Project Blue Book files contain records of notorious 1953 Mableton UFO hoax

A flying saucer UFO

[Warning from the editor: the files contained graphic accounts of cruelty to an animal]

The National Archive recently provided a searchable window into lightly redacted versions of the Project Blue Book files, a record of the U.S. Air Force investigations into Unidentified Flying Objects (UFOs) and Unidentified Anomalous Phenomena (UAPs). The reports were assembled from March 1952 to the project’s termination on December 17, 1969, during widespread furor around UFOs.

One of the cases in the file was about a notorious and cruel hoax in Mableton (Austell in some accounts) carried out on July 7, 1953, when a 28-year-old Atlanta barber named Ed Watters and two friends claimed they struck an alien from a flying saucer while driving along what was then Bankhead Highway in the Leland area of Cobb County in Watters’ pickup truck.

See the files on this incident from Project Blue Book by following this link.


The area is now part of Mableton on Veterans Memorial Highway.

The way the three young men described it, the flying saucer landed, and three small creatures left the craft. Upon seeing the approaching pickup truck, two of the creatures jumped into the saucer and flew off in a blaze of blue light, while the other creature was struck and killed by the truck.

Initially, according to a news clipping in the file (not labeled with the newspaper’s name), Watters succeeded in getting news coverage, as it was picked up by wire services and distributed across the country.

But when Dr. Herman Jones of the GBI State Crime Lab and scientists at Emory University examined the remains, they determined it was a monkey.

Dr. Marion Hines, a professor of experimental anatomy at Emory, said at the time, “If the creature came from Mars, they have monkeys on Mars.”

At that point, Watters admitted to the hoax. He had purchased a monkey, killed it, shaved it and removed its tail.

He was initially charged with animal cruelty, but the Cobb police chief dropped those charges when it was found the killing had been done in Fulton County.

Ultimately, Watters was charged under a health law that prohibited putting a dead animal on a state highway. He was charged a $40 fine.

Here is the formal Air Force report on the incident, along with the image of the report from the Blue Book:

7 July 1953 Atlanta, Georgia


On the night of 7 July 1953, three observers from Atlanta were driving on Highway 78 near Mableton, Georgia (the document misspelled it “Mapleton”), when they encountered a “flying saucer” in the middle of the road. There were three small animals near this red colored “saucer”. As the observers bore down on this object, two of the animals entered the “saucer” and escaped. As the “saucer” rose and disappeared at a 45 degree angle, it turned a light blue in color. Observers’ car struck the third animal and knocked him unconscious. After getting out of the car and finding this animal which was approximately 21 inches in length, had long ears, no hair, and no tail, observers stayed at the scene and several other automobiles stopped. The animal died in about 30 minutes and was taken to one of the Atlanta newspapers. A reporter for the newspaper called the FBI, who in turn called the GBI to investigate the incident.


This animal was first examined by a local veterinarian, who stated that he had never seen such an animal before. Later the animal was taken to Emory University where an Emory authority identified it as a member of the monkey family and not an “animal from space”. A member of the State Crime Laboratory and another member of the Emory University staff identified the animal as a monkey which had been shaved and from which the tail had been removed. Observers confirmed that the whole story was a hoax resulting from a $10.00 bet that he (observer) could not get his picture in the paper. Observer was fined $40.00 for obstructing the highway and was released at that time.


Other: hoax.

Note: This is one of many similar reports received by Project Blue Book

As of 2008 when the NBC News story at this link ran, the remains of the monkey were still at the GBI’s state crime lab.