May 12, 2023 I Nick Redfern

One of the Most Controversial "UFO Crash" Cases: The Kingman, Arizona Case of 1953

The genesis of the Kingman, Arizona crashed UFO story can be traced back to early February of 1971. At the time, Jeff Young and Paul Chetham were two new and enthusiastic UFO investigators who 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 Test and Training Range, which, as you know, is home to Area 51. It was the location of a then-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 on land overseen by the NT&TR from March 17 to June 4 of 1953. Still on the issue of the matter of Operation Upshot-Knothole, on several occasions Stansel speculated that perhaps the incredible blast from one of the bomb tests inadvertently caused the UFO to go wildly out of control, cascading and finally crashing in the next state over, Arizona.

(Nick Redfern) Were there really dead aliens at Kingman, Arizona?

Stansel began by telling the astonished but excited duo that late one night, he and a colleague observed nothing less than an honest-to-goodness UFO soar across the skies near the site. Ultimately, however, Stansel had much more to impart than a sketchy story of a hard-to-define aerial encounter. As he felt more and more comfortable telling his story, he gradually divulged the details of what would become known as the Kingman affair to the unsuspecting Young and Chetham. Stansel stressed that the incident had taken place during his brief tenure with the U.S. Air Force’s UFO investigation program, known as Project Blue Book. He had received a telephone call from the base commander at Wright-Patterson in Dayton, Ohio, with orders for him to fly to Phoenix, Arizona. From there, Stansel was driven to the crash site of what he was told was a secret Air Force project gone awry. Upon his arrival at the site - which he was certain was situated on the fringes of Kingman - Stansel could not fail to see the unusual object. This was no classic flying saucer, however; rather, the object was shaped like a cross between a teardrop and a cigar. Moreover, it was small, barely twelve feet long. But that was not all: There was a body. According to Stansel, this was no human body. Yes, it had arms, legs, a torso, and head, but it was only about four-feet-tall, its skin was dark, and its facial features were manifestly different than those of a human being. The truth soon dawned on the shocked Stansel: A spaceship from another world had just crashed at Kingman. Or had it…?

The Kingman case is a truly unique one that contains a near-infinite number of curious plot lines and countless characters - some named and speaking on the record, and others wholly anonymous, shadowy and Deep Throat-like in nature. Numerous twists and turns abound. High-level conspiracies and halls of mirrors are all-dominating. Adventure, intrigue, fantastic truths, outrageous lies, official duplicity and suspicious deaths are merely the collective tip of this allegedly intergalactic iceberg. Just like near Roswell, New Mexico in July 1947, something strange and significant happened outside of Kingman, Arizona in May 1953. Let’s see what. Aside from being mentioned in an April 23, 1973 article in the Massachusetts-based Middlesex News, not much else came of the Kingman story – for a while, anyway; however, a man named Raymond Fowler, a well-respected UFO investigator and author, read the article and was intrigued. As Fowler began to dig into the story, he discovered something amazing and near-synchronistic: both he and Arthur Stansel were employed by the very same company. Needless to say, Fowler wasted no time in contacting Stansel, and the pair met in Stansel’s office at noon on May 4, 1973. The Kingman case was about to be taken to a whole new level.

Fowler, admittedly, had some deep concerns about both the witness and his story, since it soon became clear that the tale Stansel told to him was radically different from what had been imparted to Chetham and Young, two years previously. Stansel explained, somewhat awkwardly, and with a degree of embarrassment, that this discrepancy arose from a basic confusion regarding the dates as well as from the fact that he had been under the influence of four martinis when he was interviewed back in 1971. Stansel admitted that when the booze kicked in, he was often prone to exaggeration. Not a good thing when you’re trying to convince someone you saw a dead alien, whose craft may have been brought out of the sky from an atomic bomb detonated on the Nevada test and Training Range.

Although these issues raised some justifiable suspicions about the legitimacy (or otherwise) of the Stansel account, as related to Fowler it was still one that cried out for scrutiny and investigation - which is precisely what Fowler did. On June 7, 1973, Fowler procured a signed affidavit from Stansel, albeit one in which Stansel’s name was changed to the pseudonym of Fritz Werner - which, of course, in law, rendered the affidavit wholly meaningless and worthless. Nevertheless, the very fact that Stansel had been willing to put at least something in writing was encouraging, if nothing else. According to Stansel’s new - or, to be precisely accurate, modified - version of events, it was while on a very short assignment with the Air Force’s Project Blue Book that, on May 21, 1953, he was flown to Phoenix, Arizona, and then driven in a bus with blacked-out windows to a location not too far from the nearest significant landmark: Kingman. When Stansel spoke with Fowler, however, what he had originally described to Young and Chatham as a twelve-foot-long teardrop/cigar-shaped object had suddenly been transformed into an oval-shaped craft with a diameter of at least thirty-feet - a definitive flying saucer, Stansel stressed to Fowler. That’s quite a difference. The exterior of the vehicle resembled brushed aluminum, Stansel added, and the craft had only penetrated about two feet into the ground, which suggested a light, semi-controlled descent had occurred, rather than a violent crash.

The affidavit also described some kind of a hatch, about three-feet-high and roughly one-foot wide, on the side of the craft that provided entrance to its interior. Looking inside, the investigative team spied an oval-shaped cabin, two swivel chairs, and a variety of instruments and screens that did not resemble conventional aircraft technology. Most significant of all, a small body was retrieved from the interior of the vehicle and was taken to a nearby, hastily constructed tent. Very human-like, if small in stature, the presumed pilot had a pair of 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. Quite naturally and wholly understandably, Fowler had some concerns about the differences between the two narratives, but he did not discount Stansel’s story entirely. Quite the opposite: he continued to investigate it - and Stansel, too - with vigor. What he uncovered added a degree of credibility to Stansel’s new or reworked version of the events. Fowler was able to confirm that between June 1949 and January 1960, Stansel held a variety of engineering and management positions at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio, and that during the period in which the incident supposedly took place, Stansel worked within what was known at the time as the Air Materiel Command Installations Division, within the Office of Special Studies. Stansel certainly did not appear to be a fool or a fantasist; quite the opposite, in fact. 

These welcome discoveries with respect to Stansel’s career did not negate the fact that he had clearly told one story to Young and Chetham (after having had a good old, head-spinning time quaffing a few martinis with his new buddies) and a very different one to Fowler. Many UFO researchers would have been inclined to walk away from the sorry saga, shaking their skeptical heads and uttering weary sighs; however,, something happened that kept the Kingman candle burning: Other sources came along with their own accounts of crashed UFOs in Arizona in 1953. A dubious case with just one solitary source suddenly became something much more. In a 1978 research paper titled Retrievals of the Third Kind, presented at the annual Mutual UFO Network (MUFON) Symposium of that year, former intelligence officer Leonard Stringfield related the story of a UFO researcher named Charles Wilhelm, whose father had, in turn, heard an account by a certain Major Daly of Daly’s flight to the site of a UFO crash in April of 1953. Daly described how he was then blindfolded and driven out to a desert location. Once there, his blindfold was removed and he was shown an undamaged metallic craft, close to thirty-feet in diameter. All of this sounded very similar to what Fowler had heard from Stansel. Granted, the date was a month off, but Stringfield, a dedicated collector of crashed UFO stories, suggested that there might have been a connection to the Stansel revelations.

(Nick Redfern) The Kingman case has been around for decades

Two years later, in 1980, Stringfield revealed how, midway through 1977, after lecturing on UFOs at Cincinnati’s Lunken Airport - to a group of pilots from the Cincinnati chapter of the World Wings group that used the airport’s Administration Building for its meetings - he was approached by a pilot who claimed to have been present at the site of a UFO crash in Arizona at some point in 1953. Again, shades of the Kingman affair. Stringfield’s informant was unsure of the precise location of the 1953 crash, but he did add that it was a desert environment and that an unknown number of alien bodies had been transferred from the site in sealed crates to the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. Like Stansel, the pilot claimed that these bodies were short in height, and possessed eyes, a nose, and a mouth. He also claimed that one alien reportedly survived the initial impact but died shortly afterward, despite the best efforts of military medical personnel to save its life. A full fourteen years later, in 1994, Stringfield was still reporting on the Arizona events of 1953. In February of that year, Stringfield revealed the testimony of a new source - only identified as J.L.D. - who claimed knowledge of two UFO crashes in Arizona in 1953. Were these events connected with the Kingman case? We may never really know the answer to that question, as Stringfield passed away that same year, steadfastly refusing to ever reveal the true identity of J.L.D.

On December 3, 2006, Arthur Stansel died at the Good Shepherd Health Care Facility in Jaffrey, New Hampshire, thus taking with him to the grave whatever it was that he really knew about the Kingman conundrum. He was laid to rest at the Central Cemetery in New Ipswich, New Hampshire. But still the Kingman saga rumbled on. In the 1990s, a UFO investigator named Don Schmitt – who has co-written several books on the Roswell controversy of 1947 - spoke with a woman called Judy Woolcott, who had an intriguing tale of her own to tell concerning the Kingman crash. Her story centered on a strange letter that she had allegedly received in 1965 from her husband, who she said was serving in Vietnam at the time. In his letter, her husband expressed his fears that he would not be returning home alive. He also told her about something strange he had seen twelve years previously. While she could not be absolutely certain of the exact month, Woolcott was positive that her husband had mentioned Kingman, Arizona, as the location. He was a military officer and was on duty when an unidentified flying object was picked up on radar. It soon began to lose altitude, however, and summarily vanished from the radar screen. Woolcott said that her husband felt sure that something had crashed, adding that there had apparently been casualties of the extraterrestrial kind. She further claimed that her husband’s fears had proved to be ominously correct: he never did come home from Vietnam. 

The tale of Judy Woolcott had the potential to take the Kingman case to a whole new level. After all, here was an outside source, with no ties whatsoever to Arthur Stansel, speaking on the record about a crashed UFO in 1953 - and in the vicinity of Kingman, Arizona, no less. Unfortunately, her story ultimately crashed to the ground, too. Midway through 2010, the UFO investigative author Kevin Randle revealed his findings on the now-deceased Woolcott’s claims, and those findings cast a degree of doubt upon the Kingman story: her tale utterly collapsed upon investigation, said Randle. There was no husband killed in Vietnam, and even Woolcott’s own daughter, Kathryn Baez, admitted that her mother was prone to embellishing and sensationalizing stories and certain aspects of her personal life. The yarn was discarded. This did not put an end to the Kingman controversy, however. 

One of the most intriguing figures to surface vis-à-vis this affair was Bill Uhouse, a retired mechanical engineer from Las Vegas who claimed to have worked on classified projects at certain governmental locations in Nevada that focused upon the reverse-engineering of recovered UFO technology. UFO investigator Norio Hayakawa says of Uhouse, in concise fashion: “Conspiracy theorists cite testimonies by several whistle-blowers as proof of ongoing work at Area 51 to reverse-engineer alien propulsion technology. One of the whistle-blowers was Bill Uhouse, a man in his 70s, who claimed he worked from 1966 through 1979 as an engineer at the top-secret Area 51 facility in collaboration with a Grey alien. According to Uhouse, who passed away in 2009, he worked as a mechanical engineer at Area 51 with a Grey alien known as ‘J-Rod.’”

(Nick Redfern)  From Kingman to Area 51

Uhouse’s story is a strange one, and much of it is beyond the scope of the Kingman story. However, the UFO researcher Bill Hamilton dug deep into the claims of Uhouse, who also asserted that no less than four alien entities had been found alongside the Kingman UFO and that all of them had survived the crash, albeit with varying degrees of injury. Somewhat ominously, Uhouse also asserted that several members of the team involved in the retrieval were later afflicted by what was suspected of being an unknown biological agent: possibly a dangerous, alien virus. Since then, the case has gone cold and quiet.

Nick Redfern

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.

Join MU Plus+ and get exclusive shows and extensions & much more! Subscribe Today!