The Roswell Crash: What’s the Truth Behind UFO Stories?

8 mins read

In Roswell, a city in southeastern New Mexico, there is a spaceship that looks like a flying saucer on North Main Street. To understand the object, you need to go back to 1947. At that time Roswell was the starting point of a UFO craze.

In early July 1947, William Brazel had just finished a normal work day at the J. B. Foster ranch in Lincoln County, New Mexico, 120 kilometers north of Roswell. He would later say in an article in the Roswell Daily Record that he found “a shiny debris of plastic strips, foil, thick paper and sticks” in his field that day.

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How UFO (Unidentified Flying Objects) Stories First Started

Although Brazel had never heard of flying saucers before, such claims were quite popular at the time. On June 21, Navy Seaman Harold Dahl claimed to have seen six unidentified flying objects in the sky near Maury Island in Washington state’s Puget Sound region. The next morning, Dahl said he was searched and questioned by “men in black”.

3 days later, on June 24, pilot Kenneth Arnold claimed to have seen nine unidentified objects “in the form of flying saucers” near Mount Rainier. He also estimated that these objects were flying at about 1,930 km/h. However, it was not possible for any known vehicle at the time to reach this speed. The Air Force, on the other hand, stated that there were no aircraft or guided missile tests that would fit this description. The story, of course, became front page news. “Despite Arnold’s description of the flying objects as crescents, the circle was insisted upon, and thus began the legend of the flying saucer.

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UFO hunters have been looking at the sky for years and think they have seen unidentified flying objects.

By the end of 1947, with more than 300 so-called “flying saucer” sightings in the last six months of that year alone, mass hysteria had taken over the global psyche. Brazel finally heard the stories of flying saucers in the Pacific Northwest. There was also a rumor circulating that there was a reward for anyone who found any evidence of flying saucers. Finally, Brazel decided to take action. He collected the debris and delivered it in a box to Roswell Sheriff George Wilcox.

Wilcox was also confused. He contacted Colonel Blanchard, commander of the 509th Bomb Group at Roswell Army Air Base. Blanchard assigned Major Jesse Marcel, an intelligence officer, to conduct a more thorough investigation. The news that the 509th Bomb Group at Roswell Army Air Field had captured a Flying Saucer was then published in the Roswell Daily Record. However, the excitement generated by this news soon faded. According to experts, the wreckage belonged to a weather balloon. The matter was closed, or so everyone thought.

In 1978, Interest in Flying Saucers Revived

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In 1947, Brigadier General Roger M. Ramey and Colonel Thomas J. Dubose identified the fragments found by the rancher as parts of a weather balloon. But the story changed in 1994.

The Roswell incident was largely unknown outside New Mexico until 1978, when a Canadian nuclear physicist named Stanton Friedman met an Air Force officer who had been there. Stanton claimed that the discovery 31 years earlier was real and that the government had covered it up. Friedman revisited the events and sought additional witnesses.

Moved by the man’s story, Friedman investigated and helped produce a documentary called UFOs Are Real. Shortly after the documentary was released, the town suddenly became the talk of the world. The incident inspired Charles Berlitz and William Moore to write the book ‘The Roswell Incident’, published in 1980. Their conclusion was clear to them. Something was being hidden.

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According to a US government report published in 1994, huge balloons developed by Seyfang Laboratories were used during Project Mogul. Their metallic outer covering meant they could often be mistaken for flying saucers.

When popular TV series and movies brought the subject to the screens, UFO sightings increased among the public. More witnesses to the events of 1947 emerged and continued to emerge over the years. In 1989, Glenn Dennis covered the Roswell incident in the series “Unsolved Mysteries”. Then a person who worked as a nurse at Roswell Army Air Field claimed to have seen 3 alien bodies.

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Protesters marched in front of the General Accounting Office in the mid-1990s, believing that the government was covering up what happened

But the real bombshell came in 1994. The US Air Force announced that the weather balloon story was not true. The debris belonged to a secret balloon project sent to high altitude to detect the sound of Soviet atomic bombs. This balloon, called Project Mogul, was used between 1947 and 1949. Moreover, the balloons were allegedly made of an unusual material. Is that the end of the matter? Of course not. Constantly changing rhetoric has led to uncertainty. This led to a feeling that something was being hidden from the public, and conspiracy theories became more and more widespread as a result.

What really happened at Roswell?

It is not possible to know exactly. Every day a new claim emerges on the subject. But one thing is certain: the town of Roswell has been profiting from this for almost 70 years. The town does a great job of satisfying the insatiable appetite of UFO enthusiasts. Roswell also has a UFO museum affiliated with the International Museum and Research Center. It also hosts the Aliens Festival every year. Because of the UFO claims, the city typically sees a quarter of a million visitors a year. This makes tourism one of the primary economic drivers. So it makes sense from another perspective to keep the claims going.

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A welcome sign at the entrance to the town of Roswell. Photo: Bryan Smith

Historian, Roger Launius, seems to be enjoying the 70 years of hysteria surrounding the “Roswell UFO Incident”. “There is only one thing I really know. That’s exactly what UFOs are. They are unidentified objects seen in the air. But they are not extraterrestrials.”

A final reminder. All the evidence so far is only anecdotal and years of research have not provided any physical proof that aliens crashed at Roswell. But perhaps governments are hiding something from us. Or maybe it’s in someone’s interest to keep these claims alive today.

Ali Esen

Istanbul University, Department of Mathematics. Interested in science and technology.

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