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Sunday, September 19, 1999
UFOs: Sightings Followed Famous Roswell Incident
By Anthony DellaFlora
Journal Staff Writer
On July 8, 1947, the stunning headline "RAAF Captures Flying Saucer" appeared in the afternoon edition of the Roswell Daily Record above a story about local rancher "Mac" Brazel discovering such a craft on the ranch near Corona where he worked.
The excitement was ostensibly quashed a day later when the military announced that Brazel had found the remnants of a weather balloon.
JOURNAL FILE Walter Haut, known as Mr. UFO in Roswell, dispatched the original U.S. Army press release saying that debris from a UFO had been recovered north of Roswell.
But as it turned out, it was just the beginning for New Mexico as a haven for UFO-related stories.
A year later, scientists were called in to investigate strange "green fireballs" seen gliding through the skies above the top secret labs at Los Alamos and Sandia.
In 1949, engineer Charles Moore of Socorro (who has played a part in debunking the "Roswell Incident") became one of the first legitimate scientists to report viewing an unidentified flying object -- in broad daylight, no less. He and colleagues were running tests with balloons near Arrey, N.M., when they spotted an "ellipsoid" object shooting across the sky. That same year, the late Clyde Tombaugh, the astronomer who discovered Pluto, observed six to eight "windowlike" rectangles of light move across the sky, while skywatching from the yard of his Las Cruces home.
In 1950, hundreds of Farmington residents, including the mayor, say they witnessed a UFO "armada" that hung around for three days.
One of the most famous cases in ufology occurred in 1964. Socorro city police officer Lonnie Zamora heard an explosion while chasing a speeder and drove to a vacant lot off the main drag where he says he saw an egg-shaped craft with two small beings outside of it. When Zamora got closer to the scene, he says the object emitted a roar and rose into the air, disappearing at high speed within moments. Though there have been many explanations put forth, Zamora's sighting has neither been discredited nor solved.
In 1980, guards at Kirtland Air Force Base filed reports of encounters with UFOs at the Department of Defense Restricted Test Range in the Coyote Canyon area. Another declassified government report describes an incident occurring about the same time period that involved the jamming of radar for six hours by an unknown source near Coyote Canyon. The jamming resulted in a blackout of radar systems at the Albuquerque Sunport.
About that time the book "The Roswell Incident" resurrected interest in the events that occurred more than three decades earlier.
Mysterious cattle mutilations, sometimes accompanied by sightings of odd lights and/or aircraft, also plagued ranchers.
In 1994, tiny Midway, just outside of Roswell, garnered national attention -- at least on tabloid shows like "Hard Copy" -- with numerous videotaped sightings of UFOs made by the Escamilla family. While many of the "UFOs" appear to be bugs, birds and other explainable phenomenon, there are enough anomalous images to keep even skeptics guessing.
University of New Mexico folklore expert Peter White believes the religious history of New Mexico and the stories of UFOs are no accident. "I think that if belief in UFOs and aliens is a search for spiritual meaning and significance, or spiritual reality, it's very typical and it's very natural and logical that that would happen in New Mexico, because the history of New Mexico has been this search for spiritual values. This state is the state that has processions to Chimayó, that has the appearance of sacred tortillas, the image of Christ on a tree in the sap, the picture of Christ reflected in a mirror in a house in Belen."