Date: Mon Oct 10 1994 15:07:46
From: John Powell
Subj: Roswell Critique
Dubious Truth About the Roswell Crash by Christopher D. Allan
(IUR, May/June 1994, Volume 19, Number 3, International UFO Reporter,
Copyright 1994 by the J. Allen Hynek Center for UFO Studies, 2457 West
Peterson Ave., Chicago, IL 60659, published bimonthly with a
subscription rate of $25/yr.)
In chapter 13 of the recently published The Truth About the UFO
Crash at Roswell, Kevin D. Randle and Donald R. Schmitt have a great
deal to say about a letter written by Lt. Gen. Nathan F. Twining, head
of the Air Materiel Command, as well as about FBI involvement in the
Roswell case. Their treatment is based on poor research and a lack of
study of the documentation, as I shall show. I summarize below the main
points Randle and Schmitt raise:
(1) Gen. Twining knew about the Roswell crash but decided to ignore it
completely and in fact specifically pointed out the lack of any
physical evidence of "flying discs" in his September 23, 1947,
letter to Brig. Gen. George F. Schulgen, assistant chief of staff
for air intelligence.
(2) Twining's letter was only at "secret" level whereas a crashed UFO
would be "top secret" and therefore could not be referred to in a
memo of lower classification. Roswell was, and remains, a tightly
(3) J. Edgar Hoover's handwritten note on an FBI memo probably, though
not certainly, refers to Roswell. It does not refer to a prank
disc found in Louisiana (pp. 91-93), notwithstanding Hoover's
mention of the "La case."
(4) The Air Defense Command (in particular the 4602nd Air Intelligence
Squadron) took over from Project Blue Book and the Air Technical
Intelligence Center (ATIC) the investigation of UFOs in early 1953
(pp. 95-96). Blue Book became merely a "public relations outfit"
after 1953 (p. 100).
(5) Two classified operations, Blue Fly and Moon Dust, set up in about
1960, were integrated into the UFO program. The whole program was
orchestrated from Fort Belvoir, Virginia. The project "was
designed with retrieval of material in mind" (p. 100).
To take Randle and Schmitt's claims one at a time, in order:
(1) Since Randle and Schmitt assure us that some Roswell
wreckage and bodies went to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Gen.
Twining would certainly have known about the Roswell crash. But for him
to answer a request for information from Washington on what has thus far
been discovered about UFOs by omitting the most important discovery of
all (namely a crashed UFO with alien corpses) makes no sense.
Twining's response was based on an "estimate" sent to him by
Schulgen's office a short time before. This estimate consisted of some
18 "best cases" up to mid-July but did not mention Roswell or indeed any
crashed UFO. Randle and Schmitt say that Twining saw no need to mention
Roswell, even though he knew all about it, because Schulgen had not
brought the matter up.
If an ET craft had really crashed at Roswell and Twining had the
wreckage and bodies, it would be an exceedingly foolish thing to pretend
otherwise. How was Twining to know that only one such crash had
occurred? How could Twining possibly pretend no physical evidence
existed when, for all he knew, Roswell was but one of many crashes,
perhaps in other countries, too? By what strange reasoning did Twining
think he ever could keep the affair under wraps? This was, after all, a
new and unpredictable phenomenon, an extraterrestrial visitation. Yet
Twining, according to Randle and Schmitt, was so confident he could keep
it under wraps that he recommends Washington to launch an investigation
into something but then avoids mentioning the existence of the most
(2) The idea that Roswell could not be referred to in a secret
memo is valid only if we assume that Roswell would have been a top
secret affair. By "accepted wisdom" the authors ought to add that this
is the "accepted wisdom of the Roswell believers" who by now have become
so indoctrinated with the super-secrecy of the story that they will
grasp at any straw to distort the meaning of once-classified documents -
documents that, alas, never mention Roswell. In other words, if the
documentation is not there, Randle and Schmitt will put it there.
In referring to the Twining memo, Randle and Schmitt also do not
acknowledge that they are resurrecting an idea first put out by William
L. Moore and Stanton T Friedman a decade ago.
Randle and Schmitt say (p. 91) that Twining's response "proves
that Twining and his staff, though aware of the Roswell crash, wanted to
gather additional intelligence about the flying discs." It neither
proves nor even suggests anything of the sort.
(3) The answer is obvious. Hoover is referring to the prank
disc. The abbreviation "La." (note the period Hoover inserted) can only
refer to Louisiana. The facts are these:
A 16-inch aluminum platter with some odd attachments was found
in Shreveport, Louisiana, on July 6 or 7 and was denounced by police as
the work of pranksters. It was then handed over to the Army Air Force at
nearby Barksdale AFB. For details, see pages 11-12 and 16 of Loren E.
Gross's UFOs: A History - Volume I (July 1947 - December 1948), and page
149 of Lawrence Fawcett and Barry J. Greenwood's Clear Intent.
Hoover noted, on the July 10 memo, that he would agree to
cooperate with the Army Air Force provided that the FBI had "full access
to discs recovered." He went on: "For instance, in the La. case the Army
grabbed it and would not let us have it for cursory examination." This
is precisely the point: The FBI was not given access to the Shreveport
disc, in spite of Randle and Schmitt's claim that the bureau was
"heavily involved" (p. 92). The FBI, in fact, was cut out of the
investigation and effectively snubbed. Its only contact was via a phone
call from Barksdale which told an FBI agent about the hoax. This agent
promptly relayed the news to the New Orleans FBI office.
This point is brought out in two other FBI memos, one dated July
24 (E. G. Fitch to D. M. Ladd), the other late on July 7. In the former
the writer refers to Hoover's note in the first paragraph and then goes
on to say that the military has promised complete cooperation in the
future and that "all discs recovered be made available for examination
by FBI agents," thus clearly implying that this had not been the case up
The July 7 memo, also to Ladd, gives further evidence of the
lack of FBI access to the prank disc. The Army took sole charge.
Fawcett and Greenwood note that "Hoover's comment has been
taken out of context by various writers as evidence of alien beings
coming to earth." This was lO years ago; yet Randle and Schmitt still
perpetuate the myth.
There can be no doubt whatever that Hoover was writing about the
Shreveport disc. There is equally no doubt that by bringing in such
irrelevancies as Los Angeles (which would be denoted as "LA" and not
"La") and Los Alamos (which would be written out in full), the authors
have sought to invoke weak and dubious evidence to twist Hoover's
meaning toward Roswell. Neither Los Angeles nor Los Alamos has the
remotest connection with the Roswell case. Hoover was certainly not
referring to Roswell and, apart from the one Dallas memo of July 8
(indicating little FBI interest), there is nothing in the myriad of
released official papers to show the FBI ever mentioned, or cared about,
Finally, notice that at no point does Hoover or the FBI refer to
a saucer "crash." The only term used in these memos is "recovery," a
quite different concept.
(4) Again, the evidence is fairly clear. Perhaps it is best
given by Capt. Edward J. Ruppelt, on pages 231-33 of his The Report on
Unidentified Flying Objects. Here he tells about the assistance he sought
from the Air Defense Command, which had other primary duties, in early
1953. He even went to Colorado Springs to help set up a program for ADC,
briefing its personnel on Blue Book's methods. There is no suggestion
that the ADC ever usurped Blue Book's authority. It was there to help,
not replace, Blue Book. Ruppelt planned to call on it if there was a
case worth investigating. "The team would make a thorough investigation
and wire us their report," he wrote on page 232. Ruppelt later tells of
an exceptional radar/visual case which sounded so good that he decided
to avoid calling the 4602nd out at all. In other words, he was under no
compulsion to use its services but did so if he genuinely needed help
from its field teams.
In AFR 200-2 (1954 code) paragraph 4c states that ATIC,
Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio, will analyze and evaluate all information
after "ADC has exhausted all efforts to identify the UFO." Paragraph 6
(ZI collection) states that the 4602nd AISS, a squadron within ADC, will
carry out all field investigations. Paragraph 7 (reporting) states that
all electrical reports (telephone, telex, and so on) will be addressed
to four different places, including ADC and ATIC (i.e., Blue Book).
Written reports were to be addressed to both ADC and USAF headquarters
in Washington. Paragraph 8 (physical evidence) refers to both material
physical) and photographic evidence. This would certainly include any
pieces from a downed UFO. It thus gives the lie to R/S's claims that
crashed saucers were to be treated differently from other UFO reports.
AFR 200-2 covers all UFOs originating within the Air Force at
the time. A later code in 1959 is essentially the same but says that
written reports should also go to ATIC (Blue Book) which will then
forward them to the intelligence agencies in the United States if it
considers such a step necessary. Physical evidence was to be safeguarded
and forwarded to ATIC (paragraph 19). An amendment in February 1960
states (my emphases): "Specifically the ATIC _may_ call upon the 1127th
Field Activity Group, Fort Belvoir, Virginia[,] to conduct further field
investigations _if review of the initial report indicates such a
AFR 80-17 (1966) is much the same and in paragraph 3 actually
mentions Blue Book by name. There is no mention in any of these
requirements that reports considered top secret should not go to Blue
Book. Blue Book, with its very limited staff, simply could not go out
and investigate each report. It had to seek outside help. Hence the ADC
cooperation and the help from "Project Bear" (of which Ruppelt also
We cannot say how closely these regulations were adhered to, but
we can say with conviction that the idea of Blue Book's being only a
"public relations outfit" is false. Blue Book was, until its closure in
late 1969, still the main official investigative agency for UFO reports.
A memo written on October 20, 1969, by Brig. Gen. C. H.
Bolender, the Air Force' s Deputy Director of Development, states,
"Reports of unidentified flying objects which could affect national
security are made in accordance with JANAP 146 or Air Force Manual
55-11, and are not part of the Blue Book system"; they "should continue
to be handled through the standard Air Force procedures designed for
this purpose." Randle and Schmitt use this to argue their claim for a
UFO project other than Blue Book, but the memo mentions nothing about
crashed UFOs. Perhaps when Bolender wrote it (only a few weeks before
Blue Book closed) he was unaware of the exact details of AFR 200 or AFR
Finally, as in item (2), Randle and Schmitt have found nothing
new. They are simply reiterating, without acknowledgement, ideas first
put forward by Friedman in his scientific papers in the 1970s.
(5) There seems to be a misunderstanding here. The November 1961
document quoted by Randle and Schmitt does indeed include paragraphs on
UFOs as well as Operations Blue Fly and Moon Dust, but Randle and
Schmitt create the impression that they were all linked and therefore
part of an official secret "recovery of space objects" plan.
The paragraph dealing with UFOs says: "AFR 200-2 delineates
1127th collection responsibilities." This supports my comment in item
(4). The paragraphs on Blue Fly and Moon Dust refer to other documents
which outline the collection responsibilities in these projects.
Randle and Schmitt then fasten on to one short sentence in a
July 26, 1973, State Department document, which says "the designator
MOONDUST is used in cases of non-US space objects or objects of unknown
origin." They imply that the phrase "unknown origin" means UFOs. But a
careful study of the document (on pp. 207-10) shows that at no place
does the term "UFO" appear. Furthermore, the whole paper is clearly
guidance on how U.S. consular and diplomatic personnel overseas are to
handle space objects originating from earth (satellites, rockets,
boosters, missiles, fuel tanks, assorted debris). It mentions such
things as "The Outer Space Treaty" and the "Return of Astronauts and
Objects Agreement." The document heading is "SUBJECT: Guidance for
dealing with space objects which have _returned_ to earth" (my
emphasis). UFOs (supposed ET craft) do not return to earth.
Indeed it is difficult to see how anyone, other than a
determined crashed-saucer believer, could link this 1973 State
Department memorandum with UFOs. "Unknown origin" simply means "whose
country of origin is unknown," nothing else.
The definitions of Moon Dust and Blue Fly are given in the Air
Force letter to Sen. Jeff Bingaman on pages 211-12. In this letter the
Air Force admits that a previous reply given to him denying the
existence of these projects was in error.
Randle and Schmitt then cite some occasions when Moon Dust was
supposedly activated. One was the recovery of four objects in Nepal in
March 1968. The nature of these objects was readily known to embassy
staff in Nepal. Another was a "cube-shaped satellite weighing about
three tons" found in the Sudan in August 1967 (how credible is this?).
Another find in 1970 resembled a pressurized fuel tank. None of these
incidents has any relevance to UFOs, but this does not prevent the
authors from surmising, on page 98, "Of course, each could refer to
something that was not made on earth."
Randle and Schmitt assume that Moon Dust was called to
investigate the Kecksburg, Pennsylvania, incident of December 9, 1965,
when a bright fireball was seen over parts of Canada and the eastern
United States. Something was believed to have crashed to earth near
Kecksburg. An object was allegedly later recovered and taken away by the
military. The authors acknowledge that Blue Book was also involved.
In a 19-page report, Old Solved Mysteries: What Really Happened
at Kecksburg, PA, Robert R. Young names the military field team as the
662 Radar Squadron at Oakdale. The official Air Force verdict was that
the UFO was a bolide meteor. This was also the conclusion of the
civilian National Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenomena (NICAP),
which recorded it as such in its files. Nothing was recovered from the
alleged impact site. The fact that Blue Book was involved further
negates Randle and Schmitt's claim that such crash cases would by-pass
In short, there is no reason to suppose that Operations Blue Fly
and Moon Dust were part of any grand plan to recover crashed saucers, or
in fact had anything to do with UFOs.
The allegations and claims made by Kevin Randle and Donald
Schmitt in chapter 13 of their new book are not borne out, and are in
fact contradicted, by a study of the relevant documentation.
Christopher D. Allan views the UFO scene from his home in