his office on May 25, 1973, to discuss the problems with him. Werner claimed that the discrepancies were the result of mixing up dates, which he later corrected by checking his diary.

Werner also said that he had been under the influence of four martinis when he talked to the boys. When he drinks, he said, he exaggerates and stretches the truth. Fowler checked with Young and was told that Werner had only had one beer on the day that he was interviewed. Of course, Werner mentioned he had his four martinis before the boys arrived. While they were there, he only consumed the one beer.

But what Werner had done was shoot down his own credibility. His friends said that they had never known him to exaggerate, but he had said he did, after he had been drinking.

There is no independent corroboration for it, and when the story was checked, those checks failed to produce results. Werner’s explanations for the failure of the corroboration left a great deal to be desired.

Although Fowler provided the test of the affidavit in his magazine articles, he
replaced Stansel's name with Friz Weeaver. Here is the affidavit as signed by Stansel.

William Moore, co-author of The Roswell Incident, in his 1982 presentation at the MUFON Symposium, reported:

Fowler’s source, the pseudonymous “Fritz Werner” (whose real first name and some of his background are known to me) claimed that on the evening of May 20, 1953, he received “a phone call from [his superior] Dr. Ed. Doll, informing [him] that [he] was to go on a special job the next day.” When I asked Fowler if he had checked this part of the story with Dr. Doll, he responded that his efforts to locate Doll had been unsuccessful.

In fact, in his report, Fowler said that he had confirmed that Doll existed, that Doll had been an employee of the Atomic Energy Commission and had been at the Stanford Research Institute. It seems unlikely that Werner would name a man for corroboration who could, if found, tear his story apart quickly.

Moore said that it took him just four days to locate Doll, and that he met with him on October 9, 1981. Moore asked him what he knew about the incident near Kingman, and Doll said that he knew nothing about it. Moore then asked him about Werner using his real name and wrote, “I was somewhat taken aback by his flat statement that no one of such a distinctive name and rather distinguished technological background had ever worked at the Nevada Test Site.”

Moore then dismissed the Kingman story, writing, “I don’t know quite what to make of this case... since my own investigations into the matter have produced nothing but dead ends... I am inclined to spend my time pursuing more productive matters.”

The single glaring error in Moore’s analysis is the claim that Fowler’s source has a distinctive first name. In the past year I have located a signed copy of the affidavit, along with the professional resume, and a full analysis of the case by Fowler. In other words, I have Fowler’s source’s name, Arthur Stansel, and there is nothing distinctive about it. Of course, knowing how Moore operates, it might be he said first name and actually meant last name, which is distinctive. It seems that Moore’s claims about the case might be without foundation. Of course, Moore has his own credibility problems.

Len Stringfield, however, found another witness who corroborates part of the Kingman story. According to Stringfield’s monograph, Retrievals of the Third Kind, Cincinnati researcher Charles Wilhelm said that a man identified only as Major Daly had told Wilhelm’s father that in April,1953 he had been flown to an unknown destination to examine the remains of a crashed flying saucer. He had been blindfolded and driven to a point out in the desert where it was hot and sandy. Inside a tent the blindfold was removed and he was taken to another location where he saw a metallic ship, twenty-five to thirty feet in diameter. He saw no signs of damage. He spent two days analyzing the metal from the ship, which he claimed was not native to Earth.

Daly was not allowed to enter the ship, though he did note that the entrance, or hatch, was about four or five feet high and two to three feet wide, and was open. When he finished his analysis, he was escorted from the area.

Daly’s information didn’t agree exactly with that given by Werner, but it was close enough given the different perspectives. Daly saw things from a different angle and his experiences were slightly different. It does seem to provide some corroboration for the Kingman crash story. The real problem is that it is second hand, at best. In fact, no one knows if Daly exists, or existed at all.

Stringfield also reported on a man who claimed that he saw the delivery of three bodies from a crash site in Arizona in 1953. He mentioned that the creatures had been packed in dry ice, were about four feet tall with large heads and brownish skin, which does corroborate Werner to a limited extent.

Stringfield, in his 1994 self-published monograph UFO Crash/Retrievals: A Search for Proof in a Hall of Mirrors, reported still another claim of the Kingman crash.

According to him, “My new source JLD, a resident of Ohio, north of Cincinnati, in a surprising disclosure claimed that a close relative, the late Mr. Holly, who had served in a top command (in a defense department capacity [whatever that might mean]) at Wright-Patterson in 1953, told him about one of two crashes in Arizona. He also told him three bodies, one severely burned, and parts of the wrecked craft, were delivered to the base.”

Those two reports, Major Daly and JLD are the classic friend of a friend stories. The information doesn’t come from the source, but from someone else and when you are that far removed, the chances for mistakes, misunderstandings and confabulation increase. Yes, the information is interesting and it does provide some corroboration, but the fact is, such reports are quite dubious.

There is more second-hand information about Kingman. A woman, June Kaba, who worked in the Parachute Branch (WCEEH-1) at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, reported that a sergeant, who she didn’t identify, and who had a special clearance needed to enter her office, claimed that he had just come in on a flight from the Southwest. Thinking about it years later, she had believed he was talking about the Roswell crash, but an examination of her work records, which she supplied to me, showed that she had not been working at Wright-Patterson until the early 1950s.

Further checking suggested that the incident she remembered took place in late 1952 or early 1953. The sergeant told all the people in that small office about bringing alien bodies to Wright-Patterson. Naturally, the people in the office didn’t believe the story because it was so outrageous.

Within an hour, however, the base commander, Colonel (later Brigadier General) C. Pratt Brown, arrived at the office. He explained the story the sergeant told was just rumor and speculation and that no one was to repeat these wild rumors anywhere. In fact, he brought an official form for them to sign, explaining that they were not to report what they had heard under penalty of a $20,000 fine and twenty years in jail.

The problem is clearly that the secretary did not remember the exact time frame, location or the name of the sergeant. To suggest this was part of the Kingman case, we must resort to speculation based on the limited documentation of her employment experience at Wright-Patterson. The only crash that fits is the Kingman event, and the connection to it is extremely weak.

And the colonel coming around to tell them to forget it, the story is rumor and then demanding they sign statements, is another problem. The only thing the colonel did was tell them the story is true. He hadn’t come around to stop other rumors, only this one. Then he underscored the importance of it by demanding they take an oath of secrecy.

The Kingman case has been blundering along on the periphery of legitimacy for a number of years. It would be easy to write off, especially with the problems of the Werner account, if not for another source, this one discovered by Don Schmitt.

During research into the abduction phenomenon, he learned of a woman, Judie Woolcott, whose husband had written her a strange letter from Vietnam in 1965, believing that he wouldn’t be coming back from overseas.

According to her memory of the letter, he had seen something strange twelve years earlier. Woolcott thought that it had been August 1953, and although she might be mistaken about the month but she was sure that it happened near Kingman. Her husband, a professional military officer, was on duty in an air base control tower. They were tracking something on radar. It began to lose altitude, disappeared from the screen, and then in the distance there was a bright flash of white light.

Woolcott wrote that the MPs began talking about something “being down.” Woolcott and most of the men in the tower left the base in jeeps. They drove in the general direction of the flash, searching. Eventually they came upon a domed disk that had struck the ground with some force, embedding itself in the sand. There didn’t seem to be any exterior damage to the craft, and there was no wreckage on the ground.

Before they had a chance to advance, a military convoy appeared. Woolcott and those with him were stopped before they could get close to the disk. They were ordered away from it and then escorted from the site. They were taken back to their base, where they were told that the event had never happened and they had never seen anything. Just as others have been, they were sworn to secrecy.

Woolcott didn’t write much more in the way of detail. There didn’t seem to be any external reason for the craft to have crashed, and he didn’t see any bodies. But there was talk of them. Some of the military police said that there were casualties that were not human. Woolcott made it clear that he hadn’t seen those bodies, he’d just heard talk.

The letter indicated that he knew more but didn’t want to write it down. According to Judie Woolcott, about a week later she learned that he had been killed.

Here was a source who knew nothing about the Kingman case who was able to provide a little more information about it. Although the time frame is off slightly, it is interesting that she was sure of the location. During his interview with her, Schmitt said that she brought up Kingman, and that stuck because he thought about calling Ray Fowler when the interview ended.

I need to note here something that I find curious about this end of the report and that is that Judie Woolcott doesn’t have the letter. It would seem to me that one of the last communications with her husband would be of significant sentimental value. It would be something that she would want to keep, even if it took a trip into the unusual by mentioning a flying saucer crash. That document, dated in the mid-1960s would be of value to researchers.

To make it worse, if possible, I did recent a telephone call from Woolcott’s daughter, who told me that her mother had a habit of inventing stories and that her father had not been killed in Vietnam. In fact, I could find no evidence to support the claim that Woolcott had been in Vietnam, and according to the daughter, he was still alive. You can read my blog post on this aspect of the case here:

Although we could say that no longer is the Kingman case built completely on the testimony of a single witness of dubious reliability, there is only the single first-hand witness. Werner seemed to be a solid citizen who, by his own admission, tells tales when he has been drinking. Given that, it would be easy to write off Kingman as nothing more than a delusion by someone who occasionally drinks and tells tall stories and leave it there.

The testimony and documentation for the Kingman event is still so thin that it is nearly transparent. We had one first-hand source who might have been telling a story that mushroomed after it appeared in a local newspaper. We have two apparently independent sources who could have supplied some corroboration, but both are second hand at best. Woolcott would have been interesting had anything she said been verifiable or true. Woolcott died in July 2009.

Without more information, more corroboration, more first-hand sources, and something a little more substantial than a tale told by a man who liked to spin tales when drinking, there is little that can be said for the Kingman case. It seems to be just another tall tale that has gotten more attention than it should. 


Figs said...

Mr. Randle, is there a place where I can ask you questions about your Science Fiction novels, please?

KRandle said...

Yes. Go to That is the site that deals with my science fiction books and the like.

09rja said...

I was always intrigued by this story when I was a kid (and saw it on In Search of...), but as a adult-and after 2 engineering degrees- I began to really question it from a technical standpoint. I've posted those comments on this story in this forum before, ergo I won't again (unless someone asks).....but thanks for the extra info Kevin.