Paul Bennewitz

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Paul Bennewitz
Paul Bennewitz poses in front of an airplane.
Born(1927-09-29)September 29, 1927
DiedJune 23, 2003(2003-06-23) (aged 75)
Occupation(s)Engineer, businessman, conspiracy theorist

Paul Frederic Bennewitz, Jr. (September 29, 1927 – June 23, 2003) was an American businessman and UFO investigator. According to multiple sources, Bennewitz was the target of a government disinformation campaign that ultimately led to his psychiatric hospitalization.[1][2]


Bennewitz was the son of Stella A. Sharp and Paul Frederic Bennewitz, Sr. (1900–1949).

Bennewitz was a native of Kansas.[3] Bennewitz earned a Bachelor's degree from Arizona State, but had no formal training in electronics.[4]

During World War II, Bennewitz was a radio electronics engineer for the Coast Guard.[5] He worked as an engineer for San Francisco CBS station KPIX, and KPHO in Tucson.[5]

On February 25, 1949, Bennewitz married Cindy Bunch in Phoenix, Arizona.[5]

Around 1953, Bennewitz moved to New Mexico and started working for Gulton Industries, doing sales; Bennewitz later began his own industrial sales company. In 1966, Bennewitz acquired the rights to a humidity sensor from Sandia National Laboratories. He founded Thunder Scientific, a small family business, with wife Cindy serving as bookkeeper.[4][5]

In April 1981, Bennewitz was profiled in the Albuquerque Tribune about his company, Thunder Scientific.[4][6] The paper reported that Thunder did about $1 million in sales, but profits had waned over recent years; in 1978, Thunder employed 30 people, but by 1981, that number had dropped to only 18 employees.[3]

UFO conspiracy theories[edit]

During the 1970s, Bennewitz became a member of Arizona's Aerial Phenomena Research Organization (APRO), a civilian UFO investigation group.[7] By the mid-1970s, cattle mutilations had become associated with UFOs.[8] On April 20, 1979, U.S. Attorney R. E. Thompson and US Senator Harrison Schmidt held a public meeting about cattle mutilations. The meeting was attended by about 80, one attendee was Paul Bennewitz.[9]

The 2013 documentary Mirage Men includes the suggestion that government agents likely "first identified" Bennewitz at this meeting[9] or outright targeted him for his participation.[10] At the meeting, Bennewitz was introduced to highway patrol officer Gabe Valdez who was investigating the incidents.[11][12]

Bennewitz later listed July 1979 as the beginning of a "personally funded study" into UFOs.[13] Bennewitz reportedly began filming strange lights and recording unusual radio signals over Kirtland Air Force Base.[14]

Meeting with 'Myrna Hansen'[edit]

On May 6, 1980, State Police in Cimarron, New Mexico received a report from a woman calling herself "Myrna Hansen" (not to be confused with the movie star of the same name) describing a story involving interplanetary visitors, bright lights, and herds of cattle. Police in Cimarron referred the case to their colleague in Dulce, Gabe Valdez, who they knew to be "the cattle mutilation guy" for his interest in the cases. Valdez, in turn, contacted Paul Bennewitz.[2]

On May 7, 1980, Hansen and her son traveled to Albuquerque to meet with Bennewitz, staying in his home. Hansen explained to Bennewitz that on May 5, 1980, while she was driving with her son near Eagle Nest, New Mexico they had witnessed two large, silent objects approximately the size of Goodyear Blimps hovering over a meadow.[2]

APRO director James Lorenzen suggested contacting Leo Sprinkle, a psychologist and tenured professor at the University of Wyoming who had been investigating "UFO contact" reports.[clarification needed] Bennewitz arranged for Sprinkle to fly to Albuquerque to hypnotize Hansen. When Sprinkle arrived, Hansen and Bennewitz insisted the sessions be conducted in Bennewitz's Lincoln Town Car, parked inside the family garage, with the car's windows covered with thick aluminum foil.[relevant?] During her first regression, she reported a recollection of a cow being sucked into a hovering spaceship by a tractor beam.[2]

On May 11 and 12, 1980, under hypnosis, Hansen reported recollections of an abduction and of being taken to an underground base with body parts floating in vats. Hansen's recollections would later evolve into the legend of Dulce Base. During the session, she exclaimed "Where's Roswell, New Mexico?", although most members of the public had not yet connected the town to UFO folklore. Hansen reported recalling having been given an 'implant' by the aliens.[2]

On June 3, Sprinkle returned to visit Bennewitz, he found Bennewitz armed with pistol and rifle, concerned that he was vulnerable to attacks from aliens. Bennewitz expressed a desire to protect himself, his family, and Hansen.[2]

Bennewitz then turned to hypnotist James Harder, abduction researcher and a professor of Engineering. Harder had conducted a hypnotic regression of Travis Walton in 1975. The two believed Hansen was under the influence of alien beams and wrote detailed instructions on how to use aluminum foil to 'shield' a room from the beams before conducting a regression.[2]

Gabriel Valdez's son later commented on the Myrna Hanson story as follows.[15]

It is a possibility that the Myrna Hansen story was also part of the disinformation campaign... I will go out on a limb here and say that the story of Myrna Hansen was probably a well-orchestrated hoax because of a very important fact: the listening devices found in my dad’s house. The government heard all the conversations on the phone between my dad and [Bennewitz], so such a hoax would be relatively easy to accomplish... Myrna Hansen came into the picture in May of 1980 and the Air Force did not even acknowledge contact with Paul until November of 1980... Although this evidence can barely be viewed as even circumstantial, it would explain a lot of things and how and why they transpired during the 1980s based on what we currently know.

Relationship with US government[edit]

On October 24, 1980, Bennewitz contacted Kirtland Air Force base to report his findings.[16] On November 10, 1980, Bennewitz briefed people[who?] at Kirtland. [17]

"Dulce War"[edit]

In a December 2, 1981 letter to U.S. Senator Pete Domenici, Bennewitz explained that "sometime late 79 or first of 80 an argument insued [sic] over weapons and the military abandoned [Dulce base]; the final circumstance of the men unknown...". Wrote Bennewitz:[18]

To date, as noted, I have not heard from you and therefore will assume with all your new duties that you are very busy and just have not had the time.
The facts I gave Captain Harris are simple and straightforward as follows:
1) I knew the location of the Alien bases in Northern New Mexico in the center of the Jicarilla Apache Reservation 4.5 miles northwest of Dulce, NM.
2) I know that someone in the military made a deal with the Aliens several years ago, giving the Indian land, cattle, etc. and apparent assurance of safety to the Alien in trade for Technology in the form of an Atomic powered ship at the same time establishing an extensive US base alongside to test the ship.
3) That sometime late 79 or first of 80 an argument insued [sic] over weapons and the military abandoned; the final circumstance of the men unknown.
4) That I had very high resolution official NASA U2 CIR (color infrared)photos in addition to low level and ground photos showing the base in total detail, (photos obtained legitimately through UNM) [University of New Mexico]
5) The ship design traded for is over thirty (30) years behind the alien technology.
6) I advised Captain Harris I knew of the two women and child near Austin, TX who were severely exposed to radiation at close distance from the ship in trouble and that it was seen to come west with helicopters (unmarked) and that the government was quietly paying their hospital expenses.
I am also very concerned that the President has not been totally advised of the situation and have forwarded a copy to him, cover letter enclosed for your record. It is hoped you will value this valuable input and in time get in touch with me.

In 1984, Bennewitz again referred to a 1979 conflict that led to the closure of the Alien-Human base. The "Dulce War" would later be espoused by conspiracy theorists like John Lear, Bill Cooper, and Phil Schneider.

Increasing publicity[edit]

Bennewitz later began contacting UFO researchers. On April 8, 1983, Bennewitz was discussed in a UPI wire story about his supposed 1980 filming of UFOs over the Manzano Weapons Storage facility.[19][20] He also reported being in communication with aliens via his computer.[19]

In 1984, Bennewitz's relationship with the government was detailed in UFO conspiracy book Clear Intent: the government coverup of the UFO experience [21]

The story spread rapidly within the UFO community and by 1987, UFOlogist John Lear claimed he had independent confirmations of the base's existence.[22]

In 1986, George Clinton Andrews discussed Dulce Base legends in his book Extra-Terrestrials Among Us.[23] In 1988, the tabloid Weekly World News published a story entitled "UFO base found in New Mexico" which claimed that "diabolical invaders from another solar system have set up a secret underground base in the rugged mountains of northern New Mexico – so they can shanghai human guinea pigs for bizarre genetic experiments". The Weekly World News story used supposed quotes from UFOlogist Leonard Stringfield as a source for its claims. Upon learning of the story, Stringfield protested, "I never read such a distortion of facts in my life".[24]

External documents
document icon "Project Beta" by Paul Bennewitz

In 1988, Paul Bennewitz wrote a paper titled "Project Beta" detailing how the base might be successfully attacked.[25]


Bennewitz claimed the existence of a plot involving an extensive network of UFO bases tied to an alien colonization and control scheme to subjugate mankind. After he saw the hypnosis sessions of Myrna Hansen, who claimed to have UFO experiences, he became convinced that cattle mutilations were due to aliens. As a result, Bennewitz claimed to have uncovered evidence of aliens controlling humans through electromagnetic devices, and furthermore claimed that UFOs were regularly flying near Kirtland Air Force Base and the nearby Manzano Nuclear Weapons Storage Facility and Coyote Canyon Test Area.[26]

Convinced that he was intercepting electronic communications originating from alien spacecraft located outside of Albuquerque, New Mexico, Bennewitz soon believed that he had located a secret alien facility that he called Dulce Base.

Hospitalization and disinformation revealed[edit]

External videos
video icon Bill Moore addresses MUFON, July 1 1989

By August 1988, Bennewitz was accusing his wife of being in control of the extraterrestrials. After attempting to barricade himself in his home using sandbags, his family admitted him to the mental health unit of Presbyterian Anna Kaseman Hospital; He remained under observation there for one month.[27]

On July 1, 1989, William Moore claimed that he tried to push Bennewitz into a mental breakdown by feeding him false information about aliens.[26] This was corroborated by a declassified CIA document that claims Moore and another officer of the Air Force Office of Special Investigations, Richard Doty, are responsible for a disinformation campaign against Bennewitz.[28]

In 1990, the Bennewitz story was featured in Howard Blum's book Out There: The Government's Secret Quest for Extraterrestrials. Blum publicized that the government had sent undercover agents to befriend and mislead Bennewitz using counterfeit documents.[29]

Death and legacy[edit]

In 1999, the Albuquerque Tribune anniversary page featured mention of Paul and Cindy's 50th anniversary.[5]

Paul Bennewitz died on June 23, 2003. He was buried at Santa Fe National Cemetery.[30]

In 2005, the book Project Beta: The Story of Paul Bennewitz, National Security, and the Creation of a Modern UFO Myth by Greg Bishop further publicized the events.[31] Mark Pilkington's book about the project, also called Mirage Men, was published in 2010 by Constable & Robinson.[32] The book was adapted into the 2013 documentary Mirage Men.[33]

Former special agent for the U.S. Air Force Office of Special Investigations Richard Doty claimed that in the 1980s he was tasked with hoaxing documents and feeding false information to UFO researchers, including Bennewitz.[34]


  1. ^ Mirage Men (2013). Documentary. London: Perception Management Productions (UK) / Random Media (US). OCLC 879287140.
    Based on the book Mirage Men, by Mark Pilkington. New York: Skyhorse Publishing (2010).
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Bishop, Greg (2005). Project Beta: The Story of Paul Bennewitz, National Security, and the Creation of a Modern UFO Myth. New York: Simon and Schuster. ISBN 978-1416513391.
  3. ^ a b "The Albuquerque Tribune 15 Apr 1981, page 18".
  4. ^ a b c "The Albuquerque Tribune 15 Apr 1981, page 15".
  5. ^ a b c d e "Albuquerque Journal 22 May 1999, page 18".
  6. ^ "The Albuquerque Tribune 15 Apr 1981, page 18".
  7. ^ Gorightly
  8. ^ "Rio Grande Sun 01 Jun 1978, page 20".
  9. ^ a b Mirage Men,Ch 11, p. 87-88
  10. ^ Greenwood, Barry and Brad Sparks, ‘The Secret Pratt Tapes and the Origins of MJ-12’, MUFON Symposium Proceedings 2007, as quoted in Mirage Men Ch. 11 p.88
  11. ^ "The Albuquerque Tribune 20 Apr 1979, page 1".
  12. ^ Mirage Men ch. 11 p. 74
  13. ^ Mirage Men, p. 61
  14. ^ Mirage Men, p. 6
  15. ^ Gorightly, Adam (February 3, 2021). Saucers, Spooks and Kooks: UFO Disinformation in the Age of Aquarius. Daily Grail Publishing. ISBN 978-0994617682 – via Google Books.
  16. ^ Pilkington, Mark (29 July 2010). Mirage Men: A Journey into Disinformation, Paranoia and UFOs. Little, Brown Book. ISBN 9781849012409.
  17. ^ Pilkington, Mark (29 July 2010). Mirage Men: A Journey into Disinformation, Paranoia and UFOs. Little, Brown Book. ISBN 9781849012409.
  18. ^ Bishop, Greg (February 15, 2005). Project Beta: The Story of Paul Bennewitz, National Security, and the Creation of a Modern UFO Myth. Simon and Schuster. ISBN 9781416513391 – via Google Books.
  19. ^ a b "The Albuquerque Tribune 08 Apr 1983, page 6".
  20. ^ "Albuquerque Journal 09 Apr 1983, page Page 5".
  21. ^ "Clear intent : The government coverup of the UFO experience". 1984.
  22. ^ Gulyas, Aaron John (25 January 2016). Conspiracy Theories: The roots, themes and propagation of paranoid political and cultural narratives. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company. pp. 88–89. ISBN 978-0-7864-9726-3.
  23. ^ Andrews, George Clinton (1986). Extra-terrestrials Among Us. Llewellyn Publications. ISBN 9780875420103.
  24. ^ Bird, Kay; Terrel, Steve (1 September 1988). "ETs living in NM? Not likely, investigators say". The Santa Fe New Mexican. Vol. 139, no. 255. pp. A-1, A-2 – via
  25. ^ Michael Barkun (4 May 2006). A Culture of Conspiracy: Apocalyptic Visions in Contemporary America. University of California Press. pp. 111–. ISBN 978-0-520-24812-0. Retrieved 16 April 2012.
  26. ^ a b Barna William Donovan (24 July 2011). Conspiracy Films: A Tour of Dark Places in the American Conscious. McFarland. ISBN 978-0-7864-3901-0. Retrieved 16 April 2012.
  27. ^ Rose, Steve (14 August 2014). "The real Men in Black, Hollywood and the great UFO cover-up". The Guardian. Retrieved 19 August 2020.
  28. ^ Durant, R. J. "Will The Real Scott Jones Please Stand Up?" (PDF). CIA. Retrieved 13 July 2023.
  29. ^ "Chicago Tribune 10 Sep 1990, page 47".
  30. ^ Bishop, Greg (15 February 2005). Project Beta: The Story of Paul Bennewitz, National Security, and the Creation of a Modern UFO Myth. Simon and Schuster. ISBN 9781416513391.
  31. ^ Bishop, Greg (8 February 2005). Project Beta: The Story of Paul Bennewitz, National Security, and the Creation of a Modern UFO Myth. Simon and Schuster. ISBN 9780743470926.
  32. ^ Pilkington, Mark (2010). Mirage Men. Constable & Robinson. p. 320. ISBN 9781845298579. Archived from the original on 29 September 2010. Retrieved 1 October 2013.
  33. ^ "Mirage Men - Mirage Men (Teaser) | IMDb". IMDb.
  34. ^ Rojas, Alejandro (13 May 2014). "Ex-Air Force Law Enforcement Agent Says He Hoaxed Major UFO Mythologies Posted: 05/13/2014 7:48 pm EDT". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 26 August 2014.

Further reading[edit]

  • Greg Bishop, Project Beta: The Story of Paul Bennewitz, National Security, and the Creation of a Modern UFO Myth, Paraview Pocket Books, 2005; ISBN 0-7434-7092-3
  • Jerome Clark, The UFO Encyclopedia, Volume 3: High Strangeness, UFO's from 1960 through 1979; Omnigraphics, 1996; ISBN 1-55888-742-3
  • Jerome Clark, The UFO Book: Encyclopedia of the Extraterrestrial, Visible Ink, 1998, ISBN 1-57859-029-9

External links[edit]