.Daily Illini, July 9, 1947

AP Wires Burn With 'Captured Disk' Story

It all started a little before 4:26 p.m. [EST] yesterday when an Associated Press bulletin came over the wire.
The bulletin said, "Roswell, N.M.  The army air forces here today announced a flying disk had been found on a ranch near Roswell and is in army possession."
Then things began to move fast.
Four minutes later [4:30], the first add came on the bulletin. It said that Lt. Warren Haught [sic], public information officer of Roswell field, announced the object had been found "sometime last week."  And the story also said the object had been sent on "to higher headquarters."

Second Add Arrives
At 4:55, the second add came, telling where the "disk" had been found.  (The 4:55 story was "95," and AP designation of priority of messages, showing it is next to importance to a bulletin or bulletin matter.)  Then the second add was repeated for all papers needing it.  The repeated story was timed at 5:08.
This repeat was followed immediately with another which explained that the story had been broken by a radio reporter.  This came at 5:09.
Another "95" was sent at 5:10 addressed to editors.  This announced, for the information of newspaper editors, that the Associated Press had begun to go to work on the story.
Then the movement really rolled into high gear.

Washington Says Nothing
One minute later, at 5:11, the third add to the bulletin announced, "The war department in Washington had nothing to say immediately about the reported find."  That meant the AP was on the job of investigating.
Following that, there was a breather.  AP sent other news, but there was no doubt that reporters, both in New Mexico and in Washington, were at work.
At 5:53, the AP story began to be moved.  Another bulletin was sent with a Washington dateline.  It was a story about a statement by Brig. Gen. Roger Ramey, saying the "disk" had been sent to Wright Field, Ohio.

Typographical error
At 5:56 and 5:59, adds to the bulletin were sent.  And at 6:00, there was a correction to a typographical error, followed with a continuation of the 5:59 add.
Finally at two minutes after 6 [6:02], AP had put together a complete story and started transmission of the "First Lead Disk."
It started like this:  "Albuquerque, N. M.  The army air forces has gained possession of a flying disk, Lt. Warren Haught, public information officer at Roswell army airfield, announced today.
That lead was to be integrated with the 5:56 and 5:59 stories and to be used with subsequent stories to be sent.
After another add at 6:04, a story from Oelwein, Iowa, was sent through of an Iowa farmer who claimed he had found a disk.
But the story, at 6:31, was pretty well ignored.  There evidently was no official backing.
At 6:59, there was more from New Mexico, and at 7:03, another First Lead story, dated Washington.
The Washington story gave the first real hint that all wasn't solved.  There were possibilities, it stated, that the object was only a meteorological device.

General To Speak
A new bulletin came through at 7:15, saying that General Ramey would speak over the National Broadcasting company network.
Another "95," listed "Precede Washington.  Lead all disk," came over the wire at 7:29.  This meant that it was a lead to go at the start of a story to contain all material sent to that time.
The "95" was broken at 7:29 for another bulletin.
It said, "Fort Worth  Roswell's celebrated 'flying disk' was rudely stripped of its glamor by a Fort Worth army airfield weather officer who late today identified the object as a weather balloon."  The bulletin was sent at 7:30, just three hours and four minutes after the story had first broken and two hours and 20 minutes after the Associated Press reporters had begun investigations.
That was the word that many editors had been hoping for.  The people who had been debunking the flying disk story weren't quite certain whether they wanted a solution to be found.  Of course, a big story on flying disks would be fine, most of them thought, but it's a good story as it is.  A solution might be more than embarrassing.  It might be calamitous.  What if there really were "men from Mars!"
After the bulletin, the rest of the "95," which was already on the tape, limped through.  But the story already was killed.  And AP reporters could relax for a while until someone else "found" a flying saucer.
Associated Press Chronology

The following chronology of Associated Press wire stories on the Roswell events appeared in the Daily Illini newspaper on July 9, 1947, and has been an important source of information on how the AP covered the story in its early stages.

All times are Eastern Standard Time.  For times in Fort Worth (Central Time), subtract one hour and in Roswell (Mountain Time), subtract two hours.

All times in the chronology have been highlighted in red.  More significant items in the chronology have been highlighted in blue and marked with arrows.

Key events are as follows:

4:26 EST -- Roswell base press release of recovered flying disk first goes out over the wire.

4:55 -- Location of where disk recovered described.

5:10 -- AP goes after the story nationally.  In Albuquerque, AP reporter Jason Kellahin and photographer/wire machine technician are dispatched to Roswell to directly cover the story.

5:11 -- The Pentagon claims they don't know what's going on.

5:53 -- In this story out of Washington and the Pentagon, Gen. Ramey's involvement is first mentioned.  Ramey has also apparently said that the "disk" had been shipped to Wright Field.  This is the first hint in the AP stories that the action has shifted to 8th Army Headquarters at Fort Worth and that the flight from Roswell was bound for Wright Field.  It also tells us that Ramey was on the phone to the Pentagon before this time (as described in some stories).  In Fort Worth, reporter/photographer J. Bond Johnson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram is dispatched to Fort Worth AAF to cover the story.

6:02 -- AP has put together its first full story.  This appears in some Western evening newspapers, but is too late for the East coast and Central papers.

7:03 -- Pentagon starts to hint at weather balloon explanation.

7:30 -- It is announced that the so-called "flying disk" has been identified by a Fort Worth weather officer as a weather balloon.  The story dies.

Finally, note the interesting comment at the end the story how there was a collective sigh of relief that the story wasn't true, since it might mean "there really were 'men from Mars.'" That the flying disks might be alien in origin was very definitely in the minds of many.