Sky guy

Mayfair native Tom Carey has dedicated decades to researching a famous UFO sighting he believes was covered up.

Reaching for the stars: Mayfair native Tom Carey, in his 70s, has published four books about the Roswell UFO incident. He is prepared to release his fifth book, Roswell: The Chronological Pictorial, which supplies a timeline and photos of the event, in the near future. LOGAN KRUM / TIMES PHOTO

A strange light flashes across the night sky, and for a second you’re convinced you just witnessed a UFO.

Ask Mayfair native Tom Carey, though, and it’s unlikely he’ll be impressed.

Carey has spent the past 20 years interviewing witnesses, compiling research and publishing findings on what he believes to be the most credible UFO sighting of all time, after all.

Carey, in his 70s, has published four books about the Roswell UFO incident, or as he calls it, the “granddaddy” of all UFO sightings. He is prepared to release his fifth book, Roswell: The Chronological Pictorial, which supplies a timeline and photos of the event, in the near future.

“[The Roswell incident] is the most famous and most interesting UFO case,” Carey said. “It’s got everything a good mystery needs. I read my first book about it in 1980 and it just blew me away. It’s the most interesting UFO case of all time.”

The case involves some sort of crash just outside of Roswell, New Mexico, in 1947. Rumors spread that an alien spacecraft had landed, as witnesses claimed to have seen inhuman creatures with large heads and small bodies at the crash site — most dead, but one still living.

The military quickly arrived at the scene and told Roswell residents the extraterrestrial vehicle in question was a United States Army Air Force weather balloon that had crashed and exploded.

Carey believes the case is not as cut and dry as the Army explained, and has conducted hundreds of interviews to try to figure out what happened that day.

“There are not many living people who were in Roswell that day, which makes it hard to find sources,” Carey said. He and his partner, Donald R. Schmitt, interview descendants, friends and anyone else connected to potential Roswell witnesses.

Their research process is extensive.

Searching for answers: Tom Carey holds a photo of Lt. Walter Haut, whom he largely blames for the government cover-up. The pictorial includes a statement from Haut’s deathbed, where he finally claimed that the crash involved extraterrestrial activity. LOGAN KRUM / TIMES PHOTO

“We’ve followed almost every lead, but there are still a few out there who we haven’t gotten a hold of,” Carey said, hefting a large 1947 military yearbook that he keeps in his office, a room he likes to call the “control shuttle.” The room contains many bookshelves packed with books on a variety of topics, including World War II and King Arthur, but mostly UFOs.

The yearbook contains names and pictures of military members who may have been involved with the incident. After he finds a name that sticks out (something unique, not John Smith, for example), he runs the name in an attempt to find the person or their relative in hopes of an interview. Above his desk sits an audio transcribing machine, which Carey said has about 200 hours left of audio interviews to transcribe.

“We pretty much have a framework of most of the details of what happened that day,” he said. “What we don’t have is physical evidence.”

For Carey, obtaining a piece of physical evidence would mark the close of the investigation. Pieces of strange metal were recovered at the crash site, though the whereabouts were lost track of long ago.

“This was the biggest disappointment so far,” he said, pulling up on his computer a blurry image of a deceased figure shaped like a human, though with a disproportionately large head and shriveled body.

After speaking about the incident at a conference several years ago, Carey received the image from someone who claimed it was one of the Roswell aliens. It fit the description.

But after three years of trying to derive clues from the image, someone was able to read an illegible plaque in the image that identified it as the mummified body of a 2-year-old.

“It doesn’t look like any 2-year-old I’ve ever seen,” said Carey, who didn’t seem quite convinced.

Carey and Schmitt have been publishing books on the subject since 2007. Their works include Witness to Roswell, The Roswell Dig Diaries and Inside the Real Area 51. For those new to the case, Carey recommends starting with Witness. Carey also appeared on a 2002 Syfy special called Roswell Crash.

Now settled in Huntingdon Valley, Carey attended Lincoln High School, where he said teachers viewed him as a disappointment compared to his brother. “I was the athlete of the family,” he said. “My brother was the scholar.”

Carey played football, basketball and baseball in high school, and attended Temple University on a baseball scholarship.

With the investigation so thoroughly covered, Carey has started thinking about other potential research projects. In the meantime, he’s focused on getting the pictorial published.

“Until I feel we’ve gone as far as we can with the investigation, which I don’t think is far away, that will be when I’ll put it to bed,” Carey said. “If something new comes along, fine, but for my proactive investigation, I can see the end of the tunnel.” ••

Logan Krum can be reached at