Daniel Rubin: Air Force vet not buying UFO stories - except the Roswell thing

Tom Carey thinks the Bermuda Triangle is hogwash and the moon landing was real. Elvis did leave the building, and 9/11 was an act of terror, not our own Reichstag fire.

But creatures from outer space? That's another story altogether.

I'm not sure what I was expecting when I dropped by his Huntingdon Valley house the other day to learn why a man would spend 20 years investigating the 1947 UFO incident known simply as Roswell, for the New Mexico community where an alien craft and its crew of little humanoids did or didn't crash.

What I didn't count on was a conservative, cautious silver-haired Air Force vet retired from the insurance industry after searching for fraud and writing payout formulas.

"Most of the UFO phenomena don't interest me," Carey, 70, said last week. "I'm not big on lights in the sky or crop circles or stories of abductions. They lead nowhere."

But the facts of Roswell led him to believe we are not alone.

"This was a nuts-and-bolts craft that apparently crashed in the New Mexico desert with humanoid beings on board. On top of that, you had a cover-up by the Army Air Force that continues today."

We sat in the living room of his split-level home, which he and his wife of 43 years have just moved back into after it mysteriously filled with steam - a mishap, it turns out, of plumbing, not the paranormal.

Carey, who grew up in Mayfair, seems extra-normal himself, a former Temple shortstop who dropped out of a Ph.D. program in human paleontology at the University of Toronto, having wasted too much time watching hockey games.

He's long been taken by the notion of another world, ever since he was 8 and his older brother showed him a newspaper article about a UFO said to have crashed in Aztec, N.M.

"As I got older, I started reading magazines about UFOs. And soon I wanted to do more than read - I wanted to investigate. Are they real or aren't they?"

The July 8, 1947, ABC radio bulletin lasts only 20 seconds, but it raised a possibility that few open to the idea of alien life have been able to ignore ever since:

"The Army Air Forces have announced that a flying disk has been found and is now in possession of the Army. Army officers say the missile, found sometime last week, has been inspected at Roswell, N.M., and sent to Wright's Field, Ohio, for further inspection."

Within hours, the Army Air Force backed hard off its original report, explaining that a weather balloon had crashed. Many witnesses clammed up or changed their stories. Many others did not. The military has since come up with three more theories as to what happened, none involving alien life.

Carey teamed up with a postal worker from Wisconsin, Donald R. Schmitt, to write Witness to Roswell in 2007. The book created a stir in the fractious community of ufologists by containing an affidavit released after the death of the Roswell Air Army Base's former public information officer, who issued the original news release about the flying saucer.

In Carey's book, First Lt. Walter G. Haut went far beyond any of his previous statements, swearing that not only were the razor-thin, superstrong metallic strips recovered from the crash something otherworldly, but that he'd also seen an egg-shaped craft in a hangar and a couple of tarp-covered alien bodies.

Only their heads stuck out - larger than human heads, and too big for their bodies, which were about the size of a 10-year-old child's.

To this day, none of this extraterrestrial metal has been found. All Carey has to go on are the similar statements of hundreds of witnesses, none more compelling than that of Haut.

Carey will talk about his work Wednesday night in Doylestown. You can read about it here: www.susanduvalseminars.com.

I arrived skeptical and I left spinning, but not before he offered to sign one of his books. In the car, I cracked its cover to find he'd written, "It's all true."

But not the part about Elvis.


Contact columnist Daniel Rubin at 215-854-5917, drubin@phillynews.com, @danielrubin on Twitter. Read his blog at philly.com/blinq