It’s important to note that in the summer of 1947 people were reporting – sometimes hysterically so – crashed saucers all across the United States. Why is that so important? And why is this relevant to Roswell and the story you are now reading? The answer, to both questions, is simple: if Roswell was the only incident of an alleged flying saucer crash in ’47, then a case could indeed be made that it was a unique, one of a kind, event. That there were many such cases, though – all of which turned out to be hoaxes or misidentifications – weakens the case for Roswell as a UFO. Chiefly because, as the following examples show, people were not only reporting crashed saucers in the summer of 1947, there was practically a mindset that expected saucers to crash. When UFO hysteria broke out across the United States, following Kenneth Arnold’s famous sighting at Mt. Rainier, people weren’t just seeing saucers in the sky. They were finding them all over the place. Almost practically tripping over them. At least, they were until the cases were explained away in simple terms. I won’t pummel you with each and every such story, but several of what actually amounts to many will certainly suffice to make the point.
On July 6, 1947, the Portland Oregonian reported the following. It has eerie shades of the Roswell story attached to it, with its references to military balloons, tinfoil, a ranch, and even a rancher: “Folks in Pickway County, who have been following the ‘flying saucer’ mystery, became excited Saturday when Sherman Campbell found a strange object on his farm [italics mine]. It was in the form of a six pointed star, 30 inches high and 48 inches wide, covered with tinfoil. It weighed about two pounds. Attached to the top were the remains of a balloon with a rock 5 inches in circumference. The Fort Columbus airfield weather station at Columbus said the description tallied with an object used by the army air forces to measure wind velocity at high altitudes by the use of radar. Some of the flying discs reported seen in various parts of the country were much larger and flying at terrific speed.” Roswell-like? Yes, very. A crashed spacecraft from another world? Nope.
Moving on twenty-four hours: July 7 was the date on which the Washington Post reported the following: “A Catholic priest at Grafton, Wisconsin, said tonight that a round, metal disc, which might be one of the mysterious ‘flying saucers,’ had crashed into his parish yard and that he is holding it for the Federal Bureau of Investigation.” The source of the story was the Reverend Joseph Brasky who, on the same day, heard what he described as a “swishing and whirring” noise, followed by a thud and a mild explosion. On checking out his yard, Brasky found “a sheet metal disc about 18 inches in diameter, resembling a circular saw blade.” The resemblance was not a coincidence: that’s exactly what it was. Given the fact that the Washington Post stated that Brasky was waiting for the FBI to get involved, Special Agent H.K. Johnson – who operated out of Milwaukee – looked into the matter and prepared a memorandum. It did not place Brasky in a good light. Johnson recorded that at the time of the event Brasky had been “drinking quite heavily,” and despite what he told the Washington Post, “Brasky has never contacted the Milwaukee FBI Office or any agent concerning his find. In my opinion, this is just another hoax story, since a photograph of Father Blasky with the saw indicates no basis for any investigation by any authority.” The palaver of the pickled priest was over.
And, consider the following one-page FBI report of July 11, 1947, which was sent to the Assistant-to-the-Director Edward A. Tamm. It was yet another “crashed saucer that never was” case, and which was also investigated by the aforementioned Special Agent H.K. Johnson. The document states: “SAC Johnson of the Milwaukee Office called to advise he had just received a telephone call from [a] Reserve Officer with the Civilian Air Patrol, Black River Falls, Wisconsin. [He] reported that at 3:30 p.m., July 10…at Black River Falls a large 17″ disc [was found] which appeared to have been possibly made out of cardboard painted with silver airplane dope. In the center was a tube and a small motor with a propeller attached to the side. Colonel [name deleted] expressed the opinion that this disc would not be able to fly by itself. He advised it would be taken to the Air Corps Headquarters.” A wrecked UFO, it was not.
I’ll share with you one more case, which is a bit more intriguing, but which was also shown not to have involved a crashed saucer, after all – despite initial hopes and assumptions. Once again, we turn to the files of the FBI. A teletype message of July 18, 1947, described the discovery of “small burned spots about one and a half inches in diameter on [a] a green lawn [at Rindge, New Hampshire].” The message continues: “Also in the long dry grass on both sides of road in a circle approximately two hundred feet in diameter several little blazes had started and the Fire Department was called. Fires were apparently caused by metallic fragmentation which were turned over to [the] Massachusetts Institute of Technology.” Although this affair was initially suspected of being one of crashed UFO proportions, a source cited by the FBI stated that the fragments resembled the lining of captured, German V-2 rockets, “which he had observed at New Mexico.” On the other hand, a source at MIT said that the fragments “are possibly the lining from a jet turbo plane.” Whatever the answer, the wreckage did not originate with a crashed disc from another planet, as had initially been suspected.
What all of this tells us is that 1947 – the key year of Ufology – was ripe for reports of UFOs, yet many of the reports of crashed UFOs actually had no validity attached to them. We should remember that, too, when we think of Roswell. We shouldn’t jump the gun on any UFO case. And particularly so when it comes to destroyed Flying Saucers.