Hey, Hey, We’re the Monkeys!

In 1953, in a desert location somewhere in the vicinity of Kingman, Arizona, a UFO is alleged to have crashed and, along with it’s single pilot, was recovered undercover of deep secrecy by the U.S. military. The genesis of the story can be traced back to early February of 1971.

Jeff Young and Paul Chetham were two new and enthusiastic UFO investigators who, at the time, were digging into a truly sensational story that, if true, strongly suggested intelligent life existed outside of the confines of our own world. These amazing revelations came from a man named Arthur Stansel, who was a good friend of Young’s family and who claimed to have had personal, firsthand knowledge of a crashed UFO and alien body recovery near Kingman on May 21, 1953.

During the course of a face-to-face, tape-recorded interview with Young and Chetham, Stansel – who held a master’s degree in engineering and who took part in the D-Day landings at Normandy, France, during the Second World War – recounted that in 1953, he was working at the ultra-secret Nevada Proving Ground. This was the location of a recent atomic bomb test that had been a part of a larger series of tests known as Operation Upshot-Knothole. This operation was just the latest in a whole series of atmospheric nuclear weapons-based tests that fell under the jurisdiction of the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC), all of which were conducted at the Proving Ground from March 17 to June 4 of 1953.

In a 1973 interview with researcher Ray Fowler, Stansel said that the reportedly alien pilot was small in stature, had two eyes, two nostrils, a small mouth, and two ears. It wore a silver-colored, one-piece suit, and atop its head sat what appeared to be a small skull-cap made out of the same material as the suit.

A fascinating story? Definitely. But is it true? Well, the Kingman affair has largely polarized people into two camps: (A) those who think that E.T. really did crash on that fateful and fatal day in May 1953; and (B) those who conclude the whole thing to be nothing more than an outrageous hoax. There is, however, a third possibility.

U.S. Air Force files demonstrate that in the same precise time frame of the Kingman crash – specifically, during the Atomic Energy Commission’s Upshot-Knothole tests that Arthur Stansel played a role in – the military was secretly test-flying drone aircraft in the Nevada/Arizona area with monkeys on board.

While the image of an unmanned drone aircraft packed with a crew of monkeys flying across the deserts of the Southwest might sound laughable and bizarre in the extreme, official papers establishing that such tests were indeed undertaken have surfaced. They were released into the public domain via the terms of the Freedom of Information Act, and are housed at the United States’ National Archives, where they can be viewed and studied by the general public and historians – which I have done.

A document titled Early Cloud Penetration, dated January 27, 1956, and prepared by the Air Research and Development Command at Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico, states in part:In the event of nuclear warfare the AF is confronted with two special problems. First is the hazard to flight crews who may be forced to fly through an atomic cloud. Second is the hazard to ground crews who maintain the aircraft after it has flown through the cloud…In the 1953 Upshot-Knothole tests, monkeys were used so that experiments could be conducted on larger animals nearer the size of man. QF-80 drone aircraft were used, their speed more nearly approximating that of current operational aircraft.”

The QF-80 aircraft were actually modified USAF P-80 Shooting Star aircraft that had been converted to drone status via an operation known as Project Bad Boy, which fell under the jurisdiction of a contractor called Perry Gyroscope. And that’s not all. One of many appendices to a document of February 3, 1957 recounting the history of Upshot-Knothole, is titled Cloud Penetration — Monkey, Rodent Results. It clearly states that the animals on board the aircraft (the monkeys, not the rats!) were dressed in “various types of protective clothing” and wore skullcaps.

Not only that: rumors suggest one of these drone planes strayed off-course and crashed…just over the border in Arizona…

Did the Kingman “UFO crash” occur exactly as Arthur Stansel maintained? Or was it based upon a very real, very strange event, one which was the subject of official secrecy, but which was of very down to earth proportions? There is another clue that strongly suggests the latter.

In his 1973 interview with Ray Fowler, Stansel described the UFO as an oval-shaped craft with a diameter of around 30-feet. When interviewed by Young and Chetham two years earlier, however, Stansel maintained that the vehicle was barely 12 feet long, metallic aluminium in color and appearance, and teardrop- or cigar-shaped. The resemblance of this latter description to a piece of fuselage of one of the QF-80 aircraft utilized in the Upshot-Knothole “monkey flights” is obvious.

We can verify several things about this curious affair: (A) that the military was flying drone aircraft in May 1953 with monkeys on-board that were wearing something akin to the flight-suits of military pilots and skull-caps; (B) that, according to Stansel’s initial interview, the wreckage of the vehicle was fuselage-shaped; and (C) the man himself was linked to the Upshot-Knothole tests, the staff of which actually oversaw the monkey flights.

In view of all that, what’s more likely: that somewhere in this story of flying monkeys the truth behind the Kingman controversy can be found? Or that aliens from a far away world – also small, also wearing skull-caps, and also flying around the same area and at the same time as the monkey-crewed QF-80 aircraft – just happened to crash in a vehicle that, despite Stansel’s changing story, was first described as very much like a piece of aircraft fuselage?

Taking all that into consideration, I would say the former is far more likely than the latter.

None of this, of course, means we can definitively lay Kingman to rest. Indeed, there may be additional aspects to this affair that will keep the door ajar to further revelations of the UFO kind. Then again, maybe a secret experiment is sometimes just a secret experiment, and a monkey is just a monkey…

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Nick Redfern works full time as a writer, lecturer, and journalist. He writes about a wide range of unsolved mysteries, including Bigfoot, UFOs, the Loch Ness Monster, alien encounters, and government conspiracies. Nick has written 41 books, writes for Mysterious Universe and has appeared on numerous television shows on the The History Channel, National Geographic Channel and SyFy Channel.
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