What exactly did one New Mexico rancher come across when he encountered strange metallic debris strewn about his property in June 1947?
On June 14, 1947, W.W. Brazel was driving around his ranch, about 80 miles north of Roswell, New Mexico, along with his eight-year-old son, Vernon. It was then that he suddenly noticed a number of shiny objects.
Scattered on the ground in front of him was the debris of a lightweight, metallic material. Brazel later described it as “a large area of bright wreckage made up of rubber strips, tinfoil, and rather tough paper, and sticks.”
Brazel didn’t know what he’d found. But he started hearing rumors about recent UFO sightings, and decided to bring his discovery to the Roswell sheriff.
“I was a little bit ashamed to mention it, because I didn’t know what it was,” he later said. “[I] asked the sheriff to keep kind of quiet. I thought folks would kid me about it.”
The sheriff was similarly baffled, and brought the strange object to the commanding officer of the nearby Roswell Army Air Field. The next day, the military released an eyebrow-raising statement: “The many rumors regarding the flying disc became a reality yesterday when the intelligence office of the 509th Bomb group of the Eighth Air Force, Roswell Army Air Field, was fortunate enough to gain possession of a disc through the cooperation of one of the local ranchers and the sheriff’s office of Chaves County.”
Though the military backtracked to say it was not the remnants of a UFO, but merely the remains of a rogue weather balloon, it was too late. Roswell would forever be the town where “proof” of extraterrestrial life was found.
In the decades since then, the truth about the infamous Roswell Incident has only grown murkier and murkier. While some have claimed that the “flying disc” was evidence that aliens were real, the military has changed its story several times.
In the 1990s, they claimed that the debris that W.W. Brazel had found was actually pieces of a high-altitude balloon with an experimental radar and sensors inside used to monitor Soviet nuclear testing. It was, allegedly, from a top-secret spy operation called Project Mogul, and the military sought to conceal its true purpose.
But some have their doubts about this story. What exactly did Brazel come across on his ranch that day in June 1947? Was it a piece of an alien aircraft, the remains of a U.S. spy operation, or something else entirely?
Delve deeper into the mysterious story behind the Roswell Incident of 1947.