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Can You Guess the Most Popular File in the FBI's Document Vault?


"The mystery remains…"

This is the most viewed document in the FBI's Vault -- the Guy Hottel Memo. (Image: FBI)

The FBI Vault, an electronic reading room with more than 6,700 documents, holds many public FBI files that never made its way on the official website, historical records and previously unreleased files. The most popular of these documents has been viewed almost 1 million times over the past two years.

What could it be? It's a single-page memo detailing the unconfirmed account from one person claiming to have found three "flying saucers." According to a recent feature by the FBI about the memo, the claim was never investigated.

This is the most viewed document in the FBI's Vault -- the Guy Hottel Memo. (Image: FBI)

The memo to FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover came from the head of the FBI's field office at the time, Guy Hottel, dated March 22, 1950.

It reads:

An investigator for the Air Force stated three so-called flying saucers had been recovered in New Mexico. They 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 3 feet tall, dressed in metallic cloth of very fine texture. Each body was bandaged in a manner similar to blackout suits used by speed fliers and pilots.

According to Mr. [redacted] informant, the saucers were found in New Mexico due to the fact that the Government has a very high-powered radar set up in that area and it is believed to be radar interference with controlling mechanics of the saucers.

No further evaluation was attempted by SA [redacted] concerning the above.

Like other documents in The Vault, the FBI stated in its feature regarding this memo, it was released through the Freedom of Information Act.

Why and how did the story go viral in the last couple years? The FBI stated that when the Vault was launched in April 2011, the memo was picked up and reported about by media outlets claiming it was proof of the alleged UFO crash in Roswell, New Mexico. TheBlaze was among those at the time that reported on the memo and questioned if it contributed proof Roswell. The FBI calls correlation between the two erroneous, but still it caused an influx of traffic to the memo in the Vault.

Why is it a false connection -- the memo and Roswell?

"[...] 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 pointed out.

It also noted that the memo was released publicly in 1970 and was hosted on the FBI's website before being placed in the Vault.

Why wasn't the account in this memo investigated though? Although the FBI did for a time investigate UFO sightings, four months after the Hottel memo such investigations ceased. This, the FBI stated, "[suggests] that our Washington Field Office didn’t think enough of that flying saucer story to look into it."

What's more, the feature states that the account is only a claim and some think it is the repeat of a hoax.

The FBI leaves the story with "sorry, no smoking gun on UFOs. The mystery remains…"



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