Perhaps it's because there has been a steady stream of news about asteroids flying by or hitting Earth in or maybe it's the uptick in space news having to do with Mars and the Sun in recent months, but whatever the reason the FBI this week decided to chat up its famous or infamous UFO memo written by agent Guy Hottel 63 years ago.
The single page file, which the FBI now says it is the agency's most viewed document - having been hit nearly one million times since its declassification in 2011 -- relays an unconfirmed UFO report that the FBI says it never even followed up on.
From the FBI:
The file in question is a memo dated March 22, 1950-63 years ago last week. It was authored by Guy Hottel, then head of our field office in Washington, D.C. Like all memos to FBI Headquarters at that time, it was addressed to Director J. Edgar Hoover and recorded and indexed in FBI records. The subject of the memo was anything but ordinary. It related a story told to one of our agents by a third party who said an Air Force investigator had reported that three "flying saucers" were recovered in New Mexico. The memo provided the following detail:
"They [the saucers] were described as being circular in shape with raised centers, approximately 50 feet in diameter. Each one was occupied by three bodies of human shape but only three feet tall, dressed in metallic cloth of a very fine texture. Each body was bandaged in a manner similar to the blackout suits used by speed fliers and test pilots."
After relaying an informant's claim that the saucers had been found because the government's "high-powered radar" in the area had interfered with "the controlling mechanism of the saucers," the memo ends simply by saying that "[n]o further evaluation was attempted" concerning the matter by the FBI agent.
The FBI went on to say that when the memo went officially went public in 2011 "some media outlets noticed the Hottel memo and wrongly reported that the FBI had posted proof of a UFO crash at Roswell, New Mexico and the recovery of wreckage and alien corpses." This of course wasn't the case.
The FBI says the real facts include:
- The Hottel memo isn't new. It was first released publicly in the late 1970s and had been posted on the FBI website for several years prior to the launch of the FBI Vault.
- The Hottel memo is dated nearly three years after the infamous events in Roswell in July 1947. There is no reason to believe the two are connected. The FBI file on Roswell (another popular page) is posted elsewhere on the Vault.
- The FBI has only occasionally been involved in investigating reports of UFOs and extraterrestrials. Concerned citizens reported many of these strange sightings to the FBI. That wasn't surprising, given that the Bureau had investigated airline crashes such as the Hindenburg disaster in 1937 and aerial dangers like the balloon bombs launched by Japan toward the U.S. Pacific Northwest near the end of World War II. The FBI's lead role in protecting the homeland during the war was also well known, and the Bureau remained front and center in ensuring national security as the Cold War began to unfold.
- For a few years after the Roswell incident, Director Hoover did order his agents-at the request of the Air Force-to verify any UFO sightings. That practice ended in July 1950, four months after the Hottel memo, suggesting that our Washington Field Office didn't think enough of that flying saucer story to look into it. A July 1950 FBI statement said that "the jurisdiction and responsibility for investigating flying saucers have been assumed by the United States Air Force. Information received in this matter is immediately turned over to the Air Force, and the FBI does not attempt to investigate these reports or evaluate the information furnished."
- The Hottel memo does not prove the existence of UFOs; it is simply a second- or third-hand claim that we never investigated. 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.
As for Guy Hottel, the FBI offered up this biography:
Guy L. Hottel was born around 1902. He was a graduate of George Washington University in Washington, D.C., where he was a star football player. He was later inducted into the university's athletic hall of fame. He entered the FBI as a special agent in 1934. In December 1936, he was named acting head of the FBI's Washington Field Office; he was appointed special agent in charge the following May and served until March 1941. Hottel was re-appointed special agent in charge in February 1943 and served until 1951, when he took a position in the Identification Division. He retired in 1955. Hottel was married three times and had two sons. Following his FBI career, Hottel served as executive secretary of the Horseman's Benevolent Association. He died in June 1990.
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