The Aztec U.F.O Incident

When this web site was launched, it included my review of a book by researcher William Steinman and Wendelle Stevens who resurrected the story of a 1948 flying saucer recovery near Aztec, N.M. and published his 625-page book UFO Crash at Aztec in 1986. The book was relegated to obscurity, possibly because of the prevailing notion that the story was a hoax, but when I discovered the book almost 20 years after its publication, I found the research compelling enough to send me on a search. Did Aztec really happen?

Not being part of the “UFO Community,” I began to do some research into the literature. I discovered the original Frank Scully book Behind the Flying Saucers, published by Holt & Co. in 1950. It was the original story about Aztec, and it was a best seller in its day—so much for public memory! Few people remember the impact the book had then, but reading Steinman in that context changed my mind about the possibility that there was another New Mexico saucer crash other than Roswell.

Yes, Roswell has been conclusively proved by Kevin Randle, Stanton Friedman and others, culminating in the book Witness to Roswell by Thomas Carey and Don Schmitt that conclusively proves the extraterrestrial explanation for the Roswell Incident beyond anything the debunkers can field. In the minds of most responsible researchers, however, Aztec remained a hoax. Even after reading Scully’s book, I wondered if the story about a downed saucer in New Mexico within “500 miles of here (Denver) could have referred to Roswell.


Contact Out of the Blue

Then, in 2009, I was contacted by a fellow named Scott Ramsey. I recognized the name, because I had seen him in a History Channel episode of “The UFO Files”. He had seen my entry in my web site and wanted to tell me about his research. After we talked for some time I volunteered to assist him in his research that picked up where Steinman left off and had been ongoing for about 20 years. I was persuaded by Ramsey’s zeal and the fact that he had put so much money into the quest.

Ramsey’s 20 years and $400,000 were congealing into a book that would be the fruits of his original research, and I was to become the editor, and eventually a co-author of

The Aztec Incident: Recovery at Hart Canyon, a work that was more than two years in preparation. As each chapter was written and edited, I accumulated a reference library of flying saucer books including everything that related to the Aztec Incident.

More than fact-checking, name research, and copy editing, I was privileged to also go on research trips with Ramsey and his wife Suzanne, his friend and UFO researcher Mike Price, and we ended up as part of an important documentary by Mexico’s most famous journalist Jaimé Maussan, an episode on Aztec that is part of his international “Trecer Milenio” series.

Scully Speaks

The Ramsey research team discovered a remarkable cache of documents in an archive largely ignored over the years. After flying across country from North Carolina, Scott opened a trove of information and sent me hundreds of pages from the Frank Scully archives at the University of Wyoming. Eventually I became a co-author of the book and am proud to be a part of this historic work. I joined the team that included eminent UFO researcher Frank Warren of “The UFO Chronicles” site who made invaluable contributions to the accuracy of the material.

The beginnings of Scully’s unpublished second flying saucer book and the typescript of Silas Newton’s autobiography were a few of the treasures found at UW. It must be remembered that in 1952, a vengeful writer named J.P. Cahn set about to destroy Scullly and his sources after Scully would not sell him the Aztec flying saucer story. Cahn was wealthy and vindictive. He not only published a True Magazine article savaging one of Scully’s major sources, he was instrumental in seeing that Scully could be discredited through a Colorado fraud charge against Newton—nothing to do with flying saucers, by the way. It is on this highly publicized minor charge (resulting in a conviction but no penalties aside from court costs) that the whole Aztec “hoax” explanation was based.

To his death, Scully never recanted the belief in his own book, and he had access to far more evidence than he ever revealed. What he might have published in a second book, we will never know. What we do know is that Steinman began Scully’s rehabilitation and the Ramseys have brilliantly completed the job. I know from my repeated reading of Scully that everything in his book has been proved accurate through the Ramsey book

From Hoax to History

Though Scott and Suzanne Ramsey’s book was not published until 2012, the research was intense and ongoing, even after I joined the team. It was Suzanne who coined the phrase that appears on the back cover of the book, stating that Aztec was an incident that goes from “hoax to history” as a result of The Aztec Incident: Recovery at Hart Canyon.

Supposedly, Aztec always lacked witnesses. Well, Steinman unlocked the door to discovering witnesses and the Ramseys pushed the door open, discovering those who were on Hart Canyon mesa March 25, 1948. The first-person accounts in the Ramsey book are startling and clear. Young oilfield workers were there. They climbed up on the 100-foot disc and peered into the portholes before the military arrived.

What’s more, independent accounts and memories are surprisingly consistent with each other. When two separate witnesses describe in high detail the same event in almost identical ways 50+ years later, the likelihood of coincidence is almost zero. So, Scully was right in 1950, but his story was vilified, suppressed, and discredited until his total vindication in 2012.

Why the Coverup?

When Frank Scully published his book Behind the Flying Saucers in 1950, the scientists who fed him information firmly believed that the U.S. Government would be releasing the truth within a few months. It was only later learned that flying saucers were the most closely kept secret in the U.S. Government. In the words of a Canadian government official, the secret was “higher than the H-bomb.”

If I stumbled onto flying saucer secrets in 1948, I would certainly respond to a demand that I not tell anyone because of the potential threat to national security. Now, we know about the death threats, brutal intimidation, and suppression of witnesses in the Roswell case but we prefer to believe, erroneously, that our government would not treat its citizens in that manner.

My current total immersion familiarity with Aztec has me agreeing with Scott Ramsey that some peculiar things happened in the decades after the flying saucer landing. First, all those who were on the mesa in March 1948 were debriefed by the military and sworn to secrecy. Second, however unlikely that it may seem, everyone who was there that day prospered beyond the law of averages. Also, it was only when they were facing their own mortality that the witnesses told their stories.

There was a reason for the governmental cover up in 1948, given the real threat of international communism, but the world has changed a great deal since then. The idea that mass acceptance of visitors from another world would result in crumbling the foundations of the civilized world may have been true when it was still believed that humans were the pinnacle of life in the cosmos, but it is not true today.

Still, it is unlikely that the massive structure of the military-industrial complex will ever allow the reality of recovered extra-terrestrial craft to be admitted. No, your congressman, your presidents have no “need to know” for secrets several levels above any Top Secret clearance they may have, and today those who know anything are bound by secrecy oaths to death.

It's In the Book

The debunkers still hold to their quasi-intellectual arguments with the tautology “It isn’t true because it cannot be true” stances, pioneered by Donald Menzel, the prototype debunker whose flying saucer explanations of swamp gas and temperature inversion are patently ridiculous in hindsight, just as are weather balloons and meteors in these cases. Of course he also was engaged in Top Secret work for the U.S. Government.

When you read The Aztec Incident: Recovery at Hart Canyon you will accept that a flying saucer landed on Hart Canyon mesa and was taken to Los Alamos for study. Where it might be today is anyone’s guess, but it exists as does the Roswell wreckage. I have stood on Hart Canyon mesa on a summer day in 2011, where a clear, flat area is just the right size to accommodate a 100-foot lenticular disc. I have seen where a road was cut into the side of the mesa to accommodate traffic, and a concrete pad was sunk into the silt. To read the book and then stand on the mesa is to say: Case proved.


Where do we go from here? Read the book and decide for yourself.

Frank Thayer © 2012

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