July 08, 2017

#OTD — #Roswell was attacked by an Air Force spy balloon

That's what happened July 8, 1947. Roswell, New Mexico was "attacked" by a top-secret United States Air Force spy balloon loaded with high-tech sensors crashed. Specifically, as Wiki notes, it was loaded with nuclear sensors.

The Air Force wasn't going to tell the media that. It kept mum at first, while various different rumors spread, most actively and deliberately. (For details on the Project Mogul snooping, go here.)

An interesting sidebar is that, even though the public face of the burgeoning U.S. "national security establishment" said in 1947 that the Russkies were a long way from getting "The Bomb," we were otherwise acting like that wasn't such a long ways away, as the sensors were in that balloon for one reason only.

In fact, that's a lot more interesting than "aliens" claims about Roswell in particular or anything related to Project Mogul in general. In fact in fact, I wonder if anybody's written a book just about the start of Mogul, and how much government worries in private did not square with government jauntiness in public.

But, Roswell Army Air Force base public information officer Walter Haupt, for whatever reason, mentioned a "flying disc" after the government got to the site. Then, rancher William "Mac" Brazel (corrected on first name), possibly "primed" by this, claimed to have seen such a disc.

Eventually, "aliens"!

No, not at all.

For more on a properly skeptical stance toward the incident, see this by CSICOP.

That said, I "admire," in a sense, the city of Roswell for continuing to tout the mythical version of the incident, as peddled by the Roswell UFO museum at that link.

I do NOT admire either the city of Roswell, nor Chaves County, when either gives any money to the museum. No more than I would Ken Ham's Noah's Ark museum. In this case, there's no First Amendment issues. It's just the same level of pseudoscience.

And, folks, I've BEEN to the Roswell museum. And heard a curator, or docent, or whatever (maybe it was one of THEM) just say, "You have to believe!" (I think he was possibly responding to a sotto voce comment by yours truly.)

No, I don't "have to" do anything.

As for claims that two dozen people saw aliens? Paul of Tarsus says 500 people at one time saw a resurrected Jesus. I don't believe that one either.

Besides, as with JFK conspiracy theorists, there's at least half a dozen different competing alien theories. I prefer Occam's Razor as an additional guide to the truth.

Per the "admire" in scare quotes? If not for that museum, New Mexico Military Institute and a branch of Eastern New Mexico University, Roswell would have half its population and twice its boredom factor. Oh, there are places to the west that are scenic indeed, around Ruidoso and Sacramento. But, Roswell itself? It's at the farthest stretch of the High Plains without having the scenery of the desert, let alone mountains.

And, yes, it draws the tourists. I lived about 90 miles away in 1997, the 50th anniversary year, and we had spillover hotel bookings because Roswell was sold out.

Interestingly, though it's the birthplace of John Denver, there's about zero promotion of his life there. I know, he was a military brat and didn't live there long. Still, you could do something.

And, someday, the Pecos is going to be a creek not a river, and the last bits of groundwater's going to go away, and the dairy farming and cheesemaking will follow.

Other than it being a retiree area for NMMI alums and other ex-military, I'm not sure why it continues to grow in population today.

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