Friday, October 24, 2014

The Socorro Landing and Corroborating Witnesses


The problem with the Lonnie Zamora, Socorro, UFO sighting was that it was single witness. There were hints that others might have seen something, but the names never seemed to surface. Opal Grinder, who managed a gas station in Socorro, told Dr. J. Allen Hynek that a family had stopped for gas and the father had said something about the aircraft flying low over the town. Grinder didn’t understand the significance of the statement at the time and he didn’t know who the man was. There was no credit card receipt so there was no way to track them and they have never come forward to tell their tale, if they had one to tell.

On April 29, 1964, just days after the sighting, two men who lived in Dubuque, Iowa, told the local newspaper that they had seen the UFO. Paul Kies and Larry Kratzer, who had been in New Mexico to retrieve a boat that had been left behind, when they drove through Socorro. The story that appeared in the newspaper was fairly inaccurate. Since no one had actually talked to them since that initial report, Iowa UFO researcher, Ralph DeGraw decided he would some fourteen years later. According to an article that he published in The UFO Examiner in September 1978 and republished in The MUFON UFO Journal in October 1978, DeGraw recounted what he had learned.

He wrote, “Although the circumstances such as the time, location, etc. were described the same by both men, descriptions of what they saw were entirely different!”

Kies, according to DeGraw, said that he had seen a cloud of dust followed by black smoke. He thought they were about a mile away, and that it was coming up, from the ground. There seemed to be something bright and shiny in the smoke. He wasn’t sure if the reflection, as he called it, had been from the low hanging sun, if it was reflecting from something on the ground or if an object was emitting the light. At that time, he didn’t think about having seen a UFO.

Kratzer told DeGraw that they were about a mile west of Socorro when he saw a cloud of black smoke coming from the ground ahead of them. Kratzer said that he pointed it out to Kies and watched as a saucer or egg-shaped object lifted off vertically, from the black smoke. He wasn’t sure how far away they had been, especially since it had been so long (fourteen years) ago. He thought it was about one-half to a mile away and might have been a thousand feet in the air.

He said that after it had climbed vertically out of the smoke, it leveled off and then disappeared behind the black smoke that was coming out of the rear. He said that the object itself was shiny silver with a row of darker, mirror-like windows that he assumed wrapped around the craft. There was a red Z toward the right end of the object. It made no noise and when DeGraw asked what he thought it was Kratzer said that it might have been a vertical lift aircraft.

They drove on into Socorro and stopped for gas. He thought that Kratzer might have mentioned the sighting to the attendant but he wasn’t sure. There might have been an attempt by some, certainly not DeGraw, to suggest that these were the people that Opal Grinder had seen, but Grinder was sure that it had been a man and woman and their three children.

Kies said they were listening to the radio late that night, as they headed back to Iowa, when he heard about the Zamora sighting. They realized that they might have seen the same object after it had taken off but said nothing about it to others until they arrived back in Dubuque.

DeGraw wasn’t impressed with the testimonies. He noted that the stories differed from one another and that neither matched very closely that given by Zamora. It suggested that they had made up the story, and while that certainly is a possibility, it would seem that had that been the case, one or the other might have said that to DeGraw, especially since it have been nearly a decade and a half since they had talked to the newspaper reporters.

I’m not sure that these discrepancies found in the stories after so long are all that significant. They did agree on the general descriptions and it is only some of the details that are different which could be explained by the time elapsed and the different perspective of the witnesses. I’ve always worried about two guys from Dubuque, Iowa, being in a position to see this but their explanation of that seems reasonable. They called the newspaper when they got home, so it was all recorded, however inaccurately by the newspaper, at the end of April 1964.

If the two men did see something outside of Socorro on April 24, 1964, then it suggests that something unusual was seen by Zamora. This would seem to reduce the possibility of a hoax. It makes the case stronger, and sometimes, after all these years, that’s about the best that can be hoped for.

13 comments:

Frank Stalter said...

At this point, I don't think anyone doubts that Zamora saw essentially what he said he saw.

Dave said...

OT [but recent topic]:

Yet another disk with angled tower/superstructure at Ted Phillips' site under Roaring River, circa 1966

http://www.angelfire.com/mo/cptr/roaringriver.html

Paul Young said...

I've always considered it to be something of an upside when there are discrepancies in reports, such as those of Kies and Kratzer. It suggests they haven't felt the need to get their heads together in order to get their "story" straight.

Anthony Mugan said...

I've never understood why this case impressed Hynek. Sure, Zamorra was a credible witness and there were alleged physical traces but the level of evidence doesn't come close to that of some later physical trace cases (Rendlesham, possibly Amaranthe and definately Trans-en-Provence).
As is so often the case we lack quite basic evidence in terms of these additional possible witnesses. No one seems to have cross checked if they actually were in the area, for example.

As such I doubt if this one can get beyond a conclusion of insufficient evidence, although I have no reason to doubt Zamorra's word.

David Rudiak said...

Anthony, one thing quite unique about Socorro is that it took place only 1/2 mile off the main highway and and 1 mile from the police station. Zamora's initial backup, state trooper Sam Chavez, was already overlooking the scene as the object was disappearing in the distance. (Zamora hinted Chavez may have seen the object and Socorro policemen told Ray Stanford that he had, but Chavez never publicly admitted as such).

Chavez was probably by Zamora's side in half a minute, and another half dozen police were there in minutes, all noting that the burnt ground and brush were still smoldering and the landing impressions were still moist in the bottom indicating they were freshly pressed into the soil.

The police then combed the area looking for trace evidence of hoaxing--tracks, paraphernalia, etc.--and couldn't find anything.

The point here is that there was no place for hoaxers to hide and no place to escape without being seen, no time to clean up after themselves. Yet something had just moments before been there and flown away. The very fresh physical evidence left behind made that abundantly clear. Hynek commented on nearly all of these aspects of the case, part of what impressed him so much.

As for other witnesses, Stanford wrote that he was told by Socorro police there were numerous aural witnesses to the roars of the object landing and taking off, and the police dispatcher said he received 3 calls immediately afterward by people seeing a bright light in the sky (never identified, unfortunately). An Albuquerque TV station also said they had received a call from somebody reporting an oval object in the sky headed south towards Socorro about 20 minutes before Zamora's encounter.

John Steiger said...

QUERY: Has anyone seen (or do you recall) an episode from the Sightings television series "Government declassifies Socorro, NM sighting" in which allegedly there is video footage presented taken by a witness at the scene and on the date of the actual landing in 1964?
The episode is from Season 4, # 13 and was aired on FOX network on 1/21/96. I am trying to track down the episode containing this alleged footage, and any assistance would be greatly appreciated.

John's Space said...

One of the notable things about the Socorro incident is that unlike most UFO close encounters this one was very noisy. Zamora reported a “load roar” which was so load he thought that a dynamite shed had exploded. It also caused a small brush fire. This is every different than most UFO incidents in which the craft is silent or emits a high pitch hum or whine. The differences between the silence and the hum could be due to the witnesses hearing sensitivity. UFO close encounters are frequently reported to upset dogs before the human even notices the event.

The problem here is that the roar and to some extent the fire is suggestive of a reaction powered vehicle such as a rocket or jet. This clearly isn’t the way these vehicles are propelled. On the other hand the circumstances seem to rule out a hoax. One might think that the craft was having some technical issue and that is why it landed. I think the physical evidence makes up for the lack of additional witnesses.

David Rudiak said...

The problem here is that the roar and to some extent the fire is suggestive of a reaction powered vehicle such as a rocket or jet. This clearly isn’t the way these vehicles are propelled. On the other hand the circumstances seem to rule out a hoax. One might think that the craft was having some technical issue and that is why it landed. I think the physical evidence makes up for the lack of additional witnesses.

While I largely agree with these comments, it couldn't have been a conventional reaction-type vehicle because: 1) Excavated no crater; 2) Didn't kick up large amounts of dust and sand-blast Zamora (like a jet or rocket would have done); 3) Didn't cook Zamora or the entire area (just spotty, localized burning); 4) Didn't leave any chemical residue behind.

Zamora also reported the bluish "flame" seeming to penetrate into the soil instead of bouncing off. Photos taken about 10 minutes later by one of the Socorro police were later said to have been fogged by radiation (Hynek) after being examined by the Air Force (who took the film for examination). Photos the next morning, however, turned out fine.

This would suggest the "flame" was not a conventional chemical flame but the glow from something like a particle accelerator (perhaps to quickly ionize the air beneath the craft), which irradiated the soil creating short-lived radioactive isotopes, and would also seem to penetrate the soil.

When the vehicle rose about 20 feet in the air, it went silent and zipped away with no "flame" and no trail, suggesting pure field propulsion.

Now why the noisy and unusual takeoff that caused some burning I don't know. Maybe an emergency departure protocol before the silent engines could be activated? (Except Zamora also reported it landed that way, with a roar, which is why he pursued it to begin with.) Maybe the backup propulsion because the main field propulsion was having problems? I really don't know. The two-part propulsion has me puzzled.

David Rudiak said...

QUERY: Has anyone seen (or do you recall) an episode from the Sightings television series "Government declassifies Socorro, NM sighting" in which allegedly there is video footage presented taken by a witness at the scene and on the date of the actual landing in 1964?

The episode is from Season 4, # 13 and was aired on FOX network on 1/21/96. I am trying to track down the episode containing this alleged footage, and any assistance would be greatly appreciated.


It was on YouTube for a while, along with other old Sightings shows. Then Paramount Studios asserted their copyright and all Sightings episodes were pulled.

I did see the film clip. I think it was a family of tourists passing through the area the next day. The dad was fascinated when he heard the story of the spaceship landing there, went out, and took a family movie. This was according to the daughter, who was interviewed.

It was the usual jerky home movie, making it difficult to orient oneself and see details. But it might be worth tracking down the family and seeing if they still have the movie. Stills might show the scene in a more pristine state.

William Strathman said...

b"h

Off topic -- I wondered Kevin if you had any remarks about the recently late Boyd Bushman and his sensational video on YouTube (sensational in a National Enquirer kind of way).

Best

John's Space said...

Re: William Strathman's Comment

One thing about the Boyd Bushman video (which someone is sure trying to suppress), I have noticed that some people online have raised questions about Bushman’s professional credentials. I have a good source who knew him at Lockheed Martin and he was a senior scientist who worked some of the more “black” programs. So he isn’t a phony in that sense. However, this in no way supports anything he is saying about UFOs, aliens, Area 51, etc.

I agree with the debunkers that the picture of the alien looks like the picture of a plastic toy. I also think that he seems to have bought into the Lazar story which I believe has been debunked effectively. His version of what seems to be his explanation for the Roswell crash (I guess?) doesn’t make much sense. Shot down by a P-51 or such??? If that was the case why would we need a rancher to inform the military of the crash?

Also, this isn’t the first time he as talked about UFOs, antigravity. This all doesn’t make much sense and it is unclear why such a distinguished person decided to leave this world making a fool of himself

Ben Moss said...

I would suggest, since there is some bad information here, that everyone read Ray Stanford's excellent "Socorro Saucer in a Pentagon Pantry". Ray was onsite with Hynek, even though the Air force did not want a civilian researcher there. His 2 follow ups on www.ufochronicals.com explains why the Air Force asked Lonnie to change the symbol seen in red on the side of the egg shaped object.
Also, there WAS evidence found including metal shavings on a broken rock that Goddard, after an interesting analysis, 'lost'. There was vitrified dirt, old paper seemingly burned from above, and close to 10 witnesses. This object was also sighted several times AFTER this event.Project Blue Book could never solve the case and it remains one of the few 'Unknowns' in their files.

Ben Moss said...

http://www.theufochronicles.com/2009/11/lonnie-zamora-1933-2009-eulogy-to-man.html