Roswell Encyclopedia

Roswell Encyclopedia

by Kevin D. Randle

On July 6, 1947, rancher Mack Brazel walked into the sheriffs office in Rosewell, New Mexico, to report some strange debris in one of his fields.  The incident was the culmination of several reports of strange lights, sounds, and shapes in the sky; the beginning of a series of government statements, retractions, and denials; and the subject of a thousand


On July 6, 1947, rancher Mack Brazel walked into the sheriffs office in Rosewell, New Mexico, to report some strange debris in one of his fields.  The incident was the culmination of several reports of strange lights, sounds, and shapes in the sky; the beginning of a series of government statements, retractions, and denials; and the subject of a thousand conflicting stories.

What actually happened at Rosewell-and how the government reacted to the case-has been in dispute for more than half a century.  Now this unique reference guide, by one of the best known and respected Rosewell experts, presents a mountain of pertinent information in an easy-to-use A-to-Z format, including facts, theories, people, objects, observation, and events.  Exhaustive, up-to-date, and compelling, The Rosewll Encyclopedia will help you come to your conclusions about an incident that continues to mystify and fascinate believers and skeptics alike.

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HarperCollins Publishers
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Over the last decade there has been a great deal of information produced about the events outside of Roswell, New Mexico, during the summer of 1947. Some of it has been accurate, some of it has been inaccurate, some of it has been the invention of those seeking the spotlight or who desire to prove that what fell was something of an extraterrestrial nature, and some of it has been little more than wishful thinking. There have been writers who have believed that they had provided the evidence that what fell was alien, and there have been writers who believed they have provided evidence that what fell was terrestrial and mundane in nature. There has been a great deal of information discussed by both governmental sources and private citizens. There has been so much of it that only those who have spent a great deal of time and effort understand any of it. And so much of the data has been skewed that it is nearly impossible to wade through the mud and muck to come to any sort of intelligent conclusion about what really happened.

There is some agreement between the believers and the debunkers. Nearly everyone believes that Mack Brazel, a rancher living near Corona, drove into Roswell to report a field filled with metallic debris. Brazel, out on the range the day before, had found the debris. He told the sheriff, George Wilcox, about it and Wilcox, in turn, suggested that he inform the officers at Roswell Army Air Field (RAAF). Major Jesse Marcel Sr. took the phone call, arranged to meet with Brazel, and then followed him out to the ranch.

Marcel, the air intelligence officer, was accompanied by Captain Sheridan Cavitt, the chiefcounterintelligence officer at Roswell. Marcel later said that the field was filled with strange metallic material that wouldn't burn and wouldn't dent. He said that it covered an area about three-quarters of a mile by several hundred feet.

Cavitt at first denied that he had even been in Roswell, but later confirmed that he had gone out with Marcel. Cavitt said that he recognized the material as part of a balloon. He thought nothing about it at the time and certainly couldn't understand the interest it has generated in the last part of the twentieth century.

The U.S. Army did announce, on July 8, 1947, that they had "captured a flying saucer," but within hours had changed the story. According to Eighth Air Force headquarters in Fort Worth, Texas, the metallic debris was nothing stranger than parts of a radar reflector and a weather balloon, and that the officers in Roswell had overreacted to the stories of flying saucers that had been appearing in newspapers in the days preceding the discovery by Brazel.

The story stalled at that point. Reporters did not talk to any of the principals in the case. One reporter, J. Bond Johnson, took six pictures of the balloon and radar detector in the office of the commanding general of the Eighth Air Force. All the available evidence seemed to suggest that what Brazel had found and Marcel recovered was nothing more exciting than a balloon. It wasn't until Marcel was interviewed more than thirty-five years later that UFO researchers learned that what crashed was something other than a balloon.

The real question today is whether it is still possible to boil all that data down so that some sort of insight can be found hidden deep within it. If only basic information is provided, a "just the facts" type of presentation, might it be possible for those with a less than obsessive interest in the Roswell case to understand it without devoting a lifetime to the research?

That is the purpose here: Begin at a point that is beyond the basics and provide the latest, and the best, of the Roswell information. Look at it from the point of view of the best information available, whether pro or con. Attempt to give that information without a "spin" put on it. Ask the right questions so that the case can be understood by those who have not devoted months, or years, to its study.

Yes, I realize my own personal bias is going to show through, but only when my intelligence is insulted by those arguing a point of view. When evidence is presented that is obviously skewed, I can't help but comment on it. When Captain (later Lieutenant Colonel) Sheridan Cavitt, who traveled to the Brazel debris field with Major (later Lieutenant Colonel in the Reserve) Jesse Marcel Sr. tells the official Air Force investigator, Colonel Richard Weaver, that he didn't pass any guards or roadblocks and that he wasn't sworn to secrecy, it becomes necessary to point out that Cavitt's memories of the event don't agree with those of his fellow soldiers. His statements are without corroboration, and there are several others who tell a different tale about roadblocks and secrecy and who do corroborate one another.

For example, Lewis Rickett, Cavitt's second in command, who said that he accompanied Cavitt out to the impact site on one of the trips, talked, on audiotape, of going through MP roadblocks. Jud Roberts, one of the owners of Roswell's radio station (KGFL), said that he remembered military cars on the roads leading to the crash site with MPs standing nearby to stop and control traffic. And Roswell Air Field Provost Marshal Edwin Easley said that he was, in fact, sworn to secrecy concerning these specific events. In this situation, who should be believed? The one man who originally said that he wasn't even in Roswell at the time of the events, only to admit later that he was, or those who haven't been caught in that sort of misrepresentation?

It is also difficult to read the first Air Force Final Report on Roswell, written in 1994, in which Colonel Weaver wrote that the Air Force had made a good-faith effort to learn what they could about the case, knowing that this isn't true. No, that is not a matter of opinion, but a matter of provable fact. In the text of the report, Weaver and his co-author James McAndrew quote from an affidavit written by Sallye Tadolini. They quote from the first paragraph, in which it sounds as if the strange metallic debris she handled is explainable as the remnants of a Project Mogul balloon array, the Air Force's proposed answer. They do not quote from the second paragraph in which it is obvious that the debris is not something that came from Mogul. It is clear from her description that the debris, whatever it was, was highly unusual. The debris, according to her affidavit, unfolds itself without a sign of a wrinkle or a crease...

Meet the Author

Kevin D. Randle, Captain, U.S.A.F.R., is the author of Project Moondust, Conspiracy of Silence, and A History of UFO Crashes, and the co-author of UFO Crash at Roswell and The Truth About the UFO Crash at Roswell. A Captain in the United States Air Force Reserve, he is considered the foremost expert on the Roswell incident, and is well known as a serious researcher of extraterrestrial phenomena. Captain Randle makes his home in lowa.

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