In 1997, on this day the U.S. Air Force releases an official report acknowledging that the 1947 "Roswell incident" had in fact been a genuine encounter with extraterrestrial aliens.
The report states that the true character of the encounter had been concealed for national security reasons, both to avoid panic - in 1947, the hysteria over the infamous 1938 Orson Welles broadcast of H.G. Wells' novel War of the Worlds was still a painfully fresh memory - and in order to avoid revealing to the Soviets that the U.S. now had access to alien technology.
"Roswell Incident" - its official by Eric Lipps The document admits that the U.S. space program was partly inspired by the knowledge that extraterrestrials were observing Earth, but says that in fact no direct contact has been made. Moreover, it reveals, attempts to reverse-engineer the alien craft have been largely fruitless. "It's as if a modern jet aircraft had crashed in America in 1776 and the people back then had tried to copy it," reads one passage.
"It's as if a modern jet aircraft had crashed in America in 1776 and the people back then had tried to copy it,"Air Force spokesmen state that the report is being declassified and released because its findings have been judged no longer likely to trigger unrest and are not expected to provide any useful information to potential adversaries.
Perhaps the most surprising revelation contained in the document is a CIA assessment that the Soviet Union had possessed a similar alien wreck since 1927, retrieved from the site of the 1908 Tunguska event in which an explosion estimated at 10 to 20 megatons occurred over Siberia. Like their American counterparts, however, the Soviets had been unable to gain any more than minor technological and scientific advantages from studying their find.