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The X-Files and Roswell

on Mon, 03/26/2012 - 00:00

The X-Files
Over the course of nine television seasons, the FOX drama The X-Files constructed a sprawling mythology centered on a government conspiracy and the existence of aliens. As the series rolled along, the mythology expanded as well, incorporating a pending alien invasion, deadly viruses, human-alien hybrids, alien bounty hunters and even super soldiers into the narrative. All of the events depicted on the series, however, are directly connected to a real-world incident from close to five decades earlier—the supposed crash of a UFO in the small town of Roswell, New Mexico.

“We had a perfect conspiracy with an alien race,” the sinister Cigarette Smoking Man, one of the chief proponents of the conspiracy, explains in season six of The X-Files. “Aliens who were coming to reclaim this planet and destroy all human life. Our job was to secretly prepare the way for their invasion. To create for them a slave race of human-alien hybrids. They were good plans, right plans. Kept secret for over fifty years, ever since the crash at Roswell.”

While the events in New Mexico serve as the catalyst for the overall X-Files narrative, they also mark the starting point for contemporary investigations into UFOs as well. In their book Witness to Roswell: Unmasking the Government’s Biggest Cover-Up (New Page Books, 2009), Thomas J. Carey and Donald R. Schmitt use eyewitness accounts and secondhand reports to offer a detailed description of the Roswell Incident.

“In early July of 1947, something crashed to Earth in the high desert of eastern New Mexico during one of those severe thunder and lightning storms that occurs in the region every year during monsoon season,” Carey and Schmitt explain. “A few days later, the U.S. Army Air Forces electrified a nation and the world by issuing a press release announcing that its 509th Bomb Group at the Roswell Army Air Field, located just south of the sleepy New Mexico town of Roswell, had ‘captured’ a flying saucer that had crashed nearby. Within hours, however, a press conference was hastily convened at the Eighth Air Force Headquarters in Fort Worth, Texas, to announce that it was all a big mistake. The flying saucer was nothing more than a misidentified weather balloon.”

Carey and Schmitt argue that it was not a weather balloon after all but an actual UFO instead, and that the true events at Roswell were kept secret in a far-reaching conspiracy that rivals the fictional X-Files itself. Civilians were intimidated to keep quiet over what they saw in the fields surrounding Roswell—including death threats to not only themselves but their family members—farms were ransacked for any parts of the wreckage that may have been kept as “souvenirs,” and a few select individuals were even “paid off” with hush money.

“I knew that he worked on a top secret project, word gets around, but Bob was always a patriot first,” the wife of an air force colonel tells FBI Agent Fox Mulder during the initial season of The X-Files. “He took loyalty to his country as an oath.” As Thomas Carey and Donald Schmitt learned while researching Witness to Roswell, the same holds true for the actual military officers deployed at Roswell Army Air Field who remained silent about the crash for decades afterwards.

“Ellens Air Base, the same base that we’re at right now, the same base that for some strange reason doesn’t appear on your US government map, is supposedly one of the six sites where parts from the wreckage were shipped,” Fox Mulder later explains to his FBI counterpart Dana Scully. While the Idaho locale is fictional within the realms of The X-Files, Carey and Schmitt have been able to construct a short list of possible destinations for the actual Roswell debris. Wright Air Field in Dayton, Ohio, has always been considered the primary location but Edwards Air Force Base, CIA headquarters in Langley, Area 51 in Nevada and White Sands, New Mexico, are also mentioned by the authors.

Battelle Memorial Institute in Columbus, Ohio, meanwhile, is a government-funded research facility located near Wright Air Field. According to the first and secondhand accounts described in Witness to Roswell, government officials found a “memory metal” at the Roswell crash site that could be crumpled in one’s hand only to return to its original shape afterwards. The thin, foil-like substance also could not be cut, burned or pierced by bullets.

Roswell investigator Anthony Bragalia discovered “progress reports” generated from Battelle Memorial Institute in the late 1940s regarding a similar new substance known as Nitinol. “Nitinol, an amalgam of nickel and pure titanium, displays ‘shape-recovery’ properties similar to those described by Roswell witnesses,” Carey and Schmitt explain in Witness to Roswell. “Nitinol ‘remembers’ its original shape by returning to that shape when crumpled. It possesses a high fatigue strength, is lightweight, is aluminum-like in color, and can withstand a blowtorch.” In the minds of many UFOologists, Nitinol is the result of secret experiments conducted on the Roswell wreckage.

Fox Mulder makes his own claims on The X-Files about scientific breakthroughs that directly relate to Roswell. During the season one episode “Deep Throat,” for instance, he maintains that clandestine aircrafts flown in Idaho actually contain alien technology and cause mental breakdowns in the aviators who pilot them. “I think that men like Colonel Budahas are physiologically incapable of dealing with the stress of flying the aircraft we saw, of doing those maneuvers at those speeds,” Mulder concludes. “We’re talking about technology so sensitive and advanced it’s taken almost fifty years to make it work.”

The following season, Fox Mulder insists that the World War II program known as the Philadelphia Experiment—a secret attempt to “render battleships invisible to radar”—continued long after the war and also utilized information recovered in New Mexico. “Less than nine months after the crash of a UFO at Roswell, the USS Eldridge did more than just hide from radar screens,” Mulder explains. “It disappeared altogether from the Philadelphia Naval Yard, only to reappear moments later, hundreds of miles away in Norfolk, Virginia. The physicists may have been trying to manipulate wormholes on Earth. Actual portals where matter interferes with time at a relatively decelerated or accelerated rate.”

Thomas Carey and Donald Schmitt argue in Witness to Roswell that debris from the UFO were not the only items recovered in Roswell, as a small number of dead alien bodies—as well as one living specimen—were also discovered. The descriptions offered by those interviewed by the authors are eerily similar to the alien creatures seen on The X-Files.

“The being’s head was proportionally larger than a human head,” Carey and Schmitt write. “The being had two large, round eyes, though one source did suggest the eyes were ‘Oriental or Mongoloid, deep-set and wide apart.’ Its nose was vague, with only a slight protuberance. Its mouth was a small slit and opened into a slight cavity. The mouth apparently did not ‘function as a means of communication or as an orifice for food ingestion,’ and there were no teeth. The neck was thin, as was the torso. The arms were long and thin and the hands reached close to the knee.”

The fate of the sole surviving alien from Roswell is uncertain. Thomas Carey and Donald Schmitt have gathered conflicting reports, including evidence that it was transferred to White Sands, shot by “panicky sentries” while trying to escape and even survived as a prisoner until as late as 1952. All accounts, however, suggest that it was accidentally killed at some point following its capture.

The future of any alien encountered on The X-Files, meanwhile, meets with a more immediate and intentional outcome. “After the Roswell Incident in 1947, even at the brink of the Cold War, there was an ultra-secret conference attended by the United States, the Soviet Union, the People’s Republic of China, Britain, both Germanys, France,” the conspiracy informant known as Deep Throat explains to Fox Mulder. “And it was agreed that should any extraterrestrial biological entity survive a crash, the country that held that being would be responsible for its extermination.”

In Witness to Roswell, Thomas Carey and Donald Schmitt quote Dr. Thomas E. Bullard of Indiana University, a folklorist who believes “that most legends are derived from some basis of factual occurrence. Cult figures are often composites of true-life individuals, and classic fictional stories typically evolve around genuine historical events and people.”

The FOX drama The X-Files may be a work of fiction, but many of the events depicted on the series reflect actual occurrences that have been investigated and studied by contemporary UFOologists. Just as modern alien studies begin with Roswell, the same is true of the mythology that surrounds The X-Files—transforming the series into more than just a mere television show but a modern-day legend as well.

Anthony Letizia

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