FBI comes clean about infamous "UFO memo"

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A couple of years ago, the FBI freaked out UFOlogists by making a ton of old documents public online — one of which was a memo sent to J. Edgar Hoover about a man who had seen flying saucers. It is the most popular document in the FBI Vault, accessed almost a million times.

The memo was written by agent Guy Hottel, and is now often dubbed the Hottel Memo. Now the FBI has stepped forward to explain the connection between this memo and your favorite conspiracy theories.

First, read the memo here.

On the FBI Vault blog, the agency explains the now-infamous memo:

First, 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 Vault.

Second, 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.

Third, as noted in an earlier story, the FBI has only occasionally been involved in investigating reports of UFOs and extraterrestrials. 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.

Finally, 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.


So nobody at the agency thought it was worth following up on the memo, but it wasn't related to a hoax. Let the next round of conspiracy theories begin.

Read more at the FBI Vault.