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Roswell spaceship as mysterious as ever

The small model looked too modern to be a replica of the spaceship that many believed crash-landed in Roswell, NM, in 1947. It had sleek aluminum wings that folded over onto itself at the back on both sides and a black cover where aliens would have been seated.

It was nothing like the 1950s and 1960s-era space saucers from science fiction movies. As I looked at it there in a glass case among other special items at the auction house, I realized that I had never had enough interest in the Roswell incident to bother to wonder what it looked like. I figured this was one designer’s guess at it, especially since the real thing crash-landed into pieces in Roswell.

Even so, I find the whole culture surrounding Roswell and Area 51 to be quite interesting. If by chance I was in the vicinity of Roswell on vacation, I would certainly drop by.

This spaceship was mounted on a faux landscape and bore a plaque that identified it: “Roswell Incident, Crash Site, July 3, 1947, Between Oscura Peak and Socorro, NM.” It could easily have fit in your opened hand.

Up-close view of the replica of the Roswell spaceship.

Up-close view of the replica of the Roswell spaceship.

I’m a fan of sci-fi movies, and love the cheesy alien and outer space movies from that period, as well as the ones that followed. Who didn’t love Mulder and Scully in “The X- Files” each week on TV and “E.T.” on the big screen.

The Roswell phenomenon got started at a time when folks were often claiming to have spotted UFOs. Then one night a rancher named W.W. “Mac” Brazel and his son came across some wreckage – “rubber strips, tinfoil, and rather tough paper, and sticks” – scattered across his property about 80 miles outside Roswell. Not sure what it was, he returned a few days later and picked up a few pieces that he took to the local sheriff to see what he could make of it.

The sheriff was stumped, too, so he contacted the commander at the Roswell Army Air Field who contacted his boss in Fort Worth, TX. Brazel, the sheriff and an army intelligence officer went to the site, and the military man gathered up the debris. The officer announced that it was a flying saucer, a pronouncement that ran as a huge headline in the local newspaper.

A day later, the statement was retracted, and the War Department in Washington stated that it was not a flying saucer but a weather balloon.

Full view of the replica of the Roswell spacecraft.

Full view of the replica of the Roswell spacecraft.

Too late. The public had latched onto the idea of extraterrestrial beings and accused the government of a coverup. Many contended that the government had taken the aliens and their aircraft for tests at Area 51, a facility inside the Nevada Test Site north of Las Vegas.

Roswell would assume cult-like status, with an industry growing up around it. The town is still a mecca for tourists with its stores, restaurants and attractions related to UFOs and alien beings. Even the McDonald’s is in the shape of a flying saucer. The International UFO Museum and Research Center, with UFO-related materials and alien replicas, is based in Roswell. Books, movies, TV shows and more abound about the incident.

In a special report released by the Air Force in 1994, the government finally came clean about what landed in Roswell: There were no aliens or spaceship. The debris was from a top-secret spy program called Project Mogul. The government was using balloons in the upper atmosphere to determine if Russia was testing nuclear missiles. What fell from the sky in Roswell was one of those balloons, according to the Air Force. The report also outlined the history of the Roswell incident.

Since the Mogul Project was secret, the government could not reveal it to the public back then. So it lied.

Government doubters didn’t believe this explanation any more than the first. And so the mystery of what dropped from the sky that day is still in question.

 

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