I thought, given the tenor of the conversation, that I would attempt to establish some common ground. I believe there are some facts on which we all can agree, and I believe there is some analysis that we can make which would provide a jumping off point.
I believe that we can all agree that Lonnie Zamora saw something in the desert on April 24, 1964. We can agree that he described, as accurately as he could, what he had seen at that time. I’m not going to talk about apparent changes, additions, deletions from his testimony over time because human memory, being what it is, allows for these adjustments that are neither right nor wrong, but often just different.
We all seem to agree that it was more or less egg-shaped, with a red symbol on it. We all agree that he saw two figures near it, that he described as humanoid, that were dressed in white, and that they disappeared behind the object, whatever it might have been. This object lifted off in short order and disappeared, flying into the strong wind. There were no other reliable or identified witnesses to the sighting (and yes, I know about Opal Grinder’s tourist and the two men from Dubuque, Iowa who reported they had seen the craft).
There are a limited number of possible explanations for the case. It was a hallucination. It was a illusion. It was a misidentification. It was an experimental craft from White Sands (or somewhere else that is terrestrially based). It was a hoax. It was a craft from another world.
I have tried to think of any other alternatives, but haven’t come up with anything. By saying this, I hope to draw out someone who might have thought of something different.
Let’s look at the solutions. I discount hallucination because of the physical evidence left behind. I see no reason for Opal Grinder to have invented a tourist and am disappointed that this witness, who surely heard about the case, has refused to ever come forward. The two men from Dubuque, if they accurately reported what they had seen also argue against hallucination. Their reliability is another question.
The problem with illusion is that there is no real good source for the illusion. Some, or maybe one, thought, given the time and location, a bright star near the horizon, seen though the dry air, might have given the impression that it was on, or near the ground. There are many factors that argue against it including the markings left on the ground, and given the history since the sighting, it has little viability.
There is a possibility that it was a misidentification and this is the explanation favored by some such as Charles Moore. Arguing against it is the nearly fifty year history since the sighting. Even a top–secret vehicle would now be known and the records for White Sands, easily available now, have been accessed to no avail. If it was a vehicle from another installation, the same applies. The records would now be in a public arena and someone would have found them by now because there have been a number of people looking for that sort of thing. This seems to have little viability.
There was also a discussion that what he saw was a lunar lander being transported under a helicopter in some sort of test. Of course, Zamora never mentioned the noise that would be generated by the helicopter, the clouds of dust that would have been thrown up by the rotor wash, or that what he saw was lifted under something else. Of course the records don’t support this explanation. There seems to be little reason to accept this as an answer either.
I should point out here that some have suggested the misidentification of a dust devil, which is a whirling cloud of dust blow up by the wind... or stirred up by the rotors of a helicopter. The same reasoning applies here as it does to the lunar lander and I mention it only because someone suggested it.
There was a suggestion, briefly, that Zamora had seen a hot air balloon. This would have explained the blue flame and the roaring sound, but doesn’t explain how the balloon envelop, which would have had to be larger to lift two people, even small ones, could have fooled him or how the balloon would have lifted off into a strong wind. Hot air balloons do not do well in any windy conditions anyway. While the idea is somewhat interesting, given the reported wind conditions, it doesn’t seem plausible.
Of all the solutions, only hoax and extraterrestrial seem to have any real viability, and frankly, and offending my pro-extraterrestrial friends, hoax would seem to be more likely. It is a question of logistics more than anything else. You have to come a very long way to reach Earth from another world, so it is easier for it to be hoax than a question of interstellar travel.
Yes, there are many arguments in favor of this explanation and I won’t go into them all here. Tony Bragalia and his colleagues have already done that, and they have offered some evidence in support of it. They have latched onto the claim that this was done as revenge against Zamora for his alleged harassment of New Mexico Tech students and that the charred cardboard found on the site is proof.
Well, it is evidence, but I’m not sure that it is relevant, given the statements by the man who picked it up, but it is out there. Each person is going to have to decide what significance he or she attaches to this particular and rather isolated evidence.
And then the extraterrestrial... this too, has viability. Arguing against it are the vast distances in space and the complex technical problems that must be solved to travel interstellar distances. Then there is likelihood they would land on the outskirts of a small city in New Mexico only then take off when approached by a local resident.
To me, this boils down to either a hoax or an alien visitation. I can’t see any other explanation, given what we know and the evidence that is available in a variety of sources. The arguments seem to fall into one of those two categories as well. Some believing it to be a hoax and some believing that it was alien visitation.
What is left for us to do is a dispassionate examination of the evidence and that is what has been lacking... not the examination, but the dispassion. It is quite clear to me that those involved in the debate are very passionate about their positions, and there is nothing inherently wrong with that. The problem arises when one side or the other refuses to look at all the evidence or begin to call one another names...
That is what we need here, an examination of all the evidence and I have seen both sides picking the evidence that suits them and forgetting some of the rest. I will note that Ockham’s razor states that the simplest solution that accounts for the facts is probably the correct answer. But note, it must account for the majority of the facts, not just those that point in one direction or the other.
Now, nearly fifty years later, we have yet to arrive at a point where we can all agree. And yes, I know that we’ll never get to that point because no matter what evidence is provided, there will always be some on the other side who refuse to accept the truth when they see it. We can point to examples throughout history where people have refused to believe the truth even when confronted by it with their own eyes. I have no hope that this will turn out any different.
But by looking at this, somewhat dispassionately, we now know why this case was labeled as unidentified. There simply isn’t the evidence necessary to make the proper call. Sometimes, that is the only solution that we can find and it is not a satisfactory one. It leaves us guessing and in a vacuum.