North Carolina author Scott Ramsey has spent the last 20 years researching what some call an urban myth - an alleged 1948 crash of a UFO in Aztec, New Mexico. The trail has led to Mancos.

The story goes that on March 25, 1948, at around 5 a.m., a group of workers from the El Paso Oil company were called out to Hart Canyon Road, northeast of Aztec, N.M., to respond to a brush fire near some storage tanks.

Ramsey said that after discovering the brush fire was not a threat, the workers noticed "A very large, 'lenticular' dish on the ground."

Ramsey is still discovering the number of witnesses who saw the object that day, but said his research shows that ranchers, emergency workers, oil field workers and spectators, including two police officers, saw the object.

There were probably between 16 and 18 people. That area is extremely desolate, even today.

Ramsey added that the area has been a hotbed of UFO sightings for many years. "I get calls all the time. People see stuff around Highways 550 and 160 on a regular basis." He added that some believe the Pre-Puebloans that lived in the region saw the objects as well. "They've been sighted far enough back that several petroglyphs show saucer or disk-shaped objects. I have no theories as to why these things happen in the Four Corners area," he said.

Ramsey said he is not a student of UFOs, but is planning a book on the 1948 Aztec crash. It all started on a business trip to Durango in October 1987. "I heard about the crash and it piqued my curiosity. The more I looked into it, the more the story developed," he said. Since then, Ramsey has interviewed dozens of witnesses and worked to declassify government documents.

Ramsey has kept a low profile during much of his project. "It's easier to get authorities to declassify information when they think you are just doing personal research. It gets more difficult when they think you are going to air the information on The History Channel." Ramsey has, indeed, appeared on The History Channel in a program called "UFO Files." That episode was titled "Hangar 18." It originally aired Nov. 4, 2006, but Ramsey said it will probably be rerun in the future.

Much secrecy has surrounded the incident- Ramsey said that witnesses have been consistent in saying that government agents swore them to secrecy for 50 years.

"In 1948, if you were sworn to secrecy by the U.S. government, you didn't question it," he said.

Fifty years later, witnesses willing to speak about their experience have told Ramsey that after the disk was found, military personnel quickly cleared the area, but were not clear which branch of the military they came from. Ramsey suspects it was a group attached to the 5th Army Division of Colorado.

"It was a two-week recovery operation. It was one of the largest craft the military had allegedly recovered. They kept the area well clear of civilians during the recovery. They had armed sentries posted at all the major peaks of the mesa's surrounding areas."

Traces of the recovery project remain to this day.

"The military had to cut a road into the mesa. In 2000, I interviewed a retired Air Force officer who gave me a few hints to look for. He said after they cut the road, the soil was loose and a concrete footer had to be poured to support a crane."

Ramsey said a Farmington, N.M. resident, Randy Barnes, discovered the concrete slab while conducting his own research.

"We were puzzled why the slab, heavily reinforced with steel rebar, would be out in the middle of nowhere," Ramsey said.

The Air Force officer Ramsey interviewed had not been at the crash site, but had been working behind the scenes.

"His family is adamant that his name not be released," Ramsey said.

The information trail led to Mancos, where Ramsey learned that Walt Sayre, a former Mancos resident now living in Montana, had a story about Pastor Autrey Brown of the Mancos Baptist Church in 1948. Sayre said that Brown told a few close friends, including Sayre's father, about the disturbing experience of stumbling into the crash site.

"The preacher told friends that he had just come back from the Aztec area and had noticed a lot of activity on Hart Canyon Road. He said he had gone to see if he could be of assistance and came across the activity around the downed disk. Brown said the military had whisked spectators away, but not before he administered last rites to 'little bodies' scattered around the crash site."

Sayre reported to Ramsey that Brown was "very, very upset by the experience, and was crying when he recounted the story."

Ramsey said that the witnesses all reported the experience had changed their lives.

"I think their belief systems were challenged," he said. "The interesting thing that is also consistent is that it was a lenticular craft, 100 feet in diameter with no damage, as if it was a controlled landing."

All saw at least two bodies through a mirrored portal window and described humanoids 3 to 4 feet tall with almond-shaped heads. Ramsey said the witnesses reported that all appeared to be burned.

"Two of the military witnesses said there were 14 to 16 bodies placed in body bags," Ramsey said.

In the weeks prior to the alleged crash, according to declassified Air Force documents, residents of Cuba, N.M., reported seeing large structured disk-shaped crafts. Ramsey also learned from declassified military documents that the Air Force sent Dr. Lincoln LaPaz to Cuba with two high-ranking Air Force officers.

"The group spent three days in Cuba explaining to the townspeople that what they were seeing were meteorites," Ramsey said. "In another declassified report, LaPaz reported seeing the large structured craft. LaPaz wrote, in the report, that 'the government was going to have a hard time explaining the craft.' "

Ramsey has relied heavily on declassified documents to research the crash. "Interviewing witnesses is always exciting, but I really rely on military records. The Aztec incident was an extremely busy topic with the Air Force, the FBI, the CIA and the U.S. Army," he said. He added that his research shows that in 1952, the FBI set up a sting to intercept the sale of black and white photos of the crash in the Edelweiss Bar at the Merlin Hotel in downtown Denver. Ramsey has not seen photos, but believes they exist.

"Civilians did take pictures but claimed they were confiscated by the military," he said.

Ramsey is wrapping up his research, but welcomes new information.

"I would like to flush out some more people that Autrey Brown confided in. I believe they are still around," he said.

Ramsey can be reached at (704) 507-0900 or by e-mail at

"Whatever we talk about is kept in the strictest of confidence," he said.