Of all the UFO events of the 20th Century, the Roswell crash is perhaps the most notorious. Many people trust the United States government's claim that what crashed near Roswell, New Mexico was nothing more than a secret balloon project. Others believe that the balloon project is only a cover story for something much more incredible, and that the government is keeping a crashed extraterrestrial spacecraft in some secret location. But before delving into the mystery, let's look at some of the facts regarding the Roswell crash.
Roswell is located in a semi-desert region in southeastern New Mexico. The town of Roswell was founded in the 1860s by traders who sold cattle to Navajo and Apaches. For decades, the majority of the men living in the town worked as ranchers and cowboys. At the beginning of World War II, Roswell Army Air Force Base was opened, and became the home of the United States' only atomic bomber wing, the 509th Bombardment Unit. Less than two years after the war ended came the event that would forever define the town of Roswell.
After years of careful research, Roswell investigators have documented the story of the Roswell crash, referring to public records and eyewitness testimony. This established sequence of events is generally accepted as true. Beginning in June of 1947, there was a wave of UFO sightings in North America. Hundreds of people reported seeing strange objects in the skies. The military and scientific establishments scrambled to account for these sightings, but many remain unexplained to this day.
A month later, the evening of July 4th, 1947, was marked by some of the most violent thunderstorms on record. That night, rancher William "Mac" Brazel of Corona, New Mexico, near Roswell, heard a loud, unusual explosion, quite different from the thunder that had dominated the evening. The next day, Saturday, July 5th, Brazel discovered a large amount of lightweight, metallic material while out horseback riding on the Foster ranch. The debris was scattered over an area of property about 4,000 feet long and several hundred feet wide. The next day, July 6th, Brazel drove 75 miles to Roswell and reported his find to the Chavez County sheriff, George Wilcox. Wilcox viewed the debris before making his own report to the authorities at Roswell Army Air Force Base. He also spoke to Frank Joyce, the radio announcer for the KGFL radio station in Roswell. A day later, on July 7th, Brazel showed the crash site to Major Jesse Marcel of the Counterintelligence Corps. Brazel and Marcel gathered some of the material and returned to Roswell. On July 8th, troops were deployed from the base at Roswell to secure and recover the remaining debris.
The commander of the base, Colonel William Blanchard, ordered Roswell's public information officer, Lieutenant Walter Haut, to issue a press release stating that the military had recovered the wreckage of a flying saucer. That evening, newspapers all over the country printed front page stories about the crash. Meanwhile, Marcel took some of the material to Fort Worth, Texas, and met with Brigadier General Roger Ramey. Ramey quickly arranged a press conference and stated that the initial press release was wrong. Ramey said that the debris recovered was actually a downed weather balloon and radar reflector. Ramey and Marcel posed for a few photographs with what the Army claimed was the debris. The material was then transported to the Army's center for top secret research at Wright Field in Ohio, where captured foreign military hardware was studied. The next day, on July 9th, the Roswell Daily Record printed a retraction of the previous day's story. The nation moved on, and, over time, the Roswell crash was mostly forgotten. However, many of the people close to the incident, including Marcel and his son, Jesse, Jr., refused to accept the balloon explanation.
Years later, at the request of Representative Steven Schiff and the General Accounting Office, the United States Air Force commissioned an investigation to determine what really happened near Roswell. The chief investigator, retired Colonel Richard Weaver, enlisted the help of men like retired Colonel Albert Trakowski and engineer Charles Moore, who argued that what crashed near Roswell was actually the remains of a top secret balloon project. In 1994, Weaver's report detailed his hypothesis that a test balloon employed by Project Mogul, designed to detect possible Soviet nuclear detonations, went down over the ranch where Brazel had found the debris. Then, in 1997, another report suggested that the "alien bodies" reported by some witnesses were actually high-altitude test dummies. However, the conclusions of these reports have been called into question by many researchers.
New Evidence: The Ramey Memo
The Roswell case would have likely disappeared into obscurity, with no physical evidence, and nothing more than the word of laymen against the word of the government, were it not for the discovery of new evidence in an old photograph.
The photograph in question is this one, of General Ramey and Major Marcel with the alleged Roswell debris, taken on July 8th, 1947. Ramey, on the left, is seen holding a piece of paper. It is believed that this piece of paper is a telegram detailing the recovery of the wreckage found by Brazel. Roswell investigator David Rudiak has enlarged this telegram and claims that much of the text is readable. Rudiak's reading of the paper includes phrases like "VICTIMS OF THE WRECK" and "AVIATORS IN THE 'DISK'." One of the phrases Rudiak has identified in the telegram states that the wreckage was sent to Fort Worth, Texas--a statement which is known to be true. Another passage seems to refer to a plan to release the now-infamous weather balloon explanation as a cover story.
Although some consider Rudiak's conclusions to be dubious, a few key words seem to lack any other viable interpretation. As an example, Blight Investigations presents the following piece of the Ramey telegram. The contrast has been enhanced to increase readability, but no other photographic manipulation has been done.
An overwhelming majority of viewers read this word as "VICTIMS." No other plausible readings of this word match the context of a memo discussing a crash retrieval operation. If "VICTIMS" truly is the correct reading, then the implications are huge. Why would the downing of a test balloon have any victims? This evidence strongly suggests that whatever crashed near Roswell was, in fact, piloted.
Blight Investigations Exclusive: The Roswell UFO--Seen in Flight?
It is common knowledge that the debris found near Roswell was carted off by the government, never to be seen in public again. However, investigators have painstakingly studied the anecdotal evidence, interviewing eyewitnesses in order to assemble a likely description of the crashed object. In 1997, forensic specialist William McDonald created a composite drawing of the Roswell craft based on eyewitness testimony. According to McDonald's sources, the underside of the stingray-shaped Roswell craft was covered with a pattern of hexagonal panels which provided lift when activated. The Testors model company used McDonald's drawings to design their Roswell UFO model kit. The assembled model is seen to the right. Directly below it is another rendering of the craft, produced by Timothy Bauer in 1999. Have similar vehicles ever been seen before or since Roswell?
In the 1990s, UFO photographer John "Bro" Wilkie developed an innovative new technique for filming UFOs. Wilkie would point a video camera towards the Sun, using the edge of a roof to block the Sun's disk from the camera's view. Wilkie's camera could then record many unusual UFOs flying around in the Sun's glare. Using this technique, which he dubbed "Solar Obliteration," Wilkie was able to film hundreds of UFOs. Other UFO photographers soon adopted Wilkie's technique and began filming their own UFOs.
One of these photographers was a man named Sean Crayton. On June 9, 1997, Crayton was filming UFOs in Encino, California, using Wilkie's technique, when his camera recorded a UFO that is now referred to as "Crayton's Opal," seen to the left. Crayton's Opal bears an uncanny resemblance to McDonald's and Bauer's renditions of the Roswell craft. This is unlikely to be mere coincidence. Another UFO photographer, James Bratter of Palm Springs, California, used Wilkie's solar obliteration technique in 2000 to film the UFO seen to the right, which Bratter nicknamed the "Spaceship Entity." Bratter's Spaceship Entity UFO, too, is remarkably similar to McDonald's rendition of the Roswell craft.
Other photographs of UFOs with this design are contemporary with the Roswell crash. One UFO photograph dates from July 7, 1947, just days after the Roswell crash. This black-and-white photograph, seen to the left, was taken by William Rhodes in Phoenix, Arizona. Rhodes' UFO looks much like one would expect the Roswell craft as depicted by Bauer would look when viewed from below. This may be a tried-and-true vehicle design that has remained in active use for at least 58 years.
Taken together, this photographic evidence, along with the information revealed in the Ramey telegram, make it difficult to dismiss the Roswell case as merely a misidentified balloon project. If one simply follows the evidence, it is hard to escape the conclusion that a piloted craft really did crash near Roswell, New Mexico, and that the government knows more than it is telling. Almost six decades after the original event, enthusiasm for the Roswell crash refuses to disappear. As long as people are willing to examine the evidence with an open mind, the Roswell story will never die.