Aztec, New Mexico, UFO incident

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'Hottel Memo'

The 1948 Aztec, New Mexico, UFO incident (sometimes known as the "other Roswell") was a hoaxed flying saucer crash and subject of the 1950 book "Behind the Flying Saucers," by Frank Scully.[1]


In early March 1948, an unidentified aerial craft was reported hovering over Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico.[2]

Approximately two weeks later, on March 25, 1948, in Hart Canyon, a similar UFO was said to have made a controlled landing after being shot at by the military.[2] Supposed witnesses claim that 16 dead humanoid figures were found near the craft and that the craft itself was said to be 99 feet (30 m) in diameter, the largest UFO to date.[2][3] The craft was alleged to be made of a material impervious to all heat.[1] Every account noted a hole in the craft's portal and described the humanoid figures as 'childlike' in size.[2] Other reports were more detailed, describing the creatures as between 36 inches (91 cm) and 42 inches (110 cm) in height, weight around 40 pounds (18 kg).[1]

It was alleged that shortly after the craft was downed, the military cleared the area of evidence, including the bodies - subsequently taking it to Hangar 18 at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.[1] Indeed, the belief in Hangar 18, which is said to house every downed UFO captured in the US, was spawned by the Aztec incident.[4]

The incident gave birth to the Aztec UFO Symposium, which was run by the local library as a fundraiser from 1997 until 2011.[3][5]

Notable people who have come forward as witnesses include NASA engineer, Bob Oechsler and Fred Reed, an employee of the Office of Strategic Services.[6]


Silas Newton and Leo A. Gebauer had travelled through Aztec, attempting to sell devices known in the oil business as "doodlebugs."[7] They claimed that the devices could find oil, gas and gold, and that they could do so because they were based on alien technology. To substantiate their claim they reported the UFO crash to Frank Scully for Variety. At the time the article was published, nobody else had come forward as a witness.[7]

When J. P. Cahn of the San Francisco Chronicle asked the con-men for a sample of the 'alien technology', they provided him with a sample, which turned out to be aluminium.[7]

Four years later the hoax was exposed in True magazine. After the article was published, many victims of the pair came forward. One of the victims was the millionaire Herman Glader, who pressed charges. The two were convicted of fraud in 1953.[1][7]

FBI memo[edit]

In April 2011, UFO enthusiasts discovered what has come to be known as the "Hottel memo", which was available for viewing on the FBI's 'Vault' website.[7] Though the memo had never been classified, and had been making the rounds online for some years, it was seen as 'proof' of an official cover-up by the US government.[7] The memo contained the testimony of a man named Guy Hottel, who was the FBI agent in charge of the Washington field office at the time.[8] It was addressed to J. Edgar Hoover and indexed in the FBI records, but this was standard practice at the time.[8]

It was later discovered that Hottel's story was a retelling of a retelling of a 6 January 1950 article published in the The Wyandotte Echo, a Kansas City, Kansas, legal newspaper. The Wyandotte Echo article itself was a retelling of the account of a local car-salesman and radio station advertising manager.[7]

Ultimately the details within the FBI memo can be traced directly back to the hoax.[7]

After the memo was posted on the FBI Vault, it received over a million views within 2 years.[8]

In 2013, the FBI issued a press release concerning the memo. In addressing the memo's context and possible connection to a hoax, the Bureau wrote, "Finally, the Hottel memo does not prove the existence of UFOs; it is simply a second- or third-hand claim that we never investigated. Some people believe the memo repeats a hoax that was circulating at that time, but the Bureau’s files have no information to verify that theory."[9]

Developments since the 1950s[edit]

Through the mid-1950s to the early 1970s, most UFO investigators considered the subject thoroughly discredited and therefore avoided it. However, in the late 70s, Leonard Stringfield purported that not only was the incident real, but that the craft involved was one of many captured and stored by the US military.[10]

William Steinman and Wendelle Stevens later wrote a book about the incident entitled UFO Crash at Aztec: A Well Kept Secret,[11] published in 1986. In 2011's The Aztec Incident, authors Scott and Suzanne Ramsey combined their own research with newer witness testimony and argued that the crash—more accurately, an uncontrolled landing with minimal damage—may indeed have occurred more or less as originally described by Scully.[12]

It has been noted that in later years supposed 'first hand' accounts of the Aztec crash have been seen in 'first hand' accounts of Roswell, repeated verbatim.[10]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e Conley, Mike (18 March 2009). "Mike Conley's Tales of the Weird: Was 'other Roswell' real or hoax?". The McDowell News (Marion, North Carolina: Lamar Smitherman). Retrieved 1 April 2013.  Article reprinted by the UFO Casebook website, B J Booth (William Booth) owner and webmaster.
  2. ^ a b c d Irvin, Leigh (28 March 2012). "Aztec UFO landing subject of new book". Farmington Daily Times (New Mexico). Retrieved 1 April 2013. 
  3. ^ a b Saunders, Rhys (26 March 2006). "Sharing stories of unexplained phenomena". Farmington Daily Times (New Mexico). p. 1A. Article ID: fdn29283847.  Article available via Farmington Daily Times Online Archive, (fee based).
  4. ^ Donovan, Barna William (2011). Conspiracy Films: A Tour of Dark Places in the American Conscious. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Co. p. 123. ISBN 978-0-786-43901-0. 
  5. ^ Mayeux, Debra (25 March 2005). "OFF HOURS: UFO symposium enters 8th year as Aztec residents search for truth". Farmington Daily Times (New Mexico). p. OH-13. Article ID: fdn16000832.  Article available via Farmington Daily Times Online Archive, (fee based).
  6. ^ Triggs, John (29 August 2006). "Inside the great UFO cover-up". Daily Express (UK). p. 24. 
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h Emspak, Jesse (11 April 2011). "FBI Hottel Memo Reveals UFO Hoax". International Business Times (New York: Etienne Uzac). Retrieved April 1, 2013. 
  8. ^ a b c "UFOs and the Guy Hottel Memo" (Press release). Federal Bureau of Investigation. 25 March 2013. Retrieved 1 April 2013. 
  9. ^ "UFOs and the Guy Hottel Memo" (Press release). Federal Bureau of Investigation. 25 March 2013. Retrieved 30 March 2013. 
  10. ^ a b Greer, John Michael (2009). The UFO Phenomenon: Fact, Fantasy and Disinformation (1st ed.). Woodbury, MN: Llewellyn Worldwide. ISBN 978-0-738-71319-9. 
  11. ^ Steinman, William S.; Stevens, Wendelle C. (1986). UFO Crash at Aztec: A Well Kept Secret (Limited 1st ed.). Tucson, AZ: UFO Photo Archives. ISBN 978-0-934-26905-6. 
  12. ^ Ramsey, Scott; Ramsey, Suzanne; Thayer, Frank; et al. (2011). The Aztec Incident: Recovery at Hart Canyon. Mooresville, NC: Aztec.48 Productions. p. 221. ISBN 978-0-985-00460-6. 

Further reading[edit]