New Mexicans for Science and Reason

Does the FBI/Hottel Memo Prove the Reality of UFO Crashes? No!

The Internet has been abuzz with several postings of a "newly-released" memo by the FBI, in a new online resource called The Vault, that supposedly proves that a UFO crashed at Roswell, New Mexico.

Here's a typical mention from the Daily Mail, 11th April 2011 : "Also among the files, released for the first time, is a memo from Guy Hottel, the special agent in charge of the Washington field office in 1950, which appears to prove that aliens landed at Roswell, New Mexico."

Source: Daily Mail, UK:

One Big problem is that the memo isn't about "Roswell" at all, referring instead to 2nd/3rd/4th/5th/6th/7th and even 8th-hand stories about a supposed 1948 saucer crash near Aztec, New Mexico.

Is the memo "New"? Well, SURE, if you think that "Back to the Future" is a new movie!

In the same year that "Back to the Future" opened, 1985, UFO author William Moore thoroughly fisked the very same "Hottel FBI Memo"!

Here follow two pages from part 1 of
William L. Moore, July 1985. (pages 19 and 20)
Originally presented at the 1985 MUFON Conference.

Eight Rounds and Counting

Sometime during Sept. or Oct. 1949, Newton began telling his crashed saucer stories to his close friend in Denver, George Koehler. The central theme in his story to Koehler was that a saucer had crashed in the vicinity of a high-powered radar site on the New Mexico- Arizona border, that the dead aliens were all about three feet in height, were dressed in garments made of metallic cloth, and that they wore no undergarments but rather had their bodies wrapped or taped. (These four points are important to remember: 1. High-powered radar site in Ariz.- NM; 2. 3 ft in height; 3. Metallic cloth; 4. Taped bodies). The die had been cast.

Koehler, who evidently believed Newton without question, repeated the tale during early October 1949 to a number of his friends including Morley P.Davies, a field representative for the Walter J.Thompson Co. in Denver. Davies, in turn, repeated the story to at least two of his associates, Jack M.Murphy and L.J.van Horn, who were manager and assistant manager of a local Ford Motor agency there. In mid-December Murphy and van Horn in their turn told the tale, now fourth hand, to Kansas City auto dealer Rudy Fick who was passing through Denver on his way home from Ogden, Utah. Back home in Kansas City, Fick passed along the now fifth-hand tale to the editor of the Wyandotte Echo, a weekly newspaper published in Kansas City. In the telling, the name “Koehler” had now become “Coulter”, and the number of flying saucers in possession of the U.S. Government had grown from three or four to “around fifty”, forty of which were under study “in the United States Research Bureau in Los Angeles”. The bit about the high-powered radar site on the N.M.-Ariz border remained in the story, as did the alleged three foot height of the aliens and the manner of their dress. Fick implied that “Coulter” had actually seen the disc himself.

The story, attributed to Fick, his friends in Denver, and ultimately “Coulter”, appeared in the January 6, 1950 edition of the Wyandotte Echo, and from there it was picked up by a number of other papers around the country. This attracted the interest of both the FBI & the OSI, the latter of which began investigating it as an adjunct to their case already in progress on Mikel Conrad. By early March a whole series of communications pertaining to the matter had passed between OSI headquarters in Washington DC and various field units, one of which, dated March 14, 1950 stated that Newton’s Nov.24, 1949 conversation with Cabot at the Lakeside Country Club had been witnessed by a “local KFI radio news commentator (name officially deleted) who, on a morning program, announced in effect that a party at a Hollywood country club had stated that he had information on flying discs and that the discussion took place over a round of drinks at the ’nineteenth hole’ (bar)… and that the ’story got better with each drink’”. (OSI had attempted to interview Newton at the time, but without success in that Newton had apparently gone off to Wyoming shortly thereafter).

In any case, one of the agents at OSI headquarters in Washington, passed the Fick story, now seventh-hand, along to Special Agent Guy Hottel, one of his contacts in the Washington office of the FBI (with whom OSI often worked quite closely), who in turn, on March 22, 1950, generated a memo on it to J.Edgar Hoover himself. Hottel’s memo, repeating a now eighth-hand story but still retaining the four key points of the original Newton story (i.e. high-powered radar site in New Mexico [but now without mention of Arizona], three foot tall aliens, metallic cloth and wrapped bodies), has been cited out of context again and again by an entire array of UFO researchers as conclusive evidence that the U.S. Government is in possession of a crashed saucer. Had any of them bothered to research the matter before jumping to conclusions, they would have realised the memo is essentially useless in that the origin of the information cited therein can be traced directly to Silas M.Newton himself. So that there can be no question as to which memo is referred to, it is reproduced herewith in its entirety.

But that's not all! Here's the "new" memo, in the Albuquerque Tribune, from 1983!

Courtesy Robert Sheaffer's Debunker's Domain

And here's the "new" memo, in the Houston Chronicle, from 1985!

Courtesy Robert Sheaffer's Debunker's Domain

International Business Times Nails It...

Jesse Emspak writes on April 11th " News organizations across the world were taken in -- once again -- by a hoax that was perpetrated more than 50 years ago. The infamous 'Hottel memo' was posted on several sites, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation's 'vault.' It was touted as 'newly revealed' this week. The memo supposedly confirms that alien ships landed in the U.S. in the late 1940s and the information was covered up. But in fact the infamous memo has been making the rounds for several years. (It was never classified). The 'vault' is simply a newer system put in place by the FBI over the past week to make accessing documents easier. ... Several news outlets have repotted the memo as 'proof' that the government knew about crashes of alien spacecraft in Roswell. But not only does the memo say no such thing, it isn't even connected to the town of Roswell. ..."


FBI's UFO File: Proof of Roswell?

Benjamin Radford, LiveScience's Bad Science Columnist and Skeptical Inquirer managing editor, writes on April 11th "The memo is not secret, nor is it new, nor does it refer to anything that happened in Roswell. ... It's also suspicious that the 'smoking gun' document is just an ordinary office memo. It's not classified Top Secret, or even Secret; in fact it's not classified at all. This supposed proof of crashed saucers is mentioned in an ordinary memo, with no more secrecy or concern than a request for more office staplers. ..."


NMSR is pleased to host these documents. Until now (April 2011), the only mentions on the World Wide Web of Moore's fisking of the Hottel Memo have been these two:

Fortean Times #181, March 2004: "Incident at Aztec"

NMSR's "Aztec UFO Page", repeated below.

Even though the Aztec story is more pitiful than the Roswell legend, which at least involves some physical evidence, elements of Aztec still remain in popular UFO culture. On May 31st and June 1st, 1998, on the nationally-syndicated radio programs Dreamland and The Art Bell Show, noted UFO researcher Linda Moulton Howe described a secret FBI memo from March 22nd, 1950, written to J. Edgar Hoover himself. Memo author Guy Hottel, SAC (Special Agent in Charge), described an investigator's report of a flying saucer recovery in New Mexico, with mention of three saucers, three-foot tall bodies, metallic cloth, and bandaged alien bodies. The crash was supposedly due to interference from high-powered radar. But all of these elements (saucers, aliens, cloth and tape, radar site) have been firmly traced to the yarns spun by our two swindlers! William Moore even traced how the story got from Silas Newton to J. Edgar Hoover: Newton told George Koehler (employed at radio station KMYR in Denver), who told Morley Davies, who told Ford dealers Murphy and van Horn, who told auto dealer Fick, who told the editor of the Kansas City Wyandotte Echo. By that time, Koehler had become "Coulter," just like a game of "gossip" (or a game of "pi")! This article was picked up in the news, where it caught the interest of the OSI. The OSI agent passed the story on to Guy Hottel of the FBI, and he gave the 8th-hand story to Hoover.

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