Thursday, February 9, 2012

Range Safety, Roswell, and "Little Information"

During the course of doing the research for my Body Snatchers in the Desert book, I spent a lot of time at the National Archives, digging into files to determine what was going on at various New Mexico-based military installations during the summer of 1947.

One of the files that I considered of potential interest - and which I still consider to be of potential interest - originated with Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico and was titled Holloman Air Force Base Range Safety, 1947-1959.

Prepared in 1960, it makes a number of intriguing statements:

"The handling of range safety problems at the Air Force Missile Development Center, Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico, has passed through three distinct phases. From the establishment of the Air Forces guided missile program at Holloman until the integration of the Holloman and White Sands Proving Ground test range in September 1952, Holloman was responsible for safety aspects of all its tests, including rocketsonde and balloon flights and research and development drone tests as well as missile tests in the narrow sense. Naturally there were many occasions for close coordination between the Air Forces at Holloman and the Army at White Sands on range safety criteria and procedures, for instance when the flight pattern of a missile took it over both of the adjoining test ranges."

Notably, and crucially, the document also states: "Little information is available on specific events with regard to range safety during this period."

Needless to say, if, as this document demonstrates, by 1960 Holloman's own historians had "little" access to the history of the early years of research and safety issues at Holloman and its links with activities undertaken at White Sands (both in New Mexico), then the idea that such a monumental story as the Roswell affair could remain successfully buried for decades seems not so unusual after all.

SOURCE: Holloman Air Force Base Range Safety, 1947-1959, Holloman Air Force Base, 1960.

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