On 8 July 1947 the world was startled by a press release from 1st Lt. Walter Haut, a U.S. Army public relations officer, stating that a “flying disc” had been recovered near Roswell, New Mexico. Later that day the Army dismissed the claim, saying that the recovered debris was actually from a crashed high-altitude weather balloon. The story lay dormant for 31 years, until in 1978 an Army officer involved in the Roswell case, Jesse Marcel, claimed in an interview that the recovered material was extra-terrestrial: not made by humans.
Thus was born the “Roswell UFO (Unidentified Flying Object) Incident.” Over the past 38 years, dozens of books, articles and television programs have been produced presenting evidence and witnesses’ accounts claiming: a UFO did crash near Roswell in the summer of 1947; several aliens were recovered – at least one still alive; and the government has been conspiring to keep this news from the public ever since.
Public interest increased to the point that in the 1990s the U.S. Air Force released two official reports debunking the Roswell UFO claims. The evidence the Air Force presented was solid enough to convince many UFO specialists, but skeptics remain – and conspiracy theories flourish on the Internet.
Here are two newspaper articles about the Roswell UFO Incident. The first describes the Army’s weather balloon explanation, and the second reports the concerted government effort to squelch the UFO rumors.
Here is a transcription of this article:
Excitement over ‘Discovery’ of ‘Disc’ Is Rudely Exploded
‘Strange Thing’ Found in West Proves to Be Only Weather Balloon
Fort Worth, Texas, July 8 (AP) – The discovery of a “flying disc” reported by an Army public relations officer proved a dud today when the object was identified as a weather balloon.
Warrant Officer Irving Newton, a forecaster at the Army’s Eighth air force weather station here, said the object found near Roswell, N.M., was a ray wind target used to determine the direction and velocity of winds at high altitudes.
He said there were some 80 weather stations in the United States using this type of balloon and that it could have come from any one of them.
Used to Chart Winds
“We use them because they can go so much higher than the eye can see,” Newton explained. A radar set is employed to follow the balloon and through a process of triangulation the winds aloft are charted, he added.
When rigged up, Newton stated, the object looks like a six-pointed star, is silvery in appearance, and rises in the air like a kite, mounted to a 100-gram balloon.
Newton said he had sent up identical balloons to this one during the invasion of Okinawa to determine ballistics information for heavy guns.
Maj. Gen. Roger M. Ramey, commander of the Eighth air force with headquarters here, also said in a radio broadcast tonight that the “flying disc” was a weather balloon.
He was interviewed over a Fort Worth radio station. Earlier, it was announced that he would broadcast over the National Broadcasting Company, but this was not done.
Found by Rancher
The weather device had been found three weeks previously by a New Mexico rancher, W. W. Brazell, on his property about 85 miles northwest of Roswell. Brazell, whose ranch is 30 miles from the nearest telephone and has no radio, knew nothing about flying discs when he found the broken remains of the weather device scattered over a square mile of his land.
He bundled the tinfoil and broken wooden beams of the kite and the torn synthetic rubber remains of the balloon together and rolled it under some brush, according to Major Jesse A. Marcel, Houma, La., 509th bomb group intelligence officer at Roswell, who brought the device to Fort Worth.
On a trip to town at Corona, N.M., Saturday night Brazell heard the first reference to the “silver” flying discs, Major Marcel related.
Brazell hurried home, dug up the remnants of the kite and balloon on Sunday, and Monday headed for Roswell to report his find to the sheriff’s office.
Turned Over to Army
This resulted in a call to Roswell Army air field and to Major Marcel’s being assigned to the case. Marcel and Brazell journeyed back to the ranch where Marcel took the object into the custody of the Army.
After Col. William H. Blanchard, 509th commanding officer, reported the incident to General Ramey, he was ordered to dispatch the object to Fort Worth Army air field immediately.
At that time, Lt. Warren Haught [correction: Walter Haut], public information officer at the Roswell field, announced that a “flying disc” had come into possession of the Army air forces.
Lt. Haught said in a statement to newsmen that “the many rumors regarding the flying disc became a reality yesterday when the intelligence office of the 509th (Atomic) bomb group of the Eighth air force, Roswell Army air field, was fortunate enough to gain possession of a disc through cooperation of one of the local ranchers and the sheriff’s office.”
Here is a transcription of this article:
Halt Disc Talk Drive Opened
By United Press
Reports of flying saucers whizzing through the sky fell off sharply today as the Army and Navy began a concentrated campaign to stop the rumors.
One by one, persons who thought they had their hands on the $3,000 offered for a genuine flying saucer found their hands full of nothing.
Headquarters of the Eighth Army Air Force at Fort Worth, Tex., announced the wreckage of a tin-foil covered object found on a New Mexico ranch was nothing more than the remnants of a weather observation balloon. AAF Headquarters in Washington reportedly delivered a “blistering” rebuke to officers at the Roswell, N.M., base for suggesting it was a “flying disc.”
Note: An online collection of newspapers, such as GenealogyBank’s Historical Newspaper Archives, is not only a great way to learn about the lives of your ancestors – the old newspaper articles also help you understand American history and the times your ancestors lived in, and the news they talked about and read in their local papers. Have you ever known someone who claimed to have seen a UFO? Please share your stories with us in the comments.