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When Is A Hoax Not A Hoax? Part 2

Anniversary Reassessment of the Maury Island Incident

Let this all sink in: there is no other historic UFO tale — true, tall, or otherwise — that compares in narrative detail and scope. Most UFO and paranormal tales have a cocktail napkin’s level of detail. Comparatively, Maury Island is a set of architectural renderings. And it begs a question — if you want to make up a fake story, why create so many details to be verified and debunked? The total Roswell story can be reduced to this: some form of debris is found in a desert. The army holds a press conference claiming a UFO crash and recants 3 hours later. Even worse, the Roswell story, as thin as it might be, is fact-heavy compared to the more typical UFO tale, often an inverted version of the “if a tree falls” question — if a single person returns from a forest and claims to have seen something, claims to have been abducted, can it be disproven? Because there are physical details to check and disprove, the story becomes contingent upon one person’s narrative, which then becomes mythology, history, and for some — a fact because it cannot be disproven. An alleged abductee can become UFO royalty because it’s the abductee’s word against the world, and the world doesn’t have a witness.

Maury Island falls at the polar opposite end of the spectrum. So much of the story is wholly tangible. Harold Dahl’s story is incredible, physical, public, and personal. Multiple people are involved at every stage. The family dog is killed. His boat damaged. His son burned. He meets with a stranger in a public diner and is warned not to talk. His business is vandalized. His wife becomes ill. Investigations are launched, interrogations held, reporters pry, tabloids shout, and government agencies fight.

A B-25 bomber crashes in peacetime. And good men die.

Enter the FBI and J. Edgar Hoover

The FBI investigation into the crash of a B-25 Bomber — and the deaths of two Air Force Intelligence Officers — began August 5, 1947, and lasted through FBI Special Agent Jack Wilcox’s final report to J. Edgar Hoover on August 27, 1947. It is within the FBI documents — sealed in the ordinary course for 50 years — that the truth of Maury Island can be teased out, and the dismissive myths debunked. The FBI documents are revelatory. And as a threshold, the FBI documents fly in the face of the number one myth of Maury Island — that the entire story was a hoax conceived by Dahl and Crisman. Due entirely to Special Agent Wilcox’s thoroughness and attention to detail, the FBI documents are key to understanding the truth of Maury Island. The FBI documents even serve to inspire — it is easy to imagine Maury Island as the FBI’s original, real-life X-File, and the truth is embedded in the writings of Special Agent Wilcox, 1947's Fox Mulder.

The FBI documents allow a historian to follow the FBI investigation’s progress on a day-by-day basis. One over-arching learning stands out — J. Edgar Hoover was fascinated by the flying discs. He inserted himself into field investigations. He received investigation reports from the field directly; and he responded to subordinates, including Special Agent Wilcox, personally. He took a direct hands-on interest in Maury Island.

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