Nov 03, 2022 I Nick Redfern

The Roswell UFO Controversy: My Approach to the Legendary Event

Numerous pro-UFO books have been written on that certain, controversial incident which occurred on the Foster Ranch in early July 1947. It has become far better known as the Roswell UFO crash. Those aforementioned books include Roswell in the 21st Century by Kevin Randle, The Children of Roswell by Tom Carey and Don Schmitt, The Roswell Incident by Charles Berlitz and William Moore, The UFO Crash at Roswell by Kevin Randle and Don Schmitt, and Crash at Corona by Stanton Friedman and Don Berliner. As for the U.S. Air Force, it has now published two reports on Roswell – one in 1994 and the other in 1997. Neither report endorses the alien angle, which should surprise absolutely no-one. The conclusion of the USAF, today, is that the Roswell wreckage came not from a weather-balloon, as was claimed by the Air Force way back in July 1947, but from a huge “Mogul” balloon-array utilized to secretly monitor for Soviet atomic bomb tests in the latter part of the 1940s. As for the reports of alien bodies found at the crash site, it is the Air Force’s firm opinion that they were crash-test-dummies used in high-altitude parachute experiments. There is, however, another theory for what happened outside of Roswell in early July 1947. In some ways, it’s a theory that is more controversial than the idea that aliens crashed and died on the ranch. 

In June 2005, Simon & Schuster published what is without doubt the most controversial book I have ever written. Its title: Body Snatchers in the Desert: The Horrible Truth at the Heart of the Roswell Story. It’s a book which suggested that what crashed outside of Roswell, New Mexico in early July 1947 was not an alien spacecraft, after all, but one of a handful of definitively terrestrial vehicles which were secretly test-flown by the U.S. military, in various parts of New Mexico. And, all over the course of several, specific months in the year in which (a) the flying saucer was born, (b) the CIA was created, and (c) the passing of the National Security Act went ahead. We’re talking about 1947. All of the flights ended in disaster, and particularly so for the people on-board. This was something which ensured that the tales, revelations and rumors of more than a few “crashed flying saucers and dead aliens,” in the Land of Enchantment, and in the late-1940s, became intertwined and confused. To the extent that they are now popularly recognized under one banner, that of the “the Roswell incident.”

(Nick Redfern) Roswell: A top secret experiment

The overwhelming secrecy surrounding the flights was due to the fact that certain controversy-filled pacts had secretly been put into place. They were designed to allow a large number of German and Japanese scientists to avoid prosecution for their Second World War-era war-crimes. Instead, those scientists secretly went to work for the U.S. Government – and that included working on the craft that crashed to earth outside of Roswell, New Mexico and which led to the infamous legend of the UFO crash. Some of those craft were piloted. Others had human guinea-pigs on board – handicapped people – who were strapped into gondolas and lifted high into the sky by huge balloon arrays, chiefly to further expand the scope of controversial work in the field of high-altitude exposure and early rocketry. In other words, had the truth of Roswell surfaced back then, the floodgates would almost certainly have opened wide, and the sinister treaty - with ardent Nazis and crazed Japanese scientists who had no qualms at all about using innocent people in nightmarish experiments - would have reared its ugly head. No-one in officialdom wanted that to happen, so it was a case of burying the dark and disturbing truth of the diabolical human experimentation among a mass of tales of aliens from other worlds, flying saucers, dummies, and spy-balloons. Destroy all of the records. Deny everything that needs denying. Silence those who know too much. Create as many false leads as possible. Couldn’t be done? It could. And it was.

(Nick Redfern) No aliens at Roswell

As for the timeline that my 2005 book described, it went like this: during the latter stages of the Second World War, the Japanese military is working to perfect highly advanced balloons as weapons of war – to the extent that on June 4, 1945, a Japanese military spokesman states that their so-called Fugo balloon launches of the previous few months – balloons equipped with bombs and which result in a small number of fatalities on American soil - are merely the precursors for something far more dangerous, including large-scale attacks. The new balloons will be piloted by “death-defying” Japanese military personnel. The new balloons, American experts estimate, will be at least sixty feet in diameter and will be able to carry a pressurized gondola containing four relatively small men to a height of around 30,000 feet as the balloons travel upon their stratospheric, four-day flights across the Pacific to the United States. Similarly, declassified FBI, CIA, Air Force and British Government memoranda reveals that in the same time frame, the Germans are actively pursuing several new and novel aviation-based projects, including the construction of circular- and elliptical-shaped aircraft – a number of which are based upon the work of Walter and Reimar Horten, who worked for the Nazis on a number of aircraft designs.

In addition, extensive wartime research is conducted by the Japanese Government’s Unit 731 – which performed unforgivable medical atrocities on captured people - and by Nazi scientists in the extremely controversial area of human experimentation. A large body of that same experimentation is devoted to better understanding the effects of high-altitude exposure on human beings and is undertaken, in part, on physically handicapped individuals. At the close of hostilities, scientific, aviation and medical experts from Japan and Germany are secretly brought to the United States – via a secret project called Paperclip and its Japanese equivalent – where human experimentation and advanced aircraft research continues unabated and under just about the strictest security possible. President Clinton’s Advisory Committee on Human Radiation Experiments notes in the 1990s: “At least 1,600 scientists and their dependents were recruited and brought to the United States by Paperclip and its successor projects through the early 1970s.”

(Nick Redfern) What really happened at Roswell?

The committee continues: “The ACHRE also notes with respect to the time period in question that a number of potentially important collections could not be located and were evidently lost or destroyed. Similarly, the Committee reveals, a number of those same document collections related to experiments undertaken in the fields of biomedicine, defense and space exploration; and in the great majority of these cases only fragmentary data remained. Where programs were legitimately kept secret for national security reasons, states the Committee, the government often did not create or maintain adequate records, thereby preventing the public, and those most at risk, from learning the facts in a timely and complete fashion.” In the aftermath of the War, a number of military research sites recruit Paperclip scientists with backgrounds in aero-medicine, radiobiology and ophthalmology. Those sites include the Air Force’s School of Aviation Medicine - from where experiments into total-body irradiation, space medicine, space biology and flash-blindness are undertaken - and the New Mexico-based White Sands Proving Ground. The latter becomes home to the V2 rockets developed by – and captured from - Nazi Germany during the War.

In addition, at the same time that the Paperclip personnel are actively being brought to the United States, the Air Force’s Aero Medical Center gives its top priority to the translation of manuscripts providing a complete picture of German aviation medicine. Further advances are made in the field of aviation in post-war America: the Air Force awards to the Fairchild Engine and Airplane Corporation a contract that establishes Fairchild as the responsible agency of the NEPA nuclear aircraft project; and the Holloman Balloon Branch, Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico, eventually goes on to become a recognized component of the space-race, via its involvement in what is known as the Discoverer program. Then, on July 1, 1947 – just a couple of days before the Foster Ranch incident happened -  Major Curtis E. LeMay, Major General, U.S. Army, Deputy Chief of Air Staff for Research and Development, orders that research into the biological effects of radiation on Japanese individuals should begin.

(Nick Redfern) Today, Roswell is known to just about everyone

In the summer of 1947 and against this backdrop of (a) secret tests on human subjects, (b) revolutionary aircraft- and secret balloon-based programs, and (c) an influx of senior scientific, medical and aviation experts into the United States from Japan and Germany, a series of events and accidents occur on and near the White Sands Proving Ground, New Mexico, and which lead to the deliberate creation of cover-stories concerning crashed saucers and dead E.T.s. Witnesses at several crash sites report seeing the remains of unusual-looking aircraft and small bodies, some with enlarged, bald heads, and "Asia"n or “Oriental”-like features. On August 19, 1947, FBI Special Agent S. W. Reynolds informs the Bureau’s director, J. Edgar Hoover, that in a meeting with a Lieutenant Colonel George D. Garrett, the latter expresses his firm belief that “the flying discs” originate with a highly classified experiment of the Army or Navy. Alien, they are not, the FBI is told. In the immediate wake of the Roswell affair, Dr. Lincoln LaPaz of the University of New Mexico – and a wartime expert on the Fugo balloons, no less – becomes deeply embroiled in the Roswell controversy; the ramifications of the Nuremberg Code begin to reverberate and rumble within the United States; and, as the November 3, 1947 issue of the Biology Division Bulletin of the Clinton National Laboratory reveals, staff take an active interest in experimentation undertaken to determine the effect of radioactive iodine on dwarfs and those afflicted with Progeria - a syndrome that results in a small stature, an enlarged, bald-head and on occasion extra fingers and toes – go ahead.

Add to that the testimony of a number of elderly whistleblowers who I interviewed extensively in the early 2000s, and who chose to reveal the absolute darkest side of post-war history and secrecy, and what you have is the story told in my book. Terrible and wholly unethical experiments, rather than the bad flying skills of extraterrestrials, were at the heart of what many believe to be the most important UFO case of all. The sources were Al Barker, Bill Salter (both of whom worked in the field of intelligence and espionage and who were in their early eighties when I spoke with them), a retired military man who I referred to as the Colonel, and an elderly woman I called the Black Widow, and who was in her late seventies when I interviewed her in the summer of 2001. In the period since Body Snatchers in the Desert surfaced and provoked a wealth of anger, dismay and even – in some quarters – shattered dreams and crushed hopes, far more relevant information has surfaced. The picture it paints is decidedly bleak. It adds significantly to what we know of Roswell and what occurred, rather than what so many want to believe or wish happened, on that famous day back in July 1947.  

(Nick Redfern) A memorial to the dead aliens that probably never existed

I didn’t just write this article to share with you the latest news on the story that suggests aliens didn’t crash at Roswell. I also wrote it to correct some significant misconceptions. For example, when my book, Body Snatchers in the Desert, surfaced, time and time again I saw it referred to as “Nick Redfern’s theory,” or as “Nick Redfern’s story.” The implication was that I was the only one who was looking into this particular angle – or who had ever looked into it. This was, however, a major misrepresentation of the facts. People still repeat that mistake today. Part of the reason why I have chosen to write the sequel to Body Snatchers in the Desert is to demonstrate that – contrary to what some might say - numerous people and sources within Ufology have uncovered near-identical data to that which I was exposed to. In that sense, I am far from being a lone wolf. There is an entire pack of us. Lastly, if you are completely new to my books, by now you may well think I am a UFO skeptic; I can totally see why you might think that. But, I’m not a UFO skeptic; not in the slightest. I have seen enough, heard enough, experienced enough, and investigated enough to know that there is a very real UFO phenomenon in our midst. It is a phenomenon that is deeply interested in us, as a species, but which is determined to remain steadfastly in the shadows. Yes, UFOs are real. I just don’t think one crashed in the U.S. southwest in the summer of 1947.

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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