In 1947, something crashed in Roswell, New Mexico, and although rumors emerged from the get-go, they really got heated up in the 1970s that the craft in question was an alien spacecraft that the Air Force recovered and quickly secreted away. The even bigger news was that there were bodies. Alien bodies. The government, for its part, lied from the start, saying that what had crashed was a weather balloon. So, what of these theories of aliens and spacecraft and government cover-ups? Is there anything to these wild stories?
Like all the best conspiracy theories, the Roswell story has at its heart a real event. There was a crash, and the Air Force did hide the stuff away from sight, and the government did cover up the truth.
It was sometime before June 14, 1947, that a worker spotted debris in an isolated piece of land near where he was working. William Brazel, the ranch foreman who made the find, stashed away some of the debris. The parts consisted of rubber, pieces of foil and other relatively common materials, though some reports say that they did resemble a disc.
At some point shortly thereafter, the Air Force became aware of the site and came out and gathered up all it could find and trucked it off.
A report in the Roswell paper in early July of that year called the craft a “flying disc,” though it did also point out that the device, whatever it was, had a goodly amount of “Scotch” tape holding pieces of it together.
The military identified the object as a weather balloon and also referred to its associated “kite,” disregarding the suggestion that it was a flying disc. The idea of disc-shaped spacecraft was old hat by 1947, so the suggestion that the U.S. government was being secretive and possibly deceptive about such a find was tantalizing.
After recovering what it could and gathering up the remainder of the recovered debris from Brazel, the Air Force transferred it to a base in Fort Worth, Texas, all the while continuing to deny that it was anything more than a weather balloon.
Still, it wasn’t until the 1970s that the story really heated up. The era witnessed the growth of numerous theories positing the existence of extraterrestrial beings, like those who supposedly had created the Nazca Lines in Peru, just one of the clues to aliens having been to Earth that was floated in a popular book, Chariots Of The Gods, by Erich von Däniken, and the network television movie In Search of Ancient Astronauts and the spinoff series, In Search Of…
Over the years, the mystery became one of, if not the, most famous ever, at one point counting among its believers a majority of U.S. citizens, at least according to one poll. One popular theory had the government transferring the “disc” to a remote site in the Nevada desert, now known as Area 51, for study. Some have claimed that the Air Force rebuilt the craft and flew it regularly. Others still contend it captured live aliens from Roswell and was keeping them at the base, where they were used to help design the latest-gen aircraft.
The reason for the government’s cover-up of the truth behind the Roswell incident wasn’t that it had found an alien craft. The object was indeed a balloon, but not a weather balloon, rather a nuclear monitoring balloon with an attached disc below it. Because nuclear programs at the time were top secret, the government had no choice but to cover up the truth.
So, a flying disc (kind of) had indeed been recovered near Roswell in 1947. And the government did indeed cover up the find. So there was plenty of ammunition for those people out there who, like the fictional Fox Mulder of the TV series The X-Files, wanted to believe. And the details, both true and later fabricated, seemed too good not to be true and, hence, created the most famous alien “encounter” ever.