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Authors: Christian Lambright

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BOOK: X Descending
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Nevertheless, the photographs and films taken those late nights in December are proof that there were vehicles out there bright enough to send torrents of intense light to burn their images onto his film. Whatever he might have done and whatever he might have proven in the long run, Paul innocently called the Air Force and let the proverbial cat out of the bag.



“A government big enough to give you all you want is big enough to take all you have.”
—Barry Goldwater


In the mid-1940’s, as part of the outgrowth of the Manhattan Project, what became known as Sandia Base was formed near Albuquerque. In 1947 construction began in the foothills of the Manzanita Mountains, known locally as the “Four Hills”, on the storage site that eventually became known as the Manzano Weapons Storage Area. Kirtland Air Force Base and Sandia Base were primarily involved in weapons development and testing and, in 1963, the Air Force Weapons Laboratory (AFWL) was formed at Kirtland. It was one of the most important laboratories at Kirtland AFB, becoming part of the USAF Phillips Laboratory in December of 1990. Since its inception, the AFWL has been involved in a variety of research areas including adaptive optics, laser weapons, and the effects of electromagnetic pulses (EMP).

It may not be too surprising then that in November of 1980 the Director of the Air Force Weapons Laboratory sat in on a meeting with Paul Bennewitz. He appears to have been particularly interested in what he was hearing.


With the end of Project Blue Book in 1969, the Air Force officially no longer investigated unidentified flying objects. Writing to the Air Force about this phenomenon almost invariably results in a form letter explaining that Blue Book is over and they no longer have any official interest. In the case of Paul Bennewitz however, there was some very serious interest. For several months after taking those late night films, Paul was in contact with individuals at Kirtland AFB as he tried to generate official interest in what he saw as a serious problem. Whether or not what Paul had filmed was actually a threat to the weapons storage area may be debatable, but one thing is clear—no one in the Air Force or anywhere else was denying that he did have
on film.

Perhaps just as significant is the fact that they have never offered any explanation for it. Details of the Air Force interest in Paul’s evidence became public knowledge starting with several documents released under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). It was one of these documents that contained a report of a meeting that took place on the grounds of Kirtland AFB.

In November of 1980, the Air Force invited Paul to come to Kirtland AFB and present evidence he had collected. He brought it all with him, presenting pictures from his films as well as information on the electronic recordings he had made. According to the list of those who attended, Major Ernest Edwards was not at the meeting even though he had been the first person Paul had contacted at Kirtland AFB. Neither was the now infamous Special Agent Richard Doty of the Air Force Office of Special Investigations. Nor was Jerry Miller, a curious figure who assisted Doty in his investigation and who, a few weeks prior to the meeting, had accompanied Doty to Paul’s home (more in Chapter 13). Several years later Ernest Edwards would comment that representatives of the Air Force Test and Evaluation Center (the branch where Miller purportedly worked) had been present at the meeting, though again, neither Edwards nor Miller are listed among the attendees.

A Brigadier General, William Brooksher of the Air Force Office of Security Police, was in attendance. Brooksher may have felt a unique sense of déjà vu at this meeting. Exactly five years earlier, in November of 1975, he had been Commander of the 341st Strategic Missile Wing at Malmstrom AFB, Montana
when there was a very notable UFO intrusion over a Minuteman missile silo
. In 1980, at the Kirtland AFB meeting, Brooksher was accompanied by six other ranking Air Force officers from the base. Major Thomas A. Cseh, Commander of the Base Investigative Detachment, and whose signature is on the document detailing this meeting, was among those present. These Air Force officers are listed first in the document, including their rank and current assignment. Then, two other individuals are listed…a Dr. Lehmann, director of the Air Force Weapons Laboratory, and Ed Breen, an AFWL Instrumentation Specialist.

Before this meeting took place several people already had seen some of Paul’s evidence. Based on conversations I later had with Ernest Edwards it was clear to me that he, and likely others, believed that this meeting was warranted. It was also clear that Paul’s allegations were supported by more than mere signals out of the ether or ink trails on linear recorder strips. One look at what was in those nighttime films would have made that obvious to anyone. After decades of official denial, what could have motivated the Air Force to risk the potential public relations uproar of an official meeting on base simply to view one man’s evidence of “flying saucers”? That fact itself speaks volumes about what Paul had to show. Even more curious, though I did not think much about it when I first read about this meeting, was the fact that the Director of the Air Force Weapons Laboratory had shown particular interest in Paul Bennewitz’s research. The Weapons Lab was a connection that would reappear years later.

Despite all the disinformation and misinformation that would surround this case in later years, what appeared in those original nighttime films has never been refuted. The Air Force did not address it and to this day has never offered any explanation for, or investigation of, the vehicles Paul Bennewitz filmed. It has always been my contention that those films are the crux of the matter. If you approach this case the way an arson investigator would approach a suspicious fire, and you begin by looking for the point of origin, it was Paul approaching the Air Force and revealing what he had filmed over the MWSA that set things in motion. While the events that came later are now legend in the annals of Ufology (see Greg Bishop’s
Project Beta
for an intriguing account), the films in question had been taken before anyone, including the Air Force, knew Paul Bennewitz was stationed on his rooftop filming it all.

The more I looked into this case the more it became clear to me that there were things going on behind the scenes that I, a civilian, had little chance of ever finding out. I wanted to know, but I had reached the edge of a dark abyss, that shadowy rabbit hole that virtually all researchers come to when confronting government secrecy. You reach a point where any questions you have may never be satisfactorily answered. Often you have virtually no chance of getting answers at all. Add to that the fact that lying is permitted in the interest of national security (though it is more politically correct to call it misinformation or disinformation) and you can never be sure if what you learn—or think you have learned—is the truth, or the real truth, or the whole real truth, as some put it. Consider the following stark example of an attempt to withhold information from the public

In 1981, well-known researcher and author Stanton Friedman had been using the Freedom of Information Act to request UFO related information from AFOSI headquarters in Washington, D.C. After dealing with Noah Lawrence, the AFOSI FOIA officer at the time, and getting nowhere, Friedman learned that such reports were usually kept only at the District offices level. Headquarters was a central hub that information passed through on its way to and from various agencies or locations, but no records were actually maintained at Headquarters itself. So Friedman then wrote to Lawrence asking for a list of the addresses of all the local District offices so that he could write to them directly—effectively warning Lawrence of what he intended to do.

Up to that time, whenever a District office received a request for information the standard procedure had been for the local office to locate any responsive material and forward it AFOSI Headquarters for review and declassification. The
requester was also advised
that the information was being sent for review and would be forwarded to him if it was deemed releasable. The problem with this, at least from AFOSI’s perspective, was that it alerted the requester to the fact that information
been found, even if it was not ultimately released.

In this instance, as soon as Lawrence realized what Friedman was planning to do he took steps to block the possibility of Friedman learning anything at all.


Lawrence stalled in sending back the list of District office addresses that Friedman has requested. In the meantime he issued a revision to the existing procedures that the local offices followed. He warned them that they might receive a request from Friedman, and instructed them to simply advise
any requester
that all requests had to be processed by AFOSI Headquarters. The District offices were not to respond to Friedman in any way other than telling him that requests had to be sent, effectively, to Lawrence himself. Since Friedman would never be told if the District offices actually had any information he was after, and since Lawrence’s office at Headquarters never maintained the information to begin with, Lawrence could honestly respond that a search of his files found no information responsive to Friedman’s request.

At its most basic level, this alteration of the FOIA process ensured that no requests sent to District offices by anyone would
result in local information being released. AFOSI Headquarters would always be alerted to any interesting requests that came in to the various AFOSI District offices...but would never have to reveal anything.

The proof of Lawrence’s ploy eventually came to light following another FOIA request made to AFOSI Headquarters. In this case the request was for directives that had been sent
the District offices during that time period. These directives were available through FOIA, and Lawrence’s earlier change in procedure was among them. Whether Noah Lawrence took it on himself to implement the scheme may never be known, but hopefully the authority to neutralize public access to information under FOIA is not arbitrarily being left to the whims of FOIA officers themselves. What other instances might have gone unnoticed? AFOSI’s quick change of procedures, while not in itself a blatant breach of the law, was still an obvious attempt to sidestep the law, denying a citizen of the United States access to information that was granted under the Freedom of Information Act.

Despite the layers of disinformation and confusion that were increasingly prevalent by the mid 1980’s, whatever Paul Bennewitz had seen and filmed had caused grave concern. It generated a meeting on base with high-ranking individuals and it led to a concerted effort to defuse both Paul and the attention he was drawing to himself. Still, there was no denying he had filmed something, something happening very close to the home of the Air Force Weapons Laboratory. A few years later, when I found the term “space vehicles” associated with this location, I could not help thinking it was certainly one hell of a coincidence. Or maybe, as some believe, there really are no coincidences.

Unbeknownst to me at the time, while I was looking into the events surrounding Paul Bennewitz, someone else obtained even stronger evidence for this phenomenon. Again, it was caught on film. This film would lead to the strongest evidence I have ever seen of a kind of technology that known science, or should I say “our science”, has yet to match. When the evidence began to mount and I began to follow the published research, it led to people, places, and troubling connections between science and government. These will be explored in coming chapters because, in a surprising twist, the research led once again back to the Air Force, and to Albuquerque.


BOOK: X Descending
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