Original Air Date: February 27, 2000
You've heard of Roswell, but some people believe Del Rio, Texas is a more compelling case for the crash of an alien spacecraft in 1950.
For a time in the early 50's the flying saucer phenomena was headline news, thousands of sightings by credible witnesses.
People reported seeing a large craft moving at a high rate of speed, honeycombed on the bottom with a dome and light on top.
But no rash of sightings quite compares with what happened on a winter's day in 1950, a strange sequence of events that ended with the crash of something near Del Rio, Texas.
The story begins at the White House on the morning of December 6, 1950. President Truman received a shocking call from the Pentagon. Truman's Secretary of State would later write that our "early warning radar system in Canada had picked up a formation of unidentified objects...all interception and defense forces were alerted."
The Red Alert or Def Con 5, whatever they called it, only lasted an hour or two and when it was over it was characterized as a false alarm, some kind of mix-up. Newspaper reports offered a couple of explanations for what had been seen on radar--a flock of geese, atmospheric conditions or friendly aircraft.
But, FBI documents released decades later under the Freedom of Information Act seem to indicate there was a lot more to it.
Author and Physicist Dr. Bruce Maccabee compiled FBI documents into the flying saucer mystery, many labeled, “Security Matter Dash X”.
At that time, the government publicly was claimed flying saucers didn't exist … confidentially it was a very different story.
One document in particular caught the eye of researchers written on December 8, 1950, "regarding flying saucers" "this officer very confidentially advised by army intelligence...that they have been put on immediate high alert for any data whatsoever concerning flying saucers."
Maccabee’s found the military document very telling, “the counter intelligence corps has plenty of other things to do besides looking for flying saucers information. So, there must have been something that happened.”
The immediate assumption is that it had something to do with the Red Alert two days earlier. Other documents indicate radar had picked up 40 UFO's at 32,000 feet traveling at incredible rates of speed toward Washington.
But the story gets even stranger...
A pilot named Colonel Robert Willingham claimed he was flying out of San Angelo when he was alerted by a radar operator that a UFO was headed toward him. According to Willingham the object traveled faster than and maneuvered unlike any aircraft he'd ever seen and it crashed south of Del Rio, Texas.
Three years earlier whatever crashed in Roswell, New Mexico was taken to Carswell Air Force Base in Fort Worth and chronicled in three surviving photographs. A researcher named Todd Zechel, claimed to have found a document that proved a Carswell team also did crash recovery south of Del Rio, the date? December 6, 1950.
Decades later at least one witness survived. We found him, Retired Colonel Robert Willingham in Archer City, Texas.
One of his first reactions when seeing the mystery craft, “I don’t know if we had any kind of a guided missile or any kind of missile that traveled like that traveled on a level flight like that one traveled.”
Willingham said he and a co-pilot returned to base and immediately went searching for the crashed UFO. The retired colonel said the object, “was just on the Mexican side of the Rio Grande in there. A colonel from the Mexican army came up and told us we’d have to leave. We did get a little look when we first walked up there, kind of looked to me like a disc of some type.”
Willingham, who suffered a stroke, said his memory fails him from time to time. But, on key points the story he told matched with an affidavit he gave in 1977, especially so on a chunk of metal he retrieved from the crash site, “honeycombed”, “light as a feather” , like nothing he'd ever seen before.
For days Willingham said, “we took that piece of metal and put it on a grinder and took a cutting torch, tried to burn it, and couldn't do anything with it.”
Still curious, Willingham said he took the metal to a marine testing lab in Maryland but when he tried to retrieve it was told the major he'd given it to did not exist.
What Willingham saw and his willingness to talk about it did not apparently harm his military career, he spent 48 years working in one capacity or another for Uncle Sam. While in the military Willingham received a commendation from President Reagan and the American Security Council hangs on his wall.
But, he was warned over the years to clam up including once in an anonymous late night call.
Willingham recalled the call like this, "he said I’m from the military government and don't you say nothing else.”
The Pentagon has offered a number of possible explanations for what Willingham and others saw in the sky during the early 50's beginning with a sort of high altitude balloon.
But, neither Col. Willingham nor Dr. Maccabee bought the government's explanation, certainly not for all that occurred December 6, 1950. As Maccabee put it, “I don’t think they know what happened.”
KDFW FOX 4
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