In the last few weeks, a controversy about the Socorro UFO landing has erupted when it was suggested, again, that a hoax had been perpetrated. The theory was, now changed slightly, that students at the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology had created the spaceship and the landing evidence in an elaborate plan that fooled not only Lonnie Zamora but a group of investigators that included the FBI, Army Intelligence, the Air Force and its scientific consultant, and, of course, Jim and Coral Lorenzen of APRO and Ray Stanford the researcher from NICAP.
According to the latest, the one time president of the school, Stirling Colgate, in the late 1960s, told Nobel Laureate Linus Pauling that the whole thing was a hoax. Donald Menzel, the UFO debunker, said that it was as hoax almost from the beginning, but he based that on his own opinion that there were no alien spacecraft and anything that suggested otherwise was inaccurate at best.
But that is just one side of the argument. Like almost everything in UFO research, those arguing for the hoax haven’t presented all the information, though, according to them, they have looked at all the relevant information. I have, in my files, the complete Air Force report on the Socorro landing, and it provides ammunition for other side.
Dr. J. Allen Hynek was the Air Force scientific consultant for UFOs and he visited Socorro in the days after the sighting hit the national press. He interviewed dozens, including the police officer, Zamora, the FBI man and many in the general population.
On page seven of his lengthy report, Hynek wrote, "I also questioned, while in Socorro, my old friend, Dr Jack Whotmen, President of the New Mexico School of Mines (emphasis added), who said he knew of no geophysical or other types of experiments going on in the area at the time. He, as the rest of the townspeople, were puzzled by the event, but the general underground slull (sic) of opinion was that it would turn out to be some device which the government still had under raps (sic)..."
Okay, that doesn’t completely rule out hoax and that idea isn’t mentioned specifically, but we can infer that Whotmen had no indication that it might be a hoax. He, along with many others, believed it to be a government project, probably from White Sands.
Hynek, in his report does write, "No paraphernalia of a hoax were ever found. It would be rather hard to have done away with all the tell-tale evidence, such as tubes of helium, release mechanism, etc. Finally, it was LaPaz’s (that would be Dr. Lincoln LaPaz at the university in Albuquerque and the leading expert on meteorics) feeling had it been a hoax, it surely would have leaked by now."
One of the arguments against this is that there had been a secret society at the New Mexico Tech that engaged in such pranks. They never wanted to reveal what they had done because that was part of the fun. We know about this secret society because they have a website on which they talk about such things. And, if I have understood this correctly, they weren’t in operation in 1964. They came after that.
Finally I turn to my old nemesis, Dr. Charles Moore (seen here) who has claimed that Project Mogul was responsible for the Roswell UFO crash. According to Volume 41, No. 8, November 1, 1994 of Jim Moseley’s Saucer Smear (available for a nominal "love offering" from Moseley at PO Box 1709, Key West, FL 33041) Moore wrote, "At Jim McDonald’s request, I investigated the residue of the Socorro sighting in 1967 or 1968... Despite Phil Klass, I found no indications suggesting that this was a tourist-attracting ploy by the local Chamber of Commerce, nor was it a prank by the New Mexico Tech students (emphasis added)."
So here is a man at New Mexico Tech, who taught there for decades, who worked with the students directly, who had investigated the Zamora story, and he found no evidence of a hoax. This in contrast to Colgate who, for no currently justifiable reason has said that it was a hoax.
But in an interview conducted by Moseley, and published in his Saucer Smear on July 15, 2000, Moseley wrote that Moore said, "Something went wrong (with the Surveyor lunar module undergoing testing at White Sands on the day of the Zamora sighting) and they don’t want to admit it. I have good reason to believe that."
Isn’t that just as good an explanation as the hoax story. Neither has any solid evidence to push it forward as the final answer, but it comes from men who were at New Mexico Tech at the time and who have investigated the story. The hoax hypothesis fails because there have been no students identified as the tricksters and the Surveyor theory fails because Moore was unable to establish a time for the Surveyor tests.
And had the Surveyor been the answer, I suspect that Hynek, or the Chief of Project Blue Book at the time would have been given the answer. On a Joint Messageform (DD Form 173] and dated June 19, 1964, Colonel Eric T. de Jonckheere (seen here) wrote, "The possibility of a research vehicle being involved with the Socorro sighting has been investigated... at great length; however, they have no knowledge of an Army research vehicle which would leave marks such as those found at Socorro. Lt. Col Conkey and Maj H. Mitchell of the AFMDC have also been contacted... However, neither one of them has any knowledge of a vehicle in the Holloman [AFB, Alamogordo] area, such as described in our report."
Which means that if such a research project was going on, or if the Surveyor had strayed off course, Col. Jonckheere would have been able to learn about it. And the Air Force, believing the files would be classified for a long time, would have had their answer. Nothing in the file indicates that any such project was ever seriously considered and no evidence was ever found to corroborate that opinion.
Once again, it appears that the hoax idea fails because we have no information about the tricksters. Moore’s idea of a research vehicle fails because Air Force officers, following that trail failed to find any documentation that would support it despite the fact the Air Force wanted this case solved. We are where we began, with a police officer telling, honestly, what he had seen, and no evidence yet presented to suggest either of these alternative answers are viable.