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Roswell’s Legendary “Memory Metal”

When it comes to the Roswell affair of July 1947, there are numerous issues, theories and ideas for what happened. Or, for what didn’t happen. One of the issues that very often surfaces – in relation to the nature of the recovered debris – is that which concerns the so-called “memory metal” reportedly found at the site. Those who are of the opinion that aliens met their deaths on the Foster Ranch, Lincoln County, New Mexico on that fateful and fatal day suggest that the memory metal can only have been extraterrestrial in nature. But, is that really the truth? Well, it very much depends on who you ask and who you believe.

Major Jesse Marcel, who everyone – believers and doubters – acknowledges was at the crash site, said decades later: “I saw a lot of wreckage but no complete machine. It had disintegrated before it hit the ground. The wreckage was scattered over an area about three quarters of a mile long and several hundred feet wide. I was pretty well acquainted with most everything that was in the air at that time, both ours and foreign. I was also acquainted with virtually every type of weather-balloon or radar-tracking device being used by either the civilians or the military. What it was we didn’t know. We just picked up the fragments…it certainly wasn’t anything built by us.” You can find Marcel’s statement in the Bill Moore-Charles Berlitz book of 1980, The Roswell Incident.

1960s-era polyethylene hot air balloon

Mack Brazel was the rancher who found the wreckage. Some say he found far more than that. Maybe a body or two. Possibly several. Brazel’s son, Bill, would later say that the debris found on the Foster Ranch was “…something on the order of tinfoil except that [it] wouldn’t tear…You could wrinkle it and lay it back down and it immediately resumed its original shape. Quite pliable, but you couldn’t crease or bend it like ordinary metal. Almost like a plastic, but definitely metallic in nature.” It’s a quote that appears in Bill Moore’s 1981 report, The Roswell Investigation: New Evidence, New Conclusions, which was published in the July-August 1981 edition of Frontiers of Science. For many, it is statements like those of Major Marcel and Bill Brazel that are among the most important of all – and particularly so when it comes to the issue of what really came down on the ranch. But, there are other possibilities.

The U.S. Air Force has offered the following words on the matter of the memory metal: “As early as May 1948, polythene balloons coated or laminated with aluminum were flown from Holloman AFB and the surrounding area. Beginning in August 1955, large numbers of these balloons were flown as targets in the development of radar guided air-to-air missiles. Various accounts of the ‘Roswell Incident’ often described thin, metal-like materials that when wadded into a ball, returned to their original shape. These accounts are consistent with the properties of polythene balloons laminated with aluminum. These balloons were typically launched from points west of the White Sands Proving Ground, floated over the range as targets, and descended in the areas northeast of White Sands Proving Ground where the ‘strange’ materials were allegedly found.”

Mylar

Of course, if there had been secret, pre-1948 flights (maybe one in the summer of 1947, in New Mexico…) then that might well have led people who were unacquainted with the new polythene balloons coated or laminated with aluminum to assume they were seeing something extraordinary. On a similar path, back in 2004, a well-respected Australian researcher, Keith Basterfield, was given a fascinating account which suggested that what came down on the Foster Ranch was a device of the military and not the product of aliens. Keith revealed that, according to his source, “…gigantic balloons were being flown in the stratosphere to drop craft fitted with retrorockets and a drogue chute.”

Keith added that when just such a craft came down on the ranch, “The authorities were very concerned that the rancher had hidden souvenirs from the wreckage. The balloons were of chrome plated cellophane to reflect the heat. The experiments were conducted at night so balloons would not explode in the daylight.” Not only that, according to Keith’s informant, the experiment in question had people on-board. Guinea-pigs would be an accurate term – which echoes the theories presented in my books Body Snatchers in the Desert and the newly-published The Roswell UFO Conspiracy.

Of course, none of this proves that aliens didn’t crash outside of Roswell in forty-seven. On the other hand, however, the idea that the memory metal was extraterrestrial needs further evidence before such a claim can be considered fact.

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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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