On July 4, 1947, a rancher name William “Mac” Brazel found debris scattered 50 to 75 miles north of Roswell, New Mexico. The next day, he heard reports of a “flying disc” and wondered if it might be the source of the debris he found. The Roswell event has become legendary among UFO enthusiasts. It’s the most thoroughly investigated possible UFO event of all time. Here’s what really went down according to military authorities.

Mysterious debris dropped from the heavens

Brazel reported his discovery to the local sheriff, George Wilcox. Wilcox handed the information over to Roswell Army Air Field military personnel. Major Jesse Marcel was assigned to investigate. Along with Sheridan Cavitt and Lewis Rickett, two Counterintelligence Corps agents, Marcel headed out to examine the wreckage

The following day, on July 8, 1947, the public information office at Roswell AAF dropped a bombshell on the people of the world: A flying disc had been witnessed outside of Roswell.

Hot and bothered by a big balloon

Major Marcel quickly corrected the flying disc claim — the wreckage was actually from a crashed hot air balloon. General Roger M. Ramey of the Eighth Air Force in Fort Worth, Texas, ordered the object to be transported to the Fort Worth Army Air Field.

They confirmed Major Marcel’s original claim that the crash site was nothing but a giant weather balloon. It was part of Project Mogul, a top-secret effort to monitor the Soviet Union for nuclear activity. The Air Force held a press conference. According to historian Robert Goldberg, the story died the next day.

30 years later, the legend emerges

Between 1978 and 1990, UFO researchers have interviewed several hundred people who claim to have connections to the Roswell incident. Perhaps there was some substance to the UFO claims.

Hundreds of documents have been obtained through the Freedom of Information Act that indicates there was a government cover-up. According to the documents, at least one alien spacecraft went down near Roswell. Alien bodies may have been recovered. The debate continues to this day.