Aliens in Aurora: Celebrating 1897 UFO crash in North Texas
Toni Wheeler holds fond memories of growing up in the rural town of Aurora, sitting on the porch of an elderly resident named Mr. Mayfield and listening to him tell about the time a UFO crashed into a windmill, killing a spaceman.
“He would tell us it did in fact happen,” said Wheeler, now the city administrator, recounting one of the highlights of her Wise County childhood in the late 1970s. “He said tons of people went rushing up there to the [crash] site, but they made all the kids stay back underneath the hill, because they were afraid it might have a disease.”
The legend of the 1897 crash of an alien spacecraft 27 miles northwest of downtown Fort Worth certainly put Aurora on the map — having been retold in books, movies and TV shows — although many residents would just as soon their community not be known for such a tale.
But many others — Wheeler among them — are ready to embrace the extraterrestrial adventure, and on Saturday they will host the first of what they hope will become an annual event known as the Aurora Alien Encounter.
At least 300 people are expected to turn out for the event at the relatively new MD Resort conference center, south of Texas 114 in the Wise County town.
The festivities are scheduled to include a day of talks with UFO researchers and authors, an alien laser tag competition and shuttle tours of both the residential area where the crash reportedly happened and the cemetery where the alien — nicknamed “Ned” by the City Council — was buried.
Reports of an alien crash
On April 17, 1897, a story attributed to Aurora cotton buyer S.E. Haydon appeared in The Dallas Morning News: “About 6 o’clock this morning the early risers of Aurora were astonished at the sudden appearance of the airship which has been sailing through the country.”
The story went on to explain that an aircraft smacked into a windmill just a few hundred feet north of what is now Texas 114 and crashed into a field.
Supposedly, the pilot was buried in the town cemetery.
The incident occurred six years before the Wright brothers’ first human flight at Kitty Hawk, N.C., and nearly 50 years before the much more famous unidentified flying object reportedly crashed in Roswell, N.M.
Today, the roughly 1,400 residents of Aurora are left to decide for themselves whether they believe the story. And it appears that they may never reach a consensus.
“Some of the older residents of this community, you could never change their mind about things,” said Dan McEntire, the city’s historic preservation officer. “A lot of people believe it and a lot of people don’t. It’s just what it is.”
Several components of the Aurora incident make it a compelling, mysterious tale.
The plot in the Aurora Cemetery where the alien was supposedly buried was later dug up, and the body (if there was one) removed. An original stone marker with a UFO carved into it disappeared years ago, although today the location is marked with a nondescript, cigar-shaped boulder.
The windmill the spaceship reportedly hit is gone, but a now-closed water well at the base of the windmill still exists on private property near Texas 114.
Folks working on a History Channel show about the Aurora crash in 2008 opened the water well for the first time in about 70 years in search of wreckage that supposedly had been thrown inside. They found bits of metal, but tests on the material were inconclusive.
Chunks of metal hieroglyphics were reportedly found at the crash site, but their whereabouts are unknown.
This report includes material from the Star-Telegram archives.
Aurora Alien Encounter
UFO enthusiasts can interact with speakers, watch a documentary and tour the site where a UFO reportedly crashed in 1897, as well as the grave site where the lone alien occupant of the craft was supposedly buried.