UFO Crash Retrievals – A Developing Myth
John Harney

From Magonia 58, January 1997

What lies at the core of the growing number of UFO crash retrieval stories? John Harney checks out three widely reported cases to see if there is substance behind the stories

Ufology as a separate field of study depends on the hypothesis that some UFO reports are genuine descriptions or instrumental records of objects or phenomena unknown to modern science, It is generally agreed that the vast majority of UFO reports are wrongly interpreted sightings of objects such as aircraft or meteors, for many of the stranger reports, convincing psychological explanations are available. 

Many ufologists have always been convinced that a small percentage of UFO reports are sightings of craft from other planets. It is not acceptable to them to say that because most reports can be attributed to more mundane causes, then the remainder can also be, given sufficient information. 

Such ufologists hove a desperate craving for unequivocal physical evidence which would prove their case. Some of these people are keen on science and technology. They have little time for myths, unless they can be given rational, literal interpretations. They also have little taste for UFO abduction stories. They see the purpose of ufology as the general acknowledgement of the reality of alien spacecraft surveying our planet. They are not interested in giving psychotherapy to people who apparently believe that they are constantly being abducted from their bedrooms through solid walls into enormous glowing craft which are unaccountably invisible to their neighbours. Such things are the stuff of dreams and delusions; their space people may have advanced technology but they are not to be granted any magical powers such as those possessed by the characters in fantasy novels. 

Stories of crashed saucers which leave wreckage and occupants, dead or alive, have been around for a long time, in various forms. The American 1897 airship wave is a familiar example. The problem is that all these stories lack credibility, and investigations have revealed that, while some witnesses were undoubtedly sincere but mistaken, most of the stories were simply crude hoaxes.

Then came Roswell. As the story developed it was quickly seen as a boon to the nuts-and-bolts ufologists, tired of vague lights in the sky and accounts of life on other worlds received by telepathy or other occult means. A physical object had crashed, its substance was not of this world, and it did not dissolve into nothingness when picked up. Therefore it must still exist, hidden away on some US Air Force base. The final proof. 

This makes it seem simple. Just exert enough political pressure and the sensational truth will eventually be revealed. However, it is not so simple. 

Although the Roswell case is undoubtedly based on a real incident involving the recovery of the wreckage of something from a ranch near Corona, New Mexico in July 1947, it received only brief, if widespread, publicity at the time. After the bizarre press release about a flying disc being recovered caused a worldwide sensation, the cover story designed to damp things down – that it was, after all, only a weather balloon with a radar target attached – was generally accepted (at least by those whose opinions on such things mattered) and the story died. It was mentioned by Frank Edwards in his book flying Saucers – Serious Business (1), but it was apparently not publicly discussed again until the late 1970s, when Jesse A. Marcel, who had been the intelligence officer at the 509th Bomb Group at Roswell in 1947, decided to publicise his version of the affair. 

This resulted in a reawakening of interest and investigations by ufologists gradually became more intensive and better organised. Eventually a very detailed story emerged and was published in various books, articles, reports and television documentaries. 

This publicity stimulated many ufologists to probe old cases which seemed somewhat similar, but had not been taken very seriously. This process unearthed details which had not appeared in the original reports, such as the alleged recovery of the bodies of aliens, as well as wreckage. Many other, often trivial, details emerged and I hope to demonstrate that crash retrieval stories, as they are now discussed, tend to fall into a pattern, which takes the Roswell accounts as a model.From the Roswell story we can extract a number of motifs, many of which are not essential to the story, but can be seen to be repeated in accounts of other incidents. It is interesting to note that other crash retrieval stories are compared with Roswell; so far as many ufologists are concerned this is the standard by which they are assessed. 

Crash retrieval stories, as I have said, are remarkable for the absence of accounts of paranormal or visionary experiences which are involved in so many UFO reports, But do they form coherent or consistent narratives with their own internal logic? Do they, when closely scrutinised, make any kind of sense? I don’t think so. 

Let us look at two other cases as well as Roswell and we shall see that it would be quite crazy to interpret them as evidence of alien visitors crashing their saucers but perfectly reasonable to see them as part of a developing myth within the framework of UFO reports, beliefs and criticism by sceptics. 

Although the Roswell object was almost certainly not a weather balloon, and there are serious doubts about the recent suggestion that it may have been a much larger balloon carrying equipment designed to monitor, distant atomic explosions (Project Mogul), it could have been some other secret military device. There wasn’t much more to the story until rumours of aliens, dead or alive, being recovered from another crash site began to emerge. According to some reports it was only a few miles away, but the most detailed accounts gave it as being on the Plains of San Augustin, more than 150 miles away. However, some pretty compelling evidence has been presented that this story is untrue. (2)Various accounts of the recovery of the aliens allege that those still alive offered no resistance to capture, being unarmed and quite helpless, but they were cruelly treated by the military. This is a theme which recurs in other crash retrieval stories. 

According to the Roswell reports, a considerable amount of time elapsed before the aliens were captured. This raises an obvious problem of internal logic if we choose to believe such stories. We are apparently supposed to believe that the organisers of such missions to Earth send craft into our atmosphere which use some advanced means of propulsion, but are somewhat less mechanically reliable than our airliners. The aliens, being somewhat backward in the technology of automation, remote control and remote sensing, have to pilot the craft themselves. If they crash, there are no back-up craft to rescue them; they simply have to wait for the inevitable arrival of the military and shipment to some secret base where their bodies are dissected or, if still alive, they are incarcerated indefinitely.

It can be argued that there is much confusion and uncertainty about Roswell because the events happened so long ago. More recent reports should provide a clearer picture. But do they? Take the incident in North Wales in January 1974, for example. At 8.34 in the evening of 23 January a violent explosion was heard in the area of Bala and Llandrillo, followed by an earth tremor which was was strong enough to be recorded at Edinburgh University. Witnesses reported seeing lights around a nearby mountain. It was at first thought that an aircraft had crashed on the mountain, but the Royal Air Force (RAF), which sent a team to search the mountain, later said that there had been no crash and they had been looking for debris from a meteor fall. (3) However, it was said that the area around the mountain was sealed off for several days and that even the police were not allowed there. The media failed to follow up the story and when Jenny Randles attempted to investigate it she found the local people unwilling to discuss it. (4) 

At this point the story, whilst intriguing and rather puzzling (why would the RAF want to go looking for meteorites?) was hardly a crash retrieval case. Like Roswell, the story died when the media accepted official explanations. 

Almost 20 years later, ufologist Margaret Fry moved to North Wales and began to unearth a number of witnesses, one of them being a nurse who said that she hod driven to the mountain with her two daughters on that night because she thought that an aircraft had crashed. She claimed to have seen a large, circular object, glowing orange, on the ground, but no evidence of bodies or wreckage. She also claimed that she was stopped by police and military personnel, who ordered her to leave the area. (5) 

Perhaps it should be mentioned that Margaret Fry has been interested in UFOs for many years and has made ‘countless sightings’. Perhaps it should also be mentioned, as it has been by Jenny Randles, that the brilliant meteor seen crossing North Wales on the night in question was timed at 9.58, more than an hour after the explosion. (7) 

Confused? So am I. But there’s more. Tony Dodd (one of Britain’s most active UFO investigators) hasrecently published on article covering much the same ground as covered by Jenny Randles. (8) But he goes on to reveal that a witness, described as a retired Army officer, has come forward to claim that alien bodies were retrieved from the scene. This man claimed that he was ordered to drive to Llandderfel (near the area in question), with four other soldiers, where they loaded ‘two large oblong boxes’ into their vehicle and were ordered to take them directly to the Chemical and Biological Defence Establishment at Porton Down, Wiltshire. When they got there, the boxes were opened in their presence to reveal the bodies of alien beings. Other soldiers had also transported aliens to Porton Down, but these were alive. 

The ex-soldier claimed to have arrived in North Wales on 20 January 1974 and the bodies were delivered to Porton Down some time the next day. But, wait a minute. Dodd gives us the time of the explosion – 8.39 p.m. – as well as the year and the month, but for some reason he omits the date. I wonder why? Perhaps it is because of the difficulty of resolving the paradox of the aliens arriving at Porton Down on 21 January, two days before their saucer crashed on 23 January. 

Anyway, we have no reason to believe this ridiculous tale. For instance, if soldiers were delivering some secret cargo and it was not considered necessary or desirable to tell them what it was while they were transporting it, is it even conceivable that it would be revealed to them when they had safely delivered it and their task was completed? Of course not. It is a pack of lies, but it is an important part of the crash retrieval myth: crashed saucers usually have aliens in them.Another point. As one of the principal witnesses claimed to have seen an apparently undamaged saucer on the ground and others have claimed to have seen one take off, there must have been at least two involved. There must also be wreckage and I eagerly await the inevitable yarns about the people who picked up chunks of it only to have it confiscated by military authorities just as they were about to have it analysed. It is inevitable – well, almost inevitable – because it is one of the more important motifs of the developing myth. 


The Varginha 'alien' as depicted on the cover of the Brazilian magazine 'UFO. The caption reads 'Alien captured alive in Minas Gerais'

It is all very unsatisfactory. If only we had a crash retrieval which took place recently in a place where there were lots of people around to see what occurred. Then the Truth would surely be revealed. How about a suburb of a large town? Well, it’s actually happened, that is if you can believe the reports. In Brazil, arguably the most saucer-infested country on earth. 


On 20 January 1996, at about 3.30 p.m. three girls walking home through Jardim Andere, a suburb of Varginha (9) saw a strange creature, humanoid in appearance, with brown skin. It was about 1.6 metres tall, had three humps on its head and large bright red eyes. It was naked and apparently had no genitals, nipples or navel. The girls were terrified and ran to the home of two of them, where they told their mother. The story spread rapidly and when ufologists Vitorio Pacaccini and Ubirajara Franca Rodrigues began to investigate they found that witnesses spoke of there being at least two aliens, both of which were captured by the local fire service, the army, or both together. These beings were allegedly taken to a local hospital, but did not survive and their bodies were later moved elsewhere. 

During the previous night there had been a sighting of a submarine-shaped UFO, about the size of a small bus, flying at about 5 metres above the ground and emitting smoke or vapour, at a farm about 10 km from Jardim Andere. The witnesses had been alerted by noises from the farm animals. 

The first detailed account of the case which I saw was an article by Graham Birdsall, based on information he had received when he went to a UFO conference in Curitiba, Brazil in June and met Pacaccini and Rodrigues. (10) I have also read many reports and comments which have been published on the Internet. (11) With so many witnesses and such intensive investigation by experienced ufologists one would have expected a coherent story to have emerged by now, nearly a year after the events. 

The reports are a confusing mixture of eyewitness testimony, rumour and speculation. The army, police, fire service and hospital authorities allegedly involved in the capture and removal of the aliens deny everything. 

It is said that one of the bodies was taken to the University of Campinas, where an autopsy was carried out by Dr Fortunate Badan Palhares (who is apparently famous for having carried out the autopsy on the Nazi, Mengele). Dr Palhares denies this, of course. According to another report eight aliens were captured. One was dead, two were injured and one later died, and five were uninjured. Another report alleges that the six living aliens were flown from Campinas Airport in a Brazilian air force plane to Sao Paulo, There they were ‘marched aboard’ (!) a US Air Force transport plane and flown to Albrook Air Force Base in Panama. 

The Brazilian ufologists insist that the confusion is caused by a great international cover-up operation but that in the case of Varginha they arrived on the scene too quickly for it to be fully effective as it usually is. Authorities involved are ordered to deny that anything unusual hashappened, and witnesses are silenced by threats or bribes. 

For those who want to believe in crash retrievals there are a number of serious logical problems. The most important one is this; if there are only a handful of cases, this would seem highly unlikely to most people, but not impossible. However, if it is thought that UFO crashes are by no means rare, then it would be impossible to conceal the truth for very long. It is also hard to imagine aliens flying around in such unreliable craft. Or do they crash them deliberately? 

One way of getting around this problem is to say or imply that there are very few UFO crashes, This is the approach taken by Kevin D. Randle, who devotes a book to listing UFO crash reports, labelling all but a few of them as hoaxes. (12) The alternative is to say that governments are in collusion with the aliens, and that the aliens are operating in such a way as to enable them to continue concealing the truth from the public. However, this does not deal with the problem of the crashes. 

All this does not mean that UFO crash retrieval reports are based on nothing at all. Normally there is some unusual event which somehow sets in motion a process of rumour and speculation. The crashed UFO myth has by now received so much publicity that it is readily available to provide a framework for the elaboration of such reports. Pathological liars and publicity seekers are always available to provide further amazing information. The myth can be broken down into motifs, which can then be modified and reassembled to provide the details of different crash retrieval stories. I here present a tentative list of the usual motifs, in the hope that others will develop it more fully, so that we end up with a model for a typical crash retrieval and thus know what to look for in future reports. 

The crash retrieval report usually seems to develop from some central event, to which the above motifs are added as investigation and discussion get under way. In the Roswell Case this was the finding of wreckage on his ranch by Mac Brazel. In the North Wales case it was the sound of a violent explosion, followed by an earth tremor. In the Varginha case, it was the sighting of something which they took to be ‘the devil’ which frightened three girls walking home through a suburban street. It is quite likely that there is no connection between these three cases, but the myth took over and the stories were built up from the motifs by a pick-and-mix process. 

All of this is not to decry the hard work put into investigations by many ufologists. It is not their investigations that are at fault but their absurd theory of clapped-out saucers full of helpless aliens.



  • The precursor; e.g. something seen in the sky, an explosion heard, or mysterious object tracked by radar
  • Crashed UFO; almost always in a remote placeAliens, dead or alive, in or near crashed UFO
  • Arrival of military
  • Civilians expelled from crash area
  • Aliens cruelly treated by military
  • Aliens helpless and unarmed, and apparently not very intelligent
  • Military personnel sworn to secrecy
  • Civilian witnesses threatened or bribed to keep silent
  • Authorities give unconvincing cover story to media
  • Authorities remove all wreckage from crash site, usually on a flat truck covered with a tarpaulin
  • Witnesses pick up bits of wreckage but authorities always recover all of it from them
  • US Air Force nearly always get involved, sometimes allegedly by putting pressure on government of country where crash occurs
  • Long after event, persons contact ufologists to claim they were involved in recovery operation
  • Such persons claim to have seen alien bodies or worked on UFO wreckage.
  • Official photographs, films or videos of aliens which are never made available or are obvious fakes 





  1. Edwards, Frank. Flying Saucers – Serious Business, New York, Bantam Books, 1966.
  2. A good summary of this story and the reasons for disbelieving it are given in: Randles, Kevin D. History of UFO Crashes, New York, Avon Books, 1995, p.28-58
  3. Randles, Jenny. UFO Retrievals, London, Blandford, 1995, p. 112-121
  4. A high proportion of the people in that area speak Welsh. I believe that a Welsh-speaking investigator would have been able to obtain more information from them.
  5. Randles, op. cit.
  6. Randles, Jenny. ‘Britain’s Roswell?’, Sightings, 1,3, (1966), pp.10-15
  7. If any readers have any information as to the truth or accuracy of these timings, would they kindly let us know.
  8. Dodd, tony, ‘UFO Crash in North Wales?’, UFO Magazine, Sept/Oct 1996, pp.34-37. (This is the British UFO Magazine, not to be confused with at least two others with the same title).
  9. Varginha is located at 210, 33″S, 450 25″W.
  10. Birdsall, Graham W. ‘Incident at Varginha’, UFO Magazine, op.cit. 8-13, 57-59, 66.
  11. I am grateful to Mark pilkington for obtaining these reports.
  12. Randle, Kevin D., op.cit.






In the most recent number of Northern UFO News (157, Autumn 1996), Jenny Randles returns to the subject of the 1974 Llandrillo incident. She considers the possibility that the original incident may have been caused by the crash of an RAF plane carrying a nuclear weapon, and the UFO connection was introduced as deliberate ‘disinformation’. ‘Disinformation’ is a popular recourse by ufologists when they find that their cherished cases are fasting apart in their hands. The idea that military authorities have deliberately used and promoted UFO rumours to discourage journalists has been put forward to explain aspects of the Roswell and Rendlesham cases which do not fit conveniently in the crashed spaceship theory. In both cases a supposed nuclear accident has been suggested as the root of the story.

When asked by US and German TV companies for her views on the `recovered bodies’ at Llandrillo, Randles replied “I told all of the TV companies… that I was not about to help the government cover up the truth about this incident by acting as a disinformation agent on their behalf.” — John Rimmer.



Howden Moor: Roswell Meets Peak Practice. David Clarke

From Magonia 70, March 2000

  • Part One: Secret Truth, Myth and Madness

  • Part Two: A Summary of the Known Facts

  • Part Three: Fantasy and Fact: A Howden Moor Checklist



“This pattern… with a discredited case being tenaciously supported by an increasingly convoluted set of claims and counter claims has already been well-established in the Fortean world… If the following for such cases continues… it is likely that it is the needs of the audience rather than any persuasive arguments in the cases that keeps them alive…” – Neil Nixon [1]



Part One: Secret Truth, Myth and Madness

The folklorist Jan Harold Brunvand, in his classic study of `new’ urban Legends, The Choking Doberman, refers to what he calls ‘The Secret Truth’ as a primary theme in modern conspiracy theories. It would, if revealed, cause panic among the population in a manner similar to that which is claimed to have followed the transmission of the famous War of the Worlds radio broadcast in 1938. Brunvand includes what he calls the most dramatic of the ‘suppressed truth’ stories in his collection under the title ‘the landed Martians.’ This is the seminal claim that a wrecked flying saucer was recovered by the US military at Roswell, New Mexico in July 1947. The ‘landed Martians’ were the bodies of the craft’s humanoid pilots which were subsequently shipped to a super-secret hangar in an isolated desert region of the USA. Those involved in the operation were ‘sworn to secrecy or lied to about the nature of their mission.’ Brunvand realised he was tiptoeing into dangerous territory when he dismissed the ‘evidence’ invoked as proof of the Roswell crash, adding: “I expect that I’ll get some angry mail for suggesting that this might be an area of modern legend” [2].

Hence the folklorist ventures into areas of faith and belief which at the turn of the second Millennium are defended with almost fundamentalist zeal.

As Curtis Peebles observed in his analysis of black project crash sites [3] the rapidly multiplying versions of the Roswell Incident cannot be regarded as evidence of a real historical event involving the recovery of an alien craft and bodies. Instead they should be viewed as an evolving narrative, a myth in the making. One of the dictionary definitions of ‘myth’ is that of a commonly held belief which is fundamentally untrue, or without foundation. Ufological myths are particularly tenacious creatures in the age of the World Wide Web and have a tendency to survive and reproduce themselves like a computer virus. Every day new rumours are transmitted, copied and moulded within the subculture of ufology. Once belief in a mythical event is established, others will seek to replicate its existence elsewhere.

In Britain, a collection of proto-’crashed saucer’ stories dating back to the time of the ‘foo fighters’ were produced by Nick Redfern in the third volume of his UFO trilogy, Cosmic Crashes, in 1999 [4]. Before this title appeared believers in Britain lacked any suitable claims which could be compared with the more detailed ‘crash-retrievals’ reported from the USA. The British Isles are distinctly lacking in the isolated desert regions favoured as the setting for some of the American ‘pickled alien’ stories. As a result a desperate search has been ongoing to identify a contender for status as ‘the British Roswell.’ A number of the incidents listed by Redfern are certainly based upon ‘real’ events, but as Andy Robert’s detailed investigation of the Berwyn Mountains case has demonstrated, their core can invariably be shown to have originated in events of a mundane nature. In this case an earth tremor which coincided with a spectacular display of fireball meteors triggered a police search of a Welsh mountain. The lights of the patrol as they met a group of ‘lampers’ produced an eyewitness account which became the basis of a ‘crashed UFO rumour’ twenty years later [5].

Following in the great tradition of Roswell ‘anomalous incidents’ are now being resurrected as ‘UFO crashes’ thirty or forty years after they occurred, a time lag which allows memory to fog and gives imagination and exaggeration a fertile breeding ground.

As fertile seeds reproducing themselves within the subject, Redfern’s sample will soon become incorporated into the evolving UFO mythology. They will become ‘classic cases’ formed in the image of the ‘landed Martians’ but tailored specifically for the needs of a British audience eager for homespun versions of the ‘dark side’ theories of abduction, back engineering and secret deals between aliens and the Government. As part of this process we should expect the developing stories to absorb the newer beliefs circulated on the World Wide Web by the more fanatical elements of today’s conspiracy mongers. These include the elements added to the developing mythology during the course of last decade: the fashionable ‘Flying Triangles’ and their pilots, the sinister greys with their agenda of animal mutilation and human abduction. The more advanced and psychologically disturbed the storytellers become, the more we hear about implants, crossbreeding and the spreading of ME, AIDS and other horrendous viruses among the alien’s alleged victims.

One of these new stories, although not listed by Redfern, has played a pivotal role in the export of the US-based ‘crashed saucer’ mythology. It has been the subject of heated and vociferous exchanges on newsgroups which have divided ufologists into two camps with fundamentally different approaches to the interpretation of fact and evidence. Cleverly packaged and marketed upon the Internet by its creator Max Burns, it is a claim which has led to schism in British ufology of seismic proportions. The case has highlighted the fundamental dichotomy which exists today between the ‘scientific’ and ‘belief-driven’ approaches to the study of UFOs and illustrated the lengths to which the latter arc prepared to go to promote claims which are, as the dictionary defines myth. ‘untrue …or without foundation.’

Max Burns and ‘the Sheffield incident’

“…I believe the British Government are test flying a 30-50ft triangle around the Northwest of England – probably built with recovered ET technology. These [sic] larger triangular craft are I believe without doubt extra terrestrial in origin. As well as that I will go so far as to say that these triangles are being flown and controlled by the beings known as the Greys’…” – Max Burns [5]

Max Burns appeared suddenly on the British UFO scene during the mid-90s, claiming a long interest in the subject which stemmed from a childhood ‘abduction’ experience. At this time he worked as a disc jockey in South Yorkshire night-clubs and spent his spare time communicating with fellow ‘abductees’ and believers via the rapidly expanding UFO subculture on the Internet. Burns quickly endeared himself to those subscribing to the more paranoid and extreme belief systems with his investigation of what he began to call ‘the Sheffield incident’ and links he claimed to have discovered between symptoms suffered by ‘abductees’ and chronic fatigue syndrome or ME. Unlike many of the other Walter Mitty characters who are temporary attracted to the ufological stage Burns had the confidence to pursue his arguments to the bitter end, even after it became apparent that the weight of evidence was stacked overwhelmingly against him. His answer to critics who questioned his evidence and conclusions was simple: anyone who disagreed was part of the ‘cover up’ or was working for the Security Services. At one stage his plausible and garrulous manner was enough to persuade even cautious members of the UFO community, including the council of the ailing BUFORA, that he had a case to answer.

Late on the night of 24 March 1997 Burns had been alerted to an event on the Peak District moors west of Sheffield which was to become the turning point of his career in ufology and would ultimately prove to be his nemesis. What he was later to proclaim as ‘Britain’s answer to the Roswell UFO crash’ could have been lifted straight from a plot in The X-Files or one of the trashy satellite TV UFO ‘documentaries.’ The so-called ‘Sheffield incident’ – a misnomer as the events actually occurred above Howden Moor – appeared to have all the ingredients necessary for myth making: callers jamming police switchboards to report an unidentified aircraft on a collision course with the hills, military jets skimming rooftops, strange aerial explosions, a massive search operation which found nothing, claims that a cover-up was underway and the run-of-the-mill denials by the authorities.

The facts of the case and the fantasies which have been spun from its meagre strands are summarised elsewhere. It is sufficient to say that the original events stemmed from what South Yorkshire Police concluded were ‘a combination of circumstances that would lead people to believe a plane might have crashed.’ [6] These circumstances involved the sightings of a low-flying light aircraft which coincided with reports of an anomalous aerial explosion or sonic boom created by a military aircraft. At no stage were UFOs ever seriously considered by the authorities as having played a role in these events, although a covert military exercise was certainly suspected as a possible explanation by a number of senior police officers. Mysteries, however mundane, leave a vacuum which is easily filled by the imaginations of UFO believers.

When news of the mystery reached the media, the region soon became the focus of attention from assorted ‘investigators’ who immediately cried out: ‘Cover-up!
Among these early visitors was Max Burns, who seized upon the mystery explosions as a key part of his developing theory which sought to explain what really happened that night. In the short-lived newstand magazine Alien Encounters Burns posed the following question to readers in the summer of 1997: ‘Could this have been the UFO making a crash landing, or a Tornado crashing after being attacked by the UFO?” [7] Soon evidence was being collected to fit the theory: where this didn’t exist it was invented. Testimony and facts which did not support the UFO hypothesis were simply ignored, as passive consumers of the story on the Internet would not feel it was necessary to question Burn’s belief-driven version of events. By 1998 Burns felt confident enough to conclude the case was “one of the biggest UFO incidents in recent years involving a huge Flying Triangle … and evidence of a conspiracy on behalf of the civilian and military authorities to hide the facts from the public …” [8] In summary the ‘Sheffield incident’ had become the Secret Truth resurrected in a new form, suitable for a modern, unquestioning audience.

Burn’s claims did not involve the standard scenario of a crashed ET craft recovered by a covert military operation. Crashed ‘flying saucers’ and their Michael Rennie-like occupants were a thing of the past in ’90s UFO lore. In the increasingly convoluted logic employed to ‘sell’ the case, it was argued that a more fashionable triangular ET craft had been pursued across the Pennines by military fighter aircraft, which were either escorting the aliens or had been diverted from an ongoing exercise to intercept the intruder. A key element of the case were the sonic booms recorded by the British Geological Survey. They suddenly became the ‘evidence’ Burns was looking for. Following his logic, during the encounter at least one of the pursuing Tornado jets was ‘completely destroyed’ or captured as a result of hostile action by the pilots of the ‘triangle’ “because of the use of EM weapons while being in close proximity of the Triangle.” [9]

The ‘lost Tornado’ story has a long pedigree in the history of ufology and science fiction. Indeed, one of the strongest motifs in the UFO crash mythology is the belief which can be summarised as ‘one of ours was lost chasing one of theirs.’ Ever since the tragic death of US pilot Thomas Mantell during the pursuit of a ‘flying saucer’ over Kentucky in 1948 (which turned out to be a high altitude Skyhook balloon) there have been frequent claims of hostile mid-air encounters between the military and ET [10]. The Mantell case and a similar incident involving the loss of a Lightning over the North Sea in 1970 have recently been resurrected by ‘alien investigator’ Tony Dodd in a sensational and breathless account of his attempts to ‘blow the lid’ on the UFO cover-up. In 1987 attempts were made to link the crash of a Harrier jump-jet in the Atlantic with the mystery ‘crop circles’ over which the pilot allegedly flew before disaster struck [11]. The same kind of motifs can be traced in science fiction genre, from the era of War of the Worlds to the gung-ho battles between US pilots and hostile alien invaders depicted in the ’90s blockbuster Independence Day. Coincidentally, Burn’s claims about the ‘Sheffield incident’ appeared in the same year that the BBC screened the low-budget science fiction drama Invasion Earth which ironically began with a dogfight between an RAF Tornado and a UFO along the British coastline.

One of the elements of Brunvand’s ‘Crashed Martian’ folk legend concerns the setting of the alleged UFO crash in an isolated desert region, away from prying eyes. This tradition has also been developed effectively in science fiction films and programmes, in particular The X-Files, and has filtered down into UFO mythology. In the ‘Sheffield incident’ the covert operation took place above one of the few regions of Britain which might actually be termed a ‘desert.’ The High Peak District of northern Derbyshire was an ideal substitute for the arid regions of New Mexico. The story continued the tradition of a covert recovery operation in a remote area where acres of moor hid the ‘the secret truth’ from the public. In this case it was easy for Burns to depict the Dark Peak, above which the ‘incident’ took place, as being miles away from human habitation. Although conditions can be treacherous for those who venture into the mountains unprepared, the Peak District is in fact the most popular National Park in Britain with a staggering 20 million visitors in 1999. Readers of Burn’s case on the Internet will not easily appreciate that the area where the ‘Tornado crash’ supposedly took place is actually within walking distance of Sheffield city centre. The moors themselves, although lonely, are little more than 40 square miles in total area and cannot be described as ‘remote’ in the US sense of the word. Throughout the year the Derwent Valley is thronged with tourists, walkers and climbers who enjoy exploring every inch of the Dark Peak moors, which are sandwiched between two of the most heavily populated conurbations in the north of England. In addition, the region lies directly beneath an international air corridor used by airliners using Manchester’s Ringway airport, and is regularly used for low-flying practice by a number of military airfields.

To overcome these credibility problems Burns had to devise a scenario where he could claim that the police and civilian search and rescue teams had been directed away from the scene of the secret operation which he believes was launched to remove evidence of the Tornado crash. The sighting of ‘a military Land Rover’ and the activities of the ‘Aero Space Intelligence’ were invoked as evidence of the presence of a covert military retrieval team in the area that night. The AIS, according to Burns, ‘look like the CID’ and ‘drive twin-aerial cars during their missions to silence witnesses [12].

The `Tornado pilot’

The most ludicrous evidence of all was that provided by a young man who had been a passenger in a minibus which had been flagged down by a mysterious stranger on a deserted stretch of the A57 Snake Pass near the Ladybower reservoir. The stranger, clearly described as being ‘Asian’ or `Pakistani’ in appearance, smelled strongly of diesel or petrol fumes. He asked for a lift into Sheffield, but this was declined because the bus was full. The witness reported this ‘suspicious’ incident to the police and thought no more of it until he was contacted by Max Burns, who by now was desperate for a ‘breakthrough’ to shore up his collapsing theory. Burns – posing as `a journalist’ – could not believe his luck when the young man, who had since joined the RAF as a trainee night engineer, told how he was now certain the ‘diesel or petrol’ he had detected that night was actually ‘aviation fuel.’

Within hours the shocked engineer found himself being questioned by a reporter from the News of the World to whom Burns had tried to sell his story. He immediately realised his words had been taken out of context to promote a sensational UFO fantasy and demanded the story be dropped for fear of the effect it could have upon his reputation and his new job. It was too late now, for Burns had the initial conversation on tape and armed with this evidence and the subsequent retraction, now had the ‘proof’ he was looking for that a witness had been forced through fear or coercion to retract his statement. Here was clear evidence of the ‘cover-up’ he had suspected all along, for if the story was nonsense why go to all this trouble to stop the witness talking?

In his Sheffield Incident Burns uses this yarn to confidently proclaim that the mysterious stranger was “without doubt the co-pilot of the Tornado jet, who was soaked in aviation fuel and was making his way to the nearest metropolis to alert the military.” Having parachuted from the stricken aircraft, the crewman had walked four miles to the reservoir viaduct before trying to thumb a ride with a passing bus. Not surprisingly, even members of the pro-ETH camp found this claim particularly hard to swallow. Nick Pope summarised the conclusion shared by many when he wrote: “It’s ridiculous to suggest this has anything to do with the RAF, on the basis that a pilot from a downed jet would always stay at the crash site, waiting for the inevitable military search and rescue operation. He’d be wearing a distinctive green flying suit that even a layman would realise was military issue.” [131

The identity of the stranger was in fact already known to the Peak Park Ranger office and to Derbyshire Police, if only Burns had cared to ask. The report was investigated by the force as a possible suicide attempt and patently had nothing whatever to do with a 'crashed Tornado,' except in the imagination of a UFO buff.

In truth, if any military cover-up had been in evidence it would have been obvious to the 141 members of the civilian Mountain Rescue Service who spent more than 15 hours in freezing cold temperatures combing the moors for signs of an air disaster. They found nothing, and saw no one. So confident of his theory was Max Burns that he did not feel it necessary even to contact the MRS Commander Mike France to enquire if any evidence existed to support his theory. Questioned on the role of the Mountain Rescue teams on a live Internet debate on the case, Burns claimed they were 'not in the area of the crash' and had been 'sent off on a wild goose chase by the Government/authorities.' [14] Earlier he was forced to admit he had never spoken to any member of the highly experienced search and rescue teams and had no basis upon which to cast doubt upon their search and rescue skills which save dozens of lives every year.

Burns has repeatedly accused the Ministry of Defence of organising a massive cover-up of the ‘Sheffield incident.’ He claims they have changed their story at least four times in relation to the part played by the military aircraft reported over the Peak shortly before the alarm was raised. In March 1998 and on my behalf, the Labour MP for Sheffield Hillsborough, Helen Jackson, quizzed the MOD in a series of written Parliamentary questions relating to the role of the military in the events {15}. They admitted somewhat reluctantly that a ‘pre-booked training exercise’ did indeed take place above the Peak District on the night in question, with photo reconnaissance aircraft flying as low as 250 feet above the Derbyshire hills. Throughout this saga, the MOD have consistently denied the ‘incident was triggered by jets being scrambled from a front-line fighter base to intercept a UFO. There is no evidence to suggest their statements – provided in response to direct questions in the Houses of Parliament – are anything thing but correct. [16]

In point of fact the RAF regularly use the northern Peaks as a practice ground for low-flying training for its pilots which intensifies significantly during the build up to international conflicts such as the Gulf Crisis. This is in fact a tradition which dates back to the use of the Derwent Dam and Ladybower reservoir by the famous 617 ‘Dambusters’ squadron during the preparation for their attack on the German Ruhr in 1943. Since that time the Dark Peak east of Manchester has become a graveyard for more than fifty planes and their crews who have fallen foul of the unpredictable weather which prevails above this part of the hills. The tragic loss of these aircraft have added to the reputation of the Dark Peak among pilots and rumours have spread concerning a ‘ghost plane’ which has been seen skimming the surface of the reservoir and dams [17].

Sightings of the `ghost flier’ have triggered a series of fruitless searches by police and the mountain rescue service, the latest as recently as the summer of 1999. One Peak Park ranger has revealed how the service receives up to four reports of ‘crashing aircraft’ from visitors to the region on average every year. This information places the 1997 incident into context as one of many ‘false alarms’ caused by low-flying aircraft in this part of the Peak. Rangers and search personnel have become so accustomed to these alarms that they have begun to realise how many of the reports are based upon sightings of real aircraft, both military and civilian, observed under unusual conditions. Visitors unfamiliar with the Peak District often fall victim to an optical illusion whereby aircraft in their landing approach to Manchester appear to be at a dangerously low altitude as a result of the height above sea level of the observer. From the evidence available, there is no reason to suggest that the events of that spring evening in 1997 cannot be explained through a combination of misperception, misidentification and plain wishful thinking on behalf of the UFO myth-makers.


Fact, common sense and logic are unlikely to halt the development of the Howden Moor mystery into a fully fledged cause celebre of the ‘Roswell’ tradition. Facts and close scrutiny of the evidence may have solved the case to the satisfaction of the majority, but as with Roswell the ‘story’ will continue to live on in mythology. Simply because bizarre claims cannot be disproved, they must therefore have some basis in reality as part of the twisted logic employed by Max Burns and his apologists.

No amount of testimony or evidence will convince those who have made it their mission to defend the preposterous claim that human life was lost as a result of a hostile attack by UFO occupants.

Even if it were possible to account for the safety of each and every Tornado aircraft and its crew in service with the RAF and NATO, it would always be claimed that the ‘loss’ had been cleverly erased from official records by the nefarious agents of the omnipresent cover-up. Already the signs of madness have surfaced among promoters of Max Burns’ theory with the appearance of ever more bizarre beliefs, including claims that drinking water levels ‘fell dramatically’ in the Ladybower reservoir following the appearance of the ‘Flying Triangle’ or that a secret portal to another dimension lies hidden beneath the reservoir complex! The standpoint of believers cannot fail but to lead along a path on which madness and paranoia lurk around every corner. No final conclusion will ever be accepted except one bound up with conspiracy, cover-up and the elusive ‘secret truth.’

Unfortunately, there can be no real conclusion to the Howden Moors ‘crash’; no clean ending which will allow the case to be tied up and neatly filed away. That is, of course, unless Max Burns and his followers can come up with hard physical proof that a Tornado was shot down by a UFO. I predict this will never happen. The carcass of facts surrounding this case has now been picked clean by legions of believers in the literal truth of UFOs and the case now lives on, Jackanory-like, in the tellings and re-tellings of people who have chosen never to concern themselves with the primary and secondary sources of information. They have chosen which pieces of information and whose research best suits their beliefs and prejudices and are blind to the realities of the case. Worse still, I and other rational researchers associated with the case have been demonised as ‘agents of the Government’ in an attempt to divert attention from the truth at the heart of the matter.

The Howden Moors case has, like the Roswell Incident, a life of its own within ufology. All we can do now is chart its trajectory across the ufological landscape, smile sagely and wonder at the capacity of humans to create such a fanciful edifice from so very little.



1. Neil Nixon, ‘They’re not all lunatics on the fringe,’ Fortean Studies 6 (London: John Brown Publishing, 1999).
2. Jan Harold Brunvand, The Choking Doberman and other ‘new’ Urban Legends (London: W.W. Norton & Company, 1984).
3. Curtis Peebles, ‘The Hunting of Zel,’ Magonia 69 (December 1999).
4. Nick Redfern, Cosmic Crashes (London: Simon & Schuster, 1999).
5. Max Burns, ‘The Sheffield Incident, A Flying Triangle Incident’ (Internet posting, PUFORI website, 1998).
6. South Yorkshire Police Major Incident log, collated in David Clarke and Martin Jeffrey, ‘The Howden Moor Incident’ (independent UFO Network, 1999).
7. Max Burns, ‘Crash and Burns: Did a UFO crash outside Sheffield?’ Alien Encounters, summer 1997.
8. Burns, ‘The Sheffield Incident,’ op. cit.
9. Ibid.10. Tony Dodd, Alien Investigator (London: Headline, 1999).
11. Jenny Randles and Paul Fuller, Crop Circles: A Mystery Solved (London: Robert Hale, 1993).
12. Burns, ‘The Sheffield Incident.’ The twin-aerial car spotted by Burns belonged to another investigator, Martin Jeffrey.
13. Personal communication from Nick Pope, May 1999.
14. Max Burns on ‘Visitations’ live Internet discussion of the case, June 6, 1998.
15. Hansard, written questions, March 23, 1998; MOD written answers, March 25 and April 7, 1998.
16. Statement by MOD spokesman reproduced in David Clarke, ‘The Howden Moor Incident,’ in The UFOs that Never Were, ed. Clarke, Randles & Roberts (London House, 2000).
17. David Clarke, Supernatural Peak District (London: Robert Hale, 2000).


The Howden Moor Incident: A Summary of the Known Facts

Emergency services were alerted shortly after 10pm on 24 March 1997 when reports are made to police that a low flying aircraft had crashed into an area of the High Peak moors near Sheffield. Two gamekeepers report hearing a loud aerial explosion at roughly the same time. Police and seven volunteer teams from the Peak District Mountain Rescue Organisation (PDMRO) organise a thorough search of more than 40 square miles of moor centred upon the Howden Reservoir. The operation begins at 11 pm and is called off at 2pm on 25 March.

The search was joined by a police helicopter at 11pm and a Sea King from RAF Leconfield. An Air Exclusion Zone is authorised by the CAA covering a 30 mile radius from the Howden Reservoir to enable the search to continue unhindered. Directed from the ground by the PDMRO, the helicopters use heat-seeking equipment specially designed to detect traces of a fire or body heat. No trace of any crash or wreckage is found. The Sea King returns to base at 2pm on 25 March. It represented the single military asset involved in the search operation.

200 personnel were involved in the ground operation, including civilian volunteers, search and rescue dog teams and police. During the latter stages the moors are visited by dozens of passers-by and camera crews from local TV and radio stations.

As a result of appeals on radio and in the local Press, the police receive more than 40 reports of low flying aircraft from a wide area. Two reports describe what appear to be ‘unidentified flying objects’. One of these describes a triangular-shaped object spotted from a moving train three hours before and almost thirty miles away from the search zone.

South Yorkshire Police conclude the incident was sparked by a series of unconnected events. These included a low flying aircraft and an aerial explosion which led people to believe a plane had crashed. Checks with civil airports found no reports of aircraft missing. The RAF stated that no military aircraft were operating in the area. The identity of the aircraft which triggered the reports remains unknown.

The British Geological Survey recorded a sonic boom in the Sheffield area on two seismographs and one low-frequency microphone at 10.06 pm on 24 March 1997. Checks reveal a second boom was recorded in the same region at 9.52 pm. The BGS conclude the readings are characteristic of the traces left behind in the wake of a military aircraft breaking the sound barrier. Supersonic flights over land are prohibited by the Military Flying Regulations.

One year after the events the Ministry of Defence admit in a Parliamentary reply to MP Helen Jackson that a low flying exercise involving military aircraft DID take place above the Peak District on the night of 24 March, but was completed by 9.35 pm, 30 minutes before the ‘incident’ which sparked the search operation. The planes involved in the exercise were Tornado GRIa photo reconnaissance aircraft from RAF Marham in Norfolk. The Ministry of Defence state in parliament and in correspondence that no reports of UFOs were received from military or civilian sources on 24-25 March. Reports received by South Yorkshire Police were classified as low flying aircraft as this was undoubtedly what they were!

An RAF Police investigation was launched into the cause of the sonic booms. A statement by Air Staff 2(A) at Whitehall said that officers “concentrated their enquiries on whether a military aircraft had been in the area concerned at the date in question. Once they had established that military activity was not involved they made no further enquiries to determine what might have caused the noise”. The MOD said it was “satisfied that on the date in question, there was no threat to the UK Air Defence Region from hostile military activity”.


Fantasy and Fact: A Howden Moor Checklist

Max Burns’ case is centred upon the claim that a Tornado fighter aircraft was ‘lost’ with the death of at least one of its crew members during an encounter with an extraterrestrial spaceship over Sheffield and the Peak District on the night of 24 March 1997. Two years after what Burns has called the Sheffield incident he has not produced one single piece of evidence to support his theory. The ‘evidence’ mustered in support of the UFO claims is summarised below, with the facts in italics following each significant point:

There were five witness to ‘an enormous triangle’ over Sheffield and the Peak District. Three of these saw the triangle either being escorted or intercepted by six military jets. The triangle had been flying low to avoid radar detection.
Only two witnesses described seeing a triangle and just one of these reported the observation to the police. This related to a sighting from a moving train more than two hours before the events which sparked the search operation, almost 30 miles away from the scene! The second sighting also took place many miles from the search zone, and the witness is a close female friend of Max Burns. Her observation clearly related to the flight path of low-flying military aircraft.

A further six witnesses saw a ‘glowing orange’ UFO, military jets and ‘unmarked helicopters’. One pensioner who said she observed a cigar-shaped object really saw, according to Burns, the triangle from the side so that it would appear cigar-shaped.
RAF jets were involved in a low-flying exercise above the Peak District between 7pm and 9.35pm which accounted for the majority of the sightings before 10pm. An unidentified light aircraft was operating in the Sheffield area between 9.45 and 10.30pm, sparking the later sightings reported to the police as a plane crashing into the moors. Two search helicopters were flying sorties above the ‘crash’ zone from 11pm and would appear unmarked when seen in darkness!

The first air explosion (at 9.52pm) was not a sonic boom at all according to Burns. In reality it was the Tornado jet exploding as a result of hostile action by the crew of the Flying Triangle. The second boom, at 10.06pm was the UFO escaping from the area (14 minutes later?)
The British Geological Survey and aviation experts conclude that the recordings made that night are the characteristic ‘N-waves’ produced by a military aircraft smashing through the sound barrier (760 mph/1,220 kph at sea level). A senior seismologist gave his opinion the pressure wave was caused by an aircraft, probably a military aircraft, reaching supersonic speed possibly while performing a mid-air turn

The stricken Tornado jet crashed into the moors north of the Howden Reservoir or plunged into one of the nine reservoirs Northwest of the Ladybower Viaduct near the A57 Snake Pass road.
No trace of a wrecked aircraft was found either by the extensive ground search or from the air with the use of sophisticated heat-seeking equipment specially designed to locate fire and body heat from above. A Tornado jet would have left an enormous crater and burning debris scattered across a wide radius of the crash which could not have been missed. Teams of workers from Yorkshire Water checked the reservoirs but found no signs of the telltale wreck-age or oil slick which would have sparked a major drinking water pollution alert.

The co-pilot of the Tornado bailed out seconds before the destruction of his aircraft. Having parachuted onto the moors he walked three miles to the Ladybower viaduct whilst soaked in highly flammable aviation fuel. He was spotted at 11 pm by passengers in a minibus thumbing a lift ‘to the nearest metropolis to alert the military’.
This was the most bizarre theory used by Burns to support his claims. The incident it related to had in fact no connection at all with the ‘aircrash’ mystery. The man reported by the occupants of the minibus was an Asian motorist covered in petrol or diesel fuel, a fact confirmed by Peak Park and police officers. The case was investigated as a possible suicide attempt.

A radar operator with the Royal Signals at RAF Linton-upon-Ouse (North Yorkshire) told a friend early on the morning of 25 March that he had tracked a UFO on his screen over the Peak District for a ten minute period beginning at 9.55pm the previous night. Later he was warned not to discuss the case “as if I do I will be in breach of my national security oath”.
Operationally RAF Linton was closed on the night of 24 March. In any event, the base radar has a limited radius within the immediate area and is used as part of the training of rookie pilots in Tucano aircraft. No one has spoken to the mysterious radar operator other than a friend of a friend of Max Burns.

The Ministry of Defence made an announcement to the media that a Bolide meteor exploding in the atmosphere caused the sonic boom and was also responsible for all the reports of the crashed plane.
The MOD have never made any statement to this effect. Their position remains that the reports of the low-flying aircraft were a matter for the police and that the cause of the sonic booms remains a mystery.

The seven Mountain Rescue Teams were ordered to search a zone four miles from the area where the explosion was heard, and it wasn’t until 9am on 25 March that four men were sent to search Strines Moor, near the ‘crash zone’. According to Burns, the search teams were not in the area of the crash ‘and I don’t think they know any-thing.’ In summary, he claims the rescue teams were deliberately misled while a covert military team removed the wreckage of the Tornado jet from under their very noses.
Burns has never spoken to any of the PDMRO [Peak District Mountain Rescue] commanders to ascertain the facts and has used unreliable testimony from the wife of a gamekeeper who played no part in the operation. The highly experienced team of volunteers from the PDMRO were placed in charge of the search operation by police at midnight on 24 March and it was they who directed officers and helicopter crews from that point onwards, based upon triangulated sight-lines provided by the initial eyewitnesses. The commander, Mike France, said an extremely thorough search of the 40-50 square mile zone, including Strines Moor, was completed without any evidence of a crash being found. None of the mountain rescue personnel, police, fire fighters or media who were present saw any evidence of military activity other than the presence of the RAF Sea King which they had requested for assistance in the search.

An enormous cover-up was launched following the incident, designed to confuse the issue with ‘cover-stories’ (drug runners, ghost planes, Bolide meteors), a ‘dirty tricks’ campaign to discredit Burns himself and a D-Notice to prevent the Press from discussing the case.
The case has been discussed extensively in local newspapers, in TV documentaries on BBC 1 and Granada and on the Internet. No evidence has emerged to support the claim that a Tornado jet was lost, or that UFOs were ever involved in the incident.

Key witnesses in the case have been forced to retract their testimony or have changed their statements as a result of threats from MI5 and their agents, including the author of this article.
Witnesses have not changed their testimony, but have been deliberately misquoted by Burns and his supporters. One witness who Burns claimed had seen ‘a huge triangular object’ hovering over the moors denied ever having made such a statement when approached by two other independent investigators. Another ‘uncorroborated source’ named as having seen the RAF Sea King pulling body bags from a reservoir was never interviewed by Burns. This man denied having ever having made the claim. A third witness told investigators: “UFOs were never mentioned until Max came to the pub and started asking us about it.”

Max Burns was ‘set up’ with drugs planted by the Security Forces or M15 because of ‘what he knew’ about the Sheffield incident.
Burns was found guilty of possession and supply of Class B drugs by the majority verdict of a jury at the end of a four day trial at Sheffield Crown Court in September 1999. Burns did not use the claim that he was set up by M15 in his defence during the trial, but a former friend of the DJ told the jury Burns was ‘obsessed’ with UFOs and aliens.


  • Max Burns, The Sheffield Incident: A Flying Triangle Incident. Internet posting, PUFORI website, 1998. Live Internet discussion featuring Max Burns on `Visitations’, 6 June 1998.
  • Lecture by Max Burns to BUFORA in London, June 1999. David Clarke, ‘The Aircrash that Never Was’ UFO Magazine, spring 1998.
  • David Clarke and Martin Jeffrey, The Howden Moor Incident, (Independent UFO Network, 1999).
  • David Clarke, Jenny Randles & Andy Roberts, The UFOs that Never Were (London House, 2000); chapter 2, ‘The Howden Moor Incident‘.





MJ-12: Above Top Secret, Below Top Drawer. Dennis Stacy

From Magonia 28, January 1988

If Neil Kinnock can knock out an American Democratic presidential candidate thousands of miles away without so much as lifting a finger [1], perhaps it’s not too far afield for an American ufologist to comment on Timothy Good’s ‘Above Top Secret’.

In drama, the fatal flaw of a character is often the essential ingredient around which the whole tragic recipe revolves. In the documentary or non-fiction world, however, it is just as often the slam of the oven door that causes the whole soufflé to collapse. The latter seems to be the case with ATS, a prodigious project ultimately marred by reliance on US government ‘UF0′ documents of a considerably dubious nature.

The appearance here of the controversial Majestic Twelve, or MJ-12, material relating to a reputed super secret government UFO agency charged with unlocking the secrets of crashed and retrieved UFOs, along with their alien occupants, is doubly disappointing because it will inevitably detract from what in many regards is an otherwise impressive performance by Mr Good. If the MJ-12 documents in particular turn out to be a complete fabrication, as seems increasingly likely, the farrago will provide sceptics and professional debunkers alike with a new round of potent ammunition, aimed squarely at the ‘best’ that UFO proponents supposedly have to offer. What’s more, they will not even have to pull the trigger; that and the smoking gun will have been provided them by Good in England and Moore and company in America.

Battle lines in the USA have already been drawn. Oddly enough, the sceptics, e.g. Philip Klass, seem as content as the believers to dispute the validity of the material according to whether all the t’s have been crossed and i’s dotted. The result is similar to a recent mock trial held here in which a tribunal of Supreme Court judges argued over the authorship of Shakespeare’s plays. In both instances the disputed documents exist. The question is whether they establish the existence of Shakespeare in one case, and UFOs in the possession of the American government in the other. The answers may be forever lost because of our inability in both instances to discover the process whereby the said documents were made public. In other words, where and from whom did the MJ-12 material originate?

Alas, none of our living sources are proving very helpful in the matter, which is not the same as saying they could be. Still, the mystery of how the MJ-12 papers came to be is getting largely overlooked in the race to establish secondary matters, whether they fulfil the form and content of similar documents from the same individuals and ‘agencies of the era in question, and so on. My purpose is to see if we can’t point scrutiny where it belongs, namely at the original source of the documents themselves.

But first, a brief background of ‘MJ-12′. The documents released by Good and William L. Moore (in association with Jamie Shandera, a Los Angeles TV producer, and ETH proponent Stanton Friedman), purport to be a briefing paper prepared by Admiral Roscoe H. Hillenkoetter (MJ-1) for president-elect Dwight D. Eisenhower, who was succeeding Harry Truman in office. The cover page, dated ’18 November, 1952′ and headed ‘National Security Information’ was stamped ‘Top Secret/ Majic’ and ‘Eyes Only’. Page 2 characterized Operation Majestic-12 (Majic-12) as ‘a TOP SECRET Research and Development/ Intelligence operation responsible directly and only to the President of the United States’. Majic-12 had been established ‘by special classified executive order of President Truman on 24 September, 1947, upon recommendation by Dr Vannevar Bush and Secretary James Forrestal’. 

A list of all-male membership of Majic-12 followed, led off by Hillenkoetter, consisting of a veritable military and scientific Who’s Who of the day, including noted UFO debunker and Harvard astronomer Donald H. Menzel (shades of Cedric Allingham),

Generals Hoyt S. Vandenberg and Nathan F. Twining, Drs Detlev Bronk, Lloyd V. Berkner, Jerome Hunsaker and five others. On 22 May 1949, Secretary of Defense James V. Forrestal (‘MJ-3′) had committed suicide while in hospital (more fodder for paranoids), and had subsequently been replaced by General Walter B. Smith. Space prohibits a consideration of all their credentials (see Good, pages 250-252), but those of HiIlenkoetter, presumably the author of the MJ-12 documents, are particularly worth recounting. After a distinguished World War II career in Naval Intelligence, Truman appointed him Director of the new Central Intelligence Group, soon the CIA, on 1 May 1947, a post he held until 1950. More offices and awards followed. Hillenkoetter retired from the Navy in June 1957. In the same year he joined the Board of Governors of NICAP, the National Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenomena, which flourished during the 1950s as the largest civilian UFO group ever (membership at one point, 5000). The fact that the first director in CIA history would later help front a popular UFO group has been considered odd to say the least, and fuelled many a midnight conspiracy theory. A better ‘mole’ could hardly be imagined.


 Admiral Hillenkotter: a better ‘mole’ could hardly be imagined

The Majic ‘briefing’ itself seemingly substantiates the Roswell- incident reported in the book of the same name by WiIIiam L. Moore and ‘co-author’ Charles Berlitz:

‘On 07 July, 1947, a secret operation was begun to assure recovery of the wreckage of this object for scientific study. During the course of this operation, aerial reconnaissance discovered that four small human-like beings had apparently ejected from the craft at some point before it exploded. These had fallen to earth about two miles east of the wreckage site. All four were dead and badly decomposed due to action by predators and exposure to the elements during the approximately one week time period which had elapsed before their discovery.’

The paper also says that:

‘On 06 December, 1950, a second object, probably of similar origin, impacted the earth at high speed in the El Indio-Guerrero area of the Texas-Mexican border after following a long trajectory through the atmosphere. By the time a search team arrived, what remained of the object had been almost totally incinerated.’

The final page of the briefing was a table of contents listing eight attachments, ‘A’ to ‘H’, composed of Truman’s original executive order establishing Majic-12, three status reports, a Preliminary Analytical Report’, ‘Blue Team Report #5′, ‘Contingency, Plan MJ 1949-04P/78: 31 JAN 49′, and ‘Maps and Photographic Folio (Extractions)’. Of the eight attachments referred to, only ‘A’, Truman’s executive order addressed to the late Secretary of Defense, was included with the MJ-12 documents released to the public.

And that is Majic in a nutshell, more than enough to establish the validity of flying saucers from space, alien occupants, crash/retrievals, government cover-up and all the other UFO accoutrements of the last four decades, enough in fact to put ufology out of business forever. All that remained was to convince America’s investigative journalists of the reality of the MJ-12 briefing papers; they in turn would alert the general public and responsible politicians, if such creatures there be, and before Philip Klass could say ‘Bah! Humbug!’ the truth with a capital T would be out, finally!

As events have evolved, however, none of us is out of a job, save Steuart Campbell, who’s already provided his own solution to the UFO phenomenon anyway. The question remains: Whence the documents? As you might have guessed by now, none of the above-mentioned papers have surfaced in the Truman or Eisenhower Presidential Libraries, or the National Archives in Washington. Klass’s counter-arguments have centred on misplaced commas, anachronistic terminology and similar printed peccadilloes as proof of falsification. Moore et al. have retorted by resorting to negative proofs, since they can’t prove the authenticity of the papers themselves. This involves mainly turning up similar gaffes in other papers of the times. What objective evidence has surfaced is itself suspect, which we will get to in a moment.

Again, whence the documents? After devoting over 400 pages of text to a secondary matter (if, after all, Majic is real), Mr Good is strangely reticent on the MJ-12 papers themselves, which appear to have been added to ATS at the last moment. On pace 250 MJ-12 itself is referred to only – as ‘information acquired from an intelligence source in 1985…’ His description of the subsequently surfacing MJ-12 papers is apparently in error here, as he refers to ‘a nine-page document dated 18 September 1947… signed by Truman’. As we have seen, the briefing paper itself was dated November 1952; only the executive order supposedly signed by Truman (‘Attachment A’) dated from September and even then Good has his dates mixed up; the actual copy reproduced in ATS (page 547) carries a date of September 24.

Two pages later Good notes: ‘My enquiries into the authenticity of the Majestic 12 document during a research trip to the United States in 1986 have led me to believe that the group did indeed exist, and the document seems authentic enough. Unfortunately, all the members are now deceased, and my questions addressed to a former director of the CIA, as well as two ex-Presidents, remain unanswered’, which is hardly surprising. Elsewhere, MJ-12 is routinely referenced as an established bona fide fact by Good, with nary a glance over his shoulder. Back on page 250 and again on page 540, Good says copies of the actual documents were only made available to him in 1987. Then how did he enquire into the authenticity of the ‘Majestic 12 document’ during his 1986 research trip to the United States? The only answer is that he was enquiring into a chimera of MJ-12 initially, i.e. word of the agency’s existence from an unnamed source.

William Moore, who first released the same MJ-12 documents to the press in the States, has more to say about their origins, but not much. In his own press release, dated 29 May 1987, Moore writes that ‘the accompanying document arrived in the mail in a plain brown wrapper at the residence of Jaime Shandera in December, 1984′. (‘Plain brown wrapper’ in this country is a standard, stand-up comic reference to X-rated, or adult, material. Does this make MJ-12 the first confirmed example of UFO pornography?) Good gives us no clue as to the form in which he first received his MJ-12 material; Moore tells us it came to Shandera as a roll of undeveloped film, a surprising medium that (cleverly?) leaves a lot to be desired in terms of effectively establishing the authenticity of its contents.

Shandera. it should be pointed out, was hardly a household name in American ufology until Moore’s press release and his subsequent visibility at the MUFON symposium held at the American University in Washington. DC. in June 1987. Moore’s turgid press announcement says only that in 1982, after he ‘had worked more than a year and a half on his own, the three (Moore. Shandera and Friedman) teamed up on a research project that would take them further into the strange world of government involvement with Unidentified Flying Objects than anyone in the civilian field is known to have ever gone before’.

Moore and Friedman are both well-known UFO investigators, frequently before the public at large. It remains a minor mystery. then, why the unexposed roll of film with the MJ-12 document and Attachment A. – apparently exactly the same material that Good received (in person?) an ocean away – was mailed to Shandera. Issues and origins were further complicated when Moore et al, presumably truing to flush out information by a sort of time-release capsule approach, mailed out various copies of the MJ-12 paper with their own simulated blackouts! Did Good receive one of these ‘censored’ copies via Moore or an intermediary? Since our UFO sleuths have fouled the well from which we all drink we may never be able to straighten this one out unless the document is confirmed by a wholly independent third source. At this point it is almost superfluous to compare Good’s version with Moore’s, unless the principals are willing to provide a more accurate and detailed chronology of Majic events.

As if things were not complicated enough as it is, in printed comments on Above Top Secret (ATS) Jenny Randles refers (Northern UFO News No.126. July-August 1987, page 3) cryptically to having been approached ‘by someone offering similar (but actually more extensive) files’, while she was compiling the recent exclamation mark-filled ‘The UFO Conspiracy but ‘concerned.., that it might be a “set up” [she] kept it out of the book, however dramatic it was’.

Meanwhile the ‘objective’ evidence mentioned earlier floated to the surface, from no less an authoritative source than America’s own office of National Archives. Moore had learned that the NA was scheduling a periodic release of files to the public from the period in question and asked to be notified when a date was confirmed. Reportedly, he and Shandera were there on ‘opening day’. After searching through file folders containing more than 1800 documents, nature called. While Moore was in the loo (presumably they took shifts), Shandera found a single page of paper, admittedly unrelated to anything else in the folder, that has since become known as ‘the Cutler memorandum’, after its ‘author’, Robert Cutler, Special Assistant to the President (Eisenhower).

Dated 14 July 1954, it is addressed to General Nathan Twining (‘MJ-4′) and headed ‘TOP SECRET RESTRICTED/SECURITY INFORMATION’ and ‘SUBJECT: NSC/MJ-12 Special Studies Project’. NSC refers to National Security Council, the selfsame group of inner-circle presidential advisers that would later embarrass Ronald Reagan. The text of the one-paragraph letter says essentially that ‘the President has decide that the MJ-12 SSP briefing should take place during the already scheduled White House meeting of July 16, rather than following it as previously intended’. The memorandum is seemingly authenticated by an official NA stamp in the lower left corner. Even if the Cutler memorandum is real as found, it still does not establish the indisputable validity of Majic as a top secret UFO committee, only that a Special Studies Project MJ-12 did indeed exist. From the memorandum itself. MJ-12 could just as easily have concerned the H-bomb or any other ‘mundane’ subject.

As with the preceding papers, however, arguments as to its validity have focused primarily on wording, watermarks, type-style, print colour and similar minutiae of holographic science. Klass found that Cutler was on a tour of European military bases during the disputed time period when he was supposed to have signed the memorandum. Moore counters that his assistants were left in charge, per normal operating procedure, with orders to clear his ‘out’ basket; signing Cutler’s name to the document in question in no way invalidates its authenticity, and so on, one side scoring a minor point, the other retaliating with an equally minor victory.

As a result of ongoing publicity, so many Freedom of Information Act requests regarding MJ-12 have poured into the Archives that the agency felt compelled to issue an unprecedented report on the subject, denying, of course, any knowledge of same, or the possession of any additional documents.

Meanwhile. the origins of the MJ-12 material slip slowly into the obscurity of history. While the hounds give hunt in one direction, the fox is back in the manor, tumbling the master’s mistress in his own bed. Let the holographic chase proceed apace. But in parallel let’s have a detailed and chronological account of the documents’ origins from the principals involved in making them public.

At the moment the audience is concentrating on the performance itself. But behind every Majic act of note lies a master magician. 

 [1] From Wikipedia: “In September 1987, the [Presiential] campaign ran into trouble when he was accused of plagiarising  a speech by  Neil Kinnock, then-leader of the British Labour Party Kinnock’s speech included the lines: “Why am I the first Kinnock in a thousand generations to be able to get to university? [Then pointing to his wife in the audience] Why is Glenys the first woman in her family in a thousand generations to be able to get to university? Was it because all our predecessors were thick?”

While Biden’s speech included the lines: “I started thinking as I was coming over here, why is it that Joe Biden is the first in his family ever to go to a university? [Then pointing to his wife in the audience] Why is it that my wife who is sitting out there in the audience is the first in her family to ever go to college? Is it because our fathers and mothers were not bright? Is it because I’m the first Biden in a thousand generations to get a college and a graduate degree that I was smarter than the rest?”

Still More About MJ-12. Gareth Medway

From Magonia Supplement 54, February 2005

THE MAN who recently faked government bonds from the 1930s worth a trillion dollars, made various mistakes such as ‘Dollar’ for ‘Dollars’, and using zip codes, which were not introduced until the 1960s. The point to notice is that whilst nobody is perfect, so that the ‘Dollar’ error just might have been made on a real bond, no one, in the 1930s, could have included something which did not then exist. In the same way, looking through the literature on MJ-12. I found that only some of the features that have been suggested as evidence for a hoax are truly suspicious.

For instance, on the memorandum dated 24 September 1947, the numerals were out of alignment with the letters, indicating that they were typed at different times. (1) The only reason that I can think why this should happen is that the typist accidentally omitted the numbers, noticed their absence after removing the paper from the typewriter, and then reinserted it to add them. But this could just as well happen with a genuine document as a spurious one.

Leading UFO conspiracy theorist George C. Andrews states that sceptics “were dealt a major blow” when Dr Roger W. Westcott, a stylistic expert, pronounced the signature of H.R. Hillenkoetter on the first MJ-12 document to be genuine. (2) Likewise, Stanton Friedman drew attention to the similarity of the signature on the Truman letter to that on an indisputably authentic Truman memo. But it was then pointed out that they were not merely similar, but apparently identical, implying that the second was merely a photocopy of the first.

Now, it is normally easy enough to distinguish a real signature from a photocopy, but only if you have the original. It cannot be done from a photograph of the page, the only medium on which the MJ-12 papers are available. There is one original piece of paper, the Cutler-Twining memo, but that is unsigned!

It is noticeable that the briefing document does not give away any real information: it says, for example: “A special scientific team took charge of removing these bodies for study. (See Attachment “C”.) … Numerous examples of what appear to be a form of writing were found in the wreckage. Efforts to decipher these have remained largely unsuccessful. (See Attachment E)” These supposed attachments have never surfaced. Dare one suggest that this may be because they proved too difficult to forge?

I would say that these features are suspicious but not conclusive. Christopher Allan agrees that there is no definite proof, though he does note a number of highly suggestive features, such as Hillenkoetter supposedly giving his own naval rank wrongly, which is highly unlikely. I should like to know his authority (stated in his review of Stanton Friedman’s book a few years ago) (3) for a letter of Hillenkoetter’s showing that he hardly knew Menzel, as this is just the kind of giveaway that a hoaxer cannot avoid.

Karl T. Pflock, however, has risen to my challenge to find an anachronism. The Eisenhower Briefing Document says that: “On 06 December, 1950, a second object, probably of similar origin, impacted the earth at high speed in the El Indio-Guerrero area of the Texan-Mexican border after following a long trajectory through the atmosphere.” This evidently refers to a story told by Todd Zechel from the 1970s, which was later exploded by Dennis Stacy and Tom Deuley: “At the 1999 National UFO Conference in San Antonio, Texas, Deuley gave a talk in which he presented evidence demonstrating that what had evolved into a 1950 flying saucer crash was actually the fatal shoot down of a US Civil Patrol plane late in World War II.” This seems conclusive, but no doubt any MJ-12 believer would simply reject the findings of Stacy and Deuley.

Dr David Clarke has drawn attention to a later MJ-12 paper, the ‘Annual Report’ of 1952, which stated that: “On August 21 1915, members of the New Zealand Army Corps’ First Field Company signed sworn statements that they saw the One-Fourth Norfolk Regiment disappear in an unusually thick brown cloud which seemed to move and rose upward and vanished. There were no traces of the regiment nor their equipment.” – the implication being that they were abducted by aliens. As Clarke points out, though three men did make a statement to this effect, they only did so at a reunion half a century later, in 1965, thirteen years after this alleged report. “It seemed that whoever had faked the MJ-12 papers had failed to do their homework and had based their dossier not on official files but the contents of paperback books on UFOs published in the 1960s.” (4)

Something that puzzled me for quite a long time was what might have been the motive behind the creation of MJ-12. Now, I agree with John Harney, who says that motivation is usually irrelevant: “The scientific question is not Why? but How? The forensic scientist doesn’t want to know why the burglar opened the safe, he wants to know how he did it.” Anyone might be motivated to create a UFO hoax, just as anyone might have a motive for cracking a safe, but one cannot accuse people of being UFO hoaxers or safe crackers on that basis alone.

It seems to me, however, that the commonest UFO hoaxes are those perpetrated by sceptics, in order to demonstrate, if only to themselves, that ufologists are gullible. Other hoaxes are created by people who intend to write books on the basis of them. Very occasionally they are done as part of a confidence trick, as when ‘Dr’ GeBauer, who sold alleged magnetic devices to detect oil deposits, claimed to have been present at two UFO crash retrievals in New Mexico, simply so that he could say that his latest oil-detecting device worked from back-engineered flying saucer technology. None of these explains the MJ-12 papers, which originated in ‘believer’ circles, and about which the only book is that of Stanton Friedman, who clearly believes that they are genuine and therefore cannot possibly have been involved in creating them; nor, so far as I know, have they been used to part anyone from their money.

Considerable light may be shed on this question by Philip J. Klass’s Skeptics UFO Newsletter for March 1997. Klass relates how, in 1983, William L. Moore had told Brad Sparks that his efforts to locate people involved in retrieving the wreckage of the Roswell saucer “had run into a dead end”. He went on to suggest that ” … counterfeit government documents containing crashed-saucer information could be used to induce former military personnel to speak out and ignore their secrecy oaths”. Later, when the first MJ-12 papers had become public, and discussed in the New York Times among other places, Moore gave a talk about them at the 1987 MUFON conference, concluding with the words: “Now that it is in the papers, if there is anything to it, others will come forward and say: ‘Well, now that it has been published in the New York Times, now we can talk.’ We’ll see. There have been a couple of hints so far that maybe somebody will say something.” (5) Unsurprisingly, this did not happen, and Moore seems to have faded from public sight since then.

Christopher Allan concludes that, if we can’t prove MJ-12 a hoax, we can certainly ask why, if the events described therein did occur, there is no proof. I agree: if the Roswell story had been genuine, then confirmation would have come to light by now, just as Moore anticipated. It has not done, so claims about it can be dismissed.

One other question before (I hope) leaving the Roswell issue: why is it that UFO crashes were most common in 1947-1954, going into decline thereafter, with none at all since the 1970s? (Note: it is true that some alleged cases have only come to light recently, but these were claimed to be old. For example, the Cannock Chase crash was first publicised in Nick Redfern’s Cosmic Crashes, 1999, but it had supposedly occurred in 1974.) This is despite there being a continued avid interest in UFO ‘retrievals’. It is possible, of course, that the Zeta Reticulan government became appalled by the high accident rate among their interstellar spacecraft, and started demanding a higher standard of proficiency before they would issue pilots’ licences, but I doubt it.

More likely, the change has been cultural. During the early post-war flaps, the most popular theory was that UFOs were secret weapons; and secret weapons often crashed. If a wreck proved to be one of your own the military would hush it up, and they often did so with enemy craft as well, so Roswell was the sort of thing you would expect to happen. The commonest alleged crash site was New Mexico, which in reality contained the White Sands missile proving ground, and where in the 1930s (in fact near Roswell) Robert Goddard had conducted many of his experiments into liquid fuelled rockets: so, it was the very state where crashed secret weapons would have been most common. Even those who thought UFOs were interplanetary regarded them as just a little more advanced than terrestrial craft, and so subject to the same failings. Expectations have changed with the years, and the aliens’ technology is now supposed to be much more advanced. If the greys can suck abductees through walls, they are unlikely to crash in New Mexico.


  1. Joe Nickell, ‘Majestic 12 (MJ-12) Documents’, in Ronald Story, The Mammoth Encyclopedia of Extraterrestrial Encounters, Robinson, London, 2002, p. 388
  2. George C. Andrews, Extra-Terrestrial Friends and Foes, IllumiNet Press, Lilburn, Georgia, 1993, p. 31
  3. Magonia 59, April 1997, p. 15
  4. Dr David Clarke, ‘UFOs and the Battalion that Vanished’, UFO Magazine, March 2004, p. 27
  5. Philip J. Klass, Skeptics UFO Newsletter 44, March 1997


08. The Nazi UFO Mythos: Authorities from Earth and Elsewhere. Kevin McClure

 THE NAZI UFO MYTHOS: An Investigation by Kevin McClure

Part 8. Authorities from Earth and Elsewhere


Perhaps we should start at the top, in worlds other than ours, and then work our way back, very much, down to the depths. You can always be sure that wherever two or three are gathered together to listen to channeling, Ashtar will be there too. Here is a message channeled by ‘Lady Nada’ in 1996, under the title ‘Home Questions From Our Visitors’. The presentation and spelling are verbatim!

Ques: What is the Relation of the Ashtar Command & the Human Race?

Ans: The Ashtar Command are among many entities that come to Earth and have been circle above the Earth-for the most part invisible to the naked Eye Since early 1950′s A.D. . . There have been many people who were contacted by Extra-Terra-Astrals. Some of their stories were fabricated and some were authentic. These Beings from Aldebaran were insulted after they were labeled untrustworthy. They Went back in time and had a meeting of psychics with the Thule Society who were a secret society. The meeting of the Thule Society led to what is Called the Third Rite (Reich). The Ashtar Command were also in contact with two psychics, named Maria Austish and Zigrum who were in contact with Hitler. Hitler and Nazi Germany were building crafts during WWII. Hitler assembled a team of elite and intelligent scientist and engineers who were experts in the field of Aerodynamics. They began designs for the flying disc in 1941 A.D. During the year 1945-47 three German experts Schriver, Habermohl, and Meithe and an Italian A. Bellonzo were involved in R&D of a saucer-shaped craft. On February 14,1945 A.D. Shriver & Habermohl flew a disc that within 3 minutes climb to an altitude of 12,400 meters and reached a speed of 2,000 km/h in horizontal flight. This technology was given to them by the Ashtar Command. [56] 

Billy Meier and P’taah

Billy Meier, the Swiss contact and photographer of beings, and craft, from the Pleiades, has never really convinced me of the objective reality of either his contacts or his photos. I am certainly not alone in taking that view, and my opinion has not been improved by a conversation that Meier reports in Volume 1, No 6 of his FIGU Bulletin, published in English in October 1997. A reader – “Til Meisterhans, Germany” – quotes from a balanced, and quite sceptical, article “article in the January 1980 edition of UFO magazine”, and asks

“What should one think of the claim that during World War II the Germans built flying disks, respectively flying “Foo Fighters,” and actually flew them?

Those of you who are accustomed to the staking of claims for responsibility for anomalous objects and events will not be surprised to find that Meier cannot resist responding with “information” to which only he has access. He writes

“The following is worth mentioning: According to the Pleiadians/Plejarans, such “Foo Fighters” or disks were constructed in Germany but were never test flown, let alone put into service. Anyone claiming such flying devices reached speeds of several thousand kilometers per hour, flew at altitudes of 12.000 meters [36,000 ft.], and actually reached Mars, is talking complete nonsense. The authentic story about these events is discussed in the 254th contact conversation with P’taah on November 28, 1995:

“Billy: . . .You know, my dear friend, now and then one hears strange things regarding the German flying disks. Is it true that the Germans actually attempted to fly them, and did the disks reach altitudes of up to 12,000 meters?

Ptaah: Such claims are absurd. The “Flying Tops,” as they were called, were never finalized in Germany. However, flying disks were eventually built some time later in other countries, e.g., in South America. In the former Soviet Union and in America attempts were also made to construct such flying devices after pertinent blueprints fell into the hands of Germany’s occupying forces. These blueprints were incomplete in that those who held the plans needed to input a great deal of effort to construct the flying disks. These units were and are flown in terrestrial air space only to this day, excluding, of course, a particular group of people in South America of which you are well aware.

Billy: Can you also tell me whether the blueprints for this type of flying disks secured by the occupying forces were the same ones you people telepathically transmitted to the Germans via impulses? Who was actually in charge in Germany?

Ptaah: The transmissions were directed to two men, Schriever and Miethe who, on their own, had drawn up plans for the “Flying Tops.” These blueprints fell into the hands of the Americans and Soviets who began studying and constructing the units. Also, through theft, the group in South America obtained copies of the same “Flying Tops.” 

Billy: One can say with certainty that this group consisted of high-ranking Nazis who fled from Germany after the war ended and disappeared in South America.

Ptaah: You should not mention any more about this subject.

Billy: Of course not. — On account of World War II, disk-shaped flying objects were observed also in Germany, indeed, worldwide . . .

Ptaah: You are correct in this, yes. However, these flying objects were not of terrestrial origin. They belonged to us and to our allies from the federation.

Billy: This would mean that the flying disks which had been observed were not related to the flying disks, respectively “Flying Tops” disks, or Foo Fighters, of the Germans. Claims to the contrary, therefore, are actually foolish assertions by liars, fantasists, and know-it-alls. We’ve wanted to know about this for a long time.

Ptaah: What I have told you only refers to the Schriever and Miethe Foo Fighters.

Billy: You mean there were others?

Ptaah: Yes, others did exist. However, they were part of a private research program conducted by power hungry Nazis who drew upon Schriever’s and Miethe’s blueprints. Efforts to develop and test fly their Foo Fighters were underway with positive results in Germany at that time.

Billy: By the group now in South America?

Ptaah: Your conjecture is correct.

Billy: And all of this took place right under the nose of the Gestapo?

Ptaah: Many influential members of the Gestapo and its SS-leadership were secret, active participants who attempted to prevent the rest of the world from gleaning any information about the construction, test flights, and other matters. When the war ended, they fled Germany and went to South America, taking with them all of their material and staff. This was not a difficult task, for the Foo Fighters had reached a point were they had the capability of circling the Earth non-stop and transporting all required personnel and materials to South America before the Allied Forces could seize them — or prior to the Allied Forces finding out anything about these secrets.

Billy: So that’s how this all happened. How far did the construction of Schriever’s and Miethe’s Foo Fighters progress?

Ptaah: The prototype for the first test flight was available on July 15, 1941. We monitored this very closely. The Foo Fighter was, however, not constructed according to the data we had transmitted, for we had intentionally made them ineffective by then, as we could foresee the grave danger they would present for terrestrial mankind. [Comments by Billy: The Pleiadians/Plejarans transmitted data for the construction of flying disks to the Germans Schriever and Miethe at the end of the 1920s and beginning of 1930s with the intent to produce an aeronautical technology that would help prevent the looming warfare conflicts. Unfortunately, they soon realized that this technology would be used for the exact opposite purposes. For this reason, the Pleiadians/Plejarans counteracted the undertaking again.] We did not attempt to interfere in the development of Schriever’s and Miethe’s Foo Fighter until we suddenly recognized that the units also posed an immense threat to mankind. Once we realized the flight was going to be a full success, and that mass production of the Foo Fighter would result, we intervened during the preparations to the first test flight.”

This ‘dialogue’ continues on for some time, until Meier concludes

” . . fantastic stories were concocted about flying disks/Foo Fighters which were said to have reached altitudes of 12,000 meters [7_ miles] and Mach 2 or more during their first test flight (which never did take place). Additionally, a fairy tale tells of the Germans having flown to Mars, landing and performing studies there, so that they could inhabit the planet one day. Complete nonsense, all of it. Billy” [57]

Henry Stephens

Henry Stephens runs the ‘German Research Project’, and sells copies both of much of the pro-mythos material, and of more identifiably Nazi and arguably ant–Semitic material. In an article in ‘The Probe’, referring to the work supposedly done on a flying disc by A.V. Roe in Canada, he claims that one of the recorded contributors to the project is shown as “Miethe-Designer 1950(?)” Spinning off into the realms of imagination, Stephens continues

“The reference is obviously about Dr Heinrich (Heinrich? How many names does this man have?) Richard Miethe, who was the designer and builder of the wartime German saucer project, the V-7. Dr Miethe worked during the war at a German facility in Breslau, now part of modern Poland. After the war, he was recruited by the Americans and Canadians to recapitulate his earlier work for Germany in America. Renato Vesco, an Italian engineer who worked with the Germans during the war and who afterwards held a cabinet position with the Italian government, states that Kahla was the location where a turbo-jet powered German saucer lifted off in its maiden flight in February of 1945. Vesco later wrote a book about his experiences, originally titled ‘Intercept but Don’t Shoot’” [58]

Actually, for all his wild speculation, Vesco never claimed that he was writing from his own experience, but details like that simply don’t bother Stephens, as he spirals off into wild assertions about German free energy, atom bombs, Vril, Haunebu, Tesla, Montauk, the New World Order and the rest. And all this from the man whose mail-order business makes him one of the more influential figures in this strange field. His 1998 catalogue outlines the purposes of the GRP:

German Research Project is an organization devoted to distributing information concerning flying saucer-type devices made by the Germans during the Second World War. Beyond this goal, we also hope to distribute information concerning other German weaponry and technology, such as free-energy technology, which is still kept secret and classified by the former Allied Powers. We also hope to explore the reasons for this secrecy. Part of this technology now comprises the research being done by the Americans at Area 51. Much of this technology was retained by a German organizations which did not surrender at the cessation of hostilities. These groups and their histories will be explored also.

The Germans built several types of flying craft which today we would designate “UFOs”. Some were conventionally powered, that is with jet and rocket power, and some were powered electromagnetically. They were built in different places throughout the greater German Reich by different organizations within the government. They were kept under the tightest secrecy. Near the close of the War some of these devices were disassembled and transported by U-boat or simply flown to secure areas outside Germany.

Today, especially since the unification of Germany, more and more information is surfacing concerning these developments in spite of the efforts by our government and its media to discredit, divert and confuse the issue. For those individuals new to this topic, we suggest first reading item number 16 in our catalogue, “Introduction To Secret German Flying Discs Of World War 2″ and any title from our video offerings.” [59]

Len Kasten

The incidence of disinformation with relation to Nazi achievements in general, and flying discs in particular, is high. Here’s some parts of an article by “Len Kasten” from the New Age glossy Atlantis Rising. As usual, he adopts Vesco as an authority, and introduces Viktor Schauberger into the myth. It may be that he actually produces the most detailed account of disc-propulsion, too!

“The more important anti-gravity weapons research was carried on near Prague primarily by Viktor Schauberger and Richard Miethe. In 1944 Miethe, in cooperation with the Italians, developed the large helium powered V-7 and the small one-man Vril models which achieved a speed of 2,900 km/hr in flight tests . . Captain Hans Kohler developed the Hanibu 2 with a diameter of 25 metres which carried a complete flight crew and was powered by a simple electrogravitation motor called the Kohler Converter . .

Kasten describes the (totally fictional) Kugelblitz as an “explosive gas weapon”, having

“a 50-50 mixture of butane and propane, which was ignited by the exhaust of the bombers . . direct gyroscopic stabilisation, television-controlled flight, vertical take-off and landing, jam-free radio control combined with radar blinding, infrared search ‘eyes’, electrostatic weapon firing, hyper-combustible gas combined with a total reaction turbine, and last, but not least, anti-gravity flight technology. This was the incredible Kugelblitz or ‘lightning ball’. If it had emerged even six months earlier, could the war have turned out differently? We will never know, because by this time the Allied armies were rapidly converging on Berlin. So the Kugelblitz puffed out a formation of bombers, and flew off into history – or did it?” [60]

We’ll return to the ‘formation of bombers’ when we come to Wendelle Stevens

David Hatcher-Childress

Those of you familiar with the fields of both pseudo-science and pseudo-history – and pseudo pretty much anything, really – will already know of the boundless imagination of Hatcher-Childress. In his publication ‘Man-Made UFOs 1944 – 1994, 50 Years of Suppression’, by “Renato Vesco and David Hatcher-Childress”, Hatcher-Childress actually republishes the whole of Vesco’s first book (without really making clear that’s what it is), adds some early UFO photos that might look like the ones he appears to believe were built in Germany during the war, and speculations of his own. His “Summary of the Claims and Evidence” has some familiar elements . . .

“After various experimental prototypes, including the rocket powered Miethe and Schriever discs, production began on the small ten meter diameter interceptor-fighters of the Vril series. The larger Haunibu series began with the 25 meter Haunibu 1 & 2. These craft had canons mounted underneath and were designed as “tank Killers”.

The 74 meter Haunibu-3, designed as an anti-shipping craft for use over long distances, was actually built and tested. It had inflatable rubber cushions on the underside for landing. The 300 meter Haunibu-4 was on the design board for interplanetary travel. It was disc shaped and could also carry several of the smaller Vril craft. Also reportedly in the design stage was an immense 330 meter cigar-shaped battleship.

Towards the end of the war, the Germans had developed interplanetary craft with no moving parts which were capable of going to the Moon or even Mars.” [61]

In ‘The Thesis of This Book’, he also asserts that

“Some German divisions removed themselves to South America and Antarctica in the few months and weeks before the end of the war . . the Americans, British and Russians began to build test discoid aircraft in the late 40s and 5Os. Isolated German pockets in South America have intense UFO activity. Antarctic bases are probably vacated or captured by Americans and Russians. Today, a seven-story or more underground base run jointly by America and Russia exists at the South Pole.” [62]

I have no idea whether Hatcher-Childress actually believes this nonsense. I suppose he must, because otherwise he’d be knowingly misleading his many readers. Unfortunately, this concoction of a book has created something of a new generation of believers, including the UK author Alan Baker. In spite of his publisher’s confident assertion of his “meticulous research” for his book ‘Invisible Eagle’, Baker accepted Hatcher-Childress without question, and now a new readership is stuck with Vesco developing flying discs at Lake Garda and investigating UFOs for the Italian Air Ministry, the reality of the Feuerball and Kugelblitz, and the top-secret Projekt Saucer. One man’s research is another man’s trip to the bookshop.

Wendelle Stevens

Wendelle Stevens, veteran ufologist and Billy Meier supporter has, he says, been privy to a unique range of experiences pertaining to Nazi UFOs. As well as having been “sent to Alaska to supervise the installation of special equipment onboard B-29 bombers” to look for “mysterious flying objects known as ‘fire balls’ or ‘foo fighters’”, he claims in ‘Alien Encounters’ issue 25 that the Vril and Haunebu discs “were used just once against the Allies, in which they devastated a vast 800 bomber raid over Germany, shooting down an unprecedented 200 in just one night”. [63] Bomber Command clearly missed this tragedy when compiling its records.

David Icke, who in The Biggest Secret takes the Nazi UFO mythos as true along with hundreds of other nonsensical beliefs, reports Stevens as saying that

“the Foo Fighters were sometimes grey-green, and sometimes red-orange. They approached his aircraft as close as five metres and then just stayed there, he said. They could not be shaken off or shot down and caused many squadrons to either turn back or land.” [64]

Stevens also purports that while working at the Air Technical Intelligence Center he saw a map of Germany which was marked with nine Saturn-shaped symbols. He later found out from Vladimir Terziski that these were where Nazi research centres were located,

“By the end of the war the Nazis had nine secret research facilities where they built two types of disc: the smaller ‘Vril’ craft, and the much bigger ‘Haunebu’ Both of these were powered by a ‘gravity null field’. In test flights the craft rose 60,000ft in just six and a half minutes, which radically outstripped the performance of any allied aircraft.” [65]

Vanguard Science/KeelyNet/Al Pinto

Any Internet search for ‘Nazi UFOs’ and similar subjects is likely to produce links to material by “Al Pinto” or “Tal”, apparently “Sponsored by Vanguard Sciences, PO Box 1031, Mesquite, TX 75150, USA” which depends heavily on the article written under Vesco’s name in ‘Argosy’. [66] Additional material re Nikola Tesla and Viktor Schauberger is added to quotes from Vesco and Lusar, particularly a claim that Schauberger had developed the ‘Schriever, Habermohl, Miethe and Bellonzo Flying Disc’ at Malthausen Concentration Camp, using prisoners to do the work. I still don’t really know quite who “Al Pinto” and “Tal” are, or what the underlying intention of ‘Vanguard Sciences’ may be. The coincidence of the name ‘Vanguard’ with a prominent neo-Nazi organisation has been mentioned to me on several occasions.

I did receive, through a friend who had published some earlier findings on Nazi UFOs, a message from a Jack Veach who said (inter alia) that

“Mr McClure makes some very positive statements debunking a great deal of untruths about Nazi UFOs, however I would like to offer him a website and an email whereby he might find more information about Mr Renate Vesco.

I am a member of Vanguard Science, not Vangard Science, as he has listed. This is a civilian group of folk, here in the Dallas-Ft Worth area that are open-minded about the verity of science and have taken it upon ourselves to study Tesla, Keely, and a host of others we feel have been given the short-end of the stick with respect to technology and applications thereof.

Mr Jerry Decker and Mr Chuck Henderson could much better avail you of information about Mr Vesco and his work. I personally had an English translation of one of his works I gave away about ten years ago pursuant the German V-7.

My father and his C.O. both saw Foo Fighters over Europe during WWII, so that much is real. Neither my dad nor Col. Lasly knew anything about UFOs, nor had any interest in them. What they did say was that between the Foo Fighters and the Me-262s they encountered, they felt they would be killed before the war was over in Europe.

I hope that will clear some things up for Mr McClure with respect to Vanguard Science and Mr Vesco and hopefully all of us can clear the riddle of the Nazi UFOs from all the smoke and mirrors that unfortunately come to the fore on something of this nature.”

My friend sent an e-mail back to Mr Veach, expressing my interest in receiving further information about Vesco, but no response was forthcoming. The post-mortem involvement of both mainstream and fringe scientists in the development of flying discs has raised a variety of names including Marconi, Einstein, Tesla, Schauberger, Keely and others. I am unaware of any real evidence that Schauberger worked at Malthausen using slave labour. If that suggestion is no more than wishful thinking, then I am left wondering why anybody should wish for it.

Mark Ian Birdsall

Birdsall has long been an influential figure in ufology. Currently Editor of the newsstand magazine Unopened Files – Access a Number of Well Kept Secrets and Features Editor of UFO Magazine, he has an established interest in wartime UFO events. In his 1998 book Alien Base’, Tim Good says

“Interestingly, there is circumstantial evidence that at least one of the V~7 project aircraft was prototyped. According to the researcher and author Mark Ian Birdsall, several projects involving a circular-wing aircraft were conceived during the war, the most elaborate of which was constructed by Dr Richard Miethe at facilities in Breslau (Wroclaw), Poland, and in Prague. A small prototype was rumoured to have flown over the Baltic Sea in January 1943, and two full-scale aircraft with a diameter of 135 feet were eventually built. Also, reports Birdsall, another V-7 project was a ‘spinning saucer’, based on helicopter principles, about 35 feet in diameter, designed by Rudolf Schriever, a small prototype of which was allegedly first flown in 1943.” [67]

Good’s reference for these comments is given as “Birdsall, Mark Ian, Flying Saucers of the Third Reich: The Legacy of Prague-Kbely (pending publication). That book has not, as I write, yet been published.

In, I think, 1988, Birdsall had published the unfortunately-titled booklet ‘The Ultimate Solution’ which, in just 29 pages, presented three different pictures of Hitler. It also includes copies of US intelligence documents reporting the newspaper accounts of George Klein’s claims of the test-flight on 14 February 1945, diagrams of assorted Miethe-Schreiver-Bellonzo discs, and some probably avoidably uncritical material about ‘secret’ Antarctic exploration and the escape of Nazis from Germany at the end of the war. [68] In 1992, in Vol.7 No.4 of the US ‘UFO Magazine’, he wrote an article titled ‘Nazi Secret Weapon – Foo Fighters of WWII’, and included illustrations of a supposed ‘Schriever-Habermohl’ disc. [69] The introduction to the article says that Birdsall “just completed a hefty manuscript which enlarges considerably the scope of the available source material”. It would be interesting to see what material Birdsall has found, and whether his views might be influenced by what is being published in this piece.

Ernst Zundel/Mattern Friedrich

Ernst Zundel, also known as Mattern Friedrich (the name under which he authored UFOs – Nazi Secret Weapon? [70]) and Christof Friedrich (how he has signed the copy of that book which I have) has had considerable involvement in the distribution of material regarded as Holocaust revisionism. He has often been described as an anti-Semite.

Zundel sustained the ‘Nazi UFO’ myth through much of the 1970s, presenting a mixture of Lusar, Schauberger, and the ‘Hitler survived/Nazi Antarctica’ material, illustrated with vague photos of uncertain provenance, and the usual diagrams from the European press. He seems to have been unaware of Vesco, but could well have introduced the idea that Schauberger worked actively on disc development with slave labour. While not doubting the underlying sincerity of Zundel in promoting German wartime achievements, a report of comments he allegedly made to Frank Miele may well reflect his attitude to his readers. Miele quotes Zundel as saying

“I realised that North Americans were not interested in being educated. they want to be entertained. The book was for fun. With a picture of the Fuhrer on the cover and flying saucers coming out of Antarctica it was a chance to get on radio and TV talk shows. For about 15 minutes of an hour program I’d talk about that esoteric stuff. Then I would start talking about all those Jewish scientists in concentration camps, working on these secret weapons. And that was my chance to talk about what I wanted to talk about.” [71]

Whatever else may be true of Zundel, I think I can safely say that his work has no factual contribution to make to the ‘Nazi UFO’ debate. But that doesn’t mean that he hasn’t influenced its development, or that others less canny than he, but with similar beliefs, have not involved themselves in the subject because they believe what he said.

Link to Parts Nine & Ten: Official Comments and Intelligence; Mistakes and Fantasies

The Nazi UFO Mythos. 00 Introduction. Kevin McClure

An Investigation by Kevin McClure

1. Foo Fighters

2. Renato Vesco, Feuerball and Kugelblitz

3. Major Lusar, the saucer builders and the test flight

4. W A Harbinson and Projekt Saucer

5. Vril, Haunebu and interplanetary travel

6. False histories

7. Unnamed Soldiers

8. Authorities from Earth and Elsewhere

9. Official comments and Intelligence

10. Mistakes and fantasies

11. Conclusions

The following is, essentially, the article published under the title ‘Phoney Warfare’ in Fortean Studies 7. Having allowed a decent interval for those who had intended to buy Fortean Studies to do so, I’m happy to have it appear on the Magonia site so that it can reach a wider – and undoubtedly discerning – audience.

* * * * * * * *

The relationship between the history of the paranormal, and the ‘consensus’ history that most of us, informed by historians and the mainstream media, agree on as real, is usually pretty distant. Forteanism could be said to lie somewhere between these two histories, in that it notes the allegedly factual, but possibly anomalous accounts recorded in the media of ‘consensus’ history, while often rejecting the ‘consensus’ explanations given for dismissing the strangeness of those events, and the rationale and reasoning adopted in doing so. Fort was lucky to live and work before the worst excesses of Ufology and the New Age appeared. His method of approaching existing, already-recorded facts with an open and wide-ranging mind would often have been thwarted by the sheer lack of facts, and the predominance of imaginary elements, in both of those disciplines. He was generally able – and willing – to trust the reports his research uncovered. To take that approach now would invite ridicule.

The investigations I’ve set about during the last twenty-odd years usually had their origins in my unease at the wild interpretations being made of reports which had never been properly researched. The ‘Egryn Lights’ of evangelist Mary Jones and others were being turned into evidence for the ‘earthlights’ lobby. The Fatima visions and the ‘Dance of the Sun’ were becoming a ‘classic UFO event’, artificially extending the history of the UFO thirty years back before 1947. The ‘Angels of Mons’ legends, in contrast, were being too readily debunked. The usual sceptical explanation was too trite, and I think mistaken.

Similarly, most of my research has been in areas where, although the phenomena in question has been visible – audible, tangible even – to certain individuals, its visibility has been selective. There was always room for a debate about why certain persons subjectively perceive extraordinary sights, and events, and information, while others do not. The situation here, where vast metal disks were meant to be thundering across the European skies before the summer of 1945, is completely different. They were either there or they weren’t.

What prompted me to start questioning the accepted wisdom about ‘Nazi UFOs’ was that awful period in Fortean history, two or three years ago, when newsstand magazines of limited quality and dubious intentions blossomed all over the UK. In addition to FT itself and ‘UFO Magazine’, suddenly there was Alien Encounters, Sightings, UFO Reality and all sorts of other, short-lived titles, all struggling to fill their pages with startling and saleable material. Rotten writers started submitting articles half-heartedly strung together from a handful of second-hand sources, and a couple of hours on the Internet. The publishers accepted these articles with open arms and small amounts of money, and old myths were revived and new myths born. Among them were myths based around the creation and flight of Nazi UFOs.

The more I looked at the emerging tales of astounding Nazi technical achievement, and compared them with Germany’s ignominious and ruinous defeat, the less sense that contradiction made. It isn’t – and I know I need to make this clear – that I’m asserting that the Axis had no plans, designs, or hopes for the production of high-performance flying disks. Nazi Germany was good at plans, and designs, and – perhaps fortunately for the rest of the world – wasted much time on speculation, and dreams of achievement and power. But it looks as though no high-performance disc so much as left the ground, and if that proposition is true then the Nazi UFO mythos, now celebrating a half-century of vigorous existence, is the most sustained, widespread, complex and multi-faceted hoax ever contrived in our field. A hoax, strangely enough, in which few of the principal participants even knew each other, but which has attracted hundreds to play their part in its development and many, many more individuals to believe that some or all of its claims are true. Tentative as some of my findings of fact may be as yet, what is published here is what I’ve established so far.

This is not a story with a beginning, a middle and an end. Like all the best myths it starts when somebody either thought of it, or first recounted publicly a pre-existing tale. It looked to the past to find support for its claims and then, as time went on, spiralled out of control as further elements were added. My intention in setting out this ‘first investigation’ of the Nazi UFO mythos is to make available, in one place, the principal sources for all of the reports and claims that seem relevant and of which – of course – I’m aware. I’m sure there will be more. I make no pretence of having done all this work myself, or of having any kind of monopoly on the subject. If others want to use this piece as a basis for pursuing their own research, I’ll be more than pleased. If I’ve quoted or adopted anyone else’s work without crediting it, please accept my apologies.

I’ll start by giving a substantial overview of what is probably the only genuine unsolved mystery in all of the speculation about wartime aeronautical technology. This is the first of five specific ‘cores’ of key material that I’ve concluded lie at the heart of the mythos. Having set those cores out first, I’ll deal with many of the other contributors to the development of the mythos, both deliberate and unplanned. One brief explanation in advance – while I’ve almost certainly made errors of my own in translation, and the names of people and places, I’ve generally refrained from correcting the spelling and grammar of quoted material. Sometimes, style and presentation conveys almost as much as content!

Link to Part One – Foo Fighters







The Search for Physical Evidence: Maury Island. John Harney


Since 1947, the hypothesis that UFOs are spaceships from other planets has been popular. Accordingly many ufologists have devoted much time and effort to attempts to obtain physical evidence of such visitations. Physical evidence can take many forms and, unfortunately for the protagonists of the interplanetary spaceships theory, can be subject to many different interpretations. In this series an attempt is made to review some of the physical evidence and alleged physical evidence which has come to light during the past twenty years. There is no doubt that during this period, ufologists have come across a certain amount of physical evidence during their researches – but physical evidence of what?

The Types of Evidence to be Considered

In this series we will confine our attentions to the following types of evidence real or alleged:

  1.  Substances or objects said to have been jettisoned by, ejected by, or fallen from, UFOs.
  2.  Reports of captured UFOs and their occupants.
  3.  Markings on the ground, damage, etc, allegedly caused by UFOs.
  4.  Physical injuries to witnesses allegedly caused byUFOs.

The Maury Island Case

Strangely enough, as in several other aspects of the UFO mystery, we must consult Arnold’s account of his investigations of the alleged Maury island sighting of 1947 (1) to find the precedent for subsequent reports of physical evidence of UFOs.

The main physical evidence in this case was described as locking like slag, and was said to have been seen falling from a UFO. Some of this material was given to Kenneth Arnold and he kept it in his hotel room during his stay in Tacoma for his investigation of the incident. During his investigations Arnold, who had already called in his friend, Captain Smith, an airline pilot, to assist, felt that he was getting out of his depth with all the mysterious incidents which were, apparently occurring and he called in Lieutenant Brown and Captain Davidson of Military Intelligence.

Brown and Davidson saw the fragments, but, according to Arnold, seemed to suddenly lose interest, after one of the witnesses in the case, Fred L. Crisman offered to go home and get a box of fragments from the ‘UFO’ to present to the officers. The officers insisted that they had to get back to their base at Hamilton
Field California and Arnold pleaded with them to stay the night, especially in view of the fact that they were both obviously tired.

Just as the transport arrived to take the officers back to their aircraft at McChord Field, Crisman arrived with a cardboard box full of chunks of material which, Arnold noticed seemed to be somewhat different from the fragments in his hotel room. The fragments were handed over to Brown and Davidson and they drove away.


The next morning Kenneth Arnold and Captain Smith were horrified to learn that Brown and Davidson were dead. Their aircraft had crashed some twenty minutes after take-off from McChord Field.  Two other men who were in the aircraft had parachuted to safety. One of the survivors told how Brown and Davidson had loaded a heavy cardboard box on to the plane. When one of the engines caught fire and the extinguishing device failed to operate, Lt. Brown ordered him and the flight engineer to jump.

It is said that the survivors watched the burning plane for a period of from nine to eleven minutes during their descent This observation has naturally caused much speculation as to why Brown and Davidson did not jump out. A local newspaper, the Tacoma Times, published a sensational report of the tragedy, containing suggestions that the plane had been sabotaged in order to prevent the shipment of flying disc fragments to Hamilton Field.

The next major development, so far as the physical evidence is concerned in the tortuously complicated story of Arnold’s adventures in Tacoma came when Captain Smith went to McChord Field to consult Major Sander of S-2 Army Intelligence, and brought him back to the Tacoma hotel to see Arnold. After hearing everything from Arnold and Smith, Sander remarked that he was positive that the two men were victims of a hoax.

Major Sander then made a remark about the fragments, which were lying on the floor. He started to pick up a few of them and told the two men that he would take them for a drive and show them thousands of tons of the stuff. However, he said that Arnold’s fragments would have to be analysed “for the sake of being thorough”. He then began to gather the fragments together and insisted that all of the pieces should be handed over to him.

Sander then placed the fragments in the boot of his car and drove Arnold and Smith to a place which was apparently a dumping ground for slag from blast furnaces. The slag looked somewhat like the fragments, but Arnold felt sure that it was not the same sort of material, and Sander did not offer to compare it with the pieces in the boot of his car. Arnold thought that the slag was more like the material he had seen Crisman giving to Brown and Davidson.

Ruppelt refers to the Maury Island case in his book,  The Report on Unidentified Flying Objects.(2) For some obscure reason he gives fictional names to the characters involved, and refers to Arnold as “Simpson”. He gives the impression that he believes that Ray Palmer who sent Arnold to investigate the incident for a fee of 206 dollars was a party to a hoax devised by Crisman and his colleagues Dahl. The official Air Force report on the incident concluded that it was merely a hoax.

Apparently, Palmer had already obtained samples of the original material in question in this cases as well as a sample of the slag. He published analyses of both substances in the book, The Coming of the Saucers, but, strangely, although he gives a detailed analysis of the slag only a vague indication of the make-up of the other substance is given, merely indicating the metals said to be present.

After the lapse of over 21 years it is doubtful if we shall ever know the full and true story behind the events at Tacoma but the fog of confusion created either deliberately or unintentionally and the peculiar actions of the people involved together with the failure to publish a proper analysis of the material in question is typical of many reports which followed



1. Arnold, Kenneth and Ray Palmer. The Coming of the Saucers. Privately published by the authors, 1952.
2. Ruppelt, Edward J. The Report on Unidentified Flying Objects. Ace Books Inc. New York.