“Three days after the Dahl sighting, an amateur pilot named Kenneth Arnold said he had spotted a flying saucer in the sky by Mount Rainer, Washington.
“UFOs aren’t unusual,” Launius says. “They’re simply unidentified things you see in the sky. We’ve all probably seen them. And, if you look long enough, you’ll probably eventually figure out what it is you’re looking at. It’s not extraterrestrials.”
By the end of 1947, mass hysteria had seized the global mindset, with more than 300 alleged “flying saucer” sightings in the last six months of that year alone.
“Not that there was ever any credible evidence to support the sightings,” Launius adds.
By early July 1947, Brazel had heard tales of flying saucers in the Pacific Northwest. These sightings spurred him to show his discovery to the authorities, but just one day after the Air Force announced it had come into possession of a flying saucer, Roswell’s morning newspaper debunked the story.
A published statement from the War Department in Washington claimed the debris collected on Brazel’s ranch was the remains of a weather balloon, and the Roswell Dispatch’s morning headline, “Army Debunks Roswell Flying Disc as World Simmers with Excitement,” set the tale to rest on July 9.
“But we need to back it up, here,” says Launius. “What was really going on was something called Project Mogul.”