Thursday, October 01, 2009

Lonnie Zamora, Socorro UFO, and New Theories

Let’s see if I have this right. The solution to the Lonnie Zamora UFO landing of April 1964, according to a big story posted at and written by Tony Bragalia is hoax. And this is startling news because...?

Reading over the posting by Bragalia I wondered why Dr. Stirling Colgate at time president of New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, if he knew this to be a hoax back in the 1960s, had not let Dr. J. Allen Hynek (seen here) in on it. Hynek, at the time, was the Air Force consultant to Project Blue Book and investigated the case in person and on the scene not long after it happened. It would seem to me that if Colgate had the answer, he could have let Hynek know without violating any confidences about those who had perpetrated the hoax and saved Socorro some public embarrassment.

In fact, looking at the newspaper clippings that appeared in the Socorro newspaper, the El Defensor Chieftain there was one headlined "Air Force Consultant Checks UFO Site Here. Dr. Hynek Feels Zamora’s Account Not a Hoax." That seems to indicate that everyone in town would know about Hynek, his visit and his investigation. Had there been any indication of hoax, it would seem that this would have lead those who suspected it, meaning the staff and faculty at New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology to try and get some word to Hynek. I mean, Hynek is a scientist on the faculty of a university and would certainly wish to have that information, the Air Force would certainly need the information so that they could clear this case from their books but there is nothing to suggest that ever happened. Instead, everyone kept quiet about it for decades. It is only recently that we learn the case is a hoax...

Or is it?

I remembered the late Philip Klass claimed that he too had solved the Socorro landing case and he had found evidence that it was a hoax. Klass wrote, in his 1974 book, UFOs Explained:

During my two days in Socorro, I talked with many residents in addition to Zamora and [Sgt. Sam Chavez, Zamora’s superior] Chavez, including several scientists – professors at the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, the town’s principal "industry." I was amazed to find that with one exception, these scientists exhibited no interest in the Socorro UFO case, despite the fact that it had achieved international fame and had brought thousands of curious tourists to the town [Well, dozens, at least]. If the story was true, the most exciting scientific event of all time – a visit from an extraterrestrial spacecraft – had occurred almost with sight of the institute. How could these scientists be so uninterested? [Which, by the way, is a damn fine question and says more about the scientists and their perceptions of UFOs than it does about the validity of the case.]

When I pressed one man for an explanation, he urged me to "nose around a bit." When I sought clarification, he pointed out that except for the Institute of Mining and Technology, Socorro had no industry, and some citizens feared the town was "going to seed."
After explaining all this, Klass noted that one way to attract tourists was to use the UFO landing though, at the time there was no evidence that a UFO landing would increase tourism. And then he drifted off into bizarre speculation, writing:

The property where the UFO reportedly landed had, prior to the incident, been next to worthless "scrub land." But now, if the site became a long-lived tourist attraction, there could be need for refreshment stands, perhaps even a motel for those who might like to spent the night near the spot where an extraterrestrial spaceship had seemingly landed. By a curious coincidence, the property where the UFO reportedly landed was owned by Mayor Bursum, officer Zamora’s boss! The mayor’s principal business? He is the town banker and as such would not be unhappy to see an influx of tourist dollars.

So, apparently to Klass’ way of thinking, Zamora and the mayor cooked up the UFO landing as a way of generating tourism in Socorro and dragging those tourists to a spot owned by the mayor. We all know how well that has worked out more than a quarter century after Klass made this rather ridiculous suggestion.

In fact, it’s even worse for Klass’ (Phil Klass seen here) theory. According to the public records, in 1964, the land where the UFO landed was owned by the Delia Harris estate and in 1968 it was sold to the Richardson family. The mayor never owned it.

Just goes to show us that skeptics will grab onto anything to explain a case even if they have no facts to back it up. (Yes, I know the skeptics are out there saying... and the UFO nuts will latch onto anything to prove their case even if they have no facts to back it up... so we’re both right.) There is, of course, no evidence that Zamora and the mayor were working together on this. Just speculation about it, published as if there was something truthful here with no qualification.

And now we have this latest revelation of a proven hoax. Students at New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology were the perpetrators of the hoax. Dave Collis, who as a freshman in 1965, or a year after the landing, provided what some have considered new evidence of a hoax. According to Bragalia:

Dave Collis was a freshman at New Mexico Tech in 1965, a year after the Socorro UFO incident. Collis went on to become a published scientist helping to lead the Energetic Materials Research and Testing Center at NM Tech. He is considered a world expert in researching blast effects and explosives.Collis explained that he himself enjoyed planning pranks when he was a student at Tech. In 1965, he and his friends had planned a "paranormal" prank and shared the plan with one of his trusted Professors. The Professor (who had been with Tech for years) told him that NM Tech had a long history of pranking- and that one of them was especially noteworthy. Collis then said that the Professor (whose name he does not remember or does not wish to offer) had "confidentially told me that the UFO sighting by the town cop was a hoax done by Techie students." Collis did not want to press the Professor on who did it -or how. Collis says, "he was telling me this in confidence, so I didn't ask for the details and he didn't offer." When asked if the Professor could have been making up the hoax story, Collis replied that in the context of his conversation with him- there was no reason for him to lie. The Professor had told him the truth about the hoax, of that he was sure. Collis, when told about Stirling Colgate's confirmation that it was a hoax said, "Colgate is a brilliant man and he was a great College President. From what I was told by my Professor, it was a hoax. And if Colgate also says it was a hoax, it was." Collis (who is a pyrotechnics expert and often directed NM Tech's July 4 Fireworks) said that it always has surprised him that people didn't seem to realize just how "terrestrial" the reported Zamora UFO seemed to be in the first place.
So there it is. We have one name who wasn’t involved, and wasn’t there but heard about from someone else who isn’t named but was there who believed it to be a hoax with no reason to lie. (I could point out here that if he truly believed the story told by the unnamed professor, and that if the unnamed professor truly believed the story of a hoax to be true, then he wasn’t lying. Misinformed... Yes... but lying, no.) We can go back to Colgate who will reaffirm that it was a hoax, but again, it is from others that he heard this and he supplies no names of the perpetrators. We’re still without names and we’re without details on how they pulled this off.

Collis had an explanation for the hoax which sounds valid and is presented as if the information is new.

Collis also explained that Lonnie Zamora had a reputation for "hounding" the Techie students during that time. The students and the Socorro police did not have a particularly good relationship back then. He said that there was "a lot of friction" at the time between what were felt to be "elitist and educated Techies" versus the "under-educated and simpler town folk." Zamora was always harassing the students for seemingly no reason, and at every opportunity. Many of the college kids just did not like him. What better way to "get back" at Zamora than for them to fool a fool?

In that same posting, Bragalia points out that Colgate had written in a letter dated 1968, that the whole thing was a hoax created by the students. The date here is important because in a letter written on September 10, 1964 by Donald Menzel of the Harvard College Observatory and sent to Dr. J. Allen Hynek Menzel wrote, "It certainly sounds to me like a hoax or, perhaps, some sort of hallucination." This is four years before the Colgate response and I suppose we should note that Menzel had not set foot in Socorro, not talked to a single witness and apparently gathered all his information from the newspaper reports. Colgate, on the other hand was right there in Socorro, so Colgate wins on that point.

Hynek however, wrote back to Menzel and said, "With respect to the Socorro case, I wish I could substantiate the idea that it was a hoax or a hallucination. Unfortunately, I cannot."

Menzel and Hynek exchanged a number of other letters over the next several months and finally, on April 29, 1965 or three years before Colgate communicated his thoughts on the matter, Hynek wrote a six page letter outlining his take on the Socorro landing. He also said that he had discussed the case with Major Hector Quintanilla, the then chief of Project Blue Book and said, "...he and I are in agreement on what follows."

Let’s remember one point here. I’m using documents found in the Project Blue Book files and given the timing, meaning the mid-1960s, I don’t think that anyone suspected that all this material would end up in private hands. In other words, they were writing for a very limited audience and didn’t expect the civilian UFO world to ever see these letters. In that respect, I believe them to be very candid.

On the second page of his long explanation, Hynek wrote, "The hoax hypothesis is, of course, one that suggests itself immediately. It is Quintanilla’s and my opinion that both Chavez and FBI agent Byrnes must have been in on the hoax if we adopt the hoax hypothesis. They testified that there were no tracks in the immediate neighborhood and so that the hoaxsters must themselves have arrived and left by balloon! Had it been a hoax, certainly some paraphernalia should have been left around if the pranksters beat a hasty retreat."

Okay, I’m not overly convinced by that either. How many times have we heard similar statements only to learn that a hoax had been perpetrated. Yes, there should have been some evidence but that there wasn’t doesn’t tell us that it was not a hoax. Only that they found no evidence of it which is not exactly the same thing.

The only part that is impressive are the opinions of Sergeant Chavez and FBI agent Byrnes. There were others who drove to the landing site right away and who were later interviewed by Ray Stanford. To make this work, they all had to be in on it and, of course, the FBI wouldn’t engage in a dirty trick... Okay, a cheap shot, but the point is that the FBI had no reason to get involved in a hoax like this.

Hynek goes on to write, "Opal Grinder [owner of a gas station on the edge of Socorro] does have a high school student working for him, and I talked with him at length. Teenagers generally hate Zamora’s guts, but it was added that they hate all "fuzz" and that if they wanted to get even with Zamora (seen here), they would simply beat him up or do something more direct, like letting the air out of his tires or something with immediate results rather than resort to an involved hoax."

Hynek finally does suggest the real problem with the hoax idea. He wrote, "If the hoax comes off well, perpetrators like to gloat abit (sic), and there would have been no point in getting even with Zamora if they couldn’t have gotten some kudos for it."

Or, exposed the hoax after they learned of Zamora’s reaction to the sighting and his sudden world fame. What better way to get even than to point out he was the victim of a hoax and overacted in a very unprofessional manner.

Hynek finally wrote, "Both Quintanilla and I find it impossible to dismiss it as a hoax unless we have some evidence that there was a hoax." Note here, they were looking for evidence of a hoax within days of the sighting and that they found none.

Even those who came at this from the skeptical side of the house have rejected the student hoax idea. In an article for Skeptical Inquirer, and later posted to New Mexicans for Science and Reason, David E. Thomas wrote, "Yet another hypothesis is that physics students with a little too much extra time played a trick on the town, but that rumor doesn't have much credible support."

This does two things for us here. It points out that this hoax idea has been floating around for years because the Skeptical Inquirer article is from the July 2001 issue and the Internet posting is from May 2006. And, it suggests that the idea doesn’t have much support. Maybe the hoax was the students taking credit for the landing but had nothing to do with it.

When the most recent article was published, we were treated to second and third-hand information. We have no names associated with it, but we are supposed to accept it as if it proves a hoax. However, there is another side to this. In a report from Colonel Eric T. de Jonckheere (I think... each place his name appears in the various reports I have, the copy is fuzzy or smeared so it’s difficult to read exactly how he spelled his name) reported on additional witnesses. On May 28, 1964, in his evaluation of the case, he wrote:

The El Defensor and Chieftain [sic] of Tuesday 28 Apr 64 carried an article indicating that an unidentified tourist traveling North on US 85 saw the UFO just before it landed. He also observed the police car heading up the hill toward the spot where the UFO landed. If this is true, the UFO not only disappeared in the direction of White Sand’s but also same from that direction.

On Wednesday, April 29, 1964 the Dubuque, Iowa Telegraph-Herald carried an article headlined, "Two Dubuquers Spot Flying Saucer. In this article, the men, identified as Paul Kies, 24 and Larry Kratzer, 26, said they were driving along Highway 60 a mile east of Socorro when they saw something "shining." The article noted that a sergeant with the New Mexico State Police said that he saw the object on the ground in the desert.
I believe they mean Zamora in this case because the report continued, "He [the sergeant though Zamora wasn’t a sergeant] described it as ‘egg-shaped, about the size of a car.’ He said he saw two ‘creatures’ in white near the craft..."

Now, if this is true, then the hoax scenario fails because Kies and Kratzer were not in a position to see the object on the ground and therefore not in a position to see anything if the sighting is a hoax. What makes this more interesting than most of these most recent postings is that two men are named.

Other UFO researchers spoke to both these men, but some fourteen years after the fact. Researcher Ralph DeGraw said that their stories deviated from that told by Zamora and then from that told by each other. In other words, it seems that their report might not mean much, but in a case where we’re dealing with second and third-hand testimony, it would seem that testimony from named sources who claimed to have been there would be of more value than the vague statements attributed to unidentified others.

In fact, if the unidentified tourist is real, then there are three other witnesses who saw the craft in the air or close to the ground before Zamora found the landed object. These other people, while they certainly could have been fooled by a hoax, were simply not in a position to see anything if it was a hoax.

But I’m not arguing for the validity of any of this testimony. I’m only pointing out that it is there and is the same value as that we have from Colgate. We have faculty in Socorro saying hoax, we have Air Force investigators and consultants saying no hoax, and we have other witnesses, two of whom are named, who might have seen something in the sky.

Since the story appeared, Tony Bragalia and I have engaged in a very cordial email exchange about the case. He’s convinced that Colgate is telling the truth and that Colgate knows the truth. I pointed out that Hynek’s investigation in Socorro was well publicized and that I found it interesting that Colgate, if he knew it was a hoax, had not suggested this to Hynek, which clearly, he had not.

Bragalia wrote:

Colgate said that the perpetrator's did not want their cover blown. Perhaps Hynek did not get to the right people. More likely the right people simply did not want to talk. As Klass said, the NM scientists were strangely silent about the whole matter, why? Well, they didn't want to involve the school, or implicate any of the students, that is why. And the students themselves were certainly not going to implicate themselves!
Which, I suppose makes some sense, but the real problem here is that Hynek’s investigation was official and taxpayer money was being spent in his attempt to find a solution. As I have said, and as Hynek wrote, they were looking for any solution and even a hint of a hoax would have been enough to push this from the unidentified category.

Bragalia wrote back:

Perhaps Colgate did not learn the truth about the hoax until after the USAF investigation. I think that this is likely. Maybe he learned of the details only some years later and saw no reason to bring up the whole thing again. Perhaps sometime after the event – in the mid or late 60s – someone told him the whole story. By 1970 Colgate had returned to Los Alamos. It could even be that he learned the full story many, many years later when he and his student friend were by then old me. But the point is... he says that it was the hoax with the certainty of a scientist.
And while that might be the truth, we don’t know that it is. We only know that Colgate said that it was a hoax and Bragalia’s belief that it is the truth. I still have trouble accepting the fact that Colgate, as the ranking member of the faculty could have learned this vital information and not communicated it to Hynek but only sent it off to Linus Pauling some four years later.

Where does that leave us? Right where we started. The new information isn’t all that new. All that has happened is that Bragalia found a letter to a Nobel Laureate, Linus Pauling, but, of course, Pauling is only the recipient of the letter so his name here means nothing. It is Colgate, who is a reputable scientist, who says that the case is a hoax, but we don’t know what he really knows for certain. He talked of pranks and unidentified students, and even that he knows who the pranksters are but we have nothing solid.

If Colgate comes through with the details of the hoax, if those who created the hoax come forward and admit it was a hoax, then we have some powerful information and some extremely important evidence. But right now we have nothing new, other than a letter written some four years after the fact suggesting a theory that was purposed at the time the sighting was reported. In other words, we have nothing new.


Lance said...

Hi Kevin,

While I don't think I have ever read any claim by Bragalia that was even close to being fully supported by his cited material, I don't think the idea that Colgate didn't tell Hynek is indicative of anything.

Why wouldn't a college professor not want to bring embarrassment to his institution, especially in the light of a potential waste of taxpayer funds?

In all of the breathless Bragalia stories posted recently there is so much jumping to conclusions that one must be quite nimble or perhaps just quite malleable to bounce along for the ride.

This story is another example: A guy telling a guy he thought maybe a guy did something is not really all that compelling as evidence (except maybe in the UFO world).

It seems that Bragalia might not be entirely to blame for the silly over-promising of his UFO Iconoclast stories. RRRGroup over there admits that his main focus is getting attention (which explains the hilarious overuse of the exclamation point in headlines and such) rather than delivering quality material.

I posted a comment on the story there featuring much the same sentiment as above but was told privately that my comment was being bravely censored (as they fight for the truth!).


Shanksow said...


Maybe the hoax here is the story about Socorro event and the letter that Bragalia got.

Bob Koford said...

Ok...Butane burns blue. The la Madera witness (Gallegos)described it as being like a large "eggshaped butane tank", with several jet nozzles around the botom.

Another floating, or flying object (helicopter, plane, other balloon, etc.)would be needed to manipulate this butane tank, from higher up in the sky.

This would have been a monumental affair, which would almost certainly have been seen, at some point, by someone. These hoaxers took a gigantic chance, using it over, and over again, and nobody sees the plane, or helicopter, at any point during this repeated hoax?

It seems less plausible than the story as is.

KRandle said...

Lance -

Since Colgate told Pauling about the hoax back in 1968, I don't think it unreasonable to think that Colgate would have let Hynek know about this... as one academic to another. He could have just mentioned it quietly and given the way the Air Force and the government was responding to UFO reports in that era, I believe they would have written off the case.

There is no hint, anywhere, that anyone in New Mexico gave Hynek a hint it was a hoax, a solution they considered.

But my real point was that there was nothing new here, except that Colgate had told Pauling.


Joseph Capp said...

Thank you,
I want the same intensive investigation of these people lives as is always done with high profile UFO investigation. We have two new explanations for Randlesham landing. We have people who came out about remembering what happened on one flight of a MOGAL 50 years ago. That is accepted. But the UFO witnesses are mistaken and compress their dates. I have the same disdain for these late bloomers as I do for debunkers.
It is amazing how hoaxers are believe more than UFO witnesses since we all know UFOs are real craft. It might have been a hoax but I just don't believe a cop would in any way mistake a balloon for what he described. Someone needs go to Lenny the Police officer and ask him about these claims and if it is possible. The man never like the notoriety and if this is a way out than I think he would take it...that's if it is believable to him.
Of course the RRR group got a kick out of this anything to make it harder to prove what is happening isn't happening.

Joe Capp
UFO Media Matters
Non-Commercial Blog

Frank Warren said...


First, Colgate in his reply, presumably close to June, 1968 (since it was just one sentence [undated] returned on Pauling's own letter), did not make a confirmatory statement, it was speculative at best, i.e., he wrote, "I have a good indication . . .." Moreover, he did not answer "any" of the 3 questions posed by Pauling!

According to Tony, he sent a copy of the original letter to Colgate with his inquiry--this was a mistake in my view! It would have been interesting to note Colgate's responses without refreshing his memory.

From there Colgate's answers only insure that he is unaware of the details.

Following your thinking, I would add: during the weeks after the Socorro incident, there were many UFO events, a few very similar to Lonnie's (in and out of the state of New Mexico) some of the more dire incidents included a man "shooting" at a UFO; a young girl claiming to be burned by a UFO, and another involving a fire. In noting the accomplishments and character of Colgate as Tony rightfully did, one has to ponder the question: would such a man "not" notify the authorities and about a school prank that in his mind was instigating all this chaos, and possibly putting lives in danger? I don't think so!!

He would have been morally derelict if not criminally negligent had any of these events been proven to be the act of intentional hoaxes and he purposely withheld information.

The "rumor" of the hoax as you stated, has been with the event since day one; I believe Colgate was on the receiving end of the "hoax rumors" and from his point of view like so many of his colleagues--this has to be the answer as the alternative is impossible!!

Finally, as was/is the sentiment in my rebuttal to Tony's piece, I feel he was premature in publicizing his incomplete inquest into the matter, and and more so by claiming a confirmative solution with what most courts of law wouldn't even consider evidence (hearsay).


Alfred Lehmberg said...

Hiya Frank...

You don't think that's part of the overall mechanism of the scurvy RRR imprimature... needlessly fan at the bottom, reducing overall visibility — jerk a reader's sensibility back and forth across the credulity line so hard and often with new-speak claptrap that the line gets impossiblely smudged? You think he was genuinely just "premature"?

"Student hoax" arrives and is in the mix of "explanation" now.

Too, when it didn't have to be there at all.

You know how it works. Too many answers comes to no answer at all, and Rich Reynolds facilitates yet another red herring answer. You're too kind hearted, Sir! A spade can be recognized as a spade even with a dog in the hunt, eh? [g].

cda said...

There is a careless but unimportant bit of J.Allen Hynek's report on Socorro as taken from PROJECT BLUE BOOK (ed Brad Steiger) 1976, see p 127. It is entitled "Socorro Revisited ", where Hynek revisited the site on August 15,1964. He says, after examining the site and drawings with others: "[anonymous] pointed out that there is a well known theorem which states that if the diagonals of any quadrilateral intersect at right angles, then the points lie on a circle, the center of which is called the mean center of the figure. [anonymous] also pointed out that one of the burned marks was directly at this mean center".

Alas, there is no such theorem, no 'mean center' and the statement is false.

David Rudiak said...

The theorem is misstated and cda misunderstands the point Hynek was making. The actual theorem reads similar to the following rendition: When the diagonals of a quadrilateral are perpendicular (as was the case with the Socorro object to within measurement error), the midpoints of its sides and the feet of the perpendiculars dropped from them on the opposite sides all lie on a circle described about the mean center of the vertices. (from Brand's Vector and Tensor Analysis)

In plainer language, the four points Hynek was referring to that lie on the common circle are the centers of the sides of the quadrilateral connecting the four landing impressions (not the landing impressions themselves, which will not necessarily lie on a common circle).

Three random points will always define a circle, but, in general, a random four-sided figure will only have three of its four midpoints lying on one circle, the fourth lying off the circle (unless the diagonals form right angles, like at Socorro).

In addition, in the Socorro case, the center of the defined circle lay directly over the main burn area where Zamora saw the object take off vertically (and where the mesquite bush was cut cleanly in half at the edge of the burn). For a VTOL craft with a single thruster, the best engineering placement of the thruster will be under the center of gravity of the craft (such as is the case with the Lunar Lander). Therefore the center of the circle over the burn area defines the center of gravity of the craft; by symmetry, all weight is evenly distributed around any circle drawn around this center.

The engineering significance of this is that the weight of the object is evenly distributed on the centers of the sides, and as a corollary, each landing pad also bears equal weight. In other words, well thought out, good engineering design that is highly unlikely to happen by pure chance had this been any sort of hoax (and would have required highly sophisticated hoaxers.

Many other details also run contrary to any hoax, such as the very high speed departure against the wind, all done in complete silence. This was no balloon, helicopter, or jet/rocket-propelled craft. The propulsion system was highly unconventional.

David Rudiak

Frank Stalter said...

Kevin- Why did you not include this quote from Zamora's Blue Book report:

"He asked what is it? I answered "It looks like a balloon."

David Rudiak said...

When Zamora radioed in to report the incident and the dispatcher asked what he should be looking for, Zamora said he replied that it looked like a balloon, not that it WAS a balloon.

If Zamora had instead compared the shape to a large egg, would that have made it a large egg?

The real object departed to the WSW, directly into the prevailing wind. Real balloons can't fly against the wind. Nor do they fly at hundreds of miles an hour, perhaps even supersonic speed (based on departure time and distance to fadeout in the distance).

Real balloons also would not fuse the soil into glass, make the type of landing impressions at the site, indicating an object of at least several tons weight.

Real balloons of the size of the Zamora object would be one to two magnitudes of volume too small to lift two men, rigging, a carrying basket, and a balloon envelope. A balloon sufficient to have carried such weight would have been at least 50 feet in diameter, not the size of a car.

Real balloons do not have girderlike legs reported by Zamora.

A real hot air balloon would have burned upward, not downward. A real hot air balloon would have left hydrocarbon residue behind even if it somehow did burn downward. None was found when soil and brush samples were tested by the Air Force.

In short, there is not one single bit of evidence to support the idea that what Zamora saw was a balloon. In fact, it would be physically impossible for any type of balloon to account for the event.

David Rudiak

Frank Stalter said...

"In short, there is not one single bit of evidence to support the idea that what Zamora saw was a balloon."

Zamora's own account isn't evidence? He's the sole witness.

Zamora saw two people so you assume they left the area in the vehicle. They didn't.

It was a balloon, so it must have been a hot air balloon. It wasn't.

The speeds I've seen attributed to the vehicle aren't credible. 2000 mph+? Zamora only stated "Object was travelling very fast."

This was a magic trick. When you look at the actual lay of the land, this particular patch of ground was perfectly suited to pull off such an illusion. That's where the smoking gun is.

I believe Zamora's account is both honest and accurate and fully supports the magic trick explanation.

KRandle said...

Frank -

I didn't include the quote simply because it wasn't relevant to my article. I'm not arguing the reality of the Zamora sighting, only that Tony had not proved his case. Tony seemed to be saying, in his article, that it was all over but the shouting. Colgate said it was a hoax, another fellow confirmed it was a hoax, but neither of them were participants in the hoax.

At this stage, Tony has offered some interesting evidence, but in the end, he hasn't proven his case. That was my point... that there was other evidence out there, some of it better than what Tony just published and some of it looking at it as a hoax older than his.

Had I been arguing the validity of the Zamora sighting as an alien craft, then his description of it looking like a balloon would have been important.

I'm waiting for Tony to supply the final pieces of his evidence... the final proof that this is a hoax, but I want names, I want statements, and a picture or two of them in the field, setting up the hoax would be nice.

If this case turns out to be a hoax, then I will publish that information along with the evidence. Right now, we don't know it was a hoax... Right now there are only the suspicions that Tony has raised.

David Rudiak said...

The principle "witness" produced by Bragalia is Sterling Colgate. As to Colgate's motives in declaring it a "hoax", Ray Stanford's observations on the other day are highly relevant.

It turns out Colgate was declaring the whole incident a hoax to reporters within only days of the incident. When pressed by reporters why it was a hoax, Colgate answered that he knew as an astrophysicist that interstellar travel was impossible, therefore it couldn't have been an alien craft, therefore it must have been a hoax perpetrated by his own students.

When pressed further about which students were involved, Colgate said he suspected one student in particular.

Colgate is still telling the same vague story. He made up the whole hoax claim in his own mind and attributed it to his students because he is one of these "scientific" skeptibunker types who thinks he can determine from first principles that alien visitation is impossible. (In reality, this is about as unscientific a statement as one can make.)

So it seems that what we have here is a "witness" who didn't investigate, doesn't really know anything, and made up the whole hoax claim, including the alleged students because of a personal belief system. Colgate won't name the alleged student perpetrators because they never existed. He can't provide details of how the "hoax" was carried out, because there was no hoax. He never _knew_ anything, only _believed_ that it must be a hoax and his students were behind it.

Bragalia will never hear back from Colgate with names of the students and details of how they carried it out because there is nothing there.

The bottom line is Colgate's hoax claim is itself a hoax.

David Rudiak

cda said...

For once I am in agreement (almost) with David Rudiak (!). I also do not believe that Colgate will ever divulge any names, nor do I think anyone else will, nor need we suppose there will be any first-hand admission. Half the problem is that nobody will be believed at this very late stage, so any confession will be either thrown out by ETHers or some conspiracy theory will be propounded to encompass the confession. (i.e. involving the USAF, the Tech College, Zamora or other persons unknown). Because of the high ranking strangeness of this sighting for 45 years the UFO world will be thrown into a state of chaos.

Be that as it may, I would still give Bragalia a low (but not zero) probability of being correct.

The figure of 'up to' 2000 mph or some 'supersonic' velocity of the object on disappearance is pure fantasy. Where did these numbers come from? Quintanilla says that Zamora's estimate, as it disappeared over the mountains, of the object's speed, was about 120 mph. And even this was only a very rough guess from a distance. This is the only quote of a speed estimate from the one & only witness I have seen. Any other figure is baloney pure and simple. For one thing, if a supersonic speed was reached, did anyone hear a sonic boom at that time and place? By this I mean a sonic boom that cannot be attributed to an earthly vehicle.

Frank Warren said...

Good Day Kevin, et al,

A couple of things to put in perspective:

First Colgate didn't say "it was a hoax"; his "14 word reply" written on a letter from Pauling in part stated:

"I have a good indication of the student who engineered the hoax."

In the correspondence with Tony, "after" he was supplied the Pauling letter Tony asked, "Do you still know this to be a hoax?" Colgate did not elaborate, he just answered in the affirmative.

Nothing in his answers altered what he wrote in 1968; in other words there was nothing "confirmative" in regards to a hoax, (aside from expressing his ideology) with the exception that twice he wrote, "he would have to ask," indicating he was ignorant to "details."

Finally, the entire Zamora incident lasted "2 minutes," and that is how the high rate of speed was deduced.

Additionally, the landing indentations were just that, the earth was compressed indicating the substantial weight of the object, also the soil in the burnt area was analyzed negating conventional fuels, and flammable materials etc. Consequently, science, i.e., physics, chemical analysis, forensics, etc., negate a balloon and or conventional craft as we know it.


David Rudiak said...

Supersonic speed can be deduced from estimates of the departure time until Zamora saw the object fade in the distance near 6 Mile Canyon, which as the name implies is about 6 miles from the site (more like 5.8 as the crow flies, but who's counting?).

From the time the object went into _completely silent_ mode directly above its landing point, then rapidly accelerated until it faded in the distance, Zamora estimated at 10 seconds. Ray Stanford going over this very carefully with Zamora thought 20 seconds was a more reasonable figure.

Now let's do the math: 6 miles in 20 seconds is 18 miles a minute or 1080 miles an hour--supersonic. But this isn't the peak speed, just the average speed over that distance. E.g., if the object accelerated at a constant rate (which works out to ~5G's), it would have been traveling twice as fast (2160 mph) as the average speed when Zamora saw it fade out.

Lets assume these departure times and fadeout distance numbers are wrong. Double the time to 40 seconds and halve the fadeout distance to 3 miles. That would cut the average speed to 270 mph and the max speed (assuming constant acceleration) to 540 mph, still much too fast for any _conventional_ propulsion system except for jet engines or rockets, neither of which is silent.

Incidentally I have conducted visual experiments, and the range to fadeout could be as high as 8 miles with very good seeing conditions to 2.5 miles with poor conditions (haze, sun glare, etc.) In other words, Zamora's estimated fadeout distance is well within the margin of error.

Even if you ignore the fact that this object flew directly into the wind (which would completely rule out a balloon unless one resorts to magical thinking), the object was traveling much too fast to have been a balloon, a helicopter, a propeller plane, a lunar lander (which didn't exist at the time and wasn't designed to fly in Earth gravity), etc., etc. In fact, you can rule out any conventional propulsion system simply because the object flew off SILENTLY (and let us again not forget, INTO THE WIND).

Incidentally, Zamora had once been a witness to a green fireball and was interviewed by famed meteor chaser Dr. Lincoln La Paz. According to Ray Stanford, La Paz found Zamora to be the most accurate eyewitness he had ever interviewed, even though the sighting was at night. (Zamora, apparently, turned out to be dead on in the position of the reconstructed trajectory at the beginning and end of the sighting.) The point is, Zamora's account of where the object faded to nothing should be given some credence.

Immediately after Socorro, I have an Albuquerque Journal article where La Paz again completely vouches for Zamora as a highly reliable eyewitness. (La Paz instead put out the claim that it was an experimental Air Force VTOL craft, but, of course, the Air Force couldn't find any such craft, and they dearly would have loved to debunk Socorro.)

David Rudiak

Frank Stalter said...

"At this stage, Tony has offered some interesting evidence, but in the end, he hasn't proven his case."

I think Anthony's made a great circumstantial case. Proven, no not in the clinical sense. What i read though is a lot of sincere UFO researchers thinking like sincere researchers and not like magicians. ;O)

Lance said...

I see that Bragalia is now implying that some earth-shattering revelation is yet to come in a future installment of his Socorro material.

Somehow I doubt it. Especially after seeing his empty Roswell series that contained the same sort of brain-bursting conclusion-jumping as this stuff.

And there was nothing at the end of that rainbow.

Nonetheless I will note that Stanford (for whom Frank Warren seems to have some degree of respect) used the exact same kind of "logic" as Bragalia in his discussion on the Paracast.

As an example, he went on and on about some radar "confirmation" for several minutes, only to admit later that he had never seen it and that someone had only told him about it.

Of course that is EVIDENCE in the UFO world.

Mr. Bragalia , meet Mr. Stanford. I'm sure you too will find much in common.

Rudiak, without a hint of mirth, pretends that he has the numbers for the entire event without admitting that those numbers contain an untold legion of assumptions, any one of which would throw off his entire premise.

Mr. Rudiak, please meet Mssrs. Stanford and Bragalia. You boys should have much to discuss because you think just alike.


David Rudiak said...

Apparently Lance has never heard of scientific estimation and bracketing. The numbers I provided are not made up but based on actual measurements at the scene, interviews with Zamora, long-established known psychophsycial limits of human perception, including actual experiments I did to determine likely fadeout distances under a variety of seeing conditions. I am not arguing by handwaving, unlike some people I could mention.

E.g., Zamora (who got to within at least 50 feet of the object) said the size was about that of a small car, i.e., maybe 15 feet long. Measurements at the scene found the distance between the fore and aft footpad impression to be 14.5' and the left/right impressions 19.5'. So Zamora's size estimate was right in the ballpark. It could have been maybe 2 or 3 feet one way or the other based on engineering stability of a landing gear, but basically around 15' maybe +/- 20%. That is scientific bracketing.

He said it was eggshaped. Let's say the cross-sectional dimension was about 8', or about half the length. 8' at Zamora's estimated 6 mile fadeout distance works out to .87 minarc angular width. Normal adult visual acuity (to reading letters) varies between .75 minarc (20/15 acuity) and 1.0 minarc (20/20). So again Zamora is in the correct ballpark. (Actually, we can detect things even smaller than this in isolation, but I can't go into the details here.)

This also agrees with my visual experiments where I tested a small white object against a variety of backgrounds (to simulate variations in contrast) and also with sun glare. I found an object of the size reported by Zamora could indeed be detected at an extrapolated 6 miles distance (even as high as 8 miles with very good seeing conditions). With poorer seeing conditions (low contrast due to haze plus sun glare), the distance might drop to 2.5 miles. So more scientific bracking at work.

Finally the estimate of how long it took for the object to zip away and fade out in the distance. Zamora estimated maybe 10 seconds. Stanford doubled this to be more conservative. This would be the time it would take for Zamora to run back to his car (Zamora thought maybe he had run 25 feet past), pick up his dropped glasses, grab his radio and phone in, while watching the object rapidly disappear in the distance. Try it. He could easily do all this in 10-20 seconds. But even if you are superconservative and make it 40 seconds, it still means the object sped up to hundreds of miles an hour in complete silence.

So there!

David Rudiak

Lance said...

And I am sure you have your own experiments that show that objects fade out LATER (instead of earlier) when you have dropped your glasses!


David Rudiak said...

This is another example of how Lance doesn't bother to even get the most basic facts of the case right--so much easier that way to cynically debunk.

Real story: Zamora said he ran back to the car after the object departed, PICKED UP HIS GLASSES AND PUT THEM ON (but didn't pick up his sunglass clipons), and watched the object WITH HIS GLASSES ON rapidly disappear towards the mountains in the WWS direction.


David Rudiak

cda said...

I wonder how useful all this is in establishing anything. DR tells us that Zamora's distance estimate of where the object faded from view should be "given some credence". All right, then should Zamora's velocity estimate at this point also be given some credence? I quote from "UFOs 1947-1997" (Fortean Times, London) from the chapter PROJECT BLUE BOOK'S LAST YEARS by Hector J. Quantanilla, p.116 where he says: "The object was travelling at approximately 120mph when it disappeared over the mountains, according to Zamora's best estimate".

This simply does NOT square with DR's calculations. It is a serious contradiction and renders other estimates and calculations very suspect. It makes you wonder whether any of the figures proves anything. Either Zamora is a relaible witness as regards speed & distance or he is not. Which is it?

Incidentally, HJQ has quite a lot to say about his dealings with Hynek over this case and others, in this chapter. His opinion of Hynek is decidedly negative, But that is another story.

Lance said...

I have now read Zamora's account in several places and he says he PICKED UP his glasses (at some point during this very short event).

Where was it established that he put them on?

And at any rate the fadeout figures must surely depend on the size of the object as well as many other factors.

Were there any clouds in the sky, for instance

Rudiak's description of his own experiments in determining when an object would fade from view might be interesting to review. What journals were they published in?

You mention extrapolation to 6 miles. Is this something you just did in your back yard. Surely you realize that with optics you can't just assume that all factors will scale up?


David Rudiak said...

Lance wrote:
I have now read Zamora's account in several places and he says he PICKED UP his glasses (at some point during this very short event). Where was it established that he put them on?
Most human beings reading only slightly between the lines would logically deduce that if he bothered to pick up his glasses, he would then put them on, otherwise why bother? This is an example of how debunkers grasp at straws when they have nothing else to argue.
Lance wrote:
And at any rate the fadeout figures must surely depend on the size of the object as well as many other factors.
Which is why I wrote I was assuming the width of the ellipsoid object was about half the length of about 15' or around 8'. 8' at 6 miles is .88 minarc, comparable to normal adult visual acuity of .75 to 1.0 minarc. This alone tells you that Zamora's estimate of distance is reasonable.

Normal visual acuity measures (like eye-chart letters) determine ability to resolve two closely spaced objects, like two lines. Objects in isolation can be detected at even smaller angular sizes than gaps between objects. I didn't go into this, but merely pointed out that the angular size of Zamora's fading object was certainly in the ballpark of what you would expect from long established human visual psychophysics. At least several miles to fadeout is completely reasonable.

If you skeptics out there don't think this is reasonable, then apparently you have never been flying 6 or 7 miles in the air in a jetliner and still be able to just barely see cars on the ground, even through dirty, scratched up windows.

I was also assuming the egg-shaped object flew lengthwise away from Zamora and he was only looking at the narrower circular cross-section, instead of the full length, which he could have seen even further away.

I could have assumed a craft narrower or wider by a foot or two, but this would only have affected the fade-out distance by a mile or two one way or the other. This still doesn't affect the final outcome that the craft traveled at least several miles in only tens of seconds, or hundreds of miles an hour, all in complete silence. This alone rules out all conventional propulsion sources.

There are indeed other factors which affect visibility. E.g., if the object were shiny, the sunlight could glint off it and Zamora could have seen it much further away. I was being conservative and made no such assumption.

Other major factors in visibility would be atmospheric haze, dust, sun glare, etc. I tried to simulate this by viewing both with and without sun in my eyes, and using both higher contrast and low contrast backgrounds for haze. Very low contrast + sun glare dropped extrapolated fadeout distance to 2.5 miles.
Lance wrote:
Were there any clouds in the sky, for instance?

Clear day, I believe. But any clouds would have had to be below 6000 feet to have affected visibility (Zamora was at 4700 feet).

Incidentally, in Ray Stanford’s book, Zamora was very specific that he thought the object disappeared because of distance, not because of something else (clouds, dust, etc.). It just got smaller and smaller and faded out. Zamora had no reason not to mention something else that might have caused the object to disappear.

Lance wrote:
Rudiak's description of his own experiments in determining when an object would fade from view might be interesting to review. What journals were they published in?
Hmmm, what journal was Lance's handwaving debunking arguments published in for review? At least I got off my ass and did an actual experiment instead of just waving my wands. And as noted, just simple arguments about angular diameter indicate Zamora could likely have seen the object up to at least 6 miles distance. (Not only well-established visual psychophysics but also very common experience, such as flying in a plane.)

(last part next post)

David Rudiak

David Rudiak said...

(continued response to Lance)
Lance wrote:
You mention extrapolation to 6 miles. Is this something you just did in your back yard. Surely you realize that with optics you can't just assume that all factors will scale up?

Yes, I did do it in my back yard. To simulate the effects of atmospheric haze associated with distance, I put the target on backgrounds that would produce low contrast.

I couldn't simulate every conceivable situation. But I did an actual experiment and tried to simulate common conditions that could have dropped fade-out distance, unlike some armchair critics I could mention who sit and blow smoke instead. Zamora could still make out something several miles away.

The bottom line remains the object achieved speeds of at least several hundred miles an hour, no matter how many _reasonable_ conservative assumptions you make about fade-out distance and departure time. (Absurd assumptions don't count.)

E.g., EXTREMELY conservative assumption: fadeout distance only 2 miles, time to fadeout 1 minute (instead of Zamora's 10 seconds and Stanford's more conservative 20 seconds). 2 miles in 1 minute is still 120 mph AVERAGE speed, but peak speed will be higher. E.g. if the object maintained constant acceleration, it would have been traveling 240 mph as it faded from view. Obviously this rules out any sort of "balloon" (which can't fly into the wind in any case) or a VTOL craft like a helicopter (which is noisy as hell, unlike the dead silence Zamora reported as the object left the scene).

Blue Book head Hector Quintinilla, probably the biggest debunker to ever head Blue Book, ruled out hoax or hallucination (according to Hynek). Quintinella dearly wanted to debunk the whole thing but couldn't. He proposed some secret test craft, but intensive inquiry revealed no such craft.

David Rudiak

Lance said...

"Most human beings reading only slightly between the lines would logically deduce that if he bothered to pick up his glasses, he would then put them on"

You ARE the expert at reading between the lines. I certainly admit that. Especially when such a reading leads to a pro-UFO result!

I feel like such a novelty since I have often picked up a pair of glasses WITHOUT putting them on--perhaps the only such results in human history, no?

I am hardly grasping at straws since I am not even arguing about what Zamora saw. I have no idea.

I AM suggesting that the neat little package of numbers you present depends upon tons of assumptions. For instance, your flat assertion that Zamora got within 50 feet of the object is not universally accepted by any means.

Here is the main parameter I would question (that is if people were allowed to question you--something you regally dismiss as hand waving):

1. "Zamora saw the object fade in the distance near 6 Mile Canyon"

How? In my experience, estimating where something in the sky is can be exceedingly hard. How could he tell where it was exactly? We see this over and over again in witness accounts. It is something people don't do well.

I have done some work (I wouldn't be so bold as to call them experiments) within my areas of expertise on other cases even going into my own backyard (!) to photograph a bush and trash can lid from different distances to estimate how far away Billy Meir must have been away from one of his model setups--so maybe I am a great scientist just like you?


Shanksow said...

Hey Folks-

I think we are now at the point of beating a dead horse to death for the second time now.

The only way for this to be solved is for these "so-called" hoaxers to come forth.

Demo (with period equipment), how they "fooled the fuzz!" and the rest of us. Bragalia can say its a hoax based on his emails until he's blue in the face.

Until that demo takes place - Socorro stands on its original weight of evidence - period!

gatta said...

There were no prints so it could not be a student hoax. Ok fine but that also means the 2 humanoids did not leave prints. Explanation anyone? Other than they were a kind of aliens that don't leave prints while on foot in the desert thanks to advanced technology footwear

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