Months after my Roswell-themed-book, Body Snatchers in the Desert, was published in June 2005, I received an out-of-the-blue email from a well-respected Australian UFO researcher, Keith Basterfield. As Keith notes of himself: "I have been interested in the subject of unidentified aerial phenomena (UAP) since the 1960’s. Over the years I have held a variety of roles in numerous Australian state, national, and international organizations, studying the phenomena. My work has appeared in various state, national and international newsletters, magazine and journals. Between 2003 and 2008 I was involved in a search for Australian government documents relating to UAP with the Adelaide based AURA network." Keith had a fascinating account to relate that dovetailed very closely with the data given to me by Al Barker, Bill Salter, the Black Widow, and the Colonel - four people who I interviewed for my 2005 book, Body Snatchers in the Desert. Notably, the information was provided to Keith well before Body Snatchers in the Desert was published and when the existence of the book – and the story it told – was still firmly under wraps in the offices of Simon & Schuster in New York. It was specifically after my book was published that Keith realized the data given to him some time earlier was eerily similar to that which I had uncovered. He wasted no time in getting in touch with me. I listened carefully to what Keith had to say.
Tuesday, January 11, 2005, Keith told me, was the date on which he received a story just about as shocking and controversial as the ones I had uncovered between 2001 and 2003. On the day in question, Keith was interviewed on Australia’s ABC 891AM radio station. The subject was the work of the Adelaide-based Australian UFO Research Association, specifically in relation to the issue of so-called "UFO disclosure." Although Keith did not know it at the time, while he was taking part in the show, a caller phoned in, left his name and number, and asked for Keith to get in touch. He did precisely that. It was later in the day that Keith made the call, in which his source somewhat hesitantly revealed snippets of a dark and dirty secret concerning certain things that went down – as in quite literally down – in the New Mexico desert in the summer of 1947. We’re talking about Roswell. Such was the potential dangerous nature of the information, Keith felt it was much wiser for the pair to meet up in-person, rather than discuss such matters over the phone. Keith was wise to follow his instincts; after all, one never knows who might be listening in.
When Keith related the account to me, he preferred not to use the informant’s name and gave him an alias instead: Martin. Echoing this, Martin said to me that if I ever told his story, his name should never be revealed. It should be noted, however, that both Keith and I know Martin’s real name. As Keith told me, he met Martin at the latter’s home in Adelaide on January 15, 2005 – roughly six months before Body Snatchers in the Desert hit the bookshelves. The story went as follows: Martin’s father – a Brit – had worked for a certain arm of British intelligence decades before Keith got the story. I would later learn that the agency was specifically MI5, which is the U.K.’s equivalent of the United States’ FBI. Martin’s father was sitting upon a secret of epic and grim proportions – one which he had already been silently keeping under wraps for years. Such were Martin’s concerns and worries about sharing the story with Keith, he insisted that the information not be revealed to anyone – at all – without his, Martin’s, specific permission. Or, until after Martin’s death; whichever came first. Keith agreed to the terms and sat back and listened as the dark and shocking tale came tumbling out.
Keith revealed that at the time Martin chose to share the secrets of his father, Martin’s health was far from good. He was seriously ill – with a heart condition. It was possible that Martin was not long for this world, although he was not quite on his deathbed, yet. The upshot was that Martin wanted to reveal to someone the story that his father had told him, while there was still time. Keith agreed to listen and also agreed not to place Martin’s real, full name into the public domain. According to Martin, he was told by his father of the truth of Roswell way back in 1959 – when Martin was only twelve years old. Such were his father’s concerns about imparting what he knew, he asked young Martin never to reveal the story until he was either very old or on his deathbed. Given his serious heart problems that were in evidence in 2005, Martin thought it was a case of possibly now or never – hence his decision to share what he knew with Keith.
Martin’s father had gotten all of the information on Roswell from a source working in the U.S. Intelligence community – who, exactly, we still don’t know. Martin’s father explained that the events which occurred out on the wilds of the Foster Ranch, Lincoln County, New Mexico in July 1947 were born out of early, and highly secret, experiments that had a bearing on the formative years of what would ultimately become the U.S. space program. Keith, in a July 2011 online article, revealed what else Martin chose to share with him: "The Americans were working on getting into space. Their biggest concern was getting back to Earth and landing without killing the people inside the space vehicle. Landing in water was not considered, but a ground landing was the order of the day. The Americans were experimenting with craft they dropped from ‘aircraft’ flying in the stratosphere. Also, gigantic balloons were being flown in the stratosphere to drop craft fitted with retrorockets and a drogue chute. The retrorocket was fitted with an altimeter to fire them close to the ground. Lots of UFO sightings were of these craft. The U.S. released bogus flying saucer sightings and later discredited them."
Martin recalled - to both Keith and I - how his father had informed him of a series of high-altitude experiments in the United States, in 1947, involving monkeys and pigs, specifically in connection with the prototype aircraft / balloon flights. On this particular occasion, however – the one that spawned the ever-enduring legend of Roswell’s crashed UFO – it was decided that a human crew was finally needed. Keith was told that "Prisoners could volunteer for dangerous missions in return for early release but were not used in these experiments." This issue of prisoners used in experiments, specifically in relation to radical aircraft-based technology, is not a matter of doubt or a tale born out of folklore or conspiracy-theorizing. In 1948, staff of the Nuclear Energy for Propulsion of Aircraft (NEPA) program practically salivated at the idea of using prisoners in its aircraft-related trials. Official, now-declassified, records on this issue state: "The Committee is not in a position to make recommendations as to where these tests can be conducted other than that they should be carried out at some federal, state, or Armed Services prison, where life prisoners are incarcerated and where arrangements can be made with the prison authorities to cooperate in the experiment. The selection of the prison is a matter for top military consideration. Continued cooperation of the prison staff and prisoners for a matter of many years will be required [italics mine]."
That somewhat mirrored the words of my own informants in my 2005 book – namely, that prisoners were secretly offered reduced sentences if they were willing to engage in dicey and potentially missions for the military. On this occasion, however, it was not prisoners who were on-board the ultimately ill-fated craft, but physically and mentally handicapped people. As Keith recalled: "Two to three live people were needed. The government got people with hydrocephalus - water on the brain - from a facility." From the interview with Martin, both Keith and I recalled much more too on the matter of the human guinea-pigs. Keith said that the people roped in had "big heads, tiny bodies, jaundiced color - one even had no eyes. They put these people in the craft - either the balloon ruptured early or blew off course and came down. Retrorockets went off and set fire to it. It landed and a farmer / rancher saw it and reported it." That “farmer / rancher,” of course, was Mack Brazel; the man who let the Roswell cat out of the bag. Thus was born the legend of the "Roswell 'UFO' Crash" of 1947.