I missed this the other day, but July 8 was the 60th anniversary of when the U.S. Army Air Corps captured a flying saucer near Roswell, N.M., giving birth to countless conspiracy theories world-wide.
From the initial military press release:
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 Maj. 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 Marcel to higher headquarters.”
The next day the military walked back the story, claiming that:
. . . the recovered debris to be the wreckage of a weather balloon and related equipment. No flying saucer — a term that had just been coined by newspapers to describe the first widely publicized UFO sighting — had been found.”
Some time in the late ’90s my buddy Dave and I were on a road trip through the Southwest and we stopped off in Roswell, a dusty nothing of a town, if I remember correctly. But we did pay to visit the impressively named International UFO Museum and Research Center there, housed in a storefront on the main drag. I don’t remember much, except for the papier-mâché aliens.
Even if the whole episode was a misunderstanding and a result of hyper Cold War secrecy, I kinda like the idea that this single incident kicked up a 60-year fascination with sci-fi fanatics and stories about little green men from Mars . . . a little diversion (or full-blown paranoid obsession) can be good for the soul.
And remember, the truth is out there . . .