The 1947 Roswell Incident, allegedly the crash of an extra-terrestrial spacecraft filled with alien occupants, caused intense controversy and spawned conspiracy theories by the score. Now comes a stranger-than-conspiracy-fiction explanation:

Area 51, the new book by Annie Jacobsen…puts forward the theory that Stalin was inspired by Orson Wells’s famous radio adaptation of the HG Wells novel War of the Worlds, which provoked hysteria across America when broadcast in 1938. According to the book, the plot started after the Soviet Union seized from Germany at the end of the war the jet-propelled, single wing Horton Ho 229 – a fighter said to be the forerunner of the modern B2 stealth bomber.

This is where Mengele enters the story. The Nazi doctor, who experimented on prisoners in Auschwitz and fled to South America after the war, was supposedly enlisted to create a crew of “grotesque, child-size aviators” in return for a eugenics laboratory.

The book says that the plane was filled with “alien-like” children, aged 12 or 13, who Stalin wanted to land in America and cause hysteria similar to the 1938 broadcast. But, the plane, remotely piloted by another aircraft, crashed and the Americans hushed up the incident.

Jacobsen, a contributing editor at the Los Angeles Times Magazine and an investigative reporter, on getting to tell the history of America’s most famous secret government facility:

What I learned through the biographies of its Cold War heroes is nothing short of stunning. Beginning in the early 1950s, out in a desert enclave hidden from the rest of the world by a ring of mountains, a small fraternity of soldiers, spies, scientists, and engineers worked to advance military science and technology faster and further than any other foreign power in the world. They accomplished just that—setting the bar higher in terms of innovation on one secret project after the next. […]

But in my reporting I also uncovered a reckless and dangerous side of Area 51, not involving captured aliens and UFOs as so many Americans believe, but of actions far more of this earth. Area 51 sits inside America’s only domestic nuclear bombing range, called the Nevada Test Site, originally run by the iron fist of the Atomic Energy Commission, unregulated for its first 30 years. Through the eyes of the men who were there, I report stories of reckless atomic weapons tests including ones like “Project 57,” a dirty bomb test that spread weapons grade plutonium over 895 acres, and one of the NERVA tests, which allowed a Mars-bound nuclear rocket to overheat to 4,000+ degrees Celsius until it burst, sending radioactive chunks as large as 148 pounds into the atmosphere. Because all this occurred on a top secret base, no one in the public had a need-to-know about. And until this book, no one did.

JOE WINDISH, Technology Editor
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Copyright 2011 The Moderate Voice
  • In other words, the truth is scarier than the alien story. Sounds typical, really.