A few days ago, I was asked about the true date of the Roswell crash. It was pointed out that the dates that had been published in the past were July 2, July 4 and July 8. I had settled on July 4 based on what Frank Kaufmann had said and Kaufmann even produced a document with that date on it. When it turned out that Kaufmann had been making up stuff, I rejected the July 4 date because, well, Kaufmann was making up stuff.
In the world today, I believe that Don Schmitt and Tom Carey have landed on the July 2 date. This was the sighting by Dan Wilmot in Roswell of a craft heading, more or less to the northwest. I’m not sure that it’s related to the crash because the coincidence of being close in time and location to the crash doesn’t necessarily mean that what Wilmot saw was what fell.
So, the answer for the question, from my point of view is that I don’t know the exact date, other than the first week in July. But this set me to thinking about the timing of Mack Brazel’s trip into Roswell and what that tells us about the events of early July.
Let’s take a stroll down the timeline for all this and see what we can deduce.
We know that the Project Mogul flight scheduled for June 4, 1947, was cancelled based on Dr. Albert Crary’s diary. We know that they flew what he described as a cluster of balloons sometime later that day and Charles Moore told me that it was launched after the cancellation of the full array. We don’t need to argue about what that means because it is irrelevant for this discussion.
Moore, in his analysis, written after I had interviewed him, reported that the flight was launched “probably around 0300 MST,” and that the flight lasted a “calculated duration: 466 min,” or seven hours and forty-six minutes. Whether it was launched before dawn or sometime later, on June 4, it would have landed on the Brazel ranch (yes, for the purists, I know it was really the Foster ranch) on June 4 either around noon or in the late afternoon. The exact time is unimportant because whatever the time, it was still on June 4.
|Charles Moore reviewing winds aloft data in Socorro. Photo by Kevin Randle.|
We know, based on the documentation and the newspaper articles, that Major Jesse Marcel, Sr. arrived in Fort Worth on July 8, 1947, with some of the recovered debris. Some of the documentation suggests he left Roswell as early as ten in the morning, while other information suggests it was later in the day. For our purposes here, that doesn’t matter.
We know, and this is based on my experiences driving from Roswell to the ranch, that it takes about three hours to get there. That was on modern roads and routes, which did not exist in 1947. Marcel, in interviews mentioned that they had traveled overland but I’m not sure that would have cut much off the travel time. This means, of course, that Marcel was on the scene on July 7 and returned to Roswell very late on the seventh.
We know, based on what Marcel said, that he had been eating lunch at the Officers Club when Sheriff George Wilcox called him about the debris that Brazel had brought to town. Given the sequence of events then, we know that Marcel, along with Sheridan Cavitt, couldn’t have left Roswell much before four or five in the afternoon and that puts them at the ranch too late in the evening to do anything about the debris or examine the field in which it fell.
Since Marcel was clearly in Roswell on July 8 and since he left for the Brazel ranch late in the afternoon and remained there overnight, Brazel had to have arrived at the sheriff’s office on July 6. It was too late on the July 7 for them, Brazel, Marcel and Cavitt to have driven out to the ranch, examined the debris found by Brazel and returned to Roswell that night. The only scenario that makes sense was that Brazel had driven to Roswell on July 6.
|The debris field identified by Bill Brazel for Kevin Randle and Don Schmitt.|
Of course, there is the newspaper account that said Brazel had driven into Roswell on July 7 to sell some wool. That simply does not track with the timing of the drive back to the ranch, the examination of the field and the return to Roswell. Marcel and Cavitt would have been required to make their inspection in the dark. And, although Cavitt claimed that they didn’t remain there overnight, Marcel did make such a claim. In my discussions with Cavett, it was clear that he, along with Brazel and possibly Marcel, was there in the daylight.
But the point is irrelevant to the present discussion because, no matter what date Brazel drove to Roswell and what date Marcel and Cavitt followed him back the to ranch, it all happened in early July. The three days, the sixth, seventh or eighth, are the real markers here and, as I say, the exact date doesn’t matter for this discussion.
There is another point to be made here. Overlooking the fact that Brazel brought in samples of the debris, which would have negated the need to drive out to the ranch, if that debris was part of Project Mogul and if part of Mogul, it would have fallen on June 4. In other words, it would have laid out, in that field, for more than a month. We know, based on the testimony of Bill Brazel, and later that of Tommy Tyree, the sometimes ranch hand, that Mack Brazel was in that particular field every other day if not every day. The question becomes, why did it take him a month to call in the military?
Here's the rub. Had the debris been the remains of a Project Mogul balloon array, it wouldn't have taken Brazel long to clean it up. Had it been a Project Mogul balloon array, there would have been a reward card attached which would have directed him to Alamogordo rather than Roswell. Moore talked about these reward cards but said that not all the balloon arrays had them. This, of course, makes little sense. Why wouldn’t all the arrays have had the reward cards?
We were told by neighbors and by Bill Brazel, that Mack wondered who was going to clean up the mess he had found. That suggests something much more robust than the remains of a few weather balloons and some string. There is no evidence that rawin targets were involved. Flight No. 5, the “first successful” flight in New Mexico, had no rawin targets and Moore had suggested to me that the make-up of Flight No.5 was the same as Flight No. 4. Later, he claimed that it was closer to Flight No. 2 which did have rawin targets on it. But it was flown months earlier on the East Coast and the documentation in New Mexico mentions nothing about rawin radar targets until later in July.
We know when Mack Brazel reported the debris to the military based on the timing of the situation. That would have been on July 6, so the crash took place in the days prior to that based on the need to water the livestock.
Given what we know, whatever it was, fell in the days prior to July 6, most probably on July 4 or 5. If we accept the July 7 date for his trip to Roswell, then the craft, whatever it was, fell on July 6. I can’t narrow it down any more than that because we have nothing to tell us the exact date of the crash. However, we know that it wasn’t the Mogul array launched on June 4. Brazel would have found it in the days that followed and would have reported it to those in Roswell in early June. It was too far to make such a trip unless there was a compelling reason to do so. That would have been the amount of debris that suggests that he would not have been able to clean it all up quickly. Instead, he drove into Roswell for the assistance of the military. As I say, he could have picked up the remains of a Mogul balloon array in a matter of minutes and not needed to go to Roswell. In fact, he could have loaded it all into his pickup truck and taken to Roswell to show them. There would then be no reason for Marcel and Cavitt to travel out to that field.
This is just one more reason to reject the Mogul scenario. It doesn’t fit the timing, doesn’t fit with the facts, and fails to explain why Brazel felt the need to go to Roswell. He could have picked up the debris and that would have been the end of it. Instead, he reported the debris to the Army and began a mystery that continues after three-quarters of a century.