The UFO program by the US Defense Intelligence Agency contracted Robert Bigelow in 2008 to gather information for the stated purpose of developing advancements in aerospace and weapons technology. The name on the original documents was the Advanced Aerospace Weapon System Applications Program (AAWSAP), but it later became known as the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program (AATIP).
Due in part to the non-disclosures required of participants, few people involved have been willing to talk, especially on the record, and details and documentation about the true nature of the program have been slow to emerge. In working with Roger Glassel on the AATIP story, we reached out to former participants and heard from some of the MUFON players. This article presents the story of one Robert Bigelow’s employees, one the men hired to protect what was hidden at Skinwalker Ranch. His memories provide new details about the BAASS investigations under the AAWSAP contract, with insight into the people doing the work, and just what kind of research was funded.
Chris J. Marx became a naturalized citizen of the US in 1992 after moving here from his birthplace of Germany. Before his military service, he worked in Law Enforcement in New Mexico from 1995 to 2004, as a Sheriff’s Sergeant and an Investigator. In 2006 he joined the U.S. Army Military Police Corps, deploying for two tours of combat in Iraq between 2007 and 2009, and in his second tour, held a top-secret clearance and worked in military intelligence. After returning to civilian life, in April 2010 Marx was selected to work for Bigelow Aerospace Advanced Space Studies (BAASS), providing security and assisting research at Robert Bigelow’s Skinwalker Ranch property in Utah.
In the two weeks between his hiring and first deployment, Marx was instructed to read at the library at Bigleow’s offices at 4975 Polaris Avenue, Las Vegas. There, he studied material that included Hunt for the Skinwalker by Colm Kelleher and George Knapp, and a dossier on the 1947 Roswell UFO incident. If that wasn’t strange enough, for his first task,” they handed me a stack of orders... from 1942... about a German excursion, a U-Boat excursion to find the sunken city of Agartha. I spent at least 10 days on translating that.” He’d been given the task, because, “that’s my native language.”
|Bigelow HQ at Polaris Ave. in Las Vegas|
He said that all guards hired had to have security clearances, and many were former Air Force, law enforcement, or other military. On his first deployment to Skinwalker Ranch, he received a tour of the property, and instructed that in addition to patrols, guards were required to routinely perform experiments “to document anomalies” as directed by BAASS scientists. There were about ten guards total, and they worked there for two weeks at a time, then relieved by the next team, typically with a partial one-day overlap. They’d return to Las Vegas for other duties, debriefings, and time off until their next rotation.
|Ranch photo by Chris Marx|
With all the property he owned and leased, Bigelow's ranch consisted of about 1000 acres. Marx explained that the land itself was beautiful, but the structures on the property were in poor condition, and the newest one, the double-wide trailer that served as their base was sitting on blocks and had a dilapidated deck behind it. There were three dogs there, but not trained canine guards, just pets, really. “Bio sensors,” was the BAASS designation for the dogs, the same as the cattle on the property.
Part of the attraction of working for a technological company like Bigelow’s must be the access to cool toys, but if that was what Marx had expected, he was in for a letdown. The trailer had some equipment, but it was old and in poor working condition, and he described a collection of low-quality digital cameras, an antiquated night vision unit that was shoddy and grainy, and a thermal imaging system also in poor working condition. There was also an old laptop with Ethernet but no WiFi, a telephone and an old paper-fed FAX machine. Marx said personnel filed reports by Fax, one sent to BAASS, with a copy also sent to the “government sponsor,” but at the time, he had no idea what agency it represented.
|Undated photos of the trailer interior by Chris Marx.|
As for the chain of command, Marx described the people he interacted with; Robert Eickenhorst was first-line supervisor or manager, above him, Loran Huffman and Doug Kurth as Ranch co-administrators, then Dr. Colm Kelleher, and at the head, owner Robert Bigelow.
The guards were left on their own, and for military men, it was strange to have no SOP (standard operating procedure), with almost no guidelines provided and no oversight. They were required to make a daily report, but some guards spent most of their time watching television and wrote a token three-line report without receiving negative consequences.
|Chris Marx on duty at the Bigelow ranch|
With his background in investigations, Marx was compelled to do more than was asked of him. Since the tools provided were so poor, Marx asked Kelleher if he could bring his own equipment and was given permission to do so. Marx said that since he started bringing his own equipment, he had “hundreds upon hundreds” of photos, and has records of almost everything from the experiments and investigations he conducted at the Ranch, with the exception of the DNA samples he’d sent off to back to BAASS.
In September 2010, Marx was paired with a new hire, Chris Bartel. Marx said they were instructed to report on “phenomena” at the Ranch. He had a number of unusual experiences while there, noting that several key locations each had their own particular characteristics. In particular, he cited the trailer, Homestead 2, Homestead 3, the Mesa, and the river, each seeming to produce different effects, such as emotional changes, physical sensations, and electromagnetic interference. Marx described a debriefing where he was questioned by Bigelow, who was interested in the emotional changes and asked detailed follow-up questions about specific physical effects. He noted that Bigelow and the others accepted the accounts uncritically, as if it was what they expected to hear, and he got the feeling that they were comparing it with previous similar reports. Marx said that the ten guards in rotation all had similar experiences, which they would discuss in their overlap between the shift changes.
Marx stated the guards furnished their own weapons, “Everything that you used was supplied by you, from your weaponry to whatever else.” Some guards carried AR-15 or M4s, but Marx preferred a tactical shotgun at night, since the most likely threat was unfriendly mountain lions rather than trespassers.
In discussing the funding, he said at the BAASS headquarters in Las Vegas on Polaris, he saw 10 Canon cameras. He asked if he could use those for the ranch and was told no. there was a deck in disrepair behind the trailer and he was not allowed to repair or replace it when the ranch vehicle needed new tires they were purchased on the cheap.
In discussing the finances, he said there was no money, that it was a cheap operation and he noted that they were the facilities and equipment were in disrepair, and when he asked for permission to upgrade them it was denied. There was no indication of any money put into the ranch. When the septic system broke, it took weeks to get it fixed by the lowest bidder. The trailers were plagued by rats and mice, and standard mouse traps were used, which he noted was the cheapest solution, and the guards themselves were expected to solve the problem rather than engage a professional exterminator.
BAASS Leadership: Douglas Kurth and Loran Huffman
Douglas S. Kurth had an interesting role in the Bigelow organization, but little is known about it . As Lt. Col. “Cheeks” Kurth, he was a key witness in the 2004 Nimitz UFO encounter, and in Dec. 2007 was the first known hire for Bigelow Aerospace Advanced Space Studies, LLC, which was registered as a Nevada business the next month. At Kurth’s LinkedIn profile, he lists his role as “Program Manager”and left BAASS in June 2013. He’s documented as part of the BAASS team, along with Colm Kelleher, but he doesn’t want to talk about it.
|Clips from STAR Team Impact Project (SIP) update to the MUFON Board of Directors, 2009|
When Chris Marx was asked about the roles and job titles of Douglas Kurth and Loran Huffman, he said, “I dealt with Kurth sporadically. Kurth was not really a people person kind of guy. I had brief conversations with him. I knew he was a fighter pilot at some point, I did not know he was part of that Nimitz issue, and quite frankly, I’d never heard of the Nimitz [UFO encounter] at that point, I had no idea. I mostly dealt with Loran, Kurth seemed more in the background of it all, and I never dealt with him a whole bunch, just here and there... All I knew was he was Ranch administrator along with Loran Huffman, but what his specific role was, I have no idea. And even with Loran’s specific role, he dealt with personnel, he was more like the HR kind of guy, but what his specific scope was I don't know.”
The LinkedIn profile for Loran Huffman states the he was:
“Director of Investigations and Security (FSO) [Facility Security Officer], Bigelow Aerospace
Jan 2009 - June 2012”
|(Kurth left BAASS in 2013, Huffman in 2012.)|
BAASS Experiments on the Ranch during AAWSAP
Marx said that while he was there, he never saw or heard about government officials visiting the ranch, and that visits from BAASS scientists were rare. The experiments Marx described below all took place between early 2010 and 2012.
Bean sprouts - Marx mentioned this one in passing, but described it in greater detail in an interview with the Black Vault. Two female BAASS scientists “set up the bean sprout [experiment] for a couple of hours and then immediately left. They planted bean sprouts in several locations, and a control group was grown back at BAASS headquarters on Polaris for comparison. Marx thought the experiment lacked a scientific basis due to the great differences in climate, humidity, elevation etc., but later realized it must have been a test to measure radiation exposure at the Ranch.
Electromagnetic anomalies - Marx said, “The only [other] scientist that ever came up during that time was Jason Viggato, who from what I understood was a physicist. We set up a daisy chain of laptops around Homestead 2 to measure, what was explained to me, electromagnetic pulse. We hooked them up, turned them on - I was there with him, and they would flatline. There was some sort of a measuring capacity that they had, to measure the electromagnetic pulse - phenomena, I guess, so it was explained.
We did this for 4 days because they would all fire up fine and then would baseline where nothing was measured for anywhere from fifteen seconds to a minute - minute and half after they were turned on. All of a sudden there would be some sort of a spike, and all - it was the seven or eight laptops, all would shut down at this exact moment and they all batteries were completely depleted. These were freshly charged, coming off the wall chargers. We did this for about 4 days, did it in a radius of about maybe a hundred feet, 75 to 100 feet around Homestead 2 with the same results every single time. They would fire up, and it was like somebody clicked that magic switch and all of them were dead.”
Psychic contact - Another experiment Marx mentioned was not set up by scientists, but by BAASS management. Quoting from Chris Marx on Skinwalker Ranch & Human Experimentation, The Black Vault Radio. Ep-46:
“When I talk occult, what opened the door to that was we - actually, this was an experiment that was designed by Doug and Loran, Loran Huffman, Douglas Kurth, who were overseeing the Ranch prop, well, some of the experiments, and came up with different methodologies. Loran and I walked the Ranch together, identifying what we believed to be hotspots... and we came up with 13…” Marx said they had 13 tamper-proof evidence bags each with written questions that had been prepared, the contents known only by one person controlling the experiment. “We placed those evidence bags at those locations, and... when the new guards came in, Loran and Doug were up there, and we set up video cameras and audio equipment, and all that. They had designed a Ouija board that would basically show the thirteen different bags, and then through Ouija, ask what the answer to question number one is, or number two, or number three. So we were trying to communicate with it through Ouija. ...this is not anything that was just done on the fly, this was very well thought out, that was very much designed, and there were seven of us total that were in the room in, the kitchen, in the trailer, and four of us sitting [at] the table...”
Those management-directed experiments came to an end around 2011, matching the timeframe when Bigelow lost his government funding. Several things changed around that time, and he says the Faxed reports to the government also ceased. The skeleton crew at the property was cut in half, from two men, to one per deployment to guard the billionaire's entire Skinwalker Ranch acreage.
The Bigelow Pama Lane Complex
When researching The Pentagon UFO Money Trail, we found a stray puzzle piece. Former BAASS guards working at Bigelow’s Skinwalker Ranch say that while back in Las Vegas from their two-week deployments, they were sometimes assigned to provide security for another Bigelow property, a building complex on Pama Lane. Chris Marx described it as four different buildings that included offices and laboratories, completely built and finished, but for some reason, never occupied. According to real estate listings, the facilities were built in 2007, currently offered for sale at a price of about $7.5M.
|Bigelow's Pama Lane Campus in Las Vegas|
The AATIP New York Times story from 2017 stated that Bigelow’s “company modified buildings in Las Vegas for the storage of metal alloys and other materials.” The timeline suggests that Bigelow intended for the Pama Lane complex to house BAASS for its work on the DIA, and one of the conditions from AAWSAP stipulates: “Contractor shall provide a work facility (including unclassified information systems) with a Top Secret Facility Clearance granted by the Defense Security Service (DSS).” Marx didn’t know if any of the Pentagon’s $22M went towards funding the project, but notes it was put up for sale after the AAWSAP funding was withdrawn and BAASS folded.
The Puzzle: Medical Tests on Skinwalker Ranch Personnel
The dogs at Skinwalker ranch were designated “bio-sensors” by BAASS, and it may be the guards served a similar function. Marx talked about tests done on BAASS employees working the Ranch, saying, “I know there was a fridge up there that held bodily fluids, like urine and so forth, people had to pee in bottles.” When asked how the samples were collected and analyzed, he said, “They were taken back to Las Vegas at shift turnover, and I don’t know who they ended up with, but they were taken back by the guards themselves.”
Marx said that in July 2011, BAASS ordered them to undergo medical examinations. “Bartel and I, my partner, were pulled aside by Loran [Huffman] ...and he said, you guys are scheduled to go to Reno.” They were to fly there for MRI tests, “and we asked of course, why? We were told that they wanted to check if us being in contact with these anomalies, if that somehow... changed our brain.”
|BAASS MRI consent form|
While at the Reno clinic, “...we both underwent the MRI... What else was tested? I don't know, I think there may have been more from evidence that has come out since then.” When they asked about the results, “we were told that we would not receive that information,” just that they would be notified if there was a “brain tumor, or a life-threatening condition.” When asked about the frequency of this testing, he said, “Chris and I only went up there once... but, I know of at least 5, possibly 6 MRIs that were conducted on Ranch personnel.”
Marx took a leave from BAASS for a military tour of service in Afghanistan, and when he returned in 2016, he found Bigelow had sold the Ranch to a new owner. BAASS was being dissolved and he says that he and Colm Kelleher were its last two employees, both transferred to the main company, Bigelow Aerospace, and Marx stayed there until February 2019.
After Marx left Bigelow, he found some of the news stories about AATIP, and “ began to put the pieces of the puzzle together.” He read the AAWSAP solicitation contract, and knew that the DIA was the “government sponsor” that had received the Fax reports from the Ranch. The stated purpose of the program was to develop advanced aerospace propulsion, cloaking techniques and Radio Frequency Directed Energy Weapons. It also called for the study of “human effects.” Marx began pursuing the possibility that he and the other Ranch guards were used as human test subjects, either from the alleged energies at the Ranch, or for weapons research and testing done there under Bigelow’s government contract. He began asking questions to see if there was a connection.
Recently, Bartel and Marx requested and received copies of their MRI tests from the Reno clinic, and the paperwork. “It was funny because a while prior to that, Eric Davis had said - he’s been very critical of all of this... (saying, Chris and I are... just in this to make a quick buck and to sue somebody... crazies with a crazy theory…) saying it was just a pre-employment test. And so when I got this letter back, it was very peculiar for me to see that it actually said on the letter that it was pre-employment.” Marx says that’s nonsense, because he’d “already been working there for a year and a half, so it definitely wasn't a pre-employment anything.”
He went on to say, “So, long story short, it dawned on me, no this wasn’t just an MRI, because the people who were CC'd on these findings were - first of all, were not just ordinary physicians, and second of all, there’s a HIPAA issue with sharing medical information across the board. So there were a few red flags that popped up, and like I said, it became a puzzle, and the more pieces of that puzzle became available, the more it created a picture, and the more it answered the questions that I had early on, how it was such a Mickey Mouse operation up there and nobody cared what you did, all they cared about was what you experienced and the questions they were so specific [about] your own physiological changes and into your mental state, it all of a sudden started making sense. Why would you publish a book, Hunt for the Skinwalker, and then on the other hand, try to be all hush-hush? There are so many contradictions, the bean sprout experiment is another one, I mean there are so many…”
A possible answer comes from a “Senior Manager of BAASS,” published a statement on May 4, 2018:
“The BAASS approach was to view the human body as a readout system for UFO effects by utilizing forensic technology, the tools of immunology, cell biology, genomics and neuroanatomy for in depth study of the effects of UFOs on humans.”
Marx now believes that whatever may (or may not) be at Skinwalker Ranch, there’s been a deliberate agenda to create a myth by exploiting Native American tribal lore to blame anything strange that happens there on, “the unexplained - the anomalous.” He also has reason to suspect that the AATIP story may have been a part of it.
Chris Marx is just one of 50 or more employees of BAASS from the AAWSAP contract era, and there were many others involved, subcontractors, from MUFON, EarthTech, and the authors of the 38 technical studies used as DIRDs. All these people hold pieces of the puzzle, and bit by bit, the truth will come out.
. . .
For Further Information
There’s more to Chris Marx’s story, but the focus of this article was on the BAASS operations, funding, and investigations, so we’ve mostly omitted his accounts of unusual encounters while at Skinwalker Ranch, but more information can be found at the sources below.
Chris Marx interviewed on UFO Classified with Erica Lukes:
In Inside the Pentagon's Secret UFO Program, Tim McMillan described reviewing a copy of the 2009 “BAASS Ten Month Report” for AAWSAP, and stated that it included a passage on Skinwalker Ranch as a “possible laboratory for studying other intelligences and possible interdimensional phenomena.” Elsewhere, he said the report discussed it as a “living laboratory of interaction with non-human intelligences,” and his impression was that BAASS interested in physiological changes resulting from that interaction.
Keith Basterfield’s Unidentified Aerial Phenomena - scientific research, on Chris Marx, BAASS and Skinwalker Ranch
John Greenewald interview: Chris Marx on Skinwalker Ranch & Human Experimentation, The Black Vault Radio. Ep-46