|Date:||Early July, 1947|
|Location:||Corona, near Roswell, New Mexico, USA|
|Summary:||Debris of UFO recovered; army press release says "flying disk"|
On July 8, 1947, an Associated Press news wire announced that Roswell Army Air Field had reported recovering a "flying disk" from a nearby rancher's property, and that it was being flown to "higher headquarters." The curious press release triggered a national press frenzy.
Very little is actually known about the
Roswell case. Two strange things stand out:
- the army's initial press release;
- the fact that experienced military witnesses would not recognize debris of a balloon as such.
Over the years books, interviews and articles from a number of military personnel, who had been involved with the incident, have added to the suspicions of a deliberate coverup.
The article in the Roswell Dayly Record read as follows:
No Details of Flying Disk Are Revealed
Roswell Hardware Man and Wife Report Disk Seen
The intelligence office of the 509th Bombardment group at Roswell Army Air Field announced at noon today, that the field has come into possession of a flying saucer.
According to information released by the department, over authority of Maj. J. A. Marcel, intelligence officer, the disk was recovered on a ranch in the Roswell vicinity, after an unidentified rancher had notified Sheriff Geo. Wilcox, here, that he had found the instrument on his premises. Major Marcel and a detail from his department went to the ranch and recovered the disk, it was stated.
After the intelligence officer here had inspected the instrument it was flown to higher headquarters. The intelligence office stated that no details of the saucer's construction or its appearance had been revealed.
Mr. and Mrs. Dan Wilmot apparently were the only persons in Roswell who seen what they thought was a flying disk.
They were sitting on their porch at 105 South Penn. last Wednesday night at about ten o'clock when a large glowing object zoomed out of the sky from the southeast, going in a northwesterly direction at a high rate of speed. Wilmot called Mrs. Wilmot's attention to it and both ran down into the yard to watch. It was in sight less then a minute, perhaps 40 or 50 seconds, Wilmot estimated.
Wilmot said that it appeared to him to be about 1,500 feet high and going fast. He estimated between 400 and 500 miles per hour. In appearance it looked oval in shape like two inverted saucers, faced mouth to mouth, or like two old type washbowls placed, together in the same fashion. The entire body glowed as though light were showing through from inside, though not like it would inside, though not like it would be if a light were merely underneath.
From where he stood Wilmot said that the object looked to be about 5 feet in size, and making allowance for the distance it was from town he figured that it must have been 15 to 20 feet in diameter, though this was just a guess. Wilmot said that he heard no sound but that Mrs. Wilmot said she heard a swishing sound for a very short time. The object came into view from the southeast and disappeared over the treetops in the general vicinity of six mile hill.
Wilmot, who is one of the most respected and reliable citizens in town, kept the story to himself hoping that someone else would come out and tell about having seen one, but finally today decided that he would go ahead and tell about it. The announcement that the RAAF was in possession of one came only a few minutes after he decided to release the details of what he had seen.
Within about an hour of the press release, General Roger Ramey put out an alternate version of the story: it was nothing more than the remains of a weather balloon. Marcel and Ramey's then chief of staff, Brigadier General Thomas Dubose, would later claim that the weather balloon was a cover story to get the press off their backs. Supporting this was a quote attributed to Marcel from 1947 by AP saying that the debris was "scattered over a square mile," inconsistent with the small amount of balloon material that was publicly displayed to the press by Ramey.
The weather balloon story was the official story for the next 47 years. Then the Air Force changed its old story: now it was a top secret Mogul balloon made up of multiple weather balloons and radar targets.
Considering the popularity of the Roswell case, it's surprising how little is known about the UFO in question. Even the exact date of the crash is not known. Here's a timeline of the events that nobody disputes:
- Early July 1947: a rancher named Mack Brazel found crash debris on the Foster Ranch.
- July 6, 1947: Mac Brazel showed pieces of the wreckage to Chaves County Sheriff George Wilcox. Wilcox called Roswell Army Air Field and talked to intelligence officer Major Jesse Marcel. Marcel drove to the sheriff's office and inspected the wreckage. Colonel William Blanchard, Marcel's commanding officer, ordered the recovery of the wreckage.
- July 7, 1947: Major Jesse Marcel drove to the crash site and
recovered more wreckage. Actually, the crash was not near Roswell, but near
Corona, by car some 75 miles (120 km) from Roswell.
Around 4:00 pm, Lydia Sleppy at Roswell radio station KSWS began transmitting a story on the teletype machine regarding a crashed flying saucer. The transmission was interrupted, Sleppy thought by the FBI.
- July 8, 1947: Colonel Blanchard dictated a press release on the
recovery of a flying disk to PIO Walter Haut. The newspapers that
carried the story included the Roswell Daily Record, the Chicago
Daily News, the Los Angeles Herald Express and the San Francisco
An hour later, the army released a revised "weather balloon" version of the story.
- July 9, 1947: officers questioned Brazel. He was then taken by the military to the office of the Roswell Daily Record, where he gave a much revised version of his story. Later on, Brazel was taken into custody for several days.
- 1994: the Air Force changed its weather balloon story to a top secret Mogul balloon.
In 1947, Air Force Brigadier General Arthur Exon was stationed at Wright Patterson Air Force Base. In recorded interviews, Exon said that strange material was shipped to Wright Patterson. Though it was very thin and lightweight, Exon said, the metal could not be bent, dented or scorched. According to witnesses who handled or saw the debris, including Major Jesse Marcel, Dr. Jesse Marcel Jr., Bill Brazel Jr. (Mack Brazel's son), Bessie Brazel (Brazel's daughter) and the Proctors (neighbors of Brazel) the materials found on the crash site were:
- wood-like/plastic-like sticks or metallic I-beams;
- tough, flexible, foil-like material, usually with "memory" properties;
- other metal-like substances, particularly unbendable metal;
- tape-like material with "hieroglyphic" writing or "flower patterns";
- parchment or paper-like material;
- thread-like or wire-like material.
Dr. Allen Hynek developed a program called Star Gazer in which a high-powered telescope would be launched on a balloon from Holloman Air Force Base in southern New Mexico. In 1963, on one of the failed test flights, high winds tore the giant balloon from its tether and blew it away. It traveled 100 miles to the east-northeast and finally came to earth outside Roswell. Of course, Hynek's balloon that was launched in 1963 could not have landed in 1947. But it shows that a balloon launched from Holloman can crash into a heap of debris near Roswell.