Roswell UFO incident

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Roswell Daily Record newspaper from July 8, 1947

The Roswell UFO incident is a purported crash of an unidentified flying object (UFO) in Roswell, New Mexico, USA.

Some ufologists and much of the general public have shown interest in the Roswell Reports. Many books and a number of TV movies have been made concerning the alleged events, both fictionalized and more serious studies of the reports.

Some supporters of the extraterrestrial hypothesis consider the Roswell case among the most important recorded events, while skeptics point to a lack of evidence and inconsistent eyewitness accounts.



During the first week of July 1947, William Ware "Mack" Brazel, a ranch farmer from New Mexico, discovered a large amount of strange debris scattered widely over his ranch near Corona, New Mexico. The debris possessed physical properties unfamiliar to Mr. Brazel and his neighbors; it resembled aluminum foil and, when crumpled, straightened back up. Apparently, it could not be burned, cut, or physically harmed at all. After the rancher informed local authorities, military personnel arrived, retrieved the debris, and transported it to Roswell Army Airfield in Roswell, New Mexico; the debris was later flown to Wright Field in Dayton, Ohio, home of the Army Air Force's aeronautical research labs.

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Sacramento Bee article detailing the RAAF statements.

Initial Air Force press releases from Roswell reported that a "flying disk" had been recovered from a nearby ranch, although the story was rapidly changed to say that the crash was in fact a weather balloon "hexagonal in shape". Some charge the change in reports was disinformation and that the U.S. government was withholding or suppressing information.

The Roswell Incident received national attention in 1947, but after the "flying disk" news report was replaced by the weather balloon explanation, the event faded from the mainstream.

Renewed interest

Until 1978, the Roswell incident received little mainstream attention, when researchers Stanton T. Friedman and William L. Moore compared notes from a series of interviews each had conducted independently.

Friedman and Moore interviewed Lydia Sleppy, a teletype operator who worked at an Albuquerque, New Mexico, radio station in 1947, and United States Air Force Major Jesse A. Marcel, head intelligence officer at Roswell base in 1947. Sleppy claimed that the FBI had stopped their teletype story of the crashed flying disk with bodies from being transmitted after a Roswell radio reporter had phoned in the story. Marcel reported gathering highly unusual materials near Brazel's ranch which he said were "not of this Earth." He was then ordered to fly the recovered debris to Wright Field, first stopping in Fort Worth, Texas, to see Brigadeer General Roger Ramey[1] (, head of the 8th Army Air Force there. Marcel added that the weather balloon explanation subsequently put out by Gen. Ramey was a cover story.

One of the most credible reports regarding the Roswell Incident came from retired Air Force General Arthur Exon [2] (, as related to ufologists Kevin Randle and Donald Schmitt. In 1947, Exon was stationed at Wright Patterson Air Force Base. Shortly after the reports of the saucer crash, Exon said strange material was shipped to Wright Patterson. Though very thin and lightweight, Exon said the metal could not be bent, dented or scorched. He also said he heard reports of bodies being recovered. Exon stated flatly, "Roswell was the recovery of a craft from space."[3] (

By 1961, Exon had been promoted to a General, and was Wright-Patterson’s base chief from 1964-1966. However, critics charge that Exon's knowledge was almost entirely second hand. In order to have access to classified information in the U.S. government, one must have both the proper degree of classified clearance as well as a need to know the information. As a consequence, Exon was denied access to portions of the base where UFO-related studies were ongoing, and was never officially briefed regarding their findings.

Another retired Air Force general to speak out on Roswell was Thomas J. Dubose.[4] ( In 1947 he was a colonel and Gen. Ramey's chief of staff. Dubose said the whole matter was conducted in the strictest secrecy and even involved the White House. One such secretive event involved a shipment of debris by "colonel courier" from Roswell to Washington D.C., first stopping at Fort Worth. Dubose handled the high-level phone communications and said he personally received the order from Gen. Clemence McMullen in Washington to cover up what happened at Roswell. Dubose also confirmed Major Marcel's account that the weather balloon explanation put out by Gen. Ramey was the cover story to get the press off their backs.

There are other important witnesses in the Roswell case. Capt. Oliver Henderson, a senior pilot at Roswell, told family and friends of flying the remains of a flying saucer to Wright Field and seeing small alien bodies. Lewis Rickett, one of the Army Counter Intelligence Corp people at Roswell base, confirmed that the metallic debris was highly anomalous and that the military engaged in a large and highly secretive recovery operation at the Brazel ranch. Bill Brazel Jr., Mack Brazel's son, independently corroborated Major Marcel's descriptions of anomalous debris, the large, linear debris field, and his father finding the debris after a hearing a tremendous explosion. Both Rickett and Brazel Jr. described what appeared to be a linear impact groove. Brazel Jr. also said the military detained his father at the base, corroborated by the base provost marshall, Major Edwin Easley before he died. When pressed for details of his involvement, Easley said he had sworn an oath not to talk about what had happened.

Project Apollo astronaut Dr. Edgar Mitchell, though not a direct witness, has also affirmed on numerous occasions that Roswell was a real alien event based on his high-level contacts within the government. "Make no mistake, Roswell happened. I've seen secret files which show the government knew about it - but decided not to tell the public." [5] (

Other high-level, indirect witnesses are retired Brigadeer General Steven Lovekin and Senator Barry Goldwater. Lovekin claimed to have received a Pentagon briefing on a 1947 New Mexico crash when he was stationed at the White House in the U.S. Army Signal Corps from 1959 to 1961. Those briefed were allegedly shown some of the anomalous debris and also told that alien bodies were recovered.[6] ( Goldwater, himself a retired Brigadeer General in the U.S. Air Force Reserve, a 1964 Presidential nominee, and chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee and the Senate Intelligence Committee, many times told the story of trying to get into the room at Wright-Patterson where alien artifacts were rumored to be kept. When he brought the subject up with his good friend General Curtis LeMay, USAF Chief of Staff, Goldwater claimed LeMay swore at him, told him never to bring up the subject again, and finished by saying that even he didn't have clearance to get in.

Against this, skeptics state that some witnesses, whose testimony at first might have seemed compelling, have since been largely or entirely discredited. A notable recent example was Frank Kaufmann, who claimed to have been a member of an exclusive team in charge of the craft and body recovery. After his death it was found that he had hoaxed documents about the crash and his background in intelligence.[7] ( Another common criticism is that the bulk of testimony on Roswell, particularly on the subject of bodies, is second-hand or even further removed from the actual events.

A similar incident involving many USAF personnel in the UK in 1980 called the Rendlesham Incident increased the amount of interest in Roswell. Also so did the Kecksburg UFO incident, another alleged military crash recovery at Kecksburg, Pennsylvania in December 1965.


Some ufologists have argued an alien craft crashed near Roswell and that several alien bodies were also recovered. Under pressure from a Congressional General Accounting Office investigation started by New Mexico Congressmen Steven Schiff, the Air Force in 1994/95 claimed the crash was actually that of a lost Mogul spy balloon launched from nearby Alamogordo, N.M., and declared the "Roswell case" officially closed (see [8] (

In 1997, Air Force investigators added that the reports of alien bodies were actually crash dummies used in tests during the 1950s and 1960s. To try to explain the time discrepancy, they claimed that witnesses to bodies suffered from distortions of memory.

Why did the Air Force choose to add the widely criticized "crash dummy" report to their first Roswell report? The initial 1994/95 report deliberately skirted the issue of bodies, and there is some speculation that the Air Force then tried to come up with an explanation for bodies under pressure from the Clinton White House. President Bill Clinton is known to have had an intense interest in Roswell, instructing friend and associate Attorney General Webster Hubbell to find out what happened. In November 1995, only a few days before the Air Force issued their final version of their first Roswell report, Clinton responded in a prepared speech to a child's letter about Roswell during a trip to Northern Ireland. Clinton said that as far as he knew, "an alien spacecraft did not crash in Roswell, New Mexico," but then added, "If the United States Air Force did recover alien bodies, they didn't tell me about it, either, and I want to know."

Another twist in the Roswell story also occurred in 1995 when Ray Santilli, a British film producer, produced a film supposedly showing the autopsy of an alien from a 1947 New Mexico crash. Skeptics argue this film showed the alleged surgeons utterly disregarding both conventional surgical and scientific procedure, and for this reason--and many others--the film is widely considered spurious both within and outside the UFO community. However, nothing has emerged to definitively prove the film a hoax. The autopsy film also has certain elements that make it possible that it was indeed filmed in 1947. Generally, however, the film is considered to be either a hoax by Santilli, or a real 1947 film that does, for some reason, show the autopsy of a rubber mannequin or perhaps doctored human body. Some ufologists still maintain that the film might be an authentic alien autopsy.

The question remains that if it wasn't a flying saucer, why the initial reports of UFOs and government secrecy? Here are some explanations proposed by skeptic Karl T. Pflock in his book Roswell: Inconvenient Facts and the Will to Believe:

  • The initial report of a UFO crash by the military was the blunder of a particular officer suffering from an attack of hubris and caught up in the desire to "scoop" the biggest story he could see, which involved the growing number of UFO sightings. See Kenneth Arnold.
  • What crashed in the desert was a balloon with a long train of equipment, and this balloon was of a top secret project – Project Mogul, hence the government secrecy.
  • Several years later, an aerial tanker crashed near Roswell and the crew's badly-burned bodies were found. Pflock suggests that this crash merged with later reports in some witnesses' minds, and accounts for unusual reports.

Most who dismiss any UFO connection favor the second theory: the debris was in fact the remains of an observation balloon being used in Project Mogul, a top-secret attempt at examining nuclear activity in the Soviet Union. Some proponents of this theory claim the balloons used in Project Mogul were extremely strange-looking and would have appeared other-worldly to observers, and the project itself was so heavily classified it was nearly unknown outside of the higher branches of the US government.

Others who argue against this note that only the purpose of Project Mogul was classified, but the main components were not, being standard meteorological equipment such as rubber weather balloons and radar target kites made of balsa wood and foil/paper also used for wrapping candy bars. None of this would have appeared other-worldly to anyone. It is also pointed out that such flimsy materials do not match the many descriptions of anomalous, extra-strong and heat-resistant debris reported by many witnesses, such as Marcel, Rickett, Brazel Jr. and Exon.

It is further argued that Mogul records indicate that the military was unconcerned about civilians stumbling across other Mogul balloon crashes, since the components were unclassified and nothing could be discerned of the top secret purpose of the balloons from the debris. One such noted incident from June 8 involved another N.M. rancher, who immediately notified Alamogordo AAF, which then sent out three men to retrieve the remains of the balloon. This is completely unlike the very large and secretive military response to what rancher Brazel found at his place in early July.

Another point raised is that historically the military made no attempt to conceal the existence of the Mogul balloons. E.g., the day after the Roswell base press release, a mock Mogul balloon launch was staged for the press at Alamogordo (see [9] ( and used to try to explain both the Roswell events and the recent nationwide flood of flying saucer reports (see Kenneth Arnold). Again, it is contended, this is inconsistent with the notion that a crashed Mogul balloon would be bathed in high secrecy, even if the project itself was top secret.

There is also some speculation that the Roswell incident was the result of a broken arrow: an accident involving a nuclear weapon. In one version of this scenario, Marcel, a staff intelligence officer with the 509th Bomb Group Intelligence Office, was responsible for the initial press release that a "flying saucer" had crash-landed. Some have proposed that Marcel created the cover story of a UFO crash, rather than admit that a nuclear weapon had accidentally fallen out of military hands.

However, the facts do not support this theory. There are no known nuclear accidents from this period, despite dozens of such incidents being declassified and now in the public record (See List of nuclear accidents). Some argue that it is also makes no sense that the military would be completely unaware of losing a nuclear weapon until a sheep rancher notified them about it. The theory is also spurious since historically the U.S. did not have a nuclear weapon in its arsenal at the time.

If Roswell was indeed a crash of an extraterrestrial craft, as many continue to insist, some ufologists would argue that several things follow:

  • The United States government knows that extraterrestrials have visited our planet since at least 1947 but still will not admit that fact.
  • The U.S. government is currently in possession of alien technology.
  • The reasons for initial government secrecy would be largely self-evident: high government officials would probably fear public panic from a potential alien threat (as happened in 1938: see The War of the Worlds (radio)) and there would likely be an attempt to conceal an advanced technology from the Soviets while secretly trying to reverse engineer it.

As of now, there is still no definite proof to either side of the debate. The official denial of anything of an extraterrestrial origin continues, while many ufologists continue to insist that the officials are lying.

It should also be known that a theory has been postulated that the Roswell incident was, in fact, a mid-air collision between two alien spacecraft. The first completely fragmented and its remains were found over Mack Brazel's ranch. The second, according to witnesses and people who uphold this theory, landed a short distance away. It was reported that four extraterrestrial entities were found--one alive, one dying, and two dead. This was witnessed by many people, including a university professor and his class, who were going on a field trip. Then the army came, warned the others away, and took care of the crash. The surviving alien was christened Extraterrestrial Biological Entity 1 (EBE-1), and survived at a safe house in New Mexico until 1952, where it died of unknown causes.

Recent developments

An important recent development concerns attempts to read the text on a paper held by Gen. Ramey in a photo taken with Col. Dubose and the displayed balloon debris. A Roswell investigator named David Rudiak, as well as some other examiners of the message, claim to have identified several important phrases, including "the victims of the wreck," another referring to the crash object as "the 'disk'" (Rudiak thinks it reads "aviators in the 'disk'"). This is cited as strong evidence that the Roswell incident was actually the crash of an alien spacecraft and that bodies were indeed recovered. Rudiak also claims to have disproved the calculations done by some supporters of the Mogul balloon hypothesis that winds would have taken the purported lost balloon exactly to the Brazel ranch crash site. (See [10] (

In 2002, the Sci-Fi Channel sponsored an archeological dig at the Brazel site in the hopes of uncovering any missed debris that the military failed to collect. Although these results have so far turned out to be negative, the University of New Mexico archeological team did verify recent soil disruption at the exact location that some witnesses said they saw a long, linear impact groove.

Gov. Bill Richardson of New Mexico, who headed the United States Department of Energy under President Clinton, apparently found the results provocative. In 2004, he wrote in a forward to The Roswell Dig Diaries, that "the mystery surrounding this crash has never been adequately explained -- not by independent investigators, and not by the U.S. government."

In October 2002 before airing its Roswell documentary, the Sci-Fi Channel also hosted a Washington UFO news conference. John Podesta, Pres. Clinton's chief of staff, appeared as a member of the public relations firm hired by Sci-Fi to help get the government to open up documents on the subject. Podesta stated, "It is time for the government to declassify records that are more than 25 years old and to provide scientists with data that will assist in determining the true nature of the phenomena."

In February 2005, the ABC TV network aired a UFO special hosted by news anchor Peter Jennings. Jennings lambasted the Roswell case as a "myth" "without a shred of evidence." ABC instead used the typical skeptical explanation of a Mogul balloon crash. Critics of ABC's segment on Roswell counter the brief treatment was one-sided and failed to consider many key pieces of evidence, such as the testimony of important witnesses like Generals Exon and Dubose or astronaut Edgar Mitchell.

For many ufologists, the Roswell case is considered one of the most important UFO events and the one that started the alleged UFO cover-up, while for the skeptics it's just the most widely popularised case, not specifically notable. The official position of the United States government, as of 2005, remains that nothing of a paranormal or extraterrestrial nature had happened. The final report of the USAF regarding the Roswell case is available, as well as the answer to that report by ufologists, who insist that the report is bogus (see External links).


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Int'l UFO Museum & Research Center, Roswell

Today, UFO tourism is a major income for people around Roswell. The place has also been featured in many books, comics, movies and television series.

In the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "Little Green Men", the craft had come from the 24th Century, and the aliens were the Ferengi characters Quark, Rom, and Nog. Similarly, in Futurama, the characters came from the 31st Century, and the captured alien was Dr. Zoidberg.

In the movie Independence Day, the Roswell craft was a scout from the alien's mothership.

In the TV series 7 Days, technology from the Roswell crash led to a secret time-travel device.

The most elaborate example was probably the Roswell television series which ran for three seasons.

In the DC Comics universe, the official explanation is that it was a "crashed Dominator scoutship", but this is widely discounted as being a cover story. The humorous comic book "Roswell", from Bongo Comics, had as its hero the little green man, also called Roswell, who was found in the craft.

The movie Hangar 18 ( was loosely based on Area 51 and alien technology (Hanger 18 in Area 51 is allegedly where the UFO wreckage was taken).

Six Days In Roswell is a semidocumentary about the city's festival commemorating the 50th anniversary of the incident. Featuring comedian Rich Kronfeld, the film captures the annual event's unusual atmosphere: part scientific conference, part science fiction convention and part county fair.

Additionally, in 2002, the Sci-Fi Channel funded a scientific investigation at Roswell that revealed some anomalies, and collected many samples of local soil.


  • Jerome Clark, ‘’Unexplained! 347 Strange Sightings, Incredible Occurrences, and Puzzling Physical Phenomena’’, Visible Ink Press, 1993.
  • Kevin D. Randle and Donald R. Schmidtt, ‘’UFO Crash at Roswell’’, Avon Books, 1991
  • Stanton T. Friedman and Don Berliner, Crash at Corona, Marlowe & Co., 1992
  • Charles Berlitz and William L. Moore, The Roswell Incident, G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1980

See also

External links

da:Roswell ufo-hændelsen de:UFO-Absturz von Roswell es:Avistamientos de Roswell fi:Roswell


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