The most popular file in the FBI Vault has been viewed nearly a million times over the past two years. Yet, it is only a single page, relaying an unconfirmed report that the FBI never even followed up on. The file in question is a memo dated March 22, 1950 — 63 years ago last week.
It was authored by Guy Hottel, then head of our field office in Washington, D.C. Like all memos to FBI Headquarters at that time, it was addressed to Director J. Edgar Hoover and recorded and indexed in FBI records.
So what is this document that has so many people talking? It’s a short memo titled “Flying Saucers, Information Concerning,” and begins: “An investigator for the Air Forces stated that three so-called flying saucers had been recovered in New Mexico. They were described as being circular in shape with raised centers, approximately 50 feet in diameter. Each one was occupied by three bodies of human shape but only 3 feet tall, dressed in metallic cloth of a very fine texture. Each body was bandaged in a manner similar to the blackout suits used by speed flyers and test pilots. According to Mr. [blacked out] informant, the saucers were found in New Mexico due to the fact that the Government has a very high-powered radar set-up in that area and it is believed the radar interferes with the controlling mechanism of the saucers. No further evaluation was attempted…concerning the above.”
UFO researcher Nick Pope claimed that the document “could be the smoking gun that proves UFOs are real.” Bill Birnes, the publisher of UFO Magazine and star of the show UFO Hunters, also endorsed the memo as hard evidence of the Rowell UFO crash on an episode of the TV show Unsealed: Alien Files broadcast earlier this year.
Is it a hoax? Or final proof that flying saucers and their alien occupants are on ice somewhere in Area 51? Before jumping to conclusions there are few things to note.
First of all, the supposedly “top secret document” is instead a non-classified, ordinary office memo. This seems odd given the supposedly explosive nature of its contents; you might think that the FBI would do a better job of making sure that anyone in the office wouldn’t have access to a document admitting that they are hiding three crashed saucers and nine alien bodies. The memo has also been known about since the 1970s.
Second, Roswell is not mentioned anywhere in the memo. It merely says the saucers were “recovered in New Mexico.” Since the alleged saucer crash in Roswell, New Mexico, is the most famous in the world, it’s easy to assume that it’s referring to that incident. However, none of the Roswell eyewitnesses described anything like what’s in the memo.
Instead, the informant’s words match a description given in a proven UFO hoax in Aztec, New Mexico, a year after the supposed Roswell incident. David Thomas, a New Mexico physicist and UFO researcher, found exactly that story was spun by a con man named Silas Newton and an accomplice, who fabricated a UFO crash hoax as part of a scam. Newton was arrested in 1952 and convicted of fraud in connection with the UFO hoax.
The FBI file ends by noting that “the Hottel memo does not prove the existence of UFOs; it is simply a second-or third-hand claim that we never investigated. Some people believe the memo repeats a hoax that was circulating at that time, but the Bureau’s files have no information to verify that theory. Sorry, no smoking gun on UFOs. The mystery remains…”
To the believers, of course, this is just another example of high-level disinformation. Or maybe that’s what they want us to think.
Image: An artist’s rendering of an imagined landed flying saucer. Credit: iStock