| By revisiting and reflecting upon renowned enigmas from the past, curious human beings can effectively re-examine and re-evaluate unexplained phenomena. Exploratory expeditions into Unidentified Flying Object (UFO) history have the potential to reveal clues unnoticed decades earlier. Thus, we learn from history.
In 2018, as a seasoned UFO researcher, I thought it was time to engage my readers more than ever before. So, what I am about to share is strictly from my perspective. But, it’s based on
facts from extensive research. The ensuing paper represents decades of scientifically analyzing a well-documented UFO mystery from a bygone era.
After years of reviewing relevant literature and reflecting upon my interview notes, I began to identify bits of data that in time fell into bigger distinguishable chunks of information. It wasn’t long before I genuinely understood the mystery surrounding the 1947 Roswell UFO case. For me, the Roswell UFO phenomenon embodied, but was not limited to, the following components:
• Debris made of unfamiliar space age metallic materials was observed and recovered near the crash site
• The US government was involved
• At least two contemporary covert projects that collected secret data were entangled
• At least one project had a multiple year research and development cycle
• The government, ufologists, skeptics, and others contributed to disseminating a rare combination of unreliable and conflicting information
• Extraterrestrial hypotheses were proffered and publicized
• A failure of imagination seemed to permeate initial and subsequent investigations
Extraterrestrial intelligence exists somewhere in the Universe. On that account, I scientifically study the UFO phenomenon with considerable rigor. I will accept, however, proof of extraterrestrial intelligence on Earth—but only on a case by case basis. For me, absence of evidence is strong evidence of absence.
All UFO cases must withstand scientific scrutiny. Scientists learn from history. Thus, science becomes less wrong over time. By studying times gone by, devout scientific investigators can examine and evaluate credible examples of the UFO phenomenon from a unique vantage point. That vantage point—the past—is an excellent place for spotting patterns. Differentiating and contemplating distinct and elusive patterns makes it possible for human beings to learn from history and grow from past mistakes.
Existential intelligence is a concept that Dr. Howard Gardner explored in the late 1990s. The term intelligence itself deals with how people effectively and efficiently solve problems and create products valued in a given culture (Gardner, 1999). Existential intelligence is the capacity to readily envision the big picture. People with a strong existential intelligence have the distinct ability to think about why things exist. We all possess existential intelligence to some degree.
People with a dominant existential intelligence may wonder if intelligent life exists in the Universe. Individuals with a well-developed existential intelligence also need the freedom to ponder, conceptualize, and hypothesize. Such distinctive characters take pleasure in analyzing and thinking about questions that don’t have clear answers.
Existential intelligence can be grown. Those humans who have nurtured their existential intelligence wonder about how variables interact. They also willingly evaluate how concepts relate to one another (Gangi, 2011). People with a robust existential intelligence naturally detect patterns that connect phenomena.
Partly because of my own enduring existential intelligence, when I view images of unidentifiable aerial phenomenon, I don’t immediately think aliens from another planet are visiting Earth. Similarly, when I actually encounter an object in the air that seems to defy contemporary science, it doesn’t automatically mean to me that the object originated from beyond this world.
The Department of Defense (DOD) is an executive branch department of the federal government of the United States. Coincidentally, the DOD was created in 1947. It was charged with coordinating and supervising all agencies and functions of the government concerned with national security. Project Blue Book was a US government project that investigated UFO reports between 1947 and 1969. The project was initiated to determine if anomalous aerial vehicles threatened national security (Federal Bureau of Investigation, n.d.). Under Blue Book, the US Air Force looked at thousands of reported UFO sightings. Many of those sightings remain unidentified.
Studying history is germane to understanding UFOs. Looking at aerial anomalies from a historical perspective makes it possible to learn from the endeavors of early UFO researchers. Today, UFO enthusiasts cannot afford to repeat the processing errors of the past. Ufology must improve. Therefore, to increase the depth and breadth of knowledge related to the UFO phenomenon, I revisited a well-documented UFO incident from 1947: The Roswell, New Mexico UFO crash.
New Mexico is the fifth largest state in the United States with a total area of approximately 121,700 square miles. Much of New Mexico is sandy, undeveloped, and desolate. The state’s wide open spaces and clear blue skies make it an ideal location for working on rockets, launching experimental payloads, and testing atomic bombs (“New Mexico,” n.d.).
In addition to its distinctive landscape, New Mexico has a unique culture. More specifically, New Mexico has a cowboy culture that blends hard work, innovation, and individualism with a love for adventure. Some inhabitants call it the Land of Enchantment (Visit Albuquerque, n.d.).
I was first introduced to New Mexico in 2001. Up to that time, my professional career had been rewarding. It encompassed a wide continuum of jobs mostly in the realm of education. But, the tragedy of September 11, 2001, forced me to rethink my calling. I placed my life’s work on hold and joined AmeriCorps. While in AmeriCorps—the Domestic Peace Corps—I served as a volunteer in New Mexico. While living and working there, I traveled rather extensively and learned as much as I could about that entrancing southwestern state and its inhabitants.
I was an AmeriCorps volunteer participating in an arts education project in Las Cruces, New Mexico. The project used the performing, literary, and visual arts to improve the quality of education in failing schools near Mexico. This not-for-profit endeavor incorporated safe after school programs, interdisciplinary arts education programs, and community projects. I helped teams of visual and performing artists coach teachers about integrating the arts into their core curriculums.
Then, in 2004, I was hired as the chief licensed administrator for a new charter school in Las Cruces. My responsibilities included developing and implementing: policies, regulations, procedures, and curriculums. I made sure all enrolled students received instruction that exceeded the state standards. I also managed course development, program evaluations, extracurricular activities, personnel issues, finances, facilities, scheduling, and discipline procedures. Moreover, I coordinated school assessments, delivered staff development workshops, and wrote grants. In my spare time, I produced and participated in informational television programs about the school.
Later, from 2005 to 2007, I lived and worked on the Navajo Reservation near Crownpoint, New Mexico. There, I was employed by the U.S. Department of the Interior to serve as a turnaround specialist, educational consultant, headmaster, and executive director. I oversaw all educational aspects of a grant school. The school was located on the Eastern Navajo Agency.
The Navajo’s tasked me with establishing an education system built on the Navajo language and culture. To accomplish my task, I quickly learned how to interpret and implement federal, state, local, and tribal laws. In addition, I was required to lobby for the Navajo Nation at state and national meetings. Conjointly, I spoke on behalf of the Navajo Tribe at Tribal Budget Advisory Committee meetings in Washington, DC.
Following that job, I worked as a turnaround administrator for a small school district located between Albuquerque and Las Cruces, New Mexico. From 2007 to 2010, I lived and worked in the small resort town of Truth or Consequences. In that place, I functioned as part of an administrative team to improve the local schools’ education programs. Besides that, I acted as a district hearing officer and served on a New Mexico gang task force that trained in Roswell, New Mexico.
Roswell was famous for an alleged UFO incident. The event took place in that southwestern city during 1947. Explanations of what took place back then were based on official and unofficial communications.
On or about July 8, 1947 a press release was issued stating personnel from Roswell Army Air Field (RAAF) had retrieved the remnants of a crashed flying disk (Mutual UFO Network [MUFON], n.d.-b). Although, nobody actually saw the disk in the air, the press release conveyed that a flying disk had crashed on a ranch near Roswell, New Mexico (Rudiak, 2001a). Allegedly, the flying disk was damaged during a powerful storm. As might have been predicted, a military whitewash followed (Olmsted, 2009).
The crash debris was salvaged from the ranch and flown to General Roger Ramey in Fort Worth, Texas for inspection. After the remains were examined, General Ramey stated that RAAF personnel had actually retrieved a wrecked weather balloon. A press conference was ultimately held so the debris could be displayed and then photographed by the media. For all intents and purposes, the wreckage appeared to have been bits and pieces of a weather balloon (MUFON, n.d.-b).
In due course, the incident faded from public attention. Then, in 1978, a ufologist and nuclear physicist, Stanton T. Friedman, interviewed Major Jesse Marcel who was involved with the original 1947 debris retrieval. Marcel expressed his belief that the military had covered up salvaging an alien spacecraft. Marcel’s story quickly spread through UFO circles. It was featured in UFO documentaries and publications. In 1980, the National Enquirer ran an interview with Marcel that brought national and worldwide attention to the Roswell incident.
As a result, UFO proponents pushed that an alien craft was found, its occupants captured, and the military covered it up. Conspiracy theories clearly fomented the original event. The Roswell incident grew into a popular UFO mystery.
In 1995, the General Accounting Office released the results of a report that concluded the debris retrieved from a Roswell ranch in 1947 was from Project Mogul (MUFON, n.d.-b). Project Mogul was a US Military Air Force surveillance balloon experiment classified TOP SECRET in 1946. Mogul employed experimental high-altitude surveillance balloons. Apparently, when a Mogul balloon smashed into the sands of a New Mexican ranch, the military decided to hide Project Mogul’s real identity. Unlike a typical weather balloon, Project Mogul’s gear was enormous and contained unusual types of materials. According to research conducted by the New York Times, Project Mogul employed big balloons, reflectors, lightweight sticks, and sharp pieces of metal foil (Broad, 1994). Today, Roswell continues to be the most publicized of all alleged UFO incidents (MUFON, n.d.-b). Since the late 1970s, the Roswell occurrence has also been the subject of much controversy.
After an initial review of the existing literature, I predicted that an experimental prototype of a US government passive communications satellite—not a Project Mogul balloon or weather balloon—crashed on a ranch near Roswell, New Mexico in 1947. Two years prior to that crash, the concept of a passive communications satellite system was proposed by science fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke. Moreover, one year before the Roswell crash, a study about satellites found that launching an orbiting probe of sorts would have a vivid effect on world opinion. Furthermore, a satellite is a great communications relay.
Eyewitnesses maintained that some fragments retrieved near Roswell, New Mexico in 1947 had an aluminum-like dull finish on one side, but appeared shiny on the other. The stuff was thin, lightweight, and would flex—not dent—when struck. The peculiar metal seemed to be cut and perforation proof. Most pieces were jagged and seemed as if they had been exploded. Although the shards had burn marks on them, they were not scratched. These metallic bits could be folded, but they would quickly go back to their original shapes (Rudiak, 2001b). The debris was scientifically analyzed, but none of it was determined extraterrestrial in origin (Korff, 1997).
The state of New Mexico played a significant part in developing the US government’s early space program. For instance, New Mexico is home to the White Sands Missile Range that established its headquarters near Las Cruces. Also, the Trinity Site in Alamogordo is the location of the world’s first atomic bomb that was detonated in 1945. Moreover, New Mexico houses an Air and Space Park. On display in this park is a spacecraft that is 86 feet tall—allegedly the largest rocket ever launched from New Mexico. The park also features an outdoor track once used to test the human body’s tolerances. For more than eighty years, New Mexico has been on the cutting edge regarding new developments in aerospace and rocketry. Much of the early work that paved the way for the US government to become a world leader in space happened in the state of New Mexico (The New Mexico Museum of Space History, n.d.).
The Roswell crash was perhaps the greatest of all US government cover-ups. The story of the US government’s Project Mogul can be pieced together from US Air Force reports and other documents. The Mogul spying system was the brainchild of Dr. Maurice Ewing. Early in his career, Dr. Ewing worked at conducting naval research on the transmission of sound.
Mogul balloon test flights were launched from Alamogordo, New Mexico—a short distance from Roswell. The United States Armed Forces maintained that the debris from the 1947 Roswell crash was the remnants of an experimental high-altitude surveillance balloon belonging to Project Mogul. Back then, the US government was required to protect TOP SECRET information (Broad, 1994).
In 1944, Dr. Maurice Ewing theorized that the Earth’s atmosphere might contain a sound channel. Hence, he proposed a surveillance system to the US Air Force that could monitor distant nuclear blasts. In 1946, Project Mogul was given TOP SECRET classification. The project’s primary purpose was the long distance detection of sound waves generated by atomic bomb tests.
Project Mogul essentially involved flying microphones on high-altitude balloons. The Mogul venture was carried out from 1947 until early 1949. The project’s mission was moderately successful, but it was very expensive. It was superseded by a network of seismic detectors and air sampling devices for fallout, which were cheaper, more reliable, and easier to deploy and operate. The early Mogul balloons consisted of large clusters of rubber meteorological balloons; however, these were quickly replaced by enormous balloons made of polyethylene plastic. The replacement balloons were more durable, leaked less helium, and were better at holding a constant altitude than the early rubber balloons (“Project Mogul,” n.d.).
Since Mogul’s, goal was to search the atmosphere for reverberations from nuclear tests, the project sought out prominent scientists and academic institutions to develop all kinds of balloons and detecting equipment. Dr. Ewing and Columbia University were involved in developing sensors. A prominent meteorologist at New York University, Dr. Athelstan F. Spilhaus, was hired to develop high altitude balloons that would stay at a constant height.
At first, the Air Force’s balloon-related experiments used neoprene meteorological balloons. Later, the use of polyethylene balloons was pioneered. Project Mogul used polyethylene balloons manufactured in New York and in Minneapolis. Many test flights of balloons were launched from Alamogordo, New Mexico.
Allegedly, the 1947 Roswell crash debris no longer exists. Thus, it cannot be proven that the debris recovered from the Roswell ranch was related to Project Mogul. Photographs taken in 1947 and published seem to show damaged fragments of collapsed balloons and radar reflectors. Supposedly, the Air Force’s Roswell-related reports excluded all evidence that conflicted with its Project Mogul conclusion. Those reports ignored statements from witnesses who described unusually strong, light weight, material that looked like a kind of metal foil (Broad, 1994).
In 1942, George O. Smith proposed the concept of Earth-Venus relay communications satellites (Whalen, n.d.). A passive communications satellite system was detailed by science fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke in 1945. Passive communications satellites were intended to be inflatable spheres with a thin metal-coated plastic skin.
Project Echo eventually became the USA’s first official passive communications satellite experiment. Each Echo spacecraft was a metalized balloon satellite functioning as a passive reflector for microwave signals. Communication signals were bounced off them from one point on Earth to another. In addition, NASA’s new inflatable satellite program could gather information about the upper atmosphere and radiation. Moreover, these dirigible-like experiments could collect valuable information about the military buildup on Earth (Hansen, 1995).
From 1959 to 1964, three refined Project Echo passive communications satellites were launched. Regrettably, the initial test of a full-sized sphere ended abruptly with the sphere exploding as it inflated (“Project Echo,” n.d.). The 1959 test of an Echo 1 Passive Communications Satellite ended abruptly when the inflating sphere exploded—ripping the satelloon to shreds. Thousands of fragments of aluminum-covered balloon floated back to Earth. The shards reflected the light of the setting sun and created a sensation of flashing lights. However, in 1961, NASA’s Echo IA satellite was successfully sent into orbit around the Earth. During 1964, NASA was able to send Echo II, a rigidized balloon passive communications satellite experiment, into orbit (Hansen, 1995).
Initially, each Echo spacecraft was designed to be a 30.5 meter diameter balloon made of 0.0127 millimeter thick Mylar polyester film. A set of beacon transmitters would be carried for telemetry. The transmitters were powered by nickel-cadmium batteries that were charged by solar cells mounted on the balloon. Eventually, a 41.1 meter diameter Mylar balloon was used with an improved inflation system to increase the balloon’s smoothness and sphericity.
Instrumentation was added which included temperature sensors to monitor the balloon’s skin temperature and pressure sensors to monitor the balloon’s internal pressure. A beacon system, consisting of two transmitter assemblies, provided tracking and telemetry signals. The beacon system used solar cell panels for power (Jet Propulsion Laboratory National Aeronautics Space Administration, n.d.).
During the 1930’s and 1940s, Roswell was the home of Dr. Robert Goddard. On a ranch near Roswell, New Mexico, Dr. Goddard and his team established a rocket research site and conducted rocket experiments (The New Mexico Museum of Space History, n.d.). For the most part, Dr. Robert Goddard’s rocket work predated the technology used for the German V-2 missiles.
John Whinﬁeld and James Dickson developed and patented polyethylene terephthalate (PET) in 1941 (Johnson, 2017). In 1946, a panel was convened to study experiments in progress that had the potential of sooner or later being launched by V-2 rockets. Also in 1946, an independent study of Earth satellites by Project RAND observed that a satellite launch would have a dramatic effect on world opinion. The study also found satellites might have a promising future if used as communications relays (Whalen, n.d.).
The research and development cycle for the passive communications satellite project encompassed untried experiments in at least four major areas: 1. The use of polyethylene balloons that stay at a constant height area—polyethylene lessens the up-at-day, down-at-night cycle for high altitude balloons (Broad, 1994). 2. The satelloon or metalized balloon development area—including tensile stress testing. 3. The rocket development area—involving the process of injecting satelloons into orbit around the Earth. 4. The inflation area—flawlessly inflating the folded satelloons that are jettisoned from their small payload canisters (NASA, 2011).
The Echo Passive Communications Satellite Project had a relatively long research and development cycle. Essentially, the project’s complete cycle—from inception to first successful launch—lasted from 1945 to 1961. It was approximately sixteen (16) years from the onset of the Passive Communications Satellite Project’s design, development, and test period to its decline and take over by the Echo II Project and other satellite programs.
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Author: Frank Warren