Sightings of strange flying objects have been recorded as far back as human history can be traced. The modern UFO era began on June 24, 1947, when businessman and veteran pilot Kenneth Arnold, flying near Mount Rainier, sighted nine “flying saucers” moving at about 1600 miles per hour. Two weeks later “an Army Air Force colonel announced that officers of Roswell’s 509th Bomb Group had captured a flying saucer and some dead alien creatures at a crash site on a farm 75 miles northwest of Roswell [New Mexico]. A few hours later, Air Force officials denied that the report had ever been made.” Today, Roswell is a mecca for UFO enthusiasts who come to visit the International UFO Museum and nose about town for information.
After 50 years, rumors still persist that the government is covering up the truth and that wrecked spacecraft and preserved bodies of the dead aliens (along with up to 600 live ones working with us) are supposedly secreted at Nevada’s top-secret “Area 51,” an underground complex as large as Manhattan hidden beneath Nellis Air Force Base. When this was reported to Vallee by “informants,” they had no answer to his logical question of “who takes out the garbage” and his comment that “the base would…stick out like a sore thumb on infrared satellite imagery…there is no such thing as a hidden underground base of that magnitude anymore.”
On the other hand, Jacques Vallee admits that his interest in UFOs dates from the time he “witnessed the destruction of tracking tapes of unknown objects at a major observatory.” A Newsweek poll conducted in 1996 revealed that 48 percent of Americans believe that “the government is hiding proof of UFOs from the public.” Recently some of the mystery surrounding the cover-up was dispelled:
“With growing hysteria over alleged UFO sightings in the 1950s, the Air Force repeatedly concocted false cover stories to hide the fact that their super-secret spy planes had been spotted…. Concern lest the public learn of the secret spy planes [U-2s] ‘led the Air Force to make misleading and deceptive statements…’ [historian Gerald K.] Haines wrote [in the spring 1997 issue of Studies of Intelligence, an unclassified CIA journal].”
Frank Kaufman, now 80 years old, still maintains that he and several other men “stationed at the Roswell Army Air Field [in 1947] stumbled onto…the wreckage of a spaceship northwest of town…. Kaufman, a retired government intelligence agent, said he watched soldiers put five dead aliens into body bags and haul a damaged spaceship…to the post. Glenn Dennis, a Roswell mortician, said he got a call from the Army post to send out several small, hermetically sealed caskets.”
The Air Force insists that the wreckage was of a high-altitude balloon from a top-secret program monitoring the atmosphere for signs of Soviet nuclear tests. Vallee admits (as John Keel suggests) that it might have been “a Fugo balloon.” On June 24, 1997, the Air Force issued a 231-page full report titled “The Roswell Report, Case Closed,” which attempted to lay it all to rest: “The ‘bodies’ were not aliens but dummies used in parachute tests between 1954 and 1959.”
Is Kaufman so confused that his memory of seeing the wreckage of some “balloon” in 1947 became associated with dummies that crashed ten years later? Is Dennis confused also? Would caskets be needed for damaged dummies? It seems impossible to reconcile conflicting accounts. Daniel Ross writes:
“When the spaceship appeared in the late 1940s, and sighting reports began to number in the thousands…an almost impenetrable security lid came down….”
It has even been suggested by some informants with “inside knowledge” that Navy Secretary James V. Forrestal “jumped to his death from a sixteenth-story hospital window” after having seen terrifying aliens “shaped like praying mantises, and who were more advanced than us by perhaps a billion years.” There is no lack of lunacy in the rumors about UFOs.