The UFO Flap in Prescott, Arizona

By Richard W. Kimball
The Daily Courier
[Prescott, Arizona]

An old American Indian rock carving near Mishongnovi, Arizona accurately describes the existence of "flying saucers" and space travel, according to a Hopi Indian leader.

In the summer of 1970, the late Chief Dan Katchongva, in the company of his counselor Ralph Tawangyawma and interpreter Caroline Tawangyawma, went to the city of Prescott to learn more about the rash of UFOs recently seen in that area.

The residents of that central Arizona community said they saw hundreds of flying saucers in the night sky over the city for more than two weeks prior to the Hopi leader's arrival.

Katchongva, who died in 1972, said he believed the sightings were intimately connected to Hopi prophecy. The traditional Hopi chieftain has long been interested in UFOs because he believed they were a part of Hopi religious beliefs.

UFO researcher and former Prescott resident Paul Solem said the existence of the saucers justified an old Hopi prophecy that a "Day of Purification" was soon to arrive. It would be a day when all wicked people and wrong-doers would be punished or destroyed.

Contact with flying saucers would signal the first step of an massive migration northward by Indians from Central and South America, Solem said.

Chief Katchongva told reporters of the Prescott Evening Courier that the petroglyph on the Hopi Reservation shows a definite connection between the Indians and visitors from space.

"We believe other planets are inhabited and that our prayers are heard there," he said.

"The arrow on which the dome-shaped object rests, stands for travel through space," Katchongva said in explaining the rock carving.

"The Hopi maiden on the dome-shape (drawing) represents purity. Those Hopi who survive Purification Day will travel to other planets. We, the faithful Hopi, have seen the ships and know they are true," he said.

"We have watched nearly all of our brethren lose faith in the original Hopi teachings and go off on their own course. Near Oraibi the 'Plan of Life' was clearly shown and we know that those who have forsaken the original teachings will pay with their lives when the True White Brother comes," he went on.

According to Katchongva, the Hopi prophesies say the Hopi people will be divided three times. The first division occurred in 1906 when Chief You-kew-ma and his followers were forced out of the ancient Indian town of Oraibi to begin a new community in Hotevilla, he said.

"The second division took place in 1969 when Paul Solem came and contacted the 'flying saucers' and they flew over and whispered their message. Shortly before Mr. Solem came, Titus Quomayumtewa saw a 'flying saucer' and the Kachina that piloted it. Paul Sewaemanewa saw the saucer years before when he had made his prayer rites," Katchongva said.

"These two men are of the faithful. We know we are to be divided once more and few will be left just before our True White Brother arrives with the matching pieces of stone tablet. Many Hopi men wear their bang haircut that represents a window from which they continue to look for the True White Brother," he went on. Joe Kraus, who was the managing editor of the Prescott newspaper at that time, said he witnessed the appearance of the flying saucers one Friday evening.

"I stood in a backyard in Prescott with several neighbors and watched spellbound for almost a half hour," he said. "It looked like a star -- almost. It rose in the sky, stopped, hovered, wavered to one side and then continued across the sky repeating the maneuvers."

"But there is more -- Paul Solem, the man who says he is responsible for the saucers which have visited here for the past three nights. According to him, the sightings will continue until the message of why they came is given," he said.

Kraus said Solem went off by himself to gaze at the black sky while the rest of the observers waited a few feet away.

"He was calling (mentally, he said) and then after about 15 minutes, he yelled. 'They are here! I can't see them yet, but I know they are here!'," Kraus said.

After a couple of minutes, a star appeared in the sky that had not been there before.

"It looked at a dead stop," Kraus said. "And then it started to move, first to one direction and then the other."

As the UFO hovered overhead, Kraus told the group the words he was receiving by mental telepathy from the space craft:

"My name is Paul II, fourth in command of all ships that enter the atmosphere of the planet called Earth. We come to lend credence and as a sign or token that the Hopi prophecy was of a divine nature. Great sorrow and fear will be coming to this planet very soon and few will escape it. Our leader, as spoken of in Hopi prophecy, is already here (on Earth) in mortality and is known as the Apostle John (the same as in the New Testament). The White Brother shall be introduced by a huge fire and the Earth shall quake at his arrival. We are of the 10 Lost Tribes and we will return several nights unless there is a contempt for us," Solem translated.

The remarks then ended and the saucer disappeared.

"There is no reason to fear these people (aliens)," Solem told Kraus later during an interview. "They are like the angels. They come from the planet Venus and they are here only to lend credence to prophecy, not to harm anyone."

Solem said the saucer people look just like humans, but seem to be of an almost divine quality. They keep their hair cut neatly to the shoulders. Because of their fine qualities and the almost musical tone of their voices, it is difficult to tell male from female, he said.

"Paul Solem is either a hypnotist, magician, has a vivid imagination or he is telling the truth," Kraus wrote in his news story. "Since his first saucer contacts in 1948 in Idaho, he has become an expert in Mormon doctrine and the Hopi prophecy. According to Solem, Mormon scripture teaches that the keys which the Latter-Day Saints Church hold will in the last days be turned over to the American Indians."

Solem is neither Mormon nor Hopi; he said most of the members of both the religious organization and the Indian tribe are falling away from their original teachings.

The pages of the Prescott newspaper dutifully reported the many UFO sightings made by residents.

Mrs. Elmer Cox of Sullivan Lake reported that her husband, who had been a long-time skeptic of UFOs, "saw one with his own eyes the other night."

According to the account published in the newspaper, Elmer Cox "saw a blinking light in the northeast sky about 12 midnight. This light, according to Mr. Cox, zig-zagged, had lines running through it, was low in the sky and was moon-shaped."

After he watched it for several minutes, Cox woke up his 10-year-old daughter to find out if he was just seeing things. Together they watched the strange object with binoculars until it disappeared about 1 a.m. A letter from Mrs. Irene Wood of Prescott was published in its entirety by the Courier:

"We were on a hill on Demerse street and at 8:15 p.m., we saw a huge brilliant mass of light looking as big as three moons coming very fast from just over Thumb Butte. It seemed almost over Prescott and went to the east. It halted and a huge mass detached itself and fell straight down behind the hills.

"We came back in the house and at 8:30 p.m. we saw another smaller object that was reddish color with a glow. No blinking lights either. It came from exactly the same position and went the same route as the first. But when it got to the place where the first mass had detached its load, it let down six small red objects. There were no breaks in their appearance. Just as the thing hovered, the six fell and they were spaced exactly the same distance apart. At one time we saw four of those things in the sky at the same time," Mrs. Wood wrote in her letter.

Other eyewitness accounts as reported in the newspaper include:

REV. JOHN FOSTER (a Conservative Baptist minister who was visiting from Phoenix) - "I saw a light that moved erratically. Its course changed. It seemed to pulsate and waver at times. It went across the full expanse of the sky but took a course slightly to the right. It appeared at about 35 degrees above the ground and disappeared at about the same elevation at the other end of the sky. It had the same light as a bright star."

AGNES LILJEGRAN (a pilot from Glendale, Arizona. Her husband was one of the designers of the B-47 bomber of World War II fame) -- "I have seen the objects for three nights now here in Prescott. Saturday night, I tracked it at 180 degrees. Then it changed to 120 degrees. I know what planes look like. It wasn't an airplane. I believe this is a true sighting. This appeared first near the North Star. Satellites go from one end of the sky to the other in one steady direction. This didn't."

GREG STUMPF and ROGER McINTOSH (students at Yavapai College) -- "We saw the object move from the north to the south. We believe it could have been a satellite. We don't believe the reason they are here, if in fact they are, is only because of the Hopi. There's got to be more to it than that."

DICK ZABRISKI (7th grader and son of a Prescott College instructor) -- "The first time I saw the UFOs from my house it seemed to stand still within a column of four stars and then it started to move. This was about 11 p.m. last Tuesday. On Thursday another object moved, going backwards and forwards. This was about 9:30 p.m. It changed colors from red to blue then to green."

"My husband and I were fated or privileged to see what was called the 'Mother Craft'," Irene Wood said later. "Now I believe in flying saucers. I have more faith in my fellow men than to believe they were all liars who saw these. If you haven't seen one of these objects, don't laugh until you have seen one and then laugh -- if you can."

Dan Carlson, another area UFO researcher who lived in the community of Chino Valley, said Prescott seemed to attract many individuals who claimed contact with flying saucers.

Carlson, who was quoted extensively by the Courier, said the individuals were either residents of the city or frequent visitors. The individuals have been in and out of the Prescott area since 1945.

Among them was George Adamski, the man who wrote the first book on flying saucers and who took the first picture of a flying saucer. He wrote the books The Flying Saucers Have Landed, and Inside the Space Ships, Carlson said.

George VanTassel was another character. He holds an annual convention at Giant Rock, Calif. where he makes contacts every year.

George Hunt Williamson, a native of Prescott, wrote a book called Other Tongues, Other Flesh. He has sighted and made personal contact with the saucers, Carlson said. Truman Berthrum had also lived in Prescott at one time.

Carlson said Berthrum once started a project to construct an amphitheater in Prescott where saucers could be contacted on a regular basis, but the venture failed.

Dan Fry was another frequent visitor to Prescott, Carlson said. Fry was a rocket scientist for the government and invented many rocket parts that are now in common use on space flights. Carlson said Fry claimed to have been inspired by his contacts with saucers. He also wrote a book called White Sands Incident.

"Most so-called experts try to explain these sightings away," Carlson said. "I find they always have a ready explanation or excuse. The usual explanations are high-flying geese, marsh gas, airport balloons, layer of air inversion, light refraction, rockets, falling stars and satellites.

"If one is to believe Hopi prophecy, the reasons the saucers are sighted here most often and contacters seem to be attracted here is that this is a chosen land. Prescott is within the Hopi circle of sacred ground where the beings from another world are supposed to bring about prophecy," he said.

A Courier photographer, who was visiting a forest fire lookout at Highland Pines, took several night photos of saucers that he saw flying near the Prescott Airport.

He saw six UFOs zig-zagging, flying in formations and landing in an area between Prescott and the airport. The six objects remained in the area for about a half hour.

Not all Prescott residents believed the saucers were benign. One resident wrote a letter to the paper that said the UFOs were the "evil spirits of Satan's realm."

"Some of the saucer people may even say they are God or Christ, but they are not. The Bible states that this will appear in the religions in the end days. Most saucers being reported have some kind of cosmic atoms (lights) appearing in different colors. I believe these to be Satan and his realm (fallen angels) of light. Many strange things are to take place before Jesus comes," the woman said.

In the spring of 1970, Solem notified the newspaper that he planned to "call down a flying saucer to within 100 feet of the ground" on four consecutive Sundays. He said each event would take place about 30 miles north of Prescott near a place called Drake.

When reporters asked him why he planned to hold the event, Solem said when he called UFOs to the Prescott area in the summer of 1969, the story was not publicized because the wire services had a policy in effect that they would not carry news stories about UFO sightings.

"The rash of sightings which occurred last summer, despite the number of people who saw them, still left many skeptics. This daylight sighting should convince many more," Solem said.

He added that the saucer he planned to "call" would be the same one that had appeared in Prescott previously.

The 50-foot-wide ship, commanded by Paul II, would be from Venus. It would be seen close up during daylight hours. Solem said he expected it would bring more messages about the Hopi prophecies. He and Chief Katchongva journeyed to the place, located just off U.S. Highway 89 between the town of Ash Fork and Prescott, to pose for a newspaper photographer.

The two men had just returned to Prescott after visiting several neighboring states telling about the upcoming event, the newspaper reported.

Solem had invited everyone who wanted to see the space ship to attend the event free of charge. Several radio and television crews and reporters from newspapers in metropolitan Arizona and New Mexico were also slated to attend.

Solem said the interplanetary saucer "will hover above the ground at about 100 feet, turn at various angles so that it can be seen and photographed and then depart. It will remain for about five minutes. In addition, the mother ship will also be seen hovering overhead, but much higher in the sky."

The purpose of the sighting, Solem said, was to lend credence to Hopi prophecy stating the coming of "The Great White Brother."

Although hundreds of people journeyed to Drake to witness the phenomena, the promised saucer appearance failed to materialize.

According to some Prescott residents, Solem blamed noisy bulldozers doing road work near the site for disrupting his mental contact with the saucer beings.

Not long afterward, Solem told the Prescott newspaper that he would no longer contact flying saucers in the Prescott area because he planned to move farther north to be closer to the Hopi Reservation.

He said the UFOs will probably still be sighted in isolated areas around Prescott for some time, but that no actual contact would be made by him.

"The last day Chief Dan Katchongva of the Hopi Nation was here, the ship came in real low -- about 800 feet," he said.

In his last letter to the newspaper, Solem wrote: "Chief Dan Katchongva and counselor Ralph Tawangyawma wish to thank those people who bore testimony as witnesses in their own personal way and to you who so generously gave time in publication of their prophecy and verification of truth by those beings of another planet who allowed many sightings of their ships throughout the Prescott area."

Although Chief Katchongva died the following year (he was 107 years old), no one seems to know what happened to Solem after he left town.

Some of the UFOs were later explained away as American or Russian spy satellites, weather balloons, and, in one case, a hoax made of plastic bags. But many of the sightings still remain unexplained.

When stories about UFOs first appeared in the Prescott Evening Courier, the newspaper had to print extra copies just to keep up with the demand. In the spring of 1971, the Courier printed a special tabloid edition of all the saucer stories it has previously printed just to keep up with the many requests it had received from all over the country.

Editor Joe Kraus said the story about the UFOs is apparently not over yet.

"With the little facts we have on hand, most of us here are keeping an open mind on the subject, hoping that some day we may know for sure," he said.

This page has been visited times since July 2, 1997.

Richard W. Kimball

You may email me at: Old Man Coyote
from central Arizona USA