Thursday, June 23, 2005

Saucers and balloons - ne'er the twain shall meet?

Did 1940s-1960s Americans know the difference between an experimental balloon and a metallic saucer? Do we now?

Lonnie Zamora saw what he believed to be a solid, metallic "sliver-white" craft in Socorro. Many contemporary researchers surmise it may well have been a "silverized" mylar or polyethylene balloon. Likewise, the official story on Roswell declares that all the witnesses were similarly fooled. In fact, the government has declared as much on at least two occasions. The initial post-saucer "weather balloon" explanation, and the belated Mogul rawin reflector story. Nick Redfern's new book surmises that the real truth was in fact a combination...a very unusual balloon array carrying an equally unusual aircraft.

The point is that there are many folks who think Zamora and the Roswell witnesses could have been fooled into thinking that a solid metallic craft was actually something quite different. The "jury" is still out on Socorro and Roswell. That may not be true forever, though. But I digress...

With great frequency, we see video clips of "solid metallic craft" flitting about our skies, and many of these have turned out to be "silverized" mylar balloons. These video clips are common these days. Witness Prophet Yahweh, for one.

My question is, if we today are capable of being fooled into thinking a small mylar balloon is actually a large, intelligently-controlled, structured metallic craft, is it really far-fetched to think that folks in the 40s, 50s, and 60s could be similarly fooled by a highly unusual flying craft, or a huge litter-field of metallicized rubber, foreign writing, and aircraft parts the likes of which had never been seen before outside a secret military program? Remember that if one were to go hunting for anomalous aircraft in these United States, one could pick no better spot in the 40s, 50s and 60s than the desert of New Mexico.

One noteworthy possible obfuscation regards the planform of the Roswell craft. Much has been made of the military analysis noting the craft had "no apparent means of propulsion", and "no powerplant" visible or implied. In light of Nick Redfern's new book, this "evidence" of ET origin is suspect when you factor in the possibility that the craft was a glider...with no powerplant or propulsion unit of any kind. Eerie coincidence, or compelling clue?

The witnesses of Roswell had zero frame of reference upon which to base claims that what crashed was an ET craft. Mac Brazel did not know what he found. He just claimed that it was like no aircraft he'd ever seen, and opined that it "might" be one of those flying disks in the news. The American military is who declared it to be a flying (saucer) disk. If they had not, the entire episode might have been treated as just another wacky experiment by the "eggheads" of Los Alamos, a stray from White Sands, or any number of other secret projects.

Perhaps we apply too much deductive acumen to the people of this country in decades past. We know for a fact that many people even today can't tell the difference between a balloon and a solid, metallic craft. Either we have degressed in our observational abilities, or we never were very good at it. While the former is plausible, the latter is far more likely, in my opinion.


You are right on the button.

And I know you are not throwing out the possibility that all UFOs were or are mistaken balloon sightings.

But in the case of Roswell and Socorro, that's a distinct possibility.

I've always wondered why no one in Roswell picked up their Brownie camera and took photos of the debris or remnants that they examined on their kitchen tables?

Or purloined some of it for their closet, for later retrieval?

These people did know they had something(s) unique, according to their testimonies, but didn't follow through like persons who understood the full impact of their discovery.

Were they all so befuddled of stupid?

Rich Reynolds

One of the biggest problems with UFO "researchers" today is that they insist on transposing their knowledge of events on people forty or fifty years ago. This practice is, to say the least, a-historical.



Perhaps they weren't so befuddled or stupid, as they were...being a military town...used to deferring to the military.

These folks were around some very sensitive military men and gear (atom bomns and stuff like that) and they had to take the military and its protocols very seriously.

Another less pertinent point is that Mac Brazel, from what I saw of him, did not appear to be the kind of guy to own a camera. I'm not sure the guy had running water at his ranch.

In our digital camera, photo cellphone, instant gratification world, it is hard to imagine a culture that valued seeing, hearing, and holding something over getting it on film.

My guess is that the residents of Roswell by and large just accepted what the military said, and the excitement died out as they resumed their daily routine.

Remember, Roswell hasn't been a UFO legend since 1947...more like since 1978. This unbelievable flying saucer story was an afterthought in Roswell for over 30 years.

This is the primary reason why I've always felt that Roswell was weak. The story had to be coaxed out of its primary witnesses, and this places a cloud over the entire affair, IMHO.
Paul -

I like it...a-historical...reflecting an inability to place events of the past in their proper context, vis a vis the perceptions and acumen of the people who were witness to said events.

If Ufology does one thing well, it is spawning words that properly should have already been in use. A dubious legacy perhaps, but an amusing one.
Okay youse two (Paul and Kyle):

When the camera was invented, around 1830, people took pictures of things that appeared abnormal, along with the usual mundane and/or glamorous things that impacted them.

We have Mathew Brady and the Civil War, but others, amateurs, also took pictures, as best they could.

And in the 1930s, Kodak Brownies were all the rage. (Do I need to trot out some History of Photograpy books here?)

You're telling me that no newspaper person, or Kodak hobbyist was present during the Roswell hubbub? And no one thought to pocket some of the debris, especially the folding-unfolding metal scraps?

Was everyone kowtowed by the military setting? No rebel-types at all in Roswell?

It baffles.

Rich -

You could...and right. I can just easily imagine that folks in Roswell...a scant 2 years removed from the Hiroshima/Nagasaki bombing (by their own boys), were quick to do whatever the base command might say. This was before the 60s, before mistrust of government, and during a time of extreme pro-military feelings. We'd just won a war and the idea of doing something counter to the military secrecy of the region would have been decidedly unpatriotic, if not treasonous.

Shooting photos of anomalous things WAS common...just not in Roswell New Mexico in the mid to late 40s.

Note that NO one of the times were surprised at no photos being taken.

Even the couple of photos that were taken...the crash debris photos...were not questioned at the time...only later...after the Kennedy/King/Kennedy ssassinations, Viet Nam, Watergate, etc.

Aside from this point, I agree that someone would have reasonably pocketed a piece of wreckage, unless the military told everyone there was a danger to children, etc., from radiation or that the parts were important to collect for national security. Most people in military towns just don't question the military. This is as true of Fort Hood here in Texas today as it was in Roswell in 1947.

No one thought the episode was in any way nefarious until much later, and from a clearly different perspective.

I've never thought the claims that military "heavies" warned of being left in the desert if details of Roswell were revealed. I find it much more likely that any "suggestions" were along the lines of national security, or patriotism...themes that resonated very strongly...if the time.

Only in the 70s, with the aforementioned events in the rear-view, did "strong-arm" military tactics become a function of the story.

Of course, this presupposes that the Roswell story is at it's core a UFO story at all.

Jury's still out...

A-historical as a term is something that was drilled into my head during my undergrad studies in history, and my MA studies in history.

Paul -

Well, I should figured it was already in use. *g*

I tend to see history in terms of the ironies inherent therein. Our failures...not only to understand its context..but to learn from it.

There are few examples of government excess, cultural immorality, and fiscal irresponsibility (in every quarter) that do not have direct, clearly analogous examples in the past.

That we know this and do not heed the resulting lessons of these real-life cautionary tales is a major source of black humor among my friends and I.

A group of economists attended a party given by one of their peers, and at the party cashews were placed out as snacks. After some time, the cashews were disappearing, so the host removed them lest appetites be spoiled. On returning to the party, he was group-thanked for removing the nuts. This got him thinking about why we often act on impulse, even when we know that restraint will result in a better outcome...i.e., a tummy full of dinner instead of cashews. This started a discussion among the economists which lasted the duration of the party, and led to some equations being prepared to quantify this counter-intuitive behavior.

I tell this story to reinforce the thesis that "group-think" isn't necessarily "best-think" and often is diametrically opposed thereto.

What fools these mortals be...particularly when acting in concert. And when there are cashews within reach. *g*
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