Date: Mon Sep 12 1994 00:00:16
From: Sheppard Gordon
Subj: Roswell Report out
Top-secret balloon -- not a UFO -- crashed in N.M in 1947
Credit: Associated Press
WASHINGTON -- There will be no convincing some people, but the
Air Force says -- again -- the thing that hit the ground near
Roswell, N.M., in 1947 was not the proof that UFOs exist. But it
did prove that a crashing balloon could make a 47-year mess.
There were no secret autopsies on space aliens who couldn't
fly too well. No flying saucer pieces under guard on an air base.
No big conspiracy.
It was just a balloon.
One of ours.
It took eight months to reach that conclusion, and the Air
Force hopes now to put to rest talk in UFO circles that military
authorities covered up a grand extraterrestrial event.
The Air Force began the investigation in January after Rep.
Steven Schiff, R-N.M., asked the General Accounting Office, the
investigative arm of Congress, to press the Pentagon to declassify
documents relating to Roswell.
Air Force officials tracked down principals, combed archives,
and even sent some old news photos to the CIA for analysis -- all
to try to deflate the persistent rumors of a massive government
conspiracy to hide the truth.
The effort produced a 25-page report, released yesterday, in
which Col. Richard Weaver concludes that the debris a rancher found
probably came from a once top-secret balloon designed to monitor
the atmosphere for evidence of Soviet nuclear tests.
Of the UFO theories, Colonel Weaver had this to say:
"What is uniquely lacking in the entire exploration and
exploitation of the Roswell Incident is official positive
documentary or physical evidence of any kind that supports the
claims of those who allege that something unusual happened."
However, Colonel Weaver predicted "pro-UFO" elements simply
would dismiss his report as part of the cover-up.
Indeed, Walter Haut, a volunteer at the UFO Museum at Roswell,
a center devoted to gathering information on this and other UFO
incidents, wasted no time in rejecting the Air Force conclusions.
In July 1947 the owner of a ranch near Roswell picked up
debris that included scattered foil-coated fabric, sticks, rubber
and some small I-beams with strange markings.
Maj. Jesse Marcel, the Army Air Force intelligence officer who
brought in the wreckage, was reported to have recovered a "flying
disc." A local headline screamed that the Air Force "Captures
Flying Saucer." All this coincided with a surge of interest in
unidentified flying objects, purportedly from outer space.
Days later, a higher-ranking officer identified the material
as the remains of a weather balloon. But the seed of what became
known as the Roswell Incident had been planted.
There the matter stood until 1978 when the supermarket tabloid
National Inquirer retold Major Marcel's story.
A series of books followed advancing the UFO theory and
accusing the Air Force of cover-up. The television show "Unsolved
Mysteries" aired a re-creation of the Roswell incident. A
made-for-TV movie is in the works.
The original reports of a few foil scraps at one ranch site
evolved into planeloads of material scattered over multiple debris
fields. And the relatively simple materials found would later be
described as exotic metals and fiber-optic materials. At a second
site, according to some accounts, the Air Force found the bodies of
All this was kept from the public by an elaborate conspiracy
orchestrated by the Air Force, critics charge.
The report counters the charges of UFO buffs with the same
argument used against Kennedy assassination aficionados, that the
conspiracy theories are too complicated, and involve too many
supposed participants to be credible.