Why Roswell is a Myth

How the Roswell and Aztec Flying Saucer Myths were created

Also the MIB (Men in Black) myth

This site contains excerpts and sometimes minor additions, updates or deletions from my recent book which you can see more info about or order in e-reader or soft cover (480 pp.) by clicking this image of the cover

book cover
Price is only US$5 for the e version or just under $20 for the paper version, plus shipping (postage).

History of the Roswell and related Aztec myths

On June 24 of 1947, Kenneth Arnold reported seeing crescent shaped aircraft at high speed near Mt Rainier in the Pacific North West, and the modern Flying Saucer (late UFO) era was born.

Immediately after, even on the same day, flying saucers were being reported all over the nation, especially over the July 4th weekend but these reports subsided after about two weeks. I quote skeptic Philip J. Klass's law: Once news coverage leads the public to believe that UFOs may be in the vicinity, there are numerous natural and man-made objects which, especially seen at night, can take on unusual characteristics in the minds of hopeful viewers. Their UFO reports in turn add to the mass excitement, which encourages still more observers to watch for UFOs. This situation feeds upon itself until such time as the media lose interest in the subject, and then the « flap » quickly runs out of steam..

In early July 1947, an ultra top secret Project Mogul balloon (so secret that almost no one at the USAAF base at Roswell New Mexico was aware of the project, it had the same 1A rating as the Manhattan (atom bomb) Project) launched from W of Roswell and heading NE, crashed onto the Fraser farm near Corona NM, NW of Roswell, and the wreckage was discovered by one Mack Brezel, a farmer who rented the ranch. He found it on June 14 or on July 3, this date conflict has never been resolved.

At any rate on or about July 7, the first Monday after the July 4th holiday, Brezel went into Roswell to buy some wood and also to take some of the wreckage to the Sherriff in Roswell (75 miles away) and then the US Army Air Force got involved and Roswell Public Relations officer Lt. W. Haut issued a press release on July 8 which said the USAAF had the wreckage of a flying disk, which lead to the Roswell crashed flying saucer myth, all this despite the description of it printed the very next day in the July 9 Roswell Daily Record quoting Brazel as describing he wreckage as “bundle of tinfoil, broken wood beams and rubber remnants of a balloon”. And “considerable scotch tape and some tape with flowers printed upon it had been used in the construction. No string or wire were to be found but there were some eyelets in the paper to indicate that some sort of attachment may have been used.”

Roswell radio station KGFL was majority owned by one Walter Whitmore and back in July 8, 1947 he sort of imprisoned Brezel in his house for a few hours hoping for an interview because he’d been scooped by rival station who had broadcast the Army new release. His son was there and saw the material Brezel had with him. In a 1992 taped interview with Karl Pflock he described it as “white line-like cloth with reflective tinfoil attached to one side. Some pieces were glued to balsa wood sticks… none of the sticks was more than a foot long. One of the larger pieces of foiled cloth, measuring about 8 by 12 inches, has writing on the cloth side. Someone has used a pencil to do some figuring, arithmetic.” Brezels’ daughter was age 14 at the time and in1993 swore an affidavit saying that the “the debris looked like a large balloon that had burst”. She goes on to describe material that was rubber on one side and foil on the other, and mentions kite sticks that were attached with white-ish tape with floral designs.

Also consider the original 8 July1947 FBI report wherein the wreckage that is being sent to Wright airbase is described as a disk, but goes on to describe it as octagonal and attached by cables to a balloon 20 feet in diameter. It also says that an Air Force Major Kirton described it as resembling a high altitude weather balloon with a radar reflector, which is what it was. [Pflock, 2001 p. 240]

Similarly, online one may listen to re-broadcasts of the actual original radio broadcasts. One of many URL’s is: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zUlCBY-K9A8 These original broadcasts quote Brigadier General Roger Ramey, of the Army Air Force, commander of the 8th Air Force, speaking at Fort Worth Texas, saying that is where the object was first sent, and saying that is was then sent from there to Wright Field Ohio. Ramey describes it as being of flimsy construction, almost like a boxed kite, and saying that it was too battered to determine if it had a disk form. It was made of some sort of tinfoil. Other Army officials were quoted as describing it as “having a diameter of 20 - 25 feet” and saying that “nothing in its apparent construction indicated any capacity for speed and that there was no evidence of a power plant. “ and it “ also appeared to be too flimsy to carry a man.” USAAF intelligence officer Major Jesse A. Marcel and Lt. Col. Sheridan Cavitt, also a counter intelligence officer, were the first to inspect the wreckage on site after Brazel took them there. No one has ever disputed that. When UFOlogist Don Schnitt interviewed him around 1990 he still felt obliged to keep quiet but later when approached by the USAF and told he was released from any earlier secrecy obligations Cavitt swore an affidavit in 1994 saying the material was “a reflective sort like aluminum foil and some thin bamboo-like sticks. “ [USAF 1995 report]

Rancher Mac Brazel who discovered the wreckage himself described what he found as “bunch of garbage” and said the whole Roswell saga was “one hullabaloo about nothing”. This is from an affidavit by his daughter who helped him collect the junk when she was 14. Her father was concerned about the small pieces blowing around in the wind bothering the sheep, so obviously again are talking about flimsy material not pieces of hard metal. Marcel’s son, by then an MD, swore in 1991 that there were sthree types of debris, a thick, foil like gray substance, a brittle brownish-black plastic-like material like Bakelite, and there were fragments of what appeared to be I-beams. . Obviously not a space ship. Dr. Marcel Jr had been saying I-beam for years but Major Marcel Sr. told a National Enquirer reporter in 1979 that the beams were rectangular, and sketched them; and again in 1981 said the beams were simply rectangular and drew a sketch for interviewer Linda Corely. All of this can be seen in Phlock’s 2001 book. .

When the wreckage was photographed in the office of Gen. Ramey at Roswell, evening of July 8, 1947 Warrant Officer Newton was called in to have a look because he was knowledgable about balloons. He said that when he saw the wreckage he laughed and asked if this was the supposed flying saucer. “I told them this was a balloon and a RAWIN target. I believed this because I had seen many of these before. While I was examining the debris, Major Marcel was picking up pieces of the target sticks and trying to convince me that some notations on the sticks were alien writings. There were figures on the sticks, lavender or pink in color, appearing to be weather faded drawings… “

There are several photos of this photo shoot in Ramey’s office with him and Marcel and Newton and the flimsy balloon and kite-like wreckage. However Marcel later said real wreckage had been removed and the balloon wreckage which the Army had miraculous also had on hand was substituted. The officer who brought the wreckage in from the plane has denied this in an interview. Again, when the wreckage was photographed in the office of Gen. Ramey at Roswell, in the evening of July 8, 1947 Warrant Officer Newton was called in to have a look because he was knowledgable about balloons and “I told them this was a balloon and a RAWIN target. I believed this because I had seen many of these before."

radiosonde is a balloon-borne instrument platform with radio transmitting capabilities used to make meteorological observations in the upper air above the Earth's surface. A radiosonde observation provides only pressure, temperature, and relative humidity data. (Originally named a radio-meteorograph, the instrument is now referred to as a radiosonde, a name apparently derived by H. Hergesell from a combination of the words "radio" for the onboard radio transmitter and "sonde", which is messenger from old English and sonde mens “probe” in German and French .)

rawinsonde (or radio wind sonde) is a radiosonde package with an attached radar reflector that permits radio-direction finding equipment to determine the wind direction and wind speed at various altitudes during the ascent of the package. So when a radiosonde is tracked by radar so that data on winds are provided in addition to the pressure, temperature, and relative humidity data, it is called a rawinsonde observation.

Major Jesse Marcel: Credibilty Zero

So all the objective evidence from the time shows that the wreckage was of a balloon but meanwhile the more imaginative and entertaining flying saucer explanation was fuelled by Major Jesse A. Marcel who from the get-go kept telling everyone the wreckage was from a flying saucer and he wanted to be part of history, which he did, thanks to writers who make their living passing off fiction as fact. Marcel’s credibility on anything is suspect since he claimed to have shot down five enemy aircraft but in fact only had two medals and they were just for accumulated air time, he said he had been a private pilot before joining the AAF and also flew while in the USAAF but his records show no evidence of him ever being a pilot, in fact one appraisal says his lack of ever being a pilot would hamper his promotion prospects, he said he had a Bachelors degree from George Washington University in nuclear physics, then immediately said he had just done courses there, neither of which was true - he never had a college degree, and he also lied about being an aide to General Hap Arnold. http://www.roswellfiles.com/AARE/JesseMarcel.htm http://kevinrandle.blogspot.ca/2011/06/jesse-marcel-dispassionate-looke.html

Now if it was really just a balloon how do we account for the USAAF press release and their Major Kirtan telling the FBI it was a disk? The officer who that release, Haut, said in 1990 that in a staff meeting about a week later after the incident that base commander Col. Blanchard said “We sure messed up on that one last week. As a matter of fact, that outfit that was sending up balloons were here on our station.”

Even Don Schmitt in his 1991 book at p. 24 says that on July 9, 1947 the folks at Roswell air base were blasted by AAF HQ in Washington for saying that they had found a flying disk. It seems that Blanchard and Haut had gotten carried up in the spirit of the times, when UFOs were being reported daily across the US starting with Arnolds’s June 24th report.

To be fair there are conflicting affidavits by airmen about what was transported from Roswell to Fort Worth TX and then onto the Wright air base in Ohio. The ones from two low ranking men who loaded the plane and said they had heard that the crates contained alien corpses and pieces of flying saucer are suspect because Marcel had already been spreading the crashed saucer myth and we all know how stories get exaggerated quickly and their affidavits are 41 and 43 years old and they are hearsay. They never themselves saw what was in the crates. The one I prefer is from Flight Engineer Robert Porter who flew the B-29 from Roswell to Fort Worth TX, who said the packages were in wrapping paper the largest being about 2.5 feet across and the rest in small packages about the size of a shoe box, and were all extremely light, the whole bunch could have fit into a car trunk. When they returned they were told the material was a weather balloon but as usual Marcel was saying it was from a flying saucer. If you tell a lie long enough people tend to believe it.

What is interesting is that one of the original wire service reports mentioned that “Meanwhile, a report from Carrizoz, New Mexcio, said that a disc was found 35 miles southeast of Corona. The report – which was not substantiated – merely said that it was “a rubber substance and tinfoil encased” However it was presumed to be the same kind of object as the one reported to Roswell. “ (Pflock p. 248] so this tells us that another Project Mogul balloon came down in the same general area. The balloons were never expected to stay aloft for a long time.

the Aztec crashed saucer and corpses myth

In March 25, 1948 the Aztec New Mexico story of a very large flying saucer being shot down by the USAF came into existence. This story said there were over a dozen small alien corpses and they and the wreckage had been taken to Hanger 18 at what is now Wright Patterson AFB in Ohio. In 1948, well known and popular radio host Frank Edwards received a copy of "Flying Saucers Are Real," a magazine article written by retired U.S. Marine Corps Major Donald E. Keyhoe. Already interested in the many 1947 UFO reports, Edwards was fascinated by Keyhoe's claims that the U.S. military knew the saucers were actually extraterrestrial spaceships so he began mentioning this on his radio program, which had millions of listeners.

In 1950 retired Major Keyhoe published his book The Flying Saucers Are Real and it sold well. It cites newspapers, magazines, Air Force records and press statements, and personal interviews as sources of evidence but was written in a dramatic, narrative style like mystery novels and spy thrillers (because Keyhoe also wrote fiction in these genres). Keyhoe alleged that the Air Force was actively investigating these cases of close encounter, but with a policy of concealment of their existence from the public. Keyhoe further stated that Earth had been visited by extraterrestrials since about 1750, with the frequency of these visits increasing sharply after the first atomic bomb tests in 1945. He hinted that the Air Force may have attained and adapted some aspect of the alien technology such as its method of propulsion and power.

This very theme was resuscitated if not simply copied by ghost writer William ("Bill") Birnes and official writer retired army Col. Corso almost half a century later in a 1997 book called The Day After Roswell. This was 47 years after Keyhoe’s book had its main sales so you would have to have been aged 47 + at least say17 years of age = at least 64 to remember Keyhoe’s book and realize that the Corso book was a rehash.

Also in 1950, two con artists named Silas Newton and Leo GeBaur were selling an oil, gas and gold finding device they called the Doodlebug for very high prices. One source cites $18000, but a millionaire sucker named Herman Glader paid $800,000 for one. The two fraudsters apparently relying on the 1947 UFO publicity claimed it was based on alien technology. It later turned out the device was a $3.50 war surplus bit of electronic equipment. To promote their device, Silas Newton rented a lecture hall at the University of Denver and charged admission. A freelance writer named Frank Scully attended and probably assumed the lecturer and topic had been sanctioned by the university. Newton told the audience his source for his information was one "Dr. Gee", making his accomplice sound like he had a PhD. In the same year of 1950 Frank Scully came out with his book Behind the Flying Saucers. He sold a lot of copies and I think his name inspired the name of the character in the TV series X files decades later. He was no scientist or military expert, he was a journalist, author, humorist, and a regular columnist for Variety, a magazine which still exists and is for entertainment industry especially cinema. He also wrote a book called Blessed Mother Goose which was advertised as “ favorite nursery rhymes de-brutalized to reflect the Catholic way of life.” With such investigative "credentials" and spending only a few weeks or months writing his Flying Saucer book and relying on such people as Silas Newton, Scully claimed that in Aztec NM a 99’ diameter flying saucer had crashed into Hart canyon after being shot at by the US military, and was mostly intact, and that 16 alien corpses were recovered.

In the 1980’s 1990’s and 2012 writers were still literally trying to sell the Newton – Scully baloney as true. (e.g William S. Steinman and Wendelle C. Stevens, UFO Crash at Aztec , 1987; The Aztec Incident: Recovery at Hart Canyon, by Scott and Suzanne Ramsey, 2012) Ref: http://www.ufomind.com/area51/desertrat/1995/dr27/rat_27_s3.html http://badufos.blogspot.com/2013/08/before-great-debate-my-review-of-aztec.html

After an investigation by a reporter named J.P. Cahn, the hoax was revealed in the Sept 1952 edition of TRUE magazine. TRUE never believed Scully but offered him $25,000 ( nowadays half a million dollars) if he could prove his claims. [http://www.buyupside.com/calculators/purchasepowerjan08.htm] In 1953 Newton and LeBaur were convicted of fraud. http://www.debunker.com/Scully.html

In April 1952 US a popular TV series called “Tales of Tomorrow” Season 1 episode 30 "Plague from Space" has a triangle shaped UFO landing on a USAF base. It is taken into a hanger. It has strange markings on it. The USAF guys break into the hatch and find an injured Martian in it. He is dying. (Incidentally, he looks similar to the fake alien in the Alien Autopsy hoax movie of the supposedly Roswell corpses of the 1990s.) Now is this 1952 show art imitating life or, when the Roswell stories later incorporated such elements, life imitating art?

In July of 1952 there was the flap or wave over Washington DC, and the official explanations of temperature inversion causing radar operators to mistake blips for solid objects was given, but even Project Grudge and early Bluebook director Capt. Ruppelt dismissed this as did the radar operators who could distinguish false returns. Dr. James E. McDonald, a physicist at the University of Arizona, did his own analysis and after interviewing four pilot eyewitnesses and five radar personnel, said that the Air Force explanation was "physically impossible” but I digress.

In 1955 a writer named Morris Jessup who had a Masters degree in Astronomy and an incomplete PhD wrote a book called The Case for the UFO which came out in 1955 and apparently sold well.

In 1956 a documentary movie was released by United Artists called UFO and it was about the 1952 flap and it was quite accurate. Also in 1956 a man named Gray Barker wrote a book called They Knew Too Much about Flying Saucers and invented the MIB myth, with the now common three tall guys in black suits and fedora hats on the cover. Barker was head of Saucerian Publications and author of many UFO books. He later confessed to at least two people (John Sherwood and Douglas Curran) that a lot of what he wrote was fiction, that he expected the “real scientists” to perceive his stories as hoaxes and hopefully take it as joke. He even wrote to a fellow journalist that “Strictly off the record, unusual interest and fixation upon UFOs represents, in my opinion, a definite symptom of neurosis. . . . I cannot bear for very long most of the people and the fans of saucerdom, mainly because most of them are oral aggressors (i.e., they talk all the time about saucers and make you listen). “ [27 June 1968]

Still in 1956, in June, at Roswell AFB a huge KC-97 air tanker fully loaded with aviation gasoline, crashed after a propeller cut through the fuselage and it burst into flames, burning the crew of 11 to death and the crash badly mangled them in ways too gross to even mention here. The burned and very deformed corpses were taken to the base hospital and this was probably the real genesis of undertaker Glenn Dennis’ hazy recollections when interviewed in summer of 1989 by Friedman and over the next few years by Pflock and others, all this being at least at 42 years after Roswell and 33 years after the tanker crash. Dennis worked at a funeral home in Roswell and the base sometimes subcontracted it for mortuary and ambulance and hearse services and in fact three of the autopsies were done there. Those corpses were mangled, charred and had no legs, and smelled of rotten flesh and aviation fuel, accounting for the description that nurse surname “Self” gave to Dennis. In other words this crash was the genesis of the 3 ½ tall alien corpses story that got later confabulated with Roswell and Aztec over the many decades. See Pflock pp. 14-141.

But I have jumped ahead to around 1990 so let’s go back to the chronology and pick up after 1956. In 1957 a movie came out called Invasion of the Saucer Men which depicts aliens remarkably similar in appearance to the now firmly-entrenched image throughout popular culture today of the so-called "greys". In 1959 came a movie called Cosmic Man. The alien delivers a sermon re how we must be more pacifist or we will destroy ourselves, but also hints that his people may come back to exploit earth's minerals or even colonize us for their dying planet. These themes come up later in supposed abduction stories. In 1966 radio personality Frank Edwards published his book Flying Saucers: Serious Business which sold well as he was still a media celebrity. One of the themes of his book was about what modern UFOlogists call the “cover-up”.

The Roswell and Aztec cases per se received no publicity from about 1948 until 1974 when a college professor name Robert Carr gave a lecture in 1974.

Moore, Berlitz, Berliner, Friedman, Randle, Schmitt and other writers cash in

Then in 1978 MUFON researcher Leonard Stringfield gave a lecture about the Aztec incident. In 1978 Stanton Freidman interviewed Jesse Marcel who was still saying the wreckage from Roswell was from a flying saucer. This started to revive the Roswell myth after 30 years of dormancy. In 1980 William "Bill" Moore and Charles. Berlitz wrote a book called The Roswell Incident which really revived the old 1947 incident, 33 years after it occurred. Charles Berlitz made a lot of money on popular books with dubious evidentiary backing such as “the Philadelphia Experiment” which he co-wrote with Moore; and “the Bermuda Triangle Mystery”. In fact the Philadelphia Experiment never happened and was a hoax by a man named Carl Allen who posed as Carlos Allende and had a wild imagination and a psychiatric history; and as far as the Bermuda Triangle, the North Atlantic and the Pacific Coast west of B.C. and Washington state have a much higher shipwreck rate. But the myth was more interesting than the facts and this lead to more books in the 1990’s with spectacular titles e.g Kevin Randle and Don Schmitt (UFO Crash at Roswell) with a fake alien corpse and a drawing of a Grey on the cover, showing that by now the Aztec and Roswell myths had gotten intertwined, and Crash at Corona by Don Berliner and Stanton Friedman. Even Karl Pflock wrote a report called “Roswell in Perspective” saying that although there was a Mogul balloon crash at Roswell, the very same night there was a flying saucer crash close by.

By this time the Aztec myth had mingled with the Roswell myth (recall books in the 1980s and '90s about Aztec) and people were actually testifying that what they saw at Roswell was what was originally supposedly seen at Aztec, i.e. corpses and one or a few survivors staggering around. In 1995, the USAF came out with its report showing that none of these extra-terrestrial stories were true. It is easily found online under USAF Roswell report In 2001 Pflock published his must-read book Roswell: Inconvenient Facts and the Will to Believe, recanting his earlier naïve views based on a hard analysis of the evidence. He discovered the company that made the strange tape with the flower or so-called hieroglyphic designs on it. It was used to help keep the radar reflectors together as the paper and glue system was found to be insufficient. This adhesive wrapping tape was milky opaque and the designs were purple-pink. Even the Project Mogul staff found this strange and funny. Apparently it was stock that the small New York company had on hand so rather than make new tape with no designs they just sold the Army what they had. These improved radar reflectors were stored at a NJ warehouse after WWII and were obtained from there by Project Mogul (see Pflock pp. 161-162 and p. 222)

The education and credentials of the Roswell authors

Ultimately who are you going to believe? If this was a court and these authors claimed to be experts, we would look at their education and experience. I have written above about Major Jesse Marcel and here I say that if the Roswell was a legal case and there was a trial, Marcel's credibility would have been found to be virtually nil. He lied about his education and military career. He was the one who started and perpetuated the flying saucer explanation in the face of all the evidence that existed at that time. He succeeded in his goal of writing himself into history. At the other extreme Karl Pflock Roswell: Inconvenient Facts and the Will to Believe was a retired CIA Intelligence Officer and Assistant Defence Secretary. Perfectly suited to write his book. The fact he used to be a believer in the myth makes his final book even more compelling. As for the others, just writing books about Roswell (or other topics such as science-fiction, the Bermuda triangle, aviation history) may make one knowledgable but does not qualify one to the high standard of an expert. L. Ron Hubbard has written a lot of science fiction and fantasy stories but does that mean all of Scientology is true? Someone like J. K. Rowling can write many books about Harry Potter but that does not mean those stories are true. Wm. M. Marston wrote the original Wonder Woman stories and based them on actual incidents, but does that mean Wonder Woman exists as a real person? "She" was recently named as a U.N. Ambassador which shows how life and art can mingle and inspire, but it still does not make her real in the sense of a person you can talk to and touch.

Apart from Karl Pflock, the other Roswell writers make their living as writers and the more sensational the contents the more potential sales. Kevin Randle has written many science fiction works which is maybe what qualifies him to write about Roswell - I am being sarcastic here. But according to what I could find online, Dr. Randle earned a B.A. in journalism, then a Master's degree in psychology, as well as a Ph.D. and a second master's degree in military studies, from the American Military University. So he deserves respect, and apparently we basically agree on the abductions phenomenon, which is best analyzed from a psychological and sociological perspective. Also in his latest blog he says he is no longer certain that there was an alien saucer crash at Roswell. He is willing to adapt his views to the evidence, unlike others who decide in advance that something is a certain way (or simply think it will sell a lot of books) and then go and solicit evidence that supports it, ignoring contrary evidence or other cues that what they are being told may not be absolutely true. The only other one of the Roswell writers list with impressive educational credentials is Stanton Friedman who likes to remind everyone he is a nuclear physicist but he has not worked in that field since 1970 or so, over 45 years ago, and unlike say classical literature this is a field which has new advances every month, so Dr. Friedman's skill set in nuclear physics is presumably so out of date that it is very doubtful anyone would hire him as nuclear physicist. Moreover interviewing supposed witnesses to flying saucer crashes and alien abductions and writing books based on such topics has nothing to do with nuclear physics. There is not one tiny square centimeter of Roswell crashed saucer for Dr. Friedman to analyze let alone a nuclear reactor power source. After 70 years if this was not a myth at least a few pieces would have turned up.

Click Here to Return Home icon to Home Page>