On July 8, 1947 Public Information Officer Walter Haut of the Roswell Army Air Field in New Mexico issued a press release indicating that a flying saucer had been found in the desert. By the next day, the Army had changed their tune, stating the object had actually been a weather balloon, but it was too late.
Rumors that a UFO had crashed in the area, and that an alien body was recovered from the wreckage, spread fast. Ever since, Roswell has been synonymous with UFOs. The city of Roswell has embraced their status as UFO ground zero and hosts an annual festival that attracts visitors from around the world.
In this photo, Major Jesse Marcel from the Roswell Army Air Field with debris found 75 miles north west of Roswell, N.M. in a 1947 photo.
Click on to see more images of Roswell on the 66th anniversary of the famous crash.
A Roswell newspaper from July 8, 1947.
Roswell's public information office announced the recovery of a crashed "flying disc" from a ranch. The military said what was recovered was debris from an experimental surveillance balloon which was part of a classified program.
Critics who charge the government with covering up the truth maintain that an extraterrestrial spacecraft and its occupants were found near Roswell a finding kept secret from the public.
Alderson Laboratories anthropomorphic dummies of the type dropped from balloons, from the Air Force's "The Roswell Report."
According to the military report, released in July 1994, "'Aliens' observed in the New Mexico desert were actually anthropomorphic test dummies carried aloft by U.S. Air Force high altitude balloons for scientific research."
The aeroshell of a NASA Voyager-Mars space probe just prior to launch, from the Air Force's "The Roswell Report."
"The 'unusual' military activities in the New Mexico desert were high altitude research balloon launch and recovery operations. Reports of military units that always seemed to arrive shortly after the crash of a flying saucer to retrieve the saucer and 'crew,' were actually accurate descriptions of Air Force personnel engaged in anthropomorphic dummy recovery operations," according the U.S.A.F report.
This image of a Viking space probe, which resembles a so-called "flying saucer," was also included in the 1994 Air Force report.
A group of protestors march in front of the General Accounting Office (GAO) in Roswell, March 29, 1995.
The demonstrators believe that a 1947 crash, determined to be a weather balloon by military authorities, was actually a UFO.
Visitors look at a model depicting the 1947 Alien Autopsy in Roswell, during "The Science of Aliens" exhibition at the Miraikan, the National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation in Tokyo, June 3, 2008.
David Corn (L) and his cousin Bill Marley point in the direction from where the alleged UFO came, before crashing at his ranch 50 years earlier in Roswell, July 2, 1997.
David's father Miller "Hub" Corn, was the first witness of the event in July 1947, and reported it to the police. Since that time, the spot has become a tourist attraction.
Two "aliens" pose for a photograph in front of "Imagine That Scrapbooks" on Main Street during the UFO Festival in downtown Roswell, N.M., July 6, 2007.
Participants in an Alien Costume Contest pose for photographs prior to judging during the opening day of the UFO Festival in Roswell, N.M., July 5, 2007.
Tourists leaves the alleged UFO crash site, 30 miles north of Roswell, July 2, 1997.
Johnny Amador, a Roswell store owner, talks on the phone as he sells UFO souvenirs, July 1, 1997.
A local resident walks past a giant sculpture representing two humans and an alien in downtown Roswell, July 2, 1997.
Alien dolls are displayed on Main Street in downtown Roswell as part of an advertising campaign, July 3, 1997.
A visitor wearing a homemade hat takes pictures of a scene displayed in what is being called the "International UFO Museum and Research Center" in downtown Roswell, July 3, 1997.
The museum displays UFO phenomenon exhibits, a gift shop and a bar called "The Alien Caffeine Espresso Bar."
A man dressed as an alien is surrounded by reporters during a costume competition in downtown Roswell, July 3, 1997.
People dressed as aliens stand during a costume competition in downtown Roswell, July 4, 1997.
A woman dressed as an alien stands near the entrance of a park in downtown Roswell, July 3, 1997.