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UFOs: The Origins of an Investigation, Part 1

I thought I would do something different today (and for the next couple of days). Namely, to demonstrate how the origin of a UFO investigation can be as intriguing as the case itself. Indeed, it’s very often what goes on behind the scenes that really stands out. We’ll begin with my research into the Roswell “UFO crash” of 1947 and how and why I came to the conclusion that nothing of an extraterrestrial nature crashed on the Foster Ranch, New Mexico. I have to admit that up until the latter part of the 1990s, I was – like so many – a believer that aliens died in New Mexico. Things started to change, however, in 1998. That was the year in which my second book was published by Simon & Schuster. Its title: The FBI Files. As the title suggests, it’s a study of the FBI’s investigations into the MJ12 documents, the Contactees of the 1950s, UFO encounters, and cattle mutilations. One of the chapters in that book was titled “The Oak Ridge Invasion.” It was focused on a wave of UFO activity in the late 1940s at the Atomic Energy Commission complex at Oak Ridge, Tennessee. It wasn’t long after the book hit the shelves that I got a letter from someone in the United States (I still lived in the U.K. then). It was a letter sent to Simon & Schuster’s offices in London from California. And it was then forwarded on to me.

The letter was written by a woman who wanted to share with me what she knew about Oak Ridge – something extremely controversial. She would only share what she knew in person, however. She didn’t want to say anymore by letter and she wasn’t online. And, she lived in the United States. Well, this made things pretty awkward, to say the least. Indeed, there was no way I could afford to fly all across the Atlantic and onto Los Angeles just to do an interview – an interview that might not even go anywhere. As  a result, things were in a state of limbo until 2001. That was when I moved to the United States to live. I still had the woman’s contact information, and I explained the situation: that I could now meet with her in person and we could have a chat. Well, that chat became much more than that. It was one of the most controversial interviews I’ve ever done. Eventually, there were numerous interviews. The woman was pushing eighty in 2001 and she wanted to share what turned out to be a very dark and disturbing story. She had a wealth of material (mainly of old black and white photos) showing she did indeed work at Oak Ridge in the 1940s. There was much more, though.

I assumed – wrongly – that the woman wanted to discuss the UFO reports at Oak Ridge that I wrote about in The FBI Files. What she did want to discuss, however, was something very different. As we sat in a California diner, with a family member along too, she told me something incredible and disturbing: she knew a great deal about Roswell, but not in relation to aliens from faraway worlds. Rather, she said that Roswell was really a series of top secret experiments that revolved around (a) high-altitude testing in craft that are known as “lifting bodies,” (b) huge balloon arrays, and (c) prisoners and handicapped people who were guinea-pigs used in the grim experiments – which all failed. You can, by now, see where all of this is going. The woman said that the UFO legend was a smokescreen to hide what was arguably an even more controversial situation. Even decades later, she was still very concerned for her safety. She was fearful there might be those in government who still might know where she lived, she told me. Her concerns were understandable. Not only that: she put me in touch with several other old-timers – who she knew of way back in the 1940s and 1950s – and who agreed to speak out.

It was after some time – around a couple of months – that I brought up the issue of writing a book. She was okay with that, providing that her real name wouldn’t be publicly revealed. So, when my 2005 book on all of this – Body Snatchers in the Desert – was published I called her the “Black Widow.” It’s hardly surprising that when the book appeared, there was a great deal of debate online (primarily on the now defunct UFO Updates). And, for a few months, I was the ufological Public Enemy Number One, which I was fine with. From there on, I got more and more material on the “human experimentation” angle of Roswell, to the extent that I wrote a sequel in 2017 called The Roswell UFO Conspiracy. Of course, most people in Ufology didn’t buy into it. Some just didn’t want to deal with such revelations: they couldn’t handle the possibility of Roswell not having been an extraterrestrial event. Too bad. I still get threads here and there that add to the story, to the extent there’s a distinct possibility of me doing a third book on all this. And it all had its origins in a solitary letter sent across the Atlantic by a woman who, for decades, had been quietly sitting on a secret of huge proportions.

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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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