This article was published in the daily newspaper The Durango Herald, of Durango, Colorado, USA, on March 21, 2004.
Symposium: Is the UFO truth in Aztec?
By Dale Rodebaugh
Art Campbell speaks about the Plains of San Augustin Project on Saturday during the seventh annual Aztec UFO Symposium 2004.
AZTEC, N.M. - True believers and the curious gathered here this weekend for the seventh annual Aztec UFO Symposium to hear the latest information on the crash - or landing, according to some - of an unidentified flying object north of here in 1948.
"There is no smoking gun, but a lot of interesting documents about what happened here," Scott Ramsey said before his presentation Saturday. "I'm no evangelist. I just present the facts and let people make up their minds."
Ramsey, the vice president of a wire company in Charlotte, N. C., has been investigating the March 25, 1948, incident near here since 1990. Ramsey's business travels bring him to the Four Corners every six to eight weeks.
According to the standard account of the 1948 incident, a saucer-shaped spaceship about 100 feet in diameter crashed in Hart Canyon 12 miles northeast of here about 6 a.m. Military personnel and law-enforcement officers removed 16 dead humanoids from the craft and then hauled it away.
UFO investigators say the government clammed up immediately, leaving the public to speculate and theorize about what - if anything - happened.
Theorists wasted little time. The purported Aztec/alien connection first was revealed in 1950 in Behind the Flying Saucers written by journalist and columnist Frank Scully.
It has been kept alive since by investigators of the same incident or similar New Mexico happenings in Roswell and the Plains of San Augustin west of Socorro in 1947 and Farmington in 1950.
Robert Chilcoat, of Kingman, Ariz., is investigating a UFO incident there in 1953.
"The incident, which was kind of similar, was hushed up and the UFO was taken to an Air Force testing grounds north of Las Vegas," Chilcoat said. "I've been researching the incident for about 10 years."
Ramsey said the government gave a lot of importance to the Aztec incident and did a lot of investigation, but labeled its findings as classified information. Ramsey said he is gaining access to some of the documents and has interviewed witnesses and people involved in the original investigation, including an Air Force source.
About 200 people, military personnel and scientists, were involved in the investigation, Ramsey said. They were sworn to secrecy. Military men were threatened with the loss of their pension or time in the brig, Ramsey said.
Ramsey said he has spent $200,000 of his own money in visiting 28 states in search of supporting documents or testimony about the Aztec incident.
"I've pretty much exhausted my resources here," Ramsey said. "Old-timers are dying left and right. I'm down to second- and third-hand witnesses."
Ramsey expects to publish his own book on the Aztec UFO next year.
Art Campbell, an investigator of a purported UFO crash on the Plains of San Augustin, was scheduled to talk about his work Saturday afternoon. Photos of artifacts that Campbell says he found at the crash site, including some narrow shoe soles, were on exhibit.
Friends of the Aztec Public Library sponsors the symposiums, which are fund-raisers for the organization and the construction of a new $2 million, 11,000-square-foot library.
Internet publicity about the symposiums prompted school-children art contests in eight U.S. states and Israel this year, said Librarian Leanne Hathcock. Examples of the children's work were on exhibit in the foyer of Koogler Middle School where the symposium is being held.
Among other topics on the symposium's three-day agenda are contacts with extraterrestrials, government cover-up of UFO reports, crop circles and the connections between extraterrestrials and indigenous cultures. The symposium ends today.