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The Aztec, New Mexico UFO Crash
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
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.