The Aztec, New Mexico UFO Crash

Ian Poellet photographed the historic Aztec Motor Company Building, located at 301 South Main Street in Aztec, New Mexico on June 1, 2012. The building is listed on the US National Register of Historic Places.
Ian Poellet photographed the historic Aztec Motor Company Building, located at 301 South Main Street in Aztec, New Mexico on June 1, 2012. The building is listed on the US National Register of Historic Places. | Source

Where is Aztec, New Mexico? What it is known for?

Aztec is a small city—9.8 square miles (25.4 square kilometers)—in northwest New Mexico, with a population of approximately 6400 people. It is known primarily for two things

  • Aztec Ruins National Monument, the site of Anasazi pueblo structures from the 11th to the 13th centuries
  • A UFO landing hoax perpetrated by two con man against a magazine columnist

This article discusses the 1948 hoax and its 1986 and 1998 revivals.

Northwest New Mexico

show route and directions
B markerHart Canyon -
[get directions]

1948 UFO Hoax

Silas M. Newton and Leo A. Gebauer, two con men, were the perpetrators of the UFO landing hoax. Frank Scully, a columnist for Variety, an entertainment industry newspaper, was their victim. Scully didn't seem to mind being the victom of a hoax. In fact, he wrote a book about the purported UFO landing, Behind the Flying Saucers—The Truth About The Aztec UFO Crash.

The Con Men's Scheme

Newton and Gebauer wanted to take advantage of peoples’ greed, their desire to “get rich quick,” and their gullibility. They built a machine—using technology which they said they obtained from aliens—which would find oil and natural gas deposits. They got people to invest in their invention, to purchase shares in their company.

Newton and Gebauer told potential investors the machines cost $18,500 each, when they actually cost $3.50 to build. Frank Scully, a columnist for the entertainment newspaper Variety, was one of the investors.

An investigative newspaper reporter from San Francisco, J.P. Cahn, had some of the metal used to build the machines tested. Newton and Gebauer had said the metal was supplied by aliens. The “metal supplied by the aliens” turned out to be aluminum.

Cahn wrote a story about the phony machine costing $18,500 and the phony alien space ship. Several people who had been swindled by the con men came forward, including Herman Glader, a millionaire from Denver, Colorado. Glader pressed charges against Newton and Gebauer. The two were convicted of several charges, including fraud, in 1953.

Frank Scully's Claims

In his book Behind the Flying Saucers—The Truth About The Aztec UFO Crash, Frank Scully claimed that in March 1948, a UFO had landed 12 miles northeast of Aztec, New Mexico in Hart Canyon. Scully went on to say that a metal canister 99.99 feet tall was discovered inside the burned-out interior of the alien spacecraft. Inside the capsule were the burned bodies of 16 alien beings. Scully stated that US military personnel removed the spacecraft—the exterior of which was not burned, the capsule, and the aliens in order to conduct an investgation.

No one saw or heard the alien space ship land in Hart Canyon. No one saw any military aircraft or land vehilces remove the object and its contents from the canyon.

1986 UFO Hoax

William Steinman and Wendelle Stevens self-published a book in 1986 about the 1948 UFO landing. Steinman and Stevens didn't state that they were telling the story of a hoax which was perpetrated nearly 40 years earlier. They wrote their book as if the information it contained was fact.

1998 UFO Hoax

The UFO landing hoax was revived in 1998. Linda Mouton Howe, a self-proclaimed UFO expert and frequent guest on the paranormail-themed radio program Coast to Coast AM hosted at that time by Arthur William "Art" Bell, III, claimed that she had evidence—government documents—which proved that a UFO had crashed in Hart Canyon in March 1948. What Linda Mouton Howe had was a rumor eight times removed from its source which had morphed into a memo written to then-FBI director J. Edgar Hoover.

Aztec, New Mexico's Annual UFO Festival

Taking advantage of the UFO landing hoax, the city of Aztec, New Mexico holds a UFO festival every March. The city charges a fee to take visitors out to the purported UFO landing site. The proceeds of the tour are used to improve Aztec's library.

Some People Don't Believe the 1948 Aztec, New Mexico UFO Crash was a Hoax

Aztec Ruins National Monument

Click thumbnail to view full-size
SkybirdForever photographed the entrance to  the Aztec Ruins National Monument on September 18, 2009.David Jolley took this photograph at the Aztec Ruins National Monument in 2007.Bill Johnson took this photograph at the Aztec Ruins National Monument in October 2007.
SkybirdForever photographed the entrance to  the Aztec Ruins National Monument on September 18, 2009.
SkybirdForever photographed the entrance to the Aztec Ruins National Monument on September 18, 2009. | Source
David Jolley took this photograph at the Aztec Ruins National Monument in 2007.
David Jolley took this photograph at the Aztec Ruins National Monument in 2007. | Source
Bill Johnson took this photograph at the Aztec Ruins National Monument in October 2007.
Bill Johnson took this photograph at the Aztec Ruins National Monument in October 2007. | Source

Was the 1948 Aztec, New Mexico UFO Crash a Hoax?

  • Yes
  • No
  • I can't decide
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Comments 48 comments

Vinaya Ghimire profile image

Vinaya Ghimire 3 years ago from Nepal

I did not know where Aztec was even though I had read Aztec civilization. It was interesting to read UFO connections with Aztec. It will be quite an experience to visit UFO landing site along with the ruins.


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 3 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

Vinaya,

Thanks for reading my article and being the first person to comment. The ruins in Aztec, New Mexico are from the people known as the Anasazi. The ruins date from the 11th to the 13th centuries. It amazes me that there were people living in what became the United States a few centuries before the European explorers arrived.


davenmidtown profile image

davenmidtown 3 years ago from Sacramento, California

Daisy: What a well rounded investigative piece you have created. It is amazing what people will do for money. The fact that this legend (?) lives on as history repeating is also amazing. I found a great deal of interest in your article.


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 3 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

Dave,

It's nice to "see" you again. Thanks for reading my article and posting your comment. Thanks, too, for sharing my Hub. I appreciate your very kind words.

There are many purported UFO sightings. What I found especially interesting about this event is the fact that, as you mentioned in your comment, history has repeated itself. The hoax has been revived twice, even though the event was proven to be a fabrication (a con) after the first occurrence.


Pavlo Badovskyy profile image

Pavlo Badovskyy 3 years ago from Kyiv, Ukraine

I do believe in UFO. I also think that UfO really crashed several times here on Earth. But any such accident means that the government has a chance to get a piece of new technology which can be theoretically used in future, thus giving advantage for this or that country. Therefore it will be concealed forever from us....


Stephanie Henkel profile image

Stephanie Henkel 3 years ago from USA

Very interesting hub, Daisy! I have visited Roswell, NM where they present a very convincing story of the UFO landing there, but I've never heard of the Aztec, NM hoax. I think people love to believe in the mysterious and unexplained, and if there's a possible government cover-up, it makes the story that much more intriguing. Great job telling the story!


bdegiulio profile image

bdegiulio 3 years ago from Massachusetts

Hi Daisy. I had not heard about this UFO hoax until now. Very interesting story. I do believe that somewhere out there in the universe there is other intelligent life so I would never totally discount the possibility of UFO's visiting us here on earth. Great job.


lrc7815 profile image

lrc7815 3 years ago from Central Virginia

Daisy, this a magnificent article. You ohave presented the information in a way that still leaves the reader free to form their own opinion. I was somewhat familiar with the Roswell incident but had not heard this account so I found it fascinating in it's evolution through the years. I must admit that I don't know what I believe. I think it is presumptive to believe that we (humans) are the only life forms in such a grand universe but that is where my knowledge ends. I would love to know the answer. :-)

I really enjoyed your article. Voted up and interesting and, sharing.


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 3 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

Pavlo,

It's nice to "see" you again. Thanks for reading my article and adding your insightful comment.

You have an interesting theory...governments are studying the spacecraft which have landed on earth in order to learn things about the technology which enabled the objects to reach and land on our planet.


Austinstar profile image

Austinstar 3 years ago from Somewhere in the universe

Perhaps the Anasazi themselves were aliens. No one knows where they came from or where they went. Lots of legends abound in that area of the SouthWest.


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 3 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

Stephanie,

Thanks for reading my article and commenting in it. I, too, was familiar with the Roswell, New Mexico incident, but I hadn't heard about Aztec, NM until I found the Hub title in an HP Exclusives title list.

I'm not discounting the possibility of spacecraft from outside the planet Earth landing here, but in the case of Aztec, it would appear that the two con men Silas M. Newton and Leo A. Gebauer, aided by their victim Frank Scully, perpetrated a hoax.


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 3 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

Bill (bdegiulio),

Thanks for reading my article and posting your comment.

The actions of Silas M. Newton and Leo A. Gebauer sound like something out of a B-grade movie from the black-and-white film era. They were good old-fashioned con men.

That doesn't mean, however, that intelligent life doesn't exist out somewhere out in the universe.


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 3 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

Linda (lrc7815),

Thanks for reading my article and adding your comment. Thanks, too, for sharing my Hub.

I tried to present the information about Aztec in as unbiased a manner as I could. I'm not discounting the possibility of spacecraft landing on Earth, but I think that Newton and Gebauer were pulling a con, selling machines which cost $3.50 to build for $18,500.


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 3 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

Lela (Austinstar),

Thanks for reading my article and adding your insightful comment.

As I was writing my article, I was thinking about the Anasazi. I thought it was "curious" that the Aztec incident purportedly occurred in the same area of New Mexico in which the mysterious Anasazi lived.


kidscrafts profile image

kidscrafts 3 years ago from Ottawa, Canada

Hi Daiy,

Interesting article! I am pretty sure there must be several kinds of aliens living on other planets and probably some landed or crashed on the Earth. I am not sure I would like to meet some of those people.... life on Earth is already quite difficult as it is right now!

The good thing is at least the city of Aztec can get tourists to visit and that's always good for local business! I might come to check on those Aztec's ruin!

PS : very nice pictures!


Ruchira profile image

Ruchira 3 years ago from United States

Hi Daisy,

I believe in outer life and I would have believed in it, until you uncovered the complete story.

On the brighter side, Aztec has tourism can is helping local community there.

voted up as useful and interesting and sharing it across


joanveronica profile image

joanveronica 3 years ago from Concepcion, Chile

Hi Daisy, interesting article! I had never heard of this particular hoax, although there have been several others. What I most enjoyed were the photos of the Anazasi ruins, those photos are superb! Voted up, awesome and interesting. Have a good day!


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 3 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

Joelle (kidscrafts),

It's nice to "see" you again. Thanks for reading my article and adding your comment.

I learned about the Anasazi people when I was in school. They appear to have flourished in the American southwest in the 11th to the 13th centuries, long before the first European adventurers explored the area. It is not known who they were, where they came from, or what happened to them. I haven't seen the ruins in Hart Canyon, near the city of Aztec, but I have seen similar ruins elsewhere in the area.


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 3 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

Ruchira,

Thanks for reading my article and posting your comment. There have been UFO-related incidents which could possibly be true, but with the con men Silas M. Newton and Leo A. Gebauer being convicted of fraud, I really think the Aztec, New Mexico UFO incident is a hoax.


faythef profile image

faythef 3 years ago from USA

Very interesting article. I grew up in New Mexico, As far as I can remember I have never heard about this...Voting up


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 3 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

Joan,

Thanks for reading my article and adding your comment. The Anasazi people are a real mystery. It isn't known who they were, how they came to build their pueblo in the American southwest, or where they went. It isn't widely known that there were people living in what is now the United States as early as the 11th century.

I'm glad you liked the photographs. I found them on Wikimedia Commons.


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 3 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

Faythe,

It's nice to meet you. Thanks for reading my article and commenting in it. I don't know why, but Roswell seems to have received much more publicity than Aztec.


Mhatter99 profile image

Mhatter99 3 years ago from San Francisco

Interesting hub. Thank you for relating it.


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 3 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

Martin (Mhatter99),

Thanks for reading and commenting in my article. I appreciate it.


web923 profile image

web923 3 years ago from Twentynine Palms, California

This was very well done and quite interesting. I reviewed the article a 2nd just to get a better picture of the layout. Again, very nicely done! Awesome and up!


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 3 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

Bill (web923),

Thanks for reading my article and adding your comment. I appreciate your support of my writing.

I tweeted my article today, and I got a new Twitter follower as a result. A weekly newspaper in Farmington, New Mexico is now following me. The city is in northwest New Mexico, not very far from Aztec.


Glimmer Twin Fan profile image

Glimmer Twin Fan 3 years ago

I love your hubs that get me thinking. Here is another one. Thanks! Up and interesting.


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 3 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

Glimmer,

It's nice to "see" you again. Thanks for reading my article and adding your comment. I appreciate your very kind words.

My next article will be about an armada of UFOs (200 to 500 "flying saucers") seen in Farmington, New Mexico by 1500 people.


rasta1 profile image

rasta1 3 years ago from Jamaica

That is a very awkward scheme. New Mexico is known for some strange activities.


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 3 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

Art (rasti1),

It's nice to "see" you again. Thanks for reading my article and posting your comment. The incident in Aztec, New Mexico appears to be a hoax, but I honestly don't know what to think about the purported UFO armada which appeared in Farmington, New Mexico in 1950.


poshcoffeeco profile image

poshcoffeeco 3 years ago from Cambridgeshire

Daisy, I believe that if we exist, there is probability that life exists elsewhere in the form of Aliens. Not surprisingly, some people can make a scam out of anything related to extra terrestrial happenings.

Shared and vote is interesting.


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 3 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

Steve (poshcoffeeco),

It's nice to "see" you again. Thanks for reading my article and commenting in it.

I've found a few Exclusives titles dealing with the subject of UFOs, aliens, etc., and fell into publishing a series. The Aztec, New Mexico incident, as I mentioned in some of my comments, was definitely a hoax.

The occurrence in Needles, California was experiments by the US Air Force. The Travis Walton purported abduction in Arizona is odd, in that there were witnesses who passed lie detector tests.

The Farmington, New Mexico UFO armada has me baffled. I don't know what to think about that incident.


molometer profile image

molometer 3 years ago

It always does leave me wondering what is actually going on. Some things can be explained quite easily as you have demonstrated but there is always that percentage that has no rational explanation. Fascinating stuff Daisy.

I have seen some video footage of these types of Armada's, flying above Washington back in the 1050's too. Still unexplained to this day?

Very interesting vote.


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 3 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

Michael (molometer),

It's nice to "see" you again. Thanks for reading my article and posting your comment.

Every one of the incidents about which I've written is different, and as you've said, some are still not explained more than 50 years later.

If you get a chance, please read my article about Travis Walton purportedly being kidnapped by aliens, and tell me what you think. How could his colleagues on the logging crew all have passed lie detector tests? Were they all high on a controlled substance? Did they all share the same hallucination? Were they genuinely convinced they saw an alien spacecraft?


molometer profile image

molometer 3 years ago

I will give it a look. Thanks Daisy.


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 3 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

Michael,

Thanks for stopping by again. I'm glad you're enjoying this series of Hubs.


Deborah-Diane profile image

Deborah-Diane 3 years ago from Orange County, California

Fascinating information! There are a lot of mysterious events that happen ... and a lot of them seem to happen in the Southwest for some reason.


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 3 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

Deborah-Diane,

It's nice to meet a Hubber from the same county in which I live. Thanks for reading my article and adding your comment.

If you listen to the video in my Hub about the UFO armada in Farmington, New Mexico, you'll learn some theories regarding why there are so many purported UFO sightings in the Southwest.


moonlake profile image

moonlake 3 years ago from America

Very interesting story about this NM hoax. I'm sure there are many hoaxes out there. I do believe in UFO's because I have seen them but I don't believe this story. Voted up and more.


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 3 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

moonlake,

It's nice to "see" you again. Thanks for reading my article and adding your comment.

When you say that you don't believe the story, what is it that you don't believe?

Newton and Gebauer perpetrated a hoax. They were both convicted of several charges, including fraud, in 1953. They built a machine—using technology which they said they obtained from aliens—which would find oil and natural gas deposits. There wasn't any UFO. No aliens landed in New Mexico.


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 3 years ago from England

It just goes to show how hoaxes grow like that, even ending up in a million dollar business most of the time. I wonder if that's where mulder and scully got their name for the X files? great story daisy, thanks!


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 3 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

Nell,

Thanks for reading my article and adding your comment. What I find interesting is that I tweeted my article and as a result, a reporter in Aztec, New Mexico began following me, as did a newspaper in Farmington, New Mexico.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 2 years ago from Queensland Australia

Another interesting UFO based article Daisy, even if this is about a proven hoax. if there is money to be made there will be con men trying to exploit it.


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 2 years ago from North America

This Hub is informative and pretty entertaining, so I had to come back and visit it again. The Aztec UFO Festival sounds like fun!

I wonder of the X-Files character, Dana Scully, was named in honor of the columnist Scully?


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 2 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

John (Jodah),

Thanks for reading my article and posting your comment. What I especially like regarding the circumstances described here is that there is so much documentation about the hoax aspect of the case.

Don't you think that if no one were harmed by it, perpetrating a hoax might be fun?


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 2 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

Patty,

Thanks for reading my article another time. What I find interesting is that this hoax seems to keep becoming revived. I guess it's a good marketing tactic for the town of Aztec.


Jodah profile image

Jodah 2 years ago from Queensland Australia

Yes Daisy, if no one would be hurt or ripped off it could be fun to perpetrate a hoax. As long as it was something that people wanted to believe in it wouldn't be hard. For instance with Elvis Presley. There were a couple of unknown songs sent to a radio station long after he'd died that sounded like him and were analyzed by sound experts who couldn't prove it wasn't his voice. Many believed he was still alive because of this and other occurrences that I could write a whole hub about.


Daisy Mariposa profile image

Daisy Mariposa 2 years ago from Orange County (Southern California) Author

John (Jodah),

Thanks for visiting again. Why don't you write the "Elvis is Alive" Hub? I'll bet your article would be a huge success!

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