Saturday, February 18, 2017

BG Schulgen and His Memo

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.


Lance said...

That the amazing supposed Roswell saucer parts JUST HAPPENED to look a lot like balsa wood and foil paper is one of the most hilarious parts of the myth.

The mental gymnastics and cognitive dissonance required to somehow rationalize this in order to keep the UFO religion intact must be monumental.


William Strathman said...

The WWII de Havilland Mosquito was mostly wood, including balsa, but not only balsa. Presumably wreckage from a manned aircraft would not solely be balsa.

Paul Young said...

Lance...The reports of exotic material, along with mundane material, supports the theory that the flying saucer was involved in a mid-air collision.

Nitram Ang said...

Lance - it appears you didn't read all of the article...

"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."

Therefore one should conclude:

The mental gymnastics and cognitive dissonance required to somehow rationalize this as a balloon (AKA Drooling idiot theory) must be monumental.


Brian Bell said...

Ecuadorian balsa has been used for a variety of things. Not only aircraft but also ship building.

I tend to think when most people hear "balsa" they think of the soft, easily breakable strips used in small flying model construction and the old 10 cent gliders from the local hobby shop.

Technically, when treated properly (infused glue etc.) the wood becomes very durable.

Dating back 1200 years to the ManteƱo culture, the coastal region of Ecuador has a long tradition of using balsa wood for ocean going vessels.

Ecuador is the biggest global producer of balsa wood with over 90% share of exports worldwide. Balsa is used in boat building, building construction and many other applications, not just models and Rawin targets.

In Ecuador balsa wood is also used by surfboard shapers to make exotic balsa surf boards that have tremendous aesthetic appeal not to mention very high durability.

I agree, the reference in the memo does not bear any specific connection to Roswell.

El Sopa Cartoons said...

Hi Kevin, I know it supposedly was debunked some time ago, you remember that fragment of the Roswell autopsy movie in the end? that supposedly recreates the "real" old film fragment, did you ever consider to check the faces of the men in the scene?
I remember someone from a forum enhanced the faces that appear right at the end a lot. What if they look like some of the personel at the time in Roswell? I know its a long stretch but there's nothing to lose at this point.

cda said...

Have you any good reason, apart from this one tenuous reference to balsa wood, to believe that General Schulgen had ever heard of the Roswell case when he wrote his memo?

Have you any good reason to believe that Gen. Twining, whose own memo had preceded that of Schulgen by one month, had heard of Roswell either?

I appreciate that you have recently turned quite anti-ET over the case but guess you still retain a faint (very faint) hope of squaring the circle.

KRandle said...

All -

I am well aware that wood has been used and is currently used in the manufacture of aircraft (and I'm thinking mainly of the "experimental" aircraft. I was surprised that Schulgen had mentioned, specifically, balsa wood... the other items, ferrous and non-ferrous metals and composites made some sense (and isn't plywood a composite?).

El Sopa -

Since those involved have been identified it seems to be grasping at straws to suggest that some of them look like people in Roswell in 1947... it is an admitted hoax complete with pictures and illustrations. We just don't need to waste anymore time on it.


I don't believe that this one tenuous reference to balsa suggests that Schgulen had heard of Roswell... I just found the reference odd because it didn't mention any other sorts of strange material that might be of intelligence interest.

For Twining, yes, obviously... since reports were made to Wright Field about this as per the news reports and the FBI telex, I think there is good reason to believe that Twining had heard about Roswell... gee, it was in all the newspapers... and that doesn't mean it was alien, only that it was big news for a short time and generals do read the newspapers and listen to the radio.

KRandle said...


Thinking about this, I'm say the same thing about Schulgen that I said about Twining... Given that this was front page news in 1947 and even the New York Times carried the story, I'll say there is a good chance that Schulgen heard about Roswell through those sources. So, yeah, he heard about Roswell but the real question is did it come into play when he wrote the memo. That answer is probably not.

Jimmy said...

Balsa was being used in aircraft construction at the time, particularly in a form called "Metalite" where balsa was sandwiched between two aluminum sheets, used to skin a Navy fighter, the F6U. (Not to be confused with the infamous Flying Flapjack, which also used the material.) It also used a material called "Fiberlite" substituting fiberglass for aluminum. Since light weight made sense in very long-range aircraft, and Schulgen's EEI was pitched toward Soviet developments, it was natural to suggest balsa composites.

Anonymous said...

Based on my model building days, balsa by itself is not really all that strong. What makes it strong is when it is glued across another structure. I seem to recall building some very strong, and flexible model airplane wings using balsa ibeams (wing struts). They could hold a fair amount of weight in all directions, but had the advantage of being flexible.

On another note, the Horten Ho 229 was a jet built out of wood, like a model aircraft, but with powerful jet engines. Some believe this was the plane(s) seen by Kenneth Arnold, a pilot, that lead to to his UFO report. I do not believe this was part of the Roswell incident.

cda said...


Yes I am inclined to agree that Twining and Schulgen read the newspapers and therefore, possibly, had heard of Roswell. But weren't these the very guys, part of the gang 'in the know' who were alleged to be part of some grand official cover-up? This idea was once being promoted by Roswell ET diehards (i.e those who still hope to square the circle). These top guys took the 'great secret' to their graves, so the diehards tell us.

So to now say they merely got the case story from the newspapers makes it quite a climbdown, and detracts considerably from the tale presented in the 80s and early 90s.

starman said...

Twining was thought to have been privy to Roswell secrets. But who ever said Shulgen was in "MJ12"?

KRandle said...

starman -

Given that there is no such thing as MJ-12, your point is moot.

pebble chalet said...

Roswell happened but not as you know it. It was all an elaborate hoax. The reason was that the Russians were just catching up on their own atomic program and it was perfect propaganda. Apply Occam's Razor to it?
A handful of people were behind it and had fake bodies and everything. They then briefly showed it to credible witnesses in dribs and drabs. That's why this tale has lasted so long. That's also why there has been no one to come forward with any evidence for 70 years. With Cold War propaganda, you drip feed the info, not saturate it. This is the most likely explanation

starman said...

I was aware MJ12 didn't exist. The point was that nobody to my knowledge ever claimed Shulgen was privy to Roswell secrets. pebble chalet makes no sense.

Anthony Mugan said...

Bit late to comment I know.

Jimmy's information about Metalite and Fibrilite is I think important in possible interpretations of Schulgen's inclusion of balsa wood. A very plausible reason for him to be thinking about it at the time