The one-page memo, dated March 22, 1950, was addressed to FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover from Guy Hottel, then head of the FBI's Washington, D.C., field office. It relayed some information from an informant.
"An investigator for the Air Force stated that three so-called flying saucers had been recovered in New Mexico," Hottel writes. "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 a very fine texture. Each body was bandaged in a manner similar to the blackout suits used by speed fliers and test pilots.”
No further evaluation was attempted, Hottel reports.
The file, published by the vault in April 2011 under the Freedom of Information Act, has been viewed nearly a million times, the FBI said, in part because media outlets "erroneously reported that the FBI had posted proof of a UFO crash at Roswell, New Mexico [in 1947] and the recovery of wreckage and alien corpses."
"A bizarre memo that appears to prove that aliens did land in New Mexico prior to 1950 has been published by the FBI," the Daily Mail declared in 2011.
"The Hottel memo does not prove the existence of UFOs," the bureau said in a blog post on its website this week. "It is simply a second- or third-hand claim that we never investigated."
And the Hottel memo isn’t new, the FBI said. "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."
Besides, the FBI notes, 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 bureau said:
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—the request of the Air Force—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.