By Debra MayeuxAZTEC — The tall tale has it that 60 years ago this month, a UFO crashed in Hart Canyon, north of Aztec. Supposedly there were charred alien bodies aboard the craft, which was knocked out of the sky by a radar beam.
The Daily Times
The Daily Times
The Aztec Library began telling this story 11 years ago to raise money for a new building. With the story came national attention and the start of an annual UFO symposium.
The Aztec UFO Symposium opens Friday with a speakers meet-and-greet dinner. It will continue Saturday with internationally known speakers and vendors at the Aztec Masonic Lodge, 1020 N. Aztec Blvd.
The symposium began humbly with the work of Leanne Hathcock, librarian, and Scott Ramsey, a UFO investigator from North Carolina. Ramsey became a patron and assisted in finding reputable speakers.
"We've always been blessed with really good speakers, but this year is really exceptional," Ramsey said.
Since first reading about the March 1948 crash in a book, Ramsey has requested sealed documents, interviewed witnesses and worked on his own manuscript with the help of his wife, Suzanne Ninos, formerly of Farmington. The couple will present recent findings on the crash at the symposium.
"I always come to give new updates on Aztec," he said.
One of those updates includes interviews with friends and relatives of the late Rev. Autrey Brown, of the Mancos Baptist Church. Ramsey recently was contacted by a couple who knew Brown and his story of contact with military personnel after the reported crash of a saucer in Aztec.
"He called his closest friends together and talked about the commotion on Hart Canyon Road. He said he saw the craft, the bodies, and he was there when the military swore them to secrecy," Ramsey said.
Ramsey receives e-mails each week and follows up on the leads.
He recently received 268 documents from the FBI. Those were papers he previously was told did not exist. "They withheld 123 documents in the interest of national security," Ramsey said.
Other speakers include internationally known ufologist Stanton Friedman; Jesse Marcel Jr., whose father was one of the military officers at the purported Roswell crash; Timothy Good, of England, speaking on military intelligence and UFOs; Ted Phillips, a top investigator of physical trace evidence around UFOs; James Carrion, director of the International Mutual UFO Network; Duane Tudahl, producer of the History Channel's "UFO Files"; and Ken Storch, a law enforcement officer.
"The reason (the symposium remains successful) is we stick to our guns and bring in qualified scientific speakers," Ramsey said.
Friedman is a member of the scientific community, a nuclear physicist by profession. He believes interstellar travel is possible at the speed of light and that it doesn't take as long as some scientists say. He argues that the scientific community allows the government to hide the truth about space flight, flying saucers and extraterrestrials.
This will be the topic of his lecture and new book, "Flying Saucers and Science," published by New Page Books.
"The book is sort of my magnum opus," Friedman said. "I take off on the SETI movement. I call it Silly Effort to Investigate.'"
He will talk about press coverage of UFO sightings and opinion polls surrounding UFOs and life on other planets, which Friedman insists exists. In classrooms and at lectures, Friedman said "typically 10 percent of people think they saw a UFO, but very few report them."
Friedman said he is not a "closet ufologist," and most people do take him seriously.
"I've had 11 hecklers in 700 lectures," he said.
The meet-and-greet dinner Friday is $15 a person. Entrance to the two-day symposium is $30 per person or $20 for students and seniors. The police, military, firefighters and EMTs receive free admission.
Information: Aztec Public Library, (505) 334-7657 or on the Web at www.AztecUFO.com.