Mar 03, 2022 I Nick Redfern

A Controversial 25th “Anniversary” That’s Not Too Far Away: The Dummies of Roswell

It is hardly surprising that 1997 was the year in which the still-mysterious Roswell affair reached its absolute pinnacle. It was, after all, the 50th anniversary of the mysterious event: July 1947. Just about everyone who was anyone in Ufology was commenting on, or writing about, the case – mostly from the perspective of promoting and championing the alien angle. That was not the case for exactly everyone, however. Three years after the U.S. Government's 1994 "Mogul Report" - that suggested the Roswell wreckage came from a high-altitude balloon known as a Mogul - was published, the Air Force made a surprising acknowledgement that the reported sightings of strange bodies at Roswell did have a basis in fact. Not only that: so compelled by then was the Air Force to address the bodies issue that it authorized the release of yet another report on Roswell. The last word, lo and behold, was not the last word. The last word was not even in sight. Entitled The Roswell Report: Case Closed, it did very little – if anything at all - to dampen the notoriety surrounding the case, however. In fact, the question of why the Air Force had concluded there was a pressing need on its part to explain the reports of unusual bodies found in New Mexico (when it could quite easily have summarily dismissed them as hoaxes or as modern-day folklore), arguably only served to heighten the interest in what did - or what did not - occur out on the Foster Ranch, Lincoln County, New Mexico in early 1947.

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(Nick Redfern) Crash-Test Dummies at Roswell? No.

The U.S. Air Force report focused practically all of its 231 pages on the alleged recovery of the strange bodies and asserted that: "'Aliens' observed in the New Mexico desert were probably anthropomorphic test dummies that were carried aloft by U.S. Air Force high altitude balloons for scientific research. The 'unusual' military activities in the New Mexico desert were high altitude research balloon launch and recovery operations. The reports of military units that always seemed to arrive shortly after the crash of a flying saucer to retrieve the saucer and 'crew,' were actually accurate descriptions of Air Force personnel engaged in anthropomorphic dummy recovery operations." There is no doubt (it is, actually, a matter of historical record) that the Air Force conducted a wide array of tests using crash test dummies in New Mexico and that at least some of these tests did occur in the vicinity of both the White Sands Proving Ground and the town of Roswell. That was indeed true. However, here is the important aspect of this: were those same tests responsible – either in part or in whole – for the stories concerning highly unusual-looking bodies recovered by the military during the summer of 1947? At the time of its release, the conclusions of the Air Force’s latest (final...?) report provoked a furor of controversy. While there is absolutely no doubt that tests utilizing anthropomorphic dummies were widespread in New Mexico, the Air Force’s report largely - and very carefully - glosses over the fact that these particular tests did not even commence until the early part of the 1950s.

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(Nick Redfern)

Most assuredly, this was an issue not lost on the mainstream media during the Air Force's press conference at the Pentagon, that accompanied the release of the report in July 1997. A reporter - who was somewhat befuddled by all of this - asked, "How do you square the UFO enthusiasts saying that they’re talking about 1947, and you’re talking about dummies used in the 50’s, almost a decade later?" An Air Force spokesman replied, slightly and noticeably awkwardly: "Well, I'm afraid that's a problem that we have with time compression. I don’t know what they saw in '47, but I’m quite sure it probably was Project Mogul. But I think if you find that people talk about things over a period of time, they begin to lose exactly when the date was." For the record (and for those who may not know), "time compression" was the 1990s equivalent of what became known - outrageously - as "alternative facts." Remember that fiasco? Will we see a new, 25th anniversary report on the crash-test-dummy controversy? In all probability the answer is "No!" But, at the very least, I suspect we will see some controversial comment (on the sides of the Air Force, the media, and the field of Ufology) when the first week of July 2022 comes around. That's when the 25th anniversary of the "dummies report" roles in.

Nick Redfern

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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