'Disk' Near Bomb Test Site Is
Just a Weather Balloon
Warrant Officer Solves a Puzzle That Baffled His
Superiors -- 'Flying Saucer' Tales Pour in From Around the World
By MURRAY SCHUMACH
Celestial crockery had the Army up in the air for several hours yesterday before an Army officer explained what a colleague thought was a "flying disc" was nothing more then a battered Army weather balloon.
This denouement closed the New Mexico chapter in the "flying saucer" saga that already had contributions from forty-three other states in the Union, as well as from Australia, England, South Africa, Mexico and Canada.
However, none of the previous or subsequent reports of strange heavenly bodies created as much confusion as the startling announce-
ment from an Army lieutenant that "a flying disc" had been found on a ranch near Roswell N.M., near the scene of atomic bomb tests. The officer, Lt. Warren Haught [sic], public information officer of the Roswell Army Air Field, made no bones about the discovery in his detailed report as carried by The Associated Press.
"The many rumors regarding the flying discs became a reality," his statement began. He told which Intelligence Office of what Bomb Group of The Eighth Air Force had passed "the flying discs" along "to higher headquarters."
Then phones began to buzz between Washington and New Mexico and the "disk" was well on the way to showing how the circle could be squared. One by one, as the rank of the investigating officers rose, the circle lost arcs and developed sides until it was roughly octagonal.
Within an hour after Lieutenant Haught had given new impetus to the "flying saucer" derby, his boss, Brig. Gen. Roger Ramey, had a somewhat different version of the "flying disk."
He said that while it was true that it had been found on a ranch, no one had seen it in the air; it was "of flimsy construction," apparently made "of some sort of tin foil." Subsequently it was reported being flown to a research laboratory at Wright Field, Ohio.
In Washington, Lt. Gen. Hoyt Vandenberg, Deputy Chief of the Army Air Forces, hurried to his headquarters' press section. Atomic experts in the capital were certain that whatever had been found wasn't any of their doing, but no one seemed to know just how to dispose of the object.
Finally a lowly warrant officer, Irving Newton, a forecaster at the Fort Worth, Tex. weather station solved the mystery. He said it was just a part of a weather balloon, such as is used by eighty weather stations in the country to determine velocity and directions of the winds at high altitudes.
Several hours before the New Mexico mystery had been solved, a Canadian meteorologist had suggested the same answer in connections with rumors of "flying saucers" in Circleville, Ohio. This was soon after a couple in the Ohio town jubilantly proclaimed their "capture" of a mysterious disc.
However, the midwest was spurred in its hunt by offers of $3,000 rewards for "proof" that America was not succumbing to an epidemic of hallucinations. One of the first to put in a claim for the prize was an Iowa salesman, who produced a steel disk, nearly seven inches in diameter. He said he found it in his yard in the morning after hearing it "crash through the trees." According to The United Press, reporters thought the disk was playing truant from an ash tray.
Then there was the Nebraska farmer who added a bucolic touch to the story. He said the heavenly bodies were "flaming straw hats" that careened through the night sometimes pausing for a rest.
Michigan's contributor for the day was toolmaker from Pontiac. According to The United Press, he turned over to newspapers a picture showing two circular objects against a black background. Examination showed holes in the disks.
Also in the act was Wisconsin, where it was reported that on Monday 250 pilots of the of that state's Civil Air Patrol would take off in search of "flying saucers."
Proof that "flying saucers" were not indigenous to the United States and Canada began coming in late in the afternoon. Two residents of Johannesburg, South Africa, said, according to Reuters, that they not only saw the objects, but that these "traveled at tremendous speeds in V-formation and disappeared in a cloud of smoke."
In England, a clergyman's wife, who said she had kept her discovery secret for fear of derision, finally came forth yesterday with a story about seeing "a dark ring with clear cut edges" that sped across the sky on Monday.
The Australian variations of "the flying saucer," though reported by six persons in Sidney, were quite ordinary. Observers said they were a bit brighter then the moon, seemed to prefer an altitude of about 10,000 feet and moved along rather briskly.
It may have been the weather, but the only allusion to "flying saucers" in New York City were a few skeptical remarks by Admiral William H. P. Blandy, commander in chief of the Atlantic Fleet. Said the Admiral, in response to questions:
"I remain to be convinced there is any such thing. I am convinced that there is nothing the Army and Navy is concerned with. I am curious, like everybody else, to see what's behind it."
The Times story is apparently based largely on AP stories. Roswell PIO Walter Haut (notice unique AP misspelling of name) is blamed for the press release. In contrast, the UP said it was Roswell commanding officer Col. Blanchard's press release.
Gratuitous ridicule. Many big papers wrote their own stories in which the reporters were far from objective.
** Ramey begins to change the story "within an hour." See also San Francisco Examiner story of Ramey describing a weather balloon and radar target within about an hour. The Chicago Tribune also stated Ramey was suggesting a weather balloon an hour later.
Ramey's reported telephone comments to the AAF press room at the Pentagon. The S.F. Examiner, UP, and INS all reported Ramey being more explicit about it being a weather balloon/radar target.
Vandenberg left his office about 50 minutes after the AP first reported the press release. They called Ramey ("within an hour") and that's when the story began to change.
The AP never figured out that Ramey was already calling it a weather balloon well before Newton entered the picture. Notice Newton's widely quoted comment about how the balloon could have come from any of 80 different weather stations.
The usual "silly season" debunking items at the end of the Roswell story.
The international scope of the phenomenon is finally mentioned well down in the story.
Details on Admiral Blandy's skeptical comments. Blandy was in New York. Why is the very busy Blandy talking to reporters about the saucers instead of some lower-level flunky? Three months later Blandy wrote Roswell intelligence chief Major Marcel a commendation for his intelligence work on Operation Crossroads, the Pacific A-bomb tests in 1946 that Blandy headed up.