'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 announcement 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 New York Times story seems to be largely based on AP dispatches. Even though this was one of the main stories on the Times front page, the reporter did not objectively report the story, but instead used a derisive tone throughout.
A common newspaper statement assigning blame for the Roswell press release to Roswell PIO Walter Haut. However, UP called it Roswell commanding officer Col. Blanchard's press release. The misspelling of Haut's name is typical of AP stories.
Again, the wording here is that found on AP dispatches.
An example of the reporter's gratuitous ridicule.
** The very important statement of Ramey changing the story within an hour of the press release. Compare to San Francisco Examiner story of Ramey describing a weather balloon and radar target within about an hour of the press release. While the AP, Times and Washington Post have Ramey giving this generic description, the Examiner, UP, and INS have Ramey explicitly describing a weather balloon/radar target from the very beginning.. Vandenberg left his office less than 50 minutes after the press release, or "within an hour." After calls to Ramey from te press office, the story began to change.
Again, this is typical of how AP reported the story. But other wire services and newspapers have Ramey explicitly identifying the debris long before Newton enters the picture. Ramey said he would bring in a weather officer only to confirm identification.
The Circleville radar target crash garnered a lot of publicity a few days before and is suspected of being the inspiration for the military intelligence debunking campaign using the radar targets to explain the saucer reports. Roswell was just the start.
Again, this is typical press debunkery of the saucer phenomenon that appears at the end of Roswell stories in many newspapers, listing a bunch of "silly season" items.
Buried very deep in the story are these items that the "saucers" were being reported in other countries as well.
Why is the very busy Admiral Blandy talking to reporters in New York about the "flying saucers" instead of some lower level flunky? A major authority figure like Blandy may have been part of the Army/Navy debunking campaign to "stop the rumors" about the saucers, as reported by the UP. Blandy, however, is fairly restrained in his remarks, expressing skepticism but not ridiculing the phenomenon. Blandy's remarks appeared in many newspapers.