Roswell, and the book of Nick Redfern:
New explanation, or new disinformation?

Gildas Bourdais, October 2005

Since June 2005, there are now two main theories in competition which claim to offer an explanation of the Roswell incident excluding a UFO crash:
- the theory of the "Mogul" ballon train, promoted by the US Air Force and some authors since 1994, which has been largely accepted by the mainstream media;
- a new theory presented by British ufologist Nick Redfern in his book Body Snatchers in the Desert. The Horrible Truth at the Heart of the Roswell Story (1). In a word, some "whistle-blowers" revealed to him that, behind the "legend" of the Roswell UFO crash, was hidden a real story of experiments on Japanese handicapped prisoners, so horrible that they had to remain hidden at all costs. The curious title of this book will be explained later.

Cover of the book of Nick Redfern

Nick Redfern

Cover of Cosmic Crashes

This new story, as strange as it looks, demands careful examination, given the notoriety of the author, who has written several good books on UFOs, including one on UFO crashes, published in 1999: Cosmic Crashes. The incredible story of the UFOs that fell to Earth (2).

He has also produced many articles and conferences. A preliminary remark is that the two theories cannot be both true. One of them, at least, must be wrong! Not surprisingly, a major promoter of the Mogul explanation, Karl Pflock, has already expressed strong disagreement, with his usual wit, in an open letter entitled "Attack of the Mutant Mongoloids!" I am going to plead here that these theories are both wrong, and that, consequently, the hypothesis of a UFO crash, near Roswell in 1947, still holds.

The Roswell case: a brief reminder

On July 8, 1947, the base of the atomic bombers of Roswell, New Mexico, issued a press release announcing the discovery of a "flying disk" in the area. But this spectacular discovery, in the midst of a wave of observations of these mysterious craft - the first great mediatic wave of UFOs - was denied in the evening by General Ramey, Commander of the Eighth Air Force, in Fort Worth, Texas: the Air Force officers at Roswell had found a weather balloon and its radar target, and had mistaken it for a flying saucer! The press accepted at once this curious explanation and the incident was forgotten for thirty years.

Major Marcel at Fort Worth with balloon debris

It was also the date of the beginning of an official policy of denial of UFOs, at least in the United States, which continues to this day. However, in 1978, American ufologist Stanton Friedman found almost by chance a key witness, the former Major Jesse Marcel, in charge of security on the base, who had picked-up debris in the field. Marcel, then retired in Louisiana, confirmed to Friedman that these materials were very strange and did not look like anything known. Since then, several teams of researchers have accomplished considerable work and have found many witnesses, who have made Roswell to become one of the best documented cases in ufology. The theory of a UFO crash is based on three main elements: the press release by the Air Force base, testimonies about strange materials, and testimonies on the discovery of a craft and bodies near Roswell.

The astounding press release

A question quickly comes to mind, about the press release: how could these officers of an elite corps, not only make such a clumsy mistake - if we believe the Air Force - but, in addition to that, worsen their case by making that dramatic announcement, contrary to the rules of military secrecy, to which they were especially well trained? The second part of the question applies as well if they had, indeed, found a real "flying disk": they should not have announced it either unless they had the proper authorization, so that there is a part of the story which remains unclear, even today. Some explanations have been proposed, compatible with a UFO crash retrieval. I suppose that they had found a craft and bodies and had succeeded in retrieving it secretly. Then the discovery of the debris field at the Foster Ranch was totally unexpected, on Sunday, July 6. When Major Marcel and Captain Cavitt, who saw it on Monday, came back and reported to Colonel Blanchard on Tuesday, early in the morning, it was decided to issue a rather vague press release, just in case they would not be able to control this second discovery, while keeping the secret on the craft. But when they managed to control the field at the end of the morning, it was then decided to deny it with the balloon story in Fort Worth.

If it had been such an incredible confusion with a balloon (or a balloon cluster in the Mogul story, discussed below), they should have been severely reprimanded, yet this was not the case. Colonel Blanchard made a remarkable career, up to the top of the Air Force. Major Jesse Marcel, given high marks by his hierarchy, before and after the incident, was promoted at a post of responsability at the Pentagon. Furthermore, if he had made such a blunder, would he have talked about it, thirty years later? It is interesting to note here that Marcel, when he was interwied in 1982 by a student, Linda Corley, told her that he had not revealed all what he knew, "For the sake of his country". Linda Corley revealed that twenty years later, at the MUFON symposium of 2000 (3).

Strange materials

Several witnesses have confirmed the finding on the Foster Ranch, by Brazel and Major Marcel, of a large field scattered with strange materials. They included a great deal of small metallic pieces, jagged but very strong, rigid and lightweight. There were many pieces of metallic foil, looking like aluminium but which could not be cut or torn, and with "memory properties" (when crumpled, they took back their original, flat shape, leaving no creases). Some pieces were porous (which ruled them out as part of a balloon enveloppe). Some debris looked a bit like balsa wood struts, but again could not be broken and would not burn. According to Dr Marcel, the son of Major Marcel, a strut had strange markings alongside, looking like "hieroglyphs". Some other pieces looked like fiber optics (4). All this suggested that there had been a violent explosion over the field.

Witnesses on a craft and bodies

The third major element is that witnesses were found on the secret discovery of an alien craft and non-human bodies, at a site closer to Roswell. These testimonies have been rather reinforced in the last few years To tell the truth, some witnesses are no longer credible, like Frank Kaufmann and Jim Ragsdale, but there is still a group of coherent witnesses for the discovery of:
- a strange craft, winged shaped or rather horseshoe shaped;
- small, dead beings, and maybe one still alive;
- on a site at about thirty miles north-west of Roswell.

In my French book Roswell. Enquêtes, secret et désinformation (JMG, 2004), I have given a detailed presentation of these testimonies, some of which are still little known.

Cover of my book
Roswell. Enquêtes, secret et désinformation

1994-97. The USAF "explanation": Mogul balloon and parachute tests

In 1994, the US Air Force, pressed by an inquiry which had been opened by the General Accountibility Office (GAO) of the Congress, at the request of Steven Schiff, congressman of New Mexico, replaced the initial explanation of the weather balloon with a more complex one, the crash of a "train" of twenty to thirty weather balloons attached to a line, code-named "Mogul", launched at the base of White Sands. It was, they explained, a very secret project to develop a means of detection of future soviet atomic explosions, and it is the reason why its discovery was hidden at the time.

Map of New Mexico

But, in spite of the publication in 1995 of a big, one thousand pages document, The Roswell Report, and in 1997 of a second book, bravely titled The Roswell Report. Case Closed, the American military have been unable to bring any serious evidence for this new explanation. Not the faintest bit of paper, telex, archived note, which would prove that this was what had been found in Roswell. On the contrary, their documentation shows clearly that the balloon train Mogul number 4, the only one which might have, theoretically, caused that blunder because it was equipped with radar targets, had most probably never been launched! It is absent in the reports of New York University (NYU), in charge of the tests, and the geophysicist Albert Crary, who was the field manager, noted in his personal diary that it was cancelled because of cloudy weather. In fact, he launched in the morning a small balloon cluster like the NYU team launched everyday in June. It is likely that Brazel found one of them, on June 14, as he told the press under pressure from the military, but he attached no importance to it, and it had nothing to do with the finding of the big debris field at the beginning of July.

Little balloon cluster

For its part, the GAO discovered that important parts of the Roswell archives had been destroyed without explanation. It soberly concluded, in 1995: "The debate on what crashed at Roswell continues".

In any case, even if the officers of Roswell had found a Mogul balloon train, they would have easily identified it as such. It would have been sufficient, for them, to identify one single element of this mundane gear, to close the case. For instance, one of the fragile balsa wood struts used as the frames of the radar targets, which looked more like a kite than a flying disk.
Or one of the instruments attached to the nylon line, which were not more mysterious: ballast reservoir, electric battery, radio transmitter, "sonobuoy" which looked like a mere metallic can. Furthermore, None of these instruments were found on the Foster Ranch, neither by the rancher Brazel nor by the military who came to retrieve the debris. The obvious conclusion is: Mogul case closed!

In 1997, the US Air Force published a second book to explain, this time, the testimonies on alien bodies. It suggested that the witnesses had confused memories of parachute tests which were made with wooden dummies. But, as Walter Haut quipped, "you have to be a dummy not to recognize a dummy!" Besides, these tests took place several years later, during the 50's. This time, the American press, which had accepted rather easily the Mogul explanation, remained visibly skeptical about this new story.

In all, the explanation of the US Air Force is just as fragile as the little weather balloons and radar targets upon which it is based, as well as wooden dummies. The only positive aspect of the Air Force report is to have discarded other hypotheses, such as the accident of a secret plane, of a rocket, or of an atomic bomber. However, such is not the opinion of a new researcher on Roswell, Nick Redfern, who has written a book claiming that the Roswell incident was in fact caused by an even more secret experiment with balloons, crafts and Japanese prisoners in White Sands. Let's turn now to that new explanation.


Nick Redfern: Body Snatchers in the Desert

A strange story told by anonymous "whistle-blowers

Here is now the summary of the story of Roswell according to Nick Redfern, slightly abridged, given by the author himself in the conclusion of his book Body Snatchers in the Desert (pages 207 and 208):

"In May 1947, an experimental aircraft that was borne out of the revolutionary aviation research of the Horten brothers of Germany was test-flown from White Sands, New Mexico."
In brief, it was part of a larger project begun in 1946, in view of designing and building a nuclear-powered aircraft.

"On board the vehicle were a number of physically handicapped people who had been found in the remnants of the Japanese military's Unit 731 laboratories and who were used in this dark and disturbing experiment - the purpose of which was to try to better understand the effects of nuclear-powered flight on an air-crew. The experiment ended in disaster when the aircraft crash-landed at White Sands, killing some of the crew".

"Two months later, in early July1947, a second and similar vehicle was, once again, flown from White Sands. In this particular instance, the aircraft was affixed to a huge balloon array that was based upon advanced Fugo balloon designs developed in the closing stages of WW II by Japanese forces. The aircraft was piloted by a crew of Japanese personnel who had been specifically trained for the task and crashed near the Foster Ranch after being catastrophically struck by lightning.
"The lifting-body-style aircraft, the balloon materials and the bodies of the crew were retrieved under cover of overwhelming secrecy and - either deliberately or unintentionnally - hidden behind a smoke screen of crashed flying saucer stories.
"It is these two incidents (and, as the whistle-blower testimony provided in these pages suggests, possibly several others in the vicinity of White Sands in the early to late summer of 1947) that led to the legend ot the Roswell incident".

A theory "explaining" all Roswell testimonies

A first reaction may be one of perplexity, confronted with such a bizarre story, which, according to the author, has been revealed to him from 1996 to 2003 by several insiders, who remain anonymous in the book. At first Redfern did not believe it, but he became convinced when he saw that they were independent sources and told the same story. In any case, it seems to give a global explanation of the Roswell case, encompassing many aspects, even some of the most controversial ones. The story of the first crash, for instance, seems to explain the controversial story of the mysterious cameraman who, allegedly, sold the famous "Alien Autopsy Footage" to the British producer Ray Santilli, released in 1995. You find here the main elements of his story:
- the date, May 1947;
- the location, near White Sands (approximately);
- the description of the craft, a sort of wingless plane;
- the description of the aliens by the cameraman (who called them the "freaks"!), and the body of the autopsy movie by the same token;
- the dangerous radioactivity on the site of the crash, as told by the cameraman.

This "atomic" aspect is very important in Redfern's theory. According to his insiders, it consisted in loading radioactive material on board, for an awful experiment of irradiation in flight. In addition, it was supposed to be made at a very high altitude in order to evaluate mysterious "mutation" effects. The victims selected for this dreadful test were supposedly mentally retarded, severely handicapped people, formerly prisoners of the Japanese for horrible bio-warfare experiments in Manchuria during WWII. According to Redfern and his informers, it is that "Japanese connection" which had to be kept secret "at all costs".
Last detail, there was no balloon for this first experiment (in effect, the cameraman did not mention one). The weird craft was supposedly towed on take-off, by a DC-3 plane (or rather a C-47, the correct military designation), but was self-propelled afterwards (we don't learn exactly how). I am going to come back on this peculiar aeronautical adventure.

The second crash is the famous one, near Roswell. This time, the craft is affixed to a huge balloon cluster, derived from advanced Japanese "Fugo" projects (Fugo is the name of the balloon bombs of WWII) which is going to explain the famous debris field on the Foster Ranch. This time there is no "atomic" experiment. If you know well the Roswell case, you will remember that Major Marcel checked the debris at the Foster Ranch with a Geiger counter and found no radioactivity. Again, Redfern's story seems to fit well to the Roswell testimonies. But a consequence is that there was no "reason" to carry handicapped people in that flight. So, explains Redfern, there were normal Japanese for the second flight, trained as pilots to test this peculiar balloon and fast aicraft coupling.

Can we believe that story? Well, there are many big holes in it, as we are going to see. The first, and biggest one, probably, is that it was impossible for the American military to bring to the United States prisoners from Manchuria. Here is why.

Japanese "Fugo" balloons

The impossible link with Japanese experiments in Manchuria

The horrible bio- warfare experiments In Manchuria

Here is, briefly, the history of Japanese biological warfare experiments in Manchuria (5):

- 1932 -- Japanese troops invade Manchuria. Shiro Ishii, a physician and army officer who was intrigued by germ warfare, begins preliminary experiments.

General Ishii

- 1936 -- Unit 731, a biological-warfare unit disguised as a water-purification unit, is formed. Ishii builds huge compound -- more than 150 buildings over six square kilometers - at Pingfan, outside the city of Harbin. Some 9,000 test subjects, which Ishii and his peers called ''logs,'' eventually die at the compound.

Installations of Pingfan, near Harbin in Manchuria

- 1942 -- Ishii begins field tests of germ warfare on Chinese soldiers and civilians. Tens of thousands die of bubonic plague, cholera, anthrax and other diseases. U.S. soldiers captured in Philippines are sent to Manchuria.

- 1945 -- Japanese troops blow up the headquarters of Unit 731 in final days of Pacific war. Ishii orders 150 remaining ''logs'' killed to cover up their experimentation. Gen. Douglas MacArthur is named commander of the Allied powers in Japan.

- 1946 -- U.S. coverup of secret deal with Ishii and Unit 731 leaders -- germ warfare data based on human experimentation in exchange for immunity from war-crimes prosecution -- begins in earnest. Deal is concluded two years later.

No prisoners from Unit 731

Let's turn now to the Redfern story. According to his inside source "Levine" (p 85):
"When the Japanese surrendered in the wake of the atomic destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945, a number of these and "a quantity of still-living people were found in the remains of Unit 731 facilities (and also German laboratories) by allied soldiers. These remains were subsequently transferred to the Los Alamos Laboratories, New Mexico, where this dark and disturbing research was continued".

Other informers told Redfern a similar story. But is radically contradicted by all historical studies and sources. In his references, Redfern mentions the book of Peter Williams and David Wallace Unit 731: Japan's Secret Biological Warfare in World War II (6). It is a very complete history of these horrible experiments, and it says clearly what happened at the end of the war. When the Soviet army began to invade Manchuria, on August 9, 1945, the next day, the Japanese destroyed all buildings of Units 731 and 100, and killed all the prisoners. They had orders to destroy every trace of the experiments, and never talk about them. This version is confirmed in the timeline mentioned above, and in other books, for instance The Pacific War by the Japanese historian Saburo Ienaga (7). This book has been praised by major American newspapers. Here is what it says (pp. 188,189):
"According to former unit members, when the Soviet Union entered the war on August 8, 1945, the Japanese tried to destroy every trace of the 731 Unit's activities. The Maruta prisoners were given food dosed with potassium cyanide: those who did not eat the food were machine-gunned. The bodies were thrown into a pit in a huge courtyard at the unit, doused with gasoline, and set on fire. Because of the great number of corpses, they did not burn thoroughly. The charred bodies were then put into a pulverizer. Engineers dynamited the buildings, and all equipment tools, and incriminating material were burned. Personnel of 731 Unit were given highest priority evacuation back to Japan, before the rest of the Kwantung Army or other units".
The Soviet Union declared war on August 8, and began invading Manchuria the next day. The invasion was completed in a few days, with a huge army (more than 5,000 tanks and the like), and it was totally impossible for American soldiers to arrive there before them, anyway.

Map of the end of the Pacific War

The first American investigator, Lt. Col. Sanders, a young bacteriologist from Camp Detrick in Maryland who arrived in Japan one week after Japan surrendered, interrogated many leaders during three months, but he was misled by his Japanese interpreter, Lt. Col. Naito, who was a former student of General Ishii, the head of the biological warfare program. Nevertheless, Sanders discovered around September 1945 that Unit 731 was involved in human experiments, and began to inform General MacArthur. Ishii then proposed to give scientific information on these experiments in exchange for complete immunity, for him and his colleagues, which was eventually granted to them.

Ishii et Sanders

On that matter, Redfern is apparently mistaken again when he writes, quoting his insiders, that a "massive" amount of documentation was found in 1945. Actually, according to Williams and Wallace, American authorities were still discussing in the summer of 1947 the opportunity of making a deal with Ishii, which had been recommended by General MacArthur. The deal was concluded the following year, in spite of a negative advice of the State Department. So, this calls into serious question Nick Redfern's claims about "massive" documentation found as soon as 1945. But there is another damaging fact regarding Japanese prisoners.

No handicapped prisoners

Another important difference resides in the alleged use of deformed and handicapped people for all these experiments, according to Redfern's insiders. This is an important element of the theory since it is supposed to explain the strange aspect of the victims of the crash (at least the first one), and it is repeated through the whole book (at least 16 times, from page 6 to page 207). But it is wrong! Actually, the Japanese experimenters at Unit 731 preferred to have subjects in good health: "Unless you work with a healthy body, you cannot get results" (8). So, the real story of the end of Unit 731 seems quite different from the one in Body Snatchers. Curiously, in the debate on the internet forum "UFO Updates" which started in July, when I questioned him, Redfern did not respond to that. Instead, he insisted that there is documented proof on secret human radiation experiments conducted after the war. This is true, but it is another story!

The ACHRE inquiry, Project "Sunshine and "Body snatchers"

In 1994, President Clinton appointed an "Advisory Committee on Human Radiation Experiments" (ACHRE) which uncovered a long history of secret irradiation experiments conducted during the period 1944 through 1974. Redfern mentions it in his book, and it is all true, but he insists then on a very special project called "Sunshine" which was proposed secretly in 1955 (pp. 164 to 166). It was a plan to collect skeletons for such experiments, by all possible means through certain "channels", and this was called "body snatching", hence the bizarre title of the book. Redfern admits that this "body snatching" project had nothing to do with Roswell, but he claims that it was "very similar to the top-secret Roswell-related events" described in his book. This is typical of Redfern's reasoning. Since there was such a secret project in the 50's, it means that his Roswell story was possible.
However, this argument of secret radiation experiments can be turned against his book: the records of the ACHRE commission, which count the rather staggering number of some 3,000 tests of human irradiation, don't mention at all his alleged radiation experiments in White Sands!

Diagram of human irradiation experiment

So, there is a simple question, in the light of the ACHRE report. Why hide these alleged White Sands irradiation experiments at all cost, since the whole story of similar experiments has been made public? When I asked this to Nick Redfern, he stressed again that it was the "Japanese angle", with its horrible experiments in Manchuria, which was the cause of the extreme secrecy. But, as we have just seen, it is an impossible argument.

By a curious coincidence, a new, anonymous testimony surfaced in August on he Internet, with a story quite similar to the one of Redfern, but this time without Japanese. In this new version, the human Guinea pigs were poor, homeless and defenseless people, picked-up here and there. And the experiments were made by Nazi doctors brought in White Sands under the "paperclip" program, just like the rocket scientists. This new version does not make more sense. The Nuremberg trial had just condemned the main Nazi leaders for war crimes, in 1946, but never mind, let's do it again, with the same mad doctors! It's enough to say that this new story, when it was published on UFO Updtates, did not find any support at all (9).

Human prisoners would have been identified as humans

Regardless of its sheer impossibility, another argument can be made against this "Japanese angle". If these White Sands experiments had been made with Japanese - or rather Chinese - prisoners, they would have been identified as such when found in the areas of White Sands or Roswell. Even if they were handicapped beings. I debated about this point with Redfern on the Internet, and he did have an answer to it. Contrary to a general impression given in the book, in which he mentioned all the time handicapped people to explain the confusion with alien beings in Roswell, there were no handicapped beings in the second crash, near Roswell! As some other readers, I confess I overlooked this on a first reading. But then, how could the Roswell people make such a lamentable confusion? Well, the answer according to Redfern is that they did not find them. The bodies were found and retrieved secretly by the White Sands people, he explains. The legend of alien bodies found in Roswell came later from a merger with the rumors coming from the White Sands crash and its handicapped victims.

That's an ingenious story, but what is its credibility? In fact, the question remains wether there could be such a confusion with handicapped bodies, supposed wrongly to be alien beings, whether it was in White Sands or in Roswell. This is where Redfern throws in the famous "Alien autopsy footage", as a sort of visual proof of his story.

The "Alien Autospy" did not show a handicapped human

According to Redfern's mysterious informers, the "Alien Autopsy Footage", released in August 1995, was actually showing one ot the handicapped victims of the White Sands crash!

Alien Autopsy

This idea has been already discussed in depth, and many experts have discarded the idea of a human being suffering of a genetic illness, but Redfern and his informers give this explanation again in the book (p 92), citing in a row the Hutchinson-Gilford-Progeria syndrome, the Werner syndrome, and the Ellis-van Creweld syndrome. But it takes only to have a good look at pictures of progeria victims to see that they are identifiable as human being in spite of their genetic defects, which is not the case of the strange body in the film. In addition, a very simple objection can be made: if it were a human body, there would have been no need for a complete protection suit such as is seen in the film (unless the whole film is a scam, but this is not at all what Redfern says). So, the idea of a real human body from the alleged White Sands experiments does not seem to make any sense.

Syndrom of Progeria


Ellis-van Creweld

Irradiation tests in flight: dangerous, insane and almost impossible

In spite of all the problems already mentiond above, let's turn now to the central piece of the book, the alleged top-secret, horrible human irradiation experiments in White Sands. Redfern reveals a stunning aspect of that experiment. His main whistle-blower, the "Colonel", told him (p. 108):
"Experimental radiation shielding and an amount of radioactive material was used that was meant to simulate as close as possible the output that might be expected from a nuclear power source when we have one. It malfunctioned. It crashed. Those are the facts".

So, in order to test the effects of irradiation, radioactive material had been installed on board. Only the pilot was protected. What a nightmare! What a dangerous experiment, if only for the technicians in charge of the installation. And, why do it at high altitude with such great difficulties? By the way, in the book Redfern and his informers insist on the "high altitude" aspect of the experiment. However, in the course of the debate on UFO Updates, he seemed to drop the idea. And what about the risk of this highly secret experiment being publicly revealed in the case of accident?

Here is another question raised by the book. Redfern cites another version, also given by the Colonel (p. 106): "a device had been incorporated into the vehicle that was designed to convert heat energy from an atomic pile into electrical energy". This is even more confusing. Was it just radioactive material (p. 108), or an atomic pile (p. 106)? I must confess that I missed this version on first reading, simply because it seemed so incredible. It is well known that no aircraft with a nuclear engine existed at that time. Yes, there were some projects in the fifties, but which were abandoned at the beginning of the sixties. The only test flights were to carry a small atomic pile on board a huge NB-36H bomber, without even trying to use it for the propulsion. It was still propelled with classical engines. There was heavy protection for the crew. It was a small atomic pile, yet the installation weighted about 16 tons! The first flight was on September 17, 1955 in Fort Worth. There were 47 flights, after which the contaminated parts of the plane were dismantled and buried. Indeed, it was a dangerous experiment.

The NB-36H bomber

An impossible aeronautical tale

No Horten plane, nor "lifting bodies" in 1947

Let's quote again the final summary (p. 207):
"In May 1947, an experimental aircraft that was borne out of the revolutionary aviation research of the Horten brothers of Germany was test-flown from White Sands, New Mexico". It was part of a larger project begun in 1946, of a nuclear-powered aircraft.

The problem is that, according to all credible sources, there were no such craft in 1947! The Americans did find and bring back to the United States an unfinished Horten prototype, the Horten H IX, with two jet engines. There were, in Germany at the end of the war, two models of Horten jet propelled, flying wings: the Horten H IX V2 which was first flown in Feb. 18, 1945, but crashed and killed the pilot because of engine failure; the Horten H IX V3, the one which was taken to the United States. But it was not finished then, and never was.

Horten H IX V3

The American engineers were not interested, probably for the simple reason that there were already the Northrop wings, being tested and flown (with lots of problems). Not in White Sands, by the way, which had only a rudimentary airfield, but at Muroc Dry Lake (later Edwards AFB) in California, which was the adequate and only place for testing fast experimental planes like that. Now, Nick Redfern says that it was in fact a Japanese, "Horten-like" project. But he has absolutely no proof of that!

Now, about the "lifting bodies". This term refers to new designs without wings, tested much more recently, from 1963 to 1975, in connection with the construction of re-entry vehicles like the space shuttle. The original idea was conceived at NASA in 1957, by Dr Alfred J. Eggers, Jr., according to the NASA fact sheet on Lifting Bodies (10). In any case, these little, fat and fast monoplace gliders were not the best design to carry a team of Japanese handicapped prisoners, in great secrecy, with a load of radioactive materials, hanging under a huge balloon or towed by a C-47 plane, in White Sands in 1947! On the other hand, they did look a bit like certain descriptions of the Roswell UFO by some witnesses, and this is obviously the reason why they are mentioned in Redfern's book.

Lifting Body Northrop HL10

Balloon and plane: a dubious aeronautical assemblage

Let's quote again the final summary of the second crash, near Roswell (pp. 207, 208):
"Two months later, in early July a second and similar vehicle was, once again, flown from White Sands. In this particular instance, the aircraft was affixed to a huge balloon array that was based upon advanced Fugo balloon designs developed in the closing stages of WW II by Japanese forces. The aircraft was piloted by a crew of Japanese personnel who had been specifically trained for the task and crashed near the Foster Ranch after being catastrophically struck by lightning".

There is an obvious objection, from the start, to this second scenario. The risk that the damnable experiment with war prisoners would be exposed publicly would have been even higher, especially if the huge Fugo balloon cluster (much bigger than the Mogul balloon train with its small weather balloons) drifted in the wind to an undesirable place. What about the risk of a crash landing in a populated area? But the experimenters were lucky: the balloon and craft, in the Redfern scenario, landed in the rather desertic area of Roswell. However, such a strange assemblage, with the alleged huge balloons and a weird plane attached to them, would have been almost impossible to hide from curious eyes in the White Sands area.

There is a more radical objection to this story, which is how clumsy and dangerous such an experiment would have been, from the mere aeronautical point of view. The idea of attaching a fast little plane to a huge balloon cluster is like trying to mate a carp and a rabbit! At the beginning of the debate on UFO Updates, Robert Durant, former airline pilot and flight instructor, raised that question, but Nick Redfern avoided it. The scenario of the crash seems also very acrobatic. According to Redfern and his mysterious informers, the craft and balloon (which were supposed to go to a very high altitude, for tests of "mutation") were caught in a storm and struck by lightning. But physicist Bruce Maccabee argued that, faced with such a dangerous situation, any pilot would have avoided it by separating his plane from the balloon, which was not the case in the Redfern's story.

In the Redfern scenario, a part of the disabled plane and, presumably, most of the balloons, were torn away in the storm, together with one of the Japanese who was ejected from the craft. They fell and landed together on the Foster Ranch, while the main body of the craft, carrying the rest of the crew, crashed some twenty miles farther away, where it was later retrieved secretely by the White Sands people. How could one of the members of the crew cling to a piece of the plane and balloons, all the way to the ground, remains unclear. But they were tough fellows, said the "Colonel": "they were fierce, proud little bastards" (p 110)!

Balloon and aircraft debris still easy to identify, like for Mogul

In this new explanation of Roswell, we find again the problem, like in the Mogul story, of the people of Roswell not being able to identify a balloon, or balloon cluster. This question is now aggravated by adding the wreckage of a small craft, either wooden or metallic, or even a fragment of it. The argument of balloons made of aluminium coated polyethylene, put forward by Redfern in his book, could not explain at all the description of the very strong foil, impossible to tear and yet scattered in a multitude of small jagged pieces like the result of a violent explosion. In addition, they were impossible to burn. They just don't correspond to a balloon enveloppe.
In the debate on UFO Updates, David Rudiak pressed Nick Redfern with embarrassing critiques about the debris, as he had done previously on Mogul. Then, Redfern came-up suddenly with a new finding from his informers: he learned that, for the Roswell flight, aluminium foil, or "chaffe" had been used, as a test to confuse radars. So, this new, providential, element would explain the aluminium-like foil found on the Foster ranch! However, there was no logical reason to hide the flight on radar. On the contrary, there was every reason to track it. Besides, in the scenario of an accident in a big storm, the aluminium foil would have been scattered over a very wide area, not just on the debris field of the Foster ranch. Anyway, this aluminium foil, like the one used for cigarette wrapping, was very mundane, and did not fit either to the descriptions on the witnesses.

A major contradiction: the horrible secret revealed by… secret agents!

The curious informers of Nick Redfern, since 1996

There are, in fact, two big contradictions in the book. We have just seen the first one. Human irradiation experiments were made but are no longer secret. So, why maintain such secrecy?
The "Japanese angle" of horrible bio-warfare experiments does not hold. Secondly, why would a whole group of secret agents reveal the "horrible secret" to hide at all costs - to a mere ufologist like Nick Redfern, expecting that he would publish it, and actually encouraging him to do so? One of them, "Levine", who was his first informer, in 1996, asked him to keep the story until the end of the year 2000! (p. 87).

One of the most questionable aspect of the Redfern's story is that all his informers were, one way or another, linked to secret services, in Great Britain and in the Unites States. Here they are, in chronological order:

In August 1996, in London, Mr "Levine" (pp. 79-81), is an agent of the Home Office. His colleagues are Mr "T", intelligence agent at the MOD, and Mr "D", a CIA "operative". They show him a long version of the "Autopsy film", first released a year before.

In July 2001, in Los Angeles, an old woman whom he calls the "Black Widow", approches him at the end of a conference (chapter 1). She says that she worked on "special projects" in Oak Ridge, from the mid-1940s to the early 1950s.

The crucial year seems to be 2003, with:
- The "Colonel", in November 2003. He is the main informer (chapter 10). He said that he had "spent fifteen years operating deep within the heart of American intelligence. In 1969, he found a top secret document at the Defense Intelligence Agency which "laid to rest the tales about flying saucers and alien bodies recovered from the desert of New Mexico in the summer of 1947 and told the true story about the Roswell events";
- "Bill Salter", in December 6, 2003 (p. 90). He is a former employee of the Psychological Strategy Board. He met in Oak Ridge "a man employed in a covert intelligence position", who had "previously worked for the Central Intelligence Group" (CIG). Salter had also been informed by an "old friend from DOE";
- Al Barker, in December 9, 2003. He worked for the Psychological Warfare Center (PWC) in Fort Bragg.

There is a remarkable coincidence here. Three separate informers approached Redfern, separately, in less than two months at the end of 2003, and told him the same story! This does suggest a concerted plan to inform, or rather to disinform him.

The risk of disinformation

In the debate on "UFO Updates", the question of possible disinformation has been raised, as could be expected. Redfern admitted that it was a possibility but doubted it for several reasons. Firstly, according to him, there has been, indeed, a lot of disinformation, but in the opposite direction: it was all aimed at propagating false tales of UFO crashes, in Roswell but also in other places such as the Aztec case. And this long lasting program of disinformation was implemented just to hide the horrible experiments in White Sands!

In fact, the history of ufology in the United States shows, on the contrary, a hard line of denial of UFOs in general, and especially of UFO crashes. Just look at the Roswell case, and the two big books of the Air Force against the UFO crash, in 1995 and 1997. Roswell was buried as soon as July 9, 1947, and for thirty years, with a ridicule explanation of confusion with a weather balloon. The case surfaced again, slowly, toward the end of the seventies, when independant researchers began finding witnesses. And, obviously, the intelligence services were not glad about it.

However, Redfern goes even farther. He quotes Mr "T", intelligence agent at the MOD, as telling him that disinformation tales "centered on three key issues (p. 83):
1) accounts of crashed UFOs and the recovery of alien bodies;
2) stories concerning underground bases in New Mexico that had been taken over by hostile alien forces;
3) tales of "alien-induced animal mutilation".
It is true that there has been a subtle line of "amplifying disinformation", as the French study group Cometa called it in its report. A well known exemple is the disinformation fed to engineer Paul Bennewitz in the 80s, revealed by Bill Moore who had participated in it secretly. This is the second point cited by agent "T", the story of the alleged alien base in Dulce, New Mexico, which has been exposed in great detail in another recent book, Project Beta of Greg Bishop (11). But a wrong information may be launched to hide a true one, of the same kind! As for the "tales" of cattle mutilations linked to UFOs, the true story is exactly the contrary: there has been continuous efforts by all official agencies to deny such stories! That claim of Mr "T" is blatantly false.

A second reason for not being disinformed, pleaded Redfern, is the convergence of independent informers, telling the same story, and of documents revealing certain aspects similar to his story. Yes, several informers told him the same story of prisoners from Unit 731: Mr levine in 1996 (p. 85), the Colonel in November 2003 (p. 108), Bill Salter on December 6, 2003 (p. 91), and Al Barker three days later! (pp. 91 and 141). But this story is false, and this convergence raises on the contrary the question of a kind of concerted disinformation.
As for the documents, the exemple already mentioned of the "Sunshine" and "Body Snatchers" program, shows the weakness of the argument. It was not related at all to the alleged experiments in White Sands, and the same can be said of other documents quoted in the book. Actually, there is not one piece of documentation sustaining the story.
Redfern also argues that he was not a good target at all for such an action, because he has been semi-retired from active ufology during recent years. But this argument is not very convincing, as the American researcher Brad Sparks pointed out on UFO Updates, showing a long list of his participations in conferences, and articles published in recent years.


In all, the hypothesis of an operation of disinformation seems quite plausible. This a very dubious story, for which I have not found any credible evidence in the book of Nick Redfern. A book which may start again the polemics and confusion about Roswell. But, in my opinion, the hypothesis of a UFO crash in Roswell still holds.


(1) Nick Redfern, Body Snatchers in the Desert. The Horrible Truth at the Heart of the Roswell Story, Paraview Pocket Books, Simon & Schuster, New York, NY, 2005
(2) Nick Redfern, Cosmic Crashes. The incredible story of the UFOs that fell to Earth, Simon & Schuster U.K., London, 1999
(3) Linda Corley, "For the sake of my country", MUFON 2000 International UFO Symposium proceedings
(4) Descriptions of these properties and the shape and size of the debris field from various people can be read for instance at the web site of David Rudiak:
(5) From the web at
(6) Peter Williams and David Wallace, Unit 731: Japan's Secret Biological Warfare in World war II, London, Hodder & Stoughton Ltd.,1989
(7) Saburo Ienaga, The Pacific War, 1931-1945, Iwanami Shoten Publishers, Tokyo, 1968. (American edition by Pantheon Books, Random House, New York, 1978)
(8) Quote from the text: "Unit 731. A half century of denial", at
(cited by Jan Aldrich in a message of June 22 on the list UFO Updates)
(9) UFO UpDates, August 25, 2005, "Incredible Story Backs Redfern's Roswell Theory"
See the List archives at
(10) For "lifting bodies", see at:
(11) Greg Bishop, Project Beta, Paraview Pocket Books, New York, 2005