Roswell UFO incident

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Coordinates: 33°58′N 105°14′W / 33.97°N 105.24°W / 33.97; -105.24

Roswell UFO incident
RoswellDailyRecordJuly8,1947.jpg
Roswell Daily Record, July 8, 1947, announcing the "capture" of a "flying saucer."
Date 1947
Location Chaves County, New Mexico, United States

The Roswell UFO incident took place in the U.S. in June or early July 1947, when an airborne object crashed on a ranch near Roswell, New Mexico. The U.S. Government has disclosed that the incident involved a secret U.S. military Air Force surveillance balloon,[1] although some media at the time reported that the object was actually a flying saucer containing extraterrestrial life. Since the late 1970s, the Roswell incident has been the subject of much interest in popular media, and conspiracy theories have arisen surrounding the event.[2]

Around the time of the incident, the United States Armed Forces recovered debris near Roswell from the crash of an experimental high-altitude surveillance balloon belonging to what was then a classified (top secret) program named Mogul. Many UFO proponents maintain instead that an alien craft was found, its occupants were captured, and that the military engaged in a cover-up. The Roswell incident has turned into a widely known pop culture phenomenon, making the name "Roswell" synonymous with UFOs. Roswell has become the most publicized of all alleged UFO incidents.

On July 8, 1947, the Roswell Army Air Field (RAAF) public information officer Walter Haut, issued a press release stating that personnel from the field's 509th Operations Group had recovered a "flying disk", which had crashed on a ranch near Roswell. Later that day, the press reported that Commanding General of the Eighth Air Force Roger Ramey had stated that a weather balloon was recovered by the RAAF personnel. A press conference was held, featuring debris (foil, rubber and wood) said to be from the crashed object, which seemed to confirm its description as a weather balloon.

Subsequently the incident faded from the attention of UFO researchers for over 30 years. In 1978, physicist and ufologist Stanton T. Friedman interviewed Major Jesse Marcel who was involved with the original recovery of the debris in 1947. Marcel expressed his belief that the military covered up the recovery of an alien spacecraft. His story spread through UFO circles, being featured in some UFO documentaries at the time. In February 1980, the National Enquirer ran its own interview with Marcel, garnering national and worldwide attention for the Roswell incident. Additional witnesses added significant new details, including claims of a large-scale military operation dedicated to recovering alien craft and aliens themselves, at as many as 11 crash sites, and alleged witness intimidation. In 1989, former mortician Glenn Dennis put forth a detailed personal account, wherein he claimed alien autopsies were carried out at the Roswell base.

In response to these reports, and after United States congressional inquiries, the General Accounting Office launched an inquiry and directed the Office of the United States Secretary of the Air Force to conduct an internal investigation. The result was summarized in two reports. The first, released in 1995, concluded that the reported recovered material in 1947 was likely debris from Project Mogul. The second report, released in 1997, concluded reports of recovered alien bodies were likely a combination of innocently transformed memories of military accidents involving injured or killed personnel, innocently transformed memories of the recovery of anthropomorphic dummies in military programs like Operation High Dive conducted in the 1950s, and hoaxes perpetrated by various witnesses and UFO proponents. The psychological effects of time compression and confusion about when events occurred explained the discrepancy with the years in question. These reports were dismissed by UFO proponents as being either disinformation or simply implausible. But at the same time, several high-profile UFO researchers discounted the possibility that the incident had anything to do with aliens.[3]

Events of 1947[edit]

The Sacramento Bee article detailing the RAAF statements

The sequence of events was triggered by the crash of a Project Mogul balloon near Roswell.[2] On July 8, 1947, the Roswell Army Air Field (RAAF) public information officer Walter Haut, issued a press release stating that personnel from the field's 509th Operations Group had recovered a "flying disc", which had crashed on a ranch near Roswell.

The Military decided to conceal the true purpose of the crashed device – nuclear test monitoring – and instead inform the public that the crash was of a weather balloon.[4] Later that day, the press reported that Commanding General of the Eighth Air Force Roger Ramey had stated that a weather balloon was recovered by the RAAF personnel. A press conference was held, featuring debris (foil, rubber and wood) said to be from the crashed object, which match the weather balloon description. Historian Robert Goldberg wrote that the intented effect was achieved: "the story died the next day".[5]

Subsequently the incident faded from the attention of UFO enthusiasts for more than 30 years.[6]

On June 14, 1947, William Brazel, a foreman working on the Foster homestead, noticed clusters of debris approximately 30 miles (50 km) north of Roswell, New Mexico. This date—or "about three weeks" before July 8—appeared in later stories featuring Brazel, but the initial press release from the Roswell Army Air Field (RAAF) said the find was "sometime last week," suggesting Brazel found the debris in early July.[7] Brazel told the Roswell Daily Record that he and his son saw a "large area of bright wreckage made up of rubber strips, tinfoil, a rather tough paper and sticks."[8] He paid little attention to it but returned on July 4 with his son, wife and daughter to gather up the material.[9] Some accounts have described Brazel as having gathered some of the material earlier, rolling it together and stashing it under some brush.[10] The next day, Brazel heard reports about "flying discs" and wondered if that was what he had picked up.[9] On July 7, Brazel saw Sheriff Wilcox and "whispered kinda confidential like" that he may have found a flying disc.[9] Another account quotes Wilcox as saying Brazel reported the object on July 6.[7]

Wilcox called RAAF Major Jesse Marcel and a "man in plainclothes" accompanied Brazel back to the ranch where more pieces were picked up. "[We] spent a couple of hours Monday afternoon [July 7] looking for any more parts of the weather device", said Marcel. "We found a few more patches of tinfoil and rubber."[11]

As described in the July 9, 1947 edition of the Roswell Daily Record,

The balloon which held it up, if that was how it worked, must have been 12 feet long, [Brazel] felt, measuring the distance by the size of the room in which he sat. The rubber was smoky gray in color and scattered over an area about 200 yards in diameter. When the debris was gathered up, the tinfoil, paper, tape, and sticks made a bundle about three feet long and 7 or 8 inches thick, while the rubber made a bundle about 18 or 20 inches long and about 8 inches thick. In all, he estimated, the entire lot would have weighed maybe five pounds. There was no sign of any metal in the area which might have been used for an engine, and no sign of any propellers of any kind, although at least one paper fin had been glued onto some of the tinfoil. There were no words to be found anywhere on the instrument, although there were letters on some of the parts. Considerable Scotch tape and some tape with flowers printed upon it had been used in the construction. No strings or wires were to be found but there were some eyelets in the paper to indicate that some sort of attachment may have been used.[12]

A telex sent to an Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) office from the Fort Worth, Texas office quoted a Major from the Eighth Air Force (also based in Fort Worth at Carswell Air Force Base) on July 8, 1947 as saying that "The disc is hexagonal in shape and was suspended from a ballon [sic] by cable, which ballon [sic] was approximately twenty feet in diameter. Major Curtan further advices 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 [UNINTELLIGIBLE] borne out this belief."[13]

Early on Tuesday, July 8, the RAAF issued a press release, which was immediately picked up by numerous news outlets:[14]

The many rumors regarding the flying disc became a reality yesterday when the intelligence office of the 509th Bomb group of the Eighth Air Force, Roswell Army Air Field, was fortunate enough to gain possession of a disc through the cooperation of one of the local ranchers and the sheriff's office of Chaves County. The flying object landed on a ranch near Roswell sometime last week. Not having phone facilities, the rancher stored the disc until such time as he was able to contact the sheriff's office, who in turn notified Maj. Jesse A. Marcel of the 509th Bomb Group Intelligence Office. Action was immediately taken and the disc was picked up at the rancher's home. It was inspected at the Roswell Army Air Field and subsequently loaned by Major Marcel to higher headquarters.[15]

Colonel William H. Blanchard, commanding officer of the 509th, contacted General Roger M. Ramey of the Eighth Air Force in Fort Worth, Texas, and Ramey ordered the object be flown to Fort Worth Army Air Field. At the base, Warrant Officer Irving Newton confirmed Ramey’s preliminary opinion, identifying the object as being a weather balloon and its "kite,"[10] a nickname for a radar reflector used to track the balloons from the ground. Another news release was issued, this time from the Fort Worth base, describing the object as being a "weather balloon".

Growing interest, 1978 – 1994[edit]

Between 1978 and the early early 1990s, UFO researchers such as Stanton T. Friedman, William Moore, Karl T. Pflock, and the team of Kevin D. Randle and Donald R. Schmitt interviewed several hundred people who had – or claimed to have had – a connection with the events at Roswell in 1947.[16] Hundreds of documents were obtained via Freedom of Information Act requests, and some were supposedly leaked by insiders, such as the so-called Majestic 12. Their conclusions were at least one alien craft had crashed in the Roswell vicinity, aliens – some possibly still alive – has been recovered, and a government cover-up of any knowledge of the incident had taken place.[3]

Over the years, books, articles, television specials, and a made-for-TV movie brought the 1947 incident significant notoriety.[3] By the mid-1990s, public polls such as a 1997 CNN/Time poll, revealed that the majority of people interviewed believed that aliens had indeed visited Earth, and that aliens had landed at Roswell, but that all the relevant information was being kept secret by the US government.[17]

For anthropologists Susan Harding and Kathleen Stewart, the Roswell Story was the prime example of how a discourse moved from the fringes to the mainstream according to the prevailing zeitgeist: public preoccupation in the 1980s with "conspiracy, cover-up and repression" aligned well with the Roswell narratives as told in the "sensational book" which were being published.[18]

Friedman's initial work[edit]

In 1978, nuclear physicist and author Stanton T. Friedman interviewed Jesse Marcel, the only person known to have accompanied the Roswell debris from where it was recovered to Fort Worth where reporters saw material which was claimed to be part of the recovered object. The accounts given by Friedman and others in the following years elevated Roswell from a forgotten incident to perhaps the most famous UFO case of all time.[3]

Books[edit]

The Roswell Incident (1980)[edit]

The first conspiracy book about Roswell was The Roswell Incident (1980) by Charles Berlitz and William Moore, authors who had previously written popular books on the Philadelphia Experiment and on the Bermuda Triangle.[4]

Historian Kathy Olmsted writes that the material in this book has come to be known as "version 1" of the Roswell myth. Berlitz and Moore's narrative holds that an alien craft was flying over the New Mexico desert observing US nuclear weapons activity, but crashed after being hit by lightning, killing the aliens on board; a government cover-up duly followed.[4]

The authors claimed to have interviewed over ninety witnesses. Though he was uncredited, Friedman carried out some research for the book.[19] The Roswell Incident featured accounts of debris described by Marcel as "nothing made on this earth."[20] Additional accounts by Bill Brazel,[21] son of Mac Brazel, neighbor Floyd Proctor[22] and Walt Whitman Jr.,[23] son of newsman W. E. Whitman who had interviewed Mac Brazel, suggested the material Marcel recovered had super-strength not associated with a weather balloon. The book introduced the contention that debris which was recovered by Marcel at the Foster ranch, visible in photographs showing Marcel posing with the debris, was substituted for debris from a weather device as part of a cover-up.[24][25] The book also claimed that the debris recovered from the ranch was not permitted a close inspection by the press. The efforts by the military were described as being intended to discredit and "counteract the growing hysteria towards flying saucers".[26] Two accounts[27] of witness intimidation were included in the book, including the incarceration of Mac Brazel.[28]

Berlitz and Moore's narrative was dominant until the late 1980s when other authors, attracted by the commercial potential of writing about Roswell, started producing rival accounts.[29]

UFO Crash at Roswell (1991)[edit]

In 1991 Kevin Randle and Donald Schmitt published UFO Crash at Roswell. They added 100 new witnesses, altered and tightened the narrative, and included several "sinister" new twists.[29]

Some new details were included, including accounts of a "gouge [...] that extended four or five hundred feet" at the ranch[30] and descriptions of an elaborate cordon and recovery operation. Several witnesses in The Roswell Incident described being turned back from the Foster ranch by armed military police, but extensive descriptions were not given.[citation needed] The Barnett accounts were mentioned, though the dates and locations were changed from the accounts found in The Roswell Incident. In the new account, Brazel was described as leading the Army to a second crash site on the ranch, at which point the Army personnel were supposedly "horrified to find civilians [including Barnett] there already."[31]

Glenn Dennis was produced as a supposedly important witness in 1989, after calling the hotline when an episode of Unsolved Mysteries featured the Roswell incident. His descriptions of Roswell alien autopsies were the first account that said there were alien corpses at the Roswell Army Air Base.[3]

Randle and Schmitt's book sold 160,000 copies.[32]

Crash at Corona (1992)[edit]

In 1992 Stanton Friedman re-entered the scene with his own book Crash at Corona, co-authored with Don Berliner – an author of books on space and aviation.[32] Goldberg writes that Friedman too introduced new "witnesses", and that he added to the narrative by doubling the number of flying saucers to two, and the number of aliens to eight – two of which were said to have survived and been taken into custody by the government.[32]

The Truth about the UFO Crash at Roswell (1994)[edit]

Randle and Schmitt responded with another book, updating their previous narrative with several new details, including the claim that alien bodies were taken by cargo plane to be viewed by Dwight D. Eisenhower, who was curious about their appearance.[32]

Competing accounts[edit]

The existence of so many differing accounts by 1994 led to a schism among ufologists about the events at Roswell.[33] The Center for UFO Studies (CUFOS) and the Mutual UFO Network (MUFON), two leading UFO societies, disagreed in their views of the various scenarios presented by Randle–Schmitt and Friedman–Berliner; several conferences were held to try to resolve the differences. One issue under discussion was where Barnett was when he saw the alien craft he was said to have encountered. A 1992 UFO conference had attempted to achieve a consensus among the various scenarios portrayed in Crash at Corona and UFO Crash at Roswell, however, the publication of The Truth About the UFO Crash at Roswell had "resolved" the Barnett problem by simply ignoring Barnett and citing a new location for the alien craft recovery, including a new group of archaeologists not connected to the ones the Barnett story cited.[33]

Don Schmitt held that variations in narratives between different writers was not however an essential problem, commenting by way of comparison "We know Jesus Christ was crucified, we just don't know where."[34]

Problems with witness accounts[edit]

Hundreds of people were interviewed by the various researchers, but critics point out that only a few of these people claimed to have seen debris or aliens. Most witnesses were repeating the claims of others, and their testimony would be considered hearsay in an American court of law and therefore inadmissible as evidence. Of the 90 people claimed to have been interviewed for The Roswell Incident, the testimony of only 25 appears in the book, and only seven of these people saw the debris. Of these, five handled the debris.[35] Pflock, in Roswell: Inconvenient Facts and the Will to Believe (2001), makes a similar point about Randle and Schmitt's UFO Crash at Roswell. Approximately 271 people are listed in the book who were "contacted and interviewed" for the book, and this number does not include those who chose to remain anonymous, meaning more than 300 witnesses were interviewed, a figure Pflock said the authors frequently cited.[36] Of these 300-plus individuals, only 41 can be "considered genuine first- or second-hand witnesses to the events in and around Roswell or at the Fort Worth Army Air Field," and only 23 can be "reasonably thought to have seen physical evidence, debris recovered from the Foster Ranch." Of these, only seven have asserted anything suggestive of otherworldly origins for the debris.[36]

As for the accounts from those who claimed to have seen aliens, critics identified problems ranging from the reliability of second-hand accounts, to credibility problems with witnesses making demonstrably false claims, or multiple, contradictory accounts, to dubious death-bed confessions or accounts from elderly and easily confused witnesses.[37][38][39] Pflock noted that only four people with supposed firsthand knowledge of alien bodies were interviewed and identified by Roswell authors: Frank Kaufmann; Jim Ragsdale; Lt. Col. Albert Lovejoy Duran; Gerald Anderson.[40] Duran is mentioned in a brief footnote in The Truth About the UFO Crash at Roswell and never again, while the other three all have serious credibility problems. A problem with all the accounts, charge critics, is they all came about a minimum of 31 years after the events in question, and in many cases were recounted more than 40 years after the fact. Not only are memories this old of dubious reliability, they were also subject to contamination from other accounts the interviewees may have been exposed to.[3] The shifting claims of Jesse Marcel, whose suspicion that what he recovered in 1947 was "not of this world" sparked interest in the incident in the first place, cast serious doubt on the reliability of what he claimed to be true.

In The Roswell Incident, Marcel stated, "Actually, this material may have looked like tinfoil and balsa wood, but the resemblance ended there [...] They took one picture of me on the floor holding up some of the less-interesting metallic debris [...] The stuff in that one photo was pieces of the actual stuff we found. It was not a staged photo."[41] Timothy Printy points out that the material Marcel positively identified as being part of what he recovered is material that skeptics and UFO advocates agree is debris from a balloon device.[13] After that fact was pointed out to him, Marcel changed his story to say that that material was not what he recovered.[13] Skeptics like Robert Todd argued that Marcel had a history of embellishment and exaggeration, such as claiming to have been a pilot and having received five Air Medals for shooting down enemy planes, claims that were all found to be false, and skeptics feel that his evolving Roswell story was simply another instance of this tendency to fabricate.[42]

Air Force reports, 1994 – 1997[edit]

In response to these reports, and after United States congressional inquiries, the General Accounting Office launched an inquiry and directed the Office of the United States Secretary of the Air Force to conduct an internal investigation. The result was summarized in two reports. The first, released in 1995, concluded that the reported recovered material in 1947 was likely debris from Project Mogul. The second report, released in 1997, concluded reports of recovered alien bodies were likely a combination of innocently transformed memories of military accidents involving injured or killed personnel, innocently transformed memories of the recovery of anthropomorphic dummies in military programs like Operation High Dive conducted in the 1950s, and hoaxes perpetrated by various witnesses and UFO proponents. The psychological effects of time compression and confusion about when events occurred explained the discrepancy with the years in question. These reports were dismissed by UFO proponents as being either disinformation or simply implausible, while several high-profile UFO researchers discounted the possibility that the incident had anything to do with aliens.

During the mid-1990s, the United States Air Force issued two reports which accounted for the debris that was found and reported on in 1947, and which also accounted for the later reports of alien recoveries. The USAF reports identified the debris as coming from a top-secret government experiment called Project Mogul, which tested the feasibility of detecting Soviet nuclear tests and ballistic missiles with equipment that was carried aloft using high-altitude balloons. Accounts of aliens were explained as resulting from misidentified military experiments that used anthropomorphic dummies, accidents involving injured or killed military personnel, and hoaxes perpetrated by various witnesses and UFO proponents.[citation needed] The Air Force report formed a basis for a skeptical response to the claims many authors were making about the recovery of aliens, though skeptical researchers such as Philip J. Klass[43] and Robert Todd had already been publishing articles for several years that raised significant doubts about the accounts of aliens in the incident.

Books published into the 1990s suggested there was much more to the Roswell incident than the mere recovery of a weather balloon, however, skeptics, and even some social anthropologists[44] saw the increasingly elaborate accounts as evidence of a myth being constructed. After the release of the Air Force reports, several books, such as Kal Korff's The Roswell UFO Crash: What They Don't Want You To Know (1997), built on the evidence presented in the reports to conclude "there is no credible evidence that the remains of an extraterrestrial spacecraft was involved."[16]

Recent interest[edit]

Evidence[edit]

Although there is no evidence that a UFO crashed at Roswell, believers firmly hold to the belief that one did, and that the truth has been concealed as a result of a government conspiracy.[45] B. D. Gildenberg has called the Roswell incident "the world's most famous, most exhaustively investigated, and most thoroughly debunked UFO claim".[3]

Pflock said, "[T]he case for Roswell is a classic example of the triumph of quantity over quality. The advocates of the crashed-saucer tale [...] simply shovel everything that seems to support their view into the box marked 'Evidence' and say, 'See? Look at all this stuff. We must be right.' Never mind the contradictions. Never mind the lack of independent supporting fact. Never mind the blatant absurdities."[46] Korff suggests there are clear incentives for some people to promote the idea of aliens at Roswell, and that many researchers were not doing competent work: "[The] UFO field is comprised of people who are willing to take advantage of the gullibility of others, especially the paying public. Let's not pull any punches here: The Roswell UFO myth has been very good business for UFO groups, publishers, for Hollywood, the town of Roswell, the media, and UFOlogy [...] [The] number of researchers who employ science and its disciplined methodology is appallingly small."[47]

B. D. Gildenberg wrote there were as many as 11 reported alien recovery sites[3] and these recoveries bore only a marginal resemblance to the event as initially reported in 1947, or as recounted later by the initial witnesses. Some of these new accounts could have been confused accounts of the several known recoveries of injured and dead servicemen from four military plane crashes that occurred in the area from 1948 to 1950.[48] Other accounts could have been based on memories of recoveries of test dummies, as suggested by the Air Force in their reports. Charles Ziegler argued that the Roswell story has all the hallmarks of a traditional folk narrative. He identified six distinct narratives, and a process of transmission via storytellers with a core story that was created from various witness accounts, and was then shaped and molded by those who carry on the UFO community's tradition. Other "witnesses" were then sought out to expand the core narrative, with those who give accounts not in line with the core beliefs being repudiated or simply omitted by the "gatekeepers."[49][50] Others then retold the narrative in its new form. This whole process would repeat over time.

Books[edit]

Top Secret/Majic (2005 edition)[edit]

Stanton T. Friedman continues to defend his view that the Majestic 12 (also known as Majic-12) documents, which describe a secret government agency hiding information on recovered aliens, are authentic. In an afterword dated April 2005 to a new edition of his book Top Secret/Majic (first published in 1996), he responds to more recent questions on their validity and concludes "I am still convinced Roswell really happened, [and] that the Eisenhower Briefing Document [i.e., Majestic 12] ... [and others] are the most important classified documents ever leaked to the public."[51]

Witness to Roswell (2007)[edit]

In June 2007, Donald Schmitt and his investigation partner Tom Carey published their first book together, Witness to Roswell.[52] In this book, they claim a "continuously growing roster of more than 600 people directly or indirectly associated with the events at Roswell who support the first account - that initial claim of the flying saucer recovery."[53] New accounts of aliens or alien recoveries were described, including the account of Walter Haut, who wrote the initial press release in 1947.

A new date was suggested for the crash of a mysterious object—the evening of Thursday, July 3, 1947.[54][55] Also, unlike previous accounts, Brazel took the debris to Corona, where he showed fragments to local residents in the local bar, hardware store, and elsewhere, and to Capitan to the south, where portions of the object ended up at a 4th of July rodeo.[56] Numerous people are described as visiting the debris field and taking souvenirs before Brazel finally went to Roswell to report the find on July 6. Once the military was alerted to the debris, extensive efforts were undertaken to retrieve those souvenirs: "Ranch houses were and [sic] ransacked. The wooden floors of livestock sheds were pried loose plank by plank and underground cold storage fruit cellars were emptied of all their contents."[57]

The subsequent events are related as per the sequence in previous books, except for a second recovery site of an alien body at the Foster ranch. This recovery near the debris field is the same site mentioned in 1991's UFO Crash at Roswell. The authors suggest that Brazel discovered the second site some days after finding the debris field, and this prompted him to travel to Roswell and report his find to the authorities.

Neither Barnett nor the archaeologists are reported to be present at this body site. While noting the earlier "major problems" with Barnett's account, which caused Schmitt and previous partner Randle to omit Barnett's claim in 1994's The Truth about the UFO Crash at Roswell, the new book further notes another site mentioned in the 1994 publication. This site closer to Roswell "turned out to be bogus, as it was based upon the testimony of a single, alleged eyewitness [Frank Kaufmann] who himself was later discovered to have been a purveyor of false information."[58] Jim Ragsdale, whose alien account opened that book and who was claimed to have been present along with some archaeologists, is not mentioned in the new book.

The 2007 book includes claims that Major Marcel saw alien bodies, a claim not present in previous books. Two witnesses are cited who say Marcel briefly mentioned seeing bodies, one a relative and another a Tech Sergeant who worked with Marcel's intelligence team.[59]

Much additional new testimony is presented to support notions that alien bodies were found at the Foster ranch and at another main crash site along with a craft, then processed at the base in a hangar and at the hospital, and the bodies finally flown out in containers, all under very tight security. The book suggests Brazel found "two or three alien bodies" about two miles east of the debris field, and describes the rest of a stricken alien craft along with the remainder of the crew remaining airborne for some 30 more miles before crashing at another site about 40 miles north/northwest of Roswell (but not the same site described by Kaufmann). The authors claim to have located this final crash site in 2005 where "an additional two or three dead aliens and one live one were discovered by civilian archaeologists," but offer no more information about the new site.[60]

Walter Haut, the Roswell Army Air Field public affairs officer, had drafted the initial press release which went out over the news wires on the afternoon of July 8, 1947, announcing a "flying disc". This was supposedly the only direct involvement Haut had in public statements and signed affidavits. The book presents a new affidavit that Haut signed in 2002 in which he claims much greater personal knowledge and involvement, including seeing alien corpses and craft, and involvement in a cover-up. Haut died in 2005.[61]

Another new firsthand account from MP Elias Benjamin describes how he guarded aliens on gurneys taken to the Roswell base hospital from the same hangar.[62] Similarly, family members of Miriam Bush, secretary to the chief medical officer at Roswell base, told of having been led into an examination room where alien corpses were laid out on gurneys.[63] In both accounts, one of the aliens was said to be still alive. The book also recounted earlier testimony of the Anaya family about picking up New Mexico Lt. Governor Joseph Montoya at the base, and a badly shaken Montoya relating that he saw four alien bodies at the base hangar, one of them alive.[64] Benjamin's and Bush's accounts, as do a few lesser ones, again place aliens at the Roswell base hospital, as had the Glenn Dennis story from almost 20 years before. The book notes that Dennis had been found to have told lies, and therefore is a supplier of unreliable testimony, but had nevertheless told others of incidents at the Roswell base long before it became associated with aliens in the late 1970s.[65]

Roswellian Syndrome[edit]

Prominent skeptics Joe Nickell and co-author James McGaha identified a myth-making process, which they called the "Roswellian Syndrome".[66] In this syndrome a myth is proposed to have five distinct stages of development: Incident, Debunking, Submergence, Mythologizing, and Reemergence and Media Bandwagon Effect. The authors predicted that the Roswellian Syndrome would "play out again and again",[66] in other UFO and conspiracy-theory stories.

Ufologist response[edit]

In January 1997, Karl T. Pflock, one of the more prominent pro-UFO researchers, said "Based on my research and that of others, I'm as certain as it's possible to be without absolute proof that no flying saucer or saucers crashed in the general vicinity of Roswell or on the Plains of San Agustin in 1947. The debris found by Mac Brazel...was the remains of something very earthly, all but certainly something from the Top Secret Project Mogul....The formerly highly classified record of correspondence and discussions among top Air Force officials who were responsible for cracking the flying saucer mystery from the mid-1940s through the early 1950s makes it crystal clear that they didn't have any crashed saucer wreckage or bodies of saucer crews, but they were desperate to have such evidence [...]"[67]

Kent Jeffrey, who organized petitions to ask President Bill Clinton to issue an Executive order to declassify any government information on the Roswell incident, similarly concluded that no aliens were likely to have been involved.[67]

William L. Moore, one of the earliest proponents of the Roswell incident as a UFO event, said this in 1997: "After deep and careful consideration of recent developments concerning Roswell...I am no longer of the opinion that the extraterrestrial explanation is the best explanation for this event." Moore was co-author of the first book on Roswell, The Roswell Incident.[67]

In a podcast interview with Canadian filmmaker Paul Kimball released on August 25, 2013, Kevin Randle stated that while he still personally believed that an extraterrestrial spacecraft crashed in New Mexico, the evidence does not support that conclusion beyond a reasonable doubt. "We really can't get to the extraterrestrial," stated Randle. "We can eliminate practically everything else that you care to mention, but that still doesn't get us to the extraterrestrial."[68]

Shoddy research revealed; witnesses suspected of hoaxes[edit]

The Air Force reports on the incident suggested that basic research that was claimed to have been carried out was not in fact carried out,[69] a fact verified in a 1995 Omni magazine article.[70]

Glenn Dennis, who testified that Roswell alien autopsies were carried out at the Roswell base, and that he and others were the subjects of threats, was deemed one of the "least credible" Roswell witnesses by Randle in 1998. In Randle and Schmitt’s 1991 book UFO Crash at Roswell, Dennis's story was featured prominently. Randle said Dennis was not credible "for changing the name of the nurse once we had proved she didn't exist."[71] Dennis's accounts were also doubted by researcher Pflock.[67]

Alien autopsy hoax[edit]

In 1995, film footage purporting to show an alien autopsy and claimed to have been taken by a US military official shortly after the Roswell incident was released by Ray Santilli, a London-based video entrepreneur. The footage caused an international sensation when it aired on television networks around the world.[43]

In 2006, Santilli said that the film was mostly a reconstruction, but continued to claim it was based on genuine footage now lost, and some original frames that had supposedly survived. A fictionalized version of the creation of the footage and its release was retold in the comedy film Alien Autopsy (2006).[72][73]

Photo analysis[edit]

Enlargement of Gen. Ramey's held message in the original photo.

In an attempt to produce fresh evidence, some researchers used new technology to try and re-analyze photographs of the telegram held by General Ramey during his 1947 press conference.[74] Goldberg writes that the results proved inconclusive: while some claimed they could discern wording like "victims of the wreck", other claimed they saw "turn out to be weather balloons", and overall there was no consensus that anything was legible.[74]

US political interest[edit]

On October 26, 2007, Bill Richardson (who at the time was a candidate for the Democratic Party nomination for U.S. President) was asked about releasing government files on Roswell. Richardson responded that when he was a Congressman, he attempted to get information on behalf of his New Mexico constituents, but was told by both the Department of Defense and Los Alamos Labs that the information was classified. "That ticked me off," he said "The government doesn't tell the truth as much as it should on a lot of issues." He promised to work on opening the files if he were elected as President.[75]

In October 2002, before airing its Roswell documentary, the Sci-Fi Channel 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."[76]

Deathbed confessions[edit]

As time wore on, it became harder for Roswell researchers to find new evidence to publish; there was potential though in the prospect of deathbed confessions from those originally involved in 1947.[77] In 2007 Donald Schmitt and Tom Carey published the book Witness to Roswell, which prominently featured a document said to be a sworn affidavit written by Walter Haut, who had written the first Army press release about the Roswell crash in 1947.[78] The document, apparently kept under seal until Haut's death in 2005, described how the 1947 crash debris had been discussed by high-ranking staff and how Haut had seen alien bodies.[78][79] The claims, however, drew an unimpressed response even from ufologists: Dennis Balthaser said that the document was not written by Haut, and that by 2000 Haut's mental state was such he could not recall basic details about his past, making the detail contained in the affadavit seem dubious.[78] Physicist and skeptic Dave Thomas commented: "Is Roswell still the 'best' UFO incident? If it is, UFO proponents should be very, very worried."[78]

The "other Roswell"[edit]

The 2011 FBI document claiming to find "three so-called flying saucers"

The 1948 Aztec, New Mexico, UFO incident was a hoaxed flying saucer crash and subject of the 1950 book Behind the Flying Saucers by Frank Scully. The incident is sometimes referred to as the "other Roswell" and parallels have been drawn between the incidents.[80]

Area 51 (2011)[edit]

American journalist Annie Jacobsen's Area 51: An Uncensored History of America's Top Secret Military Base (2011), based on interviews with scientists and engineers who worked in Area 51, dismisses the alien story. It suggested that Josef Mengele, a German Schutzstaffel officer and a physician in Auschwitz, was recruited by the Soviet leader Joseph Stalin to produce "grotesque, child-size aviators" to be remotely piloted and landed in America in order to cause hysteria similar to Orson Welles' War of the Worlds (1938). The aircraft, however, crashed and the incident was hushed up by the Americans.[citation needed] Jacobsen wrote that the bodies found at the crash site were children around 12 years old with large heads and abnormally-shaped, over-sized eyes. They were neither aliens nor consenting airmen, but human guinea pigs.[81] The book was criticized for extensive errors by scientists from the Federation of American Scientists.[82]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ "Secret Air Force balloon crashes near Roswell, N.M. -- mistaken for UFO". 
  2. ^ a b Olmsted 2009, p. 184: "When one of these balloons smashed into the sands of the New Mexico ranch, the military decided to hide the project's real purpose."
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h Gildenberg 2003
  4. ^ a b c Olmsted 2009
  5. ^ Goldberg 2001, p. 192
  6. ^ Goldberg 2001, p. 193
  7. ^ a b [unreliable source?]"United Press Teletype Messages". Roswell Proof. Retrieved February 5, 2013. 
  8. ^ "Harassed Rancher who Located 'Saucer' Sorry He Told About it". Roswell Daily Record. July 9, 1947. Retrieved February 5, 2013. 
  9. ^ a b c [unreliable source?]Printy 1999, Chapter 2
  10. ^ a b "New Mexico 'Disc' Declared Weather Balloon and Kite". Los Angeles Examiner. Associated Press. July 9, 1947. p. 1. Retrieved February 5, 2013. 
  11. ^ "New Mexico Rancher's 'Flying Disk' Proves to be Weather Balloon-Kite". Fort Worth Star-Telegram. p. Front. Retrieved February 5, 2013. 
  12. ^ "Harassed Rancher who Located 'Saucer' Sorry He Told about It". Roswell Daily Record. July 9, 1947. Retrieved February 5, 2013. 
  13. ^ a b c [unreliable source?]Printy 1999, Chapter 6
  14. ^ "RAAF Captures Flying Saucer on Ranch in Roswell Region". Roswell Daily Record. July 8, 1947. p. Front. Retrieved February 5, 2013. 
  15. ^ [unreliable source?]Printy 1999, Chapter 5
  16. ^ a b Korff, Kal (August 1997). "What Really Happened at Roswell". Skeptical Inquirer 21 (4). Retrieved February 5, 2013. 
  17. ^ "Poll U.S. Hiding Knowledge of Aliens". CNN. June 15, 1997. Retrieved February 5, 2013. 
  18. ^ Harding & Stewart 2003, p. 273
  19. ^ Korff 1997, pp. 1–264
  20. ^ Berlitz & Moore 1980, p. 28
  21. ^ Berlitz & Moore 1980, p. 79
  22. ^ Berlitz & Moore 1980, p. 83
  23. ^ Berlitz & Moore 1980, pp. 88–89
  24. ^ Berlitz & Moore 1980, p. 33
  25. ^ Berlitz & Moore 1980, pp. 67–69
  26. ^ Berlitz & Moore 1980, p. 42
  27. ^ Berlitz & Moore 1980, pp. 75,88
  28. ^ Berlitz & Moore 1980, pp. 75
  29. ^ a b Goldberg 2001, p. 197
  30. ^ Randle & Schmitt 1991, p. 200
  31. ^ Randle & Schmitt 1991, p. 206
  32. ^ a b c d Goldberg 2001, p. 199
  33. ^ a b Saler, Ziegler & Moore 1997, pp. 24–25
  34. ^ Goldberg 2001, p. 201
  35. ^ Korff 1997, p. 29
  36. ^ a b Pflock 2001, pp. 176–177
  37. ^ Korff 1997, pp. 77–81
  38. ^ Korff 1997, pp. 86–104
  39. ^ Korff 1997, pp. 107–108
  40. ^ Pflock 2001, p. 118
  41. ^ Berlitz & Moore 1980, pp. 1–168
  42. ^ Todd, Robert (December 8, 1995). "Jesse Marcel: Folk Hero or Mythomaniac". The KowPflop Quarterly 1 (3): 1–4. 
  43. ^ a b Roswell UFO incident, on season 8 , episode 2 of Scientific American Frontiers.
  44. ^ Saler, Ziegler & Moore 1997, pp. 1–198
  45. ^ Joseph 2008, p. 132
  46. ^ Pflock 2001, p. 223
  47. ^ Korff 1997, p. 248
  48. ^ Printy 1999, Chapter 17
  49. ^ Saler, Ziegler & Moore 1997, p. 1
  50. ^ Saler, Ziegler & Moore 1997, pp. 34–37
  51. ^ Friedman 2005, pp. 1–282
  52. ^ Carey & Schmitt 2007, pp. 1–256
  53. ^ Carey & Schmitt 2007, p. 38
  54. ^ Carey & Schmitt 2007, p. 21
  55. ^ Carey & Schmitt 2007, p. 127
  56. ^ Carey & Schmitt 2007, pp. 48–49
  57. ^ Carey & Schmitt 2007, p. 51
  58. ^ Carey & Schmitt 2007, pp. 126–127
  59. ^ Carey & Schmitt 2007, pp. 79–80
  60. ^ Carey & Schmitt 2007, pp. 127–128
  61. ^ Carey & Schmitt 2007, pp. 215–217
  62. ^ Carey & Schmitt 2007, pp. 136–140
  63. ^ Carey & Schmitt 2007, pp. 119–123
  64. ^ Carey & Schmitt 2007, pp. 83–92
  65. ^ Carey & Schmitt 2007, p. 135
  66. ^ a b Nickell, Joe; McGaha, James (May–June 2012). "The Roswellian Syndrome: How Some UFO Myths Develop". Skeptical Inquirer (Committee for Skeptical Inquiry) 36 (3). Retrieved February 6, 2013. 
  67. ^ a b c d Klass 1997
  68. ^ [unreliable source?]Randle, Kevin. "Roswell Revisited". The Other Side of Truth. Kimball Media. Retrieved August 25, 2013. 
  69. ^ Weaver & McAndrew 1995[page needed]
  70. ^ McCarthy, Paul. "The Missing Nurses of Roswell". The Roswell Files. Retrieved February 6, 2013. 
  71. ^ [unreliable source?]"Kevin Randle of the UK-UFO-NW #UFO Channel". Center for UFO Studies. Retrieved February 6, 2013. 
  72. ^ Osborn, Michael (April 5, 2006). "Ant and Dec Leap into the Unknown". BBC News (BBC). Retrieved February 6, 2013. 
  73. ^ "Max Headroom Creator Made Roswell Alien". The Sunday Times. April 16, 2006. Archived from the original on May 22, 2008. Retrieved February 6, 2013. 
  74. ^ a b Goldberg 2001, p. 230
  75. ^ Slater, Wayne (October 27, 2007). "On Texas stop, Democratic Candidate Richardson Criticizes Government Secrecy". The Dallas Morning News. Archived from the original on January 22, 2009. Retrieved February 6, 2013. 
  76. ^ Stenger, Richard (October 22, 2002). "Clinton Aide Slams Pentagon's UFO Secrecy". CNN. Retrieved February 6, 2013. 
  77. ^ Goldberg 2001, p. 230: "The Roswell researchers were also pulling up stakes, for the evidence was well-worn and growing cold. There were few witnesses left to interview, although 'deathbed confessions' still offered hope."
  78. ^ a b c d Thomas 2009
  79. ^ "Roswell Theory Revived by Deathbed Confession". The Sunday Telegraph. July 1, 2007. Retrieved February 6, 2013. 
  80. ^ Malkin, Bonnie (April 11, 2011). "'Exploding UFOs and Alien Landings' in Secret FBI Files". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved February 6, 2013. 
  81. ^ Harding, Thomas (May 13, 2011). "Roswell 'was Soviet plot to create US panic'". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved February 6, 2013. 
  82. ^ Norris, Robert; Richelson, Jeffrey (July 11, 2011). "Dreamland Fantasies". Washington Decoded. Retrieved February 6, 2013. 

References[edit]

News sources and websites are listed in the Notes section only.
Berlitz, Charles; Moore, William (1980). The Roswell Incident. Grosset & Dunlap. ISBN 9780448211992. 
Carey, Thomas; Schmitt, Donald (2007). Witness to Roswell: Unmasking the 60-Year Cover-Up. New Page Books. ISBN 9781564149435. 
Friedman, Stanton; Berliner, Don (1992). Crash at Corona: The U.S. Military Retrieval and Cover-Up of a UFO. Paragon House. ISBN 9781557784490. 
Friedman, Stanton (2005). Top Secret/MAJIC : Operation Majestic-12 and the United States Government's UFO Cover-Up. Marlowe & Co. ISBN 9781569243428. 
Gildenberg, B.D. (2003). "A Roswell requiem". Skeptic 10 (1): 60. 
Goldberg, Robert Alan (2001). "Chapter 6: The Roswell Incident". Enemies Within: The Culture of Conspiracy in Modern America (Yale University Press). pp. 189–. ISBN 978-0-300-13294-6. 
Harding, Susan; Stewart, Kathleen (2003). "Chapter 9: Anxieties of influence: Conspiracy Theory and Therapeutic Culture in Millennial America". In West, Harry G.; Sanders, Todd. Transparency and Conspiracy: Ethnographies of Suspicion in the New World Order (Duke University Press). pp. 258–286. ISBN 0-8223-8485-X. 
Klass, Philip (1997). "The Klass Files". The Skeptics UFO Newsletter (The Committee for Skeptical Inquiry) 43. 
Korff, Kal (1997). The Roswell UFO Crash: What They Don't Want You to Know. Prometheus Books. ISBN 9781573921275. 
Joseph, Brad (2008). "Beyond the textbook: studying Roswell in the social studies classroom". Social Studies 99 (3): 132. doi:10.3200/TSSS.99.3.132-134. 
Olmsted, Kathryn S. (2009). "Chapter 6: Trust No One: Conspiracies and Conspiracy Theories from the 1970s to the 1990s". Real Enemies: Conspiracy Theories and American Democracy, World War I to 9/11 (Oxford University Press). pp. 173–204. ISBN 978-0-19-975395-6. 
Pflock, Karl (2001). Roswell: Inconvenient Facts and the Will to Believe. Prometheus Books. ISBN 9781573928946. 
Printy, Timothy (1999). Roswell 4F: Fabrications, Fumbled Facts, and Fables. Timothy Printy. Retrieved February 5, 2013. 
Randle, Kevin (1995). Roswell UFO Crash Update: Exposing the Military Cover-Up of the Century. Global Communications. ISBN 9780938294412. 
Randle, Kevin; Schmitt, Donald (1991). UFO Crash at Roswell. Avon Books. ISBN 9780380761968. 
Randle, Kevin; Schmitt, Donald (1994). The truth about the UFO Crash at Roswell. M Evans. ISBN 9780871317612. 
Saler, Benson; Ziegler, Charles; Moore, Charles (1997). UFO Crash at Roswell: The Genesis of a Modern Myth. Smithsonian Institution Press. ISBN 9781560987512. 
Thomas, Dave (2009). "Roswell update: fading star?". Skeptical Inquirer 33 (1): 52. 
Weaver, Richard; McAndrew, James (1995). The Roswell Report: Fact Versus Fiction in the New Mexico Desert. United States Air Force. ISBN 9781428994928. 

Further reading[edit]

Books, articles
Broad, William J (18 September 1994). "Wreckage in the Desert Was Odd but Not Alien". New York Times. 
Sobel D (1995). "The truth about Roswell". Omni 17 (8): 90. 
Web resources
The Amazing Roswell UFO Festival
Walker Air Force Base at Roswell online museum
Carey, Tom, and Schmitt, Don. UFOlogy Resource Center: The Roswell Report, via SciFi.com. Archived from the original on April 13, 2004.