The real “Roswell Incident” Part Seven

This is Part 10 from the ABQjournal.


Since Lt Col Cavitt, who had first-hand knowledge, was still alive, a decision was made to interview him and get a signed sworn statement from him about his version of the events. Prior to the interview, the Secretary of the Air Force provided him with a written authorization and waiver to discuss classified information with the interviewer and release him from any security oath he may have taken. Subsequently, Cavitt was interviewed on May 24, 1994, at his home. Cavitt provided a signed, sworn statement (Atch 17 ) of his recollections in this matter. He also consented to having the interview tape-recorded. A transcript of that recording is at Atch 18. In this interview, Cavitt related that he had been contacted on numerous occasions by UFO researchers and had willingly talked with many of them; however, he felt that he had oftentimes been misrepresented or had his comments taken out of context so that their true meaning was changed. He stated unequivocally, however, that the material he recovered consisted of a reflective sort of material like aluminum foil, and some thin, bamboo-like sticks. He thought at the time, and continued to do so today, that what he found was a weather balloon and has told other private researchers that. He also remembered finding a small “black box” type of instrument, which he thought at the time was probably a radiosonde. Lt Col Cavitt also reviewed the famous Ramey/Marcel photographs (Atch 16) of the wreckage taken to Ft. Worth (often claimed by LITO researchers to have been switched and the remnants of a balloon substituted for it) and he identified the materials depicted in those photos as consistent with the materials that he recovered from the ranch. Lt Col Cavitt also stated that he had never taken any oath or signed any agreement not to talk about this incident and had never been threatened by anyone in the government because of it. He did not even know the incident” was claimed to be anything unusual until he was interviewed in the early 1980’s.

Similarly, Irving Newton, Major, USAF, (Ret) was located and interviewed. Newton was a weather officer assigned to Fort Worth, who was on duty when the Roswell debris was sent there in July, 1947. He was told that he was to report to General Ramey’s office to view the material. In a signed, sworn statement (Atch 30) Newton related that .”..I walked into the General’s office where this supposed flying saucer was lying all over the floor. As soon as I saw it, I giggled and asked if that was the flying saucer … I told them that this was a balloon and a RAWIN target…” Newton also stated that .”..while I was examining the debris, Major Marcel was picking up pieces of the target sticks and trying to convince me that some notations on the sticks were alien writings. there were figures on the sticks, lavender or pink in color, appeared to be weather faded markings, with no rhyme or reason (sic). He did not convince me that these were alien writings.” Newton concluded his statement by relating that .”..During the ensuing years I have been interviewed by many authors, I have been quoted and misquoted. The facts remain as indicated above. I was not influenced during the original interview, nor today, to provide anything but what I know to be true, that is, the material I saw in General Ramey’s office was the remains of a balloon and a RAWIN target.”

Balloon Research

The original tasking from GAO noted that the search for information included “weather balloons.” Comments about balloons and safety reports have already been made, however the SAF/AAZ research efforts also focused on reviewing historical records involving balloons, since, among other reasons, that was what was officially claimed by the AAF to have been found and recovered in 1947.

As early as February 28, 1994, the AAZD research team found references to balloon tests taking place at Alamogordo AAF (now Holloman AFB) and White Sands during June and July 1947, testing “constant level balloons” and a New York University (NYU)/Watson Labs effort that used “…meteorological devices… suspected for detecting shock waves generated by Soviet nuclear explosions”–a possible indication of a cover story associated with the NYU balloon project. Subsequently, a 1946 HQ AMC memorandum was surfaced, describing the constant altitude balloon project and specified that the scientific data be classified TOP SECRET Priority IA. Its name was Project Mogul (Atch 19).

Project Mogul was a then-sensitive, classified project, whose purpose was to determine the state of Soviet nuclear weapons research. This was the early Cold War period and there was serious concern within the US government about the Soviets developing a weaponized atomic device. Because the Soviet Union’s borders were closed, the US Government sought to develop a long range nuclear explosion detection capability. Long range, balloon-borne, low frequency acoustic detection was posed to General Spaatz in 1945 by Dr. Maurice Ewing of Columbia University as a potential solution (atmospheric ducting of low frequency pressure waves had been studied as early as 1900).

As part of the research into this matter, AAZD personnel located and obtained the original study papers and reports of the New York University project. Their- efforts also revealed that some of the individuals involved in Project Mogul were still living. These persons included the NYU constant altitude balloon Director of Research, Dr. Athelstan F. Spilhaus; the Project Engineer, Professor Charles B. Moore; and the military Project Officer, Colonel Albert C. Trakowski .

All of these persons were subsequently interviewed and signed sworn statements about their activities. A copy of theses statements are appended at Atch 20-22. Additionally, transcripts of the interview with Moore and Trakowski are also included (equipment malfunctioned during the interview of Spilhaus) (Atch 23-24). These interviews confirmed that Project Mogul was a compartmented, sensitive effort. The NYU group was responsible for developing constant level balloons and telemetering equipment that would remain at specified altitudes (within the acoustic duct) while a group from Columbia was to develop acoustic sensors. Doctor Spilhaus, Professor Moore, and certain others of the group were aware of the actual purpose of the project, but they did not know of the project nickname at the time. They handled casual inquiries and/or scientific inquiries/papers in terms of “unclassified meteorological or balloon research.” Newly hired employees were not made aware that there was anything special or classified about their work; they were told only that their work dealt with meteorological equipment.

An advance ground team, led by Albert P, Crary, preceded the NYU group to Alamogordo AAF, New Mexico, setting up ground sensors and obtaining facilities for the NYU group. Upon their arrival, Professor Moore and his team experimented with various configurations of neoprene balloons; development of balloon “trains” (see illustration, Atch 25); automatic ballast systems- and use of Naval sonobuoys (as the Watson Lab acoustical sensors had not yet arrived). They also launched what they called “service flights.” These “service flights” were not logged nor fully accounted for in the published Technical Reports generated as a result of the contract between NYU and Watson Labs. According to Professor Moore, the “service flights” were composed of balloons, radar reflectors and payloads specifically designed to test acoustic sensors (both early sonobuoys and the later Watson Labs devices). The “payload equipment” was expendable and some carried no “REWARD” or “RETURN TO…” tags because there was to be no association between these flights and the logged constant altitude flights which were fully acknowledged. The NYU balloon flights were listed sequentially in their reports (i.e. A,B, 1,5,6,7,8,10… ) yet gaps existed for Flights 2-4 and Flight 9. The interview with Professor Moore indicated that these gaps were the unlogged “service flights.”