Monday, March 26, 2007

UFO Symposium Explores Mysteries of Unexplained

Dennis & Debby Balthaser (Crpd)
By Ted Holteen
The Durango Herald

"These people are serious researchers - we’re not a dog-and-pony show"-Katee McClure
     AZTEC, N.M. - Only the truly uninitiated would come here to the 10th annual UFO Symposium expecting to see little green men or to even meet someone who believes in such things.

"These people are serious researchers - we're not a dog-and-pony show," said Katee McClure, the event planner for the symposium.

The UFO Symposium has become part of Aztec's identity since its inception in 1999 and is the largest fundraiser for the Aztec Public Library. McClure said this year will bring between 200 and 300 people throughout the weekend and raise more than $6,000 for the library.

Aztec's place in paranormal lore was secured in March 1948 when witnesses reported hearing and seeing a crash about 10 miles northeast of town in Hart Canyon. The story, as first published in 1950 by Frank Scully, maintains that the craft was a circular disk made of a foreign metal 100 feet in diameter, and inside were found the charred remains of 16 human-like bodies. A full recounting of the story is available at

Dennis Balthaser, who has attended and been a speaker at all 10 symposia, believes there is little doubt that something happened, but reminds truth seekers that a UFO is in fact an unidentified object until it's identified.

"I'm one of the few researchers who won't say 'this is what happened,' but I will look at the possibility that it could have happened," Balthaser said. "At first I wasn't too sure about Aztec, but the more research that's being done, the more I believe something actually did happen here."

Balthaser believes the military recovered whatever crashed and took it to Wright Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio where the bodies were kept in cold storage and the craft analyzed. He compares the Aztec incident to the more famous Roswell incident, which happened 10 months earlier in 1947.

"My theory on both Roswell and Aztec is that whatever crashed, we don't know what it was, we don't know where it was found, and we don't know how it operates. Witnesses said it wasn't ours (the United States) and it wasn't Russian. At that time in history, there's really no one else it could've been," Balthaser said.

McClure has been fascinated with the Aztec crash site since she moved to the area in 1998 from Hollywood. After attending the first UFO Symposium in 1999, McClure purchased 10 acres of land in Hart Canyon near the Bureau of Land Management parcel on which the crash was alleged to have occurred. She now lives just more than a mile from the crash site.

"You used to able to see the broken and bent trees," McClure said. "And people found garbage buried 18 inches underground that was military rations. How can anyone say nothing happened here?"

The Hart Canyon crash, while a dominant topic at the symposium, is not the sole subject. Speakers covered a range of topics including abductions, ancient civilizations and their technologies, crashes, sightings and government cover-ups. While many debate if the origins of UFO mysteries are terrestrial or otherwise, most agree that official information is in short supply.

"I think cover-up has become a way of life in the U.S.," Balthaser said. "They cover up and lie about so many things, it will be hard for them to ever tell the truth. I think our only hope is to have deathbed confessions."

The UFO Symposium concludes today with a noon screening of Roy Forbes' film "Fallen Angels," which documents an incident in Kingman, Ariz., as well as the Aztec crash. The film will be followed by a panel discussion with many of the weekend's speakers.

Also speaking today is Christopher O'Brien, who gained national prominence for chronicling a series of unexplained sightings in Colorado's San Luis Valley in the 1990s.

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