66 years ago today, the Roswell mystery was born

If you’ve seen the latest interactive Google doodle, then you’ll know that one of the greatest mysteries of all time is celebrating its 66th birthday. But before we touch upon the infamous crash in Roswell, consider this interesting fact…

Just two weeks before an alien spacecraft – or a top secret high-altitude weather balloon – came down in the deserts of New Mexico, aviator and businessman Kenneth Arnold was flying a plane near Mount Rainier in Washington. That’s when he made what is widely regarded as the first modern day UFO sighting. As Arnold scanned the skies, he spotted nine bright, metallic objects flying in formation. Their speed, he estimated, was roughly “1,600 miles per hour – nearly three times faster than the top speed of any jet aircraft at the time” (dailymail.co.uk). When describing the strange way the crafts moved, Arnold said they behaved much “like a saucer if you skip it across the water.” Thus, the term flying saucer became a pop culture sensation.

Two weeks later, military authorities released a press release with the earth-shattering announcement that a “flying saucer” had indeed been recovered. 24 hours later, the military did an about-face, now saying the crashed disk was nothing but a weather balloon.

Headline announcing the Roswell UFO crash

From the Roswell Daily Record. This announcement came directly from the military itself. A day later, they changed their entire story. Image from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roswell_UFO_incident

The man who issued this press release was Lieutenant Walter Haut. He worked as the public relations officer at the base and answered to Colonel William Blanchard. Haut was also the man who issued the subsequent releases discrediting any notions the military had recovered a spacecraft – along with several extraterrestrial bodies. Haut died in 2007, leaving behind a sealed affidavit which was to be opened only after his death. In the aforementioned article from the Daily Mail, Nick Pope – the man who once operated the British government’s UFO project – recounts the mind-blowing details of Haut’s confession.

“Last week, the text was released and asserts that the weather balloon claim was a cover story, and that the real object had been recovered by the military and stored in a hangar. He described seeing not just the craft, but alien bodies.”

The affidavit explains that the original press release was issued “because locals were already aware of the crash site.” The locals, however, weren’t aware of a second crash site which contained even more debris. The plan was to focus the public’s attention on the first crash site, allowing the military to recover the second site in secret.

Haut then explains that Blanchard took him to Hangar 88. There, Haut witnessed a “metallic egg-shaped object” about fifteen feet in length. Even more shocking, he claims to have seen two bodies on the floor, about four feet tall with inhumanly large heads. The affidavit ends with these chilling words:  “I am convinced that what I personally observed was some kind of craft and its crew from outer space.”

Does this prove that Roswell was the site of a UFO crash in 1947? Not definitively. Perhaps nothing ever will. However, unlike the rest of us, Walter Haut was actually there when this incident occurred. Why would he lie? Could he have really mistaken a weather balloon and some anthropomorphic dummies for a spacecraft and extraterrestrial corpses? And was it a simple coincidence that only two weeks earlier, Kenneth Arnold made perhaps the most famous UFO sighting in history?

I imagine these questions will continue haunting us for another 66 years – at least.

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