The Roswell Incident: 75 Years Ago The World's Most Famous UFO Claim Unfolded In New Mexico

July 07, 2022 1:00 AM ‐ UFOs

This article is more than one year old and was last updated in February 2024.

Roswell UFO Crash

On this day 75 years ago, a rancher named Mac Brazel took some mysterious debris he'd discovered on his remote farmland to the sheriff's office in Roswell, New Mexico.

Sheriff George Wilcox referred the find to the Roswell Army Air Field Base triggering decades of government denials and countless conspiracy theories about extraterrestrials.

Brazel had found the debris scattered across a square mile of the ranch three weeks previously, but initially thought nothing of it and simply disposed on it in some bushes.

However, in the national press around this time, July 1947, was the story of the civilian pilot Kenneth Arnold, who saw a UFO which resulted in the term "flying saucer" being coined. Because Brazel lived on a remote ranch with no phone or radio, it wasn't until he visited the nearby town of Corona that he heard of Arnold's encounter and connected the debris he'd found with the alien spacecraft craze in the news.

After digging out the debris - which included rubber strips, tinfoil and thick paper - and taking it to the sheriff, Major Jesse Marcel was assigned to investigate the incident. He immediately visited the ranch, and with Brazel they collected more pieces of rubber and tinfoil.

The following day, July 8, Marcel took the debris to his base commander, Colonel William Blanchard, who in turn reported the find to General Roger Ramey at Fort Worth Army Air Field. Ramey ordered the debris to be flown straight to Fort Worth, where later that day public information officer Walter Haut issued a press statement stating that a "flying disc" was found.

After a proper examination of the debris, the extraterrestrial claim was quickly retracted and the public were told that it was actually nothing more than a weather balloon that had crashed on Brazel's ranch. This should have been the end of the story, but in fact, it was just the beginning.
Roswell UFO Crash

The story re-surfaced in the late 1970s when then-retired Marcel stated in an interview with UFO researcher, Stanton Friedman, that he believed the debris he retrieved was of extraterrestrial origin. This lead ufologists to believe that an alien spacecraft did indeed crash in New Mexico in 1947.

In 1980 the book 'The Roswell Incident' by Charles Berlitz and William Moore added fuel to the conspiracy theorists' fire when they claimed through a series of second-hand accounts that alien bodies were recovered in New Mexico.

This seemed to be confirmed in video footage of an alien autopsy that was leaked over a decade later. It was claimed that the footage was shot by a US military official shortly after the Roswell crash. The controversial video, which caused quite a stir globally, was released by British entrepreneur, Ray Santilli, who ran a London-based video production company.

The 17-minute-long black and white film was sold to television networks and broadcast in more than 33 countries. It appeared to show the complete autopsy of an extraterrestrial being. Santilli claimed that the footage was given to him by a retired military cameraman who wished to remain anonymous.

Marcel was interviewed by the media several times up until 1985, including by documentary makers and as part of television shows. In all his statements, Marcel consistently denied the presence of any alien bodies, and in 2006 Santilli finally admitted that the video was a fake. However, filmmaker continues to claim that it was an accurate reconstruction of genuine footage he received but the tapes were deteriorated and unusable.

After a US congressional inquiry, the government finally released a report detailing the true nature of the Roswell crash in 1994. It seems there was a genuine cover up at Roswell, but the military weren't trying to hide the existence of alien visitors, but the fact that the downed balloon was part of a secret program.

Project Mogul, which was classified at the time, was designed to pick up on Soviet Union nuclear tests. The balloon had been launched from Alamogordo Army Air Field a month earlier, and took a radar reflector and other classified sensors up to high-altitude as part of the military surveillance program.

A second report, published in 1997, concluded that stories of "aliens bodies" probably stemmed from test dummies being dropped from high altitude.

Despite a lack of any credible evidence or living witnesses, 75 years on there are still people who believe that an alien spaceship did crash near Roswell and the truth has been concealed by a government conspiracy. This is in part fuelled by the city of Roswell's industrious approach to capitalising on the events, now boasting several attractions for UFO hunters.

The Roswell incident has been described as "the world's most famous, most exhaustively investigated, and most thoroughly debunked UFO claim."

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