On April 9-10, 2008, I’ll be making a brief visit to Dayton, Ohio (to deliver a private cryptozoology talk). Today, I pause to pass along a bit of Forteana.
A couple years ago I was the co-author of Weird Ohio, and one of the stories I enjoyed sharing in that book was of Dayton’s so-called “Hangar 18.” I thought you might like to read a little about it today, while I travel to that fair city. (It is hardly about cryptids, but it certainly is a strange location tale, sort of an “urban legend of place,” and it speaks to what happens to some evidence, allegedly.)
Dayton’s Hangar 18
Arizona’s Senator Barry Goldwater asked to look inside it. Presidents, tourists, and ufologists have tried to see what’s there. How many aliens that crashed at Roswell, it is asked as if the question is full of facts, are stored at a special storage facility at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio? But the myths and reality of Hangar 18 are hard to pin down, and live on today.
According to reports, a flying saucer crashed during a violent thunderstorm in a remote area of New Mexico, just northeast of Corona, west of Roswell, on or around July 2, 1947. Military personnel from Roswell Army Air Force Base in Roswell, New Mexico quickly cleaned up the crash site. Roswell has always been a super secret location, because that’s where the bomb squads with Atom bombs were stationed. In addition to the crashed saucer, reports, unconfirmed eyewitness accounts, said that four-grayed skinned alien bodies, dead spacemen, no more than three or foot feet tall, were also recovered from the crash.
Where would they take these items of interest to national security? The remains of this spacecraft and its occupants were placed, we are told, on huge transports and quickly flown to the infamous “Hangar 18″ at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio.
Did any of these events actually take place? Who knows now? But one thing is clear, Hangar 18 and Wright-Patterson have been the focus as the location they would have been stored.
Senator Goldwater, who was also a brigadier general in the U.S. Air Force Reserve did actually ask his friend, General Curtis LeMay if he could take a peek in the room at Wright-Patterson where he had heard the alien bodies were kept. LeMay’s curt reply, according to Goldwater was: “Not only can’t you get into it but don’t you ever mention it to me again.”
In the 1960s-1970s, one of the most prominent ufologists in Ohio was Leonard H. Stringfield. As opposed to all the skepticism, ridicule and jokes that came from within the ranks of ufology about the reports of Hangar 18, Stringfield decided to conduct a series of serious investigations and interviews. As ufology historian Jerome Clark points out in his books, Stringfield then began publishing a series of monographs with credible firsthand accounts of people saying they had seen the bodies at Wright-Patterson.
As Clark writes in Encyclopedia of Strange and Unexplained Physical Phenomena (1993), what was striking about Stringfield’s informants’ descriptions of a pear-shaped headed, slant-eyed gray, four-feet tall aliens in his 1979 works is “its anticipation of the type of being that would figure in the UFO-abduction lore of the 1980s and beyond. Humanoids of this sort are rare in the early UFO literature of occupant reports.” Jerome Clark’s work confirmed that others had heard or seen some very strange things, some even said to be aliens in storage at Wright-Patterson.
But skeptics are hard on the story of Roswell and the grays at Hangar 18. What we do know is that Dayton, Ohio’s Wright-Patterson Air Force base may not house aliens, but for certain it does contain wonderful archives and alleged outer space pancakes.
On April 18, 1961, Joe Simonton was having a late breakfast at 11 AM when some low, jet-like noises disturbed him and he went outside. Seeing a disc land, hatch open and a non-threatening being get out, Joe saw the visitors didn’t speak English, and all communication took place in the form of gestures. But also, according to Joe, he apparently telepathically picked up a message to get some water in a jug for the entity.
Then, according to the Air Force report: “Looking into the [saucer] he saw a man ‘cooking’ on some kind of flameless cooking appliance.” They were fixing what Joe took to be pancakes. Three humanoids in a silver craft landed in Eagle River, Wisconsin. Apparently in trade for the water, they gave Joe Simonton four pancakes. Each one was about three inches in diameter, and had little holes throughout their surface. Simonton ate one. “It tasted like cardboard,” Joe told the Associated Press.
Astronomer J. Allen Hynek was dispatched by the US Air Force to investigate. He took one of the pancakes away for government analysis at the Air Force Technical Intelligence Center. They found them to be made from flour, sugar and grease. One writer Jay Rath says it was rumored that the wheat in the pancake was “of an unknown type.”
Jerome Clark in his High Strangeness: UFOs from 1960 through 1979: The UFO Encyclopedia, Volume 3 (1996) gives a more detailed rundown of the Joe Simonton case under “Eagle River CE3″ on pages 168-175. Clark’s comprehensive report on the case does not talk about anything but how the objects were seen as “pancakes.” The FDA who also analyzed one of the objects called them all “pancakes.” Clark also does note the “pancakes” were “still hot” when Simonton took a bite into one of them.
The official Air Force verdict for the Simonton Pancake Incident: “Unexplained.” Jerry Clark basically concurred: “There was, and is, no evidence to suggest that Joe Simonton cooked up–in the literal sense–a bogus UFO story.”
(I’ve also written about this episode at the Anomalist, see “Space Pancakes…
A Fortean Breakfast Story.”)
Fortean investigator George Wagner tells me he actually saw the famed Simonton “space pancakes,” guess where? That’s right, at the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. In the 1970s, Wagner writes: “My younger brother and I drove up to the United States Air Force Museum at Wright-Patterson to see Glenn Miller’s trombone. Not far away from the Miller exhibit was another devoted to 1950s flying saucer contactees. Here was the ‘pancake’ fragment, behind plate glass, stapled (single staple) to a piece of white cardboard. The piece had a strikingly ‘honeycombed’ appearance, nearly as much air-holes as substance, but this may have been due to the ‘outer space’ food item drying out over the years. I really didn’t have much experience at studying 15-year-old pancakes!”
So, if you are ever at Wright-Patterson, on your tour of Weird Ohio, stop by. Ask if you can see the aliens, but be happy if they at least show you the “space pancakes.”
Of course, the little Air Force museum there and Hangar 18 may be two completely different things. But it’s all about location, location, location.