On July 7, 1947, something dropped from out of the sky and crashed outside of Roswell, New Mexico. It caused a lot of charred debris with barely detectable strange hieroglyphs on it. Those are the facts. However, beyond those details, everything else connected to Roswell is a little hazy. But these lack of facts have not kept Roswell from entering contemporary mythology.
What Is Known
First off, it is unknown just how many people actually saw the crash and the moments before the crash. Although hundreds claimed to be witnesses, most turned out to be sensation-seekers or were just telling what they had heard someone else say. It is thought that only seven people actually saw the debris. Newspaper reporters were ale to take photos. Carl Sagan, in “The Demon-Haunted World” (Ballantine Books; 1996) notes that the photos show the debris of a wrecked weather balloon rather than that of anything alien.
At the time, there was classified project called “Project Mogul” to develop surveilance high-altitue weather ballons to spy on other countries. Project Mogul was scrapped when planes such as the U2 were developed. A 1994 report by the Department of Defense notes that Project Mogul ordered many strange stickers from a novelty and toy company which were placed on the outside of the balloon prototypes as a decoration.
But do people still believe that the US government is hiding a spaceraft and alien corpses from the Roswell crash site? Yipperdoodle, they do.
Why They Don’t Believe the Facts
In order to place the Roswell incident in perspective, let’s look at what the American people faced in 1947. Two World Wars had shaken any sense of security. Those World Wars were full of one country (aliens) invading other countries and then taking them over brutally. If America wasn’t scared of the Nazis, they were scared of Japan acting as the alien invaders.
And, unfortunately, the US military was in a bind as to how to explain what had happened. That’s because they couldn’t explain. They couldn’t reveal any military secrets. From the 1930’s to the 1950’s, the US Military flew (or tried to) experimental aircraft shaped like flying saucers. Under the “loose lips sink ships” philosophy of World War Two, any explanation, no matter how innocuous, could give the enemy some advantage.
It could be that Project Mogul prototypes tried to spy on Americans in order to test the ballons. American do not like to be spied on by the militray, for very good reasons. But the American public pays the bills for the military. No good getting the cash cow angry.
Roswell Then and Now
Over the years, this lack of information from the US military helped spark Roswell UFO conspiracy theories. What were the military personnel keeping so tight-lipped about? The theory generally goes that the military found a flying saucer, one or two dead alien pilots and a bunch of funky looking technology, then put it all in a secret lab to perform nefarious experiments. Considering the military hotly denies this (and the military’s past records of not telling the truth to civilians) helps add to they mythos.
Over the decades, the Roswell myth has added to the general mythology of America. Mention the name “Roswell” to an American, they tend to assume you mean either a TV series of the same name or the mysterious crash. The Roswell myth has given rise to a lot of great entertainment, books, web sites and helps us know that we have the right to keep on asking questions.
The Roswell myth has given the American public a far richer history than Roswell facts.
Wikipedia. “Roswell UFO Incident.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roswell_UFO_Incident
“In Search Of: UFOs.” (1976) Alan Lansburg Productions.
“The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark.” Carl Sagan. Ballantine Books; 1996.