The Press: Flying-Saucer Men

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Of all the flying-saucer stories that have landed in U.S. newspapers, the most fantastic was told by a Denver oilman named Silas M. Newton. Two years ago, he solemnly told a University of Denver science class that at least three saucers, carrying crews of tiny (30-inch) men, had landed in the U.S., that the Air Force had captured the crews and was hushing up the big story. Later, to support his tale, he cited "evidence" given by a mysterious scientist whom he called "Dr. Gee." The story told by Newton, a friend of Variety Columnist Frank Scully, got Scully started on his bestseller Behind the Flying Saucers (TIME, Sept. 25, 1950) which devoted a great deal of space to Newton's and Dr. Gee's "evidence."

Last week, after a ten-day investigation, the Denver Post not only exposed Newton and his sidekick as phony experts; it also dug up enough evidence to arrest Newton and a man the paper said was his Dr. Gee, Leo Ge Bauer, operator of a small electrical manufacturing shop in Phoenix, Ariz. The charge: Newton and Ge Bauer had fleeced a wealthy rancher out of $34,000 with another "scientific" discovery, a machine that could locate oil or water underground.

Pot & Pan. The Post exposé was the work of John P. Cahn, a 33-year-old San Francisco free-lance writer who first tried to debunk Newton and Dr. Gee for the San Francisco Chronicle. He became suspicious when he got his hands on the rare, "unmeltable" metal which they claimed came from one of the flying saucers. It turned out to be nothing but pot & pan aluminum. Cahn could not get the complete proof against the men that the Chronicle wanted. But True Magazine, which once stated that flying-saucers "are real," last month ran a Cahn article questioning Newton's and Dr. Gee's credentials as experts.

Reporter Cahn was still not satisfied. He persuaded the Denver Post to hire him to investigate further. Cahn came across Herman Flader, a Denver grain man and industrialist who said he had dealings with Newton and Ge Bauer in 1949. For $34,000, said Flader. they sold him an interest in three "Doodlebugs," radio-size machines covered with dials and bulbs that lighted up when a Doodlebug detected a well.

Plutonium & Batteries. When Flader took delivery of the Doodlebugs, he got a warning never to open the case. Its plutonium-tipped antennas and delicate electronic mechanism might cause an explosion. Guided by the machine's lights, Flader sank $166,000 in oil land leases, but found no oil.

Reporter Cahn took the results of his investigation to the police and FBI. Ge Bauer and Newton were quickly picked up and released on bail to await trial for fraud. When police examined a Doodlebug, they found no plutonium, no delicate electronic mechanism. The Doodlebug was just a piece of war-surplus radio equipment that could be bought for $3.50. There had been one slight" change; flashlight batteries had been installed to light up the bulbs when the knobs were turned.