The other day Fran Ridge who hosts the NICAP web site, posted the following to members of the list:
I just wanted to ask all of you if you consider the ACTUAL Shulgen memo as indicative of Roswell knowledge.
3. Items of Construction
a. Type of material, whether metal, ferrous, non-ferrous, or non-metallic.
b. Composite or sandwich construction utilizing various combinations of metals, plastics, and perhaps balsa wood.
c. Unusual fabrication methods to achieve extreme light weight and structural stability particularly in connection with great capacity for fuel storage.
It is a complicated question and one that caused me a lot of thought. For example, why would this mention balsa wood? It is not a suitable material for constructing aircraft, except for models. It is light weight but not very strong. Why would they
include it in a list of materials used in the
construction of any aircraft expect for some small, internal components though
I can’t think of any them.
For the first part, the question about the type of material seems to be straight forward and we all know that metals, both ferrous and non-ferrous have been used in the construction of aircraft. Plastics, wood, and other material have also been used. Aircraft from the early days were often had a wooden frame covered with canvas or other clothe-like materials and then painted. By the time of the Schulgen memo (Schulgen was a brigadier general who had an interest in flying disks and was responsible for an early staff study of them that results in the Twining letter), aircraft were mostly metal and far more powerful and complex than those from the beginning of flight.
When I look at the third part, about the unusual fabrication methods, I can still see this as responding to some of the information that might have been captured during the Second World War and later from some of the work done by Soviet scientists. This might be a response to what the Nazis had attempted to develop, especially in their desire to attack the United States where weight and fuel would be a real consideration.
Where I stumble is this mention of balsa wood. While the idea of composites has been around for, literally, centuries, their use in the construction of aircraft, seems to be a natural outgrowth of the search for light weight, strong materials. All of this can be seen as thinking of a terrestrial nature and need not to have been inspired by anything recovered at Roswell… that is, until we hit the balsa wood.
If the Roswell answer, or rather the recovery of debris, included balsa wood strips, and if the nature of the recovery was not immediately understood, then a question about balsa makes some sense. But then you move to the rawin targets, which did include balsa structural members and there was nothing extraordinary or secret about their use in connection with balloon flights. They were being used by weather offices all over the United States.
Everything there makes sense when looking at terrestrial craft with the exception of the balsa wood. Some of those who handled the debris recovered at Roswell commented on the light weight, strong material they held. Bill Brazel said that it was light, like balsa wood, but extremely tough and was certainly not balsa.
So, the one point that stands out here is the reference to balsa. There are a couple of reasons to include that note, one suggesting a balloon as the solution and another that suggests something very advanced. In one case, I don’t see Schulgen as including it on the list because it would be clear that it was unsuitable for any sort of manned craft. On the other hand, if we’re talking about something that was balsa like, then that might suggest a connection to Roswell.
But in the end, I don’t think this is connected directly to Roswell. The information asked for is the sort of information you would expect in such an intelligence gathering function.