Air Force / GAO

The Air Force, General Accounting Office, Mogul Balloons and Crash-Test Dummies

As evidence that the controversy surrounding the so-called Roswell Incident refuses to roll over and die, in the 1990s the Air Force published two investigative reports pertaining to the events of July 1947. The following is taken from the Air Force’s press release on the first report published in 1994 in response to an inquiry launched by the General Accounting Office — the investigative arm of Congress. The GAO’s inquiry came as a direct result of questions initiated by the late New Mexican Representative, Steven Schiff. According to the Air Force’s massive, near-1000 page report (The Roswell Report: Fact vs. Fiction in the New Mexico Desert, 1994) the debris found at Roswell was most likely from a Mogul balloon — a Top Secret Army-Air-Force device designed to assist the U.S. military in detecting evidence of nuclear tests by the Soviets. But what of the reports of alien bodies? In 1997, the Air Force expanded on this aspect of the Roswell affair in a document titled The Roswell Report: Case Closed:

This report discusses the results of this exhaustive research and identifies the likely sources of the claims of “alien bodies” at Roswell. Contrary to allegations, many of the accounts appear to be descriptions of unclassified and widely publicized Air Force scientific achievements. Other descriptions of “bodies” appear to be actual incidents in which Air Force members were killed or injured in the line of duty.

The conclusions are:

Air Force activities which occurred over a period of many years have been consolidated and are now represented to have occurred in two or three days in July 1947.”Aliens” observed in the New Mexico desert were actually anthropomorphic test dummies that were carried aloft by U.S. Air Force high altitude balloons for scientific research.

The “unusual” military activities in the New Mexico desert were high altitude research balloon launch and recovery operations. Reports of military units that always seemed to arrive shortly after the crash of a flying saucer to retrieve the saucer and “crew,” were actually accurate descriptions of Air Force personnel engaged in anthropomorphic dummy recovery operations.

Claims of “alien bodies” at the Roswell Army Air Field hospital were most likely a combination of two separate incidents:

  1. a 1956 KC-97 aircraft accident in which 11 Air Force members lost their lives; and,
  2. a 1959 manned balloon mishap in which two Air Force pilots were injured. This report is based on thoroughly documented research supported by official records, technical reports, film footage, photographs, and interviews with individuals who were involved in these events.

Despite the Air Force’s attempts to diffuse the controversy surrounding the Roswell events of 1947 and preempt the GAO’s findings, it is significant to note several key factors. First, Mogul balloons possessed no unusual characteristics such as those described by the witnesses to the event. Second, the crash-test dummy experiments that the Air Force asserts led to the legends of alien bodies being recovered were not initiated until the 1950s. Third, during the course of its investigation, the GAO learned that all of the administrative records of Roswell Army Air Field from March 1945 until December 1949 and all outgoing messages from the base from October 1946 to December 1949 had been inexplicably destroyed. The Roswell enigma continues — despite the best efforts of the Air Force to lay the matter to rest.