“THE INTELLIGENCE OFFICE of the 509th Bombardment group at Roswell Army Air Field announced at noon today, that the field has come into possession of a flying saucer.”
That first paragraph out of Roswell was worthy of Orson Welles — as if an extraterrestrial tale told in stentorian tones. It was the paragraph that launched not only a news article, but also a cultural curiosity that continues to spark conversation and controversy to this day — as if attracting UFO buffs and conspiracy theorists by magnetic pull from the world over.
“RAAF Captures Flying Saucer / On Ranch in Roswell Region,” blared the bold headline on that front page of the Roswell (N.M.) Daily Record. The date atop the page: July 8.
Sixty-six years later to the day, Google marks the anniversary of the Roswell paper’s report with a truly stellar home-page Doodle: an animated point-and-click game that puts you at the crash site of a space alien, as you navigate through a Roswell scene’s feathers and feed — amid the radiation — before trying to relaunch your saucer.
Google has inspired fun with the journalistic accounts. According to that day’s Daily Record, the disk “was recovered on a ranch” — and so our retro-black-and-white Google alien can mosey up to a cow, chickens and a barn as it clicks along for tools.
The Doodle even spoofs the Roswell newspaper’s report with a Google Daily Record headline that reads: “Flying saucer spotted in Roswell region.”
The original Daily Record article was written savvily enough to end on a note of piqued intrigue, pointing out: “The announcement that the RAAF was in possession of one [saucer] came only a few minutes after [an eyewitness] had decided to release the details of what he had seen.”
From such a provocative ending, seven decades of fun and speculation — was it a UFO? Was there a cover-up? — were begun.
At the Roswell of today, this cultural phenomenon is still celebrated and debated. The New Mexico town held its spirited Roswell UFO Festival over the weekend; the three-day event included panels with such tantalizing titles as “Paranormal pop culture”; “New evidence in the Betty and Barney Hill abduction”; and “Six indisputable facts that the Roswell incident was an extraterrestrial event.”
[ROSWELL UFO FESTIVAL:]
If you want to go UFO-theory spelunking yourself, you can virtually stay in town and head over to the Roswell UFO Museum. Or you can start by finding video footage that documents theories and accounts here and here and here.
Or you can check out “The Roswell Report: Fact vs. Fiction in the New Mexico Desert,” (which cites a 1994 Post article, “GAO Turns to Alien Turf in Probe”). In its ‘90s reports, the military pointed to a secret midcentury project and concluded, in part: “ ‘Aliens’ observed in the New Mexico desert were actually anthropomorphic test dummies that were carried aloft by U.S. Air Force high altitude balloons for scientific research”; and that “the ‘unusual’ military activities in the New Mexico desert were high altitude research balloon launch and recovery operations.”
But play today’s Google-alien game long enough (and heavens know just how many work-hours will be lost), and you may be reporting that this clever little extraterrestrial seems wonderfully all too real.