WEIRD PLACES: UFO Crash at Aztec, New Mexico

Scenic Aztec, New Mexico, where an alien craft allegedly crashed in 1948.

I have been a follower of the UFO phenomenon since the early 1970s. I read all of the newspaper reports that I could. Then I took all of the books on the subject out of the library as well. At the time there were UFO comic books as well as UFO magazines. Everywhere you looked you could find something on the subject of UFOs.

As I grew older, the interest continued. I became obsessed with the crash of a flying saucer just outside of Roswell, New Mexico. There has never been a case that had so many witnesses to the site and physical evidence. The military changed their story on this incident multiple times over the years. All they have managed to do was prove that they were lying each time. Eight months after the Roswell crash, another crash happened. This time the UFO crash was in Aztec, New Mexico and it happened on March 25, 1948.

The Aztec UFO crash never gained the notoriety that the Roswell Crash got. I aware of this case but information was lacking. I was definitely more determined to learn what I could about the Roswell case. This was probably because there was so much more information available. My first real exposure to this case was thanks to the 1986 book “UFO Crash at Aztec“. It was by William Steinman and Wendelle C. Stevens. This huge, 625 page book was very thorough.

In 2016, another book was released on the topic. This time it was more compact and is, to date, the most accurate report on this case. “The Aztec UFO Incident” by Scott Ramsey, Susanne Ramsey and Frank Thayer, PhD, is also a much easier read. I find it to be just as interesting, as the Roswell story of 1947.

This UFO incident was a flying saucer crash alleged to have happened in 1948 in Aztec, New Mexico. The story was first published in 1949 by author Frank Scully. It was first mentioned in his Variety magazine columns, and later in his 1950 book “Behind the Flying Saucers“. In the mid-1950s, the story was exposed as a hoax fabricated by two confidence men, Silas M. Newton and Leo A. Gebauer as part of a fraudulent scheme to sell supposed alien technology. Beginning in the 1970s, some Ufologists resurrected the story in books claiming the purported crash was real.

Looking down from the top of the cliff, the concrete pad is still clearly seen.

According to Scully, in March 1948 an unidentified aerial craft containing sixteen humanoid bodies was recovered by the military. It made a controlled landing in Hart Canyon 12 miles northeast of the city of Aztec. The craft was said to be 99 feet (30 m) in diameter, the largest UFO to date. Scully named as his sources two men identified as Newton and Gebauer. They reportedly told him the incident had been covered up and “the military had taken the craft for secret research”.

The operation was lead by the Air Force and 5th Army Division was responsible for the removal of this craft. The recovery operation took approximately two weeks. All of the remains were taken to Los Alamos Laboratory for scientific study. Later it was rumored to have been taken to Wright Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio. The recovery of this craft by the U.S. Government and Military was one of the most secretive recoveries of a spacecraft with origins unknown.

Even if this story is a hoax, it was still a very beautiful place.

The space craft was approximately 100 ft in diameter and eighteen feet tall. It was one of the most intact crafts that the Government had recovered at that time. Sadly, all occupants, as many as sixteen, died as a result of this crash. This made the full disclosure of both purpose and origin all but impossible. Because of the size of the craft, and because of loose sand, a concrete pad had to be constructed. This was so that a crane would have a steady place to park while removing the craft. Without it, the crane would get stuck in the sand.

In 2016, I visited the site of the UFO crash of Aztec. The outside temperature was 106 degrees but it was worth the hike to the location. The landscape was beautiful with blooming cactus and other desert flowers. Lizards were also running all over the place. When I arrived, I immediately found the plaque that the Ramseys had put in place in 2007. I went to the edge of the cliff. Looking down I could see the original concrete pad, still intact after all these years.

Gouges in the cliff face, not far from the concrete pad, were still visible.

I made my way down to the bottom to explore some more. It wasn’t hard to find the concrete pad. I stood in the center of it, facing the cliff face. I imagined what may have happened so many years ago. Deep gouges were evident in one area. It actually seemed like the right distance to where the crane on the pad would’ve been. This isolated spot was perfect for a flying saucer crash. Driving to this spot, I could imagine it unchanged after all these years.

So what truly happened here? I can’t say, but will add that the Ramseys present a convincing case. Regardless, this was a fun excursion to someplace I had never been. To be at the crash site of an actual UFO was mind-numbing. Before climbing down to where the pad is, I sat on the edge of the cliff face. I just took in the sights and relaxed. It was easy to envision the whole recovery in my head, based on what I had read. I actually got chills.

Directions to the UFO crash site: From downtown Aztec drive north on US Hwy 550 for four miles. At milepost 164 turn right onto Hart Canyon Rd/County Rd 2770. Drive east (it’s a dirt road) for 6.5 miles. The road will split at this point. Bear left, up the hill, for another half-mile. You’ll see a parking area on the left. There’s a trail from there, part of the Alien-Run Mountain Biking trails. Follow it a quarter-mile west to the crash site. Note: Temperatures out here vary from below zero in the winter to 95 degrees in mid-summer. Evening thundershowers and flash floods are common.

If anyone has visited this site, and would like to share pictures let me know! Thanks for reading. Don’t forget to read other entries in my WEIRD PLACES series. If you would like to read more on the UFO crash at Aztec, click on the book covers below.

~David Albaugh

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