augured a flurry of similar reports – in fact eight hundred and fifty similar
sightings were reported to the US Authorities between June and July of 1947
alone. Arnold later published details of his experience and the term ‘flying
saucer’ entered the public domain following a newspaper interview he gave
shortly after his experience. Of course at the time, the immediate governmental response
wasn’t that there was an alien presence in the sky, but that more Earthly
enemies had developed technologies that could pose a threat to the United
Then in July of that year, 1947, an event occurred that decades
later is still a matter of intense speculation and controversy; an event that
had fed decades of allegations of conspiracies, cover-ups, suppressed
information and dissemination of disinformation. Hardly surprising, perhaps,
when the event triggered a headline ‘RAAF Captures Flying Saucer On Ranch in
Roswell Region’ and was authorised by the American Airforce itself.
The report that generated this headline was released by Walter
Haut, the Public Information Officer at the Roswell Army Airforce Base and was
based on events that occurred during a violent thunderstorm during the first
week of July 1947. During that storm something crashed on the J. B. Foster
Ranch, some 75 miles north-west of Roswell.
morning, ranch manager William Brazel (left) discovered fragments of unusual
debris scattered over the ranch. In no great hurry, Brazel waited a few days
before driving in to Roswell where he advised Sheriff George Wilcox of the find.
Wilcox duly informed the Roswell Army Air Field, home of the 509th
Bomb Group, the world’s first atomic bomb unit (6) and Brazel then spent the
whole of 8th July 1947 day at Roswell Army Air Field before being
given a military escort to the offices of the Roswell daily Herald where he
refuted the crashed saucer story, merely describing a small volume of debris of
no more than five pounds in weight.
Major Jesse Marcel, the unit’s Intelligence Officer, together
with Captain Sheridan Cavitt, a Counter Intelligence Corps officer, accompanied
Brazel back to the site. Marcel stated in a 1979 interview "we found some …
small bits of metal, but mostly we found some material that’s hard to describe…
I’d never seen anything like that, and I still don’t know what it was … I lit a
cigarette lighter to some of this stuff, and it didn’t burn."
were also "small, solid members that you could not bend or break, but it didn’t
look like metal. It looked more like wood. They varied in size … perhaps
three-eighths of an inch by one quarter of an inch thick …
of them were very long." Marcel also stated that he had seen unusual two-colour
‘hieroglyphics’ on some of the pieces as well as parchment like material (7).
The area surrounding the crash was sealed off and all the
remaining debris was collected and removed by the military.
William Haut, the
press officer stated in an interview with Timothy Good that he "had a call from
Colonel Blanchard [Commander of the 509th Bomb Group], and he told me
to report to his office … He gave me the basic facts that he wanted to put in a
news release … that we had in our possession a flying saucer.
A rancher had
brought parts of it in to the Sheriff’s office, and the material was flown to
General Ramey, who was Commanding General of the Eight Air Force." (8)
Marcel (above) was then
ordered to load the debris onto available aircraft and fly it Fort Bliss before
it was moved to Wright Field (now Wright Patterson AFB - right) at Dayton, Ohio
During an intermediate stop, Ramey took charge of the operation and those
involved were sworn to secrecy.
(In a 1991 sworn affidavit, General Thomas Dubose, who was then a colonel and
General Ramsey’s (of Roswell AFB) deputy claims that he and Ramey received
orders directly from General McMullen in Washington to hide the real UFO debris
and replace it with balloon debris.)
Sure enough, within 24 hours, the original story of the ‘Flying Saucer’ was
retracted and a somewhat uncomfortable looking Jesse Marcel was photographed
posing alongside General Ramey with a piece of the ‘debris’ and announcing that
the object was not a flying saucer after all but merely debris from a crashed
Whether it was a flying disk or not, we do now know that this account was untrue
for the Air Force have recently retracted that particular story and replaced it
with another one that no-one believes either.