Mystery of the month: Roswell

Was there re­ally an alien au­topsy at Roswell?

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Think UFOS, and chances are that the Roswell case springs to mind. Roswell has been de­scribed as ‘the world’s most fa­mous, most ex­haus­tively in­ves­ti­gated, and most thor­oughly de­bunked UFO claim’ of all time. But has it been to­tally de­bunked? Let’s take a look…

In 1947, the me­dia re­ported that a ‘fly­ing disc’ had crashed in the desert near Roswell, in New Mex­ico, USA. The de­bris was found by a man called Wil­liam Brazel, who was work­ing on a nearby ranch. He de­scribed it to lo­cal pa­per the Roswell Daily Record as ‘a large area of bright wreck­age made up of rub­ber

strips, tin­foil, and rather tough pa­per, and sticks.’ It was de­liv­ered to the Roswell Army Air­base for in­spec­tion.

Weatherbal­loon

Just as pub­lic spec­u­la­tion was mount­ing that the weird de­bris was, in fact, a crashed alien space­ship, the US mil­i­tary re­leased a state­ment to say that it was just a weather bal­loon. End of story. …Or so it should have been. For 31 years, the story was largely for­got­ten. But by the 1970s, fas­ci­na­tion with aliens was in full swing, and in 1978, US news­pa­per The Na­tional En­quirer took it upon it­self to re-print the orig­i­nal story from the Roswell Daily Record. Record Soon, the­o­ries sug­gest­ing that the ‘weather bal­loon’ had been a govern­ment con­spir­acy to cover up the dis­cov­ery of an alien space­craft be­gan to cir­cu­late. Many peo­ple who’d lived at or near Roswell at the time of the in­ci­dent claimed to have seen the de­bris. One wit­ness claimed to have seen a flam­ing space­craft crash­ing down from the sky. Then, in 1989, a for­mer mor­ti­cian called Glenn Den­nis said that a friend, Naomi Maria Self, who’d worked as a

nurse at Roswell Army Air Field had par­tic­i­pated in the au­topsy of three alien bod­ies. He said she was trans­ferred to Eng­land where she was killed in a mil­i­tary plane crash. How­ever, no record could be found of a nurse called Naomi Maria Self, nor ev­i­dence of the crash that had killed her.

Fake­footage

By now, fas­ci­na­tion with Roswell had reached fever pitch. In 1995, a man named Ray San­tilli claimed to have au­then­tic film footage of the Roswell alien au­topsy, al­legedly sup­plied to him by a re­tired mil­i­tary cam­era­man who wished to re­main anony­mous. It was im­me­di­ately vil­i­fied as a hoax, and in­deed, in 2006, San­tilli ad­mit­ted it had been staged – although he in­sisted it was based on a gen­uine first

hand wit­ness ac­count of what had hap­pened that day.

In 1994, the US mil­i­tary ad­mit­ted that the de­bris Brazel found came from a bal­loon which was part of an ex­per­i­men­tal mil­i­tary test­ing pro­gramme called Project Mogul. In the 1940s, Rus­sia and the USA were in the mid­dle of the Cold War, and the USA sent up high al­ti­tude bal­loons to spy on Rus­sia’s nu­clear mis­sile build­ing ca­pac­ity. The tech­nol­ogy was quickly aban­doned by the mil­i­tary but re­mained se­cret for 20 years – which was why they couldn’t ad­mit what the ‘UFO’ re­ally was in 1947. A sec­ond re­port re­leased in 1997 stated that the so-called ‘alien bod­ies’ were ac­tu­ally life-sized an­thro­po­mor­phic test dum­mies

Although the US govern­ment hoped their de­tailed anal­y­sis would put an end to spec­u­la­tion about Roswell, the op­po­site hap­pened - it merely in­flamed the sit­u­a­tion and led to fur­ther con­spir­acy the­o­ries which are still cir­cu­lat­ing to this day!

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