A History of UFO Crashes

by Kevin D. Randle
Avon Books, New York, 1995, 276 pp., paperback, $5.50

There appears to be an ongoing struggle in the mind of Kevin Randle, who displays a split personality in his research. On the one hand is the investigator willing to gather the data and piece together the facts objectively. On the other is a person who strongly desires to prove the extraterrestrial hypothesis. The former goes into the field and logically pursues a story; the latter appears to do so as well, but when a mundane solution is found wanting, the extraterrestrial flag is hoisted without considering other possibilities. It is this facet of Randle's personality that is most troublesome.

This bias is shown immediately. In the second sentence of the book, parroting a question pondered by those curious about the phenomenon, Randle asks, "If UFOs are real, meaning extraterrestrial, where is the proof?" This approach, which seems to have been formed more from a longing for the facts to conform to one's wishes than to the truth, is backwards logic. UFOs are most certainly real, if only existing in the discourse of their adherents; however, whether their "realness" extends to a (partial) extraterrestrial ontology has never been presented convincingly. A History of UFO Crashes hasn't done anything to change this.

A History of UFO Crashes is not a chronological account of fallen saucers, but rather is a presentation of six specific incidents, including Roswell. There are also chapters detailing the Twining letter and Project Moon Dust. The most valuable material, however, is in Appendix A, which lists crashes and retrievals dating from 1862, and the chapter "The Majestic-Twelve Hoax," which is an extension of the material that originally appeared in The Truth About the UFO Crash at Roswell.

It is pointed out that Lt. Col. Hoyt S. Vandenberg was "assigned" to MJ-12 because the chief of the Army Air Forces, General Carl Spaatz, was on vacation during the crucial early days in July 1947 and that Vandenberg was in touch with the White House, as noted in phone records and meeting agendas. Attachment 15 of the recent "Report on Air Force Research Regarding the 'Roswell Incident'" contains photocopies of Vandenberg's diaries and appointment book for the period July 7-9, 1947. There is plenty to raise the eyebrows of the conspiratorialists, including dental appointments on July 7 and 9. (It is said that President Eisenhower used a dental excuse to see aliens and their craft in 1954.) On July 5, Vandenberg returned to Washington, D.C. from Wichita Falls, Texas (so close to Roswell!). The capper for the paranoid mind convinced of a cover-up is Vandenberg's afternoon of July 7, when he fielded several phone calls on the saucers. However, none of these conversations involved Roswell, which only adds to the evidence that the U.S. was in a saucer frenzy in 1947 irrespective of the events in Roswell, New Mexico.

If Randle's belief system makes him stumble at times, at least he has done his homework. Indeed, the effort that has been devoted to these incidents as evidenced in the overall indexing, seems quite thorough. What is dismaying is the acceptance of statements from people when so often it is shown by Randle himself (most admirably in detailing the Gerald Anderson hoax) that individuals who become involved in ufology embellish or simply fabricate stories for a number of reasons not very difficult to fathom. Thus, this book is useful, if for no other reason, by providing an account of those who avail themselves of modern myth-making.

Finally, one must ask what, if anything, can be believed in these crashed saucer tales. When so much is contemptible, when time after time these stories lack solid corroboration, how much longer can the serious UFO investigator listen with an open mind? Recently, a gentleman came forward who claimed to be stationed at Roswell Army Air Field in 1947. This was verified. He then claimed to have a piece of the debris from the Roswell wreckage in his possession. Is it surprising that a search of his belongings turned up no such item?

But demanding an unearthly artifact as proof of extraterrestrial visitation (e.g., Carl Sagan asking for a UFO's log book) is probably a misguided endeavor. In the end, the evidence for physical crafts from other planets, like the crafts themselves, simply won't fly.

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