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The Most Complicated UFO Case Ever? Maybe, Maybe Not…

That question was put to me not long ago. It’s an interesting question, too. It took me a while to come up with a conclusion, but I finally did. I would say that the alleged (extremely alleged…) “UFO crash” at Aztec, New Mexico in March 1948 fits the bill. Either that, or it’s a complete pile of garbage. And, in-between, there’s some genuinely strange bits along the way. So, let’s begin. The strange story of the alleged UFO crash at Aztec, New Mexico in March 1948 – and the recovery of a number of dead “little men” at the site – is a real hotbed of lies, disinformation, and shady characters. Most of those same characters were best avoided by those with dollars to spare. The tale was made infamous in the pages of Frank Scully’s 1950 blockbuster, Behind the Flying Saucers; it was a book which turned out to be a huge seller. Today, the Aztec affair is seen by some ufologists as Roswell’s “little brother.” As its “skeleton in the cupboard” might be a far more apt description, however. Many researchers of the UFO phenomenon dismiss the Aztec incident as nothing but a hoax; one which was perpetrated by a shady businessman/conman named Silas Newton. His less-than-shining FBI file can be accessed at the FBI’s website, The Vault. When it came to stories of aliens from faraway worlds, making money was always the goal for Newton. And the only goal. Along for the ride with Newton was Leo Gebauer. He was a quasi-scientist and the Igor to Newton’s ego-driven Dr. Frankenstein.

(Nick Redfern) Aztec, New Mexico

There is, though, a very interesting and extremely odd aspect to the Newton/Aztec story. It serves to demonstrate how the UFO phenomenon was becoming the tool of manipulative disinformation specialists in the intelligence community. And not just of the Soviet Union. The United States was getting into the strange game, too. Back in 1998, the late Karl Pflock, ufologist and CIA employee (sometimes at the same time…), was approached by a still-anonymous source who had something very interesting to say about the Aztec caper, and about Newton too. It was a decidedly weird series of revelations that Pflock surely never anticipated receiving. To his dying day, Pflock refused to reveal the name of his informant in the shadows – rumors, however, were that the person may have been a nephew of Silas Newton – but, Pflock did say that all of the lunchtime meetings with his source occurred between July 11 and September 24, 1998 and took place in a restaurant in Bernalillo, New Mexico.

(Nick Redfern) The late Karl Pflock, who was both a Ufologist and an employee of the CIA

So the story goes, Pflock’s informant had in their hands twenty-seven pages taken, or rather torn, from an old and faded, lined journal. No prizes for guessing who that journal had belonged to. That’s right, sly, old Silas Newton. Pflock was told that Newton had kept journals and diaries not just for years, but for decades. They were jammed with entertaining tales of sexual conquests, of Hollywood starlets, of the fleecing of the rich and the gullible, and of wild adventures across the United States. The outcome of all this? Newton decided, around the turn of the 1970s, that it was right about time for him to write-up his version of the Aztec controversy. It would surely have been a definitive page-turner. Death, however, inconveniently intervened in 1972, when Newton passed away in his mid-eighties. What happened to all of those journals is anyone’s guess. As for those few pages that Pflock was allowed to see – and to transcribe word for word – they tell a tale of undeniable weirdness. By his own admittance, and a couple of years after the Aztec story surfaced in Frank Scully’s book, Newton was clandestinely visited by two representatives of “a highly secret U.S. Government entity,” as Pflock carefully and tactfully described it.

(Nick Redfern) Aztec, New Mexico: the site of a crashed UFO? It depends on who you ask

Those same representatives of the government told Newton, in no uncertain terms, that they knew his Aztec story was a complete and bald-faced lie. Utter bullshit, in fact. Incredibly, though, they wanted Newton to keep telling the tale to just about anyone and everyone who would listen. This caused Pflock to ponder on an amazing possibility: “Did the U.S. Government or someone associated with it use Newton to discredit the idea of crashed flying saucers so a real captured saucer or saucers could be more easily kept under wraps?” Far more intriguing, though, and highly relevant to the theme of this book, is the next question that Pflock posed: “Was this actually nothing to do with real saucers but instead some sort of psychological warfare operation [italics mine]?” With the Newton revelations in hand, Pflock, no later than 1999, came to believe that back in the early fifties someone in the government, the intelligence community, or the military of the United States – and maybe even a swirling combination of all three – wanted the Aztec story further circulated. The purpose: as a means to try and convince the Russians that the U.S. military had acquired, or captured, alien technology. When, in reality, it had no such thing in its possession at all. Now, you see why I consider the Aztec affair of March 1948 to have been the most complicated UFO case of all time.

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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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