On March 22, 1950, Special Agent Guy Hottel sent a single-page memo to Federal Bureau of Investigation Director J. Edgar Hoover.
SUBJECT: FLYING SAUCERS
The FBI never followed up, and more than six decades later, it is the most popular file in the FBI's digital vault since its release in 2011 under the Freedom of Information Act.
The Bureau also never commented on the memo -- until now.
In an article released Tuesday, the FBI finally offers some context.
The document went viral in 2011, spurring wild speculation that the FBI had recovered -- and covered up -- solid proof of extraterrestrial life.
From International Business Times:
"That news story draws from the account of a Rudy Fick, a local used car dealer.
Fick got the story from a two men, I. J. Van Horn and Jack Murphy, who said they got the story from a man named Coulter - actually a radio station advertising manager named George Koehler. Koehler got the story from Silas Newton.
The hoax begins with Newton and his accomplice, Leo A. Gebauer. Newton and Gebauer were peddling doodlebugs -- devices that could supposedly find oil, gas, gold, or anything else that the target of the con was interested in finding.
The difference between Newton and Gebauer's con and many others that preceded it was they said their doodlebugs were better because they were based on alien technology.
The two men told Frank Scully, a columnist for Variety, about the UFO crash. There were no other witnesses. Scully claimed in his book that Newton and Gebauer told him the military had taken the craft for secret research.
Meanwhile, the story of the alien technology piqued the interest of J.P. Cahn of the San Francisco Chronicle. Cahn managed to convince Newton and Gebauer to give him a sample of the alien metal, which turned out to be aluminum."
The perpetrators of the fraud were convicted, but the story wouldn't go away.
It was, unsurprisingly, connected to the supposed Roswell incident, which took place in 1947. The FBI clarifies the two aren't connected, and though Hoover asked his agents to investigate any supposed UFO sightings, they shut down the practice after the Hottel memo.
So maybe the FBI didn't think it was worth looking in to, as the Bureau suggests. Or perhaps they really are hiding something...