Friday, December 18, 2009

A Contactee and a Crashed UFO

It's not often that the Contactees are mentioned alongside reports of crashed UFOs. But, there are exceptions to the rule - one of which involves one of the most controversial of all the early Contactees, Truman Bethurum (author of Aboard A Flying Saucer and several other books) and one of the more well-known alleged crashed UFO cases. Namely, the reported crash at Kingman, Arizona in 1953.

Although I have a chapter on Bethurum in my Contactees book, due to space-limitations and word-count, I was unable to include everything on the man; such as the following, which details the strange saga of Bethurum and Kingman. So, I figured I might as well post the material here, as it's a genuinely weird addition to the fairly substantial body of data on the Kingman affair.

Situated in the scenic Hualapai Valley between the Cerbat and Hualapai mountain ranges, Kingman, Arizona was founded in 1882. Today, it has a population of approximately 28,000; and the nearby communities of Golden Valley and Butler bring the Kingman area’s total population to around 40,000.

The town is known for its very modest beginnings, as a simple railroad siding near Beale’s Springs in the Middleton Section, along the newly-constructed route of the Atlantic and Pacific Railroad. The city of Kingman was named after Lewis Kingman who surveyed along the Atlantic and Pacific right of way between Needles and Albuquerque; and who supervised the building of the railroad from Winslow to Beale's Springs, which is near the present location of the city of Kingman.

But, it is Kingman's link to the crashed UFO issue upon we are most focused.

Before we get to the crux of the matter, it is important to note that - despite what some researchers have claimed - the evidence in support of the notion that something extraordinary occurred at, or near, Kingman in May 1953 does not stand or fall on the word of one solitary witness - who has become known by the pseudonym of Fritz Werner.

In reality, there are far more than a handful of stories, reports and testimonies that collectively have a significant bearing upon this decades-old incident.

Highlights of the Kingman controversy include the original testimony of Fritz Werner, as provided to researchers Jeff Young and Paul Chetham in 1971. Chetham and Young were the first people within the UFO research community to speak with the source; and very brief aspects of the story and interview were published in the Framingham, Massachusetts edition of the Middlesex News on April 23, 1973.

According to the newspaper, Jeff Young had interviewed a man who asserted that he had worked with Project Blue Book and had made, “contact with an alien craft.”

The Young-Chetham interview revealed that their source had been at the site of a UFO crash at Kingman, Arizona, approximately twenty years previously.

According to Werner: “The object was not built by anything, obviously, that we know about on Earth. At that time I was out of the atomic testing, but I was still with the Air Force and this was the time I was on Blue Book. There was a report that there was a crash of an unexplained vehicle in the west and they organized a team of about forty of us. I was one of those forty.”

Concerning the reported recovery of an apparent alien body at the scene, Werner said: “I saw the creature [that] you’re talking about. It was real and I would guess about four feet tall.” Its body was dark brown in color; and Werner offered the theory that perhaps the creature’s skin had darkened due to “atmospheric exposure.”

The respected researcher Ray Fowler later spoke with the witness, who prepared the following affidavit: “I, Fritz Werner, do solemnly swear that during a special assignment with the U.S. Air Force, on May 21, 1953, I assisted in the investigation of a crashed unknown object in the vicinity of Kingman, Arizona. The object was constructed of an unfamiliar metal which resembled brushed aluminum. It had impacted twenty inches into the sand without any sign of structural damage.. It was oval and about 30 feet in diameter. An entranceway hatch had been vertically lowered and opened.. It was about 3-1/2 feet high and 1-1/2 feet wide. I was able to talk briefly with someone on the team who did look inside only briefly. He saw two swivel seats, an oval cabin, and a lot of instruments and displays. A tent pitched near the object sheltered the dead remains of the only occupant of the craft. It was about 4 feet tall, dark brown complexion and had 2 eyes, 2 nostrils, 2 ears, and a small round mouth. It was clothed in a silvery, metallic suit and wore a skullcap of the same type material. It wore no face covering or helmet. I certify that the above statement is true by affixing my signature to this document this day of June 7, 1973.”
And with that brief summary of the Kingman case highlighted, let us move on to the realm of the Contactees.

Beyond any shadow of doubt, the number of people who can claim aliens wrecked their marriages is infinitely small. But, such claims have been made – the most memorable being that of construction-worker Truman Bethurum. His idea of a close encounter was very different to those of other UFO witnesses: his alleged 1952 liaisons – atop Nevada’s Mormon Mesa - with Space Captain Aura Rhanes, a supposed citizen of the planet Clarion, ultimately led his outraged wife to file for divorce!

Mormon Mesa is a 1,893 foot high summit which dominates Nevada’s Moapa Valley. Between the mesa and its two, near-identical neighbors, are two huge chasms created by the Muddy and Virgin Rivers that carved the mesa eons ago. Visually stunning, both then and now, Mormon Mesa was about to become a veritable hotbed of alien activity – specifically when, in the mid-to-late part of 1952, Bethurum began working in the area.

Bethurum’s wife was a collector of seashells; and as the area had been covered by ocean during prehistoric times, after he finished his shift one particular night, Bethurum headed out to the Mesa to see if he could find any fossilized shells as a gift for his wife – who had decided not to accompany her husband to Nevada, and instead elected to remain at their home in Santa Barbara. Yes: the cracks in the relationship were already showing.

Bethurum searched the pitch-black area for a couple of hours; but, having failed to find any such seashells, returned to his truck “to take a little snooze.” It was while snoozing – or while, it might be argued, he was in an altered state-of-mind – that Bethurum was blessed with a visit from the inhabitants of another world: the Clarionites. An hour or so after falling asleep, said Bethurum, he was awakened by what he described as “mumbling.”

As he began to stir, Bethurum was shocked to see that his truck was surrounded by between eight and ten men. They were all olive-skinned, around five feet in height, wearing uniforms and black-billed caps – and who were in stark contrast to the long-haired, hippy-types that hung out with George Adamski. The encounters had begun – according to Bethurum, at least.

It must be stressed that much of Bethurum’s tale is, frankly, unbelievable. His encounters with the shapely Captain Rhanes come across like a cross between Star Trek and Baywatch, and read like a wild sci-fi novel. But, there is one particularly intriguing aspect to Bethurum’s story.
On the night of November 2, 1952, Bethurum was out in the desert, actually very near to the town of Kingman.
Anxious to see his gorgeous Captain Rhanes again, Bethurum fired into the air one of several flares supposedly given to him by his alien friends, as a means by which he could contact them at any time. Sure enough, Rhanes and her crew were quickly on the scene. For the final time, Bethurum was invited aboard the saucer and the pair chatted at length about life on their respective worlds, their hobbies, and much more of a friendly nature.
At the end of the exchange, there was no real indication that this was to be their last meeting – and yet, it certainly was. Rhanes escorted Bethurum out of the saucer and back to the desert floor, where they bid each other farewell. In a few moments, Bethurum was alone, standing in the stark desert darkness; watching in awe as the huge alien craft grew ever smaller as it rose silently into the starlit sky.

We could, of course, relegate Bethurum’s story to the realm of fiction and nothing else – and, indeed, many people within the UFO research arena have firmly done precisely that. In the minds of many, the Contactees of yesteryear most certainly do not stand strong against today’s Abductees. There is, however, one intriguing factor suggesting that, just maybe, Bethurum wasn’t quite the fantasist that so many believed him to be.

Recall that Fritz Werner had told Ray Fowler in his 1970s affidavit that with respect to the alien body found at the Kingman site: “It was about 4 feet tall, dark brown complexion and had 2 eyes, 2 nostrils, 2 ears, and a small round mouth. It was clothed in a silvery, metallic suit and wore a skullcap of the same type material.”

Compare that with the words of the aliens that Truman Bethurum claimed to have encountered in late 1952 very near to Kingman: “They were all olive-skinned, around five feet in height, wearing uniforms and black-billed caps.”

The location is, of course, the same in both stories. The aliens in both accounts are short in stature – which is in stark contrast to most of the long-haired beings reported in Contactee cases in the 1950s. Both Werner and Bethurum said that the aliens wore uniforms and caps. The body viewed by Werner was dark-skinned; and the skin of the aliens that Bethurum claimed to have met was olive-skinned – not too much of a difference, one could well argue.

The wholly skeptical commentator might say that Bethurum simply made up his story after hearing of the Fritz Werner revelations in the 1970s. There is, however, a big problem with this theory: Bethurum’s account was published way back in 1954 – less than one-year after the alleged events at Kingman occurred, and no less than two-decades before Fritz Werner even surfaced. In view of the above, perhaps Bethurum was not the mere hoaxer that many have assumed him to be, after all. And, maybe, some of his alien friends met their deaths in Kingman in 1953, only a few months after he encountered them for the very last time and very nearby...


  1. Or perhaps "Werner" simply read the famous old local Bethurum account and tailored his story to along with it? I'm sure that somehow you see this as more profound than that but I'm too dense to follow along.

    Nick is it possible that your book does not mention the famous Moseley expose of Adamski? Jim told me that was the case and I was (as usual) incredulous.

    I'm gonna get it anyway but sheeze!


  2. Lance:

    Yep, that could indeed be the case re Werner; but if he was going to make up such a story, why use such a bizarre and unbelievable story as Bethurum's as its basis?

    Do you mean the thing with Jim M and the Straith Letter? I'm presuming that's what you mean?

    If that is what you mean, yes that episode is indeed in the book, on pages 39-40.

  3. Hi Nick,

    No, not the Straith letter.

    Moseley's famous Adamski expose is perhaps his greatest contribution to the field--certainly his most serious and historic.

    In the issue, using witness testimony and research, he devastates Adamski's entire story. It was, for sure, the beginning of the end for Adamski.

    You should really check it out.


  4. Lance:

    Okay, got it now, and understood re the referral you meant.

    So as you'll know, re the interviews in the book: for the most part, I wanted to get fresh, new interviews.

    And Jim was one of those I interviewed (in July) for Contactees.

    So, I was very careful to ensure I got his views, recollections, ideas, theories and conclusions on Adamski and the Contactees - but pretty much all via a new intereview (aside from the Straith piece, which was provided by Greg Bishop).

    So, in other words, although I didn't quote Jim's expose of Adamski, his conclusions based upon his study of Adamski are in there - but in the form of the July 2009 interview.

  5. A close friend of mine did an excellent UFO documentary (which you can see on the Day the Earth Stood Still (1951) Blu-Ray) in which the Straith letter is mentioned. He found the letter with one of George's followers and was amazed at the condition of it:

    The holy relic, crisp and white, appeared as though it had been written the day before!

    Incidentally, this documentary is the only place I am aware of in which you can see one of Adamski's silly silly motion picture films in High-Def.


  6. Lance:

    That's very cool re the Straith letter - rather like finding the cut and paste original of the Truman signature on the MJ12 docs LOL!

    I do recall that a high-def version of one of Adamski's films was shown at a conference of the now-defunct British-based "UFO Magazine" in the UK about 12 or 13 years ago.

    Not sure if it ever made it to one of their documentaries or videos, but it was shown at the conference, so I'm guessing a few of these may be floating around somewhere.