ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A third-party report of “flying saucers” in New Mexico, sent by FBI Washington, D.C., field office chief Guy Hottel to then-Director J. Edgar Hoover in 1950, has become the most popular file in the FBI “Vault” — the high-tech reading room housing various records released under the Freedom of Information Act.
In the past two years, the file has gotten nearly a million hits, according to a story on the FBI website titled “UFOs or No? The Guy Hottel Memo.”
When the FBI launched its online “Vault” in April 2011, some media outlets “erroneously reported that the FBI had posted proof of a UFO crash at Roswell, New Mexico, and the recovery of wreckage and alien corpses,” the article said.
In fact, the one-page Hottel memo had been released publicly in the 1970s, well before its appearance in the Vault. And it appears to have no connection to the famous 1947 Roswell event.
Located in southeast New Mexico, Roswell has become synonymous with alien visitation in the last two decades after Air Force officials in 1947 claimed to have recovered a flying saucer, then recanted and said it was a research balloon that fell on a nearby ranch.
Hottel’s memo three years later reported on the claims of an unnamed informant who said the Air Force had recovered three UFOs in New Mexico “described as being circular in shape, with raised centers and approximately 50 feet in diameter.”
One possible reason for the memo’s popularity on the Internet is likely the next detail: The informant reported that the saucers were “occupied by three bodies of human shape but only three feet tall, dressed in metallic cloth of a very fine texture.”
For some, according to the FBI, the 1950 Hottel memo was cited as FBI confirmation of government knowledge of alien visitation, but in fact the agency says it never even followed up on the tip.
The article said the FBI only occasionally became involved in investigating reports of UFOs and extraterrestrials. And while Hoover did order his agents to try to verify UFO sightings after Roswell at the request of the Air Force, the agency apparently thought so little of the New Mexico report that it stopped investigating such reports.
“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,” the article said. “Sorry, no smoking gun on UFOs. The mystery remains.”