This week NASA announced that its analysis of rock dust suggests there could have been life on Mars. We're talking microbes. They can't come right out and spill the beans about alien life because there's that incident in Roswell, New Mexico, back in 1947 that's had the federal government tongue-tied ever since.
Two months ago I went to Roswell. The place means one thing to me -- UFO cover-up. Start with a debris field on a New Mexico ranch, add another location with part of a craft and dead aliens, toss in the U.S. military in a nuclear arms race with Russia immediately after WW II, and generals see a technology that renders our complete arsenal obsolete. The Pentagon starts defecating bricks to the cadence of "this can't be happening!" Suddenly, it isn't happening, not officially. That's the Roswell Incident in a nutshell.
I left Austin, Texas, on a sunny and cold morning, stopped for breakfast at the German Bakery in Fredericksburg, then drove all day to Roswell, crossing the railroad tracks into town as night fell. The funeral home on South Main looked like it had been there since the aliens were hauled into town. The International UFO Museum a few blocks farther on was hard to miss. A crashed flying saucer was embedded in its southeast corner. Somebody here wanted to believe.
Next morning, I ducked around the embedded UFO and entered the museum under a theater marquis proclaiming "UFO Museum." After watching the first 10 minutes of the movie Roswell, I moved on to read newspaper reports from 1947 and affidavits from the 1990s of people who, nearing life's end, wanted to tell what they witnessed years ago but were then too afraid to say.
The newspapers reported how troops from Roswell Army Air Field secured a debris field on a remote ranch northwest of Roswell and collected all the foreign material. At a second location they recovered an intact portion of a craft, along with three or four bodies, and hauled everything back to base. Col. William Blanchard, base commander, told his public information officer to notify the press they'd recovered a crashed "flying disc" and were sending it to higher headquarters. They loaded it all onto a military aircraft and flew it to Ft. Worth, Texas.
When General Ramey of Ft. Worth got involved, the "flying disc" morphed into a "weather balloon." End of story. It was simply a mylar balloon for carrying instruments to detect Soviet A-bomb tests. Col. Blanchard and his men just goofed in claiming they recovered something as otherworldly as a "flying disc."
The odd thing about all this, other than the flying saucer and dead aliens, was Col. Blanchard. We're not talking about a Kentucky colonel whose expertise tended toward fried chicken. Col. Blanchard commanded a bomb group, the 509th, the only atomic bomb group in the U.S.
Recovery of a flying saucer wasn't an everyday announcement in 1947. Who would run way out on that limb to seize a "Doh!" moment? I looked up Col. Blanchard on my iPad.
He arranged and supervised the atomic bomb mission on Hiroshima and was the backup pilot for that bomb drop. In 1946, he commanded the bomb group involved in the Bikini atoll atomic bomb tests. Afterwards, he went to Roswell to command and train the 509th atomic bomb group.
Then came that flying disc snafu. But Col. Blanchard's career didn't crash and burn. He trained the crews of USAF's first intercontinental atomic bomb group. Eventually he rose in rank to become Vice Chief of Staff of the Air Force as a four-star general. I want to believe Col. Blanchard knew better than to publicly tell General Ramey where he could put his "weather balloon" story.
I spent most of my time with the newspaper reports and photos. There was some UFO artwork but my kids would not have found it text worthy. There was a diorama like ones in the Smithsonian showing daily life of tribal people, only this one has a flying saucer and life size aliens standing on desert terrain looking around with expressions of consternation and where-the-hell-are-we? An exhibit booth with a glass window had a life size alien on a gurney like it was wheeled out of the Alien Autopsy video for viewing and a possible ID. If the blob, Mr. Spock or the green, female exotic dancer from the pilot episode of Star Trek were there, I missed them.
In the gift shop I picked up a t-shirt and some postcards and stepped out onto Main Street. It felt like I'd walked onto a movie set from the past. We are the new Amish and don't even know it. The America before me reflected little if nothing of the quantum leaps in science and technology our government and defense contractors must have developed from studying crashed UFOs. We have fossil fuel, earth-bound technology and get around by shifting gears when we should be shifting dimensions. At Area 51, they probably are.
I felt like I was living on the poor side of the tracks in a parallel universe where we enjoy yesteryear's technology today. With our hybrid cars, flatscreen TVs, smartphones and GPS devices, we think we've hit the jackpot of hi-tech. If ET's great-grandmother found our stuff under her Christmas tree, she'd throw it in her dumpster, stamping her feet all the way there and back.
People in the UFO community say UFO/ET disclosure is right around the corner. From Roswell, I figured that corner must be on Mars.
I was ready for Mr. Scott to beam me up and spill the beans on alien life but it just wasn't happening. Is Martian rock dust the best NASA can do? No photos of ET retirement communities on the Red Planet? No rest areas on the Moon?