As this editorial is being written, we're again approaching the anniversary of the 1947 Roswell Incident, for the 58th time. It continues to amaze me as a researcher that after 58 years we have still not been given a satisfactory explanation of what happened here in Roswell, and consequently both the researchers interested in the incident, as well as the skeptics and debunkers continue to pursue their particular "take" on the incident. Will we ever know what actually happened here in 1947? Some think we will never know, while others claim we already know, and still others are in between.
One thing that does seem consistent, at least to me, is the fact that on several occasions in the recent past, coming out with "new" information has been timed to coincide with the anniversary date of the Incident. By coincidence or for publicity, promotion of books, or reports about the Roswell Incident is probably good salesmanship, because every year for the past several years the Roswell Incident has garnered media attention during the anniversary period around July 4th.
This year will probably be no different, with several thousand people that are interested or maybe just curious converging on the town of Roswell to try and find the truth. It's my thinking however that the truth will not be revealed during this year's anniversary here in Roswell, but as on several occasions in the past, new information is being distributed, this time in the form of a new book by UFO Researcher Nick Redfern entitled, Body Snatchers in the Desert; The Horrible Truth at the Heart of the Roswell Story.
One of the problems I've experienced with these "final answers" to the Roswell Incident books is their lack of references or factual information to support their claims. Three other examples of well-timed documents are the 1995 United States Air Force Report, The Roswell Report: Fact versus Fiction in the New Mexico Desert and the 1997 report, Case Closed, and Lt. Col. Phil Corso's book The Day After Roswell. Case Closed and Corso's book were released (escaped) in 1997, pretty much in conjunction with the 50th anniversary of the Roswell Incident.
I am well familiar with the need for confidentiality when it comes to this research. I learned many years ago from Stanton Friedman that there are situations where the only way to obtain information, is to guarantee the persons confidentiality. Such was the case for me, several years ago when researcher Wendy Connors and I interviewed a key Roswell witness for three and a half hours on video tape, and have since copyrighted the information for posterity. We will eventually go public with the information, at a time that is appropriate for Ms. Connors and I, and do not plan on using unnamed witnesses or vague information. What we will present is what was recorded on videotape.
I also believe that when the United States Air Force or an individual goes public in book or report form, it is essential that all information be made public in order that it might be confirmed or denied and some form of finality can be addressed about the information presented.
The memorandum that Colonel Richard Weaver wrote to the Secretary of the Air Force pertaining to New Mexico Congressman Steven Shiff's request for an investigation by the General Accounting Office (GAO) about the Roswell Incident was dated July 27, 1994. That July date was possibly a coincidence date-wise, since the actual report was dated in 1995.
I have tried for several years through Freedom of Information Act requests to obtain detailed information about some of the comments Col. Weaver made in the 1995 report about the "Ramey photos" to no avail. I simply want to obtain copies of the reports done by a national laboratory, according to Weaver, on those photographs for the Air Force report. If the photos were analyzed as Weaver states, make the information available.
On June 24, 1997 when the United States Air Force revealed their The Roswell Report: Case Closed, it was made public 10 days prior to the 50th anniversary of the Roswell Incident. The timing for the release of that report was absolutely astonishing, since Roswell was receiving worldwide exposure for the 50th anniversary. I don't need to go into any detail about the absurd remarks made in that report about crash test dummies, which were not used until 6 years after the Roswell Incident.
So in both the 1995 and 1997 Air Force reports, we have information that cannot be confirmed after several years of trying by myself and other researchers, and out right lies about anthropomorphic test dummies that weren't used until 6 years after the Roswell Incident. In the case of the 1997 report, the timing by the Air Force was great regardless of whether any of the information in the report was accurate or not. It was intended to take attention away from the 50th anniversary, but in my opinion failed miserably. I talked to several active duty Air Force serviceman when the report was published, and most were embarrassed by the Air Force's attempt to cover up the Incident with such ridiculous comments. It's my sincere opinion that Case Closed by the Air Force wasn't closed, and we should well expect another report from the Air Force at some point in the future.
Lt. Col. Corso's book The Day After Roswell, quickly became a best seller, and was one of those "can't put it down books"; until I reached the end of the book and found that there were absolutely no references to his many claims in the book.
I had met and talked with Corso on several occasions prior to his death, and found him to be extremely cordial and fairly impressive about his thoughts, however later when in-depth research was done about him, it was discovered that not all of what he said he was involved with was true. This was just another situation where we were led to believe that this was the final word on the Roswell Incident when in fact it wasn't, but the timing was there to release it in July 1997.
That brings us up to date, and as in the past, 2005 will be another year when the definitive explanation for the Roswell Incident is finally made public (or is it?) According to some reviews I've read about Nick Redfern's new book, it also has several unnamed witnesses, and several well-known researchers are questioning some of the claims he's making about the Roswell Incident involving a balloon attached to a Horten Brothers flying wing, containing Japanese individuals being used for experiments on the effects of radiation.
The unnamed witnesses, (whistleblowers) being referred to currently, and in the past could easily resolve the questions about the Roswell Incident if only a few would come forward and be allowed to be proven truthful or not. As long as witnesses remain unnamed, we have only to rely on the authors of the books we read for their validity, and that requires skepticism on those of us searching for the truth, but we will do that as part of our obligation to reach a final chapter on the 1947 Roswell Incident.
~Dennis G. Balthaser If aliens really did crash-land in Roswell, N.M., in 1947, they made a big error by not signing with an agent to hawk their exclusive story. If they had, by now their whole planet would be rich. It isn't just Independence Day that builds on the 49-year-old news flash that the U.S. Army found evidence of spacemen about, and on the second flash that--oops!--it didn't. As Mulder and Scully grope at the outlines of a vast government cover-up--something to do with medical experiments, Nazis, and a boxcar buried in the desert--The X-Files makes reference to Roswell as casually as Ross orders coffee on Friends. This fall, NBC's Dark Skies will travel the same murky path, retelling recent history as a contest between alien forces in human guise and a secret government group. In the cartoon world of The Simpsons, Roswell is the name of an alien. Even the summer thriller The Rock joins the game, winning a big laugh from audiences when it reveals that the microfilm stolen by British spy Sean Connery tells the truth about who killed JFK and about Roswell. Yes, the elusive desert incident has become the other grail of American conspiracy theorists. Independence Day producer Dean Devlin admits that he was needlessly concerned about audiences' getting the references to Roswell and Area 51 (a restricted Nevada military base that's reputedly home to captured alien craft). "I was raised [with] a lot of UFO mythology--my mother was a big believer," he says. "But when these things are mentioned in the movie, people react right off the bat. It's amazing how much people know." Roswell took its time becoming a pop staple. When the Roswell Daily Record led its July 8, 1947, edition with an Army press release reporting the recovery of a "flying saucer" by soldiers from Roswell Army Air Field, America was primed for news of UFOs. Two weeks before, a Washington State pilot's account of a close encounter with nine saucers had set the nation buzzing. Within hours of Roswell's news flash, though, the military changed its story: The debris recovered was simply a weather balloon, a conclusion revised to read "nuclear-test blast" surveillance balloon in a 1994 government report on the undying topic. It wasn't until 1979 that the story struck a chord in Hollywood. Speaking in the documentary , Lieut. Col. Jesse A. Marcel, the officer who had overseen the debris' collection, asserted for the first time that all was not as the Army claimed. The next year saw the Roswell enigma's freely adapted big-screen debut: The B movie Hangar 18 had astronaut Gary Collins and NASA's Darren McGavin discover a White House cover-up run by Robert Vaughn, who's hiding a surviving alien, who reveals in turn that mankind is actually an alien-engineered experiment. Since 1989, a number of books (notably The UFO Crash at Roswell, by Kevin Randle and Donald Schmitt; The Roswell Incident, by Charles Berlitz and William Moore; and Crash at Corona, by Stanton Friedman) and endless airings of Unsolved Mysteries have kept the case open by sifting the troublesome facts, searching out new witnesses, and embellishing on that most tantalizing possibility--that one of the craft's passengers was recovered alive. The 1994 Showtime drama Roswell: The UFO Cover-Up, starring Kyle MacLachlan as an obsessed Jesse Marcel, stuck closer to the "knowns" of Roswell--before veering into speculation that the first U.S. secretary of defense, James Forrestal, communicated with a crash survivor before committing suicide in 1949. Last year's Fox show Alien Autopsy: (Fact or Fiction?) featured footage of the dissection of a purported alien body allegedly recovered at Roswell. Meanwhile, the town of 50,000 is coolly cashing in on its cosmic notoriety with dueling museums, a July 4 UFO Encounter festival, and the occasional retail slogan like "Sale at the Outer Limits of Adrean's Wedding Gallery." Vernetta Verasso of the Daily Record notes, "There's a lot of mixed feelings here--some people believe, some people don't." Storytellers are more excitable. "True or untrue--and I think it's a high-probability event--Roswell is seminal," says Bryce Zabel, co-creator of Dark Skies. "If it's true, for 50 years the proof has been suppressed." Roswell executive producer Paul Davids (who's forwarded his findings to President Clinton) even argues that pop culture paves the way for genuine revelations. "Let us open imaginations to the possibility," he says. "Maybe you'll wake up one day to the announcement that all this is real. If, as I suspect, all of this happens in this in this decade, I think we'll be able to look back at Hollywood's contributions in handling this story as one of its greatest, because it got us ready, fascinated us, and played with our minds."
If aliens really did crash-land in Roswell, N.M., in 1947, they made a big error by not signing with an agent to hawk their exclusive story. If they had, by now their whole planet would be rich.
It isn't just Independence Day that builds on the 49-year-old news flash that the U.S. Army found evidence of spacemen about, and on the second flash that--oops!--it didn't. As Mulder and Scully grope at the outlines of a vast government cover-up--something to do with medical experiments, Nazis, and a boxcar buried in the desert--The X-Files makes reference to Roswell as casually as Ross orders coffee on Friends. This fall, NBC's Dark Skies will travel the same murky path, retelling recent history as a contest between alien forces in human guise and a secret government group. In the cartoon world of The Simpsons, Roswell is the name of an alien. Even the summer thriller The Rock joins the game, winning a big laugh from audiences when it reveals that the microfilm stolen by British spy Sean Connery tells the truth about who killed JFK and about Roswell. Yes, the elusive desert incident has become the other grail of American conspiracy theorists.
Independence Day producer Dean Devlin admits that he was needlessly concerned about audiences' getting the references to Roswell and Area 51 (a restricted Nevada military base that's reputedly home to captured alien craft). "I was raised [with] a lot of UFO mythology--my mother was a big believer," he says. "But when these things are mentioned in the movie, people react right off the bat. It's amazing how much people know."
Roswell took its time becoming a pop staple. When the Roswell Daily Record led its July 8, 1947, edition with an Army press release reporting the recovery of a "flying saucer" by soldiers from Roswell Army Air Field, America was primed for news of UFOs. Two weeks before, a Washington State pilot's account of a close encounter with nine saucers had set the nation buzzing. Within hours of Roswell's news flash, though, the military changed its story: The debris recovered was simply a weather balloon, a conclusion revised to read "nuclear-test blast" surveillance balloon in a 1994 government report on the undying topic.
It wasn't until 1979 that the story struck a chord in Hollywood. Speaking in the documentary , Lieut. Col. Jesse A. Marcel, the officer who had overseen the debris' collection, asserted for the first time that all was not as the Army claimed. The next year saw the Roswell enigma's freely adapted big-screen debut: The B movie Hangar 18 had astronaut Gary Collins and NASA's Darren McGavin discover a White House cover-up run by Robert Vaughn, who's hiding a surviving alien, who reveals in turn that mankind is actually an alien-engineered experiment.
Since 1989, a number of books (notably The UFO Crash at Roswell, by Kevin Randle and Donald Schmitt; The Roswell Incident, by Charles Berlitz and William Moore; and Crash at Corona, by Stanton Friedman) and endless airings of Unsolved Mysteries have kept the case open by sifting the troublesome facts, searching out new witnesses, and embellishing on that most tantalizing possibility--that one of the craft's passengers was recovered alive. The 1994 Showtime drama Roswell: The UFO Cover-Up, starring Kyle MacLachlan as an obsessed Jesse Marcel, stuck closer to the "knowns" of Roswell--before veering into speculation that the first U.S. secretary of defense, James Forrestal, communicated with a crash survivor before committing suicide in 1949. Last year's Fox show Alien Autopsy: (Fact or Fiction?) featured footage of the dissection of a purported alien body allegedly recovered at Roswell.
Meanwhile, the town of 50,000 is coolly cashing in on its cosmic notoriety with dueling museums, a July 4 UFO Encounter festival, and the occasional retail slogan like "Sale at the Outer Limits of Adrean's Wedding Gallery." Vernetta Verasso of the Daily Record notes, "There's a lot of mixed feelings here--some people believe, some people don't."
Storytellers are more excitable. "True or untrue--and I think it's a high-probability event--Roswell is seminal," says Bryce Zabel, co-creator of Dark Skies. "If it's true, for 50 years the proof has been suppressed." Roswell executive producer Paul Davids (who's forwarded his findings to President Clinton) even argues that pop culture paves the way for genuine revelations. "Let us open imaginations to the possibility," he says. "Maybe you'll wake up one day to the announcement that all this is real. If, as I suspect, all of this happens in this in this decade, I think we'll be able to look back at Hollywood's contributions in handling this story as one of its greatest, because it got us ready, fascinated us, and played with our minds."
Does it start with Kenneth Arnold, and Ray Palmer? I suspect it starts with H.G. Wells, and Orson Welles. The latter's radio production of the former's War of the Worlds genuinely shook up the public -- War of the Worlds was the original Independence Day, the prototypical alien invasion story -- and Jesse Marcel was of the generation that was shaken by Wells and Welles... And Marcel grew up to become a Major at an Air Force base in Roswell, New Mexico...
But before there was Marcel in that debris field, in Roswell, there was Kenneth Arnold flying over the Cascades. Not so very long before the Roswell incident, Kenneth Arnold claimed to have seen a fleet of strange, otherworldly craft, sort of saucer like (actually more like giant flying horseshoe crabs, really, from his more detailed descriptions), as he flew his small plane through the mountains of the Pacific Northwest.
The newspapers picked up the Arnold story, and called the objects he'd seen "flying saucers." Some skeptics think he saw an optical illusion; some think he saw boloid meteors, which can fragment and, for a time, fly along more or less horizontally. And his imagination, they suggest, supplied the rest.
But Arnold, it should be noted, was an acquaintance of one Ray Palmer, the guy who created the Shaver Mysteries, one of the world's most elaborate journalistic hoaxes; and Palmer was the recipient of mysterious messages about strange beings from another world hidden within our Hollow Earth.
Now it's true that Kenneth Arnold claimed to have met Palmer only after his famous UFO sighting. And it's true that Arnold had a rep as a Really Straight and Reputable Guy; a former Eagle Scout. But both this claim and this view of Arnold came... from Arnold. (UFO researchers rarely dig very deeply -- as for example with the, shall we say "questionable," backgrounds of Travis Walton or Ed Walters and Derrel Sims.)
And just coincidentally, not long after Palmer had communicated with someone about strange beings from beneath the Earth, Kenneth Arnold -- later to be Palmer's collaborator -- saw strange beings flying through the sky. Are hoaxes infectious?
Whatever Arnold saw, the media picked up the story and splashed it across the papers, seeding the soil of a public imagination already fertilized by the War of the Worlds broadcast and fallacious reports of "canals" sighted on Mars.
Meanwhile, military intelligence was involved in a top secret project code-named "Mogul". New, high-tech (for the time) spying devices were being hoisted into the upper atmosphere on balsa wood structures attached to balloons; balloons very much like weather balloons, but somewhat distinct. The balloons were made -- some say -- of a shiny metallic material, like mylar. The balsa wood was covered, perhaps to protect it from moisture, by a household shelf-covering material or decorative tape, decorated with odd little abstract flower-petal designs. Highly stylized, the flowers were almost like some kind of hieroglyph, if you sort of squinted. The stuff had been handy when they were putting the framework for the listening devices together. And this is exactly the description of the debris given by one of the Brazels -- a lady, in fact -- from the ranch where the debris field was.
The Cold War had already gotten underway; we were paranoid of the Soviets and they were paranoid of us. We chewed our nails and wondered: How much atomic weaponry did they have? How much of a threat were they? How could we find out? Maybe -- via Project Mogul.
But because the Russians were so paranoid, and because we were so paranoid, Project Mogul was Top Secret. Theoretically, if the Soviets knew we were spying on them -- or trying to spy on them, even from a distance -- the cold war could turn hot.
It was imperative that Mogul be kept secret.
When a Mogul balloon-train crashed on the ranch of a fellow named Brazel, scattering shiny, odd-looking debris all over the place -- and perhaps metallic bits of a new kind of spy technology -- the lid had to be clamped down fast. A cover story was needed.
Before the cover could be properly organized, a frustrated, somewhat over-imaginative would-be hero named Jessie Marcel (that is how some of the evaluations of Marcel describe him), apparently not briefed on the highly secret Mogul project (almost no one was briefed on it), went out to the Brazel ranch to see what had crashed there. He vividly remembered the stories from the newspaper, of not long before. What was that guy's name?
Kenneth Arnold! The "Flying Saucers"! The whole subject, probably, had fascinated Marcel. And at the time pulp science fiction magazines, with aliens bug-eyeing at everyone from their lurid covers, could be found in every drugstore -- including those in Roswell, New Mexico. Perhaps Marcel was a fan of Amazing Stories.
He was, anyway, primed to identify the strange, shiny fragments on the debris field as something from one of Arnold's Flying Saucers... the beginning of a War of the Worlds: and perhaps Marcel's opportunity to be a kind of war hero, at last.
He announced the find of a crashed flying disc to the local papers. The local cops called the FBI who didn't know, yet, about the Mogul crash -- and likely the FBI didn't know about Mogul at all. So, the FBI was interested in this "crashed disk."
Marcel brought some of the shiny new balloon material home to show his son. He also brought small pieces of balsa wood, from the framework, with the covering material on it -- the odd material with the abstract flower print. Marcel told his young son he believed this was a piece of one of those flying disks that Arnold had seen. A craft from outer space!
His son was not about to question his father, who was, in his eyes, always a hero. It was more fun to think the stuff was from outer space than to wonder why the little stick things were so much like balsa wood... and that print did look like some sort of otherworldly writing, if you squinted.
Marcel was hauled before the military authorities at the base and Those Who Knew Better informed him he had mis-identified a weather balloon. Weather Balloon? Nonsense! He knew what a weather balloon looked like. Why would a weather balloon have strange fragments of machinery attached, and this odd material...
They didn't want to answer that question. They didn't want to talk about Project Mogul with a guy who had run to the newspapers with this flying disk story.
Orders were orders and, with an ill grace, Marcel went along with the weather balloon story. Since they never told him about Mogul, he denounced the weather balloon story years later. It was, after all, a lie.
And his son, decades later, remembered his Dad bringing home the strange fragments and telling him they'd come from a crashed flying disk...
Back in late '47, Roswell was still abuzz with the front page news about the crashed disk. First that Arnold thing -- now this! Right in our own backyard! Just like that War of the Worlds story, only now for real! Makes a forgotten little desert town feel special...
Every small town has tall-tale tellers and they'll try to outdo one another. One fella thought he'd seen something strange that same night -- another fella, jealous of the attention the first one was getting, topped the first one's story. He'd seen the creatures themselves!
And so it went, the story getting a life of its own, told and retold and revised till some of the tale-tellers believed it themselves.
And the tale of crashed spacecraft was only underscored when mysterious G-Men really did started visiting some of the locals, warning them not to talk about anything they might have seen concerning that "crashed saucer" or weather balloon or whatever it was.
The "G-Men" were genuinely associated with Military Intelligence, and from their point of view they were trying to cover up a project so sensitive it could possibly, they believed, lead to an atomic war with the Russians. So they had to make sure the story died. Because if people probed around Roswell too much, the real story would come out: Project Mogul. And there were known to be Soviet agents in New Mexico, since the southwest was a key testing area for atomic weapons and other secret projects. So yes, it was necessary to keep people away from the debris field, and to haul everything away to another base.
Roswell researchers, years later, pointed out that those who had to clean up the "debris field" were required to take secrecy oaths. Why? Secrecy Oaths for a weather balloon? Unlikely.
But for the remnants of the highly classified Project Mogul, during the uncertain days of the early Cold War, the secrecy oath made sense.
And the secrecy around Mogul was so intense that our original Men in Black, the unnamed G-Men, threatened and cajoled and intimidated people in Roswell -- just as that nice, truly sincere lady who is the daughter of a judge involved has said, in television interviews -- and they were not specific about what it was they wanted suppressed. Just anything to do with that mess on Brazel's ranch: Don't talk about it!
Naturally, this sinister activity on the part of mysterious G-Men had the effect of underscoring the whole alien-invasion tale. Why, people wondered, were the feds being so secretive, after all, if that thing had been just a weather balloon? So the original story about it being an alien spacecraft must have been true! Or so went the local reasoning.
Not too unreasonable a supposition for credulous people -- people who'd never heard of project Mogul.
And some of those people were probably local military men, even officers, who were kept in the dark about Mogul. It was likely to be a need-to-know situation. So of course scuttlebutt abounded, rumors right there on the base that a saucer had crashed, that aliens had been seen. Military men love rumors as much as the next guy. Wild gossip and rumors make a dull routine less dull.
And maybe it had occured to someone in Military Intelligence that the Flying Saucer story, however ludicrous, was better than the truth: Project Mogul. The Soviets would then shrug that whole Roswell UFO tale off as hysteria, fallout from the Kenneth Arnold sighting. So, yes, let the myth grow, maybe even encourage it a little. Perhaps spreading stories of little gray men seen beside crashed saucers would help: it was a smokescreen in itself. The men who'd launched Mogul now had two layers of disinformation in place -- both the weather balloon story and the flying saucer story protected them. They were well covered.
The story eventually died down -- though sometimes, in the local bars, it was whispered about and embellished.
Nowadays, some investigators feel that Mogul can't explain the crash because the alleged dates of Mogul launches don't properly coincide with the crash. But records of Mogul launches aren't necessarily airtight-correct, or complete -- especially when we're talking about fifty year old military intelligence records. And the vagaries of weather and the upper airs could explain other discrepancies. What, after all, is more likely -- a flying saucer from another star system, crashed in New Mexico, or a slight confusion about the dates of launch for Mogul's balloon train?
Decades after the crash, Mogul was still Top Secret, hence still not talked about, mostly because no one had bothered to declassify it. Barney and Betty Hill published a best selling book about their Interrupted Journey, their supposed abduction by aliens.
The Interrupted Journey was made into a TV movie. Barney and Betty, demonstrably, were making money off this sort of thing. Travis Walton and his cronies saw the TV movie, they wanted to make money too. And Travis wanted to win that National Enquirer reward for best UFO story. (I recently saw Walton on TV, saying "I took two lie detector tests and passed both of them." They should have given him one when he said that: he was lying in that very television interview, because in fact he failed one lie detector test and the other was inconclusive.) Walton sold his story to Hollywood for Fire in the Sky. Then there was Whitley Strieber. Sometimes there's money in this UFO stuff -- though not as much as the UFO Hopeful hope there'll be.
Roswell residents had noted the books about Roswell -- starting, as I recall, about 1980 -- and even now they take note of the Walton and Strieber successes. If people like Walton can tell bullshit stories and get paid for it, why not us? And so Glenn Dennis sticks to his story, despite having been shown its numerous contradictions and the demonstrably wrong information in it.
And so it goes on, in Roswell. And so it will, as long as there are tourists to be amused, and TV crews to be fed, and producers to bring in more tourists and TV crews...
AIR FORCE TO ISSUE YET ANOTHER
Is This One Impressive Enough to Rain on the Anniversary?
[CNI News thanks Rebecca Keith, Joe Stefula and Steve Kaeser for assistance with this story, dated
Just in time to dampen spirits at the upcoming 50th Anniversary UFO bash in Roswell, rumors are rampant that the Air Force is about to issue yet another "final" explanation of what "really" happened near that fabled New Mexico town in early July, 1947. This time, if the rumors are true, the explanation could really be a bummer for UFO enthusiasts.
Maybe it was inevitable that this summer's festivities, celebrating the world's most famous UFO incident, would be punctuated -- book ended, as it were -- by two books that represent extreme ends of the explanatory spectrum. One of these is The Day After Roswell by Colonel Philip Corso, a self-professed military and government insider who says the UFO was indeed an alien craft, and the rumors of recovered bodies, wreckage, and long-running cover-up are all true. But the other book -- the exact contents of which are admittedly still under wraps -- could provide a highly plausible scenario of a crash event involving only human-created elements, but which accounts for most of the strangeness (even the bodies) that has become emblematic of Roswell.
This book is called The Roswell Report: Case Closed. It definitely does exist and it definitely will appear soon -- though when, exactly, is a bit unclear. Its author is listed as James McAndrew. Though the name sounds civilian, this is in fact Captain James McAndrew, USAF, who was also a co-writer of the previous "final" USAF report on Roswell, released in September 1994, that put forth the now infamous "Mogul Balloon" explanation of the 1947 events. The new book is an official Air Force/Department of Defense report published by the Government Printing Office. The GPO says it was originally due for release in April, then in late May -- and now, "pretty soon
OK, but what does it say? One set of clues can be gleaned from the cover story in the current (July) issue of Popular Mechanics magazine, which discusses a number of post-World War II super-secret projects involving former Nazi rocket scientists brought to work in the United States. Among these were the brothers Horten, renowned in esoteric circles for their highly exotic, but sometimes successful, aircraft designs, including variations on "flying wings," "lifting bodies," and even "discs."
It has long been rumored, though never definitively proven (as far as CNI News knows), that the Hortens and their colleagues created one or more high-performance, jet-powered "saucer"-like craft in the last days of the Reich. Some saucer-conspiracy theorists have argued on this basis that the entire post-war UFO phenomenon can thus be traced to Nazi science, captured and imported by ambitious but morally bankrupt American Cold Warriors. While the "Nazi UFO" theory is regarded by most ufologists as implausible at best, it might contain a shred of truth -- and that shred might have been recovered from a crash near Roswell in 1947. Or so the Air Force may be about to tell you.
The theory hinted at in Popular Mechanics keys off the known U.S. military obsession with finding a way to monitor Soviet development of atomic weapons. This was the justification for the ill-fated Mogul balloon project. But Mogul might not have been the only project of its kind. In the new scenario, a small aerodynamic reconnaissance vehicle might have been taken aloft by a balloon, to drift silently at very high altitude over a hostile target (the Soviet Union, for example), then cut loose from the balloon to glide home at high speed. The vehicle -- a sleek, wedge-shaped lifting body -- would perform much as the Space Shuttle does today on powerless reentry. This theoretical small vehicle would be no bigger than necessary for a single pilot and reconnaissance equipment (cameras, various sensors). It would probably have no engine.
Popular Mechanics hints that captured Japanese Fugo balloon bombs, coupled with Horten aircraft designs, could have inspired such an experimental program. Bigger, better Fugos than the Japanese deployed during the war -- perhaps created with assistance from captured Japanese scientists -- might have carried the theoretical reconnaissance glider aloft.
If such a device was launched from, say, White Sands (where the Mogul launches reportedly occurred) and crashed shortly after liftoff at a location north or northwest of Roswell -- and if a pilot (dare we suggest a small Japanese pilot?) was in the aircraft -- this could theoretically account for balloon-like wreckage, metallic wreckage, a damaged but recognizable aircraft of some kind, and at least one body.
CNI News does not mean to suggest that we endorse this theory. But this is our best current estimate of what the Air Force report might say.
The Popular Mechanics article was not the first hint of this theory to reach us. On June 6 we received from Arizona-based researcher Bill Hamilton a forwarded memo from George Filer, dated June 5 [Filer's Files #22. Filer is Eastern States Director for MUFON. He can be reached by email at Majorstar@aol.com]. Filer attributed his information to well-known UFO investigator Joe Stefula, who apparently had gotten advanced word of the article in Popular Mechanics. Stefula is known to have contacts in the military, however, so CNI News called him to find out who he had been talking to.
Stefula denied that he had gotten information directly from Captain McAndrew or any other military source. He told CNI News that the information he gave Filer was speculation. He emphasized, however, that the new Air Force story could help to explain the content of an FBI memo that has long puzzled investigators. That memo was sent on the evening of July 8, 1947, from the FBI's Dallas, Texas office to their office in Cincinnati, Ohio. It said, in part:
"Major Curtan [sic, Major Edwin Kirton], Headquarters Eight Air Force, telephonically advised this office that an object purporting to be a flying disc was recovered near Roswell, New Mexico, this date. The disc was hexagonal in shape and was suspended from a balloon by cable, which ballon [sic] was approximately twenty feet in diameter. Major Curtan [sic] further advised that the object found resembles a high altitude weather balloon with a radar reflector, but that telephonic conversation between their office and Wright Field had not borne out this belief. Disc and balloon being transported to Wright field by special plane..." [quoted from The Truth About the UFO Crash at Roswell by Kevin Randle and Donald Schmitt, 1994.]
On Friday, June 13, CNI News editor Michael Lindemann called Captain James McAndrew to ask him for a comment on the upcoming Air Force Report. The conversation was very brief, as follows:
McAndrew: Captain McAndrew.
Lindemann: Hello, Captain McAndrew. This is Michael Lindemann calling from CNI News in California. I'd like to ask you a few questions about the new Air Force report on Roswell.
McAndrew: I don't want to make any comment on that.
Lindemann: Can you tell me when the book will be available?
McAndrew: I refer back to my first statement.
Lindemann: Well, we know that the book exists. Can't you just tell me when it will be available?
McAndrew: I refer back to my first statement.
Lindemann: Can you tell me anyone I can call to find out about the book?
McAndrew: I don't know.
Lindemann: Thanks for your time. Good bye.
So, for the moment, we can only speculate and wait for the actual report to appear. However, as this story was in the final stage of preparation, we received a note forwarded from well-known UFO investigator and attorney Peter Gersten, who said: "I've been informed the new AF report has been printed and probably will be out next week. Contrary to what others have reported, it will be paperback and will probably cost under $15.00."
If true, the low price would make this report much more appealing to the curious buyer and the release date could give it substantial exposure just before the Roswell anniversary events. As an official counterpunch to Philip Corso's bombshell claims, this new Air Force report could hardly be better timed.
Fifty years ago this summer, the modern UFO craze began. Fed by fantasy, faddishness, and even outright fakery, the mythology has become so well nourished that it has begun to spawn bizarre religious cults like Heaven's Gate. Earlier this month, as reported by the New York Times, the Roswell controversy reached out to involve U.S. Senator Strom Thurmond and a former aide, Philip J. Corso, in a dispute over an upcoming memoir by Corso for which Thurmond wrote the foreword. The book claims that the U.S. government used alien technology to win the Cold War. ("Thurmond Disputes Book on Purported Alien Spaceship," New York Times, June 5, 1997)
This latest publicized controversy is sure to have a catalyzing effect on the planned fiftieth-anniversary hoopla, July 1-6, at Roswell, New Mexico, the site of ufology's Holy Grail. From near Roswell, according to a burgeoning legend, in late June or early July of 1947, a crashed alien spacecraft and its humanoid occupants were retrieved and hidden away at a secret government installation.
The "Roswell incident" as it is popularly known, was propelled into history on July 8, 1947, by an unauthorized press release from a young but eager public information officer at the Roswell Army Air Base. He reported that a "flying disc" had been retrieved from an area ranch where it had crashed.
This came in the immediate wake of the first modern UFO sighting, the famous string of "flying saucers" witnessed by private pilot Kenneth Arnold on June 24, 1947.
Just such sightings had long been anticipated by pulp science-fiction magazines, like Amazing Stories, and by the earlier writings of a crank named Charles Fort. Called "the world's first ufologist," Fort reported on unidentified objects in the sky that he believed indicated visits from space aliens; his reports were based on old newspaper and magazine accounts.
Soon after the press release made headlines around the world, the young officer was reprimanded and new information was released: The unidentified flying object had really been a weather balloon, said officials, and photographs of the "wreckage" -- some flexible, silvery-looking material -- were distributed to the press.
In 1949 came the first of the crashed-saucer hoaxes. It involved a science-fiction movie, The Flying Saucer, produced by Mikel Conrad, which allegedly contained actual footage of a captured spacecraft; an actor hired by Conrad posed as an FBI agent and swore the retrieval claim was true. The following year writer Frank Scully reported in his book Behind the Flying Saucers that the U.S. government had in its possession no fewer than three alien spaceships, together with the bodies of their humanoid occupants. Scully was fed the story by two confidence men who had hoped to sell a petroleum-locating device allegedly based on alien technology.
Other crash-retrieval stories followed, as did photographs of space aliens, living and dead: One gruesome photo merely portrayed the charred body of the pilot of a small plane, his aviator's glasses still visible in the picture.
In 1974 Robert Spencer Carr began to promote one of the crashes from the Scully book and to claim firsthand knowledge of where the pickled aliens were stored. According to the late claimant's son, Carr was a spinner of yarns who made up the entire story.
In 1977 a pseudonymous "Fritz Werner" claimed to have "assisted in the investigation of a crashed unknown object" in Arizona. This included, he said, his actually seeing the body of one four-foot-tall humanoid occupant that had been placed in a tent. Unfortunately there were suspicious parallels between the Werner and Scully stories and other evidence of hoaxing, including various inconsistencies in Werner's tale.
In 1987, the author of a book on Roswell released the notorious "MJ-12 documents" which seemed to prove that a saucer had indeed crashed near Roswell and that its humanoid occupants really were recovered. The documents purported to show that there was a secret "Operation Majestic Twelve" authorized by President Truman to handle clandestinely the crash/retrieval at Roswell. A "briefing document" for President-elect Eisenhower was also included. However, MJ-12 was another Roswellian hoax, the documents merely crude paste-up forgeries that utilized signatures cut from photocopies of actual letters and documents. The forger even slipped one document into the National Archives so it could be "discovered" there. (The Archives quickly cast doubt on its authenticity.) The NBC series Dark Skies is based on the MJ-12 pseudohistory.
In 1990 Gerald Anderson responded to an Unsolved Mysteries telecast about the alleged 1947 UFO crash (placing it in western New Mexico). He claimed that he and other family members, including his uncle Ted, were rock hunting in the desert when they came upon a crashed saucer with injured aliens among the still-burning wreckage. Anderson released a diary that his uncle had kept which recorded the event. Alas, examination by a forensic chemist showed that the ink used to write the entries did not exist in 1947 but had first been manufactured in 1974. (Anderson claimed that the tested pages were copies, but he never made the alleged originals available.)
More recently, there was the Roswell "UFO fragment" of 1996, a piece of swirly-patterned metal that turned out to be nothing more than scraps discarded by a Utah jewellery artist. And so the hoaxes continue. Many ufologists have heralded the Roswell incident as providing the primary evidence for the UFO invasion of planet Earth. Supporting evidence, of course, purportedly comes from myriad UFO reports (most of which eventually become IFOs: identified flying objects) and "alien abductions" (experiences that skeptics have shown are fantasy-based).
Ironically, the government's claim that a weather balloon instead of a "flying disc" landed at Roswell was honest but mistaken. It was not, of course, the grandiose cover-up of extraterrestrial visitation that conspiracy theorists now imagine. The best current evidence indicates that the crashed device was in reality a U.S. government spy balloon -- part of a 1940s secret operation called Project Mogul, an attempt to monitor sonic emissions from anticipated Soviet nuclear tests.
As a consequence of these sordid events, the Roswell incident has left a half-century legacy of bizarre cult mythology, anti-government conspiracy theories, and unrelenting skywatching by self-styled ufologists who seem to fancy themselves on the brink of a momentous discovery. The latest book or television program to the contrary, what crashed at Roswell was the truth, plain and simple.
Joe Nickell is CSICOP's senior research fellow. He writes the Investigative Files column for Skeptical Inquirer and Skeptical Briefs and is author or editor of more than fifteen books on the occult and paranormal. Most recently, he coedited the book The UFO Invasion (Prometheus Books, 1997).
Roswell has generated little in the way of solid evidence but has been indirectly responsible for a long string of hoaxes and forgeries.
A supposed fragment of the Roswell spaceship surfaced in 1996. The fragment was tested at New Mexico Tech and at Los Alamos National Laboratory, and was found to be copper and silver in normal (terrestrial) isotopic abundances. Then it turned out that the "fragment" was just a piece of scrap from the work of Utah artist Randy Fullbright.
Fullbright used a Japanese technique of layering copper and silver, producing a strange-looking layered metal. Someone snatched a piece of the scrap and gave it to an innocent man about to move to Roswell, telling him that it actually came from the Roswell ship and to take it to the UFO museum there.
A second "fragment" emerged at the 1997 Roswell festival, but this one failed some basic science requirements. The Internet report on the analysis of this fragment included measurements of materials so radioactive they wouldn't last a week, much less 50 years. This episode ended with the general realization that it is indeed possible to whip up alien-looking alloys in the lab, given access to pure isotopes.
In addition, there is the case of the MJ-12 (Majestic 12) papers, purportedly describing the top-secret alien analyses of a dozen top scientists appointed by Truman. But Phillip Klass, the Washington, D.C., publisher of Skeptics UFO Newsletter, has showed that Truman's signature on a key MJ-12 document had been photocopied from a non-UFO-related Truman letter.
A host of other problems plague the MJ-12 documents, but that doesn't stop new ones from coming out.
Then there's the sad tale of Penthouse magazine, which paid a huge sum for a photograph of the Roswell "alien" for its September 1996 issue. The image turned out to be a fuzzy photograph of the plastic alien prop in the UFO Museum in Roswell.
Perhaps the biggest Roswell hoax of all is the Alien Autopsy film, which Fox-TV producers aired twice before debunking the film themselves in a third special.
Why does it matter? What could it hurt? Is belief in aliens harmful?
I have no problem with speculation about life beyond our tiny planet or with generating needed income with a twist on the traditional small-town festival.
As a boy, I idolized Capt. Kirk and Mr. Spock, and watched every bug-eyed alien on the Outer Limits. Nowadays, I help with the search for extraterrestrial intelligence by letting my computer run the Setihome screen saver.
The problem, however, arises when the line between curious speculation and unsupported belief is crossed. The Heaven's Gate cult seized on a typical Internet story, this one about a "mother ship" companion to the Hale-Bopp comet and believed it, even after telescopes the group bought refused to reveal the mother ship. (They returned the telescopes as defective.)
Unsupported belief can be deadly if it makes you do dangerous things, such as the Heaven's Gate suicides made in hopes of joining the mother ship, or avoid doing safe things, like shunning mainstream treatment for cancer in favor of shark cartilage. (Shark cartilage has not been shown to reduce cancer, and a recent report confirmed that sharks do get cancer, contrary to the popular belief they don't.)
Roswell can be a lot of fun. So have fun. But don't believe everything you hear about it!