It was the summer of 1947 when perhaps the most controversial of all UFO incidents took place – at a ranch not far from Roswell, New Mexico. Indeed, the intrigue surrounding this event continues to this day, more than 70 years later. Some regard the Roswell incident as a subject for conspiracy cranks. Others, however, see it as evidence that the U.S. government has secrets it wants to keep from its own populace.
The actual events that unfolded around Roswell in those summer weeks of 1947 are somewhat murky, to say the least. What’s more established, though, is this. The whole thing appears to have started when one William Brazel, a farmhand foreman at the Foster Ranch near Roswell, found some unidentified wreckage about 30 miles north of the town.
The July 8, 1947, edition of the Roswell Daily Record ran with the front page headline “RAAF Captures Flying Saucer On Ranch in Roswell Region.” The RAAF was the Roswell Army Air Field, which certainly did exist in 1947. Indeed, it’s still there today, albeit renamed the Walker Air Force Base. And the RAAF had issued a press release about the so-called “disc” that Brazel had found.
The RAAF press release stated, “The many rumors regarding the flying disc became a reality yesterday when the intelligence office of the 509th Bomb group of the Eighth Air Force, Roswell Army Air Field, was fortunate enough to gain possession of a disc through the cooperation of one of the local ranchers and the sheriff’s office of Chaves County. The flying object landed on a ranch near Roswell sometime last week.”
Yet it seems this disc rapidly became a flying saucer in the fevered imaginings of the press and credulous public. As Brazel told the Roswell Daily Record, the debris that he had stumbled across more specifically consisted of a “large area of bright wreckage made up of rubber strips, tinfoil, a rather tough paper and sticks.” Which doesn’t sound too much like a flying saucer.
That said, an enterprising reporter at the Record had found some more witnesses: Mr. and Mrs. Dan Wilmot. The July 8, 1947, piece reported that the couple “apparently were the only persons in Roswell who saw what they thought was a flying disc.” The article continued, “They were sitting on their porch at 105 South Penn. last Wednesday night at about ten o’clock when a large glowing object zoomed out of the sky from the southeast, going in a northwesterly direction at a high rate of speed.”
The report went on to say that Mr. Wilmot reckoned the disc had been in view for a duration of something under one minute. He believed the object had been flying at up to 500 mph at an altitude of 1,500 feet. It also reportedly resembled “two inverted saucers, faced mouth to mouth,” and was about 15 to 20 feet across.
The Roswell Daily Record additionally took the trouble to describe Mr. Wilmot as “one of the most respected and reliable citizens in town.” It almost makes you think the reporter may have suspected that the flying disc story might take some swallowing – so that it was necessary to confirm Wilmot’s credibility.
Anyway, after the initial sensation of the Roswell press reports, people mostly forgot about the incident for some 30 years. And yet interest was rekindled in the late 1970s at a time when the public seem to have regained their appetite for stories about extraterrestrials and their spaceships. Accordingly, self-styled UFO researchers started to publish accounts from people purporting to have witnessed the events surrounding the Roswell incident.
Books were then published claiming that not only had mysterious government figures retrieved a crashed alien spaceship, but that they had also taken possession of dead aliens that had supposedly been killed in the crash. The first book to come out containing these allegations was The Roswell Incident, by Charles Berlitz and William Moore, which was published in 1980.
The Moore and Berlitz book was seemingly certain of its facts, with the authors asserting that they’d interviewed no less than 90 witnesses. Their story was that an alien spaceship had been spying on the U.S. military’s nuclear program. The craft was, however, then apparently struck by lightning, causing it to crash. And with the aliens purportedly perishing in the craft, the American government had, we’re led to believe, decided to keep the events secret.
Amazingly, even Barack Obama found himself dragged into the Roswell story. During the course of a 2015 interview with GQ magazine, the President fielded a question about whether he’d spent time perusing top-secret files. He replied, “I gotta tell you, it’s a little disappointing. People always ask me about Roswell and the aliens and UFOs; and it turns out the stuff going on that’s top secret isn’t nearly as exciting as you expect. In this day and age, it’s not as top secret as you’d think.”
But then, in 2016, along came a certain Raymond Szymanski, with his book Fifty Shades of Greys: Evidence of Extraterrestrial Visitation to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base and Beyond. Notice how Szymanski or his publishers cleverly played on the title of the sexually explicit smash hit that was E.L. James’ 2011 book, 50 Shades of Grey. Then again, surely only the worst kind of cynic would think that those behind Szymanski’s book were trying to whip up interest in it by piggy-backing on James’ bestseller. You decide.
Now described as an extraterrestrial researcher, Szymanski says that he operated as an engineer and high-level researcher at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio, for 39 years. And during that time, he was, so he claims, privy to many of the U.S. government’s darkest UFO secrets. Furthermore, these secrets apparently included the clandestine operation and cover-up that came in the aftermath of the Roswell incident.
While working at Wright-Patterson, Szymanski reportedly had a friend and mentor called Al – who revealed the secrets of the base. Speaking to U.K. tabloid The Sun in September 2017, Szymanski recalled, “He [Al] said that in 1947 there was a crash down in Roswell and they brought the machines and the aliens here for inspection and said they keep them in secret tunnels under the base.”
“I was stunned,” Szymanski continued. “Me, a young co-op student barely into his first week, was now initiated into a small select group of 10,000 people and given their most incredible secret ever – that we have aliens and their craft in our tunnels on our base.” Some might wonder how 10,000 people – not that small a group, after all – managed to keep these alleged government secrets schtum for all those years. Then again, perhaps we’re quibbling.
In any case, Szymanski’s account contained further intriguing details. He said he had seen the storage areas – a network of tunnels and chambers – allegedly prepared for the stashing of aliens and wreckage. Yet although he says that he has laid eyes on those secret underground facilities at Wright-Patterson, he does also claim he has never seen an alien.
The retired scientist has also asserted his belief that the Dayton Air Force base has four secret sites. And in those, we’re told, are buried the remains of dead aliens. One such place is supposedly beneath the parking lot of what Szymanski calls the Foreign Technologies Division for UFO Reverse Engineering. If there is such a division, though, it’s too secret to appear on any government website. Yet for some, this simply confirms its existence.
You might also ask why the U.S. government has decided to keep all of this alien activity secret. Well, Szymanski, for one, has an answer. He told The Sun, “We still aren’t ready for full disclosure; the governments like to keep secrets cause that’s what keeps us safe sometimes. I really don’t see a change; I don’t think the fact that we have cell phones or 150,000 cable TV channels will make us any more prepared than the people were in 1947 after Roswell.”
But an alternative explanation for the Roswell incident does in fact exist. According to this account, what crashed near Roswell was actually a scientific monitoring balloon – and the debris that William Brazel found in 1947 was the remains of the balloon. Even with this version of events, the government did lie about the incident, however. How so? Because the balloon was reportedly designed to monitor nuclear tests – yet the government claimed it was merely a weather balloon. And this alleged cover-up, too, has been fertile ground for conspiracists ever since. Remember, though: the truth is out there.