New Rio Rancho UFO organization hopes to open center for scholarly research

Organizers seeking monetary donations or large building they can remodel

Mike Easterling
Farmington Daily Times
  • For now, the center's headquarters are located in the Rio Rancho home of executive director David Marler.
  • Marler said ufologists from around the world are prepared to donate their archives to the center as soon as it has a permanent home.
  • Marler has estimated the establishment of such a space would cost anywhere from $1 million to $8 million.

FARMINGTON — Even though he serves as the executive director of the newly established National UFO Historical Records Center in Rio Rancho, David Marler insists he’s not trying to change anyone’s mind about whether extraterrestrial beings have visited Earth.

“The central pillar of what we’re trying to do is simply preserve history,” he said. “We want to let them formulate their own opinions of what they think of the subject. That’s really been my style over the years — I don’t try to make people believe, I just provide the information and let them arrive at their own conclusions.”

When skeptics are introduced to Marler and learn about the nature of his work, he said they often make a point of letting him know they are nonbelievers. His reaction to such pronouncements is always the same.

“I don’t care what you believe in,” he said. “You’re entitled to your beliefs, and I’m entitled to my beliefs.”

But after years of being widely regarded and written off as part of a fringe element in American society, Marler and others like him who have compiled a significant amount of material on UFOs — referred to in some circles as unidentified aerial phenomena — finally are enjoying an air of respectability, a status that long has eluded them. From congressional hearings to unprecedented Pentagon disclosures to the formation of a NASA study team examining the issue, the idea of UFOs being a subject of serious academic pursuit finally has gone mainstream.

“For the people who think this is relegated to people with tinfoil hats, they haven’t been keeping up with the news lately,” he said.

The creation of the National UFO Historical Records Center is a reflection of that change, Marler said. For now, the nonprofit organization will be based in Marler’s Rio Rancho home. But he hopes it isn’t long before the center is provided with a permanent home where it can welcome visitors from around the world who are interested in examining the materials it houses, described by Marler as the largest historical archive dedicated to the preservation and centralization of UFO/UAP information in the United States.

Marler said even though UFO enthusiasts from around the world are contributing their collections to the center, there really was no debate about where the organization should be located.

“If you would do a nationwide poll asking people, ‘What state do you most associated with UFOs?’, most people would say New Mexico,” he said.

A banner headline from the March 18, 1950, edition of the Farmington Daily Times alerts readers to the alleged appearance of UFOs in the skies over the city a day earlier.

That is primarily because of the 1947 Roswell incident, commonly regarded as the most famous of all alleged UFO encounters. But New Mexico has seen many other such incidents, including the alleged crash of a UFO at Hart Canyon near Aztec in 1948 and the mass sighting of a series of UFOs in the skies above Farmington in March 1950, an event that Marler regards as “one of the most significant UFO cases on record.”

If fundraising efforts go as planned over the next few years, the National UFO Historical Records Center will move from Marler’s home — where he recently built a 20-by-22-foot addition to help house the archives — into a large, publicly accessible location somewhere in the Albuquerque area. Marler said such a facility would cost an estimated $1 million to $3 million on the low end for a remodeled existing structure to $6 million to $8 million for a new, state-of-the-art building that would include interactive audio-visual displays and exhibits, an auditorium for lectures, a gallery for UFO artwork and an area for scholarly research.

David Marler

In addition to his own collection, Marler said many other serious researchers around the world are prepared to donate materials they have assembled over the years to the center as soon as the space to house them is available. Marler said the new addition to his house and most of his two-car garage already are filled with bookcases, filing cabinets and banker boxes containing such material, while a pallet of other materials is being assembled in the United Kingdom for delivery to Albuquerque sometime before the end of January.

That means that, for now, Marler would be happy with just the donation of a large, simple warehouse space somewhere in the Albuquerque area where those archives could be stored, secured and sorted, with an eye toward beginning the process of scanning them and preserving them digitally.

“Let’s not forget this is a 75-year history we have amassed here, and we’re hoping this may supply context to what (people are) seeing and hearing today,” he said.

But the establishment of a permanent home for the center is a move that includes the potential for missteps by Marler and his board members. Now that they finally have managed to shuck the crackpot label and achieve respectability, the last thing they want to do is open a splashy, cheap, touristy attraction that is seen as simply capitalizing on the considerable popular appeal of UFOs, he said.

Marler insists that the establishment of any such permanent home would be tastefully executed, but he doesn’t want to create the impression that the facility would be restricted to scholarly types only. He estimated that 75% of the visitors to the center would be members of the general public who are curious about the subject, as opposed to people like him who have devoted much of their lives to ufology.

The logo for the new National UFO Historical Records Center.

There is no denying the appeal such a center would have, Marler said, and that fact alone already has helped it attract a good deal of attention. Since he announced the creation of the organization in the middle of November, Marler said he has conducted numerous media interviews, and government officials from throughout central New Mexico have reached out to him to discuss the possibility of working with him on finding a home for the center.

That needs to happen sometime within the next couple of years, he said, explaining that he and the other researchers he has been working with are running out of storage room for their archives. Many of those collections are the product of years of work, he said, and Marler feels an obligation to his fellow ufologists — some of whom are reaching old age, he said — to find a secure home for their materials, which he regards as their legacy.

“They’ve literally spent their adult lives collecting those materials and spent tens of thousands of dollars,” he said.

For more information about the center, visit nufohrc.org.

Mike Easterling can be reached at 505-564-4610 ormeasterling@daily-times.com. Support local journalism with a digital subscription: http://bit.ly/2I6TU0e.