Last update 17 September 1999

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Paul Bennewitz, electronic recordings, and films of "aerial objects"

Part One

The series of events which occurred near Kirtland AFB in Albuquerque, New Mexico in early 1980 represent some of the most startling and the most troubling aspects of the UFO phenomenon. It has been a source of some controversy, and while some may choose to believe that the incidents as a whole represent a fabrication, most of those who even know of these events seem to only be aware of the parts of the tale that evolved into controversy. They seem oblivious to the specific incidents that are in fact the events which set things in motion. These incidents, witnessed by a man named Paul Bennewitz, are what caused this to become one of the most profound cases of UFOs being seen and filmed over one of our nations most sensitive military reservations. This case has produced some of the only verifiable military documents signed by living individuals, which testify to many of the facts. There is strong evidence and testimony to indicate that an effort was made by some unknown agency or persons to both destroy any credibility which Paul Bennewitz might have had, and at the same time to quash any public awareness and interest in these events. It remains to be seen whether this effort was (or will be) successful. Nighttime films were made, a call was made to Air Force security police, and the rest, as they say, is history.

These reports involve a sequence of events which actually began in the last years of the 1970's and culminated in 1980 with recordings of unusual electrical activity and films taken of strange aerial objects rising from the grounds of the Sandia Military Reservation. Subsequently, researchers obtained several documents which related to Bennewitz's observations, as well as several extremely compelling forms which reported intrusions by 'disk shaped' objects into nuclear weapons storage areas. The first reported mention of the mysterious Project Aquarius, as well as MJ-12, came in a document which related directly to the work of Paul Bennewitz. This is an overview of the events based on my personal investigation, conversations with Paul Bennewitz, Lt. Col. Earnest Edwards, Richard Doty and others, and with all due credit to the work of writer/researcher William Moore. I hope it is not the final word on this case and that perhaps it will bring renewed interest and generate new information and leads.

The mid-1970's brought a bizarre wave of cattle mutilations to the United States, a wave which seemed to concentrate particularly in the area of New Mexico and Colorado. Much was made of these mutilations and due to reports of strange lights in the sky in areas near where some mutilations occurred, the two subjects have become somewhat intertwined. It was due to his curiosity about these reports that Paul Bennewitz made several trips to the northern New Mexico area and took several strange pictures and films of objects in both the day and nighttime sky. He met Gabe Valdez, a police officer well known for his interest in cattle mutilations in the northern New Mexico area, and even rode with him at times when they observed unusual nighttime lights. Though these events took place mainly in the mid-to-late 1979 time frame, it wasn't until early 1980 that he obtained the films that were to cause serious interest by the Air Force, UFO researchers, and unnamed "others".

It is fairly widely known that Paul had been in contact with Jim and Coral Lorenzen of APRO (Aerial Phenomena Research Organization) and appears to have had an interest in the subject of UFO's for quite some time. Some of the claims he made about what he believed he was observing during his trips to northern New Mexico seemed quite fantastic and caused the Lorenzens and others to have doubts about his objectivity. But it was after returning from one of these trips and being told by his wife of strange sounds she had heard one night that he began to focus his attention on the area visible from the upper deck of his home in Albuquerque. Whether his excursions to the areas near Dulce and the Archuleta Mesa in fact had anything at all to do with these sounds may never be known, but he definitely believed they might. I have had considerable time to think about the chain of events that led Paul to station himself on the upper deck of his home on those extremely cold nights in February 1980, and it has led me to the strong possibility that it was all simple circumstance, fortunate circumstance perhaps. But there is no doubt that Paul witnessed things that he was not intended to see.

What was the likelihood that anyone would be outside on the upper rooftop of a house in Albuquerque on a cold winter night with blowing wind? How many people would be outside at all? Add to that the likelihood that someone would be at Paul's vantage point and be there for the specific purpose of observing anything unusual, and the odds diminish that anyone should have been able to see what was going on in the direction of the Manzano Mountains. But perhaps it was just these bizarre circumstances that culminated in Paul Bennewitz being at the right place and at the right time to witness, and eventually film, aerial objects rising off the plains of Sandia.

The Bennewitz home is in an area of Albuquerque, New Mexico known as the 'Four Hills' section, a well-to-do area which is adjacent to the northeastern edge of the Sandia Military Reservation. In fact, from the roof of the Bennewitz home there is a clear view over the security fence to the Manzano mountain range less than a half-mile away. This range, known as the Manzano Nuclear Weapons Storage Area, is surrounded by a barbed double-fence line (one of which is electrified) beyond which you can easily see the concrete bunker entrances which span the base of the mountain range. One February night in 1980, from a position on the roof of his home, Paul Bennewitz caught a glimpse of something unusual as he looked towards the foothills of the Manzano Range. Peering Out over the low grassy plain he became aware of unusual lights that appeared to come from what he thought could be things on or very near the ground. Several objects would give off a glow for a few seconds and then go dark again for several minutes. Both he and his wife observed this kind of activity, and Paul watched for quite some time that evening. He has even stated that at one point he witnessed something that looked very much like a large flashlight beam playing around the ground near where one of these objects was. Finally, after quite some time, the objects appeared to burst into bright balls of light and he saw four of them rise quickly into the air, hover momentarily several hundred feet up, and then shoot off to the south.

Paul had begun filming just as the objects began to brighten, and though the entire episode was over in a matter of moments, he managed to obtain 8mm film footage of glowing disk-shaped objects rising from the plain between his home and the northern rim of the Manzano range. He was able to witness this kind of display on several different occasions over a span of several nights, and even noted that at times the jeeps of the patrol guards could be seen driving by seemingly oblivious to the objects on the ground. The distance is estimated to have been only about 2000 feet away and definitely inside the Sandia Military Reservation. What he filmed in the area over Sandia, and the recordings he made of strange electronic emissions, seems to have been at the heart of all the things to come, things which ultimately involved alleged secret projects, genuine and hoaxed documents, and at last, perhaps, his own mental state.


It has been my opinion for quite some time, and much corroboration came from Bill Moore's telling speech in Las Vegas a few years ago, that a "number" was done on Paul Bennewitz and several other researchers who paid too close attention to his work. Paul had approached the leaders of APRO (the Aerial Phenomenon Research Organization) early on to advise them of of what he thought he was finding, but for reasons of his own, and not long after he had obtained his films of objects near the Manzano's, he contacted the Air Force directly. His contact was through Major Earnest Edwards who was at that time in charge of the AF Security Police patrolling inside the double perimeter fence on the Manzano Mountains. He reportedly advised Major Edwards that he wanted to speak with someone about these "intrusions".

According to my conversations with (now Lt. Colonel) Edwards, not long after having seen some of Paul's evidence, Edwards mentioned to "his men" patrolling the mountain area to let him know if they ever witnessed anything unusual like this. One of the first documents obtained by researchers details some of what Edwards men reported to have seen along with an unnerving report of an encounter by one of the Sandia security guards. This is the incident reportedly witnessed by a "former helicopter mechanic" in which he saw a disk-shaped object near an "alarmed structure" on the Sandia grounds. These reports by his own men are what allegedly brought Edwards to contact Special Agent Richard Doty of the Air Force Office of Special Investigations (AFOSI). (Photo: East of the Manzano's Mountains)

Richard Doty has come to play a significant role in events which followed Paul Bennewitz having contacted Earnest Edwards. The single document which I believe is of particular significance reports a meeting between Paul Bennewitz, Richard Doty, and a gentleman named Jerry Miller. This document, signed by USAF Major Thomas A. Cseh who was the Base Investigative Detachment Commander, reports on this meeting and the general opinions offered by Jerry Miller of the films and other material which Paul Bennewitz showed them. Strangely, Mr. Miller is described in this document as a "former Project Blue Book USAF investigator who was assigned to Wright-Patterson AFB(W-PAFB), OH, with FTD. Mr. Miller in (sic) one of the most knowledgeable and impartial investigators of Aerial Objects in the southwest". It is noted in the documents that after analyzing the material Paul Bennewitz had collected, Mr. Miller reported that the "evidence clearly shows that some type of unidentified aerial objects were caught on film; however, no conclusions could be made whether these objects pose a threat to Manzano/Coyote Canyon areas". An item listed as number four in this documents also states, "Mr. MILLER has contacted FTD personnel at W-P AFB, OH, who expressed an interest and are scheduled to inspect Dr. BENNEWITZ' data. After several final notes, Major Cseh's report ends with the item "7. Command was briefed but did not request an investigation at this time".

What were the reasons for not requesting an investigation if Mr. Miller clearly indicated that unusual objects were caught on film? Exactly who was Jerry Miller and what were the odds that a former BlueBook investigator just happened to be on hand in Albuquerque? But the most puzzling of many unanswered questions could be, who directed Richard Doty to contact Mr. Miller in the first place? His name appears from seemingly nowhere.

(Go to Part 2...)

Chris Lambright
July 1, 1996