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Alternate Perceptions Magazine, May 2020

Advent of the Flying Saucers

by: Rick Hilberg

This ongoing column will present my work on a proposed booklet about the early days of the UFO enigma that was cancelled after my wife and collaborator Carol was stricken with her final illness last fall. It was my intention to begin at the logical "beginning" of the modern day "flying saucer" era in 1947 after the Kenneth Arnold sighting hit the worldwide media by storm in June of that year, and then to continue chronologically forward in time. However, in March of this year I was reminded by my old friend and colleague Edward Biebel about 2020 being the seventy year anniversary of the big Farmington, New Mexico mass sighting of March 1950. So to take advantage of that milestone I'm starting "out of order", but promise that the next column will start at the beginning of it all several months from now on down the road.

My intention in presenting these many now forgotten historical cases in the months to come is to use the original published newspaper accounts exactly as they were written, as over the years many writers have taken bits and pieces of them and inserted their own "coloring", as it were, in their works thereby altering them sometimes not so subtly. I also intend to clearly identify the newspaper that published the material, as well as its date of publication if at all possible.

Also note that other significant reports were made in other parts of New Mexico at about the same time as the Farmington mass encounter and I wonder just how many other cases there were that were never reported to the news media those seventy years ago. In spite of much speculation that the Farmington "gaggle" of flying saucers could be written off as balloons or plant matter blowing in the wind, to my knowledge it remains unexplained to this day.

1950 - Mysteries in the Skies of New Mexico

Monday March 13; Tuesday March 14 -  This flying thing-a-ma-jig business is getting out of hand. They're getting all puffed up about something and turning into flying globes - at least over some parts of New Mexico

They're not saucers at all but only look that way from the front and rear - and have a long row - of windows along the fuselage. And they're getting down to 500 feet and making right angle turns.

Those were among the reports yesterday (3/14) in the latest wave of accounts of strange objects in the sky.

In Santa Fe, high school student Fred  Richardson reported sighting a "huge shining globe" over the mountain peaks about 10 miles northeast of the capital. He said it hovered over the mountains, then put on a burst of speed "faster than any jet plane I have ever seen and disappeared to the northeast.”

"I don't know what it was, and I haven't believed any of these flying saucers, but I sure saw something bigger than any weather balloon and a lot faster than any plane I know about," 18-year-old Richardson said.

At Hobbs, house painter Frank Bond, 39, said he thinks he's solved the mystery. He said the objects aren't saucers - they just look that way from the front and rear.

Bond said he observed four of the strange craft over Hobbs March 13th in formation. They were traveling at about 2,000 feet toward the northwest and he saw their fuselages with windows running the full length, he related. They made a noise like a jet and vanished in about 30 seconds. 

Bond said the front of each bright silver object was shaped like a half-moon, each had a square fuselage and they were about the size of a B-29 bomber. (1)

Friday March 17  - The first large group of 'flying saucers" was reported over Farmington this morning. Some estimates place the number at hundreds, others said 20 or more were seen, first loafing, then streaking through the skies.

Clayton J. Boddy, business manager of the Farmington Daily Times and former Army captain, corps of engineers, was among those who witnessed the objects in flight.

He stated that a large number, possibly 100 or more, appeared in the sky over Farmington shortly before noon. He said that at least 20 were close enough to earth to describe them as flying saucers. No other or better description could be given, he stated. He said they disappeared in a northeasterly direction with a sudden burst of speed that could not be estimated.

Kenneth Evans, airport employee, said a neighbor of his reported seeing an object circle town earlier in the day and that it too developed high speed and disappeared northeasterly. So fast was its flight, she said, that only a streak was apparent in the sky. (2)

Boddy's account was confirmed by Joseph C. and Francis C. Kelloff, retail grocers from Antonio, Colorado, who were in Farmington to inspect the site of a proposed new store, and by Bob Foutz and John Burrell of Farmington. The Kelloff’s said the objects appeared to be flying in formation.

One of the most impressive accounts came from Harold F. Thatcher, head of the Farmington Soil Conservation service. Thatcher made a triangulation on one of a number of flying craft. He said if it had been a B-29 it would have been 2,000 feet high and traveling more than 1,000 miles per hour.

Marlow Webb, a garage employee, said the objects to the naked eye appeared to be about eight inches in diameter as seen from the ground. He described them as about the size of a dinner plate. "They flew sideways, on edge and at every conceivable angle," he said. "This is what made it easy to determine that they were saucer-shaped." None of the scores of reports told of any vapor trail or engine noise. Nor did anyone report any windows or any other markings on the craft.

A second large scale sighting occurred at 3:00 p.m. At that time, Mrs. Wilson Jones, 27, and Mrs. Roy Hicks, 33, housewives, reported seeing objects to the north of Farmington, flying in perfect formation. Others reported the same sight. (3)


(1). Las Vegas, New Mexico Daily Optic 3/15/50
(2). Las Vegas, New Mexico Daily Optic  3/17/50
(3). Farmington, New Mexico Daily Times 3/18/50

Saturday, December 03, 2022