Bettmann / CORBIS
Brig. Gen. Roger M. Ramey, commanding general of 8th Air Force, and Col. Thomas J. Dubose, 8th Air Force chief of staff, identify metallic fragments found by a farmer near Roswell, N.M., as pieces of a weather balloon. This is the basis of the Roswell Incident, the supposed crash of an alien spacecraft.
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updated 4/13/2011 3:15:52 PM ET 2011-04-13T19:15:52

The UFO blogosphere has been burning up over the past few days with news about a recently discovered Top Secret FBI file proving that flying saucers and alien bodies were recovered in Roswell, N.M., in 1947.

The information, which appears in an apparently genuine FBI file, is being called the real deal. One (typical) blogger crowed that the "FBI secret memo says Roswell flying saucers were legit."

The March 22, 1950, document from Washington bureau agent Guy Hottel to the director of the FBI, has the subject line "Flying Saucers, Information Concerning" (see photo of letter on right) and states that:

"An investigator for the Air Forces stated that three so-called flying saucers had been recovered in New Mexico. They were described as being circular in shape with raised centers, approximately 50 feet in diameter. Each one was occupied by three bodies of human shape but only 3 feet tall, dressed in metallic cloth of a very fine texture. Each body was bandaged in a manner similar to the blackout suits used by speed flyers and test pilots. According to Mr. (blacked out) informant, the saucers were found in New Mexico due to the fact that the Government has a very high-powered radar set-up in that area and it is believed the radar interferes with the controlling mechanism of the saucers."

Is it a hoax? Or final proof that flying saucers and their alien occupants are on ice somewhere in Area 51? The Sun newspaper ran a story headlined, "Aliens exist, say real-life X-files," and quoted a UFO expert named Nick Pope as saying, "These are the real life X-Files. This document could be the smoking gun that proves UFOs are real."

Or it could be the smoking gun that proves that Pope and many journalists didn’t look at the document very closely.

First of all, the supposedly "secret document" is instead a non-classified, ordinary office memo. This seems odd given the supposedly explosive nature of its contents; you might think that the FBI would do a better job of making sure that anyone in the office wouldn't have access to a document admitting that they are hiding three crashed saucers and nine alien bodies. The memo has also been known about for years.

Second, Roswell is not mentioned anywhere in the memo. It merely says the saucers were "recovered in New Mexico." Since the alleged saucer crash in Roswell is the most famous in the world, it’s easy to assume that it’s referring to Roswell. However, none of the Roswell eyewitnesses described "flying saucers...circular in shape with raised centers, approximately 50 feet in diameter," nor nine, 3-foot-tall aliens wearing metallic cloth spacesuits.

Instead, the informant’s words match a description given in a proven UFO hoax in Aztec, N.M., a year after the supposed Roswell incident. David Thomas, a New Mexican physicist and UFO researcher, found exactly that story was spun by a con man named Silas Newton and an accomplice, who fabricated a UFO crash hoax as part of a scam. Newton was arrested in 1952 and convicted of fraud in connection with the UFO hoax.

The Hottel memo is merely an agent reporting a third-hand story he heard about a crashed saucer that turned out to be part of a hoax. It may be that, as they say, "the truth is out there," but sometimes it’s not that far out there.

© 2012 Discovery Channel

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