RIO RANCHO, N.M. — David Marler’s goal for his 80-minute talk, “The Flying Saucer Invasion of 1950 — Farmington and Beyond,” Tuesday evening at Esther Bone Memorial Library wasn’t to encourage folks to believe in UFOs.
Marler, a resident of Rio Rancho, ardent UFO researcher and self-proclaimed “skeptical believer,” said he was “trying to break through that shell, the stigma of UFOs — that UFOs are only seen by crazy people,” and he was “trying to present factual, historical information.”
He talked about the mid-March 1950 events in the Four Corners area.
“There are incredible observations of incredible things,” Marler said, recounting what happened thousands of feet above Farmington, as well as above other areas of New Mexico more than 69 years ago.
In Farmington, it was estimated that about 85 percent of its residents observed from a mere handful of silver saucers ,led by a larger red one, to hundreds of them the next day.
What transpired there from March 16-18 makes the famous “Roswell Incident” pale in comparison, although the Farmington “invasion” lacks physical evidence.
But there are similarities: Each has been described as failures of balloons.
The Farmington Daily Times in its March 18, 1950, edition, reported in a front-page story that “Fully half of this town’s population still is certain today that it saw space ships or some strange aircraft — hundreds of them zooming through the skies.”
A local cop dismissed it, claiming it was only blowing cotton. At least one newspaper deemed the sightings due to “moonshine”; after all, the sightings were close to St. Patrick’s Day, a time when people imbibe.
But, an eyewitness told Marler almost 60 years later, blowing cotton was nothing new — why hadn’t people marveled over it year after year? Another decided it had been a Skyhook balloon launched from Holloman Air Force Base, and when it had ruptured, its shiny, plastic fragments had been seen showering down.
Later, though, Marler did some research and found none had been launched that week — and if one had burst, why would the parts to remain in the air for three days?
The Daily Times seemed convinced in its reporting, although Marler wondered why no photographs had been inserted into the three days the saucers were seen.
“The objects appeared to play tag high in the air. At times they streaked away at almost unbelievable speeds,” the Daily Times noted. “One witness did a triangulation sighting on one of the objects and estimated its speed at about 1,000 miles an hour, and estimated its size as approximately twice that of a B-29.”
Clayton Boddy, then 32, was an eyewitness and told the Daily Times there seemed to be about 500 of them. In 1968, he remained adamant in an interview with another UFO researcher about what he had seen.
On March 17, 1950, there were similar sightings in Tucumcari, Las Vegas, N.M., and at Kirtland Air Force Base; from March to May, there were numerous UFO sightings throughout the Southwest and Mexico, Marler noted.
Aztec isn’t far from Farmington. Marler spoke extensively — and played some of his interview — with Virgil Riggs, who had been a third-grader out for recess at an Aztec school.
On all three mornings, along with countless classmates, he had looked into the sky and seen hundreds of objects, reminding him of dominoes, not only in formation but also doing maneuvers of some sort.
“It was downright cool,” Riggs told Marler. “We all thought it was pretty neat.”
He remembered a teacher who had cried at the time, despite no hint of the flying crafts posing a threat.
Marler didn’t ask for a show of hands at the end of his presentation to see how many “believed” what he had told them.
“It’s part of our culture, part of our history,” he said of the incident he termed one of the “most misrepresented and under-rated in UFOlogy. … It’s surprising how many people don’t know about it.”
Thanks to his informative talk, another 40 or so people now know about what the Farmington Daily Times termed a “huge saucer armada” above its skies.
“We need to know what’s in our air space,” he said. “Don’t listen to me … (but there) are a lot of crazy UFO researchers out there.”
Later informed his audience at The Bone had been the biggest for a speaker, he said, “I guess it goes to show UFOs are of interest to people when presented in a credible manner.”
Marler said he’s always looking for volunteers to help him in his research efforts. If interested, visit his website, davidmarlerufo.com.