For much of the country, July 4 is an excuse for a big celebration. For me, it’s the signal of the annual run-up to what has to be the country’s biggest, longest-running hoax. I’m referring to the alleged crash-landing in 1947 of an alien spacecraft somewhere in southern New Mexico. It took decades before it was dubbed the Roswell Incident, and even longer before it was claimed that tiny alien bodies–their color changing in different accounts–was found among the UFO wreckage.
But never mind. “The crash conspiracy continues,” asserted an article yesterday in the Huffington Post recounting parts of the story. Even Google got into the act, with a one-day doodle–its banner on the home page–contained an interactive alien that the visitor (to Google, that is) can direct.
In 1996, long before becoming New To Seattle, I wrote a long article for New Mexico’s largest alternative newspaper thoroughly debunking the notion that there was anything extraterrestrial to the event and suggesting more earthly motivations along the lines of big green dollars from those little green men. I detailed how the crash site kept moving around and how some Roswell Incident researchers or witnesses were caught lying about credentials, falsifying documents or brandishing documents with bogus notarizations.
As it turns out, the Seattle area had the same kind of incident in the summer of 1947. By same, I mean “demonstrably bogus.”
But first, Roswell. You might think there would be only one identified location for such a well-documented episode. But, boy, would you be wrong. When I wrote my story, there were six, spread over an amazing 200 miles–the distances from Seattle to Eugene, Ore. Seventeen years later, I wouldn’t change now a single word in my story, except maybe to expand the number of alleged crash sites identified by other “researchers.”
You can read the entire story and view the illuminating map by clicking here.
Five years after my 1996 article, Karl Pflock, a former deputy assistant secretary of defense, wrote a debunking book, ROSWELL: Inconvenient Facts and the Will to Believe. Among other things, Pflock documented that the strange hieroglyphic-like symbols along one edge of whatever fell to earth were not distinctive trappings of an alien culture as claimed by some but markings on industrial-strength adhesive tape made by the very terrestrial Merrick Manufacturing Co. of New York City. Click here to read my review of his book. The U.S. government has said that what fell to earth near Roswell was a top-secret balloon project to monitor Soviet Union nuclear testing.
Now, Seattle area. It also was quite a summer on the UFO front during 1947 in the skies over Washington State. Two weeks earlier, Kenneth Arnold of Boise, Idaho, said he saw nine objects flying “like a saucer would” on June 24 at 3 a.m. while piloting a private plane near Mount Rainier. He said they appeared to be metallic and traveled at a high rate of speed, dodging peaks before disappearing into Oregon after about two minutes. His account made world-wide headlines. Arnold was reporting what he perceived in good faith. The U.S. Air Force later concluded what Arnold saw–and he said he saw similar objects several times over the next several decades–was either a mirage or clusters of disc-shaped clouds that sometimes form around mountains.
On July 4, Frank Ryman, an off-duty Coast Guard P.R. man, took a picture of a small bright object in the sky near his home in the Lake City section of Seattle. The picture made the next day front page of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Ryman, too, was acting in good faith. Authorities later said it was a weather balloon.
In the wake of the Arnold news, two Tacoma men, Harold Dahl and Fred Crissman, claimed to have debris from what they said was the explosion a week earlier of one of six giant doughnut-shaped flying objects over Maury Island, in Puget Sound south of Seattle just east of Vashon Island. They offered fragments to a science fiction magazine publisher. They were acting in bad faith. According to various accounts, the pair later confessed it was all a hoax. The material had come from the beach. However, that hasn’t stopped the “Maury Island Mystery,” as it’s become known, from gaining traction on the Internet. This is due to the alleged appearance of a “Man in Black”-style government agent allegedly trying to hush up Dahl, the fatal crash of a plane carrying some of the fragments and Crissman’s later connection, however elusive, with the events surrounding the assassination of President Kennedy in 1963.
Now, I would be the last to say that alien UFOs are impossible around Planet Earth. After all, it’s a big universe. But there has to be solid proof. I guarantee you the Roswell Incident was created entirely by earthlings. The bona fides of the Maury Island Mystery doesn’t look any better. But hey, Independence Day is all about freedom, right?