By Air Force Times11 years ago, today, the following story appeared in Air Force Times. For years, people had wondered if U.S. government, and specifically, the Air Force had hidden secrets of a UFO crash in New Mexico.
Bunk, they said.
And they made it official.
The Air Force wants its June 24 report disproving UFO sightings in Roswell, N.M., to clear up any possible mystery on the subject: The 231-page “Roswell Report” is subtitled “Case Closed.”
“We’re confident that this will be the final word,” said Col. John Haynes, the deputy chief of the Air Force secretary’s declassification and review team at the Pentagon.
But if the slew of telephone calls the Air Force received in reaction to the report indicates anything, it’s that to many UFO believers the Roswell case is far from closed.
“Most of the public is claiming that they still think something is out there,” said Staff Sgt. Donna Burgess, an Air Force community-relations officer at the Pentagon. “I had a couple of people just screaming at me that we weren’t telling the truth.”
The truth, according to the Air Force, is that the alien bodies that witnesses reported seeing removed from a crash site in the New Mexico desert near Roswell Army Air Field — closed since 1967 — were really anthropomorphic dummies used in high-altitude crash experiments in the mid-1950s.
The dummies seemed to match the witnesses’ descriptions of bald, four-foot tall beings with blank expressions, pale skin and holes for ears. Although they were rarely seen by the public in 1947, two such dummies — Vince and Larry — now star in the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s “Buckle Your Safety Belt” campaign.
The creature that one witness reported to have seen walking into a Roswell hospital was probably a man who in 1959 was hit on the head by a balloon gondola and suffered a massive hematoma, according to the report.
“The injury that caused (Capt. Dan) Fulgham’s head to swell, resembling the classic science-fiction alien head, makes this account (and some others) that at first appeared to be the work of over-active imaginations, seem possible,” the report says.
The flying saucers witnesses reported seeing in 1947 were explained away by the Air Force in 1994 as the metallic parts of a weather balloon used for a then-classified reconnaissance mission.
The report goes on with hundreds of pages of events that, the Air Force says, explain various witness accounts. But that gives many people fodder to be skeptical of the Air Force. The Air Force is claiming that witnesses are combining the sightings of the balloon in 1947 with the sightings of the dummies in the mid-1950s with the sightings of the hematoma victim in 1953 — and mixing them up into one memory.
“You find that if people talk about things over a period of time, they begin to lose exactly when the date was,” Haynes said.
Dennis Balthaser, a “certified UFO investigator,” does not buy that explanation.
“I believe it’s the biggest insult to the intelligence of the American people to come along in 50 years. There are too many holes in it. The testing of the dummies was years after the Roswell incident,” said Balthaser, the operations manager of the International UFO Museum and Research Center in Roswell. “The report is looked at by all the people I’ve talked to as outright garbage.”
His is the sentiment of most of the people who have called the Air Force to request a copy of the report, according to Burgess.
“I haven’t gotten any calls saying, ‘We believe your report,’ “ Burgess said. “They all say, ‘We do not believe your idea of weather balloons and dummies.’ “
According to Burgess, the “Case Closed” report has fanned the ire of UFO enthusiasts.
“Before the report came out, we just got requests for UFO fact sheets,” she said.
The Air Force provides, at no charge, a one-page explanation about UFOs, which can be found on its home page at http:// www.af.mil. The “Roswell Report” is not available through the Air Force. People who want a copy, Burgess has explained to hundreds of people, must call the Government Printing Office.
“I’ve been swamped by requests for the report,” she said. “But the Air Force provided free copies only to the media.”
Gloria Cales, an Air Force spokeswoman, also handles queries about Roswell. She is supposed to deal only with news organizations, but sometimes other calls slip through.
“One lady called me and said that she has aliens living in her back yard,” Cales said. “It’s very hard to get people like that off the phone. I sat and listened to her and then went through my normal pitch.”
Project Blue Book
Cales tells UFO witnesses to report any sightings to their local police department. The Air Force no longer takes reports because “Project Blue Book is over.”
Project Blue Book was the Air Force’s investigation into extraterrestrial life. The project began in 1947 and ended in 1969.
“Out of 12,618 reports from the public, only 701 could not be explained,” Cales said. “The conclusion was that none of these UFOs gave any indication of threat to our national security.”
Balthaser said that the conclusion of the project in 1969 gave him even more reason to doubt the new “Roswell Report.”
“They say they’ve done nothing with UFOs since they closed Blue Book,” he said.
“And yet they want us to believe a 1997 report (on the subject.)”
But he was happy to hear that Haynes, who presented the report during a Pentagon news conference, had fielded questions about Area 51, officially known as Groom Lake. That is a secret military site north of Nellis Air Force Base near Las Vegas.
The Air Force is rumored to be conducting experiments on aliens at this location. Stories of such experiments led screenwriters of the movie “Independence Day” to develop a subplot in which Americans used an alien spacecraft stored in Area 51 to fight off aliens who were attacking Earth.
When a reporter asked him about the veracity of Area 51, Haynes said he assumed the reporter was talking about Groom Lake and replied, “There’s classified stuff going on there, but I don’t know anything about it.”
“Hmmph,” Balthaser said when he heard of Haynes’ response.
“At least they’re admitting it exists. That’s a start.”