Monday, March 30, 2009
UFO Hunters Debate Underground Base
By Raam Wong
Journal Northern Bureau
DULCE — UFO hunters came to this northern New Mexico town Sunday armed with satellite images, secret documents and grainy photos that they claim the government doesn't want you to see.
Packed inside a hotel bar, they had converged on Dulce to dig deep into the three-decade-old rumor about an underground alien-U.S. military base inside nearby Archuleta Mesa.
The conference — "Dulce Base: Fact or Fiction" — was organized by Rio Rancho resident Norio Hayakawa, who is described in a news release as a "retired funeral director and UFO researcher."
Hayakawa said he wanted to get to the bottom of the rumors, which have long circulated among conspiracy theorists and even some locals in Dulce, a town of some 3,000 people on Jicarilla Apache land.
The event, which saw some spillover from the 2009 UFO Conference in Aztec, had to be relocated to a conference room in a nearby grocery store because of the larger than expected turnout of about 100 people.
Area residents told of strange sightings in town, like military helicopters that seemed to disappear into the mesa, while a State Police officer described a rash of mysterious cattle mutilations several years ago.
The story of the underground base goes that, in 1967, the government exploded an atomic bomb about 25 miles south of Dulce to stimulate gas reservoirs. That detonation may have created some caverns beneath Dulce, enough space for aliens and military brass to rub elbows.
The Internet is rife with drawings of the purported subterranean base, complete with escalators and tube stop for subway rides to other below-the-surface stops.
An underground passageway is said to connect the base to Los Alamos National Laboratory. LANL officials insist that isn't so.
One participant at Sunday's event described finding a deep hole in the mesa floor with air spewing out of it. He said he believes it was an air vent for those working underground.
Debora Aragoncillo, a Santa Fe massage therapist, said she began attending UFO conferences after a series of vivid, out-of-this-world dreams.
"I've had some experiences in my life," she said. Aragoncillo described one dream in which she was in her home when some force began levitating her several feet off the ground as if she were being abducted.
The dream was so realistic, down to the smell of cat urine in her home's carpet, that it could only have been the real thing. "It was as real as day," she said.
Another participant used the online program Google Earth to pore over satellite images. He found something very curious about the parking lot of Dulce Elementary School.
If you rotate the image, zoom in and squint, the contours of the parking lot resemble an ancient stone sculpture in Bolivia. Coincidence? He wasn't saying.
But as for the joint alien/military base said to be a mile underground, several of the researchers had their doubts. There just isn't enough physical or eyewitness evidence, they said.
"Roswell's pretty factual, because of the eyewitnesses we've had," said researcher Dennis Balthaser, describing the alleged UFO crash in southern New Mexico. "But here you only have talk of underground facilities."
UFO researcher Greg Bishop said he believed the military was secretly pushing the false story of Dulce to distract attention from secret operations at Kirtland Air Force Base.
It was at that base where one nearby resident would frequently spot bright lights racing through the night sky in the 1980s, Bishop said. After hearing of the strange cattle mutilations up north, Bishop said, the man came to believe Dulce was a home base for spacecraft. He even claimed to have flown over one UFO crash sight near Dulce.
The Air Force may have been pushing the story, Bishop said, to keep the resident from discovering what was happening under his own nose.
Still, once a skeptic, Bishop said he has begun to think there just might be something to the Dulce legend.
"I have a doubt about my doubt," he said. "I think maybe there is something here."