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When Secret Propaganda and UFOs Crossed Paths: Crashed Flying Saucers and Dead Aliens (Maybe…)

According to a Technical Report prepared by the Air Force’s UFO study-program, Project Grudge, way back in August of 1949: “Upon eliminating several additional incidents due to vagueness and duplication, there remain 228 incidents, which are considered in this report. Thirty of these could not be explained, because there was found to be insufficient evidence on which to base a conclusion.” Certainly the most notable entry in the document appears in the Recommendations section. It states, and I quote: “…that Psychological Warfare Division and other governmental agencies interested in psychological warfare be informed of the results of this study.”  The U.S. Department of Defense defines PW as: “The planned use of propaganda and other psychological actions having the primary purpose of influencing the opinions, emotions, attitudes, and behavior of hostile foreign groups in such a way as to support the achievement of national objectives.” What this demonstrates, is that the military’s UFO programs weren’t just about investigating sightings. The operations were also focused on creating utterly bogus flying saucer-themed stories – all born out of psychological warfare operations designed to hide things of a specifically non-UFO nature. Which is exactly what happened at Roswell – a spurious tale of a saucer was spun to hide something that the government wanted hidden. And it was hidden.

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

There is also the matter of the infamous, alleged UFO crash at Aztec, New Mexico in March 1948. It’s a story which is made famous in Frank Scully’s 1950 book, Behind the Flying Saucers, a book which turned out to be a huge seller. Many researchers of the UFO phenomenon (although certainly not all, such as Scott and Suzanne Ramsey) dismiss Aztec as nothing but a hoax, one perpetrated by a shady businessman/conman named Silas Newton. There is an interesting aspect to the Newton / Aztec story, that is worth noting. By his own admittance, and after the Aztec story surfaced, Newton was clandestinely visited by two representatives of “a highly secret U.S. Government entity,” as the late Karl Pflock worded it. Those same representatives told Newton, in no uncertain terms, that they knew his Aztec story was a complete and bald-faced lie. Incredibly, though, they wanted him to keep telling the tale to just about anyone and everyone who would listen. This led Pflock to wonder: “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, is the next question that Karl posed: “Was this actually nothing to do with real saucers but instead some sort of psychological warfare operation [italics mine]?”

(Nick Redfern) Aztec, New Mexico

Pflock – a CIA intelligence officer, and a Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense in the Reagan Administration – was not just fascinated by the Aztec saga of 1948, per se. He was also fascinated by the possibility that someone in the government, the intelligence community, or the military – and maybe even a combination of all three – had created the story to hide something else. Or, at the very least, had encouraged the telling and retelling of the Aztec story for psy-op-based reasons. I know just how fascinated Karl was when it came to Aztec and the claims of Newton and that “highly secret U.S. Government entity.” I first met Karl in 2003 – at a UFO gig in the small town of Aztec, New Mexico. For a number of years, the conference was a yearly event. But, no more. Karl and I were were in touch by landline and fax (how quaint) as far back as the mid-1990s.

When Karl and I finally met, he near-immediately suggested that we should write an Aztec-themed book. Karl’s reasoning was that he knew the story very well, and, via the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act, I had uncovered hundreds and hundreds of pages of material – chiefly from the FBI – on the Aztec controversy. He thought we would make a good team, and particularly so now that I lived in the U.S. – and specifically in Texas, which is, of course, not at all far from New Mexico, where Karl resided and where the 1948 crash supposedly happened. As I listened, Karl told me that his idea was, essentially, to make the book a biography on Newton, but with the Aztec affair being the main thrust. I thought it was a good idea and Karl suggested he prepare a synopsis for his literary agent. That’s exactly what he did. The book was going to be called Silas the Magnificent: A True Tale of Greed, Credulity, and (Maybe) Government Chicanery and Cover-up in 1950s America. Note that the book makes no mention of UFOs in its title and sub-title.

Unfortunately, the project was permanently derailed when Karl fell sick with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, also referred to as Lou Gehrig’s disease. He unfortunately died from the effects of ALS on June 5, 2006, at the age of just sixty-three. Karl is gone, but the synopsis still exists. It would have made a good book. And, very possibly, it just might have revealed more of the psy-op aspect of Aztec and of other crashed UFO yarns of bygone decades.

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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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