The Roswell Incident: 50 years of controversy
There's no argument that 50 years ago this summer, something fell from the sky near Roswell, N.M. But exactly what it was has been debated almost from the moment it was found.
About noon July 8, 1947, Army Air Corps personnel from the 509th Bomb Group, at that time the world's only atomic-armed bomber force, said it was a crashed "flying disk" -- an unidentified flying object. Later that day, an Air Corps general brought in an expert who said no, it was a weather balloon. In 1994, the U.S. Air Force said it probably was the remains of a top-secret project.
But through the years, some individuals have insisted that whatever was retrieved wasn't from this world.
Whether it's the truth or a pipedream of conspiracy-fearing paranoids, the Roswell Incident, as the story has come to be known, is a part of late-20th-century U.S. folklore. At best, it might be an amusing look at how people can be fooled by misinformation. But at worst, the story could be the nightmare side of the American dream: the government not only keeping knowledge of one of the most significant discoveries in history from its own people, but engaging in a half-century-long campaign of denial, deceit and cover-up to do so.
Simply stated, the theory spawned by the Roswell Incident generally is that a spacecraft from another planet indeed crashed near that small city. Supposedly, all debris from the wreck, the damaged craft itself and the bodies of its alien occupants were seized by Air Corps personnel. At least some of the material then was secretly shipped to Wright Field (now Wright-Patterson AFB) in Dayton, Ohio, where the bodies were kept frozen in a mysterious building known as Hangar 18.
The legend of Roswell has helped spawn such television shows as "The X-Files" and "Dark Skies," served as a major component of the plot of the 1996 movie "Independence Day" and occupies hundreds of thousands of megabytes of computer space linked by the Internet.
The incident also is why Roswell held UFO Encounter '97, the community's third annual out-of-this-world celebration,
Traveling north leaving Roswell, we traveled past the entrance to the alien landing site. The cost to see this site was $25.00 per person. After some consideration, we decided this fee was too much to pay and our experience of "the Roswell Incident" would be limited to information we had obtained from travel brouchures. We did, however, manage to get a photo standing next to the crash landing site entrance sign.