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Road trip to Roswell

By Philip Mantle

July 2007 marked the 60th anniversary of the of the Roswell Incident. For those who are not familiar with the Roswell UFO crash it took place in the desert outside of Roswell, New Mexico on or around July 2nd l947. Debris was found by sheep rancher Mac Brazel, foreman on the Foster ranch. He took this strange metallic debris first to his neighbours the Proctors on a nearby ranch, before taking it into Roswell itself to report it the Sheriff. Sheriff Wilcox then reported it to the Roswell Army Air Force who sent base intelligence officer Major Jesse Marcel and a colleague to investigate. Marcel and his colleague Sheridan Cavitt followed Mac Brazel to the Foster ranch, collected some of the debris and took it back to base. Marcel stopped on the way home to show it to his wife and son. A press release from Roswell Army Air Force was released by Walter Haut confirming that a 'flying disk' had been recovered and parts were being sent to higher headquarters for further examination. This caused headlines around the world. Within hours, General Roger Ramey issued another statement stating that what was recovered was nothing more than a weather balloon and the story died for around 30 years. It was 30 years later that UFO researcher Stanton Friedman was given the contact details of the then retired Jesse Marcel what then became known as the Roswell Incident was investigated and has been debated and argued about ever since.

For over ten years now the town of Roswell has held an annual festival to commemorate the Roswell Incident. This year saw two main events taking place, one at the International UFO Museum & Research Centre and the other at the Roswell Convention & Visitors Center. The UFO Museum sponsors it's own event while the town council and a whole list of businesses sponsored the event at the Convention Center. This year for the first time I was fortunate enough to be able to lecture twice at the event being staged by the UFO Museum. At this point I'd like to thank the Museum Director Julie Shuster for accommodating me at such short notice.

Before travelling down to Roswell I flew to Albuquerque to join my colleague Ed Gehrman, his daughter Jody and her partner Dave. By chance I flew to Albuquerque on American Independence Day, July 4th. I met up with Ed, Jody and Dave on July 5th. The three of them were making a new documentary about our trip to Roswell and in particular Ed's research in the desert near Socorro on a location that he is convinced is the crash site of a UFO. Ed's research is based on information provided to German researcher Michael Hesemann. Ed is a firm believer that the alien autopsy film is authentic. Back in l996 Michael Hesemann was provided details via Ray Santilli of where the alleged crash site was. Michael took a trip out there and thought he had located the site. However, other researchers found that Michael had found nothing unusual. This and Ed's research are covered in-depth in my new book ALIEN AUTOPSY INQUEST.

Ed had been researching this location for several years now and he had taken other researchers to the site. Ed wanted me to accompany him so I could at least verify the anomalies he had found there. We set off for this site near Socorro on July 6th and from there we would head into Roswell. Albuquerque is around 170 miles from Roswell and between us lay little else but desert and a few small towns. As we passed through Socorro Ed pointed out the location of the well-documented sighting by Police Officer Lonnie Zamora in l964. It wasn't too long before we left the beaten track and headed into the hills via a number of dirt roads. One of these had been washed away by a recent flash flood so we had to make a detour. Ed had visited the site on several occasions so he knew exactly where to find it. Ed had previously written of how the site lies in a dry lakebed and on the run in to the two rock outcrops there are a number of burnt trees that are only burnt on the top. A number of burnt rocks that again are only burnt on one side. And two rock outcrops that are covered with a bluish-material that Ed had identified as cristobalite. Sure enough as we drove through hills and dirt roads to the site we were indeed greeted by burnt wild chestnut trees and were only burnt on the top, and rocks that were only burnt on one side. The two rock faces that Ed had previously written about were indeed quite literally 'splattered' with a bluish material. These anomalies, if that is what they are, were only at this one location. We had driven down into this area and seen nothing like it and we drove down the dry lake bed and out the other end and saw nothing like it once we went past this location. I cannot of course confirm it is the crash site of anything but I can confirm it is exactly as Ed had described it. We were accompanied to this site by a local journalist from Socorro and he had never seen anything like it.

After spending a considerable time at this site taking photographs and filming we headed off in the direction of Roswell. It has been a very hot day and it was a pleasant change as we encountered a local thunderstorm just outside of Roswell. I was reliably informed that in the summer months they could be quite severe. We had of course seen evidence of this out in the desert as local storms can and do easily wash away the dirt roads. Arriving late in Roswell on July 6th it was time for a pizza; a cold beer and some well-earned sleep.

On July 7th we made our way up Main Street in Roswell and had breakfast at the Cover-Up café, which lies just opposite the UFO Museum. I fully recommend their bacon and eggs. After breakfast it was time to walk over to the UFO Museum and introduce ourselves to the Museum's Executive Director Julie Shuster. Julie gave us a very warm welcome, supplied Ed, Jody and Dave with press passes and informed me that I would be lecturing at 3.00 pm that day and 9.30 am the following day. I set up a table and had a few copies of Alien Autopsy Inquest and UFO DATA magazine for sale. The magazines were gone in seconds. It wasn't long before I met up with some old friends and colleagues. Derrel Sims, Dr Jesse Marcel jnr, Stanton Friedman, Don Schmitt, Lloyd Pye to name but a few. There wasn't much time for discussing as there was a procession of visitors passing through the museum and others attending the lectures. Ed, Jody and Dave set about interviewing some of the researchers there or arranging interviews for the following day. My lecture at 3.00 p.m. went well and later that evening I was interviewed by the Jerry Pippin radio show which had set up its equipment in the Cover-Up café. As the sky grew dark it was time for the parade along Roswell's Main Street. The town authorities had closed off the road and turned off the streetlights. There was a happy carnival atmosphere as the parade rolled by. The local fire department, jazz bands and of course a few locals dressed in alien costumes. It was all very lighthearted and extremely well organised. It was a fitting end to an interesting day.

July 8th saw me lecture again at the UFO Museum. This time it was a 9.30 am start. Even at that early hour there was a good attendance and a good number of visitors in the museum. Once my lecture was out of the way the four of us head down to the Convention Center to conduct more interviews and meet up with some more old friends. Here it was a delight to meet up with Peter Robbins, Dr Roger Leir, Nick Redfern and a variety of other researchers. The Convention Center had lots of stalls selling a wide variety of material with lectures taken part separately in another part of the building. Again it was a great atmosphere and not the circus that someone had informed me that it would be. There were tours running from here out to the UFO crash site and a good time was had by all. Jody and Dave obtained yet more interviews. With the interviews completed, and the festival drawing to a close, we drive around Roswell that night taking a few last photographs. We noticed that even a local church was using the 'alien' connection to get their message across.

July 9th saw us wave goodbye to Roswell. It had been an interesting and rewarding few days. I'd had the chance to meet up with old friends and hopefully make some new ones as well. We'd viewed some of the film footage we'd shot the night before at the hotel and we were all pleased with the results. It was now time to head back to Albuquerque but not before one last trip out into the desert. This time it was to visit the Foster Ranch and the site where Major Jesse Marcel and Sheridan Cavitt had stayed 60 years ago. I don't know how many miles we were from Roswell, but there are no signposts telling you where to go. We did drive past the place where we turned off the highway once but if you don't know where you are going you would not find the location easily. Again driving along dirt roads we finally arrived at the Foster Ranch. This is probably the remotest place I have ever been to in my life. With the temperature up around 35 degrees centigrade and with virtually nothing and certainly no one else in site, we stopped our 4 X 4 on the Foster Ranch and simply got out and walked around. The location of the debris field was only a short drive away but in the hut where Marcel and Cavitt stayed there was then 60 years ago no electricity and there still is none now. It is still used today as storage for hay. Only by being at this location could I now fully get to grips with the whole Roswell story. The town of Roswell has a population of around 50,000. There had been around 35,000 extra visitors that weekend. It is often portrayed as a dirt-poor cowboy town on TV but it is far from that. It is a thriving town and was back in 1947. The thing is that once you get out of town there is nothing for miles and miles. As the Museum's Director Julie Shuster told me, Roswell people are a proud and independent people; they have to be, as they are 200 miles from nowhere. It was a real pleasure to be standing at one of the most talked about locations in the entire history of UFO research. There is not much to see at this location. On the way back to the main road there is a hand written sign for the Proctor Ranch but that's about it. There is mile after mile of desert with the hills and mountains in the distance. Although quite arid, the landscape does have a natural beauty all of its own. We reached Albuquerque early in the evening and our road trip to Roswell was virtually at an end. It had been a long hot day and we were all feeling the strain. A few cold beers, one last interview for Jody and Dave, and that was the end of it.

July 10th allowed us all to play tourist for once and the day was spent in Albuquerque. A city of around 500,000 has a whole host of visitor attractions to suit most tastes. Mine was to buy a few items from Albuquerque's Old Town area for my two daughters and my partner. The evening saw us reflect on the last few days and everyone agreed that the trip could not have gone any better. I flew back to the UK on July 11th and was delayed by some of those thunderstorms we'd been told about. This was my first trip to New Mexico and to Roswell. I had been warned that the whole festival would be a circus. Well I can say hand on heart it was not. The events at the UFO Museum and the Convention Center were well attended and well organised. There was a carnival atmosphere but the festival is not just about UFOs but Roswell as a town as well. There are plans to build a very large theme park in Roswell and if it does go ahead I have no doubt that the independent-spirited people of Roswell will take it in their stride and embrace it and make it work for all concerned. If you have ever thought about attending this annual festival I can assure you that you will not be disappointed.

My trip to Roswell would not have been possible without assistance from my colleague Ed Gehrman. Thanks go also to Jody and Dave and there documentary should be available by October. Thanks also to Julie Shuster Executive Director of the International UFO Museum & Research Center. Julie organised my lectures at very short notice along with Press Passes for Ed, Jody and Dave. I would also like to thank all the staff at the UFO Museum. They could not have been any more friendly or helpful. They were very tired by the end of it all but kept on smiling and helping. They were a credit to all concerned. If you do visit Roswell don't forget the Cover-Up café as they even serve fish and chips. I tried them, and while they are different they were nonetheless delicious.

Philip Mantle is an international author, lecturer and broadcaster. He can be contacted at: 49 East Leigh Drive, Tingley, Wakefield, West Yorkshire, England, WF3 1PF. Email: philip@mantle8353.fsworld.co.uk. His new book Alien Autopsy Inquest is published by PublishAmerica and is available on Amazon.com & Amazon.co.uk

Desert scene near Socorro. On the way to the alleged crash site identified by Ed Gehrman. Just past here the dirt road was simply washed away.

American research Ed Gehrman at the location of what he believes is a UFO crash site near Socorro, New Mexico.

Ed Gehrman and Philip Mantle at the site identified by Ed.

Close up of the blue material at the site. This has been previously identified as cristobalite.

The rock face literally 'splattered' with the blue material.

Burnt tree branch (one of many) at the site located by Ed. Note the burning is only on the top of the branch

Burnt rock (one of many) at the site identified by Ed. Again note that the rock is only burnt on one side.

Alien street light in Roswell.

International UFO Museum & Research Centre, Roswell.

Dr Jesse Marcel jnr, one of the many speakers at the UFO Museum.

Revellers in full costume during the Roswell street parade.

Official logo of the Roswell UFO Festival.

Ed Gehrman & Philip Mantle at the Roswell Convention Center.

Even a local church in Roswell took advantage of the festival.

The Foster Ranch. Here in July 1947 Major Jesse Marcel and Sheridan Cavitt from the Roswell Army Air Force stayed overnight. They were there to collect some of the alleged UFO debris that had been discovered by Rancher Mac Brazel.

Inside the wooden hut on the Foster Ranch. Still in use it still does not have any electricity.

The road to nowhere not far from the Foster Ranch.

Hand painted sign for the Proctor Ranch. The Proctor's were Mac Brazel's nearest neighbours in l947.

The Cover-Up Café in Roswell.

Artwork. Roswell City Limits.

Roswell postcard.

Flying Saucer Joke Cartoon.

Front page of the Roswell Daily Record newspaper from July 1947.

All photographs courtesy Philip Mantle.