Thursday, March 31, 2005

Fred Reed & Aztec: A Red Flag

Lately, over at UFO Updates (www.virtuallystrange,net/ufo/updates) Frank Warren and I have been discussing the Aztec case, in particular, the accounts of various "witnesses".

The correspondence can be found at, from beginning to end, at:

My original:

Frank responds:

My response:

Frank's response:

My response:

Frank's response:

My response:

One of these "witnesses" - Fred Reed - is of particular interest, because we have a record of both what he told Scott Ramsey, and what Reed said one week prior to his interview with Scott. The differences are telling, and should sound a note of caution about the Aztec "witnesses" in general, and Scott and Frank's credulous approach to them.

Here, according to Scott, is what Reed told him in 1999 (you can find the original text at, at "'Flying Saucer' Recovery at Hart Canyon (Part Three) - The Witnesses"):

"Witness No. 3

While working for the O.S.S. (Office of Strategic Services), Fred Reed and his group were sent to Aztec, New Mexico to 'clean up the crash site,' early in April of 1948. [Reed didn't work for the O.S.S. - he worked for another clandestine organization of the military. Thi is an 'uncorrected error' that was missed in final editing by Scott - Frank Warren added this note]. Shortly after they arrived, it was apparent to them that something very large had been removed from the site. Their specialty was to make an area appear as if nothing had transpired there.

Fred revisited the crash site in 1999; I was able to interview him one week later.

In 1948 they were ordered to collect any foreign items they found and then bury them eighteen inches deep; to 'soft landscape' any areas where heavy equipment tracks were visible and to do an extensive survey on the entire mesa. He noted a newly cut road and an out-of-place, large concrete pad in the freshly altered and siltey soil, during the cleanup. Reed recalled thinking that they must have poured it to support a heavy structure, like a crane, used to move a large object.

At the time of the cleanup, his group was informed that it was simply a crash site. The entire cleanup was done in the usual quiet manner that they were accustomed to in the O.S.S. [O.S.S. is incorrect - Frank Warren added this note]. Years later, one of Reed's former Senior Officers would explain to him that it was not an aircraft crash, but that of a large metallic 'flying disc.'

In my interview with Reed, he commented on how the crash site today looked as they had left it when they had finished. He recalled that the tops of the trees were broken and was fascinated with how they had weathered time."

Both Frank and Scott proudly trumpet Reed as one of the best witnesses to the Aztec case, to the point where Scott included him as one of five he referenced in his 2004 MUFON article, as well as in my film Aztec 1948.

But what really makes Reed such a valuable example of the Aztec "witnesses" is that we have an account from him that predates his interview with Scott by a week. Better yet, he put it into writing, to the editor of a local Aztec area newspaper. Here is the entire text of that letter, presented in public, as far as I know, for the first time:

"Dear Sir,

Today, my wife and I took advantage of the big celebration and went out to the site of the UFO crash of late 1948 in Hart Canyon. The workers who dedicated their time to this presentation of an important part of New Mexico history are to be commended. The road signs to guide the visitors were strategically placed, and the plaque marking the spot was in the right place. The aliens had built stone cairns marking the path from the oil field road to the crash site. These cairns are still in place today. The trees around the crash site open to the south, which is a typical distress signal for extraterrestrials.

The area looked essentially as it had in 1948 when the OSS sent our group there. We were to make a detailed survey of the area and report back to them, which we did. We were then reassigned elsewhere. We were never told what the OSS was looking for.

But a traveling survey crew like that eats in cafes, sleeps in motels, has no close family, and knows intimately only the men they work with. So, of course, we spect many long nights trying to figure out just what did happen in Hart Canyon.

We had heard rumors that a UFO had crashed there. But it did not look like a crash site. And we had heard that army personnel had rushed in there and cleaned up the site. But it did not look like a clean-up site either. One thing did stand out. There appeared to be some heavy traffic - not on any graded road - leading through the large rock slides to the canyon northwest of the site.

So what it boiled down to was this: No UFO crash. Instead, the UFO landed there for some specific intent to place (bury?) some instrument or thing there. They they got into their saucer and flew away. All of the other stories were put out by the government to cover up what they knew about the event or to cover up what they did not know about it. I guess the answer might be found in the old files of the OSS. But not in my time.

Yours truly,

Fred Reed."

Now, let us compare the original testimony to that which came out after the interview with Scott.

Are there significant discrepancies?


1. Reed, in his letter, specifically states that nothing crashed on the mesa. Instead, the "rumour" that he heard was that a flying saucer had landed, planted a device, and then flown away - NO recovery! After his interview with Scott, this had changed to "a crashed flying saucer" that had been recovered by the military.

2. Reed, in his letter, refers to several stone cairns which the aliens had left in place to mark the road from the oil road to the "crash site" (note the contradictory statement even within this letter - "crash site" vs. "landing site"). After his interview with Scott, we now have the "out of place, large concrete pad" that had been poured to aid in the recovery.

3. Reed, in his letter, states that the "clean-up" operation occurred in late 1948. After his interview withe Scott, this date has been "corrected" back to April, 1948.

4. Reed, in his letter, talks about how the trees around the crash site open to the south, which is a "typical distress signal for the aliens." This ridiculous statement, which shows more than anything else that Reed is blowing smoke (but which Michael Salla would no doubt accept at face value), is nowhere to be found after his interview with Scott.

5. Reed, in his letter, states that his group was sent to the site to make a "detailed survey of the area" and "report back" to the O.S.S. After the interview with Scott, this has morphed into a "cleanup" operation, depsite the fact that in his letter, Reed stated that "We had heard that army personnel had rushed in there and cleaned up the site."

Five MAJOR discrepancies, plus one MAJOR mistake that is made in both accounts by Reed - the identification by Reed himself, not Scott, despite what Frank claims, of his unit as O.S.S., which was impossible, given that the O.S.S. ceased to exist on 1 October, 1945, by virtue of Executive Order 9621 (see It was later effectively replaced by the Central Intelligence Group, and then, in 1947, with the passing of the National Security Act, the Central Intelligence Agency.

What does this tell us about the Aztec case?

First, it tells us that Reed's testimony is absolutely worthless. The historical inaccuracies (the O.S.S.??!!), and the inconsistent statements, within a week of each other, indicate he was a guy spinning a story that simply was not true.


To gain himself a small piece of the growing Aztec limelight. Call it the "Anderson - Kaufmann Syndrome." As I keep trying to tell people in ufology, not every "witness" is telling the truth.

More important, however, is the fact that it calls into question both Scott's methodology and his objectivity. It is clear from the "compare and contrast" exercise above that Reed changed his account when interviewed by Scott, possibly the result of leading questions (we won't know until Scott releases the detailed transcripts), but no doubt because Reed wanted to tell Scott what he figured Scott wanted to hear. Like Kaiser Wilhelm II, he wanted his "place in the sun."

As for Scott's objectivity, and his competence to draw conclusions from his considerable research, one must wonder. The O.S.S. statement alone should have raised a major red flag as to Reed's credibility back in 1999, and yet this clearly false statement was repeated by Scott right up until the present day. The same mistaken assumptions can be seen in his analysis of the radar bases he discovered, and in his acceptance of Frank Scully's claim that Dr. Gee was really "eight scientists" instead of Leo Gebauer (there are earlier posts here that deal with each of these issues).

We continue to hear from Scott and Frank that there really was a crash recovery of an alien spacecraft at Aztec in 1948. But if they bought Fred Reed's hogwash, should we place any faith in their overall approach to the Aztec case, and the evidence that so convincingly shows that there was no spaceship, no crash, and no story, other than the one cooked up by Silas Newton and Leo Gebauer?

Paul Kimball

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Lorenzo Kent Kimball: An Inconvenient Witness

There are myriad Roswell "witnesses" it seems. Which is why it's surprising to me that the account provided by Captain Lorenzo Kent Kimball (no relation) is so little known or discussed. Indeed, pro-Roswell researchers rarely, if ever, reference it. Stan Friedman, for example, who interviewed Kimball in 1992, makes no mention of him in either Crash at Corona (written with Don Berliner), Top Secret / Majic, or, to the best of my knowledge, in any of his papers or public appearances discussing Roswell. This seems strange, as Kimball was the Medical Supply Officer at the Base Hospital. As such, he was in a particularly good position to observe the arrival of any alien bodies, as Glenn Dennis suggested happened.

Captain Kimball's complete account can be found at:

It makes for fascinating reading. Here, however, are some interesting excerpts that relate to the Glenn Dennis testimony.

Excerpt #1

"In Crash at Corona, Glennn Dennis... is reported as having brought an injured GI "to the base infirmary, which was in the same building as the hospital and mortuary. Dennis is also quoted as saying he had received numerous calls from the Roswell AAF mortuary officer concerning sealed caskets...

FACT: There was no mortuary on the base. There was no AAF mortuary officer with such an assignment. As Medical Supply Officer I was responsible for obtaining, maintaining and issuing all supplies and equipment for the Base Hospital and any functions of a mortuary officer would have been within my responsibilities. I never met Glenn Dennis and I don't recall ever calling him for anything."

Excerpt #2

"One of the photographs [in Crash at Corona] is captioned "Rear of the hospital at Roswell Army Air Field. It was here that Glenn Dennis parked and walked in while small humanoid bodies were being prepared for shipment...

FACT: The photograph cited is of a two story brick structure. The entire hospital complex was a World War II cantonment type, one-story, wooden fram structure. There were NO two story buildings and NO brick structures in the complex."

Excerpt #3

"Dennis, in his statements, tells of discussions with a young nurse, later identified as Naomi Maria Selff, who told him details about "three little bodies" being autopsied at the Base Hospital...

FACT: There was no nurse named Naomi Maria Selff assigned to the Base Hospital during the period I was assigned there (1946 - 1948). I was well acquainted with all five nurses assigned during this time and none of them anywhere near fir Dennis' description of the nurse he knew.

Excerpt # 4

"In their book, The Truth About the UFO Crash at Roswell, Randle and Schmitt state that a Major Jesse B. Johnson, Squadron M, 509th Bomb Group, was the base pathologist, who assisted in preliminary autopsies on alien bodies. In their footnotes to Chapter 10, Randle & Schmitt claim that 'Johnson's position as a pathologist has been verified by a number of former members of the 509th Bomb Group [and] verified by the 509th yearbook and the RAAF unit history.'


1. There was a physician named Jesse B. Johnson assigned to the Base Hospital. However, he was a 1st Lt., not a Major, and he was a radiologist, not a pathologist. He had no training as a pathologist and would have been the last member of the medical staff to have performed an autopsy on a human much less and alien!! He is identified as a 1st Lt. in the 509th Yearbook.

2. After I learned of these assertions, I called Doctor Jack Comstock, who, as a Major, was the Hospital Commander in 1947. I asked him if he recalled any such events occurring in July of 1947 and he said absolutely not. When I told him that Jesse B. was supposed to have conducted a preliminary autopsy on alien bodies, he had a hard time stopping laughing - his response was PREPOSTEROUS!!

3. Major Comstock lived in the Hospital BOQ, located in the hospital complex. Any unusual activity was immediately reported to him by members of the medical and nursing staff. He told me that NOTHING of this nature occurred in July 1947 at the Base Hospital."

Note: Major Comstock is not referenced by Friedman and Berliner in Crash at Corona either, even though he would seem an obvious and authoratative source of information about what might have happened at the Base Hospital.

Excerpt #5

"Conclusions and Observations:

From first-hand knowledge, I am reasonable certain that no alien bodies were brought to the Base Hospital in July 1947 where preliminary autopsies were supposedly conducted. There was no nurse by the name of Naomi Maria Selff ever assigned to Squadron M, 509th Bomb Group. The statements made by Glenn Dennis are not credible. The accounts in the Randle Schmitt book concerning Jesse B. Johnson are fiction."

Ufologists who accept Roswell (or Aztec, or any of the crash retrieval stories) are always talking about all the "witnesses" they find which back up their claims. Yet, here, with Roswell, was one who was interviewed by Stan Friedman in the fall of 1992, and whose account from the beginning completely discredited the Glenn Dennis story and called into question the research of Friedman, Randle, et al. Yet he was ignored.


Perhaps it was because Kimball was not credible?

Uh, no.

Lorenzo Kent Kimball retired from the military in 1962, after a distinguished career, as a Lieutenant Colonel, posted to the Surgeon General's office in Washington from 1960 to 1962. Following his retirement, he returned to university, where he earned a BA in Political Science in 1963 from the University of Utah, and a PhD in Political Science from Utah in 1968. He was a member of the Political Science faculty at Utah from 1967 until 1987, and was Chair of the department from 1973 to 1981. He retired as Professor Emeritus, after which he served as the Director of Outreach Programs for the Middle East Center of the University of Utah (retired in 1996).

Kimball was the epitome of a credible witness, yet the Roswell authors ignored him and went with the story told by Glenn Dennis instead. In the years since, Dennis has been discredited, and few if any Roswell researchers now accept his account as credible.


Kevin Randle made his views clear in 2002, at:

He wrote that Kimball's testimony was "of little relevance" to the Roswell investigation. Stan said pretty much the same thing to me a week ago when I asked him about Captain Kimball.

Of little relevance??

The Roswell story is littered with witnesses of far less relevance, and far less credibility (Frank Kauffman and Gerald Andersen pop to mind immediately). On the issue of Glenn Dennis's account, Captain Kimball was extremely relevant (as he was on some of the details that Randle, Schmitt, Friedman et al put forward - erroneously - as facts).

With respect to Kevin and Stan, it is time to take a second look at Kimball's testimony, and to incorporate it into the Roswell story.

Paul Kimball

Monday, March 28, 2005

Stan and SETI

As readers must be aware by now, Stan Friedman and I disagree about Wilbert Smith (and all related subjects) and MJ-12.

However, there is still much we agree on. One is SETI.

Stan's views can be found at his website, However, here are some of my favourite excerpts from his paper UFOs: Challenge to SETI Specialists (note: Not all of his points are included, for the sake of brevity):

"Here are my challenges for the SETI SPECIALISTS (SS):

1. Why is it that SS make proclamations about how much energy it would take for interstellar travel when they have no professional competence, training, or awareness of the relevant engineering literature in this area? As it happens, the required amount of energy is entirely dependent on the details of the trip and CANNOT be determined from basic physics. If one makes enough totally inappropriate assumptions, as academic astronomers have repeatedly done down through history in their supposedly scientific calculations about flight, one reaches ridiculous conclusions...

2. Why do SS assume that radio is the ultimate means of long distance communication, when we have only had this kind of technology for roughly 100 years? Just down the galactic street there are two sun-like stars (Zeta l and Zeta 2 Reticuli) only 37 light years away and a billion years older than the sun. Of great interest is the fact that they are less than 1 light year apart from each other. It is good to see recent recognition of the fact that we can already, with our primitive technology, create laser signals able to be observed by other civilizations in the neighborhood. Optical SETI is coming in to its own. But remember progress comes from doing things differently. What new communication techniques will we master in just 50 or 100 years...

3. Why do SS make proclamations about how aliens would behave, when, as physical science professionals, they have no training, experience, or special insights as to how Earthlings, no less aliens, would behave, or what their motivations are. One might consult psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, lawyers, nurses, etc, but radio astronomers...

4. Why is it that SS take every opportunity to attack the notion of alien visitations without any reference to the many large scale scientific studies? They act as though the tabloids are the only possible sources of UFO data. There are at least six large scale scientific studies, more than ten PhD Theses, and many dozens of published professional papers by professional scientists. These are all almost always ignored...

7. Why is the assumption made that aliens wouldn't know there was a technological civilization here until they picked up our TV or radar signals? We are already, though in our technological infancy compared to a cosmic time frame, considering building a radio telescope with segments on opposite sides of the solar system that could directly observe earth size planets around all the stars in the neighborhood. Other civilizations in the neighborhood could have done this a billion years ago...

9. Why is it that SS seem to assume that aliens would want to deal with them? They don't speak for the planet any more than ham radio operators speak for their countries. If their annual budget were even $100 Million, that is miniscule compared to the $1 Trillion for national security...

10. Why is it that SS so often try to stress how big and how old the universe is? In fact the sphere centered on the sun and having a radius of only 54 light years includes 1000 stars of which about 46 seem to be sun-like and suitable for planets and life. At least two of these sun-like stars are 1 Billion years older than the sun. If my car were stolen near my home in Fredericton, New Brunswick, it wouldn't make much sense to suggest that the thief might be any one of 6 billion Earthlings. It would appear to be much more likely that the thief was one of 725,000 New Brunswick residents or one of only 50,000 Frederictonians. The odds of finding the thief would be greatly enhanced. Note, too, for example, that residents of Zeta 1 and Zeta 2 Reticuli, being less than one light year apart, could directly observe planets around the other star...

14. Why do SS, who should know better, or at least should have done their homework, so often pronounce that it would be impossible for anyone to withstand the "enormous" accelerations of UFOs so often observed for brief times? They quote no data to support their pronouncements despite the huge amount of data that NASA and others have compiled over the past half century. It turns out that trained and properly constrained humans can withstand "enormous" accelerations, for significant times, so long as the acceleration is in the appropriate direction vis a vis the body. Astronauts are launched while on their backs for a good reason...

16. Finally there seem to be no signs that either SETI leaders or UFO debunkers are willing to note the false reasoning of their own kind . This lack of internal evaluations provides a scientifically unhealthy and dogmatic, almost cult-like atmosphere, with charismatic leadership, a strong dogma, and irrational resistance to outside or new ideas. Scientists and journalists have a serious obligation to study the relevant data rather than to make pronouncements having no factual basis. Does the end (presumably public rejection of flying saucer visitations and enhancement of the status of SETI) really justify the means of misrepresentation based on ignorance and arrogance? Ufologists are, in contrast, very critical of each other. Party Lines should be for politicians, NOT for scientists."

Hmm... given our recent discussions about Wilbert Smith, I wonder if Stan sees the irony of #16?

Still, he's right about SETI. A "Silly Effort to Investigate" indeed!

Paul Kimball

W B Smith - A Good Engineer, But...

Lately over on UFO Updates a debate has been going on about Wilbert Smith and his (in)famous memo, all started by my blog "Oh Canada - Wilbert Smith & UFOs". David Rudiak has accused me of drawing wild, speculative conclusions that are unsubstantiated by the evidence. Even Stan Friedman got into the act, accusing me of the same thing (albeit in slightly more polite language than that used by Rudiak), and of having a "fertile imagination."

This rankles, perhaps more than it should, for two reasons. First, while both of these guys are bright fellows, they have no training in history or the study of evidence of the kind about which we are debating. I do. Second, and more important, their claims just aren't true - I did use the evidence, as anyone who actually read the blogs would know. Claims to the contrary are, as Stan might say, "false," but that hasn't stopped them from making them. I'm disappointed in both of them, but especially Stan. He should know better.

Still, Stan and I remain pals, and he just sent me something by fax that, because I do care about the evidence, and encourage everyone to look at it all and draw their own conclusions, I will post here.

Wilbert Smith was undoubtedly a good broadcasting engineer, as evidenced by his posthumous receipt of the prestigious Colonel Keith S. Rogers Memorial Engineering Award, which was given to Smith "for dedicated service in the achievement of the Technical Standards in Canadian Broadcasting."

Here is an excerpt from the Canadian Association of Broadcasters in response to an inquiry about the Award:

"The Award... is given not more than once a year to a Canadian who, in the opinion of the appropriate judging committee, has made an important and significant contribution to the development of the technical side of the broadcasting industry. The Committee is made up of distinguished and experienced engineers. Wilbert Smith served himself as a member of that Committee at various times in the past... In the case of Wilbert B. Smith, the Award was made in recognition of a lifetime of dedicated and distinguished service to the advancement of technical knowledge in the Canadian broadcasting industry, the improvement of its techniques, the protection of its interests, of an example of diligence and integrity and in consideration of the universal respect and regard that Wilbert's efforts had earned him throughout the broadcasting industry, in the Government of Canada, and in other areas."

As someone who makes his living in the Canadian broadcast industry, I guess I own Smith a thank you.

Still, what does this prove about Smith's allegedly Top Secret work with UFOs? Nothing. It does enhance his credibility in general, but that has to be offset by the evidence that Stan and David don't want to talk about.

For example, Dr. Omand Solandt's (Chair of the Canadian Defence Research Board) description of Smith as "a bad scientist." Of course, one could be a good engineer and a bad scientist; they are different occupations, after all. It is the scientist aspect that has the most relevance to Smith's supposed work on UFOs, however.

Then there's the fact of Smith's "out there" beliefs about flying saucers and contactees. He was a believer.

These two facts, in reference to his statements about UFOs, are far more relevant to the discussion of the Smith Memo, and Smith's overall credibility regarding the UFO phenomenon, than an engineering award, no matter how well deserved.

After all, MacKenzie King, our longest serving Prime Minister, talked to his dog and his dead mother.

On the subject of government he would be an expert, just as Smith was a broadcast engineering expert.

On the subject of life after death, however, King was just another kook. This is not to say that the subject of life after death is "kooky," but rather to observe that King himself was kooky (if you doubt it, read up on him).

Ditto Wilbert Smith and UFOs. The subject of the UFO phenomenon is not "kooky". Smith was.

If you doubt it, read his writings and speeches at

There you'll find the facts that Stan and David don't want to discuss.

Paul Kimball

Thursday, March 24, 2005

The Other Side of Stan

I've been questioning a couple of Stan Friedman's ufological "babies" as of late (MJ-12 and Wilbert Smith). However, away from Roswell, and MJ-12, there is another side of Stan, one that I wish we'd see more of, and that's Stan the scientist, and Stan the visionary.

One of the most interesting parts of the recent ABC Special Seeing is Believing was the part with Michio Kaku discussing wormholes and the concept of space travel. As Kaku did his neat little demonstration with the paper, showing how, if you "bend" space (in essence), you can cut the distance between two places to a fraction of what they would otherwise be, I immediately recalled the moment in my film Do You Believe in Majic where one sees Stan making the same demonstration at the 2003 Aztec UFO Symposium.

As much as MJ-12, and Roswell, and Wilbert Smith fascinate me, and as much as I like discussing these things with Stan (which we did today, in a very amiable phone conversation where we agreed to disagree), I really get wide-eyed when the talk turns to the "how" of space travel, and the "why." This is the other side of Stan, away from the Cosmic Watergate stuff, that he did back before Roswell became such a central focus of his work.

A paper that everyone should order (from his website, is "Flying Saucers and Physics", written by Stan way back in 1974, and delivered at the 1974 MUFON Symposium. There's no talk about Kaku-esque wormholes in there, but rather a discussion of technologies that are available to us, and which could take us to the stars if we really wanted to go (and, presumably, if used by others, could bring "them" here).

My understanding is that Stan is plugging away on a book about this subject. I've pitched - with no success yet - a couple of networks the idea of a "Flying Saucers and Physics" documentary, to be hosted by Stan. I hope someday it goes forward, either through my company or someone else's.

For my money, when Stan is gone to that great UFO Conference in the Sky (25 + years from now, I hope!), he will be best remembered for the scientific writings he did about flying saucers, and physics, and his exhortations to us all to think of ourselves as "earthlings" and not Canadians, or Americans, or whatever.

Not Roswell. Not the Cosmic Watergate. Not MJ-12.

None of those things. Real or not, they are transitory; they are of the moment.

No, his legacy will be the clarion call that he sounded 31 years ago, long before Exopolitics types like Michael Salla and Steven Greer muddied the waters with their nonsense, and long after they have been forgotten:

"What UFOlogy really needs most is a mobilization of people and resources. I am firmly convinced that we Earthlings have the technology and knowledge to learn a great deal about our ET visitors IF we only had the will... Stop being so overwhelmed by what you know and be much more impressed with both what we don't know and with the ridiculousness of past pronouncements from on-high about the impossibility of this or that technical achievement. Essentially, everything everybody has ever proved impossible has turned out to be feasible because there were those gutsy enough to think independently."

Paul Kimball

Dr. Donald Menzel - Secret Agent or Money-Grubbing Security Risk, Part I

Even the proponents of the authenticity of the MJ-12 documents admit that, on first glance, the inclusion of Dr. Donald Menzel, arch-debunker of the UFO phenomenon, is strange. However, Stan Friedman conducted a dogged search into Menzel's background (detailed extensively in his book Top Secret / Majic), during which he discovered that Menzel had done a great deal of classified work over the course of his long career as an astronomer, for the military, and for agencies that included, among others, the NSA. This led Stan to conclude that Menzel "passed muster" as a person who had the connections and the background to be included in something like MJ-12. His debunking over the years, therefore, was simply a cover for his real activities with MJ-12.

This ignores the probability that if the documents had been faked by people within government intelligence circles (oh, for example, let's say the Air Force Office of Special Investigations), Menzel's record might not have been as secret as Stan asserts. Still, Stan had made his case, and it was hard to argue with what he had found. Menzel had indeed led a sort of "double life".

But does that mean he was trustworthy enough to put on a project as important as MJ-12 would have been? There are indications, from none other than Captain Edward Ruppelt of Project Bluebook fame, that the answer is no.

Ruppelt's personal papers contained the following profile of Dr. Menzel, formed as a result of a visit that Menzel paid to Ruppelt and others (Brigadier General William Garland, Dr. Stefan Possony, Colonel Frank Dunn, and another officer whose name Ruppelt could not recall), in mid-May 1952.

According to Ruppelt, Menzel began by insisting that he had solved the UFO problem for the Air Force. Possony and Garland questioned some of Menzel's claims as the discussion went along, and then the subject of conversation turned to hoaxes. Menzel tried to make the number of hoaxes out to be larger than they were, at which point, stated Ruppelt, "Garland began to get a little fidgety... and told Menzel that we were well aware of how many of the sightings were hoaxes, about 2 or 3 per cent."

It was at this point that Menzel revealed his real motive for attending the meeting. He announced that he had sold a story of his ideas to Time and Look. He told Garland et al that he wanted the Air Force to publicly back him up one hundred per cent in these two articles. Garland, stated Ruppelt, "about blew his stack in the silent manner in which he blew a stack [while] Possony asked Menzel if it might not be more scientific to do a little bit more research on the subject before he went out and sold the story." Colonel Dunn then added that, "he didn't think that the Air Force would care to endorse something that we knew so little about [but that] we would be glad to say that Menzel had told us about the theory and that this could be released through the PIO."

According to Ruppelt, at this point Menzel "blew his top [and] began to throw around the name Jonathan Leonard of Time and said that he was behind this 100% and that Leonard would do this and that." Ruppelt suggested to Menzel that he could leave a copy of his work so that it could be shown to a few of ATIC's consultants. Menzel refused, and left.

Now, here we have a man who is supposedly part of MJ-12, the super-secret group overseeing the UFO problem, wandering in to the ATIC office to try and get Garland et al to endorse his views and articles. This begs the question - if Menzel was on MJ-12, why waste time with Garland and Ruppelt. Why not get Vandenberg, or Twining, who were both supposedly part of MJ-12 with him, to endorse the theories on behalf of the Air Force, or order Garland to do so? Does Menzel's visit make any sense at all if he was really with MJ-12?

Of course not.

Now, I can hear the MJ-12 proponents already. Menzel was scouting for information from the ATIC guys. Or perhaps Menzel was planting disinformation with Ruppelt et al? Or maybe this was some clever ploy to get the Air Force to endorse a debunker without involving those officers involved in MJ-12?

Ridiculous. He was trying to get their help in turning a buck. Any other theory ignores the fact that MJ-12, according to the Eisenhower Briefing Document, already had a contact to Project Bluebook, with a liaison being maintained through "the Air Force officer who is the head of the project." That officer? Captain Edward J. Ruppelt! If MJ-12 was real, and Menzel a member, why the need for the meeting? All he would have had to do was pick up the phone (or have another MJ-12 member pick up the phone) and call Ruppelt.

The story gets more even more interesting, however. Possony requested that Ruppelt do a little checking, and so Ruppelt contacted the Office of Naval Research, where he spoke with Lieutenant Commander Frank Thomas, ATIC's contact man with the ONR and the Navy. Here is Ruppelt's account of that meeting:

"I mentioned our meeting with Menzel and [Thomas] stopped me about half way through the story. He got on the phone and called someone in ONR. It turned out that Menzel had tried to pull a deal with the Navy, only he was backing some kind of gun. He had decided that it was the salvation of the Navy and he had tried to put pressure on them to back him. He went a step further, though, he offered to donate his time as a consultant in developing this gun. (It might have been something else, but I think that it was a gun).

This seemed to be a very noble thingto do so ONR got interested. The bids for the contracts came in and Menzel strongly suggested that they be given to a small outfit that had made one of the bids. Since the bid was high, ONR did a little investigating and found thta Menzel was one of the prime backers of this 'non-profit research organization.' ONR cancelled out on the whole thing."

Ruppelt also records the observation of Dr. Allen Hynek, after the Time article came out, that "Menzel was stooping to some pretty low tactics to make a buck."

Does this sound like a man that would be tapped as a member of a super-secret group like MJ-12?

Not to me it doesn't.

But there is more to come on the good Dr. Menzel...

Paul Kimball

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

The End of the Frontier: Vannevar Bush & Harry S. Truman

I have made the case elsewhere (Oh Canada! Wilbert Smith & The UFOs) that Vannevar Bush was an extremely unlikely choice to be tapped by President Truman for anything to do with a crashed flying saucer, whether it was the supposed MJ-12 group or the committee referred to by Smith in his famous (or, in my opinion, infamous) "Top Secret" memo which , among other things, detailed his conversation with American scientist Dr. Robert Sarbacher.

Why? Because, to put it in the vernacular, the two were on the "outs" - Bush was Rossevelt's man. With the ascension of Truman to the Presidency, Bush's spot at the top of the scientific establishment in Washington was effectively finished.

In my MJ-12 Mea Culpa, I raised four points for Stan Friedman to answer with respect to MJ-12, one of which was the unlikelihood that Bush would be tapped by Truman for any such project. To his credit, Stan responded to this particular point by sending me the relevant excerpt from Bush's memorandum of his meeting with Truman and Secretary of Defence James Forrestal on 24 September, 1947. It was at this meeting that MJ-12 was supposedly established by Truman, with Forrestal and Bush as key members.

The problem for Stan and other MJ-12 defenders is that Bush's memo of the conference, far from demonstrating that Truman considered Bush a trusted advisor (the kind you would put on a project like MJ-12), reveals the opposite.

Bush was there to discuss with Truman the prospect of Bush taking on the chairman's job at the newly formed Research and Development Board. It was not the job that Bush had been angling for - he wanted the post of Secretary of Defense, as noted by historian Pascal Zachary in Endless Frontier: Vannevar Bush, Engineer of the American Century (at pp. 322-323). Still, Bush was willing to take the RDB position for a year or so, but only on one condition - if the scientists in the country felt that he had the confidence of the President.

According to Bush, Truman replied that he did not see how they could think otherwise, and that Bush "certainly had his confidence."

That was not enough for Bush, however, who knew better. He told Truman that "inasmuch as he had not called me in for anything for a year, and since the last report that was made on the future of science in this country was made by someone else [PK note - Bush's rival John Steelman], scientists naturally gathered that I was not in his confidence."

This is a remarkable moment for anyone who thinks that Bush had retained any influence in the Truman administration. In the first place, he was being given a consolation job. In the second, he was not willing to take it unless Truman specifically expressed his confidence in him - twice! A man who knew he had the President's confidence would not have had to ask at all.

Truman again assured Bush that he had his confidence, and that Truman had not really realised that Bush had not had anything to do with the preparation of the Steelman report. He then told Bush that, "if it had not been true in the past, I would rather be frequently in contact and that if there was an impression that [Bush] did not have [Truman's] confidence that that impression would soon be corrected by future relations."

Bush took the job. He lasted, as he had predicted that day, less than a year, leaving the RDB in a mess after failing to secure Truman's confidence in his ongoing battles with the Joint Chiefs (see letter from V. Bush to James Forrestal, 8 September 1948 - NARA, RG 218, CDF 1948 - 1950, 334 RDB, 102). In 1948 Bush was specifically excluded from Truman's special advisory committee for an appraisal of progress in atomic research, a final snub to the man who had been instrumental in the creation of the atomic bomb in the first place (see Truman's Memoirs: Years of Trial and Hope, pp. 298 - 303; it is one of the few references he makes to scientific issues, indicating its importance).

In 1950, William Golden, Truman's science advisor, noted after a conversation with Bush that "Bush is now on the outside so far as Government scientific matters are concerned, a position of which he is very conscious and to which he referred time and time again. Though President Truman is very cordial to him he does not call upon him for advice, though Dr. Bush has pointed this out to him on a number of occasions. It is very evident that Dr. Bush, who had a very close working relationship with President Roosevelt, does not approve of the current state of affairs." (See the American Association for the Advancement of Science archives, Memoranda of William T. Golden, "Memorandum to File: Conversation with Dr. Vannevar Bush")

None of this should come as a surprise to anyone who has studied the totality of Bush's government service, in particular the rapid decline in his influence once Truman suddenly came to power. Take the New York Times obituary for Bush (30 June 1974, pp. 1 and 36), for example. The Times devoted six columns to Bush's life, but only two paragraphs to his work after the end of the Second World War. Similarly, Physics Today (September 1974, pp. 71 - 72) observed that Bush would be "chiefly remembered for his leadership of the Office of Scientific Research and Development during World War II" and the twenty years prior to 1938, when "he attained great distinction as a professor of electrical engineering at MIT."

Of course, all of this was painfully obvious to Bush, who had discovered the true nature of his relationship with Truman on 14 June, 1945. Truman, in a 15 minute meeting that day, told Bush that he "liked" Bush's Endless Frontier report, which Bush saw as the blueprint for the future of science in the United States (a future that would have Bush at the helm). It was eerily similar to Truman's expression of "confidence" in Bush at the 24 September, 1947 meeting.

Bush left the June 1945 meeting no doubt feeling good about his prospects.

Later that day, a presidential aide told him that Truman had rejected "Endless Frontier."

Not the president himself; an aide.

It is a snub that is indicative of what Truman really thought of Vannevar Bush, a man who, as he got the news, must have realised that he had reached the beginning of the end of his own, once seemingly endless, frontier in government service.

Paul Kimball

Thursday, March 17, 2005

UFOs & The Red Sox Moment

The year 1967, as Dick Hall has noted, is often overlooked by ufology, which, at times, seems to be obsessed with 1947, and Roswell. Yet it was one of the busiest years in terms of sightings, and held out great hope - with the Condon committee in the middle of their investigation of the phenomenon - that the mystery of the UFO phenomenon might be getting closer to being solved.


Alas, it was not to be. The Condon Report was a monumental disappointment, and the 1967 sightings are little discussed by mainstream ufology.

Coincidentally, and with a very valuable lesson for ufology, 1967 held out such promise in a far more important area of human affairs that was also left unfulfilled.

The Boston Red Sox went on a magical run that seemed destined to lead, at long last, to a World Series championship. Carl Yastrzemski won the Triple Crown (the last player to do so), and ensured his mythic status among Red Sox true believers (a group to which I happily belong) by almost single-handedly leading the Sox to the American League championship.

And then it all fell apart in game 7 of the World Series, against the Cardinals.

Once more, for Red Sox fans, the rug had been pulled out from under their feet. The Curse of the Bambino lived on, and there was no joy in Beantown.

Not too long afterwards, the Condon Report pulled the rug out from under the feet of ufologists. There was no joy for James MacDonald, or Allen Hynek, or the younger versions of Stan Friedman and Dick Hall.

MacDonald and Hynek are long gone now; Hall and Friedman are now into their 70s, and are the elder statesmen amongst ufologists. And still there are no answers - only more questions. Worse still, we now have Exopolitics, the ufological equivalent of rampant expansion. For a brief while, like the Florida Marlins, or (ugh) the Toronto Blue Jays, they have held the upper hand.

But let the long-time suffering of Red Sox fans be a lesson - good things happen to those who stay faithful to the old school, and who have the patience to wait. Sure, there were the crushing defeats of 1975, and 1978 (damn you, Bucky Dent), and 1986, the first Red Sox disaster that I can remember in full, excrutiating detail.

But then... 2004.

The Impossible Dream had come true. Not only did the Red Sox win the World Series, but they beat the Yankees and the Cardinals to do it. My eyes water up, just a bit, thinking about the comeback against New York, and then the moment of that final out in the sweep of the Cardinals, and what it meant, not only to me, and the fans, and the current Red Sox players, but to former Red Sox players like Jim Rice, and Dewey Evans, and Fred Lynn, and my all-time hero, Yaz.

Recently, in a private e-mail, Rich Reynolds called me an optimist about the UFO phenomenon and the search for the truth.

He's right - I am.

I am convinced that the Red Sox Moment will come, someday, for ufology. What it will mean is unknown. Nevertheless, I sincerely hope that Dick Hall and Stan Friedman are still around to see it.

Like Yaz, they deserve it.

Paul Kimball
(b. 2 January, 1967)

The Galactic Barrow's Boys

I'm halfway through Fergus Flemming's fascinating book Barrow's Boys, which recounts the adventures (and misadventures) of British explorers like John Franklin and William Parry back in the first half of the nineteenth century. Before that, I spent a week enthralled by Arthur Herman's To Rule the Waves: How the British Navy Shaped the Modern World. Both books are cracking good reads, but they also got me to thinking about UFOs, and a theory that I first heard from Karl Pflock (gasp!) a couple of years ago.

Karl is of the opinion that some UFOs were in fact alien spacecraft, that they popped by earth, checked it out for a bit, and then headed back to where they came from. As far as he's concerned, they haven't been back since.

Now, most ufologists I know, particularly the ones committed to Exopolitics, would scoff at this notion. "Ridiculous," they would say. The aliens came, they saw, and they've been here since.


But a study of the history of human exploration shows that Karl might be on to something. Even into the first half of the nineteenth century, there were areas of the world (Africa, the Artic, the Antartic, large parts of the Pacific) that were still unknown to the Europeans. The explorations that they sent out were small, almost always under equipped, often poorly managed, and usually had no idea of what they were doing. Being British, they sometimes - but by no means always - muddled through, but almost never without mishaps. Sometimes they would visit a place, and then leave, not to return for decades.

With this is mind, perhaps Karl's theory isn't so crazy after all. What if the aliens are the galactic equivalent of the Europeans, and good old Earth the equivalent of Melville Island? Under Karl's theory, even the Roswell crash would be possible. Consider it the alien Franklin.

At the end of the day, who knows? But it makes as much sense to me as hybrid-colonization schemes, or underground bases, or Charles Hall's white aliens at Area 51.

Somewhere, out there, maybe there's a three foot tall, grey, alien bureaucrat - a Sir John Barrow from Zeta Reticuli - wondering what happened to that expedition he sent out to Terra Prime.

Or maybe the next expedition is just leaving the interstellar dockyard for a return voyage to that wild, strange planet at the edge of known space.

I just hope they bring some cool trinkets, and return Elvis!

Paul Kimball

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Dear Dr. Greer - where's my $300?

Just over two years ago, Disclosure guru Dr. Steven Greer made some wacky claims that he and others were involved in some very hush-hush work on free energy systems, and that the world would hear about it soon. A transcript of those claims can be found at:

My original response to his comments can be found at:

The thread on Updates went on for a couple of more days, and finally I decided to flush out the grouse, a practise we in Canada call "putting your money where your mouth is". So, I bet $100 (at VERY generous 3 to 1 odds) that no such announcement would be forthcoming anytime soon, ie. within a year. See:

A year passed, and nothing. Well, I thought, perhaps my definition of "soon" is different than the good doctor's, so I extended (in my own mind) the deadline by another year. That year has now passed. No word on a free energy breakthrough. "Soon" can only be stretched so far...

So, to Dr. Greer, I can only say...

"Where's my $300??"

Of course, Dr. Greer never took my bet. Why would he? It's all hooey (for those so inclined, you can check out the "hooey" at

I just wish he had. I can always use the money - it would help fund my next trip to Vegas, a very worthy cause, let me assure you.

It would also be nice to see him have to shell some out for a change, as opposed to raking it in off of the gullible ranks of the "Disclosure Brigades".

Oh well - maybe I'll try Lotto 649.

As long as they are, the odds there are probably better than those you get betting on Dr. Greer.

Paul Kimball

Monday, March 14, 2005

Project Bluebook Archive

Part of the problem with ufology is that there is not a lot of money available for UFO research, or for the preservation of important historical documents - even less seems available for making those documents accesible to the public. The money which is available is often spent on projects or research of questionable legitimacy, relevance or objectivity.

That's why the efforts of those behind the Project Bluebook Archive deserve much greater exposure. Their website can be accessed at:

It is a required Internet stop for anyone even remotely interested in the UFO phenomenon. As Joe Friday might say, it's "just the facts."

What a refreshing change. The founders and curators of the Archive are to be commended for their time and effort in this important project.

Paul Kimball

Frank Scully's "Barilko" Moment

For Canadians, all roads lead to hockey.

Our musicians do not ask, as Simon & Garfunkel did metaphorically, “where have you gone, Joe Dimaggio?” North of the 49th parallel, bands, in this case The Tragically Hip, write songs about the literal disappearance of hockey legend Bill Barilko, a Canadian combination of Buddy Holly (he died in a plane crash) and Bobby Thompson (Barilko scored “the goal” that, at least for Toronto Maple Leaf fans, was “heard” from coast to coast - for more info see

So, for a Canadian, NHL lockout or not, hockey has lessons that are applicable to just about anything… perhaps, some might suggest, even ufology. In hockey, you see, one of the key refrains, heard over and over again by commentators on Hockey Night in Canada, and from coaches (from pee wee hockey to the NHL), is that you should always shoot the puck on the net, because good things will happen eventually. Indeed, I’ve seen dozens of goals scored from the most unlikely of positions, simply because the puck took an odd bounce, or the goaltender misplayed the shot, or, perhaps, because the “hockey gods” smiled at just that moment.

So, can that lesson be extended to ufology? If you fire up enough theories, or put forward enough witnesses or cases (hello, exopolitics!), can some good come of it?

The proponents of such a theory need look no further than Frank Scully’s discredited book Behind the Flying Saucers. Scully took all sorts of shots, almost all of them missing the net (the Newton con sailed into the stands), or being easily stopped by the goaltender (the Mantell case). But at least one managed to “tickle the twine”, ie. find the back of the net.

Scully’s “Barilko” moment? The Farmington Armada.

On March 18, 1950, the following telegram was sent by Lincoln O’Brien, a New Mexico newspaper owner, to Ken Purdy, the editor of True Magazine, about an extraordinary event:


The sightings – which occurred over a period of three days - were reported extensively in the Farmington Times, as well as the Las Vegas (NM) Daily Optic, which ran the headline “'Space Ships’ Cause Sensation.”

Numerous witnesses came forward with their accounts. Clayton J. Boddy, the business manager of the Times, and a former Army Engineers captain who served in Italy, stated, “All of a sudden I noticed a few moving objects high in the sky. Moments later there appeared to be about 500 of them.” He estimated their height at 15,000 feet.

One of the most detailed accounts was that of Harold Thatcher, head of the Farmington unit of the Soil Conservation service. Thatcher made a rough triangulation on one of the objects. He concluded that if it had been a B-29 it would have been flying at about 20,000 feet and traveling more than 1,000 miles per hour. He emphatically denied the explanation offered by authorities that the objects were small pieces of cotton fuzz floating in the atmosphere. “It was not cotton,” he stated. “I saw several pieces of cotton fuzz floating in the air at the time, but I was not sighting on any cotton.”

This official explanation may even have been a cover-up. In a letter to George Popowitch of the Unidentified Flying Objects Research Committee, written on 17 October, 1960, O’Brien observed that the official explanation changed from the initial assessment by local law enforcement authorities. “You will note,” he wrote Popowitch, “that [a] state policeman testified to us about seeing them, and we quoted him, but that the next day he had reported in to state police headquarters in Santa Fe [and] he had changed his mind and decided it must have been flying cotton.”

Edward Brooks, a B-29 tail gunner in the Second World War, observed the afternoon wave. He was one of the first people to report a red-coloured lead object. Brooks, a man who had done a considerable bit of flying, was positive the objects were not airplanes. “The very maneuvering of the things couldn’t be that of modern aircraft,” he told reporters.

His observations were echoed by other Farmington residents. John Bloomfield, a co-worker of Brooks at a local garage, said the objects traveled at a speed that appeared, to him, to be about ten times faster than jet airplanes, and that the objects made frequent right angle turns. “They appeared to be coming at each other head-on,” he stated. “At the last second, one would veer at right angles upward, the other at right angles downward. One saucer would pass another and immediately the one to the rear would zoom to the lead.”

Bloomfield wasn’t the only person to claim that the objects were “saucer shaped.” Marlow Webb said the objects appeared to be about eight inches in diameter, as seen by the naked eye on the ground. “They flew sideways, on edge and at every conceivable angle,” he claimed. “This is what made it easy to determine that they were saucer-shaped. A few years later, in a February 26, 1960 letter to Michael A. Brantley, O’Brien wrote, “The unusual part about [the objects] was that they could go slowly or with great speed and that they could make in passage right angle turns rather than curved turns.”

In short, the Farmington Armada is one of the great unsolved sighting cases in ufological history. On this one, at least, Scully, who mentions the Farmington Armada in Behind the Flying Saucers, at pp. 21 to 25, and again, at pp. 180 -181, got it right.

But here’s the problem – unlike in hockey, where shots on the net will almost never do any harm, in ufology, the one goal is usually overshadowed by all of the misses. In Scully’s case, this is exactly what happened. Even though the Farmington Armada was a legitimate sighting, worthy of consideration and investigation, and for which no valid explanation has ever been offered, it was overshadowed by all of the misses, particularly the big miss – the Aztec con.

The problem remains today. The Aztec story has taken off yet again, while the Farmington Armada remains relegated to the ufological back-pages. Why? Because now, even more than in 1950, crashed flying saucer stories are “sexier” than simple “sightings.” They play into people’s belief that the government is engaged in a massive cover-up, what Stan Friedman has called “The Cosmic Watergate”, or Kevin Randle the “Conspiracy of Silence.” They allow "contactees" and “whistleblowers” to come forward with their wild stories. They allow Michael Salla and Steven Greer and their ilk to flourish, to the detriment of the serious study of the UFO phenomenon.

In short, as much as it pains me, as a Canadian, to admit it, hockey, at least in this instance, has nothing to teach ufology. Better to hold on to the puck until we have a clear shot at the net – the shooting percentage will go up, and ufology will be a lot closer to winning the game.

Paul Kimball

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Ufology - ca plus ca change...

"Some day before the not too distant future, the truth and the realities of these visitations will be so forcefully imposed upon the minds of Earth people that they will no longer be able to be denied. Of this, I am sure."

A missive to ABC from a viewer unhappy about the recent Peter Jennings: Seeing is Believing UFO special?

Er... not quite. It is an excerpt from an irate letter written from Lucy McGinnis of California to Lincoln O'Brien, a New Mexico publisher, about an article published in O'Brien's newspapers about a UFO hoaxer that Ms. McGinnis knew and in whom she believed.

The date?

25 March, 1953.

The hoaxer?

"Professor" George Adamski.

And yet the letter is eerily similar to the type of comments still espoused by many on the fringes of ufology, who often display a belief system that can only be described as ufological pre-millienialism, ie. "the truth shall be revealed soon."

Disagree with the fringers? Here's what you got back then, again from Ms. McGinnis:

"You had letters from six witnesses as well as from Professor Adamski - yet you ignored them and took false statements from elsewhere. Why? Instead you published that outlandish farce - and you state that your mission is the truth? Do you have neither self respect, nor respect for your fellowman? Do you not believe any one?"

Alas, if only this type of response had been left in the 1950s, like McCarthyism. But, as with the War on Terror, where we seem to have the New McCarthyism, with the Disclosure Movement and Exopolitics we seem to have the 21st century version of Lucy McGinnis. Say something that disagrees with their version of events, and you're part of the problem. Offer evidence that indicates they are wrong, and they ignore it. Point out the fraudsters and con men in our midst, and you must have an ulterior motive.

"Who," the question so often seems to go, "are you really working for?"

This past week, this very question was more or less leveled at Peter Davenport, of the National UFO Reporting Center (see their excellent website at by Dr. Michael Salla, simply because Davenport refuses to agree with him that a series of alleged sightings in the American northwest are worthy of reporting and investigation. Dr. Salla's original post to UFO Updates can be found at:

My pointed response can be found at:

Salla's charges are ridiculous, and, as I point out, go far beyond a civilised discussion of the facts of the case. Again, if you aren't part of the solution, as Dr. Salla sees it, you must be part of the problem. Therefore, goes Salla's unspoken question, "who is Peter Davenport working for?"

I've been on the receiving end of this type of behaviour. A couple of years ago I had a guy in Australia e-mail me a response to some comments I had made on UFO Updates, wherein I questioned Steven Greer's credibility. Suddenly - at least as far as the Aussie was concerned - I was "working for them." He warned me that "the day of truth is coming, and you will be judged then by which side you choose now." There were other barely veiled threats contained in the e-mail. If he had lived any closer than Australia, I might have forwarded the note to the police. As it stands, I laugh it off - although, if I'm ever in Brisbane I'll keep an eye out.

Then there were the two fringers I met last year at the Aztec Symposium. They semed nice enough, if a bit loopy, but when they asked me what I thought of Billy Meier, and I answered honestly (he's either nuts or a crook, or both), they turned on me like a dime. Again - I kid you not - the question was "who are you working for?" As they were a lot closer to me than the Aussie wacko, I politely took my leave of them, and they went on to pestering someone else.

The next day, while I was eating lunch, they sat down next to me and tried to convince me that Meier was for real. I admit that discretion got the better part of my valour, and so I simply nodded as I chowed down on my hot dog and fries while they rambled on. Then, seemingly convinced that they had made a convert, or at least brought me back from the abyss of darkeness (or whatever), they pulled out a little pamphlet which they had written, and in which one could find the names of anybody who is (and in some cases, isn't) anybody in ufology, with their conclusions about them. My favourite was their note for my pal Nick Redfern. He was CIA. Why? Because he always wears black.

I couldn't help myself - I laughed. Nick and I both came of age in the 1980s, when, as the Smiths famously said, you wore "black on the outside because black was how you felt on the inside" (you had to be there). I tried to explain to them that a fashion statement (and Nick is a man who looks good in black) did not a CIA agent make. If so, what did that make Johnny Cash - the head of MJ-12?

Like all zealots, they were singularly unimpressed by anyone who made fun of their beliefs. Fortunately for me, they were peace-loving zealots, and so they simply trundled off to try and convert some other poor sap.

All of this is amusing (in hindsight), but instructive too. There are wackos in ufology. There always have been, and there always will be. Some may mean well (Ms. McGinnis, my two "pals" at Aztec), but others, more ominously, do not (William Cooper). Either way, they are the ones that the debunkers of the UFO phenomenon point to when they want to discredit those who take UFOs seriously. They are the ones to whom Exopolitical Gurus / Swamis / Prophets like Michael Salla and Steven Greer cater these days, to the detriment of those who would see ufology move into the mainstream. They are the ones who screamed the loudest about the ABC Special, because they couldn't see the forest of progress, however incremental, for the trees of their own blinkered belief system.

They are the ones who fall for the likes of William Cooper, Bob Lazar and Philip Corso - just as people like Lucy McGinnis fell for George Adamski five decades ago.

It's sad, but as the French might say:

"ufology? ca plus ca change, ca plus ca memo chose."

Paul Kimball

Thursday, March 10, 2005

My MJ-12 Mea Culpa

Lately, I’ve criticised Michael Salla and other Exo-politics types for being far too credulous in their acceptance of alleged “whistleblower” testimony, and being less than rigorous in their investigation and their methodology. I was right to do so. However, what is good for the goose is good for the gander. In the case of MJ-12, the gander, alas, is me.

In my film Do You Believe in Majic (2004, Redstar Films Limited), I examined the ongoing controversy over the Majestic-12 documents, and came to the conclusion that “on the balance of probabilities, if not quite beyond a reasonable doubt, I have been persuaded that the original documents (Eisenhower Briefing Document, Truman – Forrestal memo, and Cutler – Twining Memo) are genuine.”

If I were to make the documentary today (or, perhaps, re-edit it for the extended “Director’s Cut”), I would reverse that conclusion; on the balance of probabilities, if not quite beyond a reasonable doubt, I am now persuaded that the documents are fraudulent (whether they were a hoax by UFO researchers, or government disinformation, or a bit of both, is another question).

There is much about them that seems genuine. But the burden of proof is not on the critics of the documents to prove that they are frauds (ie. to prove a negative) – it is on the remaining proponents to prove that they are genuine. In a court case, if you wanted to tender the documents into evidence, you would have to establish their authenticity – it would not be the responsibility of the other side to prove that they were not authentic. The proponents of the original MJ-12 documents have not done this, even though they have answered a number of particular questions raised over the years by sceptics.

Here, however, are a number of other questions that have not been answered (or even asked), that go beyond relatively petty things like date formats and ranks.

1. Why has no in-depth investigation been conducted by MJ-12 proponents into the second alleged crash referred to in the EBD, the El Indio – Guerrero incident? In fact, why is that alleged incident not discussed – at all – by Stan Friedman in either his paper “Final Report on Operation Majestic 12” or his later book Top Secret / Majic ? Investigators Tom Deuley and Dennis Stacy have offered a decidedly terrestrial explanation for this incident (a 1944 crash of a USAAF spotter plane in the same area). I’m not convinced that their explanation is the right one, but I have not seen any refutation of it by MJ-12 proponents, or even a real discussion of it;

2. Why is no mention made of the rapid decline of Vannevar Bush’s role in government after World War II, and the unlikelihood that he would have been appointed to such a super secret project as MJ-12 by President Truman – see my post "Oh Canada - Wilbert Smith & UFOs".

3. Why is there no mention in the MJ-12 documents of a second crash on the Plains of San Augustin, which Stan Friedman maintains happened (see Crash at Corona)? How can this inconsistency be reconciled? The argument that this was a preliminary briefing, and that San Augustin would not need to be mentioned (the only explanation I have heard), makes no logical sense, particularly as the author of the EBD saw fit to mention the alleged El Indio crash. For proponents of both MJ-12 and the Aztec incident, such as William Steinman, the same question must be asked and answered.

4. James Forrestal suffered his mental breakdown and resigned as Secretary of Defence in late March, 1949. Yet, according to the EBD, he remained a member of MJ-12 until his death on 22 May, 1949. Why would he not have been immediately replaced, as he no longer held the President’s confidence, he was no longer Secretary of Defence, and, most important, he was psychologically unbalanced? If not then, why was he not immediately replaced after his death? This was the most important subject in the United States, after all, and yet, here was MJ-12, down to MJ-11, for well over a year, until the supposed appointment of new CIA director Walter B. Smith on 1 August, 1950. Why not just replace Forrestal with his successor at Defence, Louis Johnson, a man Truman trusted (he had served as his chief fundraiser in the 1948 election) and who had a solid background in government (Roosevelt’s representative to India in 1942, Assistant Secretary of War 1937 – 1940). Or why not replace him with Secretary of the Air Force Stuart Symington, a logical choice considering the Air Force was supposedly on the front-lines of the UFO problem? Could it be that a hoaxer used Smith because he / she / they could use the date 1 August 1950, the only time in a several month period that Smith met Truman, which, If a researcher discovered it, would seem to authenticate the document? Which makes more sense? MJ-11 for well over a year, for no reason, or Smith getting the nod in August 1950?

These are four significant questions that I should have asked when making Do You Believe in Majic, but did not. We all make mistakes - as a UFO Yoda might say, the "will to believe is strong, young ufology Jedi."

So - I’m asking them now. Until satisfactory answers can be provided – answers that address the questions and that make sense, as opposed to rhetoric or dodges - I am of the opinion that the MJ-12 documents have not been proved to be genuine. Indeed, in the absence of such proof, with significant questions outstanding, and with no provenance, they must be considered fraudulent (or, at best, unproved).

Paul Kimball

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Aztec and the Radar Bases

The latest proponents of the Aztec incident - namely Scott Ramsey and Linda Moulton Howe -have over the past several years sought to find evidence that would corroborate the story told to Frank Scully by Silas Newton and Dr. Gee (aka Leo Gebauer) and then described by Scully in Behind the Flying Saucers. The best way to do this would be to prove that there was information in Behind the Flying Saucers that neither Scully, Newton nor Gebauer could have known, and which could only have come from a person, or persons, who were "in the loop" about crashed flying saucers.

Ramsey, in my film Aztec 1948, and Moulton Howe, in her paper "UFO Crash Retrievals," presented at the 2004 Crash Retrieval Conference, claim to have found this corroborative evidence. As Moulton Howe describes it:

"Scott Ramsey's curiosity was provoked by tantalizing details in the Bill Steinman book [UFO Crash at Aztec], combined with a reference in Frank Scully's 1950 book, Behind the Flying Saucers. Scully talked about the early detection of an aerial disc by Top Secret radar bases in New Mexico - a dics that was allegedly tracked by radar down through the atmosphere to Aztec, New Mexico... Eventually, Scott and [New Mexico State Representative] Andy [Kissner] confirmed that three powerful radar sites had been built in a triangular configuration to prtect the super secret Los Alamos Laboratory."

The three radar bases Ramsey and Kissner found had been located at Moriarity, New Mexico, which is east of Albuquerque; Continental Divide, New Mexico, west of Albuquerque; and Tierra Amarilla, New Mexico - later named El Vado - which is north of Albuquerque. These bases did indeed exist, were indeed secret, and did in fact form a triangle of sorts around the sensitive sites of Los Alamos, Sandia Nat, and Kirtland Air Force Base.

Unfortunately for the proponents of the Aztec case, things get a bit stickier after that.

The first problem - and it's a big one - is that nowhere in Behind the Flying Saucers is there any mention of secret radar bases. Instead, Dr. Gee explained to Scully, who had apparently asked how the Air Force "stumbled upon these particular ships... [and] know the moment they come in our atmosphere?" that the flying saucer had been tracked by a device he called a "tenescope."

"Dr. Gee replied, ' In the laboratories and also at Alamogordo and Los Alamos and at different parts of the country we have tenescope observers who spend 24 hours a day watching for evidence of objects or ships flying in the sky. Everything that comes within range of these tenescopes is noted. If it is unfamiliar and lands, the Air Force is aware of it almost immediately, and if it presents scientific problems we or other groups are consulted."

According to Dr. Gee, this was how the Aztec ship had been discovered:

"Two tenescopes caught this unidentified ship as it came into our atmosphere. They watched its position and estimated where it would land. Within a few hours after it landed, Air Force officers reached the flying field at Durango, Colorado, and took off in search for the object."

Now, there are many aspects of Behind the Flying Saucers which are patently ridiculous, but this is one of the best. You won't find the word "tenescope" in any dictionary. If you Google it, one entry (that's right - only one) will come up, which states simply that it was a device described only in Behind the Flying Saucers.

Why only one entry? Why no mention in dictionaries? Because there is not now, nor was there ever, such a thing as a "tenescope." Newton and Gebauer made it up.

This is not to say that there was never a mention of radar bases by the con artists. Indeed, a de-classified AFOSI memo from 23 January, 1950, (discussed in more detail in "Leo Gebauer & The Mysterious Dr. Gee") reveals that Newton had been spreading the flying saucer story about to a number of people in Colorado in 1949, including Morley Davies. According to the memo:

"He [Silas Newton] told Davies the flying saucers were landing near Albuquerque, New Mexico, due to the attraction of the radar installation nearby. He presumed that the radar activity had an effect on these saucers since they were powered by a magnetism drawn from the atmosphere."

Apparently, simple radar stations were not exotic enough for Newton and Gebauer, who subsequently invented the "tenescope," which fit in better with their magnetic propulsion stories and allowed them to claim that the devices were even more secret than radar, which was known to the public. As a result, we have Silas Newton telling one story to people like Morley Davies, and then another, later story to Frank Scully, which would be the one that would be printed in Behind the Flying Saucers.

These factors alone are enough to render any further discussion of the "secret radar bases" meaningless. However, it is important to note that even with respect to the radar bases themselves, Moulton Howe and the other Aztec proponents have it all wrong, as an examination of the official record - in this case, the de-classified Special Air Force Historical Study The Air Defense of Atomic Energy Installations: March 1946 - December 1952 - demonstrates.

First, the order from Headquarters USAF to establish an aircraft control and warning system was not issued until 23 April, 1948, with the vital installations to be defended listed as:

"(1) The Air Force Special Weapons Command Facility at Sandia Air Force Base, and Kirtland Air Force Base... ; (2) the Atomic Energy Installation at Los Alamos... ; and (3) the Strategic Air Command's Walker Air Force Base at Roswell, New Mexico."

This was, of course, after the Aztec incident (and the Roswell incident as well) had allegedly occurred.

By July, sites "temporary in nature in that they were in valley locations" for three stations had been selected, at Kirtland AFB, the AEC Installation at Los Alamos, and Walker AFB. In September, 1948,m the 636th AC&W Squadron was transferred from California to Kirtland. In November, 1948, TPS-1B radars were installed at the Kirtland site, which was designated Lashup site 45 (L-45). The Los Alamos site and the Walker station were designated Lashup sites 44 and 46, respectively, in January, 1949, by which time the Kirtland site was operational for "about four hours a day." The Los Alamos early warning site was not active, "because of radar difficulties [and] insufficient manning," until early 1950.

On 5 January, 1950, the new commander of the new active defense area, as the radar sites were called, was ordered to:

"maintain, within the limitations of available equipment, such portions of the Albuquerque Air Defense Area as are required to identify and intercept with unarmed fighters all unauthorised flights within the airspace over the Los Alamos AEC installation in which all flying had been prohibited since January 1948."

As the Historical Study noted, these actions defined the way active air defense operations were to be conducted in the New Mexico area. The problem , however, was that due to:

"the low operational capability of the light equipment assigned the radar stations and the low manning of these organisations... it was not possible to initiate such operations immediately."

By the end of March, 1950, manning and equipping of the three radar stations within the AADA had progressed to the extent that the radar net in that area was capable of operating "twelve hours a day, seven days a week."

Two years after the alleged Aztec incident, the radar stations could still only operate half the time! By July 1950, around the time Behind the Flying Saucers was being released to the public, Headquarters, Western Air Defence Force (which had been organised in late 1949), was studying the problem that the "unsatisfactory radar equipment deployment" in the area was causing. As their report stated:

"The... present radar deployment in the Albuquerque Air Defence Area does not provide adequate sufficient coverage necessary to defend the area."

Needless to say, they were not talking about defending the area from flying saucers, but rather from more "terrestrial" threats.

It was not until mid-January, 1951, that the newly activated AC&W squadrons were moved to the permanent sites, which had been built at El Vado, Moriarity and Gonzales (effectively, Continental Divide). Even then, due to delays in production of the more advanced FPS-3 search radars and FPS-4 height finders (or, in El Vado's case, the FPS-6 height finder), these sites were assigned less effective CPS-5 search radar system and the FPS-5 interim height finder. El Vado was not capable of round the clock operations until February, 1952.

So much for powerful, secret radar bases.

The lessons here?

First, while Scott Ramsey, a friend for whom I have a great deal of respect, is to be commended for diligently tracking down all of this information (he should be able to write an excellent history of the USAF someday, at least as far as the AFOSI and the early defense of North American airspace are concerned), none of it even remotely begins to substantiate the Aztec case. In fact, when you look at the conflicting statements Newton gave people like Davies, compare it with the "tenescopes" described in Behind the Flying Saucers, and then compare both against the real history of the American radar set-up in post-war New Mexico, you end up with further evidence that Aztec was in fact a con by Newton and Gebauer.

Second, when a ufologist - here, Linda Moulton Howe - says something, always check the facts yourself. They may have gotten it wrong, as was the case here.

Third, always remember that truth abhors a vacuum. Perhaps nowhere is that more the case than in the study of the UFO phenomenon, where it's often "the other side of truth" that matters.

Paul Kimball

Monday, March 07, 2005


People within the UFO community have spent the past week and a half commenting on the Peter Jennings ABC News Special UFOs: Seeing is Believing. Most, but not all, of the commentary has been negative, focusing on the second hour and the anti-Roswell and anti-abduction stances taken by ABC, and the time given to the SETI scientists.

Count me as one who disagrees with this general assessment of the program. I thought it was quite good, particularly in the first hour, which I thought was the best UFO documentary I've seen yet - compelling stuff. I agree the second hour went a bit too far - even if you think Roswell was a Project Mogul balloon array (a not unreasonable position, as the matter of what happened at Roswell is still a contentious one, even amongst ufologists), the portrayal of Stan Friedman as nothing more than a "Roswell promoter" was unfair.

Still, some of the people who are lambasting Seeing is Believing (including some who - of course - claim it is all part of the great "cover-up") strike me as more the "glass is half empty" types (or, in many cases, the glass is "completely empty") than as objective observers. The program didn't present all of their pre-conceived notions about UFOs as gospel, so there could be nothing good in it.

Too bad, because Seeing is Believing has opened a real opportunity for Ufology to move back towards the mainstream, and away from the likes of Michael Salla and Steven Greer. The witnesses they presented, particularly in the first hour, were reasonable, responsible types (police officers and USAF crew especially) - the kind of witnesses who are hard for even the debunkers to ignore. No Bob Lazar's, or William Cooper's, or Philip Corso's. No Exopolitics.

Thank God for that.

But, most important, the SETI scientists came out looking particularly bad. Who are the true "believers"? Watch the SETI people talk (if you can get past their smug condescension), then watch guys like Jerry Clark and Dr. Mark Rodegheir talk. No question who made the more logical presentation - the ufologists.

Better still was the end of the program. There was Michio Kaku, one of the pre-eminent physicists of our time, taking the side of the ufologists.

Some quotes:

"Some people slam the door on the question of other civilizations visiting the Earth because distances are so far away. I say, 'Not so fast.' "

"The fundamental mistake people make when thinking about extraterrestrial intelligence is to assume that they're just like us except a few hundred years more advanced. I say 'Open your mind. Open your consciousness to the possibility that they are a million years ahead.' "

"When you look at this handful, handful of cases that cannot be easily dismissed. This is worthy. This is worthy of a scientific investigation. Maybe there's nothing there. However, on the off chance that there is something there, that could change the course of human history. So I say, ' Let this investigation begin.' "

Dr. Kaku's website can be found at

So much for those in science who say there's nothing worthy of investigation. So much for those who say you can't get there from here.

Kaku came across as a visionary. The SETI people (Shostak, Tarter and Drake, especially) came across as cultists.

Chalk one up for ufology.

So, when discussing Seeing is Believing, ufology needs to keep its eye on the ball - yes, there were things that many in ufology won't agree with (Roswell, for example). But the study of the UFO phenomenon needs to get back into the mainstream, after years of wallowing in conspiracy theory, New Age-ism, and wild tales from alleged "whistleblowers" about dozens of alien races.

It needs to move away from "Exo-politics", and back to looking at the evidence again.

And yes, it needs to make its case to the general public, to the media, and to science.

Seeing is Believing was a critical first step in that process. Kudos to ABC, and Peter Jennings.

Paul Kimball

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Ufological Alphabet Soup

You may know them by their acronyms - MUFON, CAUS, NICAP, CUFOS, FUFOR etc. They are the various organisations that, in one way or another, purport to speak on behalf of ufology about the UFO phenomenon, or some aspect thereof. They have all done good, often overlooked, work.

Unfortunately, they're also part of the problem with contemporary ufology- there is no centralised organisation that has the authority to represent ufology to the mainstream.

What we have instead is a ufological "alphabet soup" similar to that found in the world of professional boxing, where the WBC, WBO, WBA, IBF etc all declare their own champion. What we need is a sort of "Ring Magazine" for ufology, ie. a respected group that can act as a sort of ufological supreme court, or federal government, or United Nations (take your pick).

This doesn't mean that all of the other organisations have to close up shop - far from it. It is time for ufology to adopt a federalist model. Let these various organisations all select a member from within their ranks to sit on the board of directors of, oh, I don't know, call it the World UFO Research and Advocacy Committee (WUFORAC). Elect an independent chair that does not belong to any of these organisations. Let WUFORAC serve as the spokesgroup for all of these other sub-groups. Let each sub-group contribute some money, and hire an executive director who can coordinate efforts and serve as a spokesperson for ufology. Put together an advisory group from outside the ranks of any of these organisations, made up of journalists, scientists, historians, maybe even politicians (after a while, it may happen) and others who can make a positive contribution, and let them referee any disputes as to cases, witnesses, evidence, etc.

Unwieldy? Unworkable?

Perhaps. But it's got to be better than the current situation. At the very least, let's start the discussion.

In short, let's move beyond the alphabet soup. Let's find a real champion for ufology, while there's still a ufology to champion.

Paul Kimball

Aztec and Inconvenient Facts

Aztec is not the only alleged flying saucer incident described in Behind the Flying Saucers. However, rather than enhancing the credibility of Dr. Gee, or Silas Newton, these other tales just create further problems for the proponents of Aztec, as each has been shown since to have terrestrial explanations. If Dr. Gee or Newton were truly "in the know," why would they get it all so wrong?

The best example is the famous Mantell case. On 7 January, 1948, Captain Thomas Mantell, a fighter pilot in the Kentucky Air National Guard, crashed his F-51 fighter near Franklin, Kentucky. He had been chasing a large object that some claimed was a flying saucer. The official conclusion was that Mantell had perished in a tragic accident, caused by his attempt to intercept an object first said to be Venus, then a weather ballon, and finally both Venus and two weather balloons. He violated orders by climbing above 14,000 feet without oxygen equipment, and died either of hypoxia before the plane crashed or had lost consciousness and died upon impact. It was uncertain at the time exactly what Captain Mantell had been chasing, however, which led to much speculation that it was a flying saucer.

In Behind the Flying Saucers, Scully dealt with the Mantell case. "This case has been hashed and rehashed many times," he wrote, "but never once had anybody come near a remotely plausible solution as to what happened to Mantell and his plane." Until Silas Newton (posing as "Scientist X"), of course, who "explained" in his Denver lecture that:

"A good deal of what is claimed to have happened to ships in the air, such as disintegration... can be duplicated in the laboratory. Mantell’s plane... from the motor to the tips of the wings held together by reason of magnetic frequency. This was even true of Mantell himself. Therefore all that a flying saucer had to do to disintegrate Mantell’s plane, the lecturer revealed, was to demagnetize it... This, then was the magnetic research scientist’s explanation as to what happened to Captain Mantell and his ship. The captain was proving a source of annoyance in his pursuit of a magnetically controlled flying saucer. A button was pushed and Mantell and his plane were no more."

There is only one problem with this explanation - it isn’t true. Kevin Randle, in "An Analysis of the Thomas Mantell Case", a highly-detailed, well-researched and peer reviewed paper which has been posted on-line at the UFO Updates site, proved - beyond any reasonable doubt - that the original military explanation of Mantell’s death was the correct one, and that the UFO he had been chasing was in fact a cosmic ray research balloon known as "Skyhook." In Strange Skies: Pilot Encounters with UFOs, Jerry Clark comes to the same conclusion, and refutes the contention that there were no skyhook launches at the time of the Mantell incident (see. p. 63).

Newton’s use of the story, and Scully’s acceptance of it, undermines their credibility even further. It also demonstrates the lack of judgment, and the will to believe, of people like Scully and Wilbert Smith. Smith, for example, stated in a speech in on 31 March, 1958, at Ottawa, Ontario, that:

"In Mantell’s case, the altered field configurations in the vicinity of the [flying saucer] reduced binding forces within the structure of the aircraft to a value below that of the load, which the parts were supposed to carry. So it just came apart."

Of course, it made perfect sense at the time for Newton to include the Mantell case in his con, and for Smith to link it to his belief in flying saucers. It was genuinely unexplained, at least to the public’s satisfaction, and it had received a wide range of sensationalistic publicity. It was the perfect case for Newton to include in the con - mysterious and well-known. It fed into Scully's belief that there was a "cover-up". But we now know that it had nothing to do with "magnetic frequency" or flying saucers. It was simply a tragic accident - and a perfect example of inconvenient facts and the will to believe.

Paul Kimball

Being Frank about Frank... Scully, that is

He was the man behind Behind the Flying Saucers. But who was he, really? The dupe that got conned by Silas Newton, or the "Dan Rather" of his day?

Frank Scully led an interesting and, in many respects, an admirable life. He was active in charitable causes, including the effort to find a cure for muscular dystrophy. He was a good Catholic - so good, in fact, that he was knighted by Pope Pius XII in the Order of St. Gregory the Great, in December, 1956. He knew a great many of the beautiful people of his day, and moved comfortably in their circles. Most significantly, he battled a number of serious physical ailments throughout his life with a sense of optimism and good humour that is best exemplified in his series of Fun in Bed books.

However, although he was a fairly prolific writer, he was far from the pre-eminent journalist that the proponents of the Aztec case claim he was - as Scott Ramsey put it, "Scully would be compared to the present day Dan Rather, Peter Jennings, or Tom Brokaw." At the time he wrote Behind the Flying Saucers, he had been writing a weekly column - "Scully’s Scrapbook" - for Variety, a Hollywood trade periodical that was hardly a journal of hard-hitting, serious news, for two decades. While his columns occasionally touched upon serious topics, the vast majority of them dealt with gossip, entertainment insider stories, personal reminiscences, and Scully’s off-the-wall brand of humour. He could probably best be described as an amalgam of modern Hollywood insider Pat O’Brien (Entertainment Tonight) and Jay Leno (The Tonight Show), with a bit of Fox News personality Bill O’Reilly thrown in (albeit with a liberal point of view in Scully’s case).

He was certainly no Peter Jennings or Tom Brokaw. The New York Times probably hit closest to the mark in its 1964 obituary of Scully when it referred to his "airy" career as "a professional humorist" possessed of an "acid wit." His motto throughout his career seems to have been epitomized by the following quote, for which he is still well known today - "Why not go out on a limb? Isn’t that where the fruit is?"

Scully was far from perfect. There is a great deal of evidence that he would do whatever he had to do to get to "where the fruit is." For example, In 1938 he ran for California’s State Assembly with the reformist slogan "Out of the Gully With Candidate Scully." Although defeated, he was rewarded for his support of Governor Culbert Olson with the position of Secretary in the Department of Institutions. Scully found what he considered to be deplorable conditions in the state’s institutions, such as a Los Angeles school for the blind where, he said, people were receiving harsh treatment from civil servants. Without consulting his superior, well-known psychiatrist Aaron Rosanoff, he set about "correcting" the various abuses he believed existed. Rosanoff fired him, and later charged that affairs in Scully’s office were "unbusinesslike." Scully refused to leave - literally; he encamped in the disputed office with the "protection" of a 300 pound bruiser who had once served a jail term for assault and battery.

Eventually, the whole mess wound up in court, with Scully suing Rosanoff and the State of California. He lost at trial, and appealed. In 1942, the appeal was denied. What is interesting is one the causes of action. As Secretary, Scully had been appointed guardian of a number of estates of incompetent persons. The probate court fixed the fees to which the guardian was entitled, in several cases where the person passed away, at a total of $2,650. Scully claimed that he was entitled to the fees! The Court, in a unanimous decision, correctly concluded that the fees were payable to the position, not the person (who was, after all, a salaried employee), and that they were to paid into the State treasury, after which they would be added to the appropriation of the Department of Institutions. This blatant cash grab, and the circumstances surrounding it, do not speak well of Scully’s character.

Scully’s penchant for attacking his enemies sometimes got physical. In 1948, at a meeting of the Central Democratic Committee of Los Angeles County in the run-up to the Democratic convention, an argument broke out between supporters of left-wing Democrat Henry Wallace and those who supported Harry Truman. The meeting was getting out of hand when Scully took the floor to try and restore order. "Let’s not divide ourselves to the point where we’re zero," he appealed to his fellow Democrats. "We’re damn near that now." When a man interrupted Scully on a point of order, Scully, who was standing with the aide of his chrome-plated crutches, snapped at him to "Sit down, you mug!" When the man continued, Scully moved to within a few feet of him, hoisted up his right crutch, and whacked him on the shoulder. This pretty much ended the meeting. [There's an amusing photo in Time Magazine of Scully brandishing his club at the man - 26 January 1948, p. 22]

A closer look at his life reveals that Scully also had a penchant for "stretching the truth" to his own benefit. For example, in Behind the Flying Saucers, and elsewhere, he claims that he was the author of Frank Harris’s biography of Bernard Shaw. This is a blatant exaggeration, however. As Scully’s friend, the arch-anarchist and writer Alexander Berkman, stated in a letter to Max Nettau in 19 :

"It was the secretary of Harris, one Frank Scully, an American journalist, who was to help Harris write the book. Harris wrote about 40,000 words and could not go on. His memory failed and he repeated himself. So Frank Scully took the book in hand and invited me to help him, as he himself is no author, just a journalist."

This account was confirmed by an entry in Nellie Harris’s diary for 17 January, 1931, wherein she stated that "Scully wants to employ labour - a competent man who knows how to write because now they have all the material." The man Scully engaged was Berkman. Later, after Harris had died before the book was finished, Shaw himself stepped in to finish the project. He noted in a letter to Victor Gollancz that "The book falls off badly at the end. There are two chapters (one of them commercially libelous) so bad that I think [Harris] must have left them to Scully to write." As Robert Pearsall concludes in his biography of Harris, Scully was a "young opportunist with hopes of cash and fame" whose claims to having ghost-written much of the book are "best ignored from all points of view." Thus, contrary to Scully’s claims, it is clear that no less than four authors had a hand in writing the book - Harris, Berkman, Scully, and Shaw - and that none of the others had a terribly high regard for Scully’s talents as a writer.

Scully could also be credulous, and lax when it came to checking alleged facts; Aztec was not the first hoax he had fallen for. A quick check of the Oxford English Dictionary reveals that the longest word in the English language is:

"pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis" (hereinafter referred to simply as pneum).

The word is a mouthful to be sure, but it is the definition that is the key:

"... a facetious word alleged to mean ‘a lung disease caused by the inhalation of very fine silica dust’ but occurring chiefly as an instance of a very long word." [Emphasis added]

So, how did this non-word find its way into the English language? In 1935, the National Puzzler’s League, the world’s oldest wordplay association, at its semi-annual meeting, "recognized" pneum as the longest word, replacing "electrophotomicrographically." Scully, who was living in New York at the time, saw the story in the paper, and included the word in his 1936 book Bedside Manner. On the strength of this citation, the word found its way into the major English language dictionaries. It was all a goof by the Puzzlers, and Scully wound up being on the butt end of the joke - not for the last time.

Scully also had an over-inflated sense of his own importance. This is evident in much of Scully’s writing (like the claim that he wrote the Shaw biography), but perhaps nowhere more so than in Behind the Flying Saucers and Scully’s subsequent defence of the book. As time went on the story seemed to become more about Scully than flying saucers. For example, in his response to James Moseley’s critique in Nexus, Scully wrote:

"Like a pathologist, I dealt with grounded saucers and dead crews. Since then several personal histories, dealing with active saucers and live crews, have been published, and nobody either in or out of the saucerian inquiry has seen fit to hang on the historians the word "hoax". Certainly nobody has gone around saying these historians admitted their story was a hoax. Just why was I singled out for this dubious honor? Is it because "Behind the Flying Saucers" is the keystone of this arch and the enemies of honest research believe if they can knock it down the rest will fall like a house of cards?" [Emphasis added]

He continued:

"As everybody agrees that the Pentagonians have not given us the whole truth about the saucerian mystery, it must be consoling to them to get a new crop each year to tear down the Scully bastion, and thus, continue to divide and rule." [Emphasis added]

The phrase "Scully bastion" combined with later indicators like the title of his part three of his autobiography - In Armour Bright - provide further evidence of just how far Scully’s self-image as a crusading journalist for truth, justice and the American way, went. It is a self-image, built largely on hubris - and accepted for too long by proponents of the Aztec story like William Steinman - that is simply not born out by the facts.

Finally, like Wilbert Smith with Sarbarcher’s disinformation, there was one aspect of Scully’s character that trumps all of the above when it comes to explaining his susceptibility to the Aztec con of Newton and Gebauer. Unlike Smith, however, whose weakness was an unquestioning belief in the existence of flying saucers, Scully’s was an inherent distrust of governmental authority. Part of this seems to have stemmed from his own personal experience in reformist politics in the 1930s (at one point, he was hauled in front of the Dies Committee), while the rest may well be the result of his travels and friendships with anti-establishment types like Frank Harris and Alexander Berkman.

Whatever the reason, this pre-disposition to view government as "corrupt" and the "enemy" made him particularly receptive to the suggestion of a government cover-up, in this case of flying saucers. Whereas Smith was moved by his pre-existing beliefs to link everything to the existence of flying saucers, Scully, in Behind the Flying Saucers and the material that followed, was more concerned with demonstrating the existence of a government conspiracy. Thus, anyone who questioned his claims was labeled a "Pentagonian stooge," and the leaders of the military as "ambulant Pentagonians, still able to parade around in their salad dressing and hand-tailored uniforms."

So - what to make of Frank Scully? My research is ongoing (9 of 25+ years of Variety on microfilm to finish with), but he may have provided a clue, years after he wrote Behind the Flying Saucers, in the form of the "wink, wink - nudge, nudge" style of writing he had perfected over the years at Variety, that he knew the whole thing was a con, perhaps even from the beginning. He still could not, or would not, bring himself to say so directly, but in his autobiography, In Armour Bright, the chapter that deals with Behind the Flying Saucers is titled, tellingly, "Flying Saucers, Where Are You?" Throughout the chapter, Scully maintains that the story was all true. But, at the end, in what would be his final word on the subject (he died a year after the book was published), he concludes not with a last attack on the Pentagonians, or Cahn and True Magazine, or any of his other critics, or with a final defense of the good character of Silas Newton, but with a joke:

"There was also a theory advanced that the flying saucers were tossed by Russian discus throwers who didn’t know their own strength. And of course there remains the oldest gag of all: If you haven’t seen a flying saucer and want to, just trip a waitress."

This may confirm James Moseley’s original judgement of Frank Scully, formed in December, 1953. After a meeting with Scully in which they discussed the Cahn article, and in which Scully that Behind the Flying Saucers was based on a hoax, denied that Leo Gebauer was Dr. Gee, and defended the credibility and character of Silas Newton, Moseley concluded that Scully had been duped, and that "he probably knows it; he may even have known about it at the time [he wrote his book], as he is a professional writer and probably not against making money, even on a hoax."

Had Moseley hit the nail on the head? As Frank Scully himself said in In Armour Bright, when discussing why he no longer had anything to do with flying saucers, "Frankly, by now I’m bored with the subject. Besides, [Behind the Flying Saucers] is now out of print and what author stimulates interest in a book that can’t be had for love or money?"

What author indeed?

Paul Kimball