DENNIS BALTHASER MOVED TO ROSWELL in 1996 with one goal: to continue his research on UFOs. As a trained civil engineer, his curiosity about extraterrestrial life drew him to what may be the world capital of unexplained activity. For 30 years, Balthaser has led research and conducted witness interviews to investigate the 1947 Roswell Incident. He’s also led tours for curious visitors and researchers. Although he recently attempted to retire, the event’s 75th anniversary, last July, pulled him back into questions about what happened one July night on a New Mexico ranch.

IT WAS A SOUND LOUDER THAN THUNDER. That’s what a ranch foreman reported hearing about 65 miles north of Roswell. It was an explosion of some kind. The next morning, he went out to check his sheep and property for damage. The debris field was three-quarters of a mile long. Since he didn’t know what it was, he contacted the local sheriff. The sheriff didn’t know, so he contacted the military.

Debris was driven to Fort Worth, Texas. The military general said, “Put that on my desk.” Everyone went into the map room next door, and when they came back, the package wasn’t on the desk or on the floor. It was gone. World War II had just ended. Panic would have been a real thing, so the military covered the crash up.

As a researcher, I don’t say what happened was aliens. I do know that something happened near Roswell that is still covered up today. There was recently a congressional hearing where representatives admitted that there are things out there we can’t explain. From a government entity, that’s a big statement to make.

Two of the founders of the International UFO Museum & Research Center were witnesses. We have interviewed over 600 witnesses in 35 years. They were not convinced that the UFO was Russian, Japanese, German, or ours. So who was it? What was their motive for being here?

In 1945, the first atomic bomb was dropped north of White Sands. You could see it from space. Were they out there looking in, wondering what us clowns were doing? Maybe they’re just keeping an eye on us, so we don’t self-destruct.

Three days after the incident, the Roswell Daily Record published a story. That’s what’s kept the Roswell Incident alive—it went public.

Over 200,000 per year come to see the museum. The interest in Roswell is worldwide. If you mention it anywhere in the world, people associate the town with aliens.

Ninety percent of what people see is explainable. We’re interested in that 10 percent that isn’t.

Read more: Archivist Diane Bird counters old museum narratives with slices of contemporary Native life.  

Over 200,000 per year come to see the International UFO Museum & Research Center in Roswell.
PhotoOver 200,000 per year come to see the International UFO Museum & Research Center in Roswell.
Photograph by Gabriella Marks.


Ufologist Dennis Balthaser recommends crashing in Roswell for a few days to fuel otherworldly interests.

UFO Festival. “We have a lot of different speakers, researchers, and information provided to the public during the festival,” he says of the event, held June 30–July 2 this year.

International UFO Museum & Research Center. “We have what we believe is the second-largest UFO library in the world—the first being at the Vatican,” says Balthaser.

Spaceport Roswell. Have a virtual reality experience with the aliens that crashed near Roswell.