Stretching Credibility: Crashed Saucers or Grounded Research

Christopher Allan
Magonia 45, March 1993

The US UFO community, when not deeply involved in abductions seems to be truly besotted with Roswell, with three known separate groups competing in producing a seemingly endless proliferation of books, articles, symposium reports, tape recordings, TV documentaries and even in attempts to persuade Congress to hold hearings with witnesses free to testify.

Crash at Corona takes a look at this overblown affair (Corona being a small town in New Mexico much nearer the original crash site than Roswell), but is far less credible than the Randle-Schmitt book of 1991, with biased choice of data and wild speculation raging all through.

As if one crash were not enough, the authors tell us that there were in fact two separate saucer crashes on that day in July 1947: one in the desert near Corona consisting of three crash sites within a small radius on a sheep ranch, and another on the Plains of San Augustin, a plateau some 125 miles to the west. Althogether eight alien bodies plus several plane loads of wreckage were recovered by the military, under conditions of utmost secrecy, from the four sites including one, possibly two, live specimens. Their subsequent fate is unknown.

Friedman and Berliner, however, go much further than Randle and Schmitt; they accept the Majestic 12 (MJ 12) papers as genuine, and even suggest (p.39-40) that Stalin knew all about Roswell in 1947 and “called in several of his top scientists” (this is at the very time everything was being hushed up from the American public), having been tipped off by his network of Soviet spies in New Mexico. The authors speculate that he may even have set up his own MJ-12-like committee in Russia Stalin, it appears, also had several women secretly translate “a pile of foreign books and materials” on UFOs for him. (Recall that Stalin died in early 1953 when only three UFO books had appeared. APRO was the only UFO group then extant, and the number of articles or newsletters then in print was negligible).

In their discussion of the MJ-12 papers the authors say that the other crash mentioned therein. which occurred on the Texas-Mexico border on December 6, 1950, accords well with the fact that “a high state of alert was noted in several books about the Truman administration” (without naming any of the books or the fact that the unidentified objects producing the ‘alert’ were merely unusual radar blips). They mention an FBI teletype sent on December 8, but omit to say that this teletype originated from Richmond, Virginia, i.e. nowhere near the crash location and, furthermore, that it makes no reference to any downed UFO (p.67).

The Smith-Sarbacher `connection’ is given with great emphasis being placed on Wilbert Smith’s ‘Top Secret’ Canadian memo naming Vannevar Bush. All the MJ-12 members are named, yet again, with brief descriptions of each, and a very one-sided discussion is given of the documents themselves. Dr Roger Wescott’s favourable ‘analysis’ of the Eisenhower briefing paper is presented once again, without any indication that Wescott later changed his mind on the affair and has long since dropped out of the controversy; or that Wescott was only chosen for this analysis because of his longstanding belief in things paranormal. (The authors also omit to say that Wescott was not a supporter of the ETH). The authors propose a simple, have-it-both-ways answer for the omission of the San Augustin `crash’ from the Eisenhower paper – the second crash was omitted “because at the time this had been given only limited credence; in this way the briefing paper could well be both genuine and fake” (my italics); the second crash was thus deleted from the paper before its copy and release. They also say: “admittedly, this is pure speculation”. They do concede, however, that “the final answer to the question of the legitimacy of the MJ-12 documents is not yet in” (p.69)

Regarding the two ‘crashes’, the authors prop up the myth of the July 2, 1947 date when there is not the slightest support for this in any contemporary report (this date is in fact an assumption made over thirty years later by Friedman and Bill Moore); they take the fact of the crash(es) as proven, again despite there being no first-hand witnesses and no mention of such a thing in the press reports (all that was mentioned was a ‘landing’ or `recovery’ of a light instrument). They change the date when Bill Brazel Jnr is said to have been visited by the military and had his few UFO fragments confiscated. The two previous books give the date of this incident as 1949, two years after the crash. Friedman & Berliner insist it took place merely a few weeks after the crash. Despite this, Brazel’s memory of the events surrounding the Corona crash is said to be “clear and sharp” (p.86).

On p.87 they say Barney Barnett died in 1969, long “before anyone had heard of a crash in western New Mexico, and long before anyone was taking stories of crashes seriously”; thus conveniently ignoring Frank Scully’s 1950 best-seller which was, the authors imply (p.48-9), indeed taken seriously by Wilbert Smith, Dr Frank Sarbacher and Dr Vannevar Bush if no-one else. This raises another question: the authors accept the MJ-12 papers as genuine. Therefore surely the MJ-12 committee members, having taken part so assiduously in the recovery of a crashed saucer in New Mexico in 1947, would have regarded Scully’s 1949-50 diclosures extremely seriously and redoubled their efforts. Why then is there no mention of Scully’s New Mexico crash in the Eisenhower briefing paper? How could the MJ-12 group possibly afford to ignore such a story when they knew the Roswell crash was genuine and they had recovered wreckage and bodies? Another `limited credence’ case perhaps?

On p.80 (again with the wrong date) they say rancher Brazel’s press interview “bore little similarity to his original story”. In fact only one Brazel interview was ever printed in the press and there was thus no “original story”.

The Lydia Sleppy teletype story is given a new twist. The first version of this appeared as far back as 1974 in Saga magazine, in a simple form. Every version thereafter differs from, and improves upon, the earlier ones. This time Sleppy says the “mysterious” interupt was caused by the FBI who were, according to Friedman and Berliner, monitoring teletypes at the time. No mention of the FBI occurs in any previous account of this incident.

On p.100 we are told that Jesse Marcel says “beyond that, I did not actually see him hit the matter with a sledge-hammer”, but further on: “we even tried making a dent in it with a 16-pound sledge-hammer”. On p.169 we hear that the wreckage was so extra ordinary that even “cattle and horses reportedly shied away from it… something told them it wasn’t anything normal”. (N.B. Brazel’s cattle and sheep escaped the mutilation suffered by later generations of farmers at the hands of alien visitors).
Roswell should provide much interesting entertainment and speculation for the forseeable future

The evidence of Gerald Anderson, who only came forward in 1990 after seeing the Unsolved Mysteries TV documentary. is given full credence. This alleged first-hand witness was only five-and-a-half years old at the time, but has the most phenomenal memory ever known, recalling everything in perfect detail 43 years later, including the alien creatures’ faces, the ship itself, the surrounding terrain, the archaeologists present who got too nosey, the military planes, trucks, even their insignia and names. He recalled his uncle Ted taking exception to the excessive military interference at the crash site and that he “smacked one of them and knocked him right on his ass” (p.106).

His older brother, possessing truly amazing insight, realised straightaway the nature of the craft, remarking “that’s a goddamn spaceship; them’s Martians!” The four members of his family who were present are now, alas, all dead; although an alleged copy of a diary (not the original) survives as supporting evidence. Naturally, Anderson has passed a polygraph test with flying calours.

Likewise, Friedman and Berliner accept without question the testimony of Glenn Dennis, a local mortician who heard about the alien bodies from a nurse now deceased. Dennis tells us elsewhere (in a recorded interview, not reproduced in the book) that the USAF warned him to keep his mouth shut or he might “make good dog food”.

The authors also accept the Robert Emenegger – Linda Moulton Howe story (without naming them) of secret movie footage of a meeting between the USAF and alien beings at Holloman Air Force Base, saying it “could very well be true” (p.187). Although Friedman and Berliner don’t tell you, there are at least two versions of this story: one had a mere 800 feet of film, the other over 12 miles!

Some daft speculations accompany the narrative all through. Dr Menzel was enlisted as a UFO disinformation agent early on (p.152), thus explaining his three anti-UFO books; the invention of transistors in late 1947 is linked to discoveries made from the Roswell wreckage (p.67). No journalist would dare reveal the story even if he knew it because it was “too big” and he could lose his job, thus it would not be worth the trouble! (p.155) Finally, the government dare not let the truth out for fear of a disastrous stock market crash with a deep depression and massive unemployment to follow (chap.15).

The San Augustin Controversy report is the proceedings of a conference in Chicago during Feb 15-16 1992 to try and get to the bottom of the second alleged saucer `crash’ on the presumed date in July 1947. It consists of the two protagonists Friedman and berliner on the one hand, against Kevin Randle, Donald Schmitt and Thomas J. Carey on the other, with Professor Michael D. Swords as moderator.

the main topic for discussion is the credibility of the witness mentioned above, Gerald Anderson, who only came forward in January 1990 after watching a TV documentary. A host of supporting documentation in the form of diaries, photos and exhibits is given and a very fair and reasonable analysis by the moderator which leaves no doubt in the mind of the reader (and of just about everyone else in the UFO movement) that Anderson is a complete fraud, having obtained all his vast knowledge of the case from reading The Roswell Incident by Berlitz and Moore, the TV documentary, plus other bits and pieces inadvertently passed onto him by Friedman. Naturally, Stan Friedman rejects this and still promotes Anderson as the star Roswell-San Augustin witness.

Considerable discussion centres on a Dr Winfred Buskirk, alleged by Anderson to be the leader of the team of archaeologists at the site at the time of the crash. In fact, due to Tom Cary’s painstaking investigation, it turns out that Buskirk was an anthropolgy teacher at the very school in Albuquerque that Anderson attended ten years later! Needless to say Buskirk, who is still alive, has never seen or heard of any UFO crash in New Mexico in 1947 or any other time. Friedman’s response, naturally, is that Buskirk has to say this because he is sworn to secrecy.

Let us admit that there has been a lot of research and investigation over Roswell by many dedicated ufologists over the past thirteen years; with some 400 people connected with the case (some very remotely, it must be said) being interviewed altogether. This number is still rising. Unfortunately the key evidence that could provide the final proof, i.e. actual UFO hardware, alien bodies or irrefutable official documentation, has never turned up. Nor is it likely it ever will. It is impossible to say how much contamination of witnesses by interviewers has occurred, how their memories have been distorted by time, how much some are motivated by the desire for publicity, how much their minds have been conditioned by the UFO subject forty years on, and so on.

Some debris was undoubtedly found on Mac Brazel’s ranch in the summer of 1947, and the military were involved in its retrieval. There is one and only one official document that has ever surfaced (and this only thirty years later), an FBI teletype dated July 8, 1947. This leaves no reasonable doubt that the object was an octahedron shaped radar target with an attached balloon, which is precisely what the USAF told the press on the same day. The FBI got their information via a phonecall from the USAF at Fort Worth, Texas. There was no conceivable reason for the Air Force to lie to the FBI.

The other associated `crash’ (San Augustin) is entirely fictitious, being merely a secondhand tale told to Stanton Friedman over thirty years later by someone who could not remember the date, even the year, and who cannot even recall when he was first told the tale himself. Friedman assumed the event was in the summer of 1947 for one reason only, because he wanted it to fit in with the so-called Roswell incident.

Randle and Schmitt are planning a second book. More articles will undoubtedly appear, with a promise of final `breakthrough’ being imminent. It will never happen, of course, but at least Roswell should provide much interesting entertainment and speculation for the forseeable future.

  • Friedman, Stanford and Don Berliner. Crash at Corona: US Military Retrieval and Cover-up of a UFO. Paragon House, New York 1992.
  • The Plains of San Augustin Controversy. Published Jointly by CUFOS and FUFOR. June, 1992 (88 pp.)