by Curtis Peebles
© Copyright 1997
I wanted to go looking for the site, and was able to interest Merlin in the crash. The tape gave limited information, with only three views of the impact site. The first, an overhead shot, showed the burned-out F-100 fuselage with its wings a short distance away. This indicated that the impact site had tan soil with a thin layer of dark-colored small rocks, and limited vegetation. A second shot showed engineers looking over the rocket booster. It was designed to withstand the pressures of 100,000 pounds of thrust, but the impact had left it looking like a stepped-on beer can. A short distance away was a line of cars, indicating a road. On the horizon was a line of hills with a light-colored feature, and a larger hill behind it. The third shot was of fire fighters putting out the burning wreckage. This showed a part of the lake bed, and, in the far distance, low rolling hills.
It is possible to locate a crash site with this small amount of geographic information - the hills would not change even after nearly 40 years, and it is possible to triangulate by matching their shape. We knew we were dealing with a low-speed impact, meaning that the debris would be concentrated near the impact point. We knew there would be evidence of fire. We knew the surface texture of the site, and we had two sets of landmarks.
So, one Saturday morning Merlin, Moore and I set out into the desert in what later became known as the "ZEL Death March." We arrived in the area, matched the geographic features, and started walking west. Merlin's 4x4 soon became a small white dot, Moore was out of sight a mile or more ahead of us, and I was not seeing anything that looked like a crash site. This was indicated by the ground, a heavy clay-like soil. The winter rains washing down from the mountains carried small black rocks, which formed a smooth, pavement-like layer. As we walked, we left footprints. The rest of the surface was undisturbed - not a rock was out of place. There was not a single piece of debris visible. We were in the wrong place.
I am not sure how far I walked that day, but we did not find the impact site. Moore found a set of old truck tracks, so old that bushes had grown in them, but he found no debris. From the tape, we knew there was a fire truck at the site, but whether it was the source of the tracks is unknown. It is unfortunate that we did not find the crash site. Because of its isolated location, it is unlikely it has been visited in the years since the crash. Unlike the other sites I described, it would have been untouched since the recovery crew left the site nearly 40 years ago.
The bottom line was that while the photos limited the search area, you still have to get out and walk. By examination of the soil, it is possible to tell where the crash wasn't. It still might be just beyond the next gully, or the next, or the next.....
In the case of Roswell, there is no photographic evidence to limit the search area. By all accounts, the debris field was never photographed, and if a photo of a UFO smashed against Hub Corn's cliff was released, we would not be having this discussion.
In cases where no crash site photos are available, Merlin uses aerial photos taken before and after the date of the crash. In the "after" photos, the crash site will show and there will be truck tracks leading to it that will not be visible on the "before" photos. This procedure was successfully used in a case inspired by a report of a UFO crash retrieval.
This page is designed and maintained by
who can be reached at
...to top of page
...to top of page
The opinions in this article are exclusively those of Curtis Peebles based on his experience and many years of research and do not necessarily reflect those of "The San Diego UFO Information Homepage" or other organizations represented at this website. - Paul
The text on this page is © Copyritten by Curtis Peebles (All Rights Reserved)