UFOs, little green men and stories of flying saucers reportedly date back thousands of years, but our modern love affair has its roots in post-war America, June 1947 to be exact when a civilian pilot named Kenneth Arnold reported seeing several ‘flying saucers’ while flying near Mount Rainier, Washington. He described the objects as flying like geese and their movements ‘like a saucer would if you skipped it across the water’. And so the term ‘flying saucer’ was born. The story soon gained national interest and more and more sightings were being reported every day. One of these sightings occurred in early July 1947, only a couple of weeks after Kenneth Arnold’s close encounter.
Roswell. What was once a small quiet town in south east New Mexico has now become a mecca for conspiracy theorists and UFOlogists alike. What happened there in the summer of 1947 changed the town forever and now it has become synonymous with UFOs in the same way as Area 51 and Groom Lake, Nevada.
A ranch foreman by the name of Mac Brazen informed the Chaves County about some strange material he had found on the Foster Ranch, just outside Corona, New Mexico. He reported that he thought it was the remains of a flying disc like the ones that Kenneth Arnold had reported. The sheriff’s office passed the information on to the Roswell Army Air Force (RAAF) Base and to the base intelligence officer Major Jesse Marcel. Marcel immediately went to the ranch to speak with Mac Brazen personally and when he got there they began to look for more debris. Marcel then ordered a recovery team to come in and take what had been found by Brazen back to the RAAF for inspection.
Soon Roswell and the surrounding areas were buzzing with military personnel and a clean up operation began. The recovery was carried out by the 509th Bomb Group of the Eighth Air Force and the debris was transported back to Roswell Army Air Field were it was inspected before being passed on to what was described at the time as ‘higher headquarters’.
The day after the wreckage was recovered, a press release was issued by the US military that confirmed rumours that had been circulating regarding a ‘flying disc’. They stated that this disc and associated debris was recovered by Major Marcel’s 509th Bomb Group of the Eighth Air Force, Roswell Army Airfield. This was picked up by a number of newspapers, including the Roswell Daily Record, which ran with the headline:
RAAF CAPTURES FLYING SAUCER ON RANCH IN ROSWELL REGION
However this statement was retracted and a new one was released which stated that what was found was in fact a weather balloon. A press conference was held and some of the recovered items were put on display in an effort to confirm the weather balloon story. However, there are various reports that allege that what was put on display at the press conference was merely a fraction of what was recovered.
Sometime after the initial reports, interest in the Roswell incident – as it has become known – subsided, until in 1978 an interview between renowned UFOlogist Stanton T. Freidman and Major Jesse Marcel was published. Marcel claimed that what had been recovered was indeed the wreckage of an alien spacecraft and for the 30 years after the US Government had been involved in a cover up operation. An interview with The National Enquirer brought Roswell back into not only the national press but also international as news media from all over the world clamoured for interviews etc. The public’s interest in Roswell was reignited and afterwards more witnesses started to come forward, some describing actually seeing a craft which was more or less intact and which had strange markings all over it. Some people even claimed that there were 2 live aliens recovered from the wreckage and these were transported to a secure facility where one died shortly after, the other though reportedly lived until 1956. These claims were backed up in 1989 when former Roswell mortician Glenn Dennis gave a detailed account in which he claimed alien autopsies were carried out at the Roswell base and that he was actually contacted personally by personnel at the base and asked to provide child size coffins.
More recently in 2007 a man named Walter Haut, who was serving as a Lieutenant at RAAF base during 1947 and was the PR Officer responsible for issuing the press releases on the orders of the base commander Colonel William Blanchard, died and upon his death a sworn affidavit was opened in which he stated that the weather balloon story was merely a cover up and the real object had indeed been recovered and stored in a hangar – the infamous Building 84. He claimed that he personally was witness to the craft which he described as a metallic egg shaped object, 12 – 15ft in length and approximately 6ft wide with no windows, wings, tail, landing gear or any other noticeable feature. He claimed to have seen two bodies lying side by side on the floor which were partially covered by a tarp. He described them as around 4ft tall, with disproportionately large heads. Towards the end of the affidavit, Haut concludes: “I am convinced that what I personally observed was some kind of craft and its crew from outer space.”
Perhaps the most interesting thing about Lt. Haut’s testimony is that in the numerous interviews he gave throughout the years, he was always keen to play down the role he played and he made no such claims as to what allegedly took place at the crash site or the RAAF base. If we are to believe the conspiracy theory we may have the incident at Roswell to thank for some things we use every day in our modern world. It is alleged that thanks to the recovery of the downed craft and its other worldly technology, scientists have been able to reverse engineer and make use of some things that were found on board. It is claimed that discoveries such as Kevlar body armour, stealth technology, night vision goggles, lasers and the integrated circuit chip all have their roots in alien technology from the Roswell crash.
Roswell is now something of a pop culture phenomenon. Featured in many TV shows, movies, books, video games etc and all thanks to what could well have been a downed weather balloon. Not bad for a small quiet town in south eastern New Mexico.