Army Seizes a Grounded 'Disk,'
Finds It Is a Weather Balloon
Wreckage Found in New Mexico Desert Flown to Fort Worth and Identified After 7-1/2 Hours;
'Disks' Reported in England, Australia
By Fitzhugh Turner
Army Air Forces intelligence officers seized a battered heap of foil-covered wreckage in the desert near Roswell, N. M., yesterday, and for seven and a half hours the Army thought it might have discovered a genuine flying disk.
Report of the discovery went out to the nation by radio, and during the afternoon Roswell became a major news capital. Finally, at Fort Worth, Tex., where the Army had flown the object, an expert looked at it and identified it as a weather balloon.
Army intelligence, which had imposed strict secrecy, relaxed after the identification and removed all security regulations. For a time, while the device was being rounded up in the desert and flown 400 miles to Fort Worth, nobody would say anything about it except that it had been found.
Elsewhere, during the day, while the Army's report was developing and collapsing, people still were seeing the mysterious flying disks in the heavens. In numbers, their reports took a sharp drop for the first time in two weeks. But in area they spread.
The Associated Press, which has been tabulating the locations at which witnesses were reported to have seen the disks, said last night that forty-three states had been heard from, as well as the District of Columbia and Canada. And yesterday, for the first time, Great Britain and Australia were added.
The flurry of excitement created by the A.A.F. began at
1 p.m. when Colonel William H. Blanchard, commanding officer of the Roswell Army Air Base, reported a "flying disk" had been found and forwarded to "higher headquarters." He would add no details.
Investigating reporters, however, found that W. W. Brizell [sic], who lives on the Foster ranch at Corona, seventy-five miles northwest of Roswell, had come upon the object three weeks ago. He had no telephone, and waited until [the] day before yesterday to notify Sheriff George Wilcox.
The Sheriff reported to the air base, and disk-conscious intelligence officers visited the ranch yesterday morning, picked up the object and put it in a plane for 8th Air Force headquarters at Fort Worth.
For a couple of hours the metal, foil and fabric of the device lay on the floor of the office of the 8th Air Force's commanding officer, Brigadier General Roger M. Ramey.
General Ramey, an early doubter, thought it was a weather instrument of some kind, but was not sure. Finally Warrant Officer Irving Newton, a forecaser, identified it as a balloon used to determine the direction and velocity of winds at high altitudes.
Where it had come from in reaching the New Mexico desert the warrant officer could not say. Some eighty weather stations in the country use such balloons, and he believe this one could have come from any of them.
In its collapsed state the device looked like a rubber balloon to which had been attached a box kite, covered with foil. Originally, Mr. Newton said, it had been a device called a Rawin target, used to determine the direction and velocity of winds at high altitudes. A new one, rigged up, looks like a silvery six-pointed star and rises vertically. It does not skim like a flying disk. Weather observers follow its course by radar and chart the winds accordingly.
Although it created the greatest stir, the Army's disk was not the only one found yesterday. Lloyd Bennett, a tobacco dealer, said a six-inch flat piece of metal swished through the trees during the night and landed on his lawn at Oelwein, Iowa. Police said it appeared to be the bottom tray of a smoking stand. At Victoria B. C., Arthur Morfett, price board investigator, said he was walking on a main street when "a flying saucer" landed behind him. It resembled a can of vegetables with the to cut off, he said.
Reports of the mere seeing of flying disks drew less attention. Mrs. E. R. Myers, of Windsor, Ont., saw two of them, but she said they were not disks, being more like oblong clouds with fins and red spots.
Explanations still are coming in. The Rev. W. G. Colgrove, University of Ontario astronomer, said the flying disks might be nothing more than wind-borne see cases of the yellow goatsbeard, a weed something like dandelion. He said thousands of yellow goatbeards are in seed, and their one-inch white parachutes might resemble a disk at a little altitude.
Another explanation reached the White House. A Los Angeles juggler, who said he did not want his name disclosed, wrote President Truman the disks really were saucers he used in his act "and they got out of hand."
The Herald-Tribune story is a mix of various sources, mostly UP-based at the beginning, then switching to mostly AP-reporting, with some unique statements of unknown origin along the way.
** The 7-1/2 hours reported from the beginning to end of the story is absolutely unique to any newspaper. Everybody else reported it as 3 hours. Was the reporter's math bad or was the story out earlier than thought? Roswell newsman Frank Joyce claims the military tried to kill the original newswire stories and the teletypes actually went dead for a while.
The fact that the story was extensively covered on the radio is also not mentioned in most stories. Unfortunately, the radio coverage is mostly lost.
Army intelligence is reported as initially imposing "strict secrecy." Other papers, such as the Washington Post, claimed it was Pentagon public relations officers, which doesn't make a lot of sense.
An Associated Press element.
** The "1 p.m." reported time when the story broke is also completely unique. If this was Eastern time, then the reporter is claiming the story first broke 3-1/2 hours earlier than reported by everybody else. After this, the statements seem to be based on UP stories. Blanchard is assigned responsibility for the original press release.
Brazel's name is misspelled in the usual UP way. The Foster ranch, however, is correctly spelled, instead of UP calling it the "Poster" ranch as they had earlier.
This is an early UP quote from Wilcox which has Brazel reporting his find on July 6 instead of July 7, as reported by the AP.
Again, this would have Brazel first arriving July 6, otherwise the intelligence officers couldn't be there the morning of July 7.
Not likely. Ramey was describing the debris to reporters and the Pentagon before it ever arrived. Mentioning "fabric" is another unique item.
Depending on the source, Ramey was reported as giving simple descriptions to explicitly calling the debris a weather balloon and radar target before weather officer Newton was called in.
At this point, the story switches to primarily AP-based stories about what Newton said in Gen. Ramey's office after he arrived.
The story ends with the usual mostly unbelievable saucer stories and some debunking statements or "explanations. These seem to be included primarily to ridicule the whole thing.