Flight of the Crash Test

In July of 1947 an incident occurred near Roswell, New Mexico, that has intrigued people for over fifty years. On that day newspapers reported that, according to an Army Air Force press release, the remains of a flying disc that crashed on a nearby ranch had been recovered.

Over the next half century rumors surfaced that the flying disc had been an alien spacecraft and that bodies of its unearthly crew (some of whom were supposedly scientifically examined in the famous alien autopsy film), had been removed from the wreckage.

The day after the Roswell press release was issued, the Army Air Force retracted the announcement saying that the debris was only the remains of a spent weather balloon. Later, in 1994, the Air Force published a report stating that the object recovered, instead of being a simple weather balloon,as first announced, was actually a complicated train of high altitude balloons and radar reflectors designed to monitor Soviet nuclear tests. It was the crash of this secret balloon test (called Project Mogul) that the government was trying to hide in 1947, not the downing of an extraterrestrial flying saucer.

If that's so, where do all the rumors about alien bodies come from? There were no people on board the Project Mogul balloon. The Air Force tried to answer this question with a follow-up to the 1994 report released in 1997.

According to the Air Force, people may have mistaken test dummies used in parachuting experiments for alien bodies. The dummies (above and left) ranged from 5'4" to 6'6" in height, were hairless, made of vinyl, and were designed to record the forces a human body would suffer when jumping from high altitudes. The dummies were ejected out of balloons over the desert and later a ground-based recovery team picked them up. The report notes that descriptions of the "crew" seen by witnesses retrieving the alien bodies match closely with the personnel engaged in picking up the dummies.

Critics of the Air Force dummy theory point out that the parachute tests were not conducted until the late 50's, almost a decade after Roswell. The Air Force contends that the witnesses just confused the incidents and the dates.

Air Force historians also indicate that some of the stories about alien bodies may have resulted from the downing of military aircraft in the region. In particular, they note that a KC-97 crashed in the area in 1956, killing eleven crewmen, and in 1959 a manned balloon went down injuring two pilots.

One witness, though, Frank Kaufmann, who was a civilian assigned to an intelligence unit at the Roswell base in 1947, is unconvinced by the report. Kaufmann claims he saw the alien bodies himself and they were not dummies.

"The military can say what they want," remarked Kaufmann, noting that he had no jurisdiction over them. "There's not a doubt in my mind..."

Kaufmann claims to have seen not only the alien bodies, but observed the craft crash on radar. Later he and others from the base, thinking that a conventional aircraft had gone down, drove out to find the wreckage. His description indicates that the craft wasn't round like a flying saucer, but heel-shaped.

Another theory, that the bodies were neither dummies or extraterrestrials, has been raised by Jim Wilson, a writer for Popular Mechanics magazine. Wilson, after interviewing Kaufmann, argues the wedge-shaped craft might have actually been an experimental, balloon-launched "lifting body" (similar to the X-38 under development now by the USAF) captured by the Americans from the Japanese at the end of WWII. The dead bodies were Japanese test pilots or engineers (burned beyond recognition) that had been recruited by the Army Air Force to finish their work. The same type of program was done with engineers brought from Germany to assist with American rocket development.

Wilson suggests that since such a program using Japanese nationals might have been unpopular after the war, the government may have chosen to cover up the crash for political reasons. The 1994 Air Force report, though, completely rejects the notion of an air crash at Roswell, noting that such incidents (classified or not) are highly documented and there are no records in the archives about a crash anywhere in that area early in July 1947.

So were the bodies aliens, dummies or Japanese? Since 50 years have passed without an answer ,we may never know. The bodies are just another piece of the strange puzzle that is Roswell.

Photos above from USAF archive

Copyright Lee Krystek 1997. All Rights Reserved.