Always curious about the subject of UFOs, David Marler looks into one of the “new” file drawers he recently received with reports of UFO sightings. Gary Herron photo.

David Marler didn’t have to tell Santa what he wanted for Christmas — he received a Nov. 3 delivery at his west Rio Rancho home, with more than he could ever want.

It was a shipment of a dozen four-drawer and three five-drawer filing cabinets, each crammed with files on UFO sightings.

Now, arguably, Marler says, “It’s safe to say this is one of the largest private collections in the U.S. — the most-unique collection.”

The recent delivery came from CUFOS (Center for UFO Studies), he said, while two men lowered the cabinets off the truck and wheeled them into his space-diminishing UFO room, which already contained 15 filing cabinets.

“We always quote around 100,000 (files) — and that includes actual reports, and report forms filled out by a witness, or a letter from a witness, or phone conversation, and government records and other sources,” said David Rodeghier, president and scientific director of the J. Allen Hynek Center for UFO Studies since 1986. “He’s gonna have all the fun he wants.”

“It’s all one of a kind,” Marler added, giving more credibility to his addition to his extensive inventory.

Of course, not every file contains a legitimate UFO report.

“Rarely do we get hoaxes,” said Rodeghier. He facilitated the shipment to Rio Rancho. “(Hoaxes) are out there. The problem we have is people don’t know what they’re looking for, and with Polaroid and 35-millimeter (cameras of the past), people would do more throwing things in the air. And some people just make a false report.”

It’s usually easy to weed out the false reports, he said. “If people will talk to you, send an email or engage in an exchange, and you go out there, typically they’re sincere. Maybe education levels have improved over time.”

The latest acquisition, Marler said, probably contains a sighting report filed by former President Jimmy Carter. It may take Marler a while to come across that one: These drawers contain thousands of file folders and have no specific dollar value, being one-of-a-kind.

“They’re priceless,” he said.

Each will be scanned on a high-level digitizer he was given by a donor onto a hard drive.

Two devoted UFO fans will make the trip from the East Coast to Rio Rancho to continue the scanning process, but that won’t happen until the pandemic has ended. They’ve already scanned about a third of the collection.

As the Observer has reported before, the entire collection will go to the University of New Mexico upon Marler’s death.

What does he still need?

“Time,” he quickly responded. “I don’t do this for a living. Is it a hobby? I think ‘hobby’ belittles this; this is much more of a commitment.”

Marler has never seen a UFO, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t believe in extraterrestrials.

“How can you disbelieve?” he queried. “If just one (sighting) is truly of an aerial object, it’s one of the biggest stories ever.”

Marler was thankful Rodeghier entrusted this collection to him.

“As time has gone on, (Marler has) become much more recognized,” Rodeghier said. “Once you write a book — and it was a well-known book — you get more recognition. He really has a talent for doing historic research. (Episodes in) Farmington and Los Angeles have gotten him wider exposure — he’s sharp, solid — but definitely well-known and respected. That case collection is the most-extensive collections in the world.”

Rodeghier said more scientists need to be involved in UFO research with more financial support.

“If more research is published, more interest would be generated,” he said. “Everything builds on that. If there are no sightings reported, there is nothing to build on — you can’t expect to generate public interest. The point of serious UFO research is, if something is out there, let’s examine it.”

Marler said, “My mind is reeling with the sheer volume of material that I have now.”