The Roswell Incident – What We Know Now

July 25, 2023 (Last updated on: December 1, 2023)
UFO crashed on the ground.

In the scorched sands of New Mexico, a riddle emerged from the ashes of the summer of 1947, a puzzle so potent that it has gripped the minds of researchers, conspiracy theorists, and the insatiably curious ever since.

The Roswell Incident, a pivotal moment in the annals of UFO lore and extraterrestrial intrigue, is an enigma that refuses to fade into the obscurity of history.

This riveting incident, cloaked in a dense fog of mystery and debate, unfurled in the remote reaches of Roswell, forever transforming this quiet town into the global epicenter of extraterrestrial speculation.

Intrigued yet? Journey with us as we unravel the threads of this cosmic tapestry, revealing the extraordinary, the inexplicable, and the downright unearthly. Your voyage into the unknown begins now

A Timeline of the Roswell Incident

  • Mid-June 1947 – The Rowsell Incident originated in the expansive New Mexico desert near Roswell, New Mexico. Local ranchers reported sighting what they described as a ‘flying saucer’ or ‘flying disc’ that seemed to crash in the desolate Mexico desert.
  • Early July 1947 – Rancher Mac Brazel discovered strange, bright wreckage on his New Mexico ranch. He described finding lightweight material, similar to aluminum but much more robust, and something he called “rather tough paper.”
  • July 7, 1947 – Brazel reported his discovery to Sheriff George Wilcox. Intrigued and unable to identify the strange materials, Sheriff Wilcox contacted the Roswell Army Air Field (RAAF).
  • July 8, 1947 – Major Jesse Marcel, the intelligence officer at RAAF, was dispatched to the crash site. He collected the debris and returned it to the base. Meanwhile, Colonel William Blanchard, commander of the 509th Bomb Group at RAAF, issued a press release stating they had gained possession of a “flying saucer.” The Roswell Daily Record ran the headline “RAAF Captures Flying Saucer on Ranch in Roswell Region.”
  • July 9, 1947 – The War Department disputed the RAAF’s claims. Material from the crash was flown to Fort Worth, Texas, where the Eighth Air Force determined it to be a weather balloon. The incident was dismissed, and the world’s attention turned back to the simmering tensions of the Cold War and the nuclear testing rivalry between the US and the Soviet Union.
  • 1947-1978 – For decades, the incident faded into the background. UFO sightings were common during this time, likely due to anxieties around the Cold War, but the Roswell Incident remained relatively forgotten.
  • 1978 – Jesse Marcel, now retired from the Air Force, claimed in an interview with UFO researcher Stanton Friedman that the material he recovered in 1947 was extraterrestrial. His son, Jesse Marcel Jr., also claimed to have handled the wreckage as a child and agreed that it was not of this world.
  • 1980 – The book “The Roswell Incident” was published by Charles Berlitz and William Moore. The book renewed interest in the incident and popularized conspiracy theories about a cover-up by the U.S. government. It suggested that the weather balloon story was a cover story to hide the crash of an extraterrestrial spaceship.
  • 1984 – The Associated Press published documents known as the “MJ-12 papers,” which suggested a secret government operation to recover and examine alien bodies. However, these documents have been largely discredited as fraudulent.
  • 1991 – The General Accounting Office launched an inquiry into the Roswell Incident following pressure from some members of Congress.
  • 1994 – The Air Force concluded, as published in the Roswell Report, that the wreckage was from a Project Mogul balloon. Project Mogul was a classified operation that used high-altitude balloons to detect sound waves from potential Soviet nuclear tests.
  • 1995 – The Fox TV network aired a film allegedly showing an autopsy on an alien body from the Roswell crash. The film was later revealed to be a hoax.
  • 1997 – The Air Force released a second report titled “The Roswell Report: Case Closed.” The report suggested that the “alien bodies” witnesses reported seeing were anthropomorphic test dummies used in high-altitude parachute drops.
  • Present Day – UFO researchers and enthusiasts remain skeptical despite the official conclusions. The International UFO Museum and Research Center, established in 1992 in Roswell, New Mexico, continues to collect and display information about the Roswell Incident and other UFO phenomena. The town also hosts an annual UFO festival. Conspiracy theories persist, from tales of alien abductions to claims of secret government operations.

Roswell Army Air Field: The Epicenter of the Incident

The Roswell Army Air Field (RAAF) was a crucial epicenter of the Roswell Incident. Located in New Mexico, the RAAF was one of the foremost military bases in the U.S., equipped with the latest technology and research facilities.

When rancher Mac Brazel reported finding strange debris, the intelligence officer from RAAF, Major Jesse Marcel, was dispatched to the crash site to collect the debris.

The RAAF base became the initial holding and examination site for the debris, thus playing an integral role in the event’s development. Furthermore, the first press release about the incident, claiming the recovery of a “flying disc,” originated from the RAAF, giving the incident an immediate air of credibility and sparking nationwide interest and speculation.

The Army Air Forces’ Initial Response

The U.S. Army Air Forces were prompt in their response to the incident. Upon receiving the unusual debris, they swiftly issued a press release on July 8, 1947, stating that they had captured a flying disc. However, the narrative took a sharp turn the following day.

At a press conference in Fort Worth, Texas, Brigadier General Roger Ramey declared that the debris was, in fact, from a weather balloon, not a flying disc. This abrupt reversal in the narrative, coupled with the subsequent display of weather balloon debris for the press, led to the genesis of multiple conspiracy theories surrounding the Roswell crash.

The ‘Flying Saucer’ Phenomenon

The term ‘flying saucer’ became intrinsically linked with the Roswell Incident and the broader UFO phenomenon of the mid-20th century. Following the Army Air Forces’ initial statement about the Roswell crash, the public’s imagination was fired by ideas of extraterrestrial spacecraft and alien visitors.

This was fueled further by numerous UFO sightings reported around the same time, coinciding with heightened Cold War anxieties and speculation about the technological capabilities of other nations. The ‘flying saucer’ phenomenon left an indelible mark on popular culture, inspiring abundant literature, films, TV series, and discussions about extraterrestrial life and UFOs.

Air Force Involvement and Investigation

The U.S. Air Force played a significant role in investigating and providing official explanations for the Roswell incident. The first of these came in 1994 with the “Roswell Report.” In this comprehensive review, the Air Force concluded that the debris found at the crash site was from a secret military project called Project Mogul.

This project involved using high-altitude balloons to detect sound waves from Soviet atomic bomb tests during the Cold War. This plausible explanation did little to quell the public’s suspicions about what had truly occurred in 1947.

Rumors and Conspiracy Theories Surrounding the Roswell Incident

Despite the official explanations the U.S. Air Force provided, rumors and conspiracy theories about the Roswell Incident have persisted.

The suspicion that the U.S. government is hiding the truth about the crash has become widespread, with theories ranging from a downed extraterrestrial spacecraft to the recovery and secret autopsy of alien bodies.

Notably, local Sheriff George Wilcox is said to have claimed that he saw alien bodies at the crash site, a rumor that further ignited public speculation.

Declassified Documents: Shedding New Light on the Incident

The release of previously classified documents has shed new light on the Roswell Incident in recent years. These documents reveal the extent of the U.S. government’s investigations into UFO sightings and the seriousness with which they treated such reports during the mid-20th century.

However, no declassified documents prove extraterrestrial involvement in the Roswell incident. Instead, they paint a picture of a government grappling with unexplained phenomena amid a tense global geopolitical climate.

The Claims of Maj. Jesse Marcel and Jesse Marcel Jr

Major Jesse Marcel was a crucial figure in the Roswell Incident, serving as the intelligence officer for the 509th Bomb Group at the Roswell Army Air Field in 1947. He was dispatched to investigate and collect the wreckage found by rancher W.W. “Mac” Brazel on his property near Corona, New Mexico, often called the Roswell crash site.

Marcel had always asserted that the debris he recovered was not from a weather balloon or terrestrial aircraft. He consistently maintained that what he found was from an object, not from this world. According to Marcel, the debris was unlike anything he had ever seen.

He described metallic rods, foil-like material, and pieces of lightweight material that were highly durable. The strange symbols or hieroglyphics particularly struck him on some of the debris.

Marcel also asserted that the U.S. government had covered the truth about the incident. He believed the military quickly replaced the genuine debris he found with remnants of a standard weather balloon for a press conference in Fort Worth, Texas. He later stated that he was ordered to pose with the substituted materials for press photographs as part of the alleged cover-up.

Marcel maintained these beliefs until he died in 1986. His story and insistence that the debris was extraterrestrial significantly contributed to the widespread belief in a government cover-up and the ongoing fascination with the Roswell Incident.

His son, Jesse Marcel Jr., supported these claims, who also claimed to have seen and handled the debris as a child. He described the material as not of this Earth, echoing his father’s sentiments.

This continued the legacy of the Roswell Incident and kept the mystery alive for new generations of UFO researchers and enthusiasts.

In conclusion, Major Jesse Marcel firmly believed that what he discovered at the Roswell crash site was extraterrestrial and that there was a concerted effort by the U.S. government to cover up the truth about the incident.

Suggested Explanations of What Crashed at Roswell

  1. A weather balloon: The official U.S. government explanation, revised from their initial “flying disk” press release, suggested that the debris near Roswell was from a fallen weather balloon.
  2. Project Mogul balloon: In the 1990s, the U.S. Air Force stated that the debris was explicitly from a Project Mogul balloon, a top-secret operation using high-altitude balloons to detect potential Soviet nuclear tests. The unusual materials used in these balloons might have led to some of the “otherworldly” debris reports.
  3. Extraterrestrial spacecraft: This theory has captured the public imagination the most. Some believe that an actual spacecraft from another world crashed near Roswell and that the U.S. military retrieved both the craft and its alien occupants.
  4. Advanced human-made aircraft: Some speculate that the debris could have been from a highly advanced, top-secret aircraft developed by humans. This could include experimental U.S. aircraft or perhaps even a craft from another nation, possibly the Soviet Union, given the tensions and technological race of the Cold War era.
  5. Nazi survivors with advanced technology: Towards the end of World War II, the United States recruited many German scientists and engineers through Operation Paperclip, aiming to leverage their expertise in developing advanced technology, such as rockets. Some speculate that the Roswell crash could have involved an experimental craft designed by these scientists. The belief is that sure Nazi scientists may have been developing anti-gravity or exotic propulsion technologies and that the debris from Roswell might have been remnants of such a craft. This theory, however, lacks solid historical or scientific support.
  6. A non-human intelligent species native to Earth: This theory involves the idea that an intelligent species, unknown to mainstream science and possibly living in seclusion or hard-to-reach places (like deep underwater or underground), might have been behind the Roswell crash. Proponents of this idea sometimes refer to mythological or folkloric creatures like mermaids or fairies or suggest undiscovered intelligent life forms. While this is a fascinating notion, there’s no accepted scientific evidence to support the existence of such a species.
  7. A breakaway human civilization currently unknown to us: This theory posits that there could be an advanced, clandestine human civilization that has developed technologies far beyond what is publicly known. Under this hypothesis, the Roswell crash could have involved a craft from this civilization. This idea often pops up in speculative fiction and conspiracy theories, but there’s no concrete evidence supporting the existence of a secret, technologically advanced human society.
  8. Time machine or interdimensional craft: A less common but more speculative theory posits that the crashed object might have been a craft capable of time or interdimensional travel. This is hypothetical and not supported by any known scientific theory or evidence.
  9. A hoax: Some skeptics suggest that the entire incident might have been a hoax, either orchestrated by those who reported the crash or possibly even by government or military personnel for reasons of misdirection or misinformation during the tense Cold War period.
  10. Atomic test monitoring equipment: Given that New Mexico was a site for nuclear testing, some speculate that the debris could have been equipment related to these tests, possibly including radiation detection or measurement devices.

What Could Have Caused a UFO to Crash in Roswell, New Mexico?

While it’s purely speculative as to why an advanced craft, particularly an extraterrestrial one, might crash, here are some potential scenarios:

  1. Weather Phenomena: Storms, particularly lightning storms, could threaten any flying object, regardless of origin. A direct strike from lightning could potentially damage a craft’s propulsion or navigation systems, leading to a crash. This could especially be the case if the craft is not designed to withstand the unique atmospheric conditions of Earth.
  2. Radar and Electromagnetic Interference: During the 1940s, radar technology was still in its relative infancy, but it was widely used, particularly by the military. It’s possible that the radar systems could have interfered with the operation of a hypothetical alien craft. If extraterrestrials were unfamiliar with this technology, their craft might not have been shielded against it.
  3. Mechanical Failure: Like any technology, an advanced spacecraft, even an extraterrestrial one, could be subject to mechanical failures or malfunctions.
  4. Collision: The craft might have collided with another object, such as an aircraft, bird, or even a meteor or space debris.
  5. Hostile Action: If the military detected the UFO, it’s possible it could have been engaged and potentially damaged or downed by defensive measures.
  6. Navigational Error: If the craft was extraterrestrial, the aliens might not have been fully accustomed to Earth’s geography, atmospheric conditions, magnetic fields, etc. A miscalculation or error in navigation could have resulted in a crash.
  7. Scientific Experimentation: If the beings controlling the craft were trying to study Earth and its atmosphere, they might have taken risks that led to an accident.
  8. Exposure to Earth’s Environment: Earth’s atmosphere is unique, with a specific blend of gases, temperatures, pressures, and weather patterns. An extraterrestrial craft may have been unable to cope with these conditions, leading to its downfall.
  9. Electrical or Magnetic Anomalies: Certain areas of Earth are subject to unique or intense magnetic and electrical anomalies that could disrupt a craft’s systems.

Recent Developments and Discoveries

Research into the Roswell Incident has yielded new insights in recent years. For example, it was revealed that anthropomorphic dummies were used in high-altitude parachute drop tests as part of Project High Dive during the 1950s.

Some speculate that the stories of alien bodies may have originated from these tests due to misunderstandings or faulty recollections. Despite these findings, the Roswell Incident continues to captivate people worldwide, remaining an enigma in the annals of history.

The Role of the International UFO Museum and Research Center

Located in Roswell, New Mexico, the International UFO Museum and Research Center provides a comprehensive look at the UFO phenomena and the Roswell Incident.

Established in 1992, the museum houses an extensive collection of artifacts, documents, and multimedia presentations related to the incident and other UFO reports. It serves as a hub for UFO enthusiasts and researchers, attracting visitors from around the world and helping to keep the intrigue surrounding the Roswell Incident alive.

Impact on Pop Culture

The Roswell Incident has profoundly impacted popular culture, inspiring numerous books, films, TV shows, and music. It has provided fertile ground for speculative fiction, with stories ranging from government cover-ups to alien invasions.

From television shows like “The X-Files” to films like “Independence Day,” the influence of the Roswell Incident can be seen across the spectrum of pop culture. This enduring fascination speaks to the impact of the Incident and its continued hold on the public imagination.

The Day After Roswell

An unparalleled contribution to ufology literature is ‘The Day After Roswell,’ penned by retired U.S. Army Colonel Philip J. Corso. Published in 1997, this sensational book has stirred the pot of the already contentious Roswell discourse, introducing a unique and explosive perspective.

Corso, a President Eisenhower’s National Security Council member and former head of the Foreign Technology Desk at the U.S. Army’s Research and Development department, alleged a bold, jaw-dropping narrative. He claimed that the Roswell crash was indeed of extraterrestrial origin, and the U.S. government used the recovered debris and the alien technology it contained to make monumental leaps in technology that fueled the twentieth century’s most significant breakthroughs.

According to Corso, innovations such as integrated circuits, fiber optics, lasers, and Kevlar can be traced back to the reverse engineering of the remnants of the Roswell crash. While critics argue that Corso’s account lacks substantial corroborating evidence, there’s no denying his book has a powerful impact on Roswell’s legacy and the larger conversation around UFOs and extraterrestrial encounters.

‘The Day After Roswell’ is a must-read for anyone engrossed by the enigma of the Roswell Incident. Agree or disagree with Corso’s assertions. His book compels us to consider the vast, mesmerizing universe beyond our understanding – a cosmos possibly teeming with life, intelligence, and technologies that might leapfrog our wildest imaginations.”

Skepticism and Debunking Theories

While many people believe in the extraterrestrial hypothesis of the Roswell Incident, some skeptics challenge this narrative. Skeptics often attribute the incident and subsequent UFO sightings to Cold War paranoia, misidentification of natural or man-made objects, and even outright hoaxes.

Many point to the explanations offered by the Air Force, such as the weather balloon from Project Mogul or high-altitude test dummies from Project High Dive, as more plausible scenarios. These debunking theories and skepticism add another dimension to the discussion around the Roswell Incident.

Personal Accounts and Eyewitnesses

Several people claimed to have witnessed the Roswell crash or its aftermath, providing intriguing, if sometimes conflicting, accounts of the event. From local ranchers to military personnel, these testimonies have added another layer of complexity to the Roswell Incident. While some claim to have seen alien bodies and strange debris, others recall an ordinary recovery operation of a crashed weather balloon.

The Legacy of Roswell

The legacy of the Roswell Incident is far-reaching. It has influenced government policies, sparked scientific research, and kindled a widespread public interest in UFOs and potential extraterrestrial life. It’s a testament to the power of the Roswell Incident that, even decades after the event, it continues to spark debate, inspire creativity, and generate a sense of wonder about what might lie beyond our world.

Conclusion: The Roswell Incident – What We Know Now

In conclusion, while we may never know the truth behind the Roswell incident, it undoubtedly holds a significant place in history. It sparked a global fascination with UFOs and extraterrestrial life that continues today. Whether one believes in the extraterrestrial explanation or the official Air Force account, the Roswell incident is a testament to the enduring allure of the unknown. For those interested in delving deeper into the Roswell incident, the following books are recommended: “The Day After Roswell” by Philip J. Corso, “Witness to Roswell: Unmasking the Government’s Biggest Cover-up” by Thomas J. Carey and Donald R. Schmitt, and “Roswell: Inconvenient Facts and the Will to Believe” by Karl T. Pflock.