Copyright © 2022 Albuquerque Journal
The memo is addressed to the officer in charge.
Date: April 9, 1948.
The document is a summary of a U.S. Air Force agent’s interview with an Air Force pilot, who had an unusual encounter 16,000 feet over Montgomery, Alabama.
The pilot told the agent he saw an object at 10 o’clock. He turned and saw a silver disc, about 8-feet in diameter, shaped like a parachute. It made no sound and left no exhaust trails.
The pilot banked left and had a clear view of the object for about 5 seconds, before the disc took a horizontal turn and sped away from the pilot, who was flying 310 mph.
The official government report is one of tens of thousands of records on the UFO subject that David Marler has spent more than 30 years collecting. He keeps them at his Rio Rancho house in an addition.
There are documents from government UFO investigations, thousands of books on alien visitors, newspaper clippings from around the world about possible sightings, audio recordings from old radio programs in which callers reported seeing unexplained objects flying in the sky and other types of extraterrestrial-related records.
The stories of how Marler collected the records are as fantastical as what’s within them. A health care administrator by day, Marler is also the executive director of the National UFO Historical Records Center. The center is essentially a group of people around the country who have amassed similar collections over the years.
They partnered together several years ago and formed a nonprofit organization with the hopes of opening a physical center to house all of their documents under one roof. The group picked Albuquerque as the preferred location because of the state’s reputation with other
wordly phenomena, and they are currently raising money and trying to meet with government officials to make the center a reality.
On Wednesday night, Marler opened one of the many black filing cabinets in his research room to look at one of his more interesting pieces.
Inside the cabinet were pages of correspondence between Leon Davidson, a former Manhattan Project scientist, and top government officials, including former FBI director J. Edgar Hoover and then-Sen. Lyndon B. Johnson.
After reviewing official investigative reports, Davidson was sharing his opinion that the unexplained craft might be part of a secret Central Intelligence Agency experiment, Marler said.
How did Marler get his hands on the letters? He said a friend of a friend connected him with a “self-proclaimed dumpster diver” in New York, who found the records while rummaging through a trash can after Davidson’s family had thrown away some of his belongings after his death.
“This literally was salvaged out of a dumpster in New York,” Marler said of the correspondence.
In one corner of the room is a case displaying original records and other memorabilia from military officials involved in Project Blue Book, an Air Force investigation into UFOs from 1947 to 1969.
Where did those records come from?
A construction worker in Ohio had bid on a vacated storage unit because he wanted the lumber inside it. It turned out the container once was connected to Lt. Carmon Marano, who was part of the Project Blue Book. The lieutenant had lost the boxes during a divorce and they ended up in the storage container, Marler said.
The construction worker kept the lumber and put the records and memorabilia on Craigslist. A local UFO researcher purchased the records and later donated them to Marler, who is well known throughout the country for his massive collection.
“The guy told (the UFO researcher) straight up, he goes, ‘I could care less about UFOs, so I just threw it on Craigslist,'” Marler said.
The UFO records center isn’t trying to persuade people that aliens have visited Earth.
“No, no, no, no. In fact, belief is on my bad list. I don’t like to invoke it or use it,” said Barry Greenwood, one of the center’s members. “Belief leads you down many rabbit holes. And we don’t want to go there.”
In fact, some of the items that Marler and others collect clearly aren’t true, Marler said. For example, while he has official government records and correspondence, he also preserves stories about aliens who live on Venus and cattle mutilations.
“We’re not Kool-Aid-drinking UFO believers,” Marler said. “Quite the contrary. I want to understand what this is all about. And I want some objectivity in that process.”
The goal is to have a central location where anyone – skeptic or a believer – can access the records. The tin-foil hat stories about aliens calling Venus home could be useful to a sociologist, Marler said.
“I think it’s a scientific puzzle. We’re trying to collect puzzle pieces, everybody has a different piece from everyone else,” Greenwood said. “And if we can pull all those puzzle pieces together, we can paint a picture of what’s going on, instead of having a fragmentary image here of the overall topic.”
Marler said members of his organization get a little annoyed with television specials about aliens.
“We vent all the time when we watch some of these shows,” he said. “This subject is fascinating enough without having to sensationalize it.”
Marler said there has been a sea change in recent years, with UFO research becoming more and more mainstream.
He said the shift happened in December 2017, when The New York Times reported on the existence of a secret government program that for years had been looking into and gathering evidence on UFOs, also called Unidentified Aerial Phenomena, UAPs.
Then came the release of videos of unexplained objects in the sky recorded using advanced military equipment, and the public interviews of military pilots who described encounters in the sky they can’t explain.
Lawmakers’ opinion on the subject has also shifted, Marler said.
Last year, Sen. Martin Heinrich, D-N.M., was among a bipartisan group of senators who successfully included an amendment to the Defense Authorization Act that created an office tasked with collecting and reporting data related to UAPs or UFOs. Heinrich has also said publicly that he is intrigued by recent reporting on UFO sightings.
“Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill have bipartisan agreement to look at the UFO subject,” Marler said.
Marler caught the UFO bug in 1990, just because he was naturally interested and wanted to know more about the topic. For more than 30 years, he’s poured time and money into the subject.
After work, he spends about one to two hours a night studying or archiving his records. On the weekends, he can spend four or five hours a day in his records room, and he also travels and lectures on the topic.
The storage space is so voluminous he hid one of his wife’s Christmas presents in a cabinet.
When he was a bachelor, he stored the records around his home and in his bedroom. But when he and Kendra Marler started dating in 2016 and then married, they ultimately had to build an addition to their home to have a space dedicated to his collection.
The room is packed with filing cabinets, book shelves as well as some cultural alien displays. He has about a 3-foot statue of an alien that he keeps in his garage.
Marler said he’s probably spent about $100,000 adding an addition to his home and purchasing and shipping the records.
Kendra said Marler talked to her about UFOs on their first date. And after she attended a UFO symposium, she was “blown away” with how well-versed some UFO researchers are on the topic.
“I mean, all of this, it’s mind blowing of where we’ve been, how we’ve expanded, and then where we’re going to be going with this,” she said. “I don’t think Dave and I ever would have imagined that we would have out-grown this room.”