THE EPISODE THAT WASN’T: THE LAS VEGAS UFO
In the official schedule of UFO Hunters, season 1, the first episode was titled “The UFO Before Roswell” and concerned the Maury Island case and the Kelso crash. But that was not how the season actually started. It started on a hilltop in a dense national forest just outside Las Vegas and with special guest James Sanders, author of The Downing of TWA Flight 800 (Kensington, 1997), a book that actually prompted an FBI raid on New York publisher Kensington Books. Sanders and I have a penchant for getting into trouble, and this first episode of UFO Hunters set the pace for the series that wound out over three seasons. It captured on camera a UFO over Area 51; a bovine-human hybrid fetus C-sectioned from a mutilated cow lying along the side of a country road in Dulce, New Mexico; and an encounter with a federal police officer from the army base at Dugway, Utah, trying to confiscate our cameras and videotape by claiming—falsely—that we were filming on a military reservation without permits. Yes, we got into a lot of trouble during our three seasons, and it was this first excursion to Las Vegas that set the tone.
The story began in late summer 2007, even before we began planning the episodes for our first season, with an e-mail to UFO Magazine by someone calling himself Ben, or, alternatively, Colonel X, a United States Air Force officer stationed near Area 51. Colonel X sent us photos of what he called a “reverse-engineered UFO” simply hanging in space over the Nevada mountain ranges. He offered to meet us at a good location from where we could film the object and then reveal its existence to the world.
His report, which he submitted to UFO Magazine, located the object as viewable from the southeastern slope of Mount Charleston overlooking the Las Vegas strip. In his article for UFO Magazine, September 2007, he wrote:
Without revealing too much detail my about job which could lead the government to discover who I am, I am going to let you in on the scoop of the month. I am currently in Nevada, home to Area 51 and the best UFO hunting ground in the world. There are enough sightings here to keep most of the big organizations busy, but I just happen to know how and where to find a Roswell disc.
Of course its location is a secret. For those of you with a compass it can be found near the southeastern side of Mt. Charleston that overlooks Las Vegas. Since June I have been corresponding secretly with the Disclosure Project concerning its location. I have a high-level rank in the Air Force. It allows me to work in the Nellis Air Force range, which is really supposed to be clear of aliens. So, in late May when a disc showed up I wrote the big disc hunters to let them in on what was going on here.
The government wasn’t keeping it in a hangar, like all the books say. There were too many officers looking for it in the buildings where it might be seen and photographed. They were keeping it over near the city limits where it could only be seen using a military surveillance radar. I thought about calling the police, but the only way to see it or prove it was there would be to use the military radar, which the base commanders were not going to allow. So who was going to believe me without evidence?
I took the problem to an engineering contracting firm off Tropicana. I asked if they knew of any way to target an “aircraft” without radar. I did not have any radar so how could I find a target if it was directly overhead? Their engineer pointed out a CCD imager called an ICX429AL EXView, Sony’s top-of-the-line infrared sensor. The engineer said if it gave off infrared light and was within 100 miles, this chip could see it. It would not be a very big spot on the screen, but it should appear as a white-hot group of pixels. With a good lens you would be able to zoom right up to it once the CCD picked it up.
I never told him I was going to use the imager to target a Roswell disc. Not that it made any difference. The ICX429 was not a restricted technology and could even be purchased online. It took only 48 hours to have it sent to my office, and within a few days I was able to spot the saucer without too much difficulty.
Seeing it for the first time was breathtaking. It just sat there motionless. It did not move to the left or to the right. It did not even look like it was flying. It was a few minutes before I realized it was hovering. The darn thing was hovering! I could not believe it. I was imaging a hovering disc. You really had to see it to believe how it looked. It could hold its position better than any helicopter I had ever seen. I took some images and sent them to Richard Hall, Dennis Balthaser, and the Disclosure Project.
The first to respond was the Disclosure Project. After a little debate among the staff who monitor the organization’s email, they sent everything over to Dr. Steven M. Greer. The images did not go to him right away. I guess they reviewed everything before it went to Greer. The first staff member sent the images to another staff member who then sent them to their big office. When Greer saw the shape of the saucer he wanted a meeting right away and anything I could get him.
Richard Hall had seen the photos and got Don Berliner to use a separate email at konsulting.com to begin correspondence. However, Berliner learned that Greer was involved and did not want to intrude on the find. I had thought that Berliner would have wanted his photo analyst ready to help the Disclosure Project with any technical expertise they might need, but he said, “Now that we know Dr. Greer is involved in your project, there will be no need to send us any further information and pictures.” It was a finder’s-keepers situation for them. If the Disclosure Project was first on the scene then that is who they wanted to handle it.
The Disclosure team arriving to view the saucer was from Phoenix. This had to be a dream-come-true assignment for them since Phoenix is where the first photographs of the suspected Roswell craft were taken. Those photos are referred to as the shoe-heel saucer photos or the William Rhodes photographs from July 7, 1947. Their appointment was for 2:30 P.M. and at 2:00 P.M. the photographer began setting up the imager while I waited nearby hoping the disc was still there. All I needed was for Greer’s investigators to come all the way from Phoenix to what they would have to call a hoax if they did not get to see the disc.
When they first saw it at 2:40 P.M. they did not even ask if it was anything but the disc. They wanted a CD burnt of the event right there. They had just become the first investigators to see live hover flight under planned or predetermined conditions. The official term which was used to describe the saucer to Greer was “floating.”
At UFO Magazine that August, when Colonel X’s report and accompanying photos arrived, we were thrilled. Imagine the possibilities of featuring an issue with real Greer-approved photos of an actual unidentified floating object right over Area 51. But our publishing the Colonel X report did not go without a reaction from the Disclosure Project folks themselves, admonishing us for publishing his article without the Disclosure Project’s official OK. In other words, the Disclosure Project made it clear that we were not allowed to disclose anything at the risk of blowing open their entire investigation.
UFO Magazine is just that, a magazine, and we don’t take kindly to being told we can’t publish a story simply because someone wants to jump on it first. Besides, Colonel X himself wrote the story that we pub