By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Eric Nicholson
It was not until 1994 that an Air Force investigation into the aging Roswell affair resulted in an announcement that the material found on the Foster Ranch was, in fact, a crashed high-altitude test balloon that would eventually be able to monitor Soviet nuclear testing. Actually a chain of radar-equipped balloons, it had been launched on July 4, 1947, and was tracked to within 17 miles of the Foster Ranch before disappearing.
When the explanation failed to satisfy many "believers," the Air Force released yet another report in '97, this one titled The Roswell Report--Case Closed, in which it attempted to answer the lingering question of the "bodies" allegedly seen at the crash site. What the so-called witnesses had seen, according to the report, were nothing more than crash-test dummies that were part of a military experiment in parachute and ejector seat designs.
That, too, failed to satisfy those determined that the governmental cover-up continued. Such tests, several military researchers argued, had not even begun until the mid-'50s.
"The reason the interest in the Roswell case remains and, in fact, seems to grow," says Mark Rodeghier, scientific director of the Chicago-based Center for UFO Studies, "is the fact the government has never given a reasonable explanation of what occurred that summer of 1947."
Walter Haut, one of the few major figures in the long-ago story still living, is among them. "I'm sure," he says, "that over the years much of the story has been exaggerated. But, yes, I believe that something happened out there in 1947." And he's not speaking of a weather balloon crash.