The Roswell Incident is heralded by UFO enthusiasts as undeniable evidence that extraterrestrial life has made contact with Earth. The conspiracy’s proponents assert that the U.S. government is hiding its knowledge of alien life from the public. But what really happened at Roswell, New Mexico in 1947? Is there an air of truth to the so-called coverup? Today, we will attempt to answer these questions and more.
Before the Roswell Incident: Kenneth Arnold’s UFO Sighting
The story doesn’t actually begin in New Mexico, but in Washington. On June 24th, 1947, a man named Kenneth Arnold was flying his plane above Mount Rainier; he was hoping to find the wreckage of a plane that he believed had crash-landed in the area, as doing so would entitle him to a financial reward. He never did find that wreckage, but he did claim to have seen something far more interesting.
According to Arnold, he witnessed a blinding bluish light flash across the sky, followed by the sudden arrival of nine UFOs, moving, as he described in an interview, “like saucers being skimmed across the lake.” This was the event that sparked a worldwide fascination with “flying saucers.” Considering that Arnold was a well-respected businessman and aviator, few people questioned his story’s authenticity.
W.W. “Mack” Brazel’s Findings
Fast-forward a few weeks: a rancher named W.W. Mack Brazel was traveling 80 miles northwest of Roswell when he came upon a wreckage that he claimed was alien in nature. He reported this to the local sheriff, who reported it to the local air force base. Eventually, news of the wreckage reached intelligence officer Major Jesse Marcel, who was given the assignment of visiting the supposed crash site and recovering the supposedly alien material.
To everyone’s surprise, Marcel was as confused as Brazel by what was found near Roswell. He gathered material from the wreckage. Soon, the U.S. Air Force was making a press release in which they claimed to be in possession of a “mysterious flying disk.” How’s that for conspiracy fodder?
It should be noted that the Air Force never claimed this “mysterious flying disk” was of extraterrestrial origin. However, when you consider the fact that Kenneth Arnold’s sighting had captured the public’s attention only weeks prior, it makes sense that people made certain assumptions.
The Story Changes
For obvious reasons, certain military officials were not happy with the Air Force’s implicative statement. Marcel’s superior General Roger Ramey requested to see the material pulled from the wreckage. However, unlike Marcel, he was not the least bit convinced that the material was “mysterious.” All Ramey saw were bits of rubber, tape, foil, and wood.
The Air Force revised their previous statement, claiming that the wreckage was merely the result of a fallen weather balloon. Even Brazel claimed that he felt silly for even reporting the incident in the first place. With the exception of a few OG conspiracy buffs, the general public soon forgot about the Roswell Incident entirely.
The Roswell Case Gets Revisited
In the 1970s, a nuclear physicist named and UFO enthusiast named Stanton Friedman decided to revisit the Roswell case. His findings were what turned the incident from “strange event” to “full-blown conspiracy.”
Friedman interviewed many people connected to the Roswell Incident, including some residents of Roswell who claimed to have seen “alien bodies” recovered from the crash site. (We’d take this with a grain of salt.) However, his interview with Marcel was damning. Marcel claimed that his superiors had ordered him to “stay quiet” about what was really found in the wreckage.
Marcel asserted that amongst the material he recovered was a strange, foil-like piece that was completely lightweight but unable to bend. It was also resistant to dents and scratches. He did not believe that the material was of human origin.
When Friedman published this interview, the Roswell Incident was once again thrust into the public’s collective consciousness. Many became distrustful of the government’s “weather balloon” explanation and demanded a declassification of documents related to Roswell. And in 20 years–to everyone’s surprise–the people finally got their wish.
1994: Project Mogul
Perhaps because of unrelenting pressure from conspiracy theorists, in 1994 the U.S. government declassified its files regarding the Roswell Incident. The newly released documents revealed that the weather balloon explanation had indeed been a coverup. However, it was not the existence of aliens that the government was hiding; it was Project Mogul.
The point of Project Mogul was to create a high-altitude device that could detect the launch of nuclear missiles from thousands of miles away. This was especially necessary during the Cold War, when fear of a Soviet missile attack ran rampant in the minds of most Americans.
According to the declassified documents, the “alien materials” that Marcel described finding near Roswell were actually the remnants of one of these high-altitude, missile-detecting devices, which had happened to crash. Oh, and the supposed alien bodies that Roswell residents claimed to have seen? Those were crash test dummies.
Despite the declassification of documents regarding the Roswell Incident, many still believe that the wreckage was not of human origin. And this is an understandable position. The government had admitted to lying about the wreckage being the remains of a weather balloon, so who’s to say the declassified files were not simply another coverup? Realistically, we may never get the full story.
Do you believe that aliens crash-landed in Roswell? Or do you think it was all a misunderstanding? Let us know below!