Roswell Incident is first reported, July 8, 1947

-July 08, 2017

After witnesses reported seeing flying discs and strange debris on the ground in Roswell, NM, it was reported on July 8, 1947 that the Roswell Army Air Field issued a press release saying the military recovered the remains of a flying disc. The announcement was later retracted, but according to a Sacramento Bee article, Lieutenant Warren Haught (later identified as Walter Haut), public information officer at the Roswell Army Air Field said in the release:

"The many rumors regarding the flying discs became a reality yesterday when the intelligence office of the 509th (atomic) Bomb Group of the 8th Air Force, Roswell Army Air Field, was fortunate enough to gain possession of a disc through the cooperation of one of the ranchers and the sheriff’s office of Chaves County.

The flying object landed on a ranch near Roswell sometime last week. Not having phone facilities, the rancher stored the disc until such time as he was able to contact the sheriff’s office, who in turn notified Jesse A Marcel of the 509th Bomb Group Intelligence Office. Action was immediately taken and the disc was picked up at the rancher’s home. It was inspected at the Roswell Army Air Field and subsequently loaned by Major Jesse Marcel to higher headquarters."

The local newspaper, the Roswell Daily Record, may have coined the term "flying saucer" in it's article "RAAF Captures Flying Saucer On Ranch in Roswell Region" that quickly spread to news outlets across the country.

The next day, the military said further investigation found the wreckage to be from a weather balloon, a generally accepted explanation for the next few decades. The 1980 publication of Charles Berlitz' "The Roswell Incident" reignited the debate about the incident that continues today.

In response to the criticism, the Air Force released "The Roswell Report: Fact vs. Fiction in the New Mexico Desert" in 1994. The nearly 1000-page report was initiated at the request of Congress "to determine if the US Air Force, or any other US government agency, possessed information on the alleged crash and recovery of an extraterrestrial vehicle and its alien occupants near Roswell, NM in July 1947."

That report concluded that the Army Air Forces recovered debris from a top-priority classified project of balloon-borne experiments code named Mogul, and declassified many documents related to the incident.

The goals of Project Mogul were said to be to suspend a microphone and telemetering device in the upper atmosphere for an extended period of time to detect at long range, low-frequency sound transmissions generated by explosions and missiles, and then telemetering these sounds to a ground or airborne receiver. The US Army Air Forces' Air Materiel Command contracted Columbia University and New York University to work on the project.

Due to feasibility and cost concerns the project ended in early 1949, but did provide useful research in constant-level balloon technology.

In 1997 the Air Force released its final report "The Roswell Report: Case Closed." The report said, "Air Force activities which occurred over a period of many years have been consolidated and are now represented to have occurred in two or three days in July 1947. 'Aliens' observed in the New Mexico desert were actually anthropomorphic test dummies that were carried aloft by US Air Force high-altitude balloons for scientific research."

Today Roswell, NM is a tourist attraction and the home of the International UFO Museum and Research Center and hosts the annual Roswell UFO Festival.

An interactive Google Doodle for July 8 depicts an alien that needs help locating the pieces of his ship after crash-landing.

For more moments in tech history, see this blog.
EDN strives to be historically accurate with these postings. Should you see an error, please notify us.

Editor's note: This article was originally posted on July 8, 2013 and edited on July 8, 2017.

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