The FBI has insisted that a formerly secret document about UFOs which became an internet sensation after its release does not prove the existence of aliens.
The so-called Guy Hottel Memo was published in 2011 after a Freedom of Information Act request.
The document dates from 1950 and states that an investigator "for the Air Force" had reported three "flying saucers" had crashed in New Mexico.
The memo to the FBI's director from Guy Hottel, the Washington DC field office chief, says they were "circular in shape with raised centers [sic], approximately 50 feet in diameter".
It adds that three bodies "of human shape but only three feet tall" were recovered "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".
It is further claimed - by the memo's source, not Hottel - that government radar could have interfered with the craft, causing it to crash.
The memo was not followed up at the time, and was not the result of an official investigation. But at the time of its release various sites including HuffPost reported on the reaction from UFO hunters, many of whom saw it as evidence of a government conspiracy.
The memo has now had more than a million views and is comfortably the most popular page on the FBI archive.
But the FBI has now acted to dispel its enigmatic mystery. In a statement it said that the memo was originally published in 1970 and that the report was unverified then - as now.
"It is only a single page, relaying an unconfirmed report that the FBI never even followed up on," the Bureau said.
It went on:
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.
Of course, that's exactly what they would say... Still, there is at least one US government agency which seems to think aliens exist. So all hope is not lost.
Melbourne, Australia, Feb. 2013
This is a composite image of how three alleged UFOs maneuvered about in the sky over Melbourne, Australia, in early February, 2013. The final verdict isn't in yet on whether they're birds, aircraft, balloons, bugs or something truly unidentified.
These candle-lit Chinese lanterns can rise high into the sky and are often mistaken for UFOs.
Exploding Weather Balloons, Not UFOs
On Dec. 20, 2012, a bright, circular object (pictured at the top of this composite image) was videotaped exploding in the skies above Sacramento, Calif. It wasn't immediately identified, resulting in speculation that it was either an alien spacecraft, military top secret weapon, runaway planet, North Korean satellite, among others. Within a short period of time, it became apparent that this was a weather balloon. The bottom part of this image shows such a balloon as it ascended over Tampa Bay, Fla., on July 2, 2012, and exploded in an identical manner as the Sacramento object, probably much to the dismay of all true ET believers out there.
Boomerang UFO composite images -- 10-5-12
This is a composite of images shot by two eyewitnesses of a boomerang-shaped UFO they reported seeing over their Burbank, Calif., home on Oct. 5, 2012. Mutual UFO Network photo/video analyst Marc Dantonio concluded the object was likely "a balloon, floating on the wind that has collapsed in half."
Changing UFO Pattern -- Warren, Mich. 1-10-13
This four-image series of lights in the sky was recorded over Warren, Mich., on Jan. 10, 2013. The lights were seen changing into several patterns. The most logical explanation for these types of UFOs is a series of balloons or lanterns.
UFOs Over Earth
This composite image shows four different times that alleged UFO were photographed above Earth by either space shuttles or the International Space Station. The big question is whether or not they are truly unidentified objects or if they are more likely reflections from spacecraft windows, meteors or fast-moving spacecraft-generated debris.
Pink UFOs Or Lens Flares?
What appear to be pink-red UFOs are actually lens flares from the Google Earth street view camera as it snapped images in Texas (left) and New Mexico (right).
Lens flares Arizona
These two flying saucer-shaped, pink-colored lens flares were created by the Google Maps camera as it drove through locations in Sedona, Ariz. (left) and Flagstaff, Ariz. (right). The images were snapped in April 2009. Submitted to HuffPost by trenna.
Lens flare Whiteriver, Ariz.
This skybound lens flare was created by a Google Maps camera in June 2008 over Whiteriver, Ariz. Submitted to Huffington Post by Cheryl Weeks.
Lens flare Gulfport, Miss.
This very Earthbound lens flare was created by a Google Maps camera in November 2007 at Gulfport, Miss. Submitted to Huffington Post by Jenni Parker.
Lens flare Eureka Springs, Ark.
This seemingly grounded lens flare was created by a Google Maps camera in January 2008 at Eureka Springs, Ark. Submitted to Huffington Post by SE.
Lens flare Escanaba, Mich.
This lens flare appears to be following a car. The Google Maps image was created in October 2008 at Escanaba, Mich. Submitted to Huffington Post by Mary Robinson.
Cincinnati Skydivers NOT UFOs Sept. 28, 2012
On the night of Sept. 28, 2012, a group of strange-looking lights appeared in the sky near Cincinnati, Ohio. First there was one, then, two, then three lights, slowly descending. It turns out, however, that these lights were originating from a group of skydivers performing a pyrotechnics jump at the La Salle High School homecoming event.
Some UFO sightings may be due to a natural phenomenon known as sprites, like this one shown from 2006. "Lightning from [a] thunderstorm excites the electric field above, producing a flash of light called a sprite," said geophysicist Colin Price.
Clouds: Saucer-shaped or "lenticular" clouds that form at high altitudes have been confused with UFOs.
Blimps or Advertising Balloons
Blimps or advertising balloons: These can look like flying saucers from some angles, especially at night.
Sunken Ship in the Baltic Sea
On June 19th the Swedish-based diving company Ocean Explorer discovered something they've never quite seen before. They were exploring in the Baltic Sea between Sweden and Finland looking for sunken treasures when a very unusual image suddenly appeared on the sonar. A 197 feet diameter cylinder shaped object was discovered at the depth of approximately 275 feet which resembles the Millennium Falcon from the movie Star Wars.
Baltic Sea UFO 1
An image released on June 15, 2012, shows a close-up view of the unidentified object sitting on the bottom of the Baltic Sea.
Baltic Sea UFO 2
Close-up of rock bed that forms the Baltic Sea UFO, which still mystifies researchers.
Baltic Sea UFO 3
One of several odd stone circle formations, sitting on top of the unidentified object at the bottom of the Baltic Sea.
Antarctic UFO -- Aug. 10, 2012
A circular UFO hovers above the Neumayer-Station III research facility in Antarctica on Aug. 10, 2012. Theories ranging from a simple weather balloon to a more elaborate ship from another planet have run the Internet gamut. The next slide shows a closeup of the object.
Antarctic UFO Closeup -- Aug. 10, 2012
This is a closeup of the UFO from the previous slide. No official explanation has been offered about the object.
Manufactured UFO -- 2011
Pictured is a quad copter -- a deliberately manufactured UFO created by special effects wizard Marc Dantonio for a National Geographic special, "The Truth Behind: UFOs," which aired in December 2011. On the left is what the small device looks like resting on the ground, measuring 4 feet in circumference. At right, is how it appeared behind a tree in the night sky.
Police Dashboard Camera In Texas
In February of 2012, this fireball was captured by a Texas police chief's A dashboard camera. F.A.A. say this was probably a meteor, falling to Earth. .
Meteors: Space debris can create a spectacular light show when it burns through the Earth's atmosphere, and sometimes reported as UFOs.
Civilian or Military Aircraft
Civilian or military aircraft: Planes can look mysterious at night or in certain light conditions, thus confusing an observer.