Before Scott Ramsey pulled the stake out of Ufology's Dracula (ie. the Aztec case) in the late 1990s, there was William Steinman, upon whose 1980s research much of Scott's current work is based. Steinman's book, UFO Crash at Aztec - co-written with Billy Meier advocate Wendelle Stevens - was a mish-mash of half-truths, conspiracy theories (most pretty wacky, even for ufology), faulty reads of evidence; you name it, and Steinman did it wrong. Nowhere can this be seen better than in his search for eyewitnesses to the Aztec "incident." [All references below are from UFO Crash at Aztec]
In July, 1982, he set out for what he called an "investigative tour" of Aztec and the surrounding area, hoping to dig out what he believed was the "truth" about the Aztec case. As he makes clear, he had done no advance research, no preparatory work - he just flew into Durango, hopped into a car, and headed for Aztec, not knowing who he was going to talk to (pp. 241 - 242).
His first stop when he got to town was the local newspaper, the Aztec Independent - Review, where he went through the issues up until July, 1948, finding nothing, and then placed a front page advertisement, asking for anybody who might have been a witness to contact him -apparently, he forgot to ask about George Bowra.
He puttered around a bit more, and then noticed a sign advertising a garage sale. Being an admitted "garage sale fanatic" he pulled over and started browsing. After about 15 minutes, he approached the owner, Vivian Melton, and asked her if she knew about the flying saucer crash. She said yes, and claimed to even know "exactly where it happened." Needless to say, Steinman was quite excited, particularly when her husband Harvey agreed to take him out to the site the next morning.
Now, at this point it is important to note that the Meltons had only moved to Aztec in 1970, so they could not have seen the alleged crash site back in 1948. They were told the story by someone else (more on that below). Also, Harvey, despite "knowing where the crash site was," having been there before, and having lived in Aztec for twelve years, still needed his neighbour Benson Leeper to show him where Hart Canyon Road was. Still, when they got out there, Harvey pointed out the "crash site" to Steinman, who wandered around taking pictures - this is the site that the Aztec proponents, including Scott Ramsey, claim as genuine to this day.
But where did this crash site information actually come from, originally? An Aztec resident? No.
The details of the alleged "Crash site" came from the mysterious "Ray Meier," a man who got off a bus in Aztec in 1975. He claimed he was a retired Marine major, and wanted someone with a 4 wheel drive to take him out to an area he claimed had been the site of a crashed saucer recovery in 1948. He eventually encountered the Meltons, who obligingly drove him out, along with Leeper, who was needed to locate Hart Canyon Road. They reached the site where Meier claimed the crash retrieval had taken place; he poked about for around an hour taking some photos, and then they left (p. 204 - 205). He spent the night with the Meltons (Vivian noted that he "acted very strange"), gave them some photos of hovering and landed flying saucers the next morning, and then left via Greyhound bus. The Meltons received a thank you letter from Meier about a month later, but when Steinman attempted to reach him at the return address a few years later, the mail was returned marked "Not at this address." (p. 205)
This is how William Steinman "discovered" the Aztec crash site. All roads trace back to the mysterious and "very strange" Major Meier, who stepped off a bus and made UFO history with his tall tales about a crash site (which was similar to the one described by Scully in Behind the Flying Saucers, although not exactly the same) and his flying saucer photos!
A final word on the Meltons - by the time that Steinman was ready to leave Aztec, they had moved from Aztec to Arizona. Steinman asks, breathlessly, "was it just coincidence that they happened to be moving out of the Aztec area right after the beginning of my active investigation there, after living in that place for almost 10 years, and they packed up only 3 days after my arrival... Very mysterious." (p. 259)
Considering that Steinman found them at a garage sale where they were undoubtedly off-loading stuff they didn't want to take with them on a move that had been planned before Steinman had come to town, it seems it was just a coincidence. Not that William Steinman would ever admit that!
So, was there really a "Major Meier?" Where are the photos he left with the Meltons? Surely they would have kept them, and shown them to Steinman - and yet he makes no mention of this. Did "Major Meier" even exist, or was this a joke played on Steinman by the Meltons and their neighbour Leeper? Is it a coincidence that "Major Meier" had the same last name as infamous contactee "Billy Meier," who is supported by UFO Crash at Aztec co-author Wendelle Stevens?
Valid questions, one and all - and ones that have never been answered by the Aztec proponents, who prefer to believe, rather than take a critical look at the evidence.
But, that wasn't the end of the Steinman investigation in Aztec... he still had to locate an "eyewitness."
To be continued.