Monday, 22 July 2013

Roswell Revisited

This month marks the 66th anniversary of the Roswell incident where debris was recovered from what initially was thought to be a UFO, but was subsequently described by the US Army as a weather balloon.  There were later claims that witnesses saw alien bodies removed by the military and moved to Area 51, the widely-known but supposedly top secret military installation that is a remote detachment of the Edwards Air Force Base. A 1995 "documentary" entitled Alien Autopsy was aired by Fox TV. It purported to be the post-mortem examination of an alien found at the Roswell crash site. In 2006 the  "documentary" was revealed to be a hoax. The Independence Day movie also referenced Area 51 as a holding area for captured aliens.

Due to the constant speculation about what happened at Roswell and the numerous accusations of government cover-up, various documents were declassified and two reports issued by the US Air Force in the 1990s. The official explanation states that the debris came from the wreckage of a high-altitude surveillance balloon that was part of a then-top secret Cold War project called Mogul to ensure America's readiness to detect a nuclear attack. The aliens were supposedly human-like dummies (precursors of crash-test dummies) or were actual servicemen injured in flight tests.

The incident at Roswell has spawned countless books purported to be based on eyewitness accounts. For the town of Roswell, New Mexico, it's been a tourist boom, and each July there's a festival attracting enthusiasts from around the world. For the world of science fiction, fantasy and horror, the Roswell incident and other reports of UFO sightings have resulted in some very interesting series, including the X-Files Alien(s), and Men in Black.

Regardless of the true explanation of what happened at Roswell, our human fascination with the potential for life beyond earth continues.

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