THE AZTEC RECOVERY 1948
It was the columnist Frank Scully who first alerted the world to sensational stories of recovered flying saucers and little men in his best-selling book Behind the Flying Saucers published in 1950. Scully claimed that up to that time there had been four such recoveries, one of which was alleged to have taken place around Aztec, New Mexico, when sixteen humanoid bodies were recovered together with their undamaged craft. According to Scully’s informants, the disk that landed near Aztec was 99.99 feet in diameter, its exterior made of a light metal resembling aluminum but so durable that no amount of heat (up to 10,000 degrees was applied) or diamond-tipped drill had the slightest effect. The disk apparently incorporated large rings of metal which revolved around a central, stabilized cabin, using an unfamiliar gear ratio. There were no rivets, bolts, screws or signs of welding. Investigators were eventually able to gain entry. Scully was told, because of a fracture in one of the portholes, which they enlarged, revealing a knob inside the cabin which when pushed (with a pole) caused a hidden door to open. Sixteen small humanoids, ranging in height from 36 to 42 inches, were supposedly found dead inside the cabin, their bodies charred to a dark brown color. Scully was told that the craft landed undamaged, having landed under its own guidance. The craft was eventually dismantled, the investigators having discovered that it was manufactured in segments which fitted in grooves and were pinned together around the base. The complete cabin section, measuring 18 feet in diameter was lifted out of the base of the saucer, around which was a gear that fitted a gear on the cabin. These segments, together with the bodies, were then transported to Wright Field (Wright Patterson AFB). Some of the bodies were later dissected and examined by the Air Force, and were found to be similar in all respects to human beings, with the exception of their teeth, which were perfect.
New Supportive Evidence?
According to important information published by William Steinman in 1987 there is a large grain of truth in the Aztec story, and he has managed to acquire some astonishing supportive evidence. Like Scully, he is unwilling to divulge his sources, which inevitably lays him open to charges of fabrication. Steinman discovered that the Aztec disk came to earth on 25 March 1948, having been detected by three separate radar units in the southwest, one of which was said to have disrupted the craft’s control mechanism. The area of impact was calculated by triangulation and this information was immediately relayed to Air Defense Command and Gen. George C. Marshall, then Secretary of State, who allegedly contacted the MJ-12 group as well as the Interplanetary Phenomenon Unit (IPU) of the Army Counterintelligence Directorate. The IPU operated out of Camp Hale, Colorado, at this time, Steinman claims, and its main function was to collect and deliver disabled or crashed disks to certain specified secret locations. The craft was recovered within hours by the IPU scout team about 12 miles northeast of Aztec. General Marshall ordered Air Defense Command to go off alert status, and the radar units were advised that there had been a false alarm. Marshall then gave orders to the commander of the IPU to organize a recovery team and contacted Dr. Vannevar Bush – the. head of MJ-12 to gather together a team of scientists to accompany the IPU to the crash site. Steinman has named these scientists as follows:
Dr., Lloyd Berkner, Dr. Detlev Bronk, Dr. Carl A. Heiland, Dr. Jerome Hunsaker, Dr. John von Neumann, Dr. Robert J. Oppenheimer, Dr. Merle A. Tuve, Dr. Horace B. van Vandenberg.
Four of these scientists, it will be noted, were members of the original MJ-12 panel set up in September 1947. Dr. Carl A. Heiland was a geophysicist and magnetic sciences expert who was the head of the Colorado School of Mines, and according to Steinman leaked details of the recovery to one of Scully’s sources, Leo GeBauer. Dr. Horace B. van Vandenberg was an inorganic chemist associated with the University of Colorado. Dr. Merle A. Tuve worked for the Office of Scientific Research and Development during World War II, and is chiefly remembered as a geophysicist for his techniques of radio wave propagation of the upper atmosphere. Dr. Robert J. Oppenheimer distinguished himself primarily as leader of the Los Alamos atomic bomb project , commanding the allegiance of the world’s top physicists. He was the Director of the Institute of Advanced Studies at Princeton from 1947 and became Chairman of the General Advisory Committee of the Atomic Energy Commission. Dr. John von Neumann, the famous Hungarian born mathematician, became a consultant on the atomic bomb (Manhatten Project) in 1943. His main area of expertise lay in the design and development of computers. The scientists, according to Steinman, were told by Dr. Bush to assemble at Durango Airfield, Colorado, 35 miles to the north of Aztec, with the minimum delay. All those involved in the recovery were sworn to an above top secret oath.
The IPU convoy used a route to the site that avoided main roads, and on arrival road blocks were set up at strategic points within two miles of the recovery area. The owner of a ranch and his family were allegedly held incommunicado and told never to discuss the matter (cf. the Roswell incident). Equipment hauling trucks were camouflaged to look like oil drilling rigs during the operation.
Inside the Craft
A team of scientists arrived at the site a little later than the IPU team and began dissecting the disk. According to Steinman, they entered the craft one by one, entry having been gained via a fractured porthole as described in Scully’s account. The portholes themselves looked metallic and only appeared translucent on close inspection. Inside the craft they found two humanoids, about two feet in height, slumped over an instrument panel charred deep brown. Another 12 bodies lay sprawled on the floor in chamber within the cabin, making a total of 14 bodies (not 16 as Scully had been told).
An instrument panel supposedly had several pushbuttons and levers with hieroglyphic-type symbols, as well as symbols illuminated on small display screens. Bush and von Neumann discovered that the control panel had drawers which rolled out, but no wiring could be detected. A book composed of parchment-like leaves with the texture of plastic also contained the strange hieroglyphs – similar to Sanskrit, Oppenheimer thought. This was given to General Marshall, who then passed it on to two leading cryptological experts for analysis, William F. Friedman and Lambros C. Callihamos (who both later led distinguished careers in the National Security Agency).
Dr. Bronk, a physiologist and biophysicist, examined the bodies and asked Bush to get hold of cryogenic equipment with which to preserve them. Cryogenics specialist Dr. Paul A. Scherer, a colleague of Bush’s, was contacted and advised Bush to obtain some dry ice. Meanwhile, another small group of scientists and military personnel examined the craft and were eventually able to dismantle it when several interlocking key devices were found which opened up seams at specific points.
Three days later the segments were loaded onto three trucks, together with the bodies, and transported with a tarpaulin marked “Explosives”. The convoy headed at night by the least conspicuous and often most laborious route to the restricted Naval Auxiliary Airfield Complex at Los Alamos, arriving one week later. Here they remained for over a year, Steinman claims, before being transported to another base.
Dr. Paul A. Scherer eventually obtained special preservation containers for the least damaged bodies, Steinman relates. One of the companies which supplied equipment was the Air Research Corporation, of which Scherer was Director of Research and Development; it supplied the liquid nitrogen pump, circulation system and refrigeration units. Other specimens were given a complete autopsy, by a team headed by Dr. Bronk, of biophysicists, histochemists and pathologists. The results were put in a report, part of which, Steinman claims, appeared in the “Air Force Project Sign (Grudge) Report No. 13” which has never been released.
According to the report, the bodies were described as averaging 42 inches in length. The facial features strongly resembled “mongoloid Orientals” in appearance, with disproportionately large heads, large “slant” eyes, small noses and mouths. The average weight was about 40 pounds. The torsos were very small and thin, with very thin necks. The arms were long and slender, reaching the knees, with hands containing long and slender fingers with webbing between them. There was no digestive or gastrointestinal tract, no alimentary or intestinal canal, and no rectal point. No reproductive organs were apparent. Instead of blood there was a colorless liquid with no red cells which smelled similar to ozone.
Veteran researcher Leonard Stringfield, a former Air Force intelligence officer who is the world’s leading specialist on what he calls “Retrievals of the Third Kind,” shares my misgivings about some of the material in Steinman’s book, but we are both impressed with his extensive research into the Aztec case. Stringfield has uncovered further evidence himself. Captain V. A. Postlethwait, who was on detached service with Army G-2 (Intelligence) in 1948, told Stringfield that he was cleared to see a top secret cable describing the crash of a saucer-shaped craft 100 feet in diameter and 30 feet high, with one porthole broken, causing suffocation to the five occupants – who had turned blue as a result. The bodies were about four feet tall with relatively large heads, Postlethwait recollects. The metallic skin of the saucer was too tough to penetrate, although as thin as newspaper. The incident was said to have occurred near White Sands, New Mexico. Aside from a few discrepancies there are some significant parallels with the Aztec case. Postlethwait revealed to Stringfield, for example, that private property was purchased to facilitate transporting the craft.
Leonard Stringfield has also spoken with Dr. Robert Spencer Carr, a retired University of South Florida professor who claims to have testimonial evidence from five sources, including a nurse and a high-ranking Air Force officer who participated in the recovery of a crashed UFO and occupants in 1948 – presumed to be the one at Aztec (although there was another alleged recovery that year, just across the Mexican border near Laredo, Texas). In 1982 Stringfield asked Carr to disclose the name of his principal source, “on the premise that our ages give us little time tolerance in our search for truth.”
“When Professor Carr named his source,” says Stringfield, “I sat back dumbfounded. I knew his name well in research, and recalled some of his comments on UFOs while he served as an Air Force officer. . . . “Please, Len,” pleaded Carr, “keep the name to yourself; please spare me any trouble as long as I live . . . My key witness participated in the 1948 retrieval and saw alien bodies on location.”
According to Bill Steinman, two of Carr’s sources were aeronautical engineers who provided important information regarding the saucer’s construction and propulsion. A source now named is Arthur Bray (not to be confused with the Canadian researcher), a security guard involved with the recovery project. Carr also interviewed a woman whose father was present during the recovery. Information pertaining to the flying saucers must be suppressed, he told his daughter. “If news of this vehicle’s water-driven engine got out to the whole scientific community, that would be the end of the oil industry.” The comment is of course pure hearsay, but if there is any truth in it a further possible reason for the cover-up is brought to light.
At the still fenced-off crash site on a plateau twelve miles northeast of Aztec, Bill Steinman has uncovered charred and scraped-off rocks of various sizes as well as some metal bracing struts that might possibly have been used for supporting the craft. On one of his visits to the area he was shadowed by two unmarked helicopters.
As for George Bowra’s claim that no one in Aztec, could recall the incident, Steinman has traced at least four people who knew where the crash site was located, one of whom, “V.A.,” recalls that sometime between 1948 and 1950 a huge disk-shaped flying object with a dome on top skimmed about 100 feet above the ground not far from him. The witness pointed out to Steinman a cliff jutting above the Animas River.
“That thing, or flying saucer, tried hard to clear that cliff, but it hit the very corner up there, shooting sparks and rocks in every direction,” he claims. “Finally, it made a right-angle turn in midair and headed straight north in the direction of the alleged crash site at Hart Canyon. That’s the last I saw of it. I ran into the house and called the military in Albuquerque. I never heard from them about it.”
Steinman first became interested in UFOs in 1981 when he read Frank Scully’s book, and has since devoted much of his time and resources on the Aztec case and the other recoveries associated with Scully’s claims, often in the face of discouraging odds. Steinman’s job in quality assurance and analysis in the aerospace industry has aided him in probing the complex and intricate leads that he has pursued.
Writing in the foreword to Steinman’s book, UFO Crash at Aztec, Leonard Stringfield explains how, like many others, he was led to believe the Scully story was a hoax, his disbelief long being conditioned by a succession of ufologists who for years claimed that Scully “was duped by a scheming Silas Newton and his cohort, Leo Gebauer.” But now, thanks to Bill Steinman’s painstaking research (as well as some of his own leads), he has been obliged to reevaluate the evidence.