The Spaceships of Ezekiel
Are there Flying Saucers in the Bible?


Aurora Texas UFO Crash Hoax


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Keywords: UFO, unidentified flying objects, Bible, flying saucers, Aurora Texas, airship, Jacques Vallee, extraterrestrials





The Aurora Texas Spaceship Crash

    Webmaster's Note: Aurora, Texas is about 50 miles northwest of Dallas.  I know a number of people from the Dallas area and I have asked them about windmills there.  They have all told me that windmills would be useless in that part of Texas because they don't have any significant winds even 5 percent of the time.

    Source: The Great Airship Mystery: A UFO of the 1890s, Daniel Cohen. publ. Dodd, Mead, 1st ed. 1981, ISBN-13 978-0396079903,  Chapter 7, pp.103-121.





The Aurora Texas Spaceship Crash


      Sometime between the hours of midnight and six A.M. of June 14, 1973, a person or persons unknown sneaked into the cemetery in the tiny Texas town of Aurora, and stole a tombstone with a crudely carved outline of a UFO on it. The tombstone marked the spot at which a "man from Mars" was buried after he had been killed when his spaceship crashed into a windmill in Aurora. The crash took place on April 17, 1897, right in the middle of the mysterious airship flap.

    Not content with merely stealing the tombstone, the robber or robbers then used "long, slender, pointed, saw tooth metal probes," to work their way down through the hole left by the stolen marker. In this way they managed to remove metal fragments that were known to be buried in the grave. According to an investigator on the scene, "If they went that far they knew what they were after and also must have tried to get specimen remains of the occupant's body, clothing or something to identify him by." The whole grave robbery, said the investigator, was handled in "a thoroughly professional" manner.


    The story of the robbery of the "spaceman's grave" was reported in detail in the July 4, 1973, issue of the Dallas Times Herald by aviation writer Bill Case. For months Case had been running a series of reports on the investigations being conducted into the Aurora crash as well as carrying out his own investigation.

    This tale of the robbing of the "spaceman's grave" marks the bizarre highpoint of a bizarre controversy which began back in 1897, and has not ended yet. In order to try and untangle the events surrounding this strange and rather complicated case we must go back to the beginning, to the April 19, 1897, edition of the Dallas Morning News, which contained the following story:

    "About 6 o'clock this morning the early risers of Aurora were astonished at the sudden appearance of the airship which has been sailing throughout the country. It was traveling due north, and much nearer the earth than before. Evidently some of the machinery was out of order, for it was making a speed of only ten or twelve miles an hour, and gradually settling toward earth. It sailed over the public square and when it reached the north part of town [it] collided with the tower of Judge Proctor's windmill and went to pieces with a terrific explosion, scattering debris over several acres of ground, wrecking the windmill and water tank and destroying the judge's flower garden. The pilot of the ship is supposed to have been the only one aboard, and while his remains are badly disfigured, enough of the original has been picked up to show that he was not an inhabitant of this world.

    "Mr. T. J. Weems, the U.S. Signal Service officer at this place and an authority on astronomy, gives it as his opinion that he [the pilot] was a native of the planet Mars. Papers found on his person-evidently the records of his travels are written in some unknown hieroglyphics, and cannot be deciphered. This ship was too badly wrecked to form any conclusion as to its


construction or motive power. It was built of an unknown metal, resembling somewhat a mixture of aluminum and silver, and it must have weighed several tons. The town today is full of people who are viewing the wreckage and gathering specimens of strange metal from the debris. The pilot's funeral will take place at noon tomorrow."

    The article was signed by F. E. Hayden, a stringer or part-time local reporter for the Dallas newspaper. Hayden's principal occupation was that of cotton buyer.

    Though the story is an absolutely astonishing one, it can not have come as a total surprise to the regular readers of the Dallas Morning News. The full intensity of the airship excitement had reached Texas by April. In the days preceding Hayden's Aurora account, the Dallas Morning News carried over a dozen different accounts of airship sightings from the area surrounding Dallas. Aurora is about forty-five miles northwest of Dallas. The April 19 edition of the News, the edition that carried the Aurora story, had four other airship stories in it. Other Texas papers also carried a variety of airship stories during this period, though the News seems to have been the most active promoter of the mystery.

    The stories generated intense interest in the airship. Several accounts speak of the "much talked of airship." One story in the News of April 19 begins, "A number of persons in this city whose curiosity in regard to the airship has been aroused to fever heat by the graphic accounts of the mysterious wanderer of the heavens as published in the Dallas News sat up most of last night in hopes of seeing it."

    The Dallas News airship stories covered a wide range of experiences from simply sighting a "cigar-shaped" craft high in the air, to actually meeting and talking with the "mysterious inventor" and his crew, to wilder tales like the Aurora crash, or the tale attributed to one Judge Love of Waxahachie, Texas.



The Great Airship Mystery, pp 103-105



    According to this account, the judge and a companion were on a fishing expedition at Chambers Creek when they stumbled across "a group of five peculiarly dressed men, and resting on the bank by them was a queer-looking machine which from the sketches and description heretofore published in the News we decided must be the airship. The men were taking their ease—stretched out full length on some furs—and they were smoking pipes." It turned out they came from "the land beyond the polar seas." They were the descendants of some of the ten lost tribes of Israel.

    Because there was no timber in "north pole land," the people there had never been able to build ships or railroad trains, and therefore had developed airships which they used for local travel.

    Said the leader, "On the 1st day of January [1897] the Historical society of north pole land decided to send out a number of airships throughout the United States and Europe. Twenty airships were ordered built expressly for the purpose with a capacity of five men each. On the 1st day of March 1897, ten of these ships were started to Europe and ten to America . ... By agreement the ten airships in the United States will meet in Nashville, Tenn., to attend the Centennial Exposition on June 18 and 19 and the ships will be on exhibition for those two days free of charge."

    Judge Love ended his interview by apologizing for the meager description he had been able to give of the airship but said, "you can all go to the Nashville Exposition June 18 and 19 and see for yourselves."

    Well, of course, no airships from the North Pole appeared at Nashville, or anywhere else. The story is clearly a hoax, though the possibility of a "land beyond the pole" was still the subject of some serious speculation in 1897.

    Another obvious hoax was the dispatch from Farmersville, Texas, which reported how the witnesses heard the airship crew singing "Nearer My God to Thee," and saw them distributing temperance tracts.


    Not all of the accounts which appeared in the Texas papers during April 1897 were quite as exotic as those quoted so far. C. G. Williams reported that about midnight on April 16 he saw the airship and its inventor near the town of Greenville, Texas. The airship he described as "an immense cigar shaped vessel" with huge wings and a wheel "like the sidewheel of a steamboat." The airship was resting on the ground with three men working around it. The leader of the group, the "mysterious inventor" himself, told Williams that he had developed the ship over a period of many years in a little town in the interior of New York state. He said that he and his two assistants had taken the airship on a trial run, which had been "most satisfactory." Indeed, the test had gone so well that while a short flight was all that had originally been planned, the airship had already been flown more than halfway across the country. Still, continued the anonymous inventor, improvements were needed, and he intended to return home to perfect his ship before making his invention public.

    Correspondent Williams concluded his article on a highly optimistic note. "When my visitor returns and I leave with him for Mexico and South America I will write the News regularly. It is a grand invention and I am fully convinced that in a short while we shall discard slow railroad trains and ocean steamers." Williams's prediction was about sixty years premature.

    Then there are what might be called the ordinary aerial sightings, like the one reported April 17 in the News and a day later in the Houston Post. It was datelined Sherman, Texas, and was the report of a sighting made by railroader W. S. Hellier. Said the witness, "I was standing on the pavement on the north side of the public square last night about 10 o'clock when I noticed a dark object begin to pass between the earth and the moon. At first I thought it was a cloud but I noticed at the same time that it was perfectly shaped. The object was going eastward and not apparently at any great rate of speed.


It was an elongated oval, perhaps six times its diameter in length. After it passed by the moon I saw no more of it."

    One of the more dramatic descriptions of the airship itself appeared in the News of April 28. The witness was an unnamed lawyer who was returning home in his buggy after a late visit with a client. A brilliant light from above passed directly over the buggy. The lawyer looked up:

    "I beheld about 1,000 ft. above me I judge, a huge black monster, from which the light emanated. It was in shape something like a cigar, but underneath there appeared to be a body similar to the body of a ship, which was attached to the object and from which the light originated. The searchlight was presently shut off, and a number of incandescent lights flashed around the lower edge of the body of the vessel or whatever it was."

    These lights, too, were soon extinguished and the vessel disappeared from view, perhaps landing on a nearby hill.

    The lawyer saw the airship rise from its resting place about an hour later, when he was within a mile of the village of Hillsboro.

    "It ascended till it looked like a mere dark cloud in the skies, when it started in a north-easterly direction and went at a terrific rate of speed. It must have gone at the rate of 100 miles an hour or more. It was headed as near as I can judge toward Dallas."

    What with all the other airship stories, F. E. Hayden's account of the crash at Aurora did not create any particular excitement at the time. There is no indication that any of the newspapers that regularly reported airship sightings covered the "spaceman's funeral" at Aurora. No follow-up story of any kind ever appeared in the News or anywhere else. None of the specimens of debris from the wreck which the townspeople were supposed to have gathered so enthusiastically ever turned up in any museum or local



The Great Airship Mystery, pp 106-108



historical society. Like practically every other airship story, the Aurora case was almost completely forgotten.

    But this story was simply too good to be condemned permanently to limbo. When revival of interest in the airship phenomenon began in the mid-1960s the Aurora tale was resurrected along with many others. Because it was supposed to have involved a spaceship rather than an airship, Aurora was of special interest to UFO enthusiasts who were more interested in extraterrestrial visitors than in mysterious inventors. The September-October, 1966, edition of the British publication Flying Saucer Review contained an article by Donald B. Hanlon entitled "Texas Odyssey of 1897." The centerpiece of the article was Hayden's account of the Aurora crash. Hanlon was uncertain about what attitude to adopt toward the strange story. He said he presented it "cautiously" and pointed out the similarity of the story to a couple of known hoaxes. Hanlon concluded, "After reading a report such as this, one has the impulse to either burst into gales of laughter or head for Texas with spade and shovel."

    A few months later Hanlon again returned to the Aurora story in the pages of Flying Saucer Review. The January-February, 1967, edition contains an article called "Airships Over Texas." Hanlon coauthored this article with Jacques Vallee, a young French computer scientist and science fiction writer who was rapidly becoming one of the best-known and most influential ufologists in the world, a position he retains to this day. Vallee, incidentally, was one of the first to give extensive publicity to the 1896-97 airship wave in his 1965 book Anatomy of a Phenomenon. Hanlon and Vallee once again reprinted the text of the original Dallas Morning News article, along with quotes from a number of other Texas airship articles that appeared between April 13 and April 28. In a footnote they add, "A special investigation of the case [Aurora] is under way. Progress will be reported in the Review."


    The investigation was completed before the January-February edition of FSR went to press, for the results are reported in a letter by Hanlon and Vallee. The authors state that because of the "highly unusual" nature of the Aurora story it was brought to the attention of Dr. J Allen Hynek, the Northwestern University astronomer and long-time scientific consultant to the air force's Project Bluebook, which was charged with investigating UFOs. (Vallee was completing his Ph.D. at Northwestern in 1967 and had already worked with Dr. Hynek on UFOs.) Dr. Hynek contacted an unnamed friend in Texas, who made an on-the-spot investigation of the report.

    Today Aurora, Texas, is not what anyone could class as a thriving community. It is hardly more than a dot on the map, and fewer than three hundred people live there. But during the final decades of the nineteenth century Aurora looked as if it had a future. It contained over three thousand inhabitants, was the biggest town in Wise County and the county seat. Aurora was an important stop on the Chisholm Trail, a main cattle-driving route of the old West. Then a number of disasters struck Aurora. There was a severe outbreak of spotted fever, which reduced the population. The cotton crop failed, which drove off still more people. But most significantly Aurora was bypassed by the railroad, and like so many other towns which the railroad bypassed, Aurora withered and nearly died.

    There is one small service station in town, owned by a man named Brawley Oates. The station, as it happens, is located on the former site of Judge Proctor's farm, where the 1897 crash was supposed to have occurred. Proctor was the local justice of the peace. Dr. Hynek's Texas friend made his first stop at Oates's service station. Brawley Oates was friendly but not very helpful, for he could neither confirm nor deny the story of the crash. But he did tell the investigator to go and talk to Oscar Lowery who lived "down the road a piece, by the schoolhouse," in a town called Newark. Lowery was easily located and he


invited the investigator to sit down on a bale of hay and listen to his tale.

    Oscar Lowery, who had been eleven years old in 1897, said that he had absolutely no recollection of a crash of any kind. He expressed the strong opinion that the whole thing had been a hoax dreamed up by Hayden, who was trying to make the town a tourist attraction. Hayden lived in Aurora and was distressed to see the town's fortunes declining. Lowery said that the T. J. Weems, "the U.S. Signal Service officer" and astronomer mentioned in the original article, was really the town blacksmith and knew nothing about astronomy. Besides, said Lowery, Judge Proctor never had a windmill in the first place. He said that a lot of people had known that story was a hoax because Hayden discussed it with them.

    Lowery also said that he had already been visited by about twenty others who wanted to talk about the crash. Some of them were reporters from newspapers and magazines and one had actually offered him money if he would change his story and confirm the crash. It was an offer Oscar Lowery could and did refuse.

    The investigator also found that the local cemetery in which the spaceman was supposed to have been buried was run by the Masonic Order, which had kept complete and careful records of burials. There was no record of the burial of a man from Mars, and no unknown grave in which such a burial could possibly have taken place.

    Hanlon and Vallee decided that the investigation had added "flavour" to the entire episode, and while they did not flatly say it was a hoax they did call the Aurora case a "colorful new piece of Americana."

    At about the same time Dr. Alfred E. Kraus, director of the Kilgore Research Institute at West Texas State University, made two visits to Aurora. He also talked to Oscar Lowery, and got the



The Great Airship Mystery, pp 109-111



same basic story. Dr. Kraus then went over the alleged crash site with a metal detector. All he found were old stove lids, rings used on horse bridles, and some 1932 license plates. No pieces of the "unknown metal" that were supposed to have been scattered all over the area could be located.

    The Dallas Morning News also began to rediscover its own colorful past relationship with the 1897 Texas airship. A reader sent News columnist Frank X. Tolbert a copy of the original Aurora story. In his January 4, 1967, column Tolbert linked this tale to what he called "The Great Truthful Scully Hoax." Tolbert said that in 1897 Joseph E. ("Truthful") Scully was a Fort Worth railroad man for the Texas & Pacific, who had a reputation for integrity. Scully was also known as "The Honest Brakeman-he never stole a box car." Scully and his crew reported that they had seen an airship on the ground in Wood County, Texas, near the town of Hawkins.

    Tolbert wrote, "About 15 years ago Ray Henderson of Dallas told me that all this was a well planned hoax started by railroad telegraphers in Iowa. And then railroad men all over the nation joined in the fun. Truthful Scully was picked as chief spokesman because of his reputation for never telling a lie." That reputation suffered after the hoax was exposed, Tolbert noted.

    Others have referred to the railroad telegraphers' hoax. A Fort Worth newspaper reporter said that in the early 1960s he had heard the confession of an aging telegrapher who claimed that the stories had begun with a telegraph operator in Iowa and had spread to Texas. A UFO investigator named Kevin Randle insisted that he actually had the written confession of the Iowa telegrapher who took credit for starting the whole airship flap by cooking up a story and sending it out over the wire.

    Tolbert was not ready absolutely to condemn the Aurora story as a hoax, but he did conclude that it was "probably a non-event."


    By the early seventies, "probable hoax" was the label almost all ufologists pinned on the Aurora story. David Michael Jacobs, a historian whose book, The UFO Controversy in America, is considered the most complete, accurate, and balanced of the pro-UFO histories, contrasted the Hamilton cownapping tale with the Aurora spaceship crash. The cownapping tale Jacobs found convincing while he thought the Aurora story was probably a hoax.

    One might think that given the enormous weight of evidence and opinion against the truth of this tale, it might have been laid to rest once and for all. But, no, the mere hint that a man from outer space could be secretly buried somewhere here on earth is so compelling that the Aurora story rose once again in 1973. While the 1966-67 discussion of the case had been carried out primarily among those dedicated to the subject of UFOs or to the history and lore of Wise County, Texas, in 1973 the story grabbed national attention.

    The ufological community has never been unanimous about anything, so while the majority may have dismissed the Aurora story as a hoax, there were still a few who thought that something might turn up. Occasionally they would talk or write about Aurora, or pass through the town asking questions. One of these investigators, Hayden Hewes of the International UFO Bureau, attracted the attention of Bill Case, an aviation writer for the Dallas Times Herald.

    Case was intrigued by the story and visited Aurora repeatedly to carry out his own investigation. In March of 1973 he began a series of articles on the Aurora crash which were to run for months and become increasingly sensational. Before it was all over, Case's articles had attracted national attention. Case began by repeating the original Hayden story, and by interviewing Hewes and some local residents, such as service station owner Brawley Oates.


    Oates hadn't even been born when the crash was supposed to have taken place. He had been uncommunicative to earlier investigators but he now said that he had heard the story of the crash all of his life. Oates said he wasn't sure he believed in UFOs, but thought there might be something to it. He also said that in 1945 he had helped to seal the old well that had been beneath Judge Proctor's windmill, and while working there had found a large number of metal fragments.

    "The pieces were about the size of your fist," he said. "But we didn't think and simply junked them. Later we capped the well and drilled a new one, then we built a brick wellhouse on the site." A chicken coop now sits on the land where the crash was supposed to have taken place.

    By mid-May 1973 Case found a "scientific treasure hunter" from Corpus Christi named Frank Kelley who said that he had uncovered "conclusive evidence" that a spaceship had collided with Judge Proctor's windmill and broken apart, scattering debris over a wide area. Kelley produced a batch of metal fragments that he claimed he found in the area. "This metal looks so different I honestly don't know what it is." Moreover, Kelley reported that he was getting unusual readings on his metal detector from a remote gravesite in the Aurora cemetery. He speculated that the spaceman may have been wearing some sort of metal uniform when he crashed, and had been buried in it. The metal fragments were sent out for analysis to a variety of different laboratories.

    Case then began to produce witnesses to the event, old people who said that they remembered seeing the crash or hearing about it from their parents, who had actually seen it. Ninety-six-year-old Mrs. Mary Evans was quoted as saying that she recalled how her parents wouldn't let her go up to the crash site, but they went themselves and later told her about the body of the spaceman. A couple of unnamed witnesses said they could lead investigators directly to the gravesite. They said they had gotten their information from a ninety-year-old man who was too frail to travel.



The Great Airship Mystery, pp 112-114



    Then came the discovery of the "spaceman's tombstone" -a rough-hewn rock with what some newspaper accounts described as a drawing of a cigar-shaped craft on it. An existing picture shows a flat rock with an irregular triangular area outlined in chalk and a couple of circles near the middle of the triangle. The chalk had been applied to make the carving easier to see. At best this representation of a spaceship was crude, so crude that it might just have been a crack or an indentation in the rock caused by the scrape of a plow blade. And that is just what many people said it was.

    Case's stories continued, with a new "revelation" in practically every article. He reported that scientists at North Texas State University had found metal from the crash site "puzzling" or "unusual."

    Other newspapers across the nation had begun to take note of Case's drumbeat of reports. The story was picked up by the wire services and a few papers sent their own reporters to Aurora. Some of the big names in ufology also began to take note of the Aurora developments. The biggest name of them all was Dr. J Allen Hynek. As consultant for the air force on UFOs, Hynek was often denounced as an extreme skeptic and professional debunker. But Dr. Hynek had undergone a change of heart and mind over the years. By 1973, Hynek was widely regarded as the world's leading pro-UFO spokesman. Back in 1966 he seemed satisfied with the report of his Texas friend which indicated that the Aurora case was a hoax. By 1973 Dr. Hynek had changed his mind and found the hoax explanation "highly improbable." He urged residents of the Aurora area to search their attics and basements for clues to the 1897 mystery. "We feel that people of the area may be able to locate information and physical evidence gathered and kept by their fathers and grandfathers."

    UFO organizations petitioned the Aurora Cemetery Association for permission to exhume what they presumed would be the body


of a man from outer space who had been killed in a crash seventy-six years earlier.

    In June 1973, Texas columnist Frank X. Tolbert wrote, "When I was in Colorado and New Mexico recently I heard more talk about Aurora than I did about Watergate, and I understand the yarn . . . rivals Watergate for space in European periodicals."

    The whole issue seemed about to come to a head when disaster struck. Case's article, which appeared in the July 4, 1973, edition of the Dallas Times Herald, was headlined "Grave believed UFO pilot's at Aurora, entered, robbed." The article went on to explain how the chief investigator on the scene, Earl F. Watts of the Mutual Unidentified Flying Object Network (MUFON), had discovered that the "spaceman's tombstone" was missing, and had determined that the metal presumably buried with the body was also missing.

    Watts said, "Now there is no metal response from the grave. It has disappeared completely." Watts also assumed that the robbers had taken anything else of interest that the grave might contain. Watts did not speculate on who he thought had done the grave robbing or why.

    Case was furious. He insisted that he had been anticipating something of the sort, and that he and others had strongly urged the Aurora Cemetery Association to provide some sort of security for the "spaceman's grave." "They move slowly in Wise County and he [the sheriff] never moved on the injunction. As a result, they lost the stone and we lost evidence we need."

    The Aurora Cemetery Association had a gripe of its own. Since all the excitement had begun, flocks of people had been tramping about the little cemetery, often breaking off bits of tombstones to take home as souvenirs. The association banned


all investigation in the cemetery, and vowed to fight any exhumation orders in the courts. The association backed up the ban by posting guards at night. The dispute turned bitter.

    A reaction to all the publicity had already begun to set in. It is impossible to determine what the majority of Aurora residents really thought about the possibility that a spaceman was buried somewhere in their town cemetery. Some said there might be "something" to the whole business. "Me, I'd like to see what's down there," said town marshal H. R. Idell. Others just laughed and said the whole thing was a joke. A few became enraged. Eighty-six-year-old Etta Pegues, a writer and local historian, told reporters and anyone else who would listen:

    "It was all a hoax cooked up by Hayden and a bunch of men sitting around in the general store." Hayden was a well-known joker. Besides, she added, Judge Proctor never even had a windmill on his property.

    Internecine warfare among ufologists and ufological groups is common and fierce. Often ufologists expend more energy on savaging their rivals than they do on trying to prove their case. A dispute of that type broke out over Aurora. The spaceship crash theory was supported by MUFON and the National Investigations Committee for Aerial Phenomena (NICAP). A long-time rival of both of these organizations was the Arizona-based Aerial Phenomena Research Organization (APRO). In the past, APRO had regularly and often uncritically supported all sorts of exotic UFO claims. But when it came to Aurora and the claims of some of their rivals, APRO became super-skeptical.

    The APRO Bulletin charged that there was nothing at all strange or unusual about any of the metal found at the Aurora site. Some of the metal turned in for analysis was an ordinary aluminum alloy. APRO went on to point out that if the metal had lain in the ground since 1897, it would have deteriorated somewhat. Yet the metal



The Great Airship Mystery, pp 115-117



found at Aurora was in remarkably good shape. Previous investigators had found only stove lids and license plates. The "obvious conclusion," said the APRO Bulletin, was that the metal fragments had been brought to the site quite recently and had no connection with what was supposed to have happened in 1897. The article concluded, "It seems certain that we should relegate the story of the 1897 Aurora, Texas, airship crash to the hoax bin."

    In a later issue of the Bulletin, APRO charged the investigation had amounted "mainly to a publicity campaign for a UFO group." The Bulletin also said that investigators for the group had a chemist's report dated June 18 indicating that the metal samples found at the site were quite ordinary, yet "they were still pumping the story for all it's worth as late as the 10th of July." The apparent target of these attacks was MUFON, whose national director Walter Andrus had assumed a prominent role in the investigation.

    Even Hayden Hewes, who had been one of those originally responsible for renewing interest in the Aurora story, had become disillusioned. Of Bill Case's articles Hewes said, "It appears now that the incident was exploited for publicity." Hewes disputed the claims made by "scientific treasure hunter" Frank Kelley about the unusual nature of the metal found at the site, and complained that Kelley had dropped out of sight and was no longer available for questioning.

    Hewes's organization, the International UFO Bureau, did locate some of the elderly "eyewitnesses" that Case had quoted, and got quite a different story from them. Mary Evans complained, "They wrote that up to suit themselves. I didn't say it this way."

    Charles Stephens, one of the witnesses who had been quoted by Case, insisted he had never said his father had actually seen the airship, and that all he had seen personally in 1897 was a fire. "I thought it was a house that was burning."


    Said Hewes, "Mr. G. C. Curley, another witness located by Case, turned out to be named A. J. McCurley, and he was teaching school in Oklahoma at that time."

    Reporter Bill Case, who had become the primary focus of the new Aurora controversy, died in December 1974. While a few organizations like MUFON continued to press for the right to dig up what they believed to be the spaceman's grave site, the Aurora Cemetery Association held firm. People continued to come to Aurora looking for evidence. "Mostly folks just poke around in the ruins" said town marshall Dell. There were no new revelations. Nothing at all happened, or seemed likely to happen.

    Still the story of the Aurora airship crash continued to be told and retold throughout the country. The story reached its pinnacle of journalistic respectability when it was honored by coverage in the New York Times. There is a general feeling that a story isn't really news until it appears in the Times. Aurora became news in February 1979. The following month it was also the subject of a brief article in Time magazine. The usually reliable Times got a surprising number of details wrong. For example, it had the ship crashing into Judge Proctor's window rather than his windmill. The Times article neither endorsed nor ridiculed the spaceman idea, but concluded that the whole thing was a puzzle and likely to remain so. Since the New York Times is the national paper of record, this article assures the Aurora case a degree of immortality. Fifty or a hundred years from now someone poring over old microfilms of the Times will run across the article and wonder whether a spaceship really did crash into Judge Proctor's "window."

    What really did happen? The safest way to answer that question is to say that the mystery is "unsolved." But a hard look at all of the facts surrounding the case can lead a reasonable person to only one possible conclusion—the airship crash never happened—the whole thing was a hoax. The only evidence that


the crash took place at all is Hayden's original Dallas Morning News article. The other "eyewitnesses" that Case claimed he located were all persons in their nineties trying to recall events over three quarters of a century past. And at that, some later claimed they had been misquoted. Town records contain nothing about a crash of any kind. There are no contemporary diaries, letters, or anything else that mentions the "crash." Though tons of metal debris were supposed to have been scattered about, not a single unusual piece of metal has ever turned up anywhere. The spaceman's records, written in "unknown hieroglyphics," have disappeared without a trace—if they ever existed in the first place.

    Would digging up the "spaceman's grave" end the controversy once and for all? I doubt it, because no one has ever been able to agree just where in the Aurora cemetery the spaceman was supposed to be buried. If nothing was found in a particular gravesite, there are those who could claim that the wrong grave had been dug up. Even if the entire cemetery were dug up and nothing found, the controversy still would not end, for the claim could be made that the spaceman's body and all other artifacts relating to the crash had been stolen. Indeed, that claim was already put forth back in 1973.

    All the "revelations" and controversy of 1973 are just smoke. There is nothing but Hayden's article, and if the crash really did take place there would have to be additional evidence.

    One can speculate endlessly on Hayden's motives for concocting this particular hoax. It does not seem necessary to blame "Truthful" Scully or a cabal of railroad telegraphers for the tale. Telegraphers may have helped to spread the airship excitement throughout the country, but there is no evidence that this particular tale was the creation of anybody but cotton buyer F. E. Hayden, though one Aurora old timer suggested that Judge



The Great Airship Mystery, pp 118-120



Proctor himself might have been the original joker. She recalled her father saying the judge outdid himself that time. Possibly Hayden or Proctor wished to draw attention to the dying town of Aurora, but it would be my guess that Hayden, like Alex Hamilton in Kansas, just wanted to tell a whopper and see if he could get away with it. He did.








The Great Airship Mystery, pp 121