Friday, June 8, 2018

Roswell Reborn: The Hangar 18 Legacy

Continued from The Day After Saucergate

Robert Spencer Carr

In 1974, Robert Spencer Carr had put a crashed flying saucer on newspaper front pages, and the sensation caused by somehow persuaded a veteran researcher Leonard Stringfield to begin reexamining UFO crash stories. At the time were still considered crackpot and tabloid material, having been tainted by the stink of the Silas Newton Aztec hoax popularized in Frank Scully’s Behind the Flying Saucers.
The first major mainstream ufologist to declare crash/retrieval reports a matter of legitimate concern, even vital interest, was Leonard Stringfield, a widely respected figure whose history in the UFO field went back to the early 1950s. His advocacy of crash/retrievals would have enormous impact on ufology's subsequent direction… Stringfield first declared himself in a 1977 book, Situation Red, the UFO Siege!, which sought to revive both the extraterrestrial hypothesis of UFO origin (a notion that had largely fallen out of favor among many ufologists) and the idea of an official cover-up (also judged passe). In doing so, he marshaled the usual evidence familiar to readers of 1950s UFO books, such as those by Donald E. Keyhoe. Less predictably, he dedicated 10 pages to crashed-disc stories.
Jerome Clark, UFO Encyclopedia Vol. 3: High Strangeness: UFOs 1960-1979 (1996)

Stringfield became interested in the crashed saucer stories mainly because they could prove that UFOs were not some hallucination or psychic projection, but physical proof of the extraterrestrial. In Situation Red, The UFO Siege!, Stringfield said:

“The little men at least provide provocative evidence—and perhaps specimens— to show that they are part of a nut-and-bolt universe. If we are to believe… reported cases of crashed UFOs and dead occupants… Some of these stories are now legend. One persists: Following the crash of a “spacecraft” thirty-one feet in diameter near Aztec, New Mexico, in 1948, twelve human-like bodies, three to four feet in height, were found inside. They were moved surreptitiously to Wright-Patterson Field, where they had been stored in refrigeration in a secret building.
Frank Scully, in his book Behind the Flying Saucers (1950), revealed the intrigues of another crashed-UFO and little-men incident, but Scully’s story was to be exposed as a fraud. However, some researchers have never given up and believe that Scully was the victim of official counteraction and that his smeared book was actually true.”
The figures Stringfield cited, the 31-foot diameter saucer with 12 bodies, were not Frank Scully’s, but Robert S. Carr’s.

From EC Comics' fictional version of the fictional Aztec crash.

Retrievals of the Third Kind

At the 1978 MUFON Symposium in Dayton, Ohio, Stringfield gave a lecture, “Retrievals of the Third Kind: A Case Study of Alleged UFOs and Occupants in Military Custody,” which he later published as UFO Crash Retrievals - Status Report I: Retrievals of the Third Kind.
He discussed how the subject of crashed saucers had been unfairly tarnished by the discredited Frank Scully story, and presented several cases from anonymous sources that he felt showed evidence of were legitimate.
Stringfield also told how in late March of 1978, he renewed his acquaintance with Bob Carr:
“I had not corresponded with Professor Carr since the 1950's when I published the CRIFO ORBIT. Checking my old files, I reviewed his letters sent to me. Certainly all were well-written, factual and conservative.” He telephoned Carr and liked what he heard, but didn’t check too closely into the academic non-qualifications of his source, or his source’s alleged informants.
“While Scully used shady characters to support his case, new data, supported by people with solid credentials, have surfaced through the efforts of Professor Robert Spenser Carr, a long-time researcher with his own proper credentials.”
Carr’s sources weren’t just shady, they were shadows, and they’d multiplied. Originally, Carr had three, an Air Force officer, a security guard and a biologist, then picked up an autopsy nurse, but when he described the witnesses to Stringfield, the Air Force officer now had a degree in anthropology, the biologist went AWOL, but Carr had two aeronautical engineers to take his place, were the source of the technical details of the recovered saucer.

Carr's informants? A military officer, a nurse, and a biologist.
In his original disclosure, Carr has emphasized that the aliens were human beings, small in stature, but otherwise identical to us except for their longevity and brainpower. In the version he told Stringfield, they picked up far more alien characteristics, with Carr’s witnesses supposedly having “all agreed that the bodies were from three to four feet tall, with elongated heads, oversized compared to their bodies; and, with eyes slanted, looking oriental.”
Stringfield was sold on Carr and his story. “I feel that the Aztec affair can now be viewed with new confidence and free of the Scully stigma.”

The Scully stigma was supplanted by the Carr creativity, and UFO crashes were born again, all the sins washed away. Maybe Carr was John the Baptist in this story and there are a lot of Jesuses, starting with Len Stringfield who preached the word of the UFO crash/retrieval, or the Church of the  C/R.

A Lecturer Hears His Calling

Stanton T. Friedman and Don Berliner dramatically described how Stringfield’s 1978 sermon changed ufology in their 1992 book, Crash at Corona:
Then Leonard Stringfield came winging out of Cincinnati to drop his bomb at the July 1978 annual convention of the Mutual UFO Network... held in Dayton, Ohio, not far from Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, the home of the old Project Blue Book and the scene of so many rumors of alien bodies held in cold storage in the probably mythical Hangar 18...
Stringfield spoke at the Dayton MUFON meeting for two hours, detailing one C/R after another, to the amazement of the hundreds of veteran UFO investigators... Among those galvanized into action by the shocking revelations at Dayton was Stanton Friedman. It had been but a few months since his revealing talk with Jesse Marcel, who described recovering strange debris from a sheep ranch. A few months after the Dayton meeting, Friedman talked with Vern Maltais and got the story of Barney Barnett at the Plains of San Augustin. Soon... Friedman and Bill Moore zeroed in on the Corona, New Mexico, crash, for it was then thought the downed craft seen by Barnett must have been the one that left some of its pieces on the Foster ranch before crashing 150 miles to the west.
From those pieces, The Roswell Incident was made. In the book, Charles Berlitz and William Moore acknowledge Robert Spencer Carr, but only in the bibliography. They posit that Frank Scully’s Behind the Flying Saucers book was true, just flawed and poorly researched and that the time and place of the crash was not 1948 and Aztec, but 1947 and Roswell, New Mexico. Berlitz and Moore recycled just about every recovered saucer rumor in a patchwork to support their Roswell story, and mention a few hangars and UFO storage buildings along the way:
There are even persistent rumors that, sometime in the mid-1950s, presumably after an alleged viewing by President Eisenhower of the material and bodies at Edwards, they were reunited under one roof inside a structure referred to only as "Building 18-A, Area B" at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.

Rebranded as Roswell

Hangar 18 was becoming a mainstream term, a household word even before the Berlitz-Moore book, but their mention of it in The Roswell Incident helped. But things changed. Hangar 18 was no longer associated with Aztec, it’d been replaced by Roswell. From a TV listing for Oct. 4, 1980:
Channel 41: In Search of ... UFO Cover-Ups. Is the Air Force hiding alien corpses in Ohio? Host Leonard Nimoy visits the "infamous" Hangar 18.

Having the crashed saucer rumor recast as Roswell stirred things up again, and once more Wright-Patterson faced a barrage of inquiries about Building or Hangar 18.
Like the plot of the movie it apparently inspired, the rumor of Wright-Patterson's aliens on ice is farfetched enough to make it almost believable. And, based on the number of letters that keep flowing in here every month demanding that the Air Force come clean about its extraterrestrial cover-up, more than a few people believe every word of it. The rumor is that in 1947 a saucer-shaped spaceship, manned by aliens, crashed in an isolated area of New Mexico...
The Cincinnati Enquirer, April 23, 1981

Crashed and Retrieved

The Aztec story was too strong to die, but it never really caught on until the little men became more alien and it was grafted onto Jesse Marcel’s testimony about taking crashed foil and sticks to the base at Roswell, NM. The Roswell Incident became THE saucer crash story.

Robert Carr continued to be a trusted source for Leonard Stringfield for several years, and as late as 1982 was supplying him with new details about his Aztec witnesses for UFO Crash / Retrievals: Amassing the Evidence, Status Report III. It’s interesting to note that even after the debut of the recrafted Roswell story, Carr was still devoted to his Aztec story and the goals of Operation Lure.

New and Improved!

With the public’s discovery of Area 51 in the 80s and 90s, it became the new “Hangar 18,” the mysterious hiding place for the government’s UFO secrets, and it and Roswell received most of the UFO love. Don’t mourn for Aztec, though. Seeing the Roswell story’s success and acceptance, like hungry raccoons, ufologists pulled the Aztec story back out of the trash can. In 1987, William Steinman and Wendelle Stevens gave us UFO Crash at Aztec, then in 2011, Scott and Suzanne Ramsey dug it out again for The Aztec UFO Incident, complete with a blessing and introduction from Stanton T. Friedman, the flying saucer physicist.

Roswell became the biggest UFO franchise of all time, with a spin-off hoax industry that owes a few debts to Professor Carr’s tales from the alien crypt. We all owe a big thanks to Robert Spencer Carr for giving us not only Hangar 18, but for being the grandfather of the Roswell crash, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, the Alien Autopsy and Area 51.
And also a big thanks to Lawrence Brill, who gave Professor Carr a voice by putting on a show. 
. . .

Epilogue: A Final Word of Thanks

In the article above, we quote Jerome Clark saying that Leonard Stringfield was "The first major mainstream ufologist to declare crash/retrieval reports a matter of legitimate concern." But he was not the first. Some less "reputable" ufologists were already promoting saucer wreckage, chiefly Otto Binder, but also the legendary Gray Barker.

In "America's Captured Saucers: Cover-Up of the Century," UFO Report, May 1977, Barker discussed crashed saucer tales including Robert Spencer Carr’s. It's possible that this publicity helped encourage Leonard Stringfield to dig deeper in the subject. Barker's magazine article was later used as a source for Berlitz and Moore’s 1980 book, The Roswell Incident.

A big thanks is due also to Gray Barker, for his hand in bringing the UFO crash story to Roswell.

. . .
For more on the impact of the Hangar 18 story...

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