On This Day

roswell, roswell bodies, roswell dummies
Associated Press
The United States Air Force claimed that
these 200-pound test dummies were
mistaken for extraterrestrial bodies
near Roswell, N.M.

On This Day: UFO Sighting Reported in Roswell, NM

July 07, 2010 09:00 AM
by Erin Harris
On July 7, 1947, William Brazel reported seeing UFO debris at his New Mexico ranch, sparking widespread public rumors about aliens and a U.S. government cover-up.

A Rancher Makes a Discovery

Mr. and Mrs. Dan Wilmot were the only Roswell residents to have seen “what they thought was a flying disk” while sitting on their front porch, explains The Roswell Files. The object sailing through the sky was massive and shining brightly as it traveled northwest extremely quickly, allowing the couple less than a minute of viewing time.

According to a July 9, 1947, newspaper article in the Roswell Daily Chronicle, William “Mac” Brazel had discovered “a large area of bright wreckage made up on rubber strips, tinfoil, a rather tough paper and sticks” while walking with his son on June 14.

The Brazel family returned to the spot on July 4 to gather up some of the debris, and shortly after, when Mac learned of the “flying disks,” he realized he might have stumbled upon one. A few days later some accounts say on July 7he went into town and discussed the situation with sheriff George Wilcox.

The Roswell incident set off a wave of public suspicion about the existence of extraterrestrial life forms.

Background: UFO defined; Previous sighting; Area 51

UFOs (unidentified flying objects) are flying objects, whether real or apparent, that cannot be identified as recognizable aircraft. The UFO classification method developed by Dr. J. Allen Hynek divides sightings based on proximity and viewing conditions, while a more complex system, devised by Jacques Vallee, categorizes sightings by shape, position and movement, and is preferred by most researchers.

Kenneth Arnold, American businessman and recreational pilot, was the first person to report a UFO sighting on June 24, 1947, shortly before the Roswell incident. On a flight from Mount Rainer to Yakima, Wash., Arnold testified that a cluster of nine dark, shiny objects that moved “like a saucer would if you skipped it across water” passed in front of his plane in a flash of light.

Area 51, also known as Groom Lake, is a military facility in Nevada, located 90 miles north of Las Vegas. It was formerly a military aircraft testing base, but gained fame among UFO fanatics in 1989 when Bob Lazar claimed on television that he helped engineer an alien spacecraft there. Ever since, the so-called “Dreamland Resort” has been under suspicion for hosting government UFO cover-ups associated with the Roswell incident and other bizarre sightings.

Later Developments: Majestic 12

Many people believed that President Harry S. Truman, unable to deal with a nation probing for answers to the Roswell case, enlisted a team of scientists, military leaders and government officials to investigate the incident. The team was allegedly called the “Majestic 12,” yet the only evidence of its existence is found in an unofficial document that surfaced in 1984.

Related Topic: Roswell hits pop culture

References to the Roswell incident have surfaced all over popular culture: in science fiction television shows, like "The X-Files," and movies, like "Independence Day" and "Signs," The New York Times reported in 1997. Roswell is also featured in popular video games, such as "Area 51" and "Deus Ex," proving that the intrigue and fascination surrounding the phenomenon have not yet faded.

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