Roswell UFO incident
The Roswell UFO incident is a purported crash of an unidentified flying object (UFO) in Roswell, New Mexico, USA in 1947.
Reports of an alien spacecraft being struck by lightning and crashing late at night in early July, 1947, near Roswell,
Originally reported in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram and confirmed by military officials as authentic, the report was later refuted by the military and the crash remains were claimed to be nothing more than a weather balloon.
Renowned aviation artist Tony Weddel has depicted the moments before the crash by capturing the object as an alien spacecraft in the initial stages of its death throes. In freefall, moments after being hit by a lightning upstroke, debris can already be seen in the slipstream. Seconds later it would careen off the desert floor on the way to its final resting place. Shedding debris from a fatal wound, its struggle for survival and the lives of seven aliens purportedly ended 40 miles later when it slammed into the wall of an arroyo. The unusual appearance of the UFO is based on various eyewitness accounts and other sources.
On July 8, 1947, the US Army Air Forces at Roswell Army Air Field announced the recovery of a "flying disk". Within hours, higher command in Fort Worth, Texas, officially declared it was the remains of a weather balloon. Thirty years later, Roswell intelligence officer Jesse Marcel confessed the crash of a UFO (flying saucer then). Three UFO researcher teams (Moore/Berlitz, Randle/Schmitt, Friedman/Berliner) confirmed Marcel's testimony on the basis of a great number of witnesses. In 1994, Congress carried out an archive search for documents possibly related to the incident, with no results except for an FBI telegram and Roswell AAF documents regarding the period 1947 – 1949 were missing and the obligatory documentation on their deletion not found. The US Air Force counterintelligence branch simultaneously conducted an archive search and claimed "no indication" of a UFO crash but "most probably" a crash of a Project Mogul balloon train. In 1997, the USAF repeated this result, added that reports of alien bodies were caused by faulty witness memory of later aviation experiments, and "Case Closed". UFO researchers criticized this as unfounded and incorrect. The dispute goes on.
Overview: The story as reported in 1947 and the controversy
On June 24, 1947, pilot Kenneth Arnold reported seeing disc- or saucer-shaped objects flying at high speed near Mt. Rainier in Washington state. In the days thereafter, hundreds of reports of the new "flying saucers" (or "flying disks") appeared in newspapers across the United States.
During the first week of July 1947, rancher William "Mack" Brazel discovered a large amount of unusual debris scattered widely over his ranch about 75 miles northwest of Roswell. Neighbors told him about the new "flying disk" phenomenon and suggested he go to Roswell to report his find. Brazel informed the local sheriff in Roswell, George Wilcox, that he may have found a "flying disk" and Wilcox then contacted the local USAAF airbase in Roswell. The base commander, Colonel William Blanchard, sent his head Intelligence Officer, Major Jesse Marcel, with the head of the Roswell Army Counterintelligence Corps, Sheridan Cavitt, to investigate. Marcel and Cavitt went with Brazel to his ranch, retrieved some of the debris and returned with it to the Roswell base on the evening of July 7. Some debris was later flown to Wright Field in Dayton, Ohio, home of the USAAF's aeronautical research labs.
Press releases and news
The next afternoon, July 8, Col. Blanchard issued an official USAAF press release from Roswell reporting that a "flying disk" had been found "sometime last week" by a local rancher and that it had been recovered by the Intelligence Office at the base for transfer to "higher headquarters". United Press also reported that residents near the ranch saw "a strange blue light several days ago about 3 a.m." The press release caused a media feeding frenzy and phone lines into New Mexico and the Pentagon in Washington D.C. became jammed as reporters clamored for more details.
Within an hour of the release, the head of the Eighth Air Force in Fort Worth, Texas, Brigadier General Roger Ramey, began changing the story. The object retrieved was now a weather balloon with "hexagonal" radar target attachment. He would later describe it on the radio as "remnants of a tin foil-covered box kite and a rubber balloon" and denied there were any identification markings or instruments found with it.
United Press also reported that Ramey said, "he couldn't let anybody look at the thing or photograph it because Washington had clamped a 'security lid' on all but the sketchiest details." However, he thought it was "...nothing to get excited about. It looks to me like the remnant of a weather balloon and a radar reflector." He said he would bring in a weather officer to confirm this. Soon after, a weather officer was summoned to make the identification official. Ramey had pictures taken of the weather balloon and radar target displayed in his office, which he said was the recovered Roswell debris.
Gen. Ramey also had Major Marcel make a statement for the press. Instead of the object being found "sometime last week" in the original press release, Marcel was quoted by Associated Press as saying the object was found "3 weeks previously" (or mid-June). Further, when Brazel first found the debris he "bundled the tinfoil and broken wooden beams of the kite and the torn synthetic rubber remains of the balloon together and rolled it under some brush." When Brazel first learned of the "flying disks" on Saturday night, July 5, he "hurried home, dug up the remnants of the kite balloon on Sunday, and Monday headed for Roswell to report his find to the Sheriff's office." (AP story)
While the new date of discovery agreed with Brazel's account a few hours later of first finding the debris on June 14, it conflicted sharply with his story of when and how he collected it: "At the time Brazel was in a hurry to get his round made and he did not pay much attention to it. ...on July 4 he ...went back to the spot and gathered up quite a bit of the debris."
Inconsistent accounts and cover stories
Marcel and Ramey's then chief of staff, Brigadier General Thomas Dubose (ret.), would later claim that the weather balloon was a cover story to get the press off their backs. Gen. Dubose, in fact, stated he personally received the order from Washington to start the cover-up. Both said they were acting under Ramey's orders when they made statements to the press about the object being a weather device. Supporting this to some extent was another quote attributed to Marcel from 1947 by AP saying that the balloon debris was "scattered over a square mile," inconsistent with the small amount of balloon material that was publicly displayed. Another quote inconsistent with what was shown oddly came from Ramey himself, who was quoted by the Washington Post, United Press, Associated Press, and others saying that the "box kite" covered with foil would have been "about 25 feet in diameter" if reconstructed.
Gen. Ramey also had one of his intelligence officers, Major Kirton, make statements on his behalf, starting about two hours after the initial press release. Kirton changed Ramey's 25-foot "box kite" to the balloon being "20 feet" in size when speaking to the Dallas FBI office and Reuters news agency. Kirton also told both the FBI and Dallas Morning News that the object was a weather balloon and attached radar reflector. However, he told the Morning News that the identification was definite and the flight to Wright Field was cancelled. (Morning News story) Contradicting the public statement, the FBI was instead told that the object was still being transported to Wright Field. Wright Field also stated that they disagreed with the weather balloon assessment. (FBI telegram) ABC News also contacted Wright Field and was told by officials there that they expected "the so-called flying saucer to be delivered there, but that it hasn't arrived as yet." (ABC News radio broadcast)
After Ramey brought in a weather officer for definitive identification, the weather balloon story became official three hours after the first press release of a "flying disk" from Roswell base. Soon after this, Brazel showed up in Roswell at the local newspaper for an interview. Two reporters at the scene later related he was accompanied by military officers. The base provost marshal, Col. Edwin Easley, likewise later confirmed that they were holding Brazel at the base. (A number of other witnesses also testified to seeing Brazel in military hands or hearing him complain bitterly afterwards about his treatment by the military.) Initially Brazel seemed to be describing a balloon crash of some kind. According to the story published the next day, Brazel said he found five pounds of “rubber strips, tinfoil, a rather tough paper, and sticks. ... Considerable Scotch tape and some tape with flowers printed upon it had been used in its construction... The balloon which held it up, if that was how it worked, must have been about 12 feet long, he felt... The rubber was smoky gray in color and scattered over an area about 200 yards in diameter.”
But at the end of his interview, Brazel seemingly recanted his earlier balloon description stating that, "...he had previously found two weather balloons on the ranch, but that what he found this time did not in any way resemble either of these. 'I am sure that what I found was not any weather observation balloon, but if I find anything else besides a bomb they are going to have a hard time getting me to say anything about it.'" Also contradicting the initial balloon story, Brazel said at the start of his interview that he "whispered" to Sheriff Wilcox that "he might have found a flying disk." (Roswell Daily Record, July 9, 1947) (However, some skeptics argue that there was no contradiction since Brazel allegedly found a different type of balloon device from the weather balloons he had previously found.)
Sheriff Wilcox was also quoted in other stories. According to United Press Wilcox claimed that Brazel came in saying that he thought he had found a "weather meter." This contradicted Brazel's denial that he had found any type of weather balloon and he instead told Wilcox that maybe he had found a "flying disk." Wilcox did say that Brazel also said the object "more or less seemed like tinfoil" and was about 3 feet across. However, when Associated Press asked Wilcox for more details about the object's description, they reported he declined to elaborate saying "I'm working with those fellows at the base." Various Wilcox family members would later claim that he was threatened by the military.
A number of UFO researchers charge that the change in the military's story from flying saucer to weather balloon was disinformation and that the U.S. government was withholding or suppressing information. Whether Ramey showed the actual debris and whether Brazel and Marcel's newspaper statements accurately describe what was actually discovered remain highly contentious to this day in debates between advocates and skeptics. Also hotly debated is whether there really was a cover-up and whether some witnesses like Brazel and Wilcox were coerced.
Later stories of strange debris
Beyond dispute is that a number of military and civilian witnesses, including Marcel, Dubose, and Brazel's son, gave very different accounts of the events and debris many years later, reviving interest in the case. Instead of flimsy weather balloon material, the debris allegedly possessed highly anomalous physical properties. Some material resembled dull aluminum or lead foil yet, when crumpled, straightened back up leaving no creases or wrinkles. Other debris bore some resemblance to balsa wood in lightness and color. But like the foil material, witnesses claimed that it could not be burned, cut, or otherwise damaged. All debris was said to be extremely light in weight. Some, including metallic-looking "I-beams," was said to be covered with strange writing or "hieroglyphics." witness debris descriptions.
Stories of a "disc" craft and alien bodies
Even more controversial than the debris descriptions were stories to emerge later of an intact "disc" and even alien bodies being recovered, primarily second-hand accounts from friends and family members of those involved, such as the Wilcox family. Not surprisingly, no mention of bodies was made in newspaper accounts from 1947. If anything, Gen. Ramey made a big point that the object was "too lightly constructed to have carried anyone" and "scoffed at the possibility that the object could have been piloted." However, it is pointed out that another of Ramey's 1947 statements of the foil-covered "box kite" (or radar target) being about 25 feet across if reconstructed would be consistent with later testimony from two eyewitnesses of seeing a damaged craft about 25 feet in size. (One of Ramey's intelligence officers later changed this to the balloon holding up the radar target being 20 feet across, such as in the FBI Roswell telegram, yet another inconsistency in the new story being put out from Fort Worth).
There is also a current contention that the telegram held by Gen. Ramey while being photographed with the weather balloon does speak specifically of "the 'disc'" and "the victims of the wreck" . However, some skeptics claim the text is not clear enough to be read with any certainty. The USAF similarly claimed in their 1994 summary report that they had submitted the message to a photo analysis lab of "a national level organization" and then claimed that nothing could be read. However, the Air Force has never identified the organization nor provided the actual report of the lab to document their claim, despite prolonged efforts to obtain this information using FOIA.
Decline of interest
The Roswell Incident briefly received national and even international attention in 1947, but after it was reported that the crash was of a weather balloon and not a "flying disk", the event faded from public view for over 30 years as most people simply took the government's word at face value. It did, however, occasionally receive passing mention, such as in a special article on UFOs published in Look magazine in 1967.
The Roswell incident received little mainstream attention until 1978, when researchers Stanton T. Friedman and William L. Moore compared notes from a series of interviews each had conducted independently.
Lydia Sleppy and Jesse Marcel interviews
Friedman and Moore interviewed Lydia Sleppy, a teletype operator who worked at an Albuquerque, New Mexico, radio station in 1947, and United States Air Force Lt. Colonel Jesse A. Marcel (ret.), chief intelligence officer at Roswell base in 1947. Sleppy claimed that the FBI had stopped their teletype story of "the crashed flying disk with bodies" from being transmitted after a Roswell radio reporter had phoned in the story. Marcel reported gathering highly unusual materials near Brazel's ranch, which he said were "not of this Earth." He was then ordered to fly the recovered debris to Wright Field, first stopping in Fort Worth, Texas, to see Brigadier General Roger Ramey, head of the 8th Air Force there. Marcel also stated that the weather balloon explanation subsequently put out by Gen. Ramey was a cover story.
Brigadier General Arthur Exon testimony
Impressive testimony about the Roswell Incident came from retired Air Force Brigadier General Arthur Exon, as related by ufologists Kevin Randle and Donald Schmitt. In 1947, Exon was stationed at Wright Patterson Air Force Base. In recorded interviews, Exon said that shortly after the reports of the saucer crash, strange material was shipped to Wright Patterson. Though it was very thin and lightweight, Exon said, the metal could not be bent, dented or scorched. He also said he heard reports of bodies being recovered. Further, there was a national level effort to cover the whole thing up and the White House was involved. Exon added, "Roswell was the recovery of a craft from space."Exon's testimony
By 1961, Exon had been promoted to general, and was Wright-Patterson’s base commanding officer from 1964 to 1966. Another statement of Exon's was that other UFO crash recoveries staged out of Wright-Patterson occurred during his tenure as base chief, though he wasn't privy to details. (1965 Kecksburg UFO incident?) However, critics charge that Exon's knowledge was mostly secondhand, as Exon himself stressed in interviews and in a letter to Randle and Schmitt. In order to have access to U.S. government classified information, one must have both the proper level of security clearance as well as a need to know the information. In consequence, Exon was denied access to areas of the base where UFO-related studies were ongoing, and was never officially briefed regarding their findings. Thus it is claimed his reported statements decades later may have reflected rumor or opinion not based on personal knowledge. Against this, he also stressed that he spoke to firsthand witnesses to both the debris and bodies, people he personally knew.
Brigadier General Thomas J. Dubose report
Another report about the events at Roswell came from retired Air Force officer Brigadier General Thomas J. Dubose. In 1947 he was a colonel and Gen. Ramey's chief of staff. In recorded interviews, Dubose said the whole Roswell matter was conducted in the strictest secrecy and even involved the White House. One such secretive event involved a shipment of debris by "colonel courier" from Roswell to Washington D.C., first stopping at Fort Worth. Dubose handled the high-level phone communications and said he personally received the order from Gen. Clemence McMullen in Washington to cover up what happened at Roswell. He said McMullen told him the matter was so highly classified that it went "beyond top secret". He also confirmed Marcel's account that the weather balloon explanation put out by Gen. Ramey was the cover story to get the press off their backs. Dubose affidavit and audio
Adherents to the UFO theory point to other witnesses in the Roswell case. Family and friends of Capt. Oliver Henderson, a senior pilot at Roswell, stated that he told them of flying the remains of a flying saucer to Wright Field and seeing small alien bodies. Lewis Rickett, a member of the Army Counter Intelligence Corp at Roswell base, confirmed that the metallic debris was highly anomalous and that the military engaged in a large and highly secretive recovery operation at the Brazel ranch. Bill Brazel, Jr., Mack Brazel's son, independently corroborated Major Marcel's descriptions of anomalous debris, the large, linear debris field, and his father's finding of the debris after hearing a tremendous explosion. Both Rickett and Brazel, Jr., described what appeared to be a linear impact groove, as did Gen. Exon, who overflew the site later. Brazel, Jr., also said the military detained his father at the base; this seems to have been corroborated by the base provost marshal, Major Edwin Easley. When pressed for details of his involvement, Easley said he had sworn an oath not to talk about what had happened. Family members also claim that on his death bed Easley spoke of the "creatures" at Roswell, though Easley never mentioned this in interviews with researchers.
Project Apollo astronaut Dr. Edgar Mitchell, though not a direct witness, has also stated on numerous occasions that Roswell was a real alien event based on his high-level contacts within the government. "Make no mistake, Roswell happened. I've seen secret files which show the government knew about it—but decided not to tell the public." Mitchell has also spoken about bodies: "A few insiders know the truth . . . and are studying the bodies that have been discovered." St. Petersburg Times article, February 18m 2004
Another high-level, indirect witness was Senator Barry Goldwater, himself a retired Brigadier General in the U.S. Air Force Reserve, a 1964 Presidential nominee, and chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee and the Senate Intelligence Committee. Goldwater many times told the story of trying to get into the area at Wright-Patterson where alien artifacts were rumored to be kept. When he brought the subject up with his good friend General Curtis LeMay, USAF Chief of Staff, Goldwater claimed LeMay swore at him, told him never to bring up the subject again, and finished by saying that even he did not have clearance to get in. Retired Brigadier General Stephen Lovekin (North Carolina State Guard) similarly claimed to have received a Pentagon briefing on a 1947 New Mexico crash when he was a young tech specialist stationed at the White House in the U.S. Army Signal Corps from 1959 to 1961. Those briefed were allegedly shown some of the anomalous debris and were also told that alien bodies were recovered.
Against this, skeptics state that some witnesses, whose testimony at first might have seemed compelling, have since been largely or entirely discredited. A notable recent example was Frank Kaufmann, who claimed to have been a member of an exclusive team in charge of the craft and body recovery. After his death it was found that he had hoaxed documents about the crash and about his background in intelligence
Another important witness whose credentials were recently challenged was Stephen Lovekin. Roswell researcher Kevin Randle originally claimed that he could find no evidence to support Lovekin's rank of brigadier general and also questioned whether he would have been old enough to have served in the White House when he said he did. However, Randle's research has since been shown to be incomplete and some of his statements inaccurate. Documents released by Lovekin and posted at The Disclosure Project website would seem to verify Lovekin's claimed credentials, most importantly having served in the White House Army Signal Agency when he said he did. Documents Randle has since printed a retraction. (Randle's blog) However, it would also be misleading to claim Lovekin as a high-level military witness, since his current brigadier general rank is only in the State Guard. Lovekin retired from active duty in the U.S. Army as only a sergeant.
A further common criticism is that the bulk of testimony on Roswell, particularly on the subject of bodies, is secondhand or even further removed from the actual events. Witnesses like Exon, Goldwater, and Lovekin would largely fall into this category.
Some other witnesses, though thought probably sincere, are contended to suffer from various types of memory distortions such as senility, false memory, or retrospective falsification. Counterarguments are that "faulty memories" are speculative and also not equally applied to witnesses supporting the skeptical point of view.
Counter-intelligence disinformation theory
One contention is that many skeptics are sincere and their skepticism perhaps understandable. However, it is also argued that if a UFO did crash and the matter was highly classified, some very public skepticism would be carefully planted by government counter-intelligence to create disagreement, confusion, and prevent concrete conclusions from being drawn. As part of this, possibly some prominent Roswell hoaxers, people who claimed to be deeply involved but who probably weren't, would be created in order to be later discredited. A good example might be Frank Kaufmann, who also claimed to be a government agent being paid from the outside. It might also explain what are generally thought to be elaborate hoaxes regarding Roswell, such as the 1984 "MJ-12 documents", the 1995 ”alien autopsy”, or a known 1980s Air Force counter-intelligence (AFOSI) "sting” operation directed against an Albuquerque physicist named Paul Bennewitz, Roswell researcher William Moore, and UFO researcher Linda Moulton Howe. Again the intent would be to create confusion, turmoil, and ultimately discredit the case and prominent researchers.
Whatever logic to this theory, it is still speculative, but perhaps supported by circumstantial evidence. The Air Force employed a counter-intelligence team from AFOSI to research and write their 1994 Roswell report, headed by Col. Richard Weaver. Weaver taught propaganda and disinformation courses for AFOSI, but concealed his counter-intelligence background in his "Executive Summary" of the Roswell case. In the 1980s, Pentagon records show he worked under a Col. Barry Hennessey at the Pentagon in the “Department of Special Techniques.” Hennessey's unit has also been identified as the "PJ Branch," or AFOSI/PJ, whose alleged mission is to protect all sensitive classified USAF programs, partly by releasing disinformation to the public through different public media. For example, security for the development of Stealth aircraft was supposed to be in Hennessey’s purview, according to Ufologist Jacques Vallee (in his book Revelations). According to both Moore and Vallee, a Pentagon officer named “Hennessey” was also in charge of the New Mexico AFOSI sting operation, which also disseminated bogus government UFO documents during this period, such as the 1980 “Aquarius document.”
Another example of possible AFOSI meddling in the Roswell case comes from Roswell-based researcher Dennis Balthauser. According to Balthauser, in 1997 the International UFO Museum in Roswell received a phone call from a man claiming to be the son of an MP who had been at the base in 1947. Allegedly his now-dying father had kept a piece of the so-called Roswell “memory foil”, which he wanted to now give to the museum. The father also claimed to have seen an alien walking into the base hospital (one of several such accounts). When Balthauser went to meet the man and his son in Oklahoma on behalf of the museum, he was intercepted by two agents, who identified themselves as being from AFOSI. They told him that now is not the time for this information to become public, and then proceeded to share much other information with Balthauser. To this day, Balthauser is unsure whether the MP and his son even existed, or whether he was deliberately “set up” and then fed a lot of deliberate disinformation. (Balthauser’s account)
A similar incident involving many USAF personnel in the UK in 1980 called the Rendlesham Forest Incident increased the amount of interest in Roswell. Also so did the Kecksburg UFO incident, an alleged military crash recovery at Kecksburg, Pennsylvania, in December 1965. Another crash of an unknown object occurred in Shag Harbor, Nova Scotia, Canada, in October 1967, and involved attempts by the Canadian military to recover the object. The crash object was referred to by several Canadian government agencies, such as the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, as a "UFO". The Height 611 UFO Incident was a 1986 Russian crash with analysis of physical debris. The 1946 European Ghost Rockets involved numerous objects being sighted, crashes reported, military investigations and searches, and debris fragments reported recovered. The official conclusion was that the ghost rockets were real.
1994/95 Air Force Roswell report
Under pressure from a Congressional General Accounting Office (GAO) investigation initiated by New Mexico Congressmen Steven Schiff, the Air Force in 1994/95 presented evidence that the crash was actually that of a lost Project Mogul balloon launched from nearby Alamogordo, New Mexico, whose top secret purpose was long-distance detection of expected future Russian A-bomb tests. The early Mogul balloon arrays consisted of about two dozen rubber weather balloons and sometimes had several attached radar targets, balsa wood kites covered with a foil/paper material, used for tracking. They claimed this fully accounted for the 1947 debris descriptions, particularly rancher Brazel's, and matched the photos taken in General Ramey's office. Furthermore, the balloon arrays could be up to 600 feet in length, and this was said to account for the large size of the debris field reported by Brazel and Marcel. The Air Force declared the "Roswell case" officially closed.
A few weeks before the GAO released its own report in June 1995, columnist Jack Anderson of the Washington Post wrote that GAO investigators didn't believe the Air Force. They were "quietly skeptical about whether the U.S. Air Force told the truth" and were "not satisfied with the Air Force explanation," though they didn't believe the Air Force was covering up a UFO incident. However, one GAO source told Anderson, "...we do believe that something did happen at Roswell... Something big. We don't know if it was a plane that crashed with a nuclear device on it ... or if it was some other experimental situation. But everything we've seen so far points to an attempt on the part of the Air Force to lead anybody that looks at this down another track."
The Air Force based their Mogul theory primarily on interviews with a few surviving Project Mogul personnel and comparing descriptions of the Mogul balloons with statements from witnesses in 1947 and today. In particular, rancher Brazel's mention of "tape with flower patterns" was said to be a perfect match for tape allegedly used in the construction of the radar targets sometimes attached to the balloons.
Critics counter that the report was written by Air Force counterintelligence agents and charge they used classic propaganda techniques of ridicule, selective quotations, and omission of contradictory evidence, such as anomalous debris descriptions or testimony about a cover-up, such as from General Dubose. In fact, Dubose, an important primary witness and one of their own generals, was never mentioned. They also note that the Mogul personnel were not directly involved and have no idea what may or may not have been recovered in the field.
The one primary witness the Air Force did interview was Sheridan Cavitt, the Army Counterintelligence Corp agent who accompanied Major Marcel and rancher Brazel back to the ranch and participated in recovery of the material. The Air Force claimed that Cavitt's balloon testimony also supported their theory. However critics contend that Cavitt's testimony was not credible and actually contradicted the Air Force's Mogul balloon hypothesis. Cavitt claimed to find a balloon crash no bigger than his living room and denied any markings on the debris, including the so-called "flower patterns," claiming stories of such "hieroglyphics" came solely from crashed saucer promoters. Critics charge that Cavitt was merely repeating the original 1947 weather balloon cover story. Cavitt also denied going out with Marcel or ever meeting rancher Brazel. Critics note this begs the question how Cavitt found his tiny balloon crash without Brazel's help. It also directly contradicts Marcel's testimony and 1947 newspaper stories, including a statement by Brazel, that Cavitt was with them. Finally they point out that Cavitt also contradicted himself by telling researchers for years that he wasn't involved in any way and/or not at Roswell at the time.
The Air Force also noted in their 1994/95 report that they deliberately weren't addressing the issue of alien bodies. One justification given was that the crash wreckage was from a Project Mogul balloon which had "no 'alien' passengers therein." Another reason they said was that some of the claims had been shown to be hoaxes or made by anonymous witnesses. Critics of the report note that the first reason is an example of circular reasoning, since the Air Force was using its own unproven explanation as justification for its other conclusion of no bodies being involved. Some witnesses were also clearly not hoaxers or anonymous, a notable example being Gen. Exon, whom the Air Force never interviewed.
1997 Air Force "case closed" report
The USAF argued these 6-foot test dummies from the 1950s closely resembled reports of small alien bodies from the Roswell crash in 1947. However, after initially ridiculing the notion of bodies, the Air Force changed positions and did a follow-up investigation examining possible sources for the reports of bodies. In 1997 they issued another "case closed" report stating that stories of alien bodies were actually distortions of various aviation experiments from the 1950s and 1960s. They claimed to show that the testimony of the people saying they had seen bodies near Roswell was in good agreement with actual events involving crash test dummies dropped from high altitude balloons, aircraft accidents, and a manned balloon accident. The time discrepancy between the 1947 incident and the later period of crash test dummy drops and the accident they said could be accounted for by distortions of memory.
Critics of the 1997 "crash dummies" report note that it is inconsistent with the Air Force's earlier position that there was nothing to the stories of bodies because all witnesses were unreliable. Indeed, some of the witness testimony they relied most heavily on were from the same people strongly suspected of hoaxing. It is also argued that there is no resemblance between the six-foot test-dummies made to human proportions and the descriptions of small, non-human, decomposing bodies. Also the experiments were conducted in areas of New Mexico that were remote from Brazel's ranch and where witnesses said bodies were found. Finally, it is argued, the severe memory distortion theory is at best highly questionable and cannot account for the serious differences in times, locations, and body descriptions.
The question has been raised why the Air Force chose to deal with the issue of bodies after initially ridiculing and avoiding it. Speculation from some UFO researchers is that this may have been the result of pressure from the Clinton White House. President Bill Clinton is known to have had an interest in Roswell, instructing friend and associate Attorney General Webster Hubbell to find out what happened (reported in Hubbell's memoirs). In November 1995, only a few days before the Air Force issued the final version of its first Roswell report, Clinton responded in a prepared speech to a child's letter about Roswell during a trip to Northern Ireland. Clinton said that as far as he knew "an alien spacecraft did not crash in Roswell, New Mexico," but then added, "If the United States Air Force did recover alien bodies, they didn't tell me about it, either, and I want to know." The question remains that if it was not a flying saucer, why the initial reports of a recovered "flying disk" and government secrecy? Here is a theory proposed by skeptic Karl T. Pflock in his book Roswell: Inconvenient Facts and the Will to Believe:
Some officers at Roswell, particularly Major Marcel, allegedly bungled the identification of the Mogul balloon equipment and then compounded the blunder by putting out a press release that they had instead recovered a "flying disk."
Once the crash was publicly revealed and since Project Mogul was top secret, a cover-up was imposed to protect the project's secrecy. Proponents of this theory further claim the balloons used in Project Mogul were extremely strange looking and would have appeared otherworldly to observers, and the project itself was so heavily classified it was nearly unknown outside of the higher branches of the U.S. government.
Those who dispute this interpretation note that only the purpose of Project Mogul was classified, but the main components were not, being standard meteorological equipment such as rubber weather balloons and radar-target kites made of balsa wood and foil/paper also used for wrapping candy bars. None of this would have appeared otherworldly to anyone. It is also pointed out that such flimsy materials do not match the many descriptions of anomalous, extra-strong and heat-resistant debris reported by witnesses such as Marcel, Rickett, Brazel, Jr., and Exon.
A clear example of the non-classified, public side of the equipment and project was a scientific article written by three of the Mogul people in December 1947, published in the Journal of Meteorology in May 1948, and titled "Controlled-Altitude Free Balloons." It showed multiple diagrams of the altitude-control equipment used on the Mogul balloon flights, a photo of one of the new polyethylene balloons that replaced the original rubber weather balloons, detailed how the balloons were tracked, and had multiple graphs of some of the flights. The only thing left out was the top-secret purpose of some of the flights, namely listening for distant Soviet A-bomb tests. (Attachment 14 in 1995 Air Force Roswell report)
It is further argued that Mogul records indicate that the military was unconcerned about civilians stumbling across other Mogul balloon crashes, since the components were unclassified and the balloon's top-secret purpose could not be discerned from the debris. One such noted incident from June 8 involved another New Mexico rancher, who immediately notified Alamogordo Air Force Base, which then sent out three men to retrieve the remains of the balloon. This is completely unlike the very large and secretive military response to what rancher Brazel found at his place in early July. However, some skeptics counter that the situation was different because Brazel first claimed he found a "flying disk" and not a balloon. While this might explain an initial difference in response by the military, it is not clear why they would continue to behave in a heavy-handed manner once they had an opportunity to examine the debris. There was nothing secret or mysterious about any of the Mogul balloon debris.
Another point raised is that historically the military made no attempt to conceal the existence of the Mogul balloons. (Indeed, as some of the former Mogul people testified, it was impossible to do so.) For example, the day after the Roswell base press release, a mock Mogul balloon launch was staged for the press at Alamogordo and used to try to explain both the Roswell events and the recent nationwide flood of flying saucer reports. Again, it is contended, this is inconsistent with the notion that a crashed Mogul balloon would be bathed in high secrecy, even if the purpose of the project was top secret.
Regarding Pflock's claim that Major Marcel was both incompetent and a publicity seeker, Marcel defenders note that his subsequent career and performance reviews by his superiors do not seem to bear this out. For example, Roswell base commander (and Marcel's commanding officer) Col. Blanchard raised Marcel's overall fitness report rating from "excellent" to the highest rating of "superior." A year later, Gen. Ramey called Marcel's performance "outstanding" and rated him command officer material. (Marcel's performance reviews) Marcel was also transferred to Washington and became the chief briefing and intelligence officer of a top secret project to learn of Soviet A-bomb tests. (Ironically, part of this program's intelligence involved Project Mogul.) It is pointed out that none of this fits the profile of an incompetent.
The nuclear accident theory
There is also some speculation that the Roswell incident was the result of a broken arrow: an accident involving a nuclear weapon. Even the GAO considered this possibility, according to columnist Jack Anderson. Some have proposed that the military created the cover story of a "flying disk" crash, rather than admit that a nuclear weapon had accidentally fallen out of their hands.
However, the facts do not support this theory. There are no known nuclear accidents from this period, despite dozens of such incidents being declassified and now in the public record (See List of nuclear accidents). Indeed, the U.S. had no assembled nuclear weapon in its arsenal at the time. Some also argue that it makes no sense that the military would be completely unaware of losing a nuclear weapon until a sheep rancher notified them about it.
The horrible secret experiments theory
A variation of the nuclear accident theory came out in June 2005 when UFO researcher Nick Redfern published a book called Body Snatchers in the Desert: The Horrible Truth at the Heart of the Roswell Story. Redfern's thesis is that the Roswell crash has nothing to do with aliens or Mogul balloons, but was instead the crash of an experimental spy craft hybrid involving advanced Japanese Fugo balloon technology lifting a German-based Horten flying wing glider and with a captured Japanese flight crew inside the glider. The alleged experiment went awry when the glider prematurely decoupled and crashed at one site, while the lifting balloons drifted off and allegedly created the debris field at the Mack Brazel ranch site. Almost the identical theory was first presented in an article in Popular Mechanics magazine in July 1997, the 50th anniversary of the Roswell crash.
The "horrible truth" that was subsequently covered up to this day was allegedly the illegal detention and use of Japanese prisoners of war in this and other experiments, including biological weapons research, high altitude decompression tests, and radiation exposure. Genetically deformed surviving victims of criminal medical experimentation by the notorious Japanese Unit 731 were also allegedly used. Further, captured Japanese war criminal scientists were allegedly brought over and participated in these experiments, similar to the program of using captured German scientists brought to the U.S. with Operation Paperclip. Allegedly, the primary purpose of these criminal experiments was to obtain needed physiological data for the development of a Nuclear aircraft, plus other delivery systems for nuclear, biological, and chemical weaponry. Redfern also contends that the U.S. government is quite content with the public believing in aliens because it is less shocking and damaging than what really happened. Allegedly other purported New Mexico flying saucer crashes were just cover stories for some of the experiments. Redfern wrote that when he contacted the U.S. Air Force, they had no comment on his theory and said they were sticking to their official Mogul balloon and crash dummy reports for explaining the Roswell incident.
Redfern bases his theory primarily on five sources, all of whom approached him, and several of whom Redfern says he knows to have been in contact with one another, raising the possibility of collusion. The main source was an unnamed colonel who provided details of the actual crash and other manned high-altitude experiments using human guinea pigs that supposedly took place from May through August 1947. Another source, an unnamed official in the British Home Office, initially approached Redfern in 1996, and also claimed that he and others were told in 1989 of the alien Roswell crash and shown the alien autopsy film (see next section) by the CIA and British Ministry of Defense in an attempt to dissuade them from pursuing their own UFO studies. But instead, they allegedly suspected the Roswell story given them was bogus and the autopsy film a fake, part of a cover story to hide criminal U.S. experiments on Japanese POWs. Even Redfern admits he initially found this source's approach, story, and willingness to publicly disclose such information suspicious.
There are also no documents to support that any such program ever existed. One of Redfern's sources claimed that all documents and photos plus bodies were destroyed to eliminate all traces of this criminal activity. Some critics of Redfern's thesis note it is almost entirely based on dubious testimony of a few people who approached Redfern, nearly all of whom admit to previous psyops/counterintelligence backgrounds, with conveniently no way to ever check their stories against official records since allegedly all such records have been destroyed.
Critics also note other problems, such as the gross mismatch between the materials described by most witnesses from the Brazel debris field--numerous, mostly small metallic pieces with anomalous properties scattered along a long linear path--and what would be expected from a balloon crash. Redfern's sources also claim that part of the flying wing craft and one of the Japanese crew were carried away with the balloons and were also found near the main debris field. Redfern states high priority was attached to recovering these and searches were initiated. Left unexplained is the seeming absence of any tracking or how searchers could have missed spotting the large, fully-exposed debris field from the air, despite over two days having elapsed from the time of the alleged disaster. Redfern attributes this to "bad luck."
Another serious objection raised was the historical fact that there were no survivors of the medical experiments of Japanese Unit 731. They were all killed to eliminate evidence when the Russians invaded China and quickly overran the Japanese positions. Hence there were no genetically deformed bodies for the U.S. to "snatch," seriously undercutting one of Redfern's key "horrible truth" arguments supposedly underlying the Roswell crash and subsequent cover-up.
Nonetheless, Redfern's theory is undoubtedly provocative and has quickly gained much support inside the UFO research community along with much criticism.
The "Alien Autopsy" film
Another twist in the Roswell story also occurred in 1995 when Ray Santilli, a British film producer, produced a film supposedly showing the autopsy of an alien from a 1947 New Mexico crash. In the U.S., portions of the film were shown on the FOX-TV network in 1996 along with some analysis by special effects experts and a pathologist.
THE ALIEN AUTOPSY FILM
- Facts vs Armchair Research
Santilli claimed he accidentally ran into the former Army cameraman in the course of looking for archival film footage for another documentary. The crash described by Santilli's cameraman, however, does not conform to the classic Roswell crash of early July 1947 near Corona, New Mexico. Instead the cameraman was allegedly brought to the scene of the crash southwest of Socorro, New Mexico on May 30, 1947, and the autopsy depicted in the film was supposed to have been shot in Fort Worth, Texas in early July.
The body shown in the Santilli autopsy footage on the exterior appears very human-like and muscular, but the being has six fingers and six toes and appears to lack nipples, navel, and genitalia. The head and eyes appear slightly enlarged and the eyes are covered with a black membrane of some sort removed by the surgeon in the course of the autopsy. The internal organs also do not appear to be human.
Skeptics argue this film showed the alleged surgeons utterly disregarding conventional surgical and scientific procedure. Various special effects people have argued the body could have been easily manufactured using standard special effects techniques. For these reasons—and many others—the film is widely considered spurious both within and outside the UFO community.
The autopsy film had certain elements that make it possible that it was indeed filmed in 1947. Other elements might suggest that the autopsy could be on a real body instead of a special effects dummy. Opinions of medical experts and special effects experts are divided.
On 4 April, 2006, to coincide with the release of the film Alien Autopsy, British Sky Broadcasting broadcast a documentary, "Eamonn Investigates: Alien Autopsy" presented by Eamonn Holmes. In this programme, Santilli finally revealed the full details of the creation of the footage.
Ray Santilli and Gary Shoefield now claim in 1992 that they originally saw 22 cans of film, averaging 4 minutes in length, shot in 1947 by a US Army cameraman in Roswell covering an alien autopsy. However, by the time he returned to purchase the footage two years later, the footage had degraded from humidity and heat with only a few frames staying intact. They now claim that they "restored the footage" by filming a fake autopsy on a fake alien "based upon what they saw".
A set was constructed in the living room of an empty flat at Rochester Square, Camden Town, London. John Humphreys, an artist and sculptor, was employed to construct two alien bodies over a period of 3 weeks, using casts containing sheep brains set in jelly, chicken entrails and knuckle joints obtained from S.C. Crosby Wholesale Butchers in Smithfield meat market, London. In addition, John played the part of the key scientist undertaking the autopsy to allow him to control the body effects being filmed. After filming, they disposed of the bodies (there were two separate attempts at making the footage) by cutting them into small pieces and then placing them into rubbish bins across London.
The "debris" footage of items from the crash site was also recreated by John Humphreys including the alien symbology and the six-finger control panels which Santilli admits to being "artistic licence on his part". As an additional decoy, Santilli and Shoefield picked up an unidentified man on the streets in Los Angeles and filmed him in a hotel reading a statement "verifying" his identity as the original cameraman and source of the footage.
Santilli still claims that 5% of the film footage is genuine and intercut with the "recreation" though none of the contributors are able to identify which parts.
UFO Crash theories
Some UFO proponents theorize events are best explained by a mid-air collision between two alien spacecraft. The first completely fragmented and its remains were found at Mack Brazel's ranch. The second, according to witnesses and people who uphold this theory, landed a short distance away. Allegedly four extraterrestrial entities were found—one alive, one dying, and two dead. This was witnessed by many people, including a university professor and his class, who were going on a field trip. Then the army came, warned the others away, and took care of the crash. Supposedly the surviving alien was christened Extraterrestrial Biological Entity 1 (EBE-1), and survived at a safe house in New Mexico until 1952, when it died of unknown causes. Most of this theory, however, is based on very dubious sources, including "documents" of highly questionable authenticity that arrived in some researchers' mailboxes.
Another theory is the craft was struck by lightning and partly exploded, creating the large debris field of small pieces found at Brazel's ranch. The rest of the crippled craft with crew came down at some other nearby location. Mack Brazel did tell his son Bill and Roswell intelligence officer Marcel that he first found the debris following a tremendous explosion he heard in the midst of a violent thunder and lightning storm. There are also other witnesses to this explosion, including some neighboring ranchers and a highly respected Roswell couple, Mr. and Mrs. Dan Wilmot, who reported to the local newspaper on July 8 seeing a glowing flying saucer pass overhead on the night of July 2. Marcel would later reveal in his last interview that Paul Wilmot had recently told him about his parents also seeing the craft explode in the distance after passing in the direction of Brazel's ranch to the northwest. Marcel added that Brazel came to Roswell a few days later to report the crashed flying saucer.
Regardless if this latter theory of the crash has merit, weather records do provide information on thunderstorm activity and can perhaps help pinpoint when Brazel found the debris field on his ranch. There were no thunderstorms in the region the first three weeks of June 1947, the period when the Project Mogul balloon allegedly responsible for the wreckage was launched (June 4) and when Brazel would later claim in a newspaper interview to have found the debris (June 14). However, there were thunderstorms in late June and early July, specificially July 2 and July 4. The latter dates are at least consistent with the initial Roswell base press release of July 8 that said the rancher had found the "flying disk" "sometime last week." Local ranchers have also told researchers Brazel would not leave such debris sitting in his fields for three weeks since it would have been hazardous to his livestock's health. This again suggests an early July discovery of the wreckage, alien or not.
If Roswell was indeed a crash of an extraterrestrial craft, as some continue to insist, some ufologists would argue that several things follow:
* The United States government knows that extraterrestrials have visited our planet since at least 1947 but still will not admit that fact.
* The U.S. government is currently in possession of alien technology
* The reasons for initial government secrecy would be largely self-evident: high government officials would probably fear public panic from a potential alien threat (as happened in 1938:with The War of the Worlds radio broadcast) and there would likely be an attempt to conceal an advanced technology from the Soviets while secretly trying to reverse engineer it.
As of now, there is still no definite proof to either side of the debate. The official denial of anything of an extraterrestrial origin continues, while many ufologists continue to insist that the officials are lying.
In 2005, researcher Nick Redfern published his theory, detailed above, of horrible military experiments involving human guinea pigs that led to the Roswell incident, and claimed this lay at the heart of the high secrecy and subsequent cover-up.
Another important recent development concerns attempts to read the text on a paper held by Gen. Ramey in a photo taken with Col. Dubose and the displayed balloon debris photo above. A Roswell investigator named David Rudiak, as well as some other examiners of the message, claim to have identified several important phrases, including "the victims of the wreck," another referring to the crash object as "the 'disk'" (Rudiak thinks it reads "aviators in the 'disk'"). This is cited as strong evidence that the Roswell incident was actually the crash of an alien spacecraft and that bodies were indeed recovered. However, some also note that these interpretations would also be compatible with Redfern's non-alien theory of events. Rudiak also claims to have disproved the calculations done by some supporters of the Mogul balloon hypothesis that winds would have taken the purported lost balloon exactly to the Brazel ranch crash site.. Redfern's anonymous colonel source states in Redfern's book this isn't surprising since Mogul had nothing to do with it, but served instead as a convenient cover story to the real balloon crash that had to be covered up.
In 2002, the Sci-Fi Channel sponsored a dig at the Brazel site in the hopes of uncovering any missed debris that the military failed to collect. Although these results have so far turned out to be negative, the University of New Mexico archeological team did verify recent soil disruption at the exact location that some witnesses said they saw a long, linear impact groove.
Gov. Bill Richardson of New Mexico, who headed the United States Department of Energy under President Clinton, apparently found the results provocative. In 2004, he wrote in a forward to The Roswell Dig Diaries, that "the mystery surrounding this crash has never been adequately explained—not by independent investigators, and not by the U.S. government."
In October 2002 before airing its Roswell documentary, the Sci-Fi Channel also hosted a Washington UFO news conference. John Podesta, President Clinton's chief of staff, appeared as a member of the public relations firm hired by Sci-Fi to help get the government to open up documents on the subject. Podesta stated, "It is time for the government to declassify records that are more than 25 years old and to provide scientists with data that will assist in determining the true nature of the phenomena."
In an interview in September 2005, former President Bill Clinton downplayed his and his administration's interest in the Roswell incident. He said they did indeed look into it, but believes it had a rational explanation and didn't think it happened. Many in his administration thought it was a "fraud". However, he added the caveat that he could have been deceived by underlings or career bureaucrats. If that were the case, he said he wouldn't be the first American president that had been lied to or had critical information concealed from him. He also said he would be very surprised if we didn't discover other forms of life in the universe in the near future.
In February 2005, the ABC TV network aired a UFO special hosted by news anchor Peter Jennings. Jennings lambasted the Roswell case as a "myth" "without a shred of evidence." ABC endorsed the Air Force's explanation that the incident resulted solely from the crash of a Project Mogul balloon. Critics of the ABC segment counter that the brief treatment was one-sided and failed to consider many key pieces of evidence, such as the testimony of important witnesses like Generals Exon and Dubose or astronaut Edgar Mitchell.
In 2005, UFO and paranormal researcher Ethan A. Blight claimed to have identified several modern UFO photographs containing spacecraft of the same design as the Roswell craft.
In December 2005, a NASA spokesman changed the official position on the 1965 Kecksburg UFO incident, another alleged military UFO crash retrieval. Originally explained as a meteor fireball with nothing found, the NASA spokesman now admitted that NASA had indeed examined metal fragments that allegedly came from a "Russian satellite." Furthermore, all documentation had allegedly been "lost" in the 1990s. The new story also contradicted the previous results of a NASA expert who had conclusively ruled out a Russian or any other satellite as being involved. AP story Although not specifically about Roswell, these revelations could possibly provide insight into how the government has covered up similar incidents.
In March 2006, the Discovery Channel aired a program on Roswell produced by Dateline NBC. It presented a historical review of the case and opinions of research experts. One group argued the preponderance of evidence pointed to an alien spacecraft crash; the other argued it pointed to a Project Mogul balloon.
For many ufologists, the Roswell case is considered one of the most important UFO events and the one that started the alleged UFO cover-up, while for the skeptics it is just the most widely popularized case, not specifically notable. The official position of the United States government, as of 2005, remains that nothing of a paranormal or extraterrestrial nature had happened. The final report of the USAF regarding the Roswell case is available, as well as the answer to that report by ufologists, who insist that the report is bogus.