Maybe it was by design or maybe just coincidence that the Air Force chose June 24, 1997 to officially unveil their latest "final" report attempting to explain the Roswell Incident. The date, as any UFO enthusiast knows by heart, was the 50th anniversary of pilot Kenneth Arnold's famous sighting of nine unusual objects flying over the Cascade Mountains in Washington state. Arnold's sighting is widely regarded as the event which marked the beginning of a fantastic wave of UFO sightings in the summer of 1947.
Approximately ten days after Arnold's sighting, according to most accounts, something crashed in the desert not far from Roswell, New Mexico. On July 8, 1947, the Army announced recovery of a "flying disk" -- the first and only time the U.S. military has publicly asserted the reality of flying machines possibly not of human origin. This, the first "official" explanation of what crashed at Roswell, instantly made world headlines. But less than a day later, it was replaced by the next and longest-running of the "official" explanations, the infamous "weather balloon" story.
Forty-seven years later, in 1994, the Air Force finally felt obliged to come up with a better explanation than the weather balloon. Thus we learned of "Project Mogul," a super-secret, highly elaborate spying device consisting of multiple balloons and various attached paraphernalia, reportedly launched from White Sands Proving Grounds. A crash of such a device, the Air Force said, could certainly account for the odd assortment of debris found by rancher Mac Brazel on his range sometime in late June or early July. As far as the Air Force was concerned, the Brazel site was the only "crash site" worthy of discussion -- and their Mogul balloon story was intended to explain it away.
But there was still the nagging problem of bodies. Nearly all Roswell researchers insist that four or possibly five unusual bodies were recovered from the wreckage of a downed craft. Even skeptical researcher Karl Pflock, whose 1994 monograph "Roswell in Perspective" had broached the Mogul hypothesis months ahead of the Air Force, said he remained puzzled by the claim of bodies. And since these bodies were obviously not found at the Brazel site, they stood as a reminder that there had to be another, perhaps much more extensive crash site elsewhere. Clearly, the Air Force efforts to fully explain the Roswell incident had not succeeded.
Of course, Air Force officials might feel somewhat besieged these days, with people like Colonel Philip Corso saying the UFO crash at Roswell was entirely real, bodies and all; and with recent opinion polls showing that fully 80% of the American public now thinks the government has lied and kept secrets regarding UFOs; and with the world press now descending upon the usually sleepy town of Roswell, New Mexico, for a week of UFO coverage the likes of which has certainly never been seen before.
Thus it had to be expected that the Air Force would announce further findings, yet another "official" explanation aimed at disarming Roswell fervor. Rumors of the new report circulated weeks in advance [see CNI News of June 16, 1997]. Finally, on June 24, the report was unveiled, immediately attracting strong media interest as well as almost universal derision from UFO researchers. Central to the report is the claim that "anthropomorphic dummies" which crashed to earth during high-altitude parachute tests could account for eyewitness recollections of strange bodies associated with the Roswell incident.
The following texts present a range of reportage and opinion on the new Air Force report. First up is a brief announcement from the Air Force News Service, followed by a more extensive report combining excerpts from CNN and AP coverage. Several representative reactions from UFO researchers conclude our story.
[CNI News thanks Patricia Mason for sending us this item from the Air Force News Service, dated June 24, 1997. Further information can be found on the web at http://www.af.mil/lib/roswell/]
WASHINGTON (AFNS) -- The Air Force released its second report June 24 on what has become known as the "Roswell Incident." This report, "The Roswell Report: Case Closed," together with the one issued in September 1994, "The Roswell Report: Fact Versus Fiction in the New Mexico Desert," explains and demystifies events that occurred in New Mexico nearly 50 years ago.
During the 1940s and 1950s, the Air Force engaged in extensive high-altitude balloon experimentation. Some of the experiments involved using the balloons to carry and eject anthropomorphic dummies equipped with parachutes in order to learn how best to return pilots or astronauts to earth if they had to eject from high altitudes.
These experiments, as well as others described and explained in the report, including the 1947 crash of a balloon, correspond to many of the occurrences observed by local residents and later characterized as the "Roswell Incident."
This latest report is noteworthy for the extensive background it provides on the scope of the Air Force activities in the vicinity of Roswell, N.M., beginning in the mid-1940s and extending through the early 1960s.
"This is singularly the most exhaustive release of information on this subject," said Secretary of the Air Force Sheila Widnall. "In 1994, we made all records on this subject publicly available. This additional information will enlighten people about pioneer research and the challenging and often heroic work of Air Force personnel during those early years."
The 230-page report can be obtained through Government Printing Office World Wide Web site, the http://www.access.gpo.gov/index.html, or by calling (202) 512-1800.
[End of Air Force statement. The following text combines excerpts from CNN and AP reports on the web, dated June 24.]
WASHINGTON -- So-called space aliens who supposedly crashed in the New Mexico desert 50 years ago were only military dummies used in high-altitude parachute drops, the Air Force said at a news conference Tuesday.
Officials showed a video at the Pentagon briefing to make its point, and released a 231-page report.
Its findings immediately came under attack, and apparently were unlikely to end long-standing rumors that the government recovered bodies from damaged flying saucers near Roswell, New Mexico, in July 1947, then covered up the incident.
From the military's point of view, the title of the report tells it all: "The Roswell Report, Case Closed."
But when asked whether he thought the report "would put this whole thing to rest," Defense Department spokesman Kenneth Bacon replied: "Of course not."
Air Force Col. John Haynes, who presented the report at the Pentagon news conference, said its findings show that "air force activities which occurred over a period of many years have now been consolidated and are now represented to have occurred over two or three days in July 1947."
To illustrate the room for confusion, Haynes showed file footage from the 1950s of dummies dressed in Air Force flight suits pulled aloft by enormous high-altitude balloons, then dropped to earth. The object was to devise a way pilots or astronauts could reach earth if forced to escape at extremely high altitudes.
The black-and-white footage is a one-of-a-kind collection of Air Force film and photos, including a shot of a fully outfitted dummy called "Sierra Sam" standing upright with his arms outstretched over the shoulders of two officers.
The majority of the dummies -- which had skeletons of aluminum or steel, skin of latex or plastic, cast aluminum skulls and instrument cavities in their torsos and heads -- landed outside military bases in eastern New Mexico, near Roswell, the Air Force report said.
"I think this (explanation) is a real stretch," said Karl Pflock, a UFO researcher in New Mexico, (even though) he doesn't think the Roswell incident involved alien spacecraft.
"They've got egg on their face and they've not done anything to remove it," said Walter Haut, who was the public information officer at Roswell Army Air Field in 1947.
In this 50th anniversary year of the Roswell incident, the Air Force says the spaceship legend grew from a combination of honest misunderstandings by people unfamiliar with Air Force operations in New Mexico and deliberate distortions of actual events by publicity seekers.
"Some persons may legitimately ask why the Air Force expended time and effort to respond to mythical, if not comedic, allegations," the Air Force report said. The essential reason for responding, it said, was to set the record straight.
In 1994, the Air Force issued a report on the so-called "Roswell incident" that said the "spacecraft" that supposedly crashed in the desert was an Air Force balloon used in a top-secret research program. The report released Tuesday repeated that assertion.
The possibility of a government conspiracy to cover up an actual UFO sighting was ridiculed Tuesday by retired Air Force Col. Richard Weaver, who wrote the 1994 report.
"I don't think the government is capable of putting together a decent conspiracy," Weaver said during a TV appearance.
Deon Crosby, director of the International UFO Museum and Research Center in Roswell, said the report raises more questions than it answers. She said pictures of the Air Force dummies look like mannequins and, if that's what they were, "What does it say about the people in the military who can't tell the difference between mannequins and bodies?"
Frank Kaufmann, now 81, insists he saw dead aliens put into body bags after their spacecraft crashed near the town 50 years ago.
At the time in 1947, he was a civilian employee at Roswell Army Air Field, and was sent to see what had crashed into a dry riverbed. Kaufmann said he got a close look at two bodies, one in the wreckage and one slumped against a rock wall in the riverbed.
"They were very good-looking people, ash-colored faces and skin ... about 5 feet 5 (1.65 meters) tall, eyes a little more pronounced, small ears, small nose, fine features and hairless," he said. Kaufmann contends he saw military personnel place five corpses into body bags and remove them in jeeps.
[End of CNN and AP excerpts. The following comments are representative of critical opinion posted to the internet since June 24.]
Michael J. O'Donnell of Newburgh, New York appealed for a broad public display of dissatisfaction with the report. His complete posting follows:
In the wake of the debacle that is today's 'final Roswell chapter' brought forth by the Air Force, I have dispatched the below appended letter to the President, my Senatorial and House representatives, selected editors, and to you. I urge you all to write to your elected representatives also. I no longer expect any individual in government to 'take on the establishment' that shows such contempt for us all but our voices MUST continue to ring out. Where this will all end may well be nightmarish but we have a legacy of freedom in America that must be saved. Good luck to us all in the coming times.
Dear Mr. President,
As an American citizen I'm outraged at the depth of contempt that the military has shown for those whom it is sworn to serve. The ridiculous position that the 'high altitude test dummies' dropped between 1954 and 1959 were what those reporting living and dying bodies from a crash in 1947 saw, is patently preposterous. It goes beyond that in fact. It is cynical and cavalier ranking with Marie Antoinette's infamous, "Let them eat cake".
To those few persons who will believe this incongruous and shameful attempt to make a mockery of serious investigation of the Roswell event I can only feel pity. Acceptance of such tripe as this latest 'report' only serves to let the government believe that Americans will blindly accept anything coming from an official source. The lack of concern for the opinions of the citizenry only serves to widen the gap that is 'distrust' of government in America today. These seeds may well bear bitter fruit for us all.
I served sixteen years in the United States Air Force. Today, for the first time and in the aftermath of this debacle that is the 'final chapter' of the Roswell incident as far as the Air Force is concerned, I feel ashamed. Not ashamed for my service but rather of the Air Force. Used here as a propaganda tool, memories of the 'five o'clock' follies in Viet Nam are stirred. I can only ask myself why this is the legacy left to us in the wake of investigative verve so nobly exhibited in the Watergate era. It appears that such vigorous over-viewing of government/military operations has been buried with this rebuke of honesty toward the citizenry of the United States by the military and ultimately by the government that nurtures it. Add one more voice to those crying out in anguish about lost 'moral imperative' in America.
Michael J. O'Donnell
[The following comments were posted by Bruce Cornet (firstname.lastname@example.org) on the CNN web chatboard.]
In the old television series, Get Smart, Maxwell Smart would say, "Would you believe this.....?." And when his counterpart wouldn't believe his explanation, he would try again, saying, "Would you believe that.....?" I think that after THREE tries to explain something that happened at Roswell in 1947, the Airforce would realize by now that we HAVE gotten SMART.
It does not make sense that our tax dollars would be spent so foolishly to create thick documents about Mogul balloons and crash dummies if nothing eventful ever happened at Roswell. These reports and explanations are so patently transparent and false that I wonder if what we are seeing is a slight of hand, a misdirection not aimed at the believers who think that an alien ship crashed at Roswell, but at the debunkers and skeptics who continually get in the way of finding the truth.
The media seems to be hyper sensitive to skepticism and criticism of the stories it generates. The media scratches the itch created by criticism in an attempt to make it go away......
What better way of raising interest in Roswell than to create not just one, but three fictitious stories that will lull the skeptics and debunkers opposed to an ET-UFO explanation into thinking that they have scored points, but which will also incite more interest and raise more questions about what really happened.
This ploy will create a skeptical backlash critical of establishment and debunker viewpoints. And to sooth that new itch the media will give more credence to the possibility of a government coverup.
The Airforce could have remained silent, but it didn't. Any comment, press release, or report on Roswell at a time when believers and the curious are gathering near the alleged crash site, will only serve to increase public awareness of a non-human ET presence.
Personally, I think that the people orchestrating the dummy report are smarter than Maxwell Smart, and the real reason that it was released was not to tell the truth, but to make the debunkers and skeptics look ridiculous through mimicking their illogical arguments. For what reason? Because there is something much bigger just under the surface that too many people are still unwilling or unprepared to accept, and by shifting public opinion in favor of a cover up, our government is preparing us for the incredible truth.
[Do you have a theory about "what's really going on" concerning the government's "official" treatment of the Roswell Incident? Let us know. Try to express your thoughts in 100 words or less, and we'll print a sample of reader responses in the "Roswell special" edition of CNI News on July 10. Send your response to CNINews1@aol.com no later than July 7.]
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