Conspiracy theories about the 1947 Roswell Incident are probably the most famous conspiracy theories of all. I’m about to take a look at what is a very complex web of evidence, allegations, tall tales, hoaxes and still-unanswered questions.
Roswell is too big a story to tell in one article. Over the coming months, I’ll be posting one Roswell-themed article a month, taking a look at some of the most compelling pieces of the puzzle. Here’s the first bite-size piece for you to chew on.
We all know the story, or at least a rough outline of it. In 1947, something crashed in Roswell, New Mexico. Proponents of UFO conspiracies contend that it was an alien spacecraft. That the government investigated the crash, recovered a number of alien bodies from the wreckage, and engineered a cover-up.
It’s been called “the world’s most famous, most exhaustively investigated, and most thoroughly debunked UFO claim”.
Thoroughly debunked? We’ll see about that.
But let’s start in 1947.
July 8th 1947
RAAF Captures Flying Saucer On Ranch In Roswell Region
The report in the Roswell Daily Record came about after Walter Haut of the Roswell Army Air Field (RAAF) handed a press release to the newspaper’s offices. This press release revealed that the army had recovered a “flying disc” which had crashed on a ranch near Roswell.
According to the information in the press release, Major Jesse Marcel had attended the ranch of William Brazel. Brazel had notified the sheriff that he had discovered wreckage of what he thought was a flying disc. Marcel had recovered the wreckage and flown it to “higher headquarters”.
The army released no further details, but the Roswell Daily Record article also told the story of Mr and Mrs Wilmot. Apparently, while sitting on their porch at 10pm the previous Wednesday, they saw what they thought was a flying disc. According to the article, the Wilmots described the object as moving fast in a north-westerly direction, about 1,500 feet high, and “oval in shape like two inverted saucers, faced mouth to mouth”.
July 9th 1947
Gen. Ramey Empties Roswell Saucer
The Roswell Daily Record reported the next day that General Roger Ramey had “cleared up the mystery”. He had examined the wreckage recovered by Major Marcel and concluded that it was not a flying saucer at all.
And what was it?
A “harmless, high-altitude weather balloon”.
Rancher William Brazel had discovered bits of rubber, tinfoil, sticks and some kind of tough paper. Ramey said these items were nothing more than “the crushed remains of a ray wind target used to determine the direction and velocity of winds at high altitudes”.
July 9th 1947
Harassed rancher who located ‘saucer’ sorry he told about it
An article printed just below the one about General Ramey’s findings detailed Brazel’s regret that he had told anyone about the debris, because of the publicity it had brought. The article also elaborated on what he had found. Apparently “considerable scotch tape and some tape with flowers printed upon it had been used in the construction”.
The excitement died down. The explanation that the wreckage was a weather balloon appeared to be mostly accepted, because the story was virtually gone from the news by the end of the week.
It wasn’t until 1978 that the Roswell Incident returned to the news and began attracting attention again. It was all thanks to a phone call made to UFO researcher Stanton Friedman by a man who claimed he had handled the wreckage of a crashed spaceship in 1947.
Who was this man? None other than Major Jesse Marcel.
“I am sure that what I saw was not any weather observation balloon.”
William Brazel says this in the July 9th “Harassed rancher” article. That he’d previously found wreckage from two weather balloons on his ranch, neither of which resembled what he’d found this time in any way.
My initial thoughts on all this? Well, I’m certainly intrigued by Jesse Marcel’s revelation that what he recovered from Brazel’s ranch was actually a crashed spaceship.
But a spaceship made from sticks, rubber, paper, tinfoil and scotch tape with flowers on?
No wonder it crashed!
My Roswell examination will continue next month, when I discover how Roswell became the most famous UFO conspiracy theory ever.
Next week: Has Jack the Ripper been unmasked?