WASHINGTON -- It could have been a scene from TV's "The X-Files."
An Air Force colonel strode to the lectern at the Pentagon yesterday and told reporters that the purported "aliens" crashing near Roswell, N.M., 50 years ago were likely crash-test dummies used for parachute tests.
"Bodies observed in the New Mexico desert were probably test dummies," said Col. John Haynes, deputy chief of the Air Force Declassification Review Team.
Haynes was referring to the findings of "The Roswell Report, Case Closed," a glossy Air Force study with a sinister alien-like bluish creature on its cover.
The 224-page report seeks to quash any notion that the military is hiding the remains of extraterrestrials and remnants of their interstellar craft somewhere in the desert Southwest.
All events can be explained as part of Air Force research projects -- none of which included or was assisted by space creatures, Haynes assured reporters.
The alleged alien sightings date to the summer of 1947.
Why did it take the Air Force so long to reach that conclusion?
Haynes explained that the Air Force helped the General Accounting Office, the investigative arm of Congress, in its 1994 report on Mogul, a high-altitude radar and sensor balloon program that the service claimed was responsible for debris found at Roswell.
Shortly after that, Air Force officials uncovered film clips and evidence of other balloon tests and the test dummies, which were used in New Mexico beginning in 1953 and for the rest of the decade.
UFO advocates in the Roswell area are likely confused about what they saw and what year, Haynes said.
"We're confident once the report is out and digested by the public that this will be the final word on the Roswell incident," Haynes said.
"Someone said they think the story of the dummies was put out by dummies," said Delores Blair, a staff member at the International UFO Museum and Research Center on Main Street in Roswell, where a 50th anniversary is expected to draw some 50,000 UFO enthusiasts next month.
"I think it's another cover-up."
Blair, who moved to this desert town in central New Mexico three years ago, brushed aside talk of confusion by area residents.
"I think it's an insult to witnesses who were there in 1947," she said.
Haynes was at a loss to explain why claims by UFO proponents of alien bodies in 1947 could have been off by at least six years, to 1953, when the Air Force dummies were first used.
"I don't know why they can't associate that time period," he said.
"I'm sorry. I just don't have any information for that."
At the same time, the Air Force report said later accounts of alien bodies at the Roswell Army Air Field Hospital were most likely a combination of two separate incidents: a 1956 KC-97 aircraft accident in which 11 Air Force members lost their lives and a 1959 manned balloon mishap in which two Air Force pilots were injured.
There's no question that some- thing fell from the sky at Roswell in late June or early July 1947.
On July 8, the Roswell Army Air Field issued a release that it had recovered a "flying disk," fueling worldwide press attention.
The Air Force report notes that it was soon identified by officials as a "standard radar target."
L But speculation about aliens was already sweeping the globe.
By the late 1970s the first claim of "bodies" at Roswell appeared, said the report, with additional claims in the 1980s and 1990s.
Richard H. Hall, chairman of the Fund for UFO Research, a Washington-based, tax-exempt research organization, blasted the report as "bordering on the absurd."
Hall said there is testimony from the relatives of Roswell residents who were there in 1947, including the wife and daughter of a pilot who told them he transported the bodies of the aliens from Roswell to Wright Field in Dayton, Ohio.
Witnesses were ordered to remain quiet, Hall said.
"We have strong testimony from witnesses about intimidation and threats from uniformed Air Force personnel," said Hall.
He is completing "The UFO Evidence, Volume II," an update of his 1964 report of sightings and crashes.
Pub Date: 6/25/97