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Air Force Says Reported Spacecraft Was Weather Balloon
BY WILLIAM J. BROADSWORD
CYDONIA MENSAE (AP) -- Spokesmen for the Official Martian Air Force (OMAF) said today that rumors of a crashed alien spacecraft said to have come down in the Ares Vallis desert were entirely false and had been grossly exaggerated by the Martian news media.
Although earlier reports from eyewitnesses along with a preliminary statement by military personnel who visited the alleged crash site suggested that what had landed may have been of extra-martian origin, Air Force officials told reporters that materials recovered from the area prove "beyond any possible doubt" that the incident was due to a downed weather balloon released earlier in the week to track dust-storm activity near Olympus Mons.
In a special press conference held late this afternoon at the Pyramid, Col. R.J. "Dusty" Crater held up a fragment of torn fabric recovered from the crash site to prove to reporters that the material could not possibly have been of alien origin. "See," Col. Crater explained, "it's just bits of thin cloth like material. Does this look in any way like part of a spacecraft from another planet? You can all go home now."
Flying saucer buffs and conspiracy theorists were quick to discount the official explanation, however. "We've seen this all before," remarked Walt Hynek, director of the 3,000-member Martian Universal Flying Object Network (MUFON). "This is just the typical official song and dance they always use to distract the media while they cover up the physical evidence. We saw the same thing when something came down back in '76. Now that entire area of Mars is off limits to civilians, so we'll never be able to discover the truth. I think it's about time the public was allowed to know the real story."
Astronomers interviewed by the New Cydonia Times scoffed at the notion that extraterrestrial visitors would land in one of the least interesting regions of Mars. "Why wouldn't they land near something obviously important, like the Great Stone Head, instead of in the middle of a vast desert?" one asked. "No form of advanced intelligence would land where there's nothing of interest to observe but rocks."
Cydonia University astronomer Carl Smajan was equally skeptical. "Where could such a craft possibly come from?" asked Dr. Smajan. "There are simply no planets in the solar system which have an atmosphere like ours. Some people have suggested they could come from Earth, but there's far too much oxygen in the atmosphere there. Any organisms would burn up immediately. This has been proven in laboratory experiments with Martian bacteria."
"We've heard claims of landed alien spacecraft for decades now," Smajan said. "But, I ask you, where is the proof? How come we don't have so much as an alien water extractor on display in the Cydonia National Museum? Extraordinary claims demand extraordinary evidence!"
Alien-contact enthusiasts were unperturbed by such rational arguments, however, contending the evidence must have been taken into custody by military personnel. Rumors and conspiracy theories were running rampant. One wild-eyed witness actually claimed he saw a tiny alien space car driving slowly across the desert.
"We'll never win this debate," Col. Crater remarked. "The true believers out there just aren't willing to accept that we're alone in the universe. Nothing we say or do will ever convince them otherwise."