With all of the balloons and UFOs flying around and falling out of the sky these days I thought I'd take the time to get to the bottom of one of America's best known UFO mysteries. In 1947, the small town of Roswell, New Mexico, became the center of a major controversy that would spark decades of speculation and conspiracy theories. The incident was initially reported as a crash of an unidentified flying object (UFO) that was recovered by the US military. However, over time, it was revealed that the object was actually a top-secret government project known as Project Mogul.
Project Mogul was a joint effort between the US military and the newly formed Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to develop a high-altitude surveillance balloon that could detect sound waves from Soviet nuclear weapons tests. The project used balloons that carried listening devices and traveled in the upper atmosphere. The balloons were made of lightweight materials, such as neoprene, and were designed to be undetectable to radar.
Major Jesse A. Marcel holding foil debris from Roswell, New Mexico, UFO incident, 07/08/1947
On June 14, 1947, one of these balloons crashed on a ranch near Roswell, New Mexico. The debris was found by a local rancher, Mac Brazel, who reported it to the local sheriff. The military arrived on the scene soon after the call to the sheriff and retrieved the debris. The military stated to the public that they had recovered a "flying disc," sparking speculation and rumors about extraterrestrial life and a government cover-up. The incident gained lots of attention and became known as the Roswell UFO incident. To this day the Roswell UFO incident is still a popular subject for conspiracy theories and in pop culture.
Newspaper clipping from Roswell Daily Record on July 9, 1947 covering the Roswell UFO incident.
Over the years, the government has declassified documents related to Project Mogul and the Roswell incident, shedding light on what really happened. In 1994, the US Air Force released a report that concluded that the Roswell incident was a result of a Project Mogul balloon falling out of the sky and the military covering their tracks so the capabilities and intel gathered by Project Mogul would not be known by the Soviets.
Despite the government's attempts to clarify the situation, many people still believe in the conspiracy theories surrounding the incident. Some argue that the government is covering up the existence of extraterrestrial life or extraterrestrial technologies they gained from the crashed UFO. Others believe that the government intentionally misled the public to test the waters for a potential UFO threat. A even less common theory is that the Roswell incident involved time travel, rather than extraterrestrial life. That the military recovered a time machine or some other form of time travel technology, which they have kept hidden from the public (this is a personal favorite as there's a Futurama episode that plays with this idea).
The UFO has helped the small town grow with an influx of tourism this is taken from a display at Roswell's "UFO Museum"
While the incident may remain a topic of debate and speculation, the evidence suggests that it was a case of misidentification rather than an encounter with extraterrestrial life. I would guess the same is true for the UFOs that are currently being shot down but I'm still excited to see the evidence as it comes out.