The crash of an alleged UFO in Roswell, New Mexico, USA made headlines in 1947. The false report in the press is still the best known case of UFO believers. No case has been refuted and cited more than once.

Ufos, Ufo, Aliens, Roswell, Ufo crash, Abduction, flying saucerWhen Roswell Ufo crash, also Roswell incident, he became world famous. An allegedly extraterrestrial unknown flying object (UFO) is said to have crashed in June or July 1947 near the small town of Roswell in the US state of New Mexico. Skeptics speak of the Roswell myth or the Roswell legend.

The UFO theory comes from press reports about a "flying saucer" dated July 8, 1947, the discovery of which the United States Army had reported. The same day said that debris found at Roswell belonged to a crashed weather balloon with a radar reflector.

The controversial authors Charles Berlitz and William L. Moore — known for their books about the alleged Philadelphia experiment - rummaged out the forgotten incident and published their book "Roswell Incident" in 1980. They spread the conspiracy theory that the US government had found an alien spaceship and corpses of alien creatures (aliens) at the time, secretly investigated them and has kept them hidden until today. This was followed by many other books and films with numerous variants on this topic. The Roswell incident developed into the best-known alleged UFO incident worldwide in the 1990s, went into pop culture and became the starting point for numerous science fiction stories.

In 1994, several authors and the U.S. Air Force (USAF) revealed that the debris came from combined balloons with sound sensors, the suitability of which for detecting Soviet nuclear tests in Alamogordo, New Mexico, in 1947, had been tested under the strictest secrecy (Mogul project). A second USAF report in 1997 reviewed testimony about aliens and said they were baseless, invented, or stimulated by parachute puppets.

Events in June / July 1947

Since June 24, 1947, many US media have reported sightings of unknown flying objects. The pilot Kenneth Arnold had triggered these media reports with the information that he had seen a formation of nine flying objects on a private exploration flight near Mount Rainier in the state of Washington, the rapid movement of which looked like saucers hopping over the water. He caused the word "flying saucer" to be spoken.

The events of 1947 at Roswell vary depending on the source, but the main points are presented in the same way. On June 14, 1947, rancher William (Mac) Brazel found scattered debris at Foster Ranch (about 105 km northwest of Roswell). At the beginning of July, Brazel learned of rumors about unknown flying objects in Corona. He then informed the Roswell Sheriff of his discovery on July 7, 1947, who telephoned this information to the Roswell Army Air Field (RAAF). Two Army personnel examined the debris at the ranch, collected it, and sent it to the Army base in Fort Worth, Texas, for further analysis. The RAAF shared the find with the local media.

On July 8, 1947, the local newspaper Roswell Daily Record with the headline RAAF captured flying saucer on a ranch in the Roswell area appeared on the front page: RAAF had announced that it had a "flying saucer" that had been found on a ranch be. It did not disclose details of their construction and appearance. On July 2, 1947, a couple apparently was the only citizen of Roswell to observe a large glowing object in the southeastern sky for 40 to 50 seconds, which had moved at high speed to the northwest.

After many U.S. media reports that the U.S. Army had found a flying saucer near Roswell, General Roger Ramey and an Army weather expert said at a press conference in Fort Worth on July 8, 1947, that the rubble was part of a crashed weather balloon for wind measurements at high altitude. As usual with this model, it was equipped with a Raywin radar reflector, which consisted of thick cardboard covered with foil. Ramey allowed journalists to photograph debris. On July 9, 1947, the Roswell Daily Record, entitled "General Ramey Emptied the Roswell Saucer", reported that the excitement about an alleged flying saucer was unfounded.

In an interview in this issue, Brazel described the found debris as gray rubber strips, aluminum foil, thick paper with a few eyelets, sticks, and adhesive tape with printed flower patterns; some parts of the debris were labeled with letters. He didn't see any metal and machine parts, wire or cords underneath. He, his wife and daughter would have collected many of these debris on July 4th. The rest of the sheriff, the US soldier Jesse Marcel and a companion had collected on July 7 and then tried to assemble in vain at his home. He estimated the total weight of the rubble at five pounds. He was certain that they were not part of a weather balloon, as he had found one twice on his site earlier. But as long as it was not a bomb, he would hardly announce such a find in the future.

After that, media interest in the incident subsided, and it went unnoticed for 30 years.

Book The Roswell Incident

Ufologists Stanton T. Friedman and William Moore interviewed U.S. soldier Jesse Marcel several times in 1978 and 1979 for a planned book on the Roswell 1947 event. At first Marcel didn't remember it, then he described the rubble in detail: some struts were made of very hard but flexible, non-flammable material that resembled balsa wood. Some were printed with illegible characters. Large quantities of a very firm, brown type of cardboard were included. The thin, but tear-resistant film was made of a metal that was unknown to him and showed no visible traces of the crease. His companion Cavitt found a black metal box. General Ramey had shown the press on July 8, 1947 only unimportant or non-original parts and had ordered him to remain silent. The National Enquirer magazine told Marcel that the real rubble was "not from this earth".

These and other testimonies went into the 1980 book "The Roswell Incident", which claimed that the US Army had covered up a UFO find. It made the event widely known as the "Roswell Incident" and also mentioned dead aliens for the first time: The witness Barny Barnett, who died in 1951 and who Friedman found out about secondhand, told friends before his death that he had a UFO on the San Agustin plain — Crash site seen with several small dead bodies. The military police then sent him away and ordered him to remain silent about his observation.


Since then, numerous other books have been published with testimonies from other witnesses and additional details about the event. Despite all the differences, they assume that at least one alien spaceship with aliens has crashed at Roswell. The US government has been hiding this from the public since 1947 with disinformation, ignoring or taunting eyewitnesses and threatening to use violence against them.

The "Center for UFO Studies" (CUFOS) commissioned a group in 1988 to find and investigate the crash site. Friedman interviewed the undertaker Glenn Dennis from Roswell in 1989. The latter testified that an army representative had asked him on July 9 or 10, 1947, by telephone, for supplies of airtightly sealed child coffins. A nurse from the army hospital told him that she was involved in the autopsy of strange, small, child-like corpses. Afterwards, she was ordered to leave the hospital.

In 1989, the US television series "Unsolved Mysteries" broadcast a series to reconstruct the Roswell incidents. The hobby geologist Gerald Anderson then reported that he had seen three dead aliens under the crashed UFO and a living alien that was approaching the dead. Then the military police drove him out. Former soldier Frank Kaufmann said in 1989 that as a member of a military search party in 1947, he saw an intact UFO, half buried in the sand and with several dead aliens, some distance from Brazel's ranch. Ufologists Donald Schmitt and Kevin Randle published the result of the CUFOS order as a book in 1991 (UFO Crash at Roswell). They claimed that the government had collected all the debris, cleaned up the crash site, owned several corpses of aliens, and kept it secret.

Friedman and Don Berliner published the book "Crash at Corona" in 1992, which expanded the UFO theory based on the new testimony: While a crashed UFO had exploded and been destroyed in the air at Brazel's Ranch, a second crashed UFO was almost intact at Corona remained. The Roswell event took on a life of its own, with new witnesses appearing and adding details that contradicted what others had said. Philip J. Klass and other authors demonstrated the contradictions.

On August 28, 1995, the US broadcaster Fox News broadcast the film "Alien Autopsy: Fact or Fiction?" (known as Santilli film). He shows in black and white pictures men in medical coats, who examine a lifeless, non-human body and operate on its innards. Producer Ray Santilli said he purchased the film from a former US military cameraman who shot it in 1947 for internal documentation. In 2006, the Briton John Humphreys, a specialist in cinematic special effects, said that he had modeled a latex alien doll for the film at Santilli's request, thus recreating the essence that he believed he had seen on the dissolving original images. The film was only made in 1995 and he played in it. Since then, the film has been proven to be a fake and is also rejected by ufologists.

In 1997, Philip J. Corso, in The Day After Roswell, claimed that he was the former head of the US Army's Foreign Technology Department, managing debris from an alien Roswell wreck. Technology from this crash was targeted to US companies to promote the further development of earthly technology. Corso's claims are unproven and generally rejected. The British daily "The Guardian" chose his book in 2001 among the top 10 literary lies.

Project Mogul

Since 1990, UFO supporters have petitioned the US government to release all suspected files on UFOs and extraterrestrial life. [16] In January 1994, Steven Schiff, a New Mexico District MP in the US House of Representatives, instructed the General Accounting Office (GAO) to investigate the widespread allegations that the US Army was covering up the Roswell event. He learned that Roswell did not appear in the "Project Blue Book", with which the USAF internally checked the factual basis of thousands of UFO reports from 1947 to 1969. Therefore, he requested a public hearing on the U.S. Department of Defense handling weather balloon, unknown aircraft, and crash documents to clarify the facts about the 1947 incident. As a result, a USAF research team tracked down all government records related to the 1947 incident and removed any confidentiality requirement. The resulting investigation report was submitted to the GAO on July 27, 1994 and published.

The report found that the fragments found by Brazel, the photographs permitted by General Ramey, and the flying disc mentioned by an FBI telegram dated July 8, 1947 all related to a hexagonal shaped radar target, which included a cable was attached to a balloon about 20 feet (7 meters) in diameter and was intended to act as a radar reflector at high altitude. The observations of some eyewitnesses recorded in affidavits also agreed. However, this type of balloon was not an ordinary weather balloon, as was claimed at the time, but was part of a Mogul project that was subject to the highest level of secrecy, Top Secret A-1. In June and July 1947, balloon trains flying constantly in the troposphere and stratosphere were tested to determine whether their radar reflectors could be used to acoustically absorb sound waves from Soviet atomic tests. They were supposed to measure the shock waves from missiles that had broken through the sound barrier to determine whether a Soviet atomic bomb could be detonated.

According to testimony from some of the engineers involved in the Mogul project, especially project manager Charles B. Moore, the debris discovered by Brazel on June 14, 1947 was part of test flight No. 4 of a balloon train that started on June 4 and near the Foster Ranch as had been reported missing. Moore reconstructed its trajectory in a southwest / northeast direction to Arabela (about 27 km from the Foster Ranch). He admitted that the US military had covered up the crash of this balloon train in 1947 in order to keep the project top secret. That is why General Ramey presented the find on July 8, 1947 as the remains of a normal Raywin weather balloon and gave the press distracting reports. For other explanations of the rubble, especially for the UFO theories, there is no evidence in the files received.

Independently of each other, Robert Todd and Karl Pflock also identified the rubble found at Roswell with the Mogul project. Pflock published this thesis in 1994 before the USAF report was completed. Then the debris described by Brazel in 1947 corresponded to a train of neoprene balloons with attached radar reflectors, each about one meter long. Because the Mogul project team in New Mexico had only started its top secret work in late May 1947, no one had found similar pieces of debris before. None of those involved in the find knew this type of balloon and knew of its existence. The reflectors were constructed as kites; the illegible characters turned out to be a floral pattern that a children's toy company had printed on the tape used for the kites. They were rubbed off on the balsa struts when the adhesive peeled off due to the weather.

The GAO final report of July 28, 1995 criticized that contrary to regulations at the time, the Army had not kept a report of the crash at Roswell and could not determine who destroyed any reports. Only two documents from 1947 were found:

  • The FBI telegram shows that the army had reported to the FBI the discovery of a weather balloon with a metallic radar reflector.
  • An Air Force report noted the discovery of a flying disc that the military later associated with a radar-detecting balloon.


The first USAF report from 1994/95 had not dealt with testimony about alleged aliens. The second USAF report from 1997 reacted to the criticism: Later witnesses believed that anthropomorphic test dummies, later known as crash test dummy, were dead aliens and linked them to the Roswell event. The first main part stated: From 1953 to 1959, the USAF in New Mexico regularly dropped such dolls from high-altitude balloons to test free-fall behavior and parachutes for future human jumps. Military search teams had collected the landing dolls in collaboration with local authorities and citizens. Some were only found years later. Many were significantly damaged in the impact and lost limbs, including fingers. They were flown to wooden laboratories in coffin-like wooden boxes, some also in black and silver covers, in order to evaluate their measurement data there. Such dolls had landed near the three crash sites in Roswell's UFO literature. Their appearance agrees with essential testimony. Some witnesses had believed the alleged alien bodies to be dummies themselves and compared them.

UFO believers and UFO researchers were more likely to see the report confirm their acceptance of a large-scale deception by the US military. So-called "independent critics" also claimed that it was unlikely that witnesses would confuse later, over a decade crashes of test dummies with a single event from 1947.

In a 1997 survey, nearly two-thirds of 1,024 US adults surveyed said they believed a Roswell UFO crashed in 1947. In a March 2013 survey of whether they believed that a Roswell UFO had crashed and the government was hiding it, 21 percent of 1247 US citizens said yes, 47 percent said no, and 32 percent said they were unsure.


The Roswell Crash became an integral part of many UFO chronicles and fictional stories. UFO tourism has become a significant source of income for many Roswell residents. There are several alleged crash sites that can be visited for an entrance fee, as well as alien museums, festivals and congresses, including the "International U.F.O. Museum and Research Center" founded in 1991. Its first president was Glenn Dennis.


Alleged UFO crashes at Roswell have been featured in many television shows and series and some feature films. These contributed significantly to the spread of the Roswell crash as an integral part of the UFO belief. The genres of documentary, mystery, fantasy and science fiction often merged. Some films built the Roswell incident into their fictional plot, others allude to it. Aliens were often portrayed with clichéd features that tie in with testimony about the Roswell event. Since 1947, these have provided the film industry in the USA with a set of dramaturgical and optical motifs with recognition value that went into the then emerging science fiction genre. These Roswell rules include Toby Smith

"(...) short, humanoid, gray aliens with big heads and almond-shaped, dark eyes, an alien invasion, radar screens, military interventions, men in white laboratory suits (...) and a moral: as long as the government contests an event, man have hope, hope that something will happen and will be revealed. And hope that this cover-up will never really be revealed because people need something to fantasize, even if only for the price of a cinema ticket."


  • Roswell (Jeremy Kagan, USA 1994)
  • Roswell (Bill Brown, USA 1994, short film)
  • Roswell 1847 (Ian Paterson, UK 2007)
  • Roswell FM (Stephen Griffin, USA 2013, Comedy)

Television films and series

  • Unsolved Mysteries (series with episode to Roswell: USA 1989)
  • Roswell: The U.F.O Coverup (Randle / Schmitt, USA 1994; German: Roswell - Ufo crash over New Mexico)
  • Visitors from another world (television film, USA 1994)
  • Alien Autopsy: Fact or Fiction? (Fox, USA 1995); Alien Autopsy (Fox, USA 2006)
  • The Roswell Incident (Tim Shawcross, USA 1995)
  • The Roswell Crash: Startling New Evidence (History Channel, USA 1997)
  • Roswell Top Secret (Dan Goldman, 1998)
  • Six Days in Roswell (Timothy B. Johnson, USA 1998)
  • Roswell: The Aliens Attack (Brad Turner, Canada 1999)
  • Roswell (TV series) (Jason Katims, 61 episodes, USA / D 1999-2002)
  • Taken (Steven Spielberg, 10 episodes, USA 2002)
  • Roswell Conspiracies: Aliens, Myths and Legends (series, Dan Fawcett and others, USA 1999)
  • Encounters with the Unexplained, Episode # 3: What really happened at Roswell? (Jerry Orbach, USA 2000)
  • Roswell well - all well: 19th episode of the cartoon Futurama (USA 2001).
  • History Undercover - Roswell: Final Declassification. (History Channel, USA 2005)
  • Conspiracy Files: Mystery at Roswell. (USA 2006)
  • Secrets of UFOs: Roswell UFO Crash (William Corso, USA 2006)


  • The Thing from Another World (1951)
  • The day the earth stand still (USA 1951)
  • Invasion from Mars (1953)
  • Danger from space (Jack Arnold, USA 1953)
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Episode Little Green Men (1995)
  • Dark Skies: 1st Episode, USA 1996
  • The Arrival (USA 1996)
  • Independence Day (1996) by Roland Emmerich
  • Millennium - Fear your neighbor like yourself: Season 2, Episode 21: Somehow, Satan got behind me (USA 1998)
  • File X - The FBI's Eerie Cases: 202nd and last episode 2002: The Truth (Return to Roswell).
  • American Dad: After that, Alien Roger reportedly crashed in Roswell in 1947 and was taken to Area 51.
  • Dreamcatcher (Stephen King, USA 2003; horror)
  • Alien Hunter - Antarctic Mystery (USA 2003; Science Fiction)
  • The Wild Blue Yonder (Werner Herzog, D 2005, Science Fiction)
  • Alien Autopsy - All Visiting Friends (Jonny Campbell, Great Britain 2006, comedy about the alleged alien autopsy in Roswell)
  • Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (Steven Spielberg, USA 2008, adventure film)
  • Paul - An Alien on the Run (Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, GB / US / FR / ES 2011, Comedy)
  • Stargate - Command SG-1, Episode Prometheus (06x11)
  • Seven Days - The Gate to Time (USA 1998-2001; science fiction series, the plot of which is based on the fact that a technology has been developed from the crashed spaceship)

Criticism and refutation

  • Kent Jeffrey: Roswell: Anatomy of a Myth. In: Journal of Scientific Exploration, January 12, 1998; Full text online:
  • Philip J. Klass: The Real Roswell Crashed Saucer Coverup. Buffalo, New York 1997
  • Charles B. Moore, Benson Saler, Charles A. Ziegler: UFO Crash at Roswell. The Genesis of a Modern Myth. Smithsonian Institution, Washington DC 1997
  • Karl T. Pflock: Roswell: Inconvenient Facts and the Will to Believe. Prometheus Books, 2001

USAF reports

  • Richard L. Weaver, James McAndrew: The Roswell Report - Fact versus Fiction in the New Mexico Desert. United States Government Printing Office, Washington DC 1995, (first version July 1994 online; PDF)
  • James McAndrew: The Roswell Report - Case Closed. US Government Printing Office, Washington DC 1997 (full text online, PDF)
  • Affidavit by former press officer Walter G. Haut


  • Lynn Picknett: The Mammoth Book of UFOs. Robinson, Kindle Edition 2012, p. 38; Broder Carstensen, Ulrich Busse, Regina Schmude: Anglicism Dictionary. De Gruyter, 2001, p. 507.
  • Becky Matthews: The Roswell Incident: Fiftieth Anniversary Sell-Abration. In: Francis Edward Abernethy: 2001: A Texas Folklore Odyssey (Publications of the Texas Folklore Society). University of North Texas Press, 2001, p. 91
  • Roswell Daily Record: RAAF Captures Flying Saucer On Ranch in Roswell Region. On: The Roswell Files: Press Reports about the Roswell Incident. July 8, 1947
  • Lynn Picknett: The Mammoth Book of UFOs. 2012, p. 128
  • Roswell Daily Record: Gen. Ramey Empties Roswell Saucer. On: The Roswell Files: Press Reports about the Roswell Incident. July 9, 1947
  • Roswell Daily Record: Interview with Mac Brazel. On: The Roswell Files: Interview with W.W. "Mac" Brazel. July 9, 1947
  • Leon Jaroff: Did Aliens Really Land? In: Briton Hadden, Henry Robinson Luce (ed.): Time Magazine, Volume 149, Issues 18-26, Time Incorporated, June 23, 1997, p. 353.
  • Lynn Picknett: The Mammoth Book of UFOs. 2012, p. 129
  • Lynn Picknett: The Mammoth Book of UFOs. Robinson, 2012, p. 137
  • Richard L. Weaver: The Roswell Report: Fact vs. Fiction in the New Mexico Desert. Diane Publishing, 1997, p. 13
  • Chris A. Rutkowski: A World of UFOs. Dundurn Group Ltd, 2008, p. 18
  • Kelly Milner Halls: Alien Investigation: Searching for the Truth about UFOs and Aliens. Millbrook Press, 2012, p. 52
  • Patricia D. Netzley: Alien Encounters (Extraterrestrial Life). Capstone, 2011, p. 16
  • Joan D'Arc: Space Travelers and the Genesis of the Human Form: Evidence of Intelligent Contact in the Solar System. Book Tree, 2000, Volume 3, p. 94
  • Top 10 literary hoaxes. The Guardian, November 15, 2011
  • Michael Swords, Robert Powell u. a .: UFOs and Government: A Historical Inquiry. Anomalist Books, San Antonio (Texas) / Charlottesville 2012, p. 351.
  • Report of Air Force Research Regarding the "Roswell Incident". July 1994, Section 2: Introduction, Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory, on, accessed February 4, 2017:
  • FBI Records: The Vault. Roswell UFO Part 1 of 1. On, accessed on February 4, 2017:
  • Report of Air Force Research Regarding the "Roswell Incident". July 1944, Section 7: What the Roswell Incident was - Balloon Research, Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory, on (English); - Report of Air Force Research Regarding the "Roswell Incident". July 1944, Section 8: Conclusion, Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory, on, accessed February 4, 2017;
  • Karl Pflock: Roswell in Perspective. 1994; Richard L. Weaver, James McAndrew: The Roswell Report: Fact versus Fiction in the New Mexico Desert. Headquarters United States Air Force, U.S. Government Printing, Washington 1995, p. 28.
  • Gary Bates: Alien Intrusion: UFOs and the Evolution Connection. Master Books, Green Forest 2005, ISBN 0-89051-435-6, p. 187.
  • Richard Davis: Results of a Search for Records Concerning the 1947 Crash Near Roswell, New Mexico (Letter Report, 07/28/95, GAO / NSIAD-95-187). In: United States General Accounting Office (GAO). Government Records, Washington July 28, 1995, at, accessed February 4, 2017 (PDF; 327 kB)
  • James McAndrew: The Roswell Report: Case Closed (The Official United States Air Force Report). (1997) Military Bookshop, 2011, ISBN 978-1-7803-9137-3, pp. 5-74.
  • William J. Broad: Air Force Details a New Theory in U.F.O. Case: A Suggestion That Dead 'Aliens' Were Test Dummies. In: The New York Times. June 24, 1997, on Poll: U.S. hiding knowledge of aliens. In: CNN interactive. June 15, 1997, at, accessed February 4, 2017.
  • Tom Jensen: Democrats and Republicans differ on conspiracy theory beliefs. Public Policy Polling, Raleigh April 2, 2013, Question 3, p. 2, on, retrieved on February 4, 2017 (PDF; 251 kB).
  • Toby Smith: Little Gray Men: Roswell and the Rise of a Popular Culture. University of New Mexico (UNM) Press, Albuquerque 2000
  • William J. Broad: Air Force Details a New Theory in U.F.O. Case: A Suggestion That Dead 'Aliens' Were Test Dummies. In: The New York Times. June 24, 1997, on, accessed February 11, 2017.
  • A. Bowdoin Van Riper: Science in Popular Culture: A Reference Guide. Greenwood Publishing Group Incorporated, Westport, Connecticut / London 2002, ISBN 0-313-31822-0, p. 285.
  • Toby Smith: Little Gray Men: Roswell and the Rise of a Popular Culture. 2000, p. 133 ff. And p. 153.
  • IMDb: Roswell Conspiracies: Aliens, Myths & Legends
  • Encounters with the Unexplained
  • New York Times Review: Secrets of UFOs: Roswell UFO Crash (2006)
  • Paul Simpson: That's What They Want You to Think. Zenith, 2012, p. 148

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