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The Many and Varied Balloons of Roswell

In a new article at his A Different Perspective blog titled “A New Roswell Solution?” Kevin Randle says: “Well, we have a new solution to the Roswell case. No, it’s not a weather balloon as the Army Air Forces claimed in 1947 and no, it’s not a Project Mogul balloon that many skeptics and the Air Force have claimed, starting with Robert Todd in the early 1990s (or late 1980s) but something called a satelloon. This was, is, a huge polyethylene balloon that had been covered with a thin layer of aluminum to enhance the reflective properties and create a passive communications satellite or something like that.”

Although many people in Ufology believe (and want to believe) that aliens crashed outside of Roswell, New Mexico in the summer of 1947, the fact is that balloons surface in many of the various theories for what happened on that fateful day in forty-seven. After first stating that they had recovered a flying disc, staff at the old Roswell Army Air Field said that the whole thing was a big mistake, and that what they had really found was a weather-balloon. In 1994, however, the government came up with a different theory.

In its report on the Roswell affair in 1994, the Government Accountability Office (at the time, the General Accounting Office) said: “DOD [Department of Defense] informed us that the U.S. Air Force report of July 1994, entitled Report of Air Force Research Regarding the Roswell Incident, represents the extent of DOD records or information concerning the Roswell crash. The Air Force report concluded that there was no dispute that something happened near Roswell in July 1947 and that all available official materials indicated the most likely source of the wreckage recovered was one of the project MOGUL balloon trains. At the time of the Roswell crash, project MOGUL was a highly classified U.S. effort to determine the state of Soviet nuclear weapons research using balloons that carried radar reflectors and acoustic sensors.”

In the early 2000s, Australian UFO researcher Keith Basterfield was given a story very close to that which appears in my 2017 book, The Roswell UFO Conspiracy. Namely, a controversial claim that human “test-subjects” were used in high-altitude balloon flights. Keith said of the story told to him by his informant: “The Americans were working on getting into space. Their biggest concern was getting back to Earth and landing without killing the people inside the space vehicle. Landing in water was not considered, but a ground landing was the order of the day. The Americans were experimenting with craft they dropped from ‘aircraft’ flying in the stratosphere. Also, gigantic balloons [italics mine] were being flown in the stratosphere to drop craft fitted with retrorockets and a drogue chute. The retrorocket was fitted with an altimeter to fire them close to the ground. Lots of UFO sightings were of these craft. The U.S. released bogus flying saucer sightings and later discredited them.”

Project Moby Dick malloon

Mac Tonnies, in his book, The Cryptoterrestrials, pondered on the idea that perhaps the Roswell craft was flown by a race of ancient humans – a decaying, impoverished society that occasionally interacts with us. Mac, too, incorporated the balloon angle into his theory for Roswell. He said: “The device that crashed near Roswell in the summer of 1947, whatever it was, featured properties at least superficially like the high-altitude balloon trains ultimately cited as an explanation by the Air Force. Debunkers have, of course, seized on the lack of revealingly ‘high-tech’ components found among the debris to dismiss the possibility that the crash was anything but a case of misidentification; not even Maj. Jesse Marcel. the intelligence officer who advocated an ET origin for the unusual foil and structural beams, mentioned anything remotely resembling an engine or power-plant.”

Mac continued, in a fashion that emphasized the cryptoterrestrials may not be as scientifically and technologically advanced as they might prefer us to think they are: “The cryptoterrestrial hypothesis offers a speculative alternative: maybe the Roswell device wasn’t high-tech. It could indeed have been a balloon-borne surveillance device brought down in a storm, but it doesn’t logically follow that is was one of our own.”

In 1997, Jim Wilson – writing for Popular Mechanics – said that the magazine’s staff had been told of a forthcoming government report that would explain the matter of the bodies said to have been found on the Foster Ranch, Lincoln County, New Mexico in July 1947 – and that it would all revolve around a secret program involving Japan. Such a report did not ultimately surface. What did surface was the Air Force’s controversial report suggesting the bodies were actually crash-test dummies. But, apparently, Popular Mechanics were onto something. Wilson wrote that magazine staff suspected  “…the documents scheduled for future release will tell of a Japanese counterpart to Operation Paperclip. One of its purposes was to determine if the Japanese had constructed a suicide-piloted version of the Fugo  [balloon] incendiary bomb.”

Wilson continued it was the opinion of Popular Mechanics that “…the craft that crashed at Roswell will eventually be identified as either a U.S. attempt to re-engineer a second-generation Fugo, or a hybrid craft which uses both Fugo [balloon] lifting technology and Horten-inspired lifting-body. In either case, Japanese engineers and pilots brought to the U.S. after the war to work on the project could have been the dead ‘alien’ bodies recovered at the crash site.” This is very similar to many of the stories provided to me of a Japanese/balloon connection to Roswell.

Venus balloonn

Then, there is the matter of one of the very few 100 percent real documents on Roswell. Namely, a July 8, 1947 FBI document (which you can find at this link at the FBI’s website, The Vault). It states, in part: “The disc is hexagonal in shape and was suspended from a balloon by cable, which balloon was approximately twenty feet in diameter. [Deleted] further advised that the object found resembles a high altitude weather balloon with a radar reflector, but that telephonic conversation between their office and Wright Field had not [deleted] borne out this belief. Disc and balloon being transported to Wright Field by special plane for examination. Information provided this office because of national interest in case.”

What we have with all of the above-accounts concerning Roswell is a link to balloons. Indeed, it’s pretty much the case that aside from (A) the extraterrestrial angle and (B) the controversial Stalin-Mengele story told in Annie Jacobsen’s 2011 book, Area 51: An Uncensored History of America’s Top Secret Military Base, balloons (whether large, small, secret, foreign, etc., etc.) pop up throughout the Roswell saga. In light of all this, I’m still very inclined to conclude that if the truth of Roswell does one day surface, it will have nothing to do with aliens, but everything to do with a classified program of a balloon-based nature – and with a “human test-subject” angle at its dark heart.

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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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