Kent Jeffrey  


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Roswell: Anatomy of a Myth

By: Kent Jeffrey

Kent Jeffrey was once a strong supporter of the Roswell Saga.  An airline pilot, he had involved himself heavily with the investigation and research into the subject of UFO's.  One of the outcomes of his dedication was the creation of the International Roswell Initiative (IRI).

However, by 1997, his research into Roswell had not produced the evidence he had been expecting.  Indeed, it was pointing in the exact opposite direction... 

Almost one hundred years ago, a very concerned eight-year-old girl from New York City, Virginia O'Hanlon, wrote the Question and Answer Department of her family's evening newspaper, The New York Sun, requesting to know the truth about Santa Claus. Virginia had been a firm believer, but her young friends had started to sow the seeds of doubt.

On September 21, 1897, Virginia's answer finally came. Francis Pharcellus Church, a former Civil War correspondent and an aging writer for the Sun, replied to Virginia's letter in one of the most eloquent and enduring editorial responses in the history of journalism. Church transcended the cold hard facts of reality and avoided shaking Virginia's childlike faith by subtly alluding to Santa Claus as a metaphor for that which is good and noble in life -- Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give your life its highest beauty and joy....

Recently, the International Roswell Initiative (IRI) received an inquiry from a young girl, Lauren M., living in a small town in New Jersey, that is in many ways reminiscent of Virginia O'Hanlon's 1897 letter to the New York Sun. While the IRI is primarily a grass roots effort to declassify whatever information the government might have on UFOs or extraterrestrial intelligence, it has received numerous inquiries over the last three years about the actual Roswell event, many from children.

January 6, 1997

Dear International Roswell Initiative:

I am a 6th grade student who is studying all kinds of interesting information about UFOs... I believe that there are really aliens who have landed and crashed (such as Roswell), but the government tried to cover it up...If you have any information that can help me prove that there are UFOs and aliens, please send me that information. Thank you for your time.


Lauren M. Mrs. Nielsen's 6th grade

Having been extensively involved over the last few years with both the investigation of the Roswell case and the effort to get the matter declassified, I would love to be able to answer Lauren M.'s letter in the affirmative. Unfortunately, in clear conscience, I cannot -- either directly or metaphorically. Unlike a fanciful story from Western folklore created to appeal to the imaginations of children, the 1947 Roswell case involves real people and an actual event. Additionally, with all the publicity the Roswell event and its alleged cover-up have received, along with the accompanying implications of conspiracy and deceit on the part of the U.S. government, Roswell represents a controversy that extends far beyond the relatively narrow confines of the so-called UFO community. As such, Roswell demands an objective, straightforward, and, if possible, definitive answer.

During the last year, compelling new evidence has come to the fore that now makes such a definitive answer possible. Unfortunately, it is not the answer that those of us familiar with the Roswell case have wanted to hear. Declassified 1948 military documents, new testimony from retired military men from both Roswell and the Foreign Technology Division at Wright Patterson Air Force Base, and a thorough reexamination of how the crashed-disk story got started in the first place, make it unequivocally clear that the material recovered northwest of Roswell, New Mexico, in July 1947 was not of extraterrestrial origin. In other words, NO UFO CRASHED AT ROSWELL -- WITH OR WITHOUT ALIENS. IT DID NOT HAPPEN. PERIOD. For those willing to look objectively and rationally at all the evidence, this contention should become resoundingly clear, not just beyond a reasonable doubt, but beyond all doubt.


Disinformation Agent or Defector?

As soon as word got out that I, coordinator of the IRI and author of the Roswell Declaration, had reversed my opinion on Roswell, accusations such as he is an agent for the government or they finally got to him immediately appeared on Internet postings and elsewhere. While it is generally not prudent to risk giving such silliness even an inkling of respectability by publicly acknowledging it, I will address the issue here, nonetheless, because the accusations seem to be so widespread.

First of all, no individual or agency has ever attempted to influence or pressure me in any way, shape, or form -- with regard to Roswell or anything else. Furthermore, if Roswell had really happened and if there had been any kind of attempt to intimidate me, such an action would have been the biggest mistake possible. Being somewhat rebellious by nature, I would have then pursued the matter with a vengeance, spurred on by the knowledge that I was really on to something.

Secondly, I am not employed by the government in any capacity whatsoever. My sole occupation for the past 26 years has been that of airline pilot. I am employed by a major U.S. carrier and presently fly international routes, primarily to Europe. Although I have never seen a UFO, I have had a long-term interest in the phenomenon. My interest in Roswell came about in part because my father, Arthur Jeffrey, a retired Air Force colonel, knew and worked in the early sixties with one of the key Roswell figures, General William Blanchard.

While I did feel for a long time that there was a significant chance that Roswell involved a crashed UFO, I never at any time believed it to be the case with absolute certainty. However, even if I had only felt that there was a slight chance that Roswell involved the crash of an alien spaceship I still would have pursued the matter vigorously, because, if true, it would have been the story of the millennium.


The International Roswell Initiative

There are apparently those who also feel that by reversing my position on Roswell I am dropping the ball and letting down the twenty thousand plus individuals who have signed the Roswell Declaration. That is anything but the case.

First, with regard to reversing my stance, it is important to remember that the objective of the Roswell Initiative has been to find the truth, not define it. Unfortunately, the truth turned out to be different from what I thought it might be, or hoped it would be. However, now that I am absolutely certain that the debris recovered from Roswell was not that from an extraterrestrial craft, I feel an obligation to get that information out as well. Not to do so would be less than forthright and less than honest.

Secondly, as for the Roswell Declarations, the plan is to deliver them to the White House, along with a cover letter to the President, during the week of the 50th anniversary of the Roswell event this July. Whether or not the government has any substantive information on UFOs, from a public relations standpoint, the situation has not been handled well. The government's quasi-official policy over the last few decades of ignoring the UFO issue has led to a definite suspicion on the part of its citizenry. A 1996 Gallup pole revealed that 71 percent of the American public believes that the U.S. Government knows more about UFOs than they are telling us.

Although the Roswell Declaration was inspired by the 1947 Roswell event, it is by no means tied to it. The Declaration requests an Executive Order declassifying any information regarding the existence of UFOs or extraterrestrial intelligence. Such an assurance would still be timely, appropriate, and beneficial to both the U.S. government and its people.

As is stated in the Declaration, if no information is being withheld, such an action would, nonetheless, have the positive effect of setting the record straight and clearing up years of suspicion and controversy. On the other hand, if information is actually being withheld, it would represent knowledge of profound importance to which we are all entitled, and its release would be acknowledged as an historic act of honesty and goodwill.


Misleading Information

Many of the books and documentaries about Roswell imply that it is highly probable, if not certain, that the recovered debris was from a crashed flying saucer. Some of that information, however, is misleading or incorrect. It ranges from fabricated stories on the part of seemingly credible witnesses to exaggeration and selective presentation of fact.

In some instances, it is probably more a case of overzealousness on the part of authors than intentional deception. In other instances, credibility is stretched beyond limits. For example, after the conclusion of the story in the movie Roswell, statements of purported fact just prior to the credits inform us that Jesse Marcel, Sr., died in 1986 and that since then over 350 witnesses to the event have agreed to talk. In actuality, because so few people ever saw the debris, it is doubtful whether even one-tenth that number of witnesses could ever be produced.

In retrospect, there is much about Roswell that I wish I had questioned more thoroughly, early on. For example, I received a very interesting letter, dated March 20, 1993, written on the stationary of a respected major UFO organization. The author of the letter, in addition to being a board member of that organization, was a well-known Roswell researcher and the co-author of a leading book on the subject. I had no reason to question his credibility.

In part the letter read:

"...a very important trip to New Mexico where we secured another first-hand witness to the bodies. This brings our total to EIGHT (emphasis in the original) with yet additional prospects."

My immediate thought was that if these (secret and primarily military, I was told) witnesses could be convinced to come forward, we would be able to break the Roswell case wide open. The letter represented a major turning point in my support for and involvement with the Roswell crashed-UFO investigation.

I subsequently retained, at my personal expense, a major Washington, D.C., law firm to offer counsel to the eight witnesses in the hope of encouraging them to come forward. In September, 1993, I arranged for two of the attorneys from the firm to travel to New Mexico, where they were to be put in touch with three of the supposed eight secret witnesses. Once the attorneys arrived in Roswell, however, they were put in contact with only one such witness. I would later learn that this particular so-called secret witness was already known to other researchers and that his story was considered outlandish and unbelievable -- an assessment with which I now fully agree.

Sending the two attorneys to New Mexico was a tremendously expensive waste of time and resources. The researcher and author who wrote the March 20, 1993, letter telling of the eight witnesses was, himself, eventually discredited. Although a very personable individual, he proved to be less than honest. He was subsequently removed from the board of the UFO organization with which he was affiliated and his co-author, still a respected researcher, disavowed any association with him. As for the other seven secret witnesses, nothing has ever been heard from or about them since.


UFO Crashes

Even before the advent of recent negative developments in the Roswell case, I have always felt that a UFO would never crash. However, because of the impressive witness testimony about which I was told, I suspended judgment and allowed for the possibility that Roswell might be an exception -- some kind of one-in-a-quintillion fluke. That was, in retrospect, a mistake.

The problem with the concept of a UFO crashing is that as technology advances, so does reliability. Be it with cars, airplanes, televisions, or wristwatches, the reliability of today's technology far exceeds that of the technology of just a few decades ago. For example, because of the high reliability of their engines, long-range, twin-engine commercial jetliners are now authorized to fly nonstop across the North Atlantic. A few decades ago, that would have been unthinkable. (The positive correlation between advancing technology and reliability applies to proven technology, not experimental state-of-the art machines still in the developmental phase, such as experimental aircraft or space vehicles.)

With today's industry-average engine-failure rate of less than one failure per 100,000 flight hours, the chances of both engines of a two-engine jetliner failing during a given hour of flight are less than one out of 10 billion. Figuring 50,000 aircraft-ocean crossings per year, and factoring in such variables as average time over the water and average distance from land, the odds are less than fifty-fifty of a double-engine failure and consequent ditching in the North Atlantic of even one such aircraft over the next 10,000 years.

This incredible degree of reliability is found with a technology that would be primitive compared with a UFO. Even with today's relatively primitive technology, our commercial aircraft have very efficient collision avoidance systems, as well as excellent radar systems for avoiding thunderstorms and their associated hail and lightning (phenomena, incidentally, that are surely not unique to this planet).

If we assume that UFOs are extraterrestrial spacecraft and that some of the many reported UFO sightings are genuine UFOs, we are dealing with machines apparently capable of high-speed right-angle turns, incredible accelerations and speeds, and wingless flight -- not to mention of traveling light-years through the void of empty space in, presumably, a relatively short period of time. Such capability would require a technology totally beyond our present understanding of physics -- a technology the sophistication of which we cannot even begin to imagine.

Because of the positive correlation between technology and reliability, such incredibly advanced technology would most certainly mean a correspondingly high degree of reliability. Common sense dictates that the chances of such machines crashing, breaking down, or colliding would be all but zero. It certainly would be many orders of magnitude less than the already infinitesimally small chance of one of today's twin-engine jetliners having a double-engine failure.

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