Aurora, Texas, UFO incident
The Aurora, Texas, UFO incident reportedly occurred on April 17, 1897, when, according to locals, a UFO crashed on a farm near Aurora, Texas. The incident (similar to the more famous Roswell UFO incident 50 years later) is claimed to have resulted in a fatality of the pilot. The pilot was "not of this world" and was said to be an alien. The pilot was buried at the Aurora cemetery. A stone was placed as a marker for the grave, but has since been removed.
The incident as reported
On April 19, 1897, an article in the Dallas Morning News written by S.E. Haydon[a] described the UFO crash. The UFO is said to have hit a windmill on the property of a Judge J.S. Proctor two days earlier at around 6am local (Central) time, resulting in its crash. The pilot (who was reported to be "not of this world", and a "Martian" according to a reported Army Signal Service officer named T.J. Weems from nearby Fort Worth), did not survive the crash, and was buried "with Christian rites" by a traveling pastor named William Russell Taybor at the nearby Aurora Cemetery. (The cemetery contains a Texas Historical Commission marker mentioning the incident.)
Reportedly, wreckage from the crash site was dumped into a nearby well located under the damaged windmill, while some ended up with the alien in the grave. Adding to the mystery was the story of Mr. Brawley Oates, who purchased Judge Proctor's property around 1935. Oates cleaned out the debris from the well in order to use it as a water source, but later developed an extremely severe case of arthritis, which he claimed to be the result of contaminated water from the wreckage dumped into the well. As a result, Oates sealed up the well with a concrete slab and placed an outbuilding atop the slab. (According to writing on the slab, this was done in 1945.)
The hoax theory is primarily based on a 1980 Time magazine interview with Etta Pegues, an 86 year old Aurora resident who claimed that Haydon had fabricated the entire story, stating that Haydon "wrote it as a joke and to bring interest to Aurora. The railroad bypassed us, and the town was dying." Pegues further claimed that Judge Proctor never operated a windmill on his property, a statement later disputed in an episode of UFO Hunters episode, which found what they claimed to be the base of a wooden water pump tower constructed around the well. Paranormal researcher Jerry Drake on the April 12, 2020 episode of the Monster Talk live podcast challenged that finding, noting the well was clearly a bucket well of modern construction (estimated to be built sometimes after 1940) and not a well designed for use with a windmill.
The incident has been investigated on numerous occasions. One report was broadcast by local television station KDFW FOX 4 and two other reports aired on cable television.
In 1998 Dallas-based TV station KDFW aired a lengthy report about the Aurora incident. Reporter Richard Ray interviewed former Fort Worth Star Telegram reporter Jim Marrs and other locals, who said something crashed in Aurora. However, Ray's report was unable to find conclusive evidence of extraterrestrial life or technology. Ray reported that the State of Texas erected a historical plaque in town that outlines the tale and labels it "legend."
UFO Files investigation
On December 19, 2005, UFO Files first aired an episode related to this incident, titled "Texas' Roswell". The episode featured a 1973 investigation led by Bill Case, an aviation writer for the Dallas Times Herald[b] and the Texas state director of Mutual UFO Network (MUFON).
MUFON uncovered two new eyewitnesses to the crash. Mary Evans, who was 15 at the time, told of how her parents went to the crash site (they forbade her from going) and the discovery of the alien body. Charlie Stephens, who was age 10, told how he saw the airship trailing smoke as it headed north toward Aurora. He wanted to see what happened, but his father made him finish his chores; later, he told how his father went to town the next day and saw wreckage from the crash.
MUFON then investigated the Aurora Cemetery and uncovered a grave marker that appeared to show a flying saucer of some sort, as well as readings from its metal detector. MUFON asked for permission to exhume the site, but the cemetery association declined permission. After the MUFON investigation, the marker mysteriously disappeared from the cemetery and a three-inch pipe was placed into the ground; MUFON's metal detector no longer picked up metal readings from the grave, thus it was presumed that the metal was removed from the grave.
MUFON's report eventually stated that the evidence was inconclusive, but did not rule out the possibility of a hoax. The episode featured an interview with Mayor Brammer who discussed the town's tragic history.
UFO Hunters investigation
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On November 19, 2008, UFO Hunters first aired another television documentary regarding the Aurora incident, titled "First Contact".
The documentary featured one notable change from the UFO Files story – Tim Oates, grandson of Brawley Oates and the now-owner of the property with the sealed well where the UFO wreckage was purportedly buried, allowed the investigators to unseal the well, in order to examine it for possible debris. Water was taken from the well which tested normal except for large amounts of aluminum present; the well had no significant contents. It was stated in the episode that any large pieces of metal had been removed from the well by a past owner of the property. Further, the remains of a windmill base were found near the well site, which refuted Ms. Pegues' statements (from the 1979 Time magazine article) that Judge Proctor never had a windmill on his property.
In addition, the Aurora Cemetery was again examined. Although the cemetery association still did not permit exhumation, using ground-penetrating radar and photos from prior visits, an unmarked grave was found in the area near other 1890s graves. However, the condition of the grave was badly deteriorated, and the radar could not conclusively prove what type of remains existed.
The land owner gave them pieces of metal that contained mostly aluminum and an unknown element.
In popular culture
The incident is dramatized in the 1986 film The Aurora Encounter, as well as being discussed within History Channel's Ancient Aliens third-season premiere (entitled Aliens and the Old West) that focuses on late 19th-century UFO sightings in western North America.
An independent short movie co-written and co-directed by musician and historian Thomas Negovan and Aaron Shaps simply entitled Aurora dramatizes the incident as well as combines it with the Nazi conspiracy theory of Die Glocke.
- Haydon's name is also referenced as "S.E. Hayden" in other accounts.
- The MUFON case file lists Case as a writer for the Herald; however, the episode erroneously mentions him as a Morning News writer.
- "Aurora Texas Crash Part 1" (PDF). MUFON. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2007-02-04. Retrieved 2007-04-12.
- Haydon, S.E. (19 April 1897). "A Windmill Demolishes It". Dallas Morning News. Retrieved 16 February 2020.
- McNabb, Max. "The 1897 Aurora, Texas, UFO Crash & the 'Alien' Buried in the Cemetery". Texas Hill Country. Retrieved 16 February 2020.
- "Space Alien Buried Here". Roadside America. Retrieved 16 February 2020.
- "Close Encounters of a Kind". Time. 1979-03-12. Retrieved 2007-04-12.
- Bills, E. R. Texas Obscurities: Stories of the Peculiar, Exceptional and Nefarious. Charleston, SC: The History Press, 2013.
- "Aliens: a conspiracy out of this world". BBC News. 1998-10-02. Retrieved 2007-04-12.
- Fink, Mike (2004-02-17). "Alien country: Earthlings welcome". CNN. Retrieved 2007-04-12.
- Murphy, Neal. "The Texas UFO". Shelby County Today. SCT Online News Source. Retrieved 16 February 2020.
- "Aurora, TX Crash – 1897". MUFON. MUFON. Retrieved 16 February 2020.
- "The Aurora Encounter. UFO Crashes in early morning hours April, 1897". UFO.WHIPNET.ORG. Archived from the original on 2008-04-21. Retrieved 2008-01-28.
- Eyder Peralta (February 28, 2007). "Can a space alien rest in peace?". The Houston Chronicle. Retrieved 2008-01-28.
- UFO Hunters: Full Episode – First Contact (Season 2, Episode 4) | History Channel
- Negovan, Thomas. AURORA practical effects retro time-travel creature feature. Retrieved 2018-06-11.
- Aurora: A film by Thomas Negovan. Retrieved 2019-12-3.
- YouTube. Everything You Know Is Wrong (Side A) – The Firesign Theatre . Retrieved 2018-12-3.