Status #82310

THE SAN AUGUSTIN UFO CRASH "I closed on this thing that [...]

Las Vegas, Nevada
via The Full Circle Project

"I closed on this thing that looked like a weather balloon, and that's what I'd presumed it was. And I had plenty of gas and time, so I just decided I'd just come back around and make a pass on it.

I got around where I should've been comin' back on this thing, all of a sudden it didn't look like a balloon anymore. It looked like a saucer sitting on edge; 'bout a 45 degree angle.

I didn't have any gun camera film on board, unfortunately, or I'd have shot some pictures of it.

And about that time I guess whatever it was, for whatever reasons, took off climbin' at about a 45 degree angle, and just accelerated and disappeared. I obviously couldn't follow it with an old piston engine fighter, so I turned around and went home."

― astronaut "Deke" Slayton *


“What the fuck―?!” It was a phrase Barney Barnett had only used twice. Both other instances came in the heat of battle during World War I.

We’re talkin’ an upstanding member of his community; a person who toed the line without fail. A happily married guy who never shirked a church gathering nor Rotary meeting.

Barney wasn’t prone to lies. Especially lies regarding crashed UFOs and alien bodies strewn across the desert.

Still, here he found himself ― assiduous Soil Conservation Service stiff ― staring down at an immobilized flying saucer and it’s defunct crew.

Morning sunlight had reflected off the alloy vessel, catching Barney’s attention on the back roads of the Plains. Out here in no man’s land, anything manufactured stood out like an honest word from Harry Truman’s mouth, and Barnett knew it.

As his 1938 Ford truck approached the craft, the God-fearing American could see the downed occupants more clearly. From the ridge, the bodies appeared to be corpses. Although each had two arms, two legs and a head, they were too small to be fully-grown humans. Children, maybe, but not adults.

And what about those heads? Even though he was some distance away, the craniums dwarfed whatever pittance of a skull he boasted atop his neck.

Pulling to a dusty stop, Barney parked, and stared down at the wreckage.

An engineer, he’d been lauded for his ability to make expeditious and insightful decisions. Yet, here he sat, uncertain of his next move. As far as anyone else knew, he hadn’t seen anything, and could simply head back to Socorro and nobody would be the wiser.

The option was more tempting than a juicy rib eye and a side of hot, buttered green beans, but a part of Barney had to know. That part of him had caused him to become an amateur astronomer. That portion of the soil conservationist had demanded he invest $1.50 per year in The Sky ― a periodical for neophyte celestial enthusiasts.

Gripping the door handle on his worn vehicle, it was this adventurous side that assumed control. A lifetime of "doing the right thing" launched him from the cracked fabric seat of the truck and onto the chalky desert floor.

Sand clods exploded beneath Barney’s boots, as he strode toward the anomalies. Although it was mid-morning, it was hot enough in these parts to toast bread on a scorched outcropping. Sunbeams reflected off the dull, matte finish of the craft.

The first thing Barnett noticed was the lack of secondary wreckage. It appeared as if the vehicle had remained primarily intact.

The skintight clothing the creatures wore was of interest, as well. Barney had never seen its equal. This was 1947, and Spandex wouldn’t be invented until 1959.

Initially, the engineer thought the crash may have been a plane. At least that’s how it appeared from a distance. As he closed on the wreckage, he quickly realized this was no conventional craft, and the bodies before him weren’t human.

The downed vehicle was in the neighborhood of 25 to 30 feet in diameter. Barnett noted a rent in the craft. From it, spilled four carcasses. Two of the dead remained inside the vessel, while the others lay outside.

Judging by the lack of weathering to the cadavers, and the fact they hadn’t been scavenged by predators, the engineer deduced this wreck was fresh.

He hadn’t seen anything anomalous trailing from the sky while he’d been on the road. There were no dust trails in the craft’s wake. Hence, perhaps “fresh” in this case denoted a crash hours before.

Nobody else had happened upon the site, which wasn’t shocking since the Plains of San Augustin were 59 miles long, and up to 19 miles wide. Out here, you could easily crash something this large in the dead of night, and nobody would be the wiser.

A technical man, Barney was preoccupied with the vessel, although he kept what he prayed were cadavers in his peripheral vision. A furious, resurrected alien was the last thing he needed.

The tiny, four-fingered creatures may have looked frail, but Barnett reasoned they were endowed with robust attributes enabling them to undergo interplanetary travel.

Extending a trembling hand toward the craft, he could feel residual heat emanating from the fuselage.

Two kangaroo rats scurried from a crop of prickly pear to Barney’s right, startling the normally calm man. Recoiling, Barnett composed himself, swept away the sea of sweat cascading down his brow, and returned to the task at hand.

In 1947, radioactive fallout was a new fear, but being a voracious reader, the engineer knew enough about it to realize it was a tangle of Devil’s Rope he wanted no part of. Curiosity had a hold of him, though, as his fingertips pressed firmly against the dirty metal.

Power was the first sensation. Although this vessel had apparently been downed for some time, did it continue to have a life of its own―?

“Is that what I think it is?!”

Barney startled at the sound of the voice, his heart skipping several beats.

“Holy shit! You were right!” A thin wire of a man stood at the far edge of the dry lake bed, while a second, more pudgy fellow ― garbed in similar attire ― followed close behind. Both were dressed for an extended stay in the elements. Shovels, shorts, knapsacks and wide-brimmed hats indicated they were on foot, and part of an expedition.

Astonished, the two men encircled the craft, gawking in awe. The initial interlopers were soon joined by two more individuals who were obviously part of their party. By all clues, archaeologists, Barnett surmised.

A brief exchange confirmed the engineer’s deduction, but was abruptly interrupted by an explosion of military vehicles cresting the ridge. Before the impromptu group had a chance to investigate further, they were run off by official-looking men wearing official-looking stripes. Barney and the others were admonished never to speak of what they had seen to anyone, lest they be prepared to face egregious consequences.

Unable to vacate the weathered region quickly enough in his retreat to Socorro, the event shook Barnett to the core.

“Bullshit!” Fleck Danley bellowed.

“Wh― What?” Barney managed to stammer in his excited state.

“You heard me!” barked the short, stout rancher doubling as Barnett’s boss at the Salado Soil and Conservation District. “Spaceships? Little, green men, Barney?! Have you lost your mind?”

“Fleck, you’ve never known me to lie. Why would I start now, and with somethin’ like this?”

The gruff herdsman pulled a brimmed hat off his moist brow, and began to pace. Dilapidated floorboards groaned beneath his mass. “Christ, Barney, that’s what worries me.” Turning to his best employee, “Pie Town’s a long way off, and you been travelin’ there a stretch. Anywhere along the PSA ain’t exactly a trip to paradise. You ain’t sufferin’ from heat stroke, are ya’?” Danley grabbed a canteen from a coat rack behind him, handing it to Barney.

“No, Fleck. This isn’t heat stroke. You know me.”

The squat cowboy began to pace again. Three years shy of 40 and the lines in his forehead read like a road map. On this particular day they were so pronounced, they were visible by night.

“I’m tellin’ ya’ what I saw. This wasn’t a plane, and these creatures ― they weren’t human.“

Danley crushed his powerful fist into the creaking oak desk, his eyes bloodier than a freshly-cleaved slab of beef. “Enough, Barney! Enough! This is the last we speak of this! You understand?”

The two men eyed each other. They’d nurtured a mutual respect over the time they’d spent together, and even an event of this magnitude wouldn’t be enough of a catalyst for fisticuffs. Resolute, Barney strode from the office. He’d seen what he’d seen. He knew it. So did Fleck.

It’s the type of story one never recounts over meatloaf at a dinner party. Folks aren’t keen to playing second fiddle in the galactic hierarchy, and that’s what it would mean if humans were being visited by aliens. Anything that could reach "here" from "there" can do with us what it may, and we’d be powerless to defend ourselves.

Should they be benevolent, it means the end of the tenets we’ve built our society on. Who’s gonna listen to the president of the United States, when you’ve got access to a species 10,000 years more advanced? Whatever the commander in chief had to say would be so far behind the eight ball, he’d have the cue stick up his ass.

It was an uncomfortable position for those who believed they were in power. Barney realized this via his heated conversation with Fleck. Barnett comprehended anyone in control ― especially the government ― would not take kindly to information leaks on this matter. They’d made that clear at the crash site.

As such, the engineer kept a lid on his otherworldly profundity. Over the years, he would inform a few others of what he’d witnessed, but those he told were almost always long-time acquaintances.

Friends Vern and Jean Maltais ― the former an Air Force master sergeant ― would be included on that list. So would Harold and Martha Baca ― neighbors of Barney and his wife Ruth. A handful of others would be made privy to this secret Barney carried with him to his death in 1969.

Oddly, William Leed ― a man Barney had known for 15 minutes ― managed to coax details regarding his purported paranormal experience. Leed was a first lieutenant who engaged a prestigious officer in banter about UFOs one day at the Pentagon.

“Yes,” the official had stated, “we know all about that. If you really want to meet a man who touched one [a UFO], go see Barney Barnett in Socorro, New Mexico.”

It was never understood how this high-ranking officer was aware of the conservationist’s encounter with the unknown. The incident, nonetheless, inspired Leed to head to the Land of Enchantment as soon as he’d accumulated enough vacation time.

Driving from Ft. Hood, near central Texas, to Socorro, roughly central New Mexico, was a journey in 1967. Bill made the trek in decent time, but hadn’t been sure Barney would be home. Leed had never spoken to Barnett, and didn’t feel announcing his imminent arrival would warrant the best of receptions.

Hence, when Bill was greeted by an elderly man at his home in small town New Mexico, and invited in, he was pleasantly shocked.

Leed produced identification confirming he was who he asserted. The men spoke for 15 minutes. Less than half that interim was spent discussing Barney’s crash discovery. Barnett held firm to his story, asserting what he’d seen was in no way a fabrication.

Initially, Barney was hesitant to divulge details, since he’d been visited three times prior by government representatives warning him not to speak of his experience. When all was said and done, Leed failed to question Barnett regarding alien bodies. This may sound strange, but the first lieutenant hadn’t been aware of extraterrestrial corpses until Roswell grabbed public attention in the '80s.

Archaeologists working in the Plains during that time were tracked down by ufologists and interviewed. One minute the prehistorians would affirm a story, only to be disproved the next, via incriminating letters they, themselves, wrote. In the end, none claimed to have observed anything alien on the PSA that early July, 1947.

“That ain’t no part of no cow,” grumbled the livestock inspector, turning the enigmatic object over in his leathery hands.

“That ain’t no part of anything I ever seen,” added his counterpart.

Outside the greasy spoon at Datil’s Eagle Guest Ranch, the temperature dropped with the onset of night in New Mexico.

“Where’d ya’ find it?” queried the shorter of the two men.

“Down the road a piece in an arroyo leading onto the Plains,” Art responded.

As the three hombres mused over the object that resembled a petrified inner organ, twin salads the size of small gardens arrived, and the need for grub won out. “Sorry, podna'. We can’t help ya’.” The artifact was returned to the UFO investigator, and Art was again on his own.

Being a ufologist, since reading Frank Scully’s Behind the Flying Saucers in 1952, Art Campbell was the perfect candidate to probe an alleged UFO crash in 1947 New Mexico. Since Roswell remained salient, when envisioning a downed spacecraft with these details, a separate event around the same time enticed Campbell.

Art had been an investigator for NICAP ― National Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenomena ― and a prominent debunker of purported UFO contactee George Adamski.

Amidst an arroyo, on his final day of investigation in New Mexico, Art hit pay dirt. Whatever it was had been exposed to severe heat, and was now partially hidden beneath scrub brush. As Campbell described, it “looked like a pile of solidified chicken fat.” His discovery was roughly the size of an adult human fist, burnt on one side, and melted on the other.

Art was acquainted with Colonel Philip Corso’s claims extraterrestrials were outfitted with artificial organs, to survive interstellar travel. Could he have uncovered an example of alien innards; perhaps a heart?

Campbell had the object analyzed by scientists adept at determining material compositions. It was concluded the artifact was primarily constructed of HDPE ― high density polyethylene. This substance is used in the production of Tupperware.

Curiously, a number of copper and gold wires ― far thinner than human hair ― were embedded in the artifact. These strands were oft connected to what appeared to be electronic components.

Allegedly having insider access to alien autopsies from previous crash sites, Philip Corso’s assertions further fueled Campbell’s fire. According to the colonel, brains of otherworldly travelers were honeycombed with integrated circuits. Could Art have, in his possession, an extraterrestrial cerebrum?

Conjecture runs deep here, but it’s the type of tale that’ll keep you awake at night, poring over it’s particulars in a squalid motel room in the middle of nowhere. A cask of rotgut by your side, bedbugs keeping you company, and a Moon lucent enough to read by, good luck getting much sleep delving into this one.



Campbell, Art. (2013). Finding the UFO Crash at San Augustin: Isotopic Metal Analysis Not of This World. CreateSpace. ISBN: 9781491221945


— Hugh Mungus
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