Photo above: Cacti in the desert southwest. Source: Freeimages.com. Right: Roswell Daily Record newspaper account of the Roswell Incident. Source: Wikipedia Commons.
The Roswell Incident
Odd. Unique. Different. That is at best what you can state about the history of the Roswell Incident. The truth may be out there, as Chris Carter would note in the tagline for his series X-Files. But is this history, truth, or fiction? To be honest, we don't know. But the incident that occurred at Roswell, New Mexico has confounded more than a few historians, science fiction fanatics, government conspiracy theorists, and life outside our galaxy space folks, plus some government officials, since it occured on July 7, 1947. But just suppose, for one moment, that if this truth is the history that some state, that an alien spacecraft, or aliens themselves, came to earth outside that somewhat sleepy desert town, and involving the personnel at the Roswell Army Airfield in an UFO incident, it would be the largest and most spectacular truth in the history of the United States, or we should correct, the world.
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One thing is for certain. There was an incident in that New Mexico town known solely for its air base and cactus. But that is where speculation and fact collide in a not too certain manner. The Army Air Force base contended that there was a crash of a secret air balloon; others think that what crashed was a craft of UFO proportions. Even headlines of the day read with suspicious tones; like that from the Roswell Daily Record, "RAAF Captures Flying Saucer on Ranch in Roswell Region."
Of course, what fueled the speculation was the original press release by the Roswell Army Air Field, which stated that what had been recovered was a "flying disk." By the afternoon, this press release had been altered. It was no longer a flying disk or saucer, but that air balloon. It would be over thirty years before the speculation would take new life, when Major Jesse Marcel, who had been on the mission to recover the craft in 1947, stated in 1978 that he believed that what had been recovered was indeed an alien spacecraft.
The Foster Ranch - Site, seventy miles from Roswell, of the discovery of a "flying disk," "flying saucer," or "weather balloon" by Mac Brazel that fueled the debate over the Roswell Incident. It is supposed to have crashed during a severe thunderstorm in June or July of 1947, depending on the various accounts. Later investigated and recovered by a team from the Roswell Army Airfield, including Major Jesse Marcel and another man.
The Roswell Army Airfield - Opened in 1941 at a location three miles south of Roswell, New Mexico during World War II and known as the Walker AIr Force Base in later years until it was decommissioned in 1967. The Roswell International Air Center was developed after the base closed.
Roswell Dates of Interest
June 14, 1947 - Mac Brazel noticed strange debris on a ranch seventy miles north of Roswell.
July 7, 1947 - Major Jesse Marcel and a colleague from the RAAF are contacted and come to the ranch.
July 8, 1947 - Initial press release, stating that a "flying disc" had been found, later amended to the "weather balloon" account.
1978 - First interviews with Major Marcel indicate that he believed that the recovery was alien in nature, and that its recovery had been covered up. This admission caused UFO researchers to begin a study of that possibility. By the 1990s, some believed that the conspiracy was true and that not only had a spacecraft been discovered, but that alien life had also been recovered.
Mid-1990s - The United States Air Force issues two reports, explaining the weather balloon scenario, Project Mogul, and debunking the Roswell Incident as an UFO occurence.
Photo above: Abandoned farm on the outskirts of Roswell, 1938, Dorothea Lange. Courtesy Library of Congress Below: International UFO Museum and Research Center on North Main Street in Roswell, 2009. Courtesy Wikipedia Commons.
The Roswell International Air Center - Now a public airport, see satellite photo at top of this page, on over five thousand acres. Roswell is not a small place anymore, with over forty-five thousand residents. Sure, not huge, but larger than most of us would think.
The Roswell UFO Museum - Learn more about the incident in an American culture classic, quiche museum about the possiblity of that truth being out there. The museum holds a UFO Festival in the summer, the Roswelliam Experience. Check their website for the dates, times, and activities.
Books - A variety of books discuss the incident from various perspectives, including ...
The Roswell Incident, by Charles Berlitz and William L. Moore, 1980.
UFO Crash at Roswell, Kevin D. Randle and Donald R. Schmitt, 1991.
Crash at Corona, Don Berliner, 1992.
The Truth about the UFO Crash at Roswell, Kevin D. Randle and Donald R. Schmitt, 1994.
T-Shirts and Souvenirs
Roswell T-Shirts and Souvenirs.
Things You Should Not Miss
1. That UFO Museum. If the Roswell Incident ever becomes pure truth, you'll be one of the rare specimens to be able to say you've been there.
2. Take the Roswell UFO Tour. It's provided twice a day weekdays and will take you to twenty sites about the incident.
3. If you don't take the tour, take a drive to several of the sites of the incident, the closed Walker (Roswell) Air Force Base, which is now the Roswell International Air Center, which houses a number of buildings that were there during 1947, as well as retired aircraft today. It's three miles south of town. If you'd like a further drive, the Foster Ranch, thirty miles or so away at GPS 33 degrees 56.35'N, 105 degrees 18.41'W, as well as two other crash site locations, Ragsdale at 33 degrees 37.38'N, 105 degrees 13.60'W., and Hub Corn Ranch, are supposed locations associated with the incident. Ask at the Museum for directions.
4. Not UFO oriented per se, but unique to Roswell, is the Alta Cave Gift Shop. It's been there since 1944, so it was there during the incident. Also has a shrine that's interesting to see. It's outside of town on West Second Street.
Photo above: United States Air Force postcard of the front gate at Walker Air Force Base, 1950's. Courtesy USAF via Wikipedia Commons.
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