Roswell: The Search for the ‘Real’ UFO
John Harney

Magonia 41, November 1991

Most European ufologists have long since given up naive interpretations of UFO reports in favour of psychological explanations. The Americans, however, are not satisfied with this; they want the space aliens and they are determined to persuade us of their reality.

For many years they have argued that many abduction cases are real experiences — not real in the sense that the abductees really believe the events happened to them as reported, but interactions with real extraterrestrials (ETs). Yet another book on this theme by Raymond Fowler, about Betty Andreasson, has recently been published. (1) The theme and general treatment will be too familiar to most of our readers to be worth summarising here. But another recent book, by Kevin D. Randle and Donald R. Schmitt, marks a new approach to the ETs. (2)

This book is about the Roswell incident of July 1947. Much nonsense has already been written about it, but Randle and Schmitt have made valiant attempts to cut out the lies and fantasies, and to try to arrive at the truth by tracing and interviewing as many witnesses as possible, as well as searching contemporary newspaper reports and other written records. Their work is very far away indeed from armchair ufology, as a great deal of time, money and effort has been invested in it.

The official explanation appears to be that some wreckage picked up on a ranch near Corona New Mexico, was, after some initial confusion, identified as a weather balloon with a radar reflector attached to it. The authors argue convincingly that this explanation is absurd, and was advanced to conceal the true nature of the wreckage. So far, so sensible. But the authors go on to insist that the wreckage was that of a crashed saucer from some other planet, which contained pilots, of the type generally known as the Greys.

Now there is nothing inherently absurd in the idea that a piloted device from another planet might crash while surveying the Earth. The reasons why such stories are not generally taken seriously are: the lack of physical evidence; and the rather incoherent nature of the reports of such alleged incidents. The reports investigated by Randle and Schmitt concern two apparent crashes. The first lot of wreckage to be discovered was scattered in small pieces over a large area; the second crash site was allegedly found a few days later, a few miles south-east of the first one. This consisted of a somewhat battered saucer with the decomposing bodies of three (four?) ETs lying beside it.

The weather balloon explanation was released before the discovery of the second site, apparently in an attempt to damp down the excitement caused by the initial official news release announcing that a ‘flying disc’ had been recovered. To avoid getting hopelessly confused, it is convenient to consider the two crash sites separately. The wreckage was said to have been taken to Roswell, then flown to Fort Worth. There a reporter was invited to take pictures of wreckage scattered about the office of Brigadier General Roger Ramey.

Reporters were told that this wreckage was the remains of a weather balloon rig. It certainly looks like a device known as a corner reflector – the pieces are the right sizes and shapes – although why it has apparently been trampled on and torn to shreds is not made clear, even though it is a rather flimsy object. Now, unlike most photographs concerning UFOs these appear to be genuine. If the stuff which appears in the photos is the same stuff that was brought from Corona to Roswell and then flown to Fort Worth, then one wonders what all the fuss was about. Major Marcel stated, many years later, that some of the original stuff was laid out in Ramey’s office, but while he and the general were out of the room for a short time, someone switched it for the ruined radar target. Unfortunately, Marcel is also said to have stated that the stuff he was photographed holding in Ramey’s office was the real stuff. (3)

Also, according to an interview published in Mufon UFO Journal (4), Colonel DuBose (Ramey’s chief of staff) said that the wreckage was not switched, and the genuine stuff appears in the photographs. The weather balloon cover story was devised later. If this is true it means that the saucers are cleverly designed to assume the appearance of battered weather balloon rigs if they should crash. There are numerous other disagreements, but all those who claimed to have been involved in the recovery of the wreckage stated that there was a great deal of it, far too much to have been something attached to a balloon.

There is even more confusion over the authors’ attempts to unravel the reports of the bodies of ETs recovered from a second crash site, a few miles from the first, according to their findings, but much farther away according to other accounts. The controversy over where the ETs were found, and in what condition is continuing, with the recent publication of details about a new witness to the alleged incident.(5) According to the Randle and Schmitt version there were three decaying bodies; and according to the other versions there were four ETs, two dead, one badly injured, and one uninjured. Descriptions, apart from minor details, fit in with other accounts of the ‘Greys’, as described in various American abductee stories.

So what really happened at Corona, New Mexico, in July 1947? Randle and Schmitt argue that an alien spacecraft with ETs aboard crashed, and that the bodies and widely scattered debris – all of it – were recovered by the US Army, taken to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, and that this evidence has been kept under conditions of close secrecy from that day to this. The authors give evidence of incidents being kept secret for many years, but these concern matters over which the government has some control, such as the testing of military aircraft or weapons. In the case of visitors from outer space, they might hush up such an incident only to have the aliens landing in Washington next day asking for the bodies to be handed back.

The authors’ efforts should not be belittled, though. They have obviously tried very hard to get at the truth of the matter, and they intend to continue their work. If they could put the ET to one side and try to look for more reasonable explanations of this incident, they might eventually find the true, but perhaps not very exciting, solution to the mystery.



  1. FOWLER, Raymond E. The Watcher The secret design behind UFO abductions. New York, Bantam Books, 1991
  2. RANDLE, Kevin D. and SCHMITT, Donald R. UFO Crash at Roswell. New York, Avon Books, 1991
  3. SHANDERA, Jaime H. and MOORE, William L,’3 Hours that shook the Press’, MUFON UFO Journal, No. 269, September 1990.
  4. SHANDERA, Jaime H. ‘New Revelations about Roswell Wreckage: A General Speaks Up’, MUFON UFO Journal, No. 273, January 1991
  5. O’BRIEN, Mike ‘New Witness to San Agustin Crash’, MUFON UFO Journal, No. 275, March 1991


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