One of the most well-known urban legends of the 20th century? The widely reported UFO incident at Roswell, New Mexico. What started as the reported crash-landing of an unidentified object eventually led to an alleged cover-up and the birth of a supernatural story that’s been accounted many different ways and reinvented a small southwestern town into an enclave for alien enthusiasts. In the four-part series Expedition Unknown: Hunt for Extraterrestrials, Josh Gates investigates the mysterious event in New Mexico and even goes behind the scenes at the hangar where the wreckage is reported to have been briefly stored. While there is still so much that is unknown about the incident, here are six (mostly) irrefutable things to know about what happened in Roswell 70 years ago.
It Started with a Flying Object
In the summer of 1947, a flying object crashed near Roswell. Some observers reported seeing what appeared to be a flying disc, but the U.S. military released a statement to the press assuring the public that it was a weather balloon that crashed to Earth in early July. But William Brazel, a supervisor on the grounds where an object crashed outside of Roswell, said he gathered up the debris from the crash, which had crashed in June, not early July as the press statement had said.
There IS Evidence of Some Kind of Wreckage
The wreckage that Brazel the supervisor collected was about 5 pounds total, and included rubber; sticks; tough, glossy paper with a few letters printed on it; lightweight metals; fiber-optic cables; and tape. In 1947, many of these materials didn’t look like anything anyone had ever seen before. When Brazel called the town sheriff, Air Force personnel arrived to gather the materials. Some people in the area believed that the wreckage was from an alien spacecraft and that alien bodies were removed from the site to be studied, either at Area 51 in Nevada or in Roswell. After the military press release claimed the object as a rogue weather balloon, the story didn’t surface in national media again until a few decades later.