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In a new report, the U.S. Air Force says persistent reports about alien bodies probably referred to dummies like these, used in aerial tests during the 1950s.
Air Force
on Roswell:
‘Case closed’
But others doubt
military references
to its research
will end debate
By Alan Boyle
     On the 50th anniversary of the modern UFO era, the U.S. Air Force issued the last chapter of its investigation into what it briefly thought was the first recovery of a flying saucer.  
Internet Sites Roswell Report: Case Closed
Internet Sites Popular Science: What happened at Roswell?

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       “WE HAVE FINISHED this, and we’re not going to revisit it,” Col. John Haynes told reporters.
       “The Roswell Report: Case Closed” says experiments involving human-size dummies and accidents involving military personnel during the 1950s probably helped inspire long-lived reports that a flying saucer crashed in New Mexico in July 1947.
       The Air Force also released films of exotic-looking payloads and balloons that could have been mistaken for flying saucers.
       The new report follows a 1995 Air Force study saying that debris recovered near Roswell, N.M., was connected with Project Mogul, a top-secret operation to use weather balloons and radar equipment to monitor Soviet nuclear blasts.
       When the wreckage was first found, the Army Air Force briefly reported that a “flying disk” had been retrieved — but the report was withdrawn within hours.
       Questions about the Roswell incident resurfaced in the 1980s, when UFO researchers seized on eyewitness reports about the purported recovery of alien bodies and wreckage.
       The Air Force stuck by its Project Mogul explanation for the wreckage near Roswell. But it noted that “lingering questions” remained about the reports of bodies.
       Based on a review of its records and interviews with witnesses, the Air Force says “activities which occurred over a period of many years have been consolidated and are now represented to have occurred in two or three days in July 1947.” Among the report’s conclusions:
* The alien bodies observed in the New Mexico desert “were probably test dummies that were carried aloft by U.S. Air Force high-altitude balloons for scientific research,” Haynes said. The dummies were dropped from the balloons and examined for the effect of the impact.
* Reports of unusual military activity in the desert match up with the Air Force’s procedure for retrieving debris from the dummy tests.
* Claims that bodies were taken to the Roswell Army Air Field probably refer to a 1956 KC-97 aircraft accident in which 11 Air Force members were killed, and a 1959 manned-balloon mishap in which two Air Force pilots were injured.
The Air Force says some sightings of UFOs may have involved military test payloads like this one.
Image: Military object
       The new report was written by Air Force Capt. James McAndrew as a follow-up to his 1995 Roswell report.
       Perhaps not so coincidentally, Tuesday marks the 50th anniversary of the first flying-saucer sighting, reported by Boise, Idaho, businessman Kenneth Arnold as he flew over Washington state’s Cascade Mountains.
       Haynes said the new report was put out with the 50th anniversary of the formation of the Air Force in mind, to call attention to the “intriguing and fascinating research” undertaken by the military at that time.
       “We are very, very proud of this report,” Haynes said.
       Advance word of the new report has been circulating for more than a week, and some UFO investigators harshly criticized the Air Force’s contention that Roswell witnesses confused events that occurred more than a decade apart.
       “It’s an absolute insult to the intelligence of the American people,” said Dennis Balthaser, operations manager for the International UFO Museum and Research Center in Roswell.
       Investigator Karl Pflock, who has concluded that the Roswell saucer tale doesn’t hold up, said the Air Force rushed its report into publication to counter the 50th-anniversary hoopla over UFOs.
       “People who want to believe in Roswell, as well as the people like myself who are convinced that Roswell was something mundane ... will find it laughable,” Pflock said.
       Jerry Clark of the Center for UFO Studies wondered why the Air Force felt the need to come out with an explanation for “alien bodies” at all, particularly since the explanation was “not terribly persuasive.”
       “Because the evidence for alien bodies is intriguing but evidentially thin, I think it’s odd that the Air Force felt it had to explain these reports,” he said. “It just seems an exercise that undercuts itself. ... When you do this, you’re going one step toward explaining that something extraordinary may have happened.”
       During Tuesday’s news conference, Haynes stepped around reporters’ questions about such articles of UFO lore as Area 51 in Nevada. “There is a facility in Groom Lake, Nev. — quite frankly, I have no knowledge or expertise in the matter. As I understand, there are classified things that go on there, and that’s all I have to say about it.”
       He also declined to comment on more recent reports of strange lights sighted in the skies over Phoenix.
       “I suggest that you contact the local authorities in Arizona and see what they have to say,” Haynes said, “because the Air Force no longer does any investigation of UFOs.”
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