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1947: Crashed UFOs That Weren’t

Many people within the UFO field take the view that aliens crashed outside of Roswell, New Mexico, in the summer of 1947. And maybe they did. Over the years I have tackled the Roswell affair from various perspectives, and, I freely admit, I still don’t know what the real story is. I’ve had people tell me it was aliens. Others have suggested highly classified military experiments of a dark and dubious nature. Some have even gone down the demonic pathway. But, there is something I’m sure of: the case didn’t involved weather-balloons, Mogul balloons or crash-test dummies.

This brings me to one thing that often gets overlooked by the field of Ufology. Maybe it’s due to ignorance on the part of some. Perhaps others think it’s not worth focusing on. And some may assume it has no relevance to Roswell. What am I talking about? This is what I’m talking about: in the very same time-frame that the military at Roswell said they had got their hands on the remains of a crashed “flying disc,” people were claiming to have found landed, grounded, or crashed UFOs all across other parts of the United States.

So far as can be determined, the rest of those cases had mundane explanations. Now, it may well be the case that, out of all those stories from the summer of ’47, Roswell was the only one which had any validity to it. On the other hand, the fact that there were more than a few additional cases of crashed saucers in the US – right around the same time that the Roswell media was excitingly reporting on the recovery of a saucer – means we should look at things from a different perspective. Namely: crashed saucers were on the minds of people and the press, and so that may have had a bearing on how and why Roswell was interpreted as being saucer-based, too.

When UFO hysteria broke out across the United States following Kenneth Arnold’s famous sighting at Mt. Rainier, people weren’t just seeing saucers in the sky. They were finding them all over the place. At least, they were until the cases were explained away in simple terms. I won’t pummel you with each and every such story, but several of what actually amounts to many will suffice to make the point.

On July 6, 1947, the Portland Oregonian reported the following. It has shades of the Roswell story attached to it, with its references to military balloons, tinfoil, and even a rancher: “Folks in Pickway county, who have been following the ‘flying saucer’ mystery, became excited Saturday when Sherman Campbell found a strange object on his farm. It was in the form of a six pointed star, 30 inches high and 48 inches wide, covered with tinfoil. It weighed about two pounds. Attached to the top were the remains of a balloon with a rock 5 inches in circumference. The Fort Columbus airfield weather station at Columbus said the description tallied with an object used by the army air forces to measure wind velocity at high altitudes by the use of radar. Some of the flying discs reported seen in various parts of the country were much larger and flying at terrific speed.”

Aliens are near

Moving on twenty-four hours: July 7 was the date on which the Washington Post reported the following: “A Catholic priest at Grafton, Wisconsin, said tonight that a round, metal disc, which might be one of the mysterious ‘flying saucers,’ had crashed into his parish yard and that he is holding it for the Federal Bureau of Investigation.”

The source of the story was the Reverend Joseph Brasky who, on the same day, heard what he described as a “swishing and whirring” noise, followed by a thud and a mild explosion. On checking out his yard, Brasky found “a sheet metal disc about 18 inches in diameter, resembling a circular saw blade.” The resemblance was not a coincidence: that’s exactly what it was!

Given the fact that the Washington Post stated that Brasky was waiting for the FBI to get involved, Special Agent H.K. Johnson – who operated out of Milwaukee – looked into the matter and prepared a memorandum. It did not place Brasky in a good light. Johnson recorded that at the time of the event Brasky had been “drinking quite heavily,” and despite what he told the Washington Post, “Brasky has never contacted the Milwaukee FBI Office or any agent concerning his find. In my opinion, this is just another hoax story, since a photograph of Father Blasky with the saw indicates no basis for any investigation by any authority.” The saga of the pickled priest was over.

And, consider the following 1-page FBI report of July 11, 1947, which was sent to the Assistant-to-the-Director Edward A. Tamm. It was yet another “crashed saucer that never was” case, and also investigated by Special Agent Johnson. The document states:

“SAC Johnson of the Milwaukee Office called to advise he had just received a telephone call from [a] Reserve Officer with the Civilian Air Patrol, Black River Falls, Wisconsin. [He] reported that at 3:30 p.m., July 10…at Black River Falls a large 17″ disc [was found] which appeared to have been possibly made out of cardboard painted with silver airplane dope. In the center was a tube and a small motor with a propeller attached to the side. Colonel [name deleted] expressed the opinion that this disc would not be able to fly by itself. He advised it would be taken to the Air Corps Headquarters.”

A crashed saucer, it was not.

I’ll share with you one more case, which is a bit more intriguing, but which was also shown not to have involved a crashed saucer, after all. Once again, we turn to the files of the FBI. A teletype message of July 18, 1947, described the discovery of “small burned spots about one and a half inches in diameter on [a] a green lawn [at Rindge, New Hampshire].”

The message continues: “Also in the long dry grass on both sides of road in a circle approximately two hundred feet in diameter several little blazes had started and the Fire Department was called. Fires were apparently caused by metallic fragmentation which were turned over to [the] Massachusetts Institute of Technology.”

Although this affair was initially suspected of being one of crashed UFO proportions, a source cited by the FBI stated that the fragments resembled the lining of captured, German V-2 rockets, “which he had observed at New Mexico.”

On the other hand, a source at MIT said that the fragments “are possibly the lining from a jet turbo plane.” Whatever the answer, the wreckage did not originate with a crashed disc, as had initially been suspected.

As I said at the beginning of this article, maybe a UFO really did come down in New Mexico in July 1947. On the other hand, we have to look at things in a bigger and wider context. As the examples above show (all of which can be found in the declassified UFO files at the FBI’s website, The Vault), in the very same month as Roswell, people were mistaking down to earth materials for the remains of crashed saucers, in many other locations.

In other words, July 1947 was not just a month in which the United States was hit by UFO fever. July 1947 was also the month in which the United States was hit by crashed UFO fever. Had Roswell been a one-off example of an alleged UFO crash in July 1947, then I almost certainly wouldn’t be writing these words, as it would have been a unique, stand-out event. But that’s not what happened: people were reporting crashed saucers all over the place.

Now, I’m not saying that the many and varied bogus tales of crashed UFOs in July 1947 definitely have an adverse affect upon Roswell, which occurred in the same month as all those cases above. I do, however, think it’s important to recognize that when the Roswell event happened (and in its immediate aftermath), the nation was already talking about crashed discs. That’s to say, the specific time-frame, the media’s and the FBI’s involvement in claims of crashed discs, the public’s mindset, and the context, are all important when it comes to the bigger issue of trying to figure out what happened at Roswell and why the wreckage was perceived as being from a flying saucer.

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Nick Redfern works full time as a writer, lecturer, and journalist. He writes about a wide range of unsolved mysteries, including Bigfoot, UFOs, the Loch Ness Monster, alien encounters, and government conspiracies. Nick has written 41 books, writes for Mysterious Universe and has appeared on numerous television shows on the The History Channel, National Geographic Channel and SyFy Channel.
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