All Was Well In Roswell

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A closer look at the famous 1947 UFO crash

Alien autopsy exhibit at Roswell’s UFO Museum (Photo by Angel Schatz via Flickr/CC by SA 2.0)

In July of 1947 near Roswell, NM, a rancher by the name of W.W. “Mac” Brazel and his son, Vernon, discovered unidentifiable debris in their sheep pasture while going on a morning drive. The debris that was in Brazel’s desert pasture included metallic sticks that were held together with tape, as well as chunks of plastic and foil reflectors, and scraps of a heavy, glossy, paper-like material.

Unable to identify the mysterious objects, Brazel informed Roswell sheriff George Wilcox, who called officials at the nearby Roswell Army Air Force base. After the call, soldiers searched across Brazel’s field, gathered the mysterious debris and took it away.

On July 8, “RAAF Captures Flying Saucer on Ranch in Roswell Region” was the top story in the Roswell Daily Record, with photographic evidence of the unidentifiable objects that crashed.

“The intelligence office of the 509th Bombardment Group at Roswell Army Air Field announced at noon today, that the field has come into the possession of a Flying Saucer,” read the article. The next day, an Air Force official clarified the paper’s report, saying that it was no flying saucer that crashed, but instead a weather balloon.

Still, even with the Air Force’s clarification, many were left unconvinced and believed that the crashed vehicle was not from this world, but from another and argued that the debris in Brazel’s field came from an alien spaceship.

Curiosity grew just years later when the Air Force conducted a series of secret “dummy drops” over air bases, test ranges and unoccupied fields across the state in the ’50s. These experiments, which were meant to test ways for pilots to survive falls from high altitudes, sent bandaged, featureless dummies—that looked eerily similar to how space aliens were portrayed to look scattered across the ground. Military vehicles would descend on the landing site to retrieve the “bodies” as quickly as possible. People were convinced that the dummies were extraterrestrial creatures who were being kidnapped and experimented on by government scientists.

But, could the debris found in Brazel’s field all be part of a top-secret atomic espionage project at New Mexico’s Alamogordo Air Field? Since World War II, a group of geophysicists and oceanographers had been working on a top-secret atomic espionage project at New Mexico’s Alamogordo Air Field called Project Mogul. The objective of Project Mogul was to eavesdrop on nuclear tests as far away as the Soviet Union.

UFO Museum sign (Photo by Tiffany LeMaistre via Flickr/CC by 2.0)

According to the U.S. military, the debris in Brazel’s field did belong to Project Mogul. What Brazel apparently found were the remains of a 700-foot-long string of neoprene balloons, radar reflectors that were used for tracking and sonic equipment that scientists had launched from the Alamogordo base. Because the project was highly classified, no one at the Roswell Army Air Field even knew it existed and had no idea what to make of the objects Brazel had found.

The apparent weather balloon story was the easiest and most plausible explanation the Roswell Army Air Field could come up with and to protect the scientists’ secret project, no one at Alamogordo could step in and clear up the confusion.

Today, many people still believe something extraterrestrial crashed in Roswell. In the mid-’90s, the Pentagon declassified most of its files on Project Mogul and the dummy drops. Numerous books were written about Roswell and all the conspiracy theories attached to the site draws hundreds of thousands of curiosity seekers who visit Roswell and the crash site every year, hoping to find out the “real” truth.

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