5 Facts About the Roswell Incident and Area 51

On this day in 1997, U.S. Air Force officials release a 231-page report dismissing long-standing claims of an alien spacecraft crash in Roswell, New Mexico, almost exactly 50 years earlier. The truth is out there, and perhaps these five fascinating facts will help you decide where you stand...

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There Actually Was a Big Government Cover-up. # The Roswell Daily Record from July 8, 1947. Image source: WikiCommons You read that right—in the Air Force's first report on the Roswell incident, officials admitted that it was not a weather balloon that crashed on the night of July 8, 1947. Furthermore, the report acknowledged that the misidentification was not a mistake, but rather a real cover-up by the U.S. government. Now, before you get too excited, here's the catch: they weren't covering up the existence of aliens. They were covering up the crash landing of a Cold War-era satellite the Air Force intended to use to monitor Soviet bomb tests. 

There Were Several Accounts of a Strange Metal at the Scene. The thin, foil-like metal seen in photos of the alleged "weather balloon" doesn't look like much. But, accounts of the metal are pretty strange. One person claimed that despite its paper-like look and feel, the metal was completely impenetrable. It could not be bent or dented and seemed completely out of this world. Other accounts give an opposite (but equally interesting) take: the metal was completely malleable, but would reform into its original shape like a sponge within a few seconds.  

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It Wasn't Just the Aircraft That Crashed. This wasn't some remote-controlled drone from Mars. According to several eyewitness accounts, troops removed several bodies from the scene that were far from human. All accounts claimed to see the same short, 3-to-4-foot tall bodies carted away. Each had a large head, big eyes, and a single hole for a nose. The Air Force claimed that the "bodies" were, in fact, crash dummies used on the weather balloon. However, believers are quick to call the bluff on that excuse. After all, why did all the witnesses have the same exact description?  

Some Claim Area 51 is Famous for More Than Just Aliens. As if one conspiracy theory wasn't enough for this famed government test site, some believe that Area 51 was home to the staged lunar landing video, too. Though just 6 percent of Americans are still skeptical about the Apollo 11 mission, those who do are pretty vocal about it and have some interesting theories. The idea that Area 51 was involved actually isn't too far from the truth—the government used the site for testing several vehicles used by the astronauts.

The CIA Didn't Acknowledge Area 51 Even Existed Until 2013. # One of the countless warning signs surrounding the borders of Area 51. Image source: WikiCommons Thanks to the Freedom of Information Act, declassified documents detailing the U-2 spy plane program are the first official acknowledgment by the CIA of Area 51's existence. It was a long time coming, even if the evidence already made it clear: for years "camo dudes" (as they are colloquially known) man the borders of the Area 51 site and the numerous "Trespassing" warnings have been enough to give away that something was hiding in the desert.