The tiny Russian pilots of Area 51

Linette’s all freaked out tonight. She heard something on Fresh Air today about Area 51. Apparently, there’s a new book out by a journalist named Annie Jacobsen about the highly-restricted parcel of government land outside of Las Vegas, it’s history, and the many conspiracy theories that revolve around it. Most troubling for Linette was the revelation that the UFO crash in Roswell, New Mexico in 1947 was – according to the author – the work of the Russians, aided by infamous Nazi scientist Josef Mengele. (The wreckage, according to many, was moved to Area 51.) The book is titled Area 51: An Uncensored History of America’s Top Secret Military Base, and we’ll be ordering it tonight. I hope to post a review in the near future, but, here, in the meantime, is a clip from Terry Gross’s interview with Jacobsen:

JACOBSEN: …There was an unusual moment where that source became very upset and told me things that were stunning that’s almost impossible to believe at first read. And that is that a flying disc really did crash in New Mexico and it was transported to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, and then in 1951 it was transferred to Area 51, which is why the base is called Area 51. And the stunning part of the reveal is that my source, who I absolutely believe and worked with for 18 months on this, was one of the engineers who received the equipment and he also received the people who were in the craft.

The people were, according to the source, were child-sized pilots, and there’s a lot of debate about how old they were. He believes they were 13, although other people believe they may have been older. But this is a firsthand witness to this, and I made a decision to write about this in the very end of the book, after I take the traditional journalist form of telling you everything in the third person, I switch and I kind of lean into the reader and I say, ‘Look, this is not why Area 51 is classified to the point where no one in the government will admit it exists. The reason is because what one man told me.’ And then using the first person, I tell you what I was told. And there’s no doubt that people are going to be upset, alarmed and skeptical of this information, but I absolutely believe the veracity of my source, and I believe it was important that I put this information out there because it is the tip of a very big iceberg…

The child-sized aviators in this craft [that crashed in New Mexico] were the result of a Soviet human experimentation program, and they had been made to look like aliens a la Orson Welles’ War of the Worlds, and it was a warning shot over President Truman’s bow, so to speak. In 1947, when this would have originally happened, the Soviets did not yet have the nuclear bomb, and Stalin and Truman were locked in horns with one another, and Stalin couldn’t compete in nuclear weaponry yet, but he certainly could compete in the world of black propaganda — and that was his aim, according to my source…

The plan, according to my source, was to create panic in the United States with this belief that a UFO had landed with aliens inside of it…

If it’s true it’s both horrifying and absolutely fucking brilliant. And it makes me wonder about everything from the Moon landing to our recent killing of Osama bin Laden.

update: I can’t sleep. I keep thinking about these two thirteen year old boys made to look like science fiction monsters by Josef Mengele, and then dropped to their deaths in the New Mexico desert. Assuming this is true, I can’t even begin to imagine what they must have gone through, and how surreal it must have all seemed. If I were more ambitious, I think it would be an incredible thing to explore in a short story. Instead, I’ll just have nightmares about it.

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  1. Knox
    Posted May 17, 2011 at 10:32 pm | Permalink

    Fucking creepy.

  2. LaidOffTeacherPatti
    Posted May 18, 2011 at 8:35 am | Permalink

    They had me until they brought up Josef Mengele. Sorry but that just takes it over the top…like when kids are trying to lie and they shove all sorts of shit into the story (and then my cousin Boogie climbed on top of the house and flew down! –an actual story about an actual cousin Boogie).
    It’s Boys from Brazil + Dr. Strangelove + any random X files episode. I don’t buy it…no offense if you do but I don’t. (Or maybe I just don’t want to and would rather live in a world where Mengele gets ass raped by fiery pokers in hell and cousin Boogie can fly)

  3. Anonymatt
    Posted May 18, 2011 at 8:39 am | Permalink

    I’d love to hear Doug Skinner’s views on this.

    It all comes from one anonymous source, but she really believes him, so that proves it.

  4. Meta
    Posted May 18, 2011 at 12:13 pm | Permalink

    They’re discussing this on Metafilter today too.

  5. Jim
    Posted May 18, 2011 at 12:39 pm | Permalink

    Annie Jacobsen was previously best known for her reporting on the suspicious behavior of 14 men observed flying while Arab.

  6. Mr. X
    Posted May 18, 2011 at 12:47 pm | Permalink

    Are we to believe that the Russians had the technology to send an advanced aircraft around the world, piloted by surgically engineered children? If they had that kind of aerospace technology, would they really want to share it with us? I suppose, however, they could have smuggled the ship in on a truck and left it in the desert. That seems unlikely to me, however, given the fact that it could have easily gone unfound. It’s a cool story, though. I didn’t think there could be an explanation less plausible than tiny alien pilots.

  7. Anonymatt
    Posted May 18, 2011 at 3:17 pm | Permalink

    The author is that woman? I didn’t initially make the connection on the name. So now the story has even less credibility to me.

  8. LaidOffTeacherPatti
    Posted May 18, 2011 at 9:28 pm | Permalink

    Okay so this woman has a history and the story is impossible…how the hell did she get air time on NPR?!? I am not a huge NPR fan (except for WEMU–represent) but come on now! If she gets time, why can’t Uncle Boogie (see above). He do some cool shit and should have a say.

  9. LaidOffTeacherPatti
    Posted May 18, 2011 at 9:28 pm | Permalink

    *cousin Boogie…sorry, I’m really tired and mixed up my relatives

  10. Posted May 19, 2011 at 8:11 am | Permalink

    I haven’t read the book, but I’ve heard that it’s mostly about Area 51, and that the Mengele/Stalin business is a small bit of it. I don’t know if her source is anonymous; she may name him in the book. It does sound silly. I’m more inclined to believe that what fell in Roswell was a Mogul balloon. There have been many rumors of occupants in that or other supposed crashes (and other explanations, like dummies or monkeys), but they still remain rumors.

    There are some interesting arguments that the US encouraged UFO reports to confuse Soviet intelligence. Mark Pilkington’s recent book “Mirage Men” goes into them; he does a great job.

  11. Star Child
    Posted May 19, 2011 at 9:16 am | Permalink

    Then there is this –

  12. Anonymatt
    Posted May 19, 2011 at 12:34 pm | Permalink

    The author was on the Daily Show the other night. She said she named all her sources except for the one who supplied the Stalin story.

    I’ve never heard of Mengele himself going to the Soviet Union after the war, although I’m sure other sick sadistic Nazi doctors did.

    It’s a great story, I just need some evidence before I believe it.

  13. Bob
    Posted May 19, 2011 at 1:09 pm | Permalink

    I’ve heard her on several shows now and there is just something wrong with that woman. Her voice, her affectation of delivery, the way she keeps locking on to certain carefully worded phrases and repeating them, it’s all pretty weird. I don’t buy it, much as I want to. It is just an awesome story.

  14. EOS
    Posted May 19, 2011 at 1:46 pm | Permalink

    This is nothing. Art Bell had a guest on years ago who found an alien on his property while walking his dog. He knocked the alien unconscious when trying to prevent him from killing his dog. So he took the alien home and put it in his freezer. Two hours later, he opened the door to check on the being and the alien screamed. Not only does he have photos, but an audio tape of the scream. Too bad someone broke into his house and stole the alien from the freezer.

  15. Smelly Tongues
    Posted May 19, 2011 at 1:59 pm | Permalink

    Fake or not, it’s a great story. I heard this interview on NPR the other day as well and loved the idea of it. It’s definitely a scary thought and could keep you up at night.

  16. LaidOffTeacherPatti
    Posted May 19, 2011 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

    EOS, that is the most awesome story! I’m at school and kinda scared to click on the link lest the computer freak out or someone from Downtown get an alert or something…see now I’m all paranoid and freaked out!

  17. Kim
    Posted May 19, 2011 at 2:38 pm | Permalink

    Why doesn’t it surprise me that EOS listens to Art Bell?

  18. Anonymatt
    Posted May 19, 2011 at 3:32 pm | Permalink


    That story sounds suspiciously like this:

    “Special Person Entering our World…Egg Yolks!”

  19. Bob
    Posted May 19, 2011 at 4:48 pm | Permalink

    I miss Art Bell. I once stayed up until like 5 am, riveted to Art and guest Mark Farner of Grand Funk Railroad. Farner is a Jesus freak, and other freaks as well. He’s also a huge believer in UFOs and relayed his close encounters. The most notable was a disc that descended on his families property in northern Michigan and hovered for a while. I can’t remember if he talked about actually being abducted, but I think he might have.

  20. Jim
    Posted May 20, 2011 at 6:34 am | Permalink

    /Tardy reply to Anonymatt/ Yes, same person, at least according to her Wikipedia entry. I only remembered her because I have a cousin with the same name.

  21. Posted February 27, 2012 at 11:19 am | Permalink

    The name Area 51 is derived from a map. Area 49, Area 50, Area 51, etc. It isn’t named like the AK-47, after the year, but more like 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. And, the Roswell, NM crash was an American weather balloon. People seem to forget that there are pictures of the wreckage that clearly shows terrestrial technology, just not — at that time — documented terrestrial technology.

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