Roswell: New Explanation, or new disinformation?

Gildas Bourdais, October 2005


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Since June 2005, there are now two main theories in competition which claim to offer an explanation of the Roswell incident excluding a UFO crash:

- the theory of the "Mogul" ballon train, promoted by the US Air Force and some authors since 1994, which has been largely accepted by the mainstream media;

- a new theory presented by British ufologist Nick Redfern in his book Body Snatchers in the Desert. The Horrible Truth at the Heart of the Roswell Story. In a word, some "whistle-blowers" revealed to him that, behind the "legend" of the Roswell UFO crash, was hidden a real story of experiments on Japanese handicapped prisoners, so horrible that they had to remain hidden at all costs. The curious title of this book will be explained later.

Cover of Cosmic Crashes

This new story, as strange as it looks, demands careful examination, given the notoriety of the author, who has written several good books on UFOs, including one on UFO crashes, published in 1999: Cosmic Crashes. The incredible story of the UFOs that fell to Earth .

He has also produced many articles and conferences. A preliminary remark is that the two theories cannot be both true. One of them, at least, must be wrong! Not surprisingly, a major promoter of the Mogul explanation, Karl Pflock, has already expressed strong disagreement, with his usual wit, in an open letter entitled "Attack of the Mutant Mongoloids!" I am going to plead here that these theories are both wrong, and that, consequently, the hypothesis of a UFO crash, near Roswell in 1947, still holds.

The Roswell case: a brief reminder

On July 8, 1947, the base of the atomic bombers of Roswell, New Mexico, issued a press release announcing the discovery of a "flying disk" in the area. But this spectacular discovery, in the midst of a wave of observations of these mysterious craft - the first great mediatic wave of UFOs - was denied in the evening by General Ramey, Commander of the Eighth Air Force, in Fort Worth, Texas: the Air Force officers at Roswell had found a weather balloon and its radar target, and had mistaken it for a flying saucer! The press accepted at once this curious explanation and the incident was forgotten for thirty years.

It was also the date of the beginning of an official policy of denial of UFOs, at least in the United States, which continues to this day.

However, in 1978, American ufologist Stanton Friedman found almost by chance a key witness, the former Major Jesse Marcel, in charge of security on the base, who had picked-up debris in the field. Marcel, then retired in Louisiana, confirmed to Friedman that these materials were very strange and did not look like anything known. Since then, several teams of researchers have accomplished considerable work and have found many witnesses, who have made Roswell to become one of the best documented cases in ufology. The theory of a UFO crash is based on three main elements: the press release by the Air Force base, testimonies about strange materials, and testimonies on the discovery of a craft and bodies near Roswell.

The astounding press release

A question quickly comes to mind, about the press release: how could these officers of an elite corps, not only make such a clumsy mistake - if we believe the Air Force - but, in addition to that, worsen their case by making that dramatic announcement, contrary to the rules of military secrecy, to which they were especially well trained? The second part of the question applies as well if they had, indeed, found a real "flying disk": they should not have announced it either unless they had the proper authorization, so that there is a part of the story which remains unclear, even today. Some explanations have been proposed, compatible with a UFO crash retrieval. I suppose that they had found a craft and bodies and had succeeded in retrieving it secretly. Then the discovery of the debris field at the Foster Ranch was totally unexpected, on Sunday, July 6. When Major Marcel and Captain Cavitt, who saw it on Monday, came back and reported to Colonel Blanchard on Tuesday, early in the morning, it was decided to issue a rather vague press release, just in case they would not be able to control this second discovery, while keeping the secret on the craft. But when they managed to control the field at the end of the morning, it was then decided to deny it with the balloon story in Fort Worth.

If it had been such an incredible confusion with a balloon (or a balloon cluster in the Mogul story) they should have been severely reprimanded, yet this was not the case. Colonel Blanchard made a remarkable career, up to the top of the Air Force. Major Jesse Marcel, given high marks by his hierarchy, before and after the incident, was promoted at a post of responsibility at the Pentagon. Furthermore, if he had made such a blunder, would he have talked about it, thirty years later? It is interesting to note here that Marcel, when he was interviewed in 1982 by a student, Linda Corley, told her that he had not revealed all what he knew, "For the sake of his country". Linda Corley revealed that twenty years later, at the MUFON symposium of 2000.

Strange materials

Several witnesses have confirmed the finding on the Foster Ranch, by Brazel and Major Marcel, of a large field scattered with strange materials. They included a great deal of small metallic pieces, jagged but very strong, rigid and lightweight. There were many pieces of metallic foil, looking like aluminum but which could not be cut or torn, and with "memory properties" (when crumpled, they took back their original, flat shape, leaving no creases). Some pieces were porous (which ruled them out as part of a balloon envelope). Some debris looked a bit like balsa wood struts, but again could not be broken and would not burn. According to Dr Marcel, the son of Major Marcel, a strut had strange markings alongside, looking like "hieroglyphs". Some other pieces looked like fiber optics. All this suggested that there had been a violent explosion over the field.

Witnesses on a craft and bodies

The third major element is that witnesses were found on the secret discovery of an alien craft and non-human bodies, at a site closer to Roswell. These testimonies have been rather reinforced in the last few years To tell the truth, some witnesses are no longer credible, like Frank Kaufmann and Jim Ragsdale, but there is still a group of coherent witnesses for the discovery of:

- a strange craft, winged shaped or rather horseshoe shaped;

- small, dead beings, and maybe one still alive;

- on a site at about thirty miles north-west of Roswell.

In my French book Roswell. EnquÍtes, secret et dťsinformation (JMG, 2004), I have given a detailed presentation of these testimonies, some of which are still little known.

1994-97. The USAF "explanation": Mogul balloon and parachute tests

In 1994, the US Air Force, pressed by an inquiry which had been opened by the General Accountibility Office (GAO) of the Congress, at the request of Steven Schiff, congressman of New Mexico, replaced the initial explanation of the weather balloon with a more complex one, the crash of a "train" of twenty to thirty weather balloons attached to a line, code-named "Mogul", launched at the base of White Sands. It was, they explained, a very secret project to develop a means of detection of future soviet atomic explosions, and it is the reason why its discovery was hidden at the time.

But, in spite of the publication in 1995 of a big, one thousand pages document, The Roswell Report, and in 1997 of a second book, bravely titled The Roswell Report. Case Closed, the American military have been unable to bring any serious evidence for this new explanation. Not the faintest bit of paper, telex, archived note, which would prove that this was what had been found in Roswell. On the contrary, their documentation shows clearly that the balloon train Mogul number 4, the only one which might have, theoretically, caused that blunder because it was equipped with radar targets, had most probably never been launched! It is absent in the reports of New York University (NYU), in charge of the tests, and the geophysicist Albert Crary, who was the field manager, noted in his personal diary that it was cancelled because of cloudy weather. In fact, he launched in the morning a small balloon cluster like the NYU team launched everyday in June. It is likely that Brazel found one of them, on June 14, as he told the press under pressure from the military, but he attached no importance to it, and it had nothing to do with the finding of the big debris field at the beginning of July.

Little balloon cluster

For its part, the GAO discovered that important parts of the Roswell archives had been destroyed without explanation. It soberly concluded, in 1995: "The debate on what crashed at Roswell continues".

In any case, even if the officers of Roswell had found a Mogul balloon train, they would have easily identified it as such. It would have been sufficient, for them, to identify one single element of this mundane gear, to close the case. For instance, one of the fragile balsa wood struts used as the frames of the radar targets, which looked more like a kite than a flying disk.Or one of the instruments attached to the nylon line, which were not more mysterious: ballast reservoir, electric battery, radio transmitter, "sonobuoy" which looked like a mere metallic can. Furthermore, None of these instruments were found on the Foster Ranch, neither by the rancher Brazel nor by the military who came to retrieve the debris. The obvious conclusion is: Mogul case closed!

In 1997, the US Air Force published a second book to explain, this time, the testimonies on alien bodies. It suggested that the witnesses had confused memories of parachute tests which were made with wooden dummies. But, as Walter Haut quipped, "you have to be a dummy not to recognize a dummy!" Besides, these tests took place several years later, during the 50's. This time, the American press, which had accepted rather easily the Mogul explanation, remained visibly skeptical about this new story.

In all, the explanation of the US Air Force is just as fragile as the little weather balloons and radar targets upon which it is based, as well as wooden dummies. The only positive aspect of the Air Force report is to have discarded other hypotheses, such as the accident of a secret plane, of a rocket, or of an atomic bomber. However, such is not the opinion of a new researcher on Roswell, Nick Redfern, who has written a book claiming that the Roswell incident was in fact caused by an even more secret experiment with balloons, crafts and Japanese prisoners in White Sands. Let's turn now to that new explanation.

Nick Redfern: Body Snatchers in the Desert
A strange story told by anonymous "whistle-blowers

Here is now the summary of the story of Roswell according to Nick Redfern, slightly abridged, given by the author himself in the conclusion of his book Body Snatchers in the Desert :

In May 1947, an experimental aircraft that was borne out of the revolutionary aviation research of the Horten brothers of Germany was test-flown from White Sands, New Mexico.

In brief, it was part of a larger project begun in 1946, in view of designing and building a nuclear-powered aircraft.

On board the vehicle were a number of physically handicapped people who had been found in the remnants of the Japanese military's Unit 731 laboratories and who were used in this dark and disturbing experiment - the purpose of which was to try to better understand the effects of nuclear-powered flight on an air-crew. The experiment ended in disaster when the aircraft crash-landed at White Sands, killing some of the crew.

Two months later, in early July1947, a second and similar vehicle was, once again, flown from White Sands. In this particular instance, the aircraft was affixed to a huge balloon array that was based upon advanced Fugo balloon designs developed in the closing stages of WW II by Japanese forces. The aircraft was piloted by a crew of Japanese personnel who had been specifically trained for the task and crashed near the Foster Ranch after being catastrophically struck by lightning.

The lifting-body-style aircraft, the balloon materials and the bodies of the crew were retrieved under cover of overwhelming secrecy and - either deliberately or unintentionally - hidden behind a smoke screen of crashed flying saucer stories.

It is these two incidents (and, as the whistle-blower testimony provided in these pages suggests, possibly several others in the vicinity of White Sands in the early to late summer of 1947) that led to the legend of the Roswell incident.

A theory "explaining" all Roswell testimonies

A first reaction may be one of perplexity, confronted with such a bizarre story, which, according to the author, has been revealed to him from 1996 to 2003 by several insiders, who remain anonymous in the book. At first Redfern did not believe it, but he became convinced when he saw that they were independent sources and told the same story. In any case, it seems to give a global explanation of the Roswell case, encompassing many aspects, even some of the most controversial ones. The story of the first crash, for instance, seems to explain the controversial story of the mysterious cameraman who, allegedly, sold the famous "Alien Autopsy Footage" to the British producer Ray Santilli, released in 1995. You find here the main elements of his story:

- the date, May 1947;

- the location, near White Sands (approximately);

- the description of the craft, a sort of wingless plane;

- the description of the aliens by the cameraman (who called them the "freaks"!), and the body of the autopsy movie by the same token;

- the dangerous radioactivity on the site of the crash, as told by the cameraman.

This "atomic" aspect is very important in Redfern's theory. According to his insiders, it consisted in loading radioactive material on board, for an awful experiment of irradiation in flight. In addition, it was supposed to be made at a very high altitude in order to evaluate mysterious "mutation" effects. The victims selected for this dreadful test were supposedly mentally retarded, severely handicapped people, formerly prisoners of the Japanese for horrible bio-warfare experiments in Manchuria during WWII. According to Redfern and his informers, it is that "Japanese connection" which had to be kept secret "at all costs".

Last detail, there was no balloon for this first experiment (in effect, the cameraman did not mention one). The weird craft was supposedly towed on take-off, by a DC-3 plane (or rather a C-47, the correct military designation), but was self-propelled afterwards (we don't learn exactly how). I am going to come back on this peculiar aeronautical adventure.

The second crash is the famous one, near Roswell. This time, the craft is affixed to a huge balloon cluster, derived from advanced Japanese "Fugo" projects (Fugo is the name of the balloon bombs of WWII) which is going to explain the famous debris field on the Foster Ranch. This time there is no "atomic" experiment. If you know well the Roswell case, you will remember that Major Marcel checked the debris at the Foster Ranch with a Geiger counter and found no radioactivity. Again, Redfern's story seems to fit well to the Roswell testimonies. But a consequence is that there was no "reason" to carry handicapped people in that flight. So, explains Redfern, there were normal Japanese for the second flight, trained as pilots to test this peculiar balloon and fast aicraft coupling.

Can we believe that story? Well, there are many big holes in it, as we are going to see. The first, and biggest one, probably, is that it was impossible for the American military to bring to the United States prisoners from Manchuria. Here is why.

The impossible link with Japanese experiments in Manchuria.

The horrible bio-warfare experiments In Manchuria

Here is, briefly, the history of Japanese biological warfare experiments in Manchuria:

- 1932 -- Japanese troops invade Manchuria. Shiro Ishii, a physician and army officer who was intrigued by germ warfare, begins preliminary experiments.

- 1936 -- Unit 731, a biological-warfare unit disguised as a water-purification unit, is formed. Ishii builds huge compound -- more than 150 buildings over six square kilometers - at Pingfan, outside the city of Harbin. Some 9,000 test subjects, which Ishii and his peers called ''logs,'' eventually die at the compound.

- 1942 -- Ishii begins field tests of germ warfare on Chinese soldiers and civilians. Tens of thousands die of bubonic plague, cholera, anthrax and other diseases. U.S. soldiers captured in Philippines are sent to Manchuria.

- 1945 -- Japanese troops blow up the headquarters of Unit 731 in final days of Pacific war. Ishii orders 150 remaining ''logs'' killed to cover up their experimentation. Gen. Douglas MacArthur is named commander of the Allied powers in Japan.

- 1946 -- U.S. cover-up of secret deal with Ishii and Unit 731 leaders -- germ warfare data based on human experimentation in exchange for immunity from war-crimes prosecution -- begins in earnest. Deal is concluded two years later.

No prisoners from Unit 731


Let's turn now to the Redfern story. According to his inside source "Levine" :

When the Japanese surrendered in the wake of the atomic destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945, a number of these and "a quantity of still-living people were found in the remains of Unit 731 facilities (and also German laboratories) by allied soldiers. These remains were subsequently transferred to the Los Alamos Laboratories, New Mexico, where this dark and disturbing research was continued.

Other informers told Redfern a similar story. But is radically contradicted by all historical studies and sources. In his references, Redfern mentions the book of Peter Williams and David Wallace Unit 731: Japan's Secret Biological Warfare in World War II. It is a very complete history of these horrible experiments, and it says clearly what happened at the end of the war. When the Soviet army began to invade Manchuria, on August 9, 1945, the next day, the Japanese destroyed all buildings of Units 731 and 100, and killed all the prisoners. They had orders to destroy every trace of the experiments, and never talk about them. This version is confirmed in the timeline mentioned above, and in other books, for instance The Pacific War by the Japanese historian Saburo Ienaga. This book has been praised by major American newspapers. Here is what it says: 

Map of the end of the Pacific War

According to former unit members, when the Soviet Union entered the war on August 8, 1945, the Japanese tried to destroy every trace of the 731 Unit's activities. The Maruta prisoners were given food dosed with potassium cyanide: those who did not eat the food were machine-gunned. The bodies were thrown into a pit in a huge courtyard at the unit, doused with gasoline, and set on fire. Because of the great number of corpses, they did not burn thoroughly. The charred bodies were then put into a pulverizer. Engineers dynamited the buildings, and all equipment tools, and incriminating material were burned. Personnel of 731 Unit were given highest priority evacuation back to Japan, before the rest of the Kwantung Army or other units.

The Soviet Union declared war on August 8, and began invading Manchuria the next day. The invasion was completed in a few days, with a huge army (more than 5,000 tanks and the like), and it was totally impossible for American soldiers to arrive there before them, anyway.

The first American investigator, Lt. Col. Sanders, a young bacteriologist from Camp Detrick in Maryland who arrived in Japan one week after Japan surrendered, interrogated many leaders during three months, but he was misled by his Japanese interpreter, Lt. Col. Naito, who was a former student of General Ishii, the head of the biological warfare program. Nevertheless, Sanders discovered around September 1945 that Unit 731 was involved in human experiments, and began to inform General MacArthur. Ishii then proposed to give scientific information on these experiments in exchange for complete immunity, for him and his colleagues, which was eventually granted to them.


Human bones could reveal truth of Japan's 'Unit 731' experiments
More than 60 years after the end of the Second World War, the name "Unit 731" still has the power to generate shock, revulsion and denial in Japan.

By Julian Ryall in Tokyo
February 15,  2010

The Imperial Japanese Army's notorious medical research team carried out secret human experiments regarded as some of the worst war crimes in history.

Its scientists subjected more than 10,000 people per year to grotesque Josef Mengele-style torture in the name of science, including captured Russian soldiers and downed American aircrews.

The experiments included hanging people upside down until they choked, burying them alive, injecting air into their veins and placing them in high-pressure chambers.

Now new detail about their victims' suffering could be revealed after the authorities in Tokyo announced plans to open an investigation into human bones thought to have come from the unit.

A new search is also due to be carried out for mass graves that may contain more victims of human experiments.

The bones are thought to be from up to 100 people and were discovered in a mass grave in 1989 during construction work.
They bore the marks of saws and some of the skulls had drill holes and portions of the bone cut out. But the issue is so controversial in Japan that they have since been stored in a repository.
Acting on information from a former nurse, the authorities have announced they will re-examine the remains to determine whether they were used in some of the barbaric experiments carried out by Unit 731 in the dying days of the Second World War.
Toyo Ishii came forward to say that during the weeks after Japan's surrender in August 1945, she and her colleagues at the army hospital were ordered to bury corpses, bones and body parts Ė she said it was impossible to determine how many people they came from Ė before the Allies arrived.
In an interview, she claimed that the hospital had three mortuaries where bodies with numbered tags around their necks were stored in a pool of formalin to preserve them before they were dissected. Organs and other body parts were preserved in glass jars. The sites that Ishii pinpointed as the mass graves will now be excavated.
The remains were found on the site of an apartment complex in the Shinjuku district of the city which is scheduled for redevelopment. It means the search is likely to be the last effort to identify the victims and determine their fate.
An investigation after the remains were found in 1989 concluded they were mostly non-Japanese Asians and had probably been used in "medial education" or taken to the medical school from battlefields overseas for analysis. The health ministry has repeatedly denied requests from relatives of several Chinese whose relatives are believed to have died in Unit 731 experiments to have DNA tests carried out on the bones.
Unit 731 was mostly active in China, where it carried out biological, bacteriological and chemical weapons tests on civilians and prisoners of war, including Russian soldiers and Americans.
Others were subject to vivisections, exposed to extreme cold or killed in tests in pressure chambers.
The extreme right wing in Japan refuses to accept that the unit was anything more than a sanitation team that operated behind the front-line troops while virtually nothing on its activities is mentioned in school history books. Many of the scientists involved in Unit 731 went on to have careers in politics, academia, business, and medicine.
"Most people do not believe it even happened; the rest just want to cover it up and forget about what Japan did during the war," said Tsuyoshi Amemiya, a retired military historian. "Young people don't know and they don't want to know."

On that matter, Redfern is apparently mistaken again when he writes, quoting his insiders, that a "massive" amount of documentation was found in 1945. Actually, according to Williams and Wallace, American authorities were still discussing in the summer of 1947 the opportunity of making a deal with Ishii, which had been recommended by General MacArthur. The deal was concluded the following year, in spite of a negative advice of the State Department. So, this calls into serious question Nick Redfern's claims about "massive" documentation found as soon as 1945. But there is another damaging fact regarding Japanese prisoners.

No handicapped prisoners

Another important difference resides in the alleged use of deformed and handicapped people for all these experiments, according to Redfern's insiders. This is an important element of the theory since it is supposed to explain the strange aspect of the victims of the crash (at least the first one), and it is repeated through the whole book. But it is wrong! Actually, the Japanese experimenters at Unit 731 preferred to have subjects in good health: "Unless you work with a healthy body, you cannot get results". So, the real story of the end of Unit 731 seems quite different from the one in Body Snatchers. Curiously, in the debate on the internet forum "UFO Updates" which started in July, when I questioned him, Redfern did not respond to that. Instead, he insisted that there is documented proof on secret human radiation experiments conducted after the war. This is true, but it is another story!

The ACHRE inquiry, Project "Sunshine and "Body snatchers"

In 1994, President Clinton appointed an "Advisory Committee on Human Radiation Experiments" (ACHRE) which uncovered a long history of secret irradiation experiments conducted during the period 1944 through 1974. Redfern mentions it in his book, and it is all true, but he insists then on a very special project called "Sunshine" which was proposed secretly in 1955 . It was a plan to collect skeletons for such experiments, by all possible means through certain "channels", and this was called "body snatching", hence the bizarre title of the book. Redfern admits that this "body snatching" project had nothing to do with Roswell, but he claims that it was "very similar to the top-secret Roswell-related events" described in his book. This is typical of Redfern's reasoning. Since there was such a secret project in the 50's, it means that his Roswell story was possible.

However, this argument of secret radiation experiments can be turned against his book: the records of the ACHRE commission, which count the rather staggering number of some 3,000 tests of human irradiation, don't mention at all his alleged radiation experiments in White Sands!

So, there is a simple question, in the light of the ACHRE report. Why hide these alleged White Sands irradiation experiments at all cost, since the whole story of similar experiments has been made public? When I asked this to Nick Redfern, he stressed again that it was the "Japanese angle", with its horrible experiments in Manchuria, which was the cause of the extreme secrecy. But, as we have just seen, it is an impossible argument.

By a curious coincidence, a new, anonymous testimony surfaced in August on he Internet, with a story quite similar to the one of Redfern, but this time without Japanese. In this new version, the human Guinea pigs were poor, homeless and defenseless people, picked-up here and there. And the experiments were made by Nazi doctors brought in White Sands under the "Paperclip" program, just like the rocket scientists. This new version does not make more sense. The Nuremberg trial had just condemned the main Nazi leaders for war crimes, in 1946, but never mind, let's do it again, with the same mad doctors! It's enough to say that this new story, when it was published on UFO Updates, did not find any support at all.

Human prisoners would have been identified as humans

Regardless of its sheer impossibility, another argument can be made against this "Japanese angle". If these White Sands experiments had been made with Japanese - or rather Chinese - prisoners, they would have been identified as such when found in the areas of White Sands or Roswell. Even if they were handicapped beings. I debated about this point with Redfern on the Internet, and he did have an answer to it. Contrary to a general impression given in the book, in which he mentioned all the time handicapped people to explain the confusion with alien beings in Roswell, there were no handicapped beings in the second crash, near Roswell! As some other readers, I confess I overlooked this on a first reading. But then, how could the Roswell people make such a lamentable confusion? Well, the answer according to Redfern is that they did not find them. The bodies were found and retrieved secretly by the White Sands people, he explains. The legend of alien bodies found in Roswell came later from a merger with the rumors coming from the White Sands crash and its handicapped victims.

That's an ingenious story, but what is its credibility? In fact, the question remains whether there could be such a confusion with handicapped bodies, supposed wrongly to be alien beings, whether it was in White Sands or in Roswell. This is where Redfern throws in the famous "Alien autopsy footage", as a sort of visual proof of his story.

The "Alien Autospy" did not show a handicapped human

According to Redfern's mysterious informers, the "Alien Autopsy Footage", released in August 1995, was actually showing one of the handicapped victims of the White Sands crash!

Alien Autopsy

This idea has been already discussed in depth, and many experts have discarded the idea of a human being suffering of a genetic illness, but Redfern and his informers give this explanation again in the book, citing in a row the Hutchinson-Gilford-Progeria syndrome, the Werner syndrome, and the Ellis-van Creweld syndrome. But it takes only to have a good look at pictures of progeria victims to see that they are identifiable as human being in spite of their genetic defects, which is not the case of the strange body in the film. In addition, a very simple objection can be made: if it were a human body, there would have been no need for a complete protection suit such as is seen in the film (unless the whole film is a scam, but this is not at all what Redfern says). So, the idea of a real human body from the alleged White Sands experiments does not seem to make any sense.

In spite of all the problems already mentiond above, let's turn now to the central piece of the book, the alleged top-secret, horrible human irradiation experiments in White Sands. Redfern reveals a stunning aspect of that experiment. His main whistle-blower, the "Colonel", told him:

Experimental radiation shielding and an amount of radioactive material was used that was meant to simulate as close as possible the output that might be expected from a nuclear power source when we have one. It malfunctioned. It crashed. Those are the facts.

So, in order to test the effects of irradiation, radioactive material had been installed on board. Only the pilot was protected. What a nightmare! What a dangerous experiment, if only for the technicians in charge of the installation. And, why do it at high altitude with such great difficulties? By the way, in the book Redfern and his informers insist on the "high altitude" aspect of the experiment. However, in the course of the debate on UFO Updates, he seemed to drop the idea. And what about the risk of this highly secret experiment being publicly revealed in the case of accident?

Here is another question raised by the book. Redfern cites another version, also given by the Colonel: "a device had been incorporated into the vehicle that was designed to convert heat energy from an atomic pile into electrical energy". This is even more confusing. Was it just radioactive material, or an atomic pile? I must confess that I missed this version on first reading, simply because it seemed so incredible. It is well known that no aircraft with a nuclear engine existed at that time. Yes, there were some projects in the fifties, but which were abandoned at the beginning of the sixties. The only test flights were to carry a small atomic pile on board a huge NB-36H bomber, without even trying to use it for the propulsion. It was still propelled with classical engines. There was heavy protection for the crew. It was a small atomic pile, yet the installation weighted about 16 tons! The first flight was on September 17, 1955 in Fort Worth. There were 47 flights, after which the contaminated parts of the plane were dismantled and buried. Indeed, it was a dangerous experiment.

An impossible aeronautical tale
No Horten plane, nor "lifting bodies" in 1947

Let's quote again the final summary:

In May 1947, an experimental aircraft that was borne out of the revolutionary aviation research of the Horten brothers of Germany was test-flown from White Sands, New Mexico. It was part of a larger project begun in 1946, of a nuclear-powered aircraft.

The problem is that, according to all credible sources, there were no such craft in 1947! The Americans did find and bring back to the United States an unfinished Horten prototype, the Horten H IX, with two jet engines. There were, in Germany at the end of the war, two models of Horten jet propelled, flying wings: the Horten H IX V2 which was first flown in Feb. 18, 1945, but crashed and killed the pilot because of engine failure; the Horten H IX V3, the one which was taken to the United States. But it was not finished then, and never was.

The American engineers were not interested, probably for the simple reason that there were already the Northrop wings, being tested and flown (with lots of problems). Not in White Sands, by the way, which had only a rudimentary airfield, but at Muroc Dry Lake (later Edwards AFB) in California, which was the adequate and only place for testing fast experimental planes like that. Now, Nick Redfern says that it was in fact a Japanese, "Horten-like" project. But he has absolutely no proof of that!

Now, about the "lifting bodies". This term refers to new designs without wings, tested much more recently, from 1963 to 1975, in connection with the construction of re-entry vehicles like the space shuttle. The original idea was conceived at NASA in 1957, by Dr Alfred J. Eggers, Jr., according to the NASA fact sheet on Lifting Bodies. In any case, these little, fat and fast monoplace gliders were not the best design to carry a team of Japanese handicapped prisoners, in great secrecy, with a load of radioactive materials, hanging under a huge balloon or towed by a C-47 plane, in White Sands in 1947! On the other hand, they did look a bit like certain descriptions of the Roswell UFO by some witnesses, and this is obviously the reason why they are mentioned in Redfern's book.

Balloon and plane: a dubious aeronautical assemblage

Let's quote again the final summary of the second crash, near Roswel:

Two months later, in early July a second and similar vehicle was, once again, flown from White Sands. In this particular instance, the aircraft was affixed to a huge balloon array that was based upon advanced Fugo balloon designs developed in the closing stages of WW II by Japanese forces. The aircraft was piloted by a crew of Japanese personnel who had been specifically trained for the task and crashed near the Foster Ranch after being catastrophically struck by lightning.

There is an obvious objection, from the start, to this second scenario. The risk that the damnable experiment with war prisoners would be exposed publicly would have been even higher, especially if the huge Fugo balloon cluster (much bigger than the Mogul balloon train with its small weather balloons) drifted in the wind to an undesirable place. What about the risk of a crash landing in a populated area? But the experimenters were lucky: the balloon and craft, in the Redfern scenario, landed in the rather desertic area of Roswell. However, such a strange assemblage, with the alleged huge balloons and a weird plane attached to them, would have been almost impossible to hide from curious eyes in the White Sands area.

There is a more radical objection to this story, which is how clumsy and dangerous such an experiment would have been, from the mere aeronautical point of view. The idea of attaching a fast little plane to a huge balloon cluster is like trying to mate a carp and a rabbit! At the beginning of the debate on UFO Updates, Robert Durant, former airline pilot and flight instructor, raised that question, but Nick Redfern avoided it. The scenario of the crash seems also very acrobatic. According to Redfern and his mysterious informers, the craft and balloon (which were supposed to go to a very high altitude, for tests of "mutation") were caught in a storm and struck by lightning. But physicist Bruce Maccabee argued that, faced with such a dangerous situation, any pilot would have avoided it by separating his plane from the balloon, which was not the case in the Redfern's story.

In the Redfern scenario, a part of the disabled plane and, presumably, most of the balloons, were torn away in the storm, together with one of the Japanese who was ejected from the craft. They fell and landed together on the Foster Ranch, while the main body of the craft, carrying the rest of the crew, crashed some twenty miles farther away, where it was later retrieved secretely by the White Sands people. How could one of the members of the crew cling to a piece of the plane and balloons, all the way to the ground, remains unclear. But they were tough fellows, said the "Colonel": "they were fierce, proud little bastards"!

Balloon and aircraft debris still easy to identify, like for Mogul

In this new explanation of Roswell, we find again the problem, like in the Mogul story, of the people of Roswell not being able to identify a balloon, or balloon cluster. This question is now aggravated by adding the wreckage of a small craft, either wooden or metallic, or even a fragment of it. The argument of balloons made of aluminium coated polyethylene, put forward by Redfern in his book, could not explain at all the description of the very strong foil, impossible to tear and yet scattered in a multitude of small jagged pieces like the result of a violent explosion. In addition, they were impossible to burn. They just don't correspond to a balloon enveloppe.

In the debate on UFO Updates, David Rudiak pressed Nick Redfern with embarrassing critiques about the debris, as he had done previously on Mogul. Then, Redfern came-up suddenly with a new finding from his informers: he learned that, for the Roswell flight, aluminium foil, or "chaffe" had been used, as a test to confuse radars. So, this new, providential, element would explain the aluminium-like foil found on the Foster ranch! However, there was no logical reason to hide the flight on radar. On the contrary, there was every reason to track it. Besides, in the scenario of an accident in a big storm, the aluminium foil would have been scattered over a very wide area, not just on the debris field of the Foster ranch. Anyway, this aluminium foil, like the one used for cigarette wrapping, was very mundane, and did not fit either to the descriptions on the witnesses.

A major contradiction: the horrible secret revealed byÖ secret agents!

The curious informers of Nick Redfern, since 1996

There are, in fact, two big contradictions in the book. We have just seen the first one. Human irradiation experiments were made but are no longer secret. So, why maintain such secrecy?

The "Japanese angle" of horrible bio-warfare experiments does not hold. Secondly, why would a whole group of secret agents reveal the "horrible secret" to hide at all costs - to a mere ufologist like Nick Redfern, expecting that he would publish it, and actually encouraging him to do so? One of them, "Levine", who was his first informer, in 1996, asked him to keep the story until the end of the year 2000!

One of the most questionable aspect of the Redfern's story is that all his informers were, one way or another, linked to secret services, in Great Britain and in the Unites States. Here they are, in chronological order:

In August 1996, in London, Mr "Levine" , is an agent of the Home Office. His colleagues are Mr "T", intelligence agent at the MOD, and Mr "D", a CIA "operative". They show him a long version of the "Autopsy film", first released a year before.

In Jly 2001, in Los Angeles, an old woman whom he calls the "Black Widow", approaches him at the end of a conference. She says that she worked on "special projects" in Oak Ridge, from the mid-1940s to the early 1950s.

The crucial year seems to be 2003, with:

- The "Colonel", in November 2003. He is the main informer. He said that he had "spent fifteen years operating deep within the heart of American intelligence. In 1969, he found a top secret document at the Defense Intelligence Agency which "laid to rest the tales about flying saucers and alien bodies recovered from the desert of New Mexico in the summer of 1947 and told the true story about the Roswell events";

- "Bill Salter", in December 6, 2003. He is a former employee of the Psychological Strategy Board. He met in Oak Ridge "a man employed in a covert intelligence position", who had "previously worked for the Central Intelligence Group" (CIG). Salter had also been informed by an "old friend from DOE";

-Al Barker, in December 9, 2003. He worked for the Psychological Warfare Center (PWC) in Fort Bragg.

There is a remarkable coincidence here. Three separate informers approached Redfern, separately, in less than two months at the end of 2003, and told him the same story! This does suggest a concerted plan to inform, or rather to disinform him.

The risk of disinformation

In the debate on "UFO Updates", the question of possible disinformation has been raised, as could be expected. Redfern admitted that it was a possibility but doubted it for several reasons. Firstly, according to him, there has been, indeed, a lot of disinformation, but in the opposite direction: it was all aimed at propagating false tales of UFO crashes, in Roswell but also in other places such as the Aztec case. And this long lasting program of disinformation was implemented just to hide the horrible experiments in White Sands!

In fact, the history of ufology in the United States shows, on the contrary, a hard line of denial of UFOs in general, and especially of UFO crashes. Just look at the Roswell case, and the two big books of the Air Force against the UFO crash, in 1995 and 1997. Roswell was buried as soon as July 9, 1947, and for thirty years, with a ridicule explanation of confusion with a weather balloon. The case surfaced again, slowly, toward the end of the seventies, when independant researchers began finding witnesses. And, obviously, the intelligence services were not glad about it.

However, Redfern goes even farther. He quotes Mr "T", intelligence agent at the MOD, as telling him that disinformation tales "centered on three key issues:

1) accounts of crashed UFOs and the recovery of alien bodies;

2) stories concerning underground bases in New Mexico that had been taken over by hostile alien forces;

3) tales of "alien-induced animal mutilation".

It is true that there has been a subtle line of "amplifying disinformation", as the French study group Cometa called it in its report. A well known example is the disinformation fed to engineer Paul Bennewitz in the 80s, revealed by Bill Moore who had participated in it secretly. This is the second point cited by agent "T", the story of the alleged alien base in Dulce, New Mexico, which has been exposed in great detail in another recent book, Project Beta of Greg Bishop. But a wrong information may be launched to hide a true one, of the same kind! As for the "tales" of cattle mutilations linked to UFOs, the true story is exactly the contrary: there has been continuous efforts by all official agencies to deny such stories! That claim of Mr "T" is blatantly false.

A second reason for not being disinformed, pleaded Redfern, is the convergence of independent informers, telling the same story, and of documents revealing certain aspects similar to his story. Yes, several informers told him the same story of prisoners from Unit 731: Mr Levine in 1996, the Colonel in November 2003 , Bill Salter on December 6, 2003, and Al Barker three days later!. But this story is false, and this convergence raises on the contrary the question of a kind of concerted disinformation.

As for the documents, the exemple already mentioned of the "Sunshine" and "Body Snatchers" program, shows the weakness of the argument. It was not related at all to the alleged experiments in White Sands, and the same can be said of other documents quoted in the book. Actually, there is not one piece of documentation sustaining the story.

Redfern also argues that he was not a good target at all for such an action, because he has been semi-retired from active ufology during recent years. But this argument is not very convincing, as the American researcher Brad Sparks pointed out on UFO Updates, showing a long list of his participations in conferences, and articles published in recent years.


In all, the hypothesis of an operation of disinformation seems quite plausible. This a very dubious story, for which I have not found any credible evidence in the book of Nick Redfern. A book which may start again the polemics and confusion about Roswell. But, in my opinion, the hypothesis of a UFO crash in Roswell still holds.




(1) Nick Redfern, Body Snatchers in the Desert. The Horrible Truth at the Heart of the Roswell Story, Paraview Pocket Books, Simon & Schuster, New York, NY, 2005

(2) Nick Redfern, Cosmic Crashes. The incredible story of the UFOs that fell to Earth, Simon & Schuster U.K., London, 1999

(3) Linda Corley, "For the sake of my country", MUFON 2000 International UFO Symposium proceedings

(4) Descriptions of these properties and the shape and size of the debris field from various people can be read for instance at the web site of David Rudiak:

(5) From the web at

(6) Peter Williams and David Wallace, Unit 731: Japan's Secret Biological Warfare in World war II, London, Hodder & Stoughton Ltd.,1989

(7) Saburo Ienaga, The Pacific War, 1931-1945, Iwanami Shoten Publishers, Tokyo, 1968. (American edition by Pantheon Books, Random House, New York, 1978)

(8) Quote from the text: "Unit 731. A half century of denial", at

(cited by Jan Aldrich in a message of June 22 on the list UFO Updates)

(9) UFO UpDates, August 25, 2005, "Incredible Story Backs Redfern's Roswell Theory"

See the List archives at

(10) For "lifting bodies", see at:

(11) Greg Bishop, Project Beta, Paraview Pocket Books, New York, 2005

The Truth About Roswell

I donít know if this story is true. All I can say is, it sounds plausible to me. I got it second hand, and the person who told me about it has since died. (In a very strange manner, but thatís another story.)

According to my informant, whom I will call Bill, his uncle had served as a surgeon in the U.S. Army from 1942 until 1952, when he retired and went into private medical practice. I never learned Billís uncleís real name, but I will call him Captain Malone. That was his rank in 1947, when he was stationed in Roswell, New Mexico.

Bill himself was told the story many years after the fact, when Captain Malone was in a nursing home dying of emphysema and still smoking whenever he had the chance. Bill said his uncle had never been the same man after events at Roswell. He carried a load of guilt with him all his life, but he had to tell at least one person before he died.

I am going to relate this story in the first person, as if I am Bill talking to my uncle. This is almost word for word the way I heard it.

* * * *

"You may think you know what really happened at Roswell," my uncle said. He coughed again.

Is There a Roswell Paperclip Connection?

At the end of World War II, members of the U.S. Army, eager to exploit captured rocket technology, played host to a collection of German technicians and scientists under the auspices of Project Paperclip. This eagerness allowed the Army project to overlook Presidential orders forbidding the employment of any German scientist still faithful to the Nazi cause. Indeed, during the war, some of these scientists had not even worked on rockets, but on human endurance experiments. In one instance, chambers were built to mimic high altitude conditions, and Jewish prisoners were used as test subjects. Many of these subjects died as a result.

Interestingly, one of the scientists protected by Project Paperclip was Albertus Strughold. Strughold's past indicated a connection with Dachau prison camp experiments on human beings. His researches as part of Project Paperclip included retooling wartime experiments into a new field called space medicine.

These facts have been established by Linda Hunt in her book, Secret Agenda. Hunt details the questionably legal maneuvers Paperclip organizers orchestrated to secure and protect certain German scientists who might otherwise be characterized as war criminals because of their wartime activities. What is most disturbing about Hunt's research is the project's willingness to let certain scientists continue with "research" originally conducted at concentration camps.

One cannot help wonder, then, at the timing of the advent of space medicine and the so-called UFO crash at Roswell. Is it possible that the incident was a space medicine experiment gone awry? Was the UFO a V-2 specially modified to carry a passenger or two?

According to Kevin Randle and Don Schmitt, no V-2 launches or malfunctions jibe with the Roswell crash time frame. However, would a space medicine launch be logged through the same channels as a rocket test? Could it be that a V-2 was designated as a space medicine test and not a flight test? It is one thing to simulate the effects of high altitude and g-force and quite another to produce the real conditions. Since the launch facilities were already available at White Sands, it would make sense to conduct the experiment there.

So what if this were true? Why would the cover up continue over fifty years later? A couple of brave soldiers died in an effort to put man into space. Certainly America and the world could understand and accept such risk taking. But what if they weren't soldiers?

Remember, some space medicine was derived from human experimentation conducted in German concentration camps. The Nazis regarded the Jews as disposable citizens. Perhaps the subjects of their post war efforts were also "disposable."

Now this may seem alarming, but fifty years ago even America was not consistently responsive to the mentally ill or the developmentally handicapped. As indicated above, if the Paperclip coordinators were willing to overlook Presidential orders prohibiting behavior tantamount to war crimes, is it so tough to believe they might agree to using folks then inhumanely considered a burden to society?

Of course this is speculation of the utmost nature. It is a thought problem spurred by the Air Force's [remember, it was part of the Army within this overall time frame] many and varied explanations for the Roswell crash. You see, if you give multiple answers, you're bound to get some of it to stick, even if it isn't the truth. This also suggests that the real story is yet to be revealed.

But what, other than the crash of an alien spaceship, would require hiding? A human rights violation so heinous that its exposure would damage America's credibility worldwide and perhaps cause its allies to choose a new partner.

But you donít. Nobody does, because the Government has done a really great job of disinformation. Do you know what disinformation is? Itís the same thing a stage magician does, when he gets the audience to watch his right hand (Nothing up my sleeve!) when he is actually doing something with his left hand, or with his foot, or maybe itís his assistant off to one side whoís doing something.

I was attached to General LeMayís SAC bomber squadron at Roswell, the only nuclear strike force in the World at the time. On July 2, 1947, I had just got back from a long training flight. As flight surgeon, I was supposed to monitor the crewís vital signs and make sure they were in good health. I was also supposed to watch out for possible radiation exposure. In other words, there wasnít a hell of a lot to do on those flights. They were long, boring, and usually exhausting.

When we landed at Roswell, I heard something was up. There was word about some kind of accident, and I was asked to remain on standby rather than leave the base. I didnít find that strange, since that sort of thing happens all the time in the Service. But next day, all Hell broke loose.

Now, there are generally speaking two divergent viewpoints about the incidents at Roswell. There is the Right Wing and the Left Wing. The Right Wingers believe everything the official stories tell them, no matter how many times the stories change. It was all a hoax or a mistake, or some kind of helium balloon and so on.

The Left Wingers all think the Government is flat-out lying, and it was a flying saucer that crashed in the desert, maybe two or three of them. Gotta be Aliens from outer space, or why all the secrecy?

It never seems to occur to anyone that maybe the Left Wing and the Right Wing are both wrong."

The Captain had to pause for awhile to breath some O2. He seemed to take a few minutes to gather his recollections and think about what he was telling me.

Do you remember that movie, 'Alien Autopsy'? It was on Fox TV a few years ago. Big news story for awhile. It was being promoted by that Brit producer, Santilli, who claimed he got the film from a former Army photographer. It was supposed to be a documentary of an autopsy of a space alien, one of the Roswell crash victims.

Well, oddly enough, the Right Wing and the Left Wing (at least most of the Left Wing) both agree on one opinion: that the film is a fake. The Right Wingers believe itís a fake because there are no space aliens. The Left Wingers doubt it mainly because the corpse on the table doesnít look exactly like what they think an alien should look like.

Now, I canít swear to it one way or the other, since I wasnít there when the film was made. But I donít see any reason to think itís fake. Based on what I saw, itís either an authentic film, or itís a good re-enactment.

But it doesnít have anything to do with space aliens.

At this point, Captain Malone said he wasnít feeling well and needed to take a break. I promised to come back as soon as possible, but it wasnít till more than a week later that I found the time. Fortunately, he was having a good day next time I saw him. He took up the story exactly where he had left off.

"Now remember," he said, "this was in 1947. "Do you know what else was going on in 1947? Most Americans even today have a lot of denial about what their own government has been doing ever since World War II. Have you read any history at all? If you have, you must know that the U.S. Government imported a lot of Nazi rocket scientists from Germany to work on the space program, even before the War was over".

What is less well known is that we also imported some Nazi doctors who had been running experiments in concentration camps. That was when the U.S. started getting involved in the same nasty business. Fact is, thereís a long list of things we have done to our own citizens without their knowledge or consent. Truman authorized the CIA in 1947. He said later that was the biggest mistake he ever made.

The CIA carried out experiments giving huge doses of LSD and other drugs to our own military. They tried out poison gas on our own sailors and dropped supposedly harmless bacteria in the New York subway. They injected people with plutonium to see what would happen, they let people die of syphilis, they tested atomic bombs in Nevada knowing the fallout would land on Americans. I could go on and on, but you know what Iím talking about. Agent Orange, depleted uranium.

Of course, our Government doesnít do things like that, does it? Only the bad guys, like the Nazis and the Commies do stuff like that. You know not one individual has ever faced criminal charges for doing those things.

Now, think about what happened at Roswell, New Mexico in 1947. Anyone should be able to figure it out. Except that the Government did such a masterpiece of misdirection. I was there myself, I saw what happened, and it even took me some time to figure it out.

You know what had occurred only a few days before. June 24, Mt Rainier, Washington: Kenneth Arnold reports seeing nine objects shaped like flying wings and moving faster than anything else in the air at the time. It was a slow news day, so the wire services made a big deal out of them. Suddenly, flying saucers were all over the newspapers and magazines and on the radio. You know TV didnít come along until about a year later, when the first sets with their one-inch screens started showing up in stores. But of course the military was already using it in a few secret projects.

The point is, everybody was having jitters about flying saucers. Nobody was sure what they were Ė maybe a Russian secret weapon stolen from the Nazis, maybe an American device. The War was less than two years past. Not many were talking Outer Space as yet.

Now, Major Marcel was not in the loop. He was a lower level intelligence officer with SAC. So obviously no one had clued him in on any top secret projects or experiments that might be going on a few miles away at White Sands. So he made a natural mistake. There were no markings or insignia. He didnít know the wreckage belonged to us.

I was supposed to get a day off after that long training flight. But then reports started coming in of a crash in the desert, with casualties. I was one of the first people to get there, to view the bodies. There were two of them, wearing blue uniforms without any kind of markings. The bodies looked pretty much like the one in that autopsy film.

The wreckage looked something like a flying wing, like what Arnold described. It wasnít a balloon, nor was it an aircraft. I good a good look at it. It was a glider.

Here my uncle took another break, to rest for a few minutes. I suspect he really just wanted to give me time to stew over that last statement and its implications. When he was ready to start talking again, he sounded sure of what he was telling me.

Marcel jumped the gun. He put out a press release saying we had found a Ďflying disc.í He believed it was probably some kind of Russian experiment. I made arrangements to get the bodies back to the base immediately, rather than leave them out in the desert any longer. Someone else on the staff telephoned a local civilian undertaker to order coffins. The bodies were all under five feet tall, so we needed a special size casket. I got ready to do some blood tests and examinations prior to autopsy.

Then the next day, the Brass came down like a ton of, well, brass. Maximum security. Marcel had to retract the news release. Suddenly the base was swamped with special Project people, who started fanning out to talk to civilians, getting them to clam up somehow. I was ordered to go nowhere near the casualties again, or look at the wreckage, or even think about it. It never happened. Everything got carted off to Wright Patterson, where I guess that film was made.

Now, can you figure out what this was all about? You might come close if you read the official explanations. The first story was the weather balloon. Of course no one believed that. Years later, they had to change the story once or twice. Whatís interesting is that the official releases were all somewhat close to the truth, close enough to be plausible, but not too close.

There was Project Mogul. That really existed. It was a high altitude balloon project that didnít have anything to do with weather predicting. Only problem about that, someone double checked and found out there was no Mogul launch for about two weeks before the Roswell incident.

Then they had to come up with an explanation for the small bodies. Easy: We were using crash test dummies dropped from balloons. Witnesses saw the dummies, thought they were real. They really did drop dummies out of airplanes, but not for several years after Roswell.

What was really clever about these stories was that they all had elements of fact in them. But not too many facts. At the same time, Disinformation was at work. The intelligence people were secretly encouraging stories about aliens and flying saucers. Phony information was leaked to people they knew would talk. The alien story wouldnít go away. It got so deeply imbedded in folk legend that when that Alien Autopsy film was released, the public could consider only two possible explanations: Hoax or space ships.

What made the Governmentís job easier was that no one even wanted to think about the obvious explanation.

"Do you want to think about it, Bill? Have you figured it out yet?"

The Captain put his hands on his knees and sat staring at me for a minute, till I began to feel uncomfortable. I had to admit that, no, I had not figured it out, despite all the clues he had given me. He sighed.

People want to think that weíre always the good guys. Not like those Nazi scientists, who carry out experiments on human beings."

It was my turn to sit and stare for a minute.

"You mean, those small bodies wereÖ"

"Crash test dummies," he said. "Live ones." Then he gave a little shrug.

Well, not that they crashed on purpose. That wasnít the intent. The reason for the experiment was to find out what happens when humans are exposed to high altitude conditions for a long period. You remember those Nazi scientists who were running the space program? Prior to 1947, not many humans had visited the stratosphere. A V2 rocket could only get up there for a few minutes. We were still flying in Mustangs and B-29ís. The only way to get to that altitude for any length of time was in a balloon with a pressurized cabin.

The scientists were worried about things like cosmic rays, solar radiation, and meteors. They also wanted to see how much of a shield a pilot would need from a nuclear power plant Ė they were already thinking about atomic rockets and so forth.

So they started sending volunteers up in high altitude balloons, in gondolas with radioactive isotopes aboard. The gondolas themselves were really balloon-launched gliders, shaped like flying wings. They were light weight, but made of high-tech plastics developed by the Nazis during the war. The idea was, when it was time to bring the volunteers back down, the gondola would be released and guided down by remote control. It could glide for hundreds of miles and land anywhere in the desert.

But the part I didnít like Ė and the reason this has all been kept secret since 1947 Ė was where they were finding their volunteers. Of course they didnít want to risk an expensive and highly trained test pilot. There was hardly any training necessary. And of course, they wanted people with small bodies that didnít weigh much Ė and most important, people who would never be missed.

They were easy to find. In those days, people with severe disabilities or birth defects and no money or family didnít have too many options. They could join a carnival and be in the freak show, they could beg in the streets. Or they could spend their lives in a State-run charity home.

I believe these volunteers were recruited from all three sources. I think some of them were mentally retarded as well as physically impaired. When that Autopsy Film came out, there was speculation about Turnerís Syndrome. I donít know, that might have been one of the problems. There used to be a lot of birth defects, from drug use and industrial chemicals. I heard one of the volunteers had a mother who used to work in a radium dial watch factory.

Canít you imagine the recruiterís sales pitch? You donít have to spend the rest of your life in this place after all. You can have a real job, become a test pilot, and help your country. Plus a good salary and medical benefits. Just sign here. Of course, no one must know. This is Top Secret. Whoever was running the Poor Farm wasnít about to object.

I interrupted the Captain to ask him about some peculiar things I remembered seeing in the Alien Autopsy film.

Those strange looking internal organs, you mean? They were not organs. Iím not sure exactly what they were. You may remember that the body on the table had no belly button. The reason was that it had been removed in a previous surgical operation, to insert an implant. I believe it was a sponge containing a drug or chemical, but Iím not sure of its purpose. On the other hand, it may have been a tumor. And then of course there were the contact lens implants, that were supposed to protect against UV.

You may recall the film showing wreckage parts. There was the ĎIí beam, clearly stamped "VIDEO TV." And the metal plates designed to fit six fingered hands. They were not control devices, they didnít have any switches attached. Their only function was to contact the volunteerís hands, so they could read data like temperature, pulse rate and skin resistance. If the volunteer failed to touch the plates on command, it would mean either he was no longer conscious, or the equipment had failed. In which case the gondola would be automatically released and flown down.

Iím not sure exactly what happened on the first of July. I know there had been an electrical storm. I think that may have damaged the balloons and screwed up their guidance equipment. I believe there were several different craft in the air at the same time. I know there were at least two separate crashes.

But no one at SAC had a clue. We were not part of the Project. Major Marcel took one look at the wreckage and thought, "Unconventional Aircraft." He immediately connected it in his mind with those flying saucer stories that were all over the country. He jumped the gun by putting out a press release.

Next day, of course, Washington came down hard and clamped the lid on. I had one good look at the bodies and the wreck, then the Professionals took over. And they made it clear to everybody that if we ever talked about it, weíd all be in deep doo-doo.

So now you know why they destroyed all the records from Roswell for that year. Removed every bit of wreckage, shredded every memo and telegram. Sometimes I wonder if they would have terminated everyone on the base, if they hadnít thought they need SAC. It wasnít because of interplanetary aliens. It was because they didnít want the public to find out what they had done.

My uncle stared off into the distance. By now he was out of breath.

"Sometimes I wonder," he said, "if they learned anything useful from that experiment."

And thatís about all that Bill had to tell me. If this story has upset or offended you, I can only say I hope itís not true. Personally, Iíd prefer to believe in Space Aliens.