Often a UFO case is reported by one or two people, occasionally by a small group. Rare are the large groups that report a similar thing at the same time and even rarer is the type of mass sighting reported from the town of Farmington, New Mexico in March 1950. While the quantity and quality of the reports makes for a fascinating case, so too does the fact that most of the people who made those reports are still completely adamant about what they saw over sixty years later.
The report of the incident came from a local newspaper called the Farmington Daily Times, who ran the story on March 18th 1950. Their headline read that ‘Huge Saucer Armada Jolts Farmington’ and went on to detail what people had seen.
For three days running, hundreds of people had reported seeing an armada of flying saucers over their town. For three days running, the craft had appeared from 11am and some 1500 people reported the events. All around the town, people were standing, watching the sight despite the dust storm that had enveloped the town.
The town is located just 110 miles by air from the Los Alamos atomic installation where many nuclear tests were carried out. At the time it was home to around 46,000 people and is a part of San Juan County, one of the largest counties in the US.
The craft in the air were described as ‘playing tag’ high in the air and were reaching speeds that no aircraft of the day could touch. In fact, one witness did a rough triangulation calculation and worked out the craft were moving at around 1,000 miles per hour.
The first sighting happened at 11am on 15th March when several people called the newspaper to report what they had seen. The second sighting happened at 3pm that day when further witnesses reporting seeing the craft, including two local housewives. The first reports of the red craft came in this wave including from a real estate salesman and garage worker.
The majority of the reports said that the objects fascinating the townspeople – cars had to swerve to avoid sky gazers – were silvery discs while some said they also say a larger, red coloured disc that they thought of as the leader.
One witness who spoke to the newspaper was Clayton J Boddy, a business manager for the newspaper itself as well as a former Army Engineer captain. He was worked on a road when he saw the craft, numbering some 500. While he could not accurately state their height, he believed it to be some 15,000 feet above the ground.
Other witnesses included two grocers who were inspecting a potential new store sight while Harold F Thatcher, head of the Soil Conservation station in the town was one who made the triangulation calculations. He said that is the craft had been a B-29, it would have been over 2,000 feet high and travelling at more than 1000 mph based on his observations.
The garage worker, Edward Brooks, was a former B-29 tail gunner and was convinced that the craft were performing manoeuvres that no craft could perform. His colleague, John Bloomfield, added that he believed the same and added that he had seen the craft move at right angles.
Jerry Riggs was just eight at the time and attending Aztec Elementary School. He remembered going outside for recess and seeing other students pointing to the sky. He saw square formations made of dots that suddenly moved around. The first day, there seemed to be only a few, the second day saw a number too large to count and on the third day he saw around 30-40. While he doesn’t know what he saw, he remains to this day adamant about his witness report – this was no plane or weather phenomena or anything else he could explain. He went on to serve as a commercial pilot who flew in Vietnam as well as a free fall parachutist and all his experiences since then still leave him without an explanation.
One somewhat unlikely explanation offered for the sightings were that the craft were actually fuzz floating through the air on strong winds. Thatcher was one to categorically dismiss this, stating that he had seen cotton floating around at the time and these crafts were very much not this.
It is also interesting to note that the only other town of note in the San Juan County is called Aztec and it too has a famous UFO incident in its past. In 1948, two years before the sightings in Farmington, a UFO is said to have crashed near the town. The incident was reported by Frank Scully in the Variety magazine and his later book ‘Behind the Flying Saucers’.
New Mexico is also noted as the location of perhaps the most famous UFO crash on record – Roswell. The Roswell crash took place the year before the Aztec crash and has been much written about and discussed. At the time, newspapers reported on the incident and the RAAF classified the incident as a crashed weather balloon.
Finally, it is worth noting that the Farmington incident is less famous than these crashes largely due to a campaign by the authorities of the time to persuade the witnesses to keep quiet about their stories for ‘national security’. Coming just a few years after the end of World War II, people of Farmington were obviously convinced by this argument in a way that we today would perhaps not be. But perhaps with time, we may come to know more about the incident though as witnesses pass away, chances of this decline.