Saturday, July 16, 2016

My List of the Best UFO Cases

For decades I have avoided answering the questions about what I believe to be the ten best UFO cases. I understood it to be a trap. Once I provide the answer, the debunkers would attack, explaining why those cases are nothing spectacular. There would find mundane answers for all of them, even if they have to make up the answers, which is not an unreasonable assumption.

I have discussed the Coyne helicopter case in the past. While some of you might disagree with some of the evidence of the case and point out that it is mainly the testimony of the flight crew, the fact is they were interviewed within hours of the event which provides us with a very good record of what they experienced. As you might remember, Phil Klass explained the sighting as a meteor with no evidence to support that explanation.

True, it might not have been an alien spacecraft, but Klass’ answer was pure fiction. This is the thing that worried me. People will remember this cockamamie explanation not realizing that it is bogus. The claim of an answer lives even when it makes no sense given the facts.

But this is about the cases I believe have not been explained. These are the ones that should have been investigated in depth at the time. Had that happened, we might have learned something important. Had that happened, we might be having a completely different discussion. As you will see, this is not a numbered list or a top ten list. It is a list of those cases I find interesting.

Pilots who attempted to intercept UFOs over
Washington, D.C.
In July 1952, on two consecutive weekends, UFOs were seen over Washington, D.C., reported by airline pilots, people on the ground and seen on radar. There were multiple attempts by Air Force fighters to intercept the objects. The Air Force pointed out there was a temperature inversion over Washington on those days which caused the radar returns and that some of the sightings were caused by the same natural phenomenon. The explanations don’t fit all the observations, but the press had an answer that made them happy. The Blue Book files on these cases are rather confusing which might have been the whole point.

(As a side note, and as I have mentioned here, these sightings were responsible for what I think of the greatest newspaper headline ever… SAUCERS SWARM OVER CAPITAL.)
Photo copyright by the Cedar Rapids Gaxette.

In November 1957, witnesses in at least thirteen separate locations in and around Levelland, Texas, reported a glowing object close to the ground, that stopped their car engines, dimmed their headlines and filled their radios with static. Many of them called the sheriff’s office or the local police to report the sighting unaware that others had seen the same thing and had reported the same thing. Sheriff Weir Clem (yeah, I wish he had a name like Jack O’Neill or something with a little more pizzazz) saw the object when he went out in search of it (he said publicly, he saw it in the distance, but it seems he might have gotten much closer) as did other law enforcement officials. The Air Force and NICAP’s Donald Keyhoe got into public arguments over the number of witnesses while no one actually made the attempt to interview them (no I don’t really count the afternoon that one Air Force NCO spent in Levelland talking to a few of the people and who proposed an explanation that did not fit the facts).

Looking down on the White Sands Missile Range. Photo copyright by Kevin Randle.
Within hours of the Levelland sightings and before the news media was reporting on them, MPs at White Sands Missile Range reported an object that landed near them. Twelve hours later a second team made a similar sighting. The Air Force interviewed three of the four MPs, mentioning that they were all very young, 20, 21 years old as if this disqualified them as observers. The Air Force explained the sightings as the moon and Venus. (As an aside, I remember being an aircraft commander and flight lead in Vietnam at 19 but you just can’t trust those teenagers and young men with anything important).

Lonnie Zamora.
I would include the Lonnie Zamora case but it is single witness with some landing traces. I do know that Phil Klass suggested that this was a hoax concocted by the mayor of Socorro, New Mexico, and Zamora to create some sort of tourist attraction on land owned by the mayor, except the mayor didn’t own the land and no tourist attraction was ever build. For me this case is somewhat problematic, though there are some very interesting aspects to it.

I also like the sightings around Belt, Montana, in March 1967. At the time these were going on, there was a shutdown of a Minuteman missile site nearby that the Air Force went out of its way to say it had nothing to do with the UFOs. What is important here is that Lieutenant Colonel Lewis Chase (he of RB-47 fame in 1957), the base UFO officer, when asked about some of this told the University of Colorado (Condon) investigator that he couldn’t discuss it because of national security… and yes, if a flight of missiles had been rendered inoperable by an outside force, whatever that force might have been, that was a matter of national security. The UFO sightings might have been a coincidence… but what if they weren’t?

One of the most documented UFO sightings took place in October 1967, while the Condon Committee was allegedly investigating UFO sightings. There were multiple witnesses to something falling into Shag Harbour in Canada. Although the initial reports came from a group of teenagers, eventually law enforcement and the military were involved in attempts to recovered whatever it had been… but the Condon Committee members, after a telephone call or two, decided the sighting was not worthy of additional investigation.

The series of sightings in Rendlesham Forest in December 1980 are also interesting. The sightings were multiple witness, were reported officially, and there was physical evidence of the landings. Debunkers have explained the case, but I don’t find their explanations particularly persuasive. I have met both Jim Penniston and John Burroughs and I find them to be solid witnesses. I have also met Larry Warren who first leaked the case.

The JAL 1628 case is important because there are complete radar records of the flight. The FAA investigated and the chief investigator John Callahan has those files. He said it was the only case he knew of where there were thirty minutes of radar data with voice recordings so you could watch and listen to the case in real time. Callahan said that he briefed people at the White House about the case.

I haven’t mentioned many photographs simply because I have noticed that about
Blow up of images from the
Montana Movie.
99% of them were taken by teenagers and 99% of those were faked. But there are two movies, one made in Great Falls, Montana in 1950 and the other near Tremonton, Utah in 1952 that are very interesting. There is also evidence that the Air Force tampered with the Montana Movie, removing a portion of it that showed the objects as disk shaped. Allegations were made that they had done the same with the Tremonton Movie, but the evidence argues against it.

Frame of the Tremonton Films, and no I don't believe sea gulls answers the question.
Yes, the list is incomplete and involves cases that I investigated, talked to the witnesses, been to the locations and the like. I do not believe that adequate explanations have been offered. I believe that some of the evidence has been twisted to force it into an explanation because like nature abhorring a vacuum, the Air Force and debunkers abhor an unexplained UFO sighting… But sometimes there just isn’t a good solution which is not to say that one won’t appear someday or that any of them proves alien visitation, only we don’t have a good explanation… and some of them suggest that had a proper investigation been conducted at the time, we might be having a different discussion.


Anonymous said...

Phoenix, Arizona 1997?
Stephenville, Texas 2008?

KRandle said...

Dave Down Under -

The Phoenix Lights are somewhat problematic because of the mixture interesting sightings and those that have mundane solutions. This is like the Lubbock Lights in which there were solutions for some of the sightings but we do have photographs that are not explained.

I thought about the Shephenville sightings but the difference, and one I mentioned, was that this selection was made based on sightings I have investigated, witnesses I had interviewed and locations I had visited. While the sightings are interesting I haven't investigated, interviewed or visited... true, a somewhat arbitrary set of conditions. And I knew there would be others who would either add to this list or explain away some of the sightings.

Anonymous said...

Another interesting case: Ariel School, Zimbabwe, 1994. I've never even heard of an attempt to debunk that case. Robert Sheaffer admitted that he wouldn't know how to explain it.

cda said...


Regarding Rendlesham:

"I have met both Jim Penniston and John Burroughs and I find them to be solid witnesses. I have also met Larry Warren who first leaked the case."

See for the Penniston 'binary code' nonsense. As for Larry Warren, he enjoyed his moment of publicity I have no doubt.

Frank Stalter said...

Really like the Zamora/Socorro case. I think he was a top notch witness under very odd circumstances. I'm convinced he saw what he said he said he saw. I also think it was a college prank.

KRandle said...


Welcome back to the group...

I'm well aware of Ian's comments...

And please note I said nothing about Warren's credibility, only that I knew him. I don't believe he was a participant in the events even though he was assigned to the base in the right time frame.

Tommy Bahama said...

@ Kevin

I was under the impression that the Sorocco UFO case was solved - See If not, let us know!


zoamchomsky said...

"I don't know why those children are telling that story, and I agree that episodes such as this ought to be studied by psychologists. Perhaps somebody hoaxed the children? However, there is ample historical precedent for episodes of what appear to be mass-delusion: Father Gill's 1959 UFO sighting, day-care molestation stories, and historical episodes of witchcraft mania. In the final analysis there is no evidence that anything actually happened, just the stories told by the children." -- Robert Sheaffer on the Ariel School story in 2012

There's not enough substance to the Ariel School story to require debunking, it's simply an evidenceless and utterly inconsequential story told by children. Why anyone would consider such a story significant as if it actually happened as described is a subject much more worthy of study. Small group delusions are common--especially among school children.

For twenty years at least, this entire subject has been not about the what of stories but why people tell "UFO" stories at all. Or used to anyway. Yes, I'm sure the phone still rings at the NUFORC, but for what, the occasional fireball or reentering space junk? Just where are those fantastic formations of flying saucers these days?

I have yet to hear a "UFO" story that has legs, there's always some glaringly obvious problem with the story that people entranced by the "UFO" myth simply refuse to recognize. And all "UFO" stories together fail to make a case for anything other than human wishfulness and folly.

For example: Terauchi was a repeater. The tapes show nothing but ground clutter and an echo of the 747 off a mountain fifty miles behind. At no time were Terauchi's "spaceships" or the "mothership" coincident with fleeting radar noise, and curiously, at no time during the entire event did the crew even discuss the "spaceships" supposedly directly ahead of them. Neither co-pilot Tamefuji or the navigator would support Terauchi's wild version of events, saying it was just "some lights" in the distance, dimly glowing like Christmas lights, he said, the colors of normal aircraft running lights or the changing colors of a bright star or planet on the horizon seen through shifting layers of atmosphere. Nothing like multiple rows of glowing exhaust nozzles whose heat Terauchi claimed he could feel on his face. Utterly ridiculous.

Known hard-core believer in ET "flying saucers" and repeater Terauchi confabulated the entire episode. Two intercepts reported that Terauchi's 747 was all alone in the sky, there was no giant "mothership" on his tail, there never had been, he simply imagined it. But the man actually executed a 360* turn in a 747 loaded with French wine going over 500 mph at seven miles over Alaska after flying for a day. Not exactly the smartest move to make, especially considering he later admitted he had been thinking of the Mantell crash case during his hysterical episode. Believing in nonsense really is dangerous.

Terauchi was later under a psychologist's care and expressed regret and great sadness about his life as a believer, calling his belief an "illusion."

Gilles Fernandez said...

Jim wrote: Another interesting case: Ariel School, Zimbabwe, 1994. I've never heard of an attempt to debunk this case.

I devoted a long article recently if you are interested. It is currently in French, but right clic + translate (even if google very bad translates as destroying the format or §, and other "bugs").

It will be translated in English by an UFO association dunno when, but it is scheduled.



Craig McDaniel said...

I greatly appreciate your high standards for quality of the sighting and level of evidence. I was wondering why Roswell which I know you have spent as much time on than probably all the others put together?

I am not easily convinced about every strong UFO case but I have always put Roswell on top of my list of the one you talked about Kevin because of the witnesses and your work on the subject.

TheDimov said...

Westall 1966 and Allagash are two of the stronger ones for me. And Travis Walton's case. But I liked reading the piece Mr Randle wrote and I'd love to read a book with them more extensively detailed, would be enjoyable.

Anthony Mugan said...

Hello all
Yes, well, they are certainly interesting cases and I can sort of understand restricting the list to cases one has personally investigated ( given the problems of unreliable evidence we all have to deal with).
The problem with most of these is they don't seem to me to have enough hard evidence that requires the rejection of mundane explanations. Some are very interesting indeed if the witness claims are literally correct, but that is a big if.
Levelland has multiple independent reports of similar physical effects and Tremonton stands up very well to analysis. Likewise the Japenese airlines data is a lot more complicated than so far discussed
I don't know enough about the Montana film to comment at this moment.
Washington 1952....we can only wish for more solid data...certainly interesting if true.
I have never understood why Socorro gets the attention it does, single witness and some not very spectacular marks on the ground as far as I can see...contrast that with Trans-en-Provence for example.
I'd need to look up which of the various missile base cases this one or two very interesting but I'd need to check.
Rendlesham....uuummm....I really do worry about Rendlesham, particularly after it has been 'bigged up' to the extent it has.

Could be a good basis for a series of more detailed discussions around each one and hopefully a few others with good hard data that aren't on this list.

Look forward to reading more

zoamchomsky said...

Tommy; There's an even better explanation for Socorro, I think, by Dave Thomas:

"Bernard 'Duke' Gildenberg, learned...that on April 24, 1964, there were special tests being conducted at the north end of the White Sands Missile Range (WSMR) involving a helicopter used to carry a Lunar Surveyor around for some tests.... Surveyor was a three-legged, unmanned probe, which was used to learn about the moon before the Apollo program got there.... This new angle on the old Socorro story was first mentioned publicly in a brief piece in the July 15th, 2000 edition of James Moseley's Saucer Smear."

And an even better physical match for what Zamora described was the Bell prototype Apollo Lunar Lander. It almost certainly existed at White Sands during that period but there's no evidence that it was flying that day.

Zamora's account describes a rocket-powered vehicle flying horizontally with a flame and after lifting off with same and a roaring noise. He also described the vehicle from a distance as first looking like the underside of a car but painted silver, but then it appeared as a sphere as it lifted off and moved away.

Remember that Zamora was very frightened and had lost his glasses. And there was an anecdotal report of a low-flying "funny looking helicopter" trailing black smoke that day.

Whatever Zamora saw, the idea that he most likely saw a test vehicle from nearby White Sands Testing Range should have been an obvious explanation from the start.

Gilles Fernandez said...

Kevin wrote: "Debunkers have explained the case, but I don’t find their explanations particularly persuasive." [Rendlesham]


I particulary like when an UFO-defender presents his best cases (I will not quote P. Klass concerning it)

Which points by the "debunkers" (as you call it) concerning this case are not persuasive for you, and why, please?

TU very much Kevin.

BTW: in short, there is this Ian' lecture to watch:

Best Regards,


KRandle said...

Tommy -

That impression is based on a single story written by Tony Bragalia, who emailed the president of university (his name was Colgate) who said that it was a prank by the students. He refused to give names or explain how it was accomplished. At the other end of the spectrum, if believers cited a source that was unnamed (meaning the students) and there was no other corroboration for it, the story would be rejected and rightly so. Without the names of those who participated in the prank, then we have no real solution. Besides, you have to wonder why Colgate didn't confide in J. Allen Hynek when Hynek was in Socorro. It seems reasonable that Colgate wouldn't have wanted to get his students in trouble in 1964, but that problem is long since passed. You would think that a quiet word to Hynek would have been sufficient. So, what we have is a possible solution that has no corroborative witnesses, and for that reason, I reject the explanation. Tony and I discussed this when he proposed the solution and he knows my objections to it.

Zoam -

John Callahan who was the FAA investigator on the case does not agree with this solution (and yes, I know that is somewhat an appeal to authority). One of the problems is that the others in the cockpit, when interviewed in 1986 weren't fluent in English and there is evidence that they misunderstood the questions and did not communicate their answers very well. When I discussed this with Callahan, I got the impression that it was the CIA guys at the White House meeting who said they weren't there, not that no one was there or that the meeting didn't take place.

The object was seen on three radars... one was FAA, one was military and one was the cockpit weather radar. If I understand this correctly, the FAA radar and the military radar received their signals from the same source but set the discrimination levels differently for their specific purpose, which means that, in essence, it was a single radar source. According to some, that split of the radar returns has caused the radar sightings.

I am unaware of any credible source that "Terauchi was later under a psychologist's care and expressed regret and great sadness about his life as a believer, calling his belief an 'illusion.'" I would appreciate it if you could point me to a source.

Robert Sheaffer said...

I would not say that Klass' explanation of the Coyne case is "pure fiction". He has a very lengthy analysis of it in Chapters 16 and 17 of "UFOs - The Public Deceived" (1983).

I have placed online a copy of a brief "White Paper" by Klass about the Coyne case:

KRandle said...

Robert -

Well, maybe pure fiction was a bit of hyperbole, but his analysis of what went on in the cockpit between the pilots is in error. I don't have to talk to them to know this since we all went through the same flight school, though at different times. He left out the testimony of one of the crewmen for his meteor explanation, and there were other points of discrepancy. He could have asked me a couple of questions other than his unidentified helicopter pilot who had some hours in helicopters but I found no reference to who it was or how many hours he had. He should have been talking to Army trained aviators to get a clear picture. It's not as if he didn't know me personally.

Neal Foy said...


Kevin asked you for your source on the JAL case. Please provide something or your comment is worthless. The only thing I heard was that JAL gave the pilot desk duty but later returned him to flight status. Odd behavior for an airline to assign a crazy pilot as you say to flight duty.

Your explanation for the Zamora sighting is pure fantasy, debunker failure at it's best. Reboot please.

Paul Young said...

Laugh as you may...the "hillbilly half-wits indulging on home-stilled moonshine" over there at Hopkinsville certainly qualifies, to me, as a head scratcher. I've heard all the debunking arguments, and they are all more bizarre than the witness testimony itself.

Rendlesham? imho an obvious ET event...though I have massive problems with Penistone's milking it to death with the "binary code" bollocks.

Zoam! That was a really entertaining, yet feeble, attempt at debunking JAL 1628...

I know that KR is only listing cases that he has actually involved himself in, but another UFO/ET saga that takes some explaining is the Colares flap.

Neal Foy said...


In addition to not at all looking like the object Zamora observed the lunar lander test vehicle, dubbed the flying bedstead was only for training for landings, it wasn't equipped for take offs. It carried only one human sized pilot. So no way in hell was it the object that he saw.

Brian Bell said...

@ Kevin and all - Socorro, NM

I don't know what Zamora saw, but I can tell you the story that Bragalia claims "explains" the event as a "hoax" just isn't possible (see below):

If you've ever walked that site, which is still almost exactly identical to the landscape during Zamora's sighting, there is absolutely no way this was a "student hoax". That explanation is so lame and with no real evidence to back it up that it's preposterous. Yes I've heard of the students with stilts and all that nonsense and it's dumber than claiming the incident was absolutely an alien spacecraft!

First, having walked the site myself, I believe anyone can easy see no one could conduct a hoax and not be fully observed setting it up and running away and hiding. The terrain is totally incapable of supporting a preplanned event by students conducting a balloon hoax and then scurrying away unseen. No chance. Walk the site and you will see for yourself.

Additionally, how in the heck would these students even know when or if Zamora was coming that way? They really couldn't. No one has ever fessed up to being one of the hoaxing students and by now they would have just for the attention. Bragalia is wrong and it wouldn't be the first time.

Additionally, I understand that a bulk majority of people prefer the explanation that a NASA helicopter was flying a lunar surveyor from guide wires and let it touch ground and then took off again.

Well that doesn't work either because again if you walked the site you can clearly see that the sky is big, wide, and open. There's no chance of Zamora "missing" a view of the helicopter, its noise, or its position directly above. No way, unless you want to claim it was @ 10,000 ft and so far up that it was invisible, and we know that isn't possible anyway. Besides, Zamora didn't lose his glasses immediately, only after he ran back to the car and took cover when it launched upward.

These explanations are insufficient when you look at the entire incident.

I don't know what it was and won't claim it was an alien spacecraft. However the incident is meaty and rich with indisputable facts.

Was it a test rig from White Sands? Maybe, but that piloted lunar lander was not flying that day and from an engineering standpoint it's not at all like what Zamora described as a horizontal "egg shaped" craft.

I do have some thoughts about what it might have been that have not been shared to my knowledge.

Anonymous said...

@ Kevin

Here is a copy of the letter from Dr. Stirling Colgate to Dr. Linus Pauling regarding the incident -

Is this sufficient documentation to consider the issue a hoax. Dr. Linus Pauling did have an interest in UFO's.


Matt Wiser said...

I would rate the Coyne case very high-and put Phil Klass' 'explanation' where it belongs: in a shredder. And Jennie Zeidman from CUFOS did a write-up on the case (it's in my old college library) where she did locate ground witnesses to the event, who saw the helo bathed in green light from the bogey.

Others I would include: Both the Montana and Utah films; the 1957 RB-47 incident, where a SAC aircraft not only was followed by an unknown, but also recorded ELINT signals from the bogey, which was apparently operating its own radar; Zamora's incident; The Ohio police chase from 1966 (Spaur/Neff), Tehran 1976; Rendelsham Forest (Bentwaters); Lakenheath-Bentwaters 1956 R-V; JAL, America West 569, Phoenix Lights, O'Hare IAP 2006, D.C. 2002 (fighter chase observed from the ground by multiple witnesses) and the '52 D.C events.

james tankersley said...

concerning photographs it looks like someone could come up with a way where that image could be scanned on a computer and then the computer could reveal whether is a hubcap thrown in the air, a model toy, a hat, an airplane, flairs, balloons or whatever someone would hoax with and i am surprised, given what computers are now able do these days, that has not happened yet. you might like to call it a computer doing an in depth x ray of photos! this would be very helpful in separating the annoying constant frauds from the REAL thing once and for all.

Anthony Mugan said...

Hello all

Just a suggestion - given the complexity of all of these cases it might be an idea to discuss them one at a time in some depth. I have my doubts as to if most of them have enough hard evidence to allow me to conclude to my own satisfaction (about as much as anyone can do in this subject) that there is real evidence of a technological device that is beyond terrestrial technology for the time period concerned.
A few I think do - Levelland and Tremonton in particular stand out to me, with the JAL case also very interesting.

At some stage it might be interesting to consider a second 'best evidence' list (why always 10?) of cases that might provide such evidence but going beyond those personally investigated by Kevin. If we are looking at 'best evidence' the following would I think have to be in that list (in chronological order)
1. Fukuoka 1948
2. Kodiak Island 1950
3. Tremonton 1952
4. Haneda 1952
5. Ellsworth 1953
6. West Freugh 1957 (unusual to be included as purely radar, but an unusual case)
7. CUFOS / BB case 1249 (Saskatchewan / north Montana) 1959
8. USS Gyatt 1964 (a very significant case)
9. Minot AFB October 1968
10. Northern Tier Bases 1975 (elements thereof)
11. Tehran 1976
12. Pinecastle 1978
13. New Zealand Dec 1978
15. Trans-en-Provence 1981
16. Japanese Airlines 1986
17. Belgium March 1990 (specifically the multiple police officer sightings NIDS studied in some detail. There is also an interesting radar incident later in the Belgium wave).
18. Pheonix Lights 1997 (the first part - not the flares!)
19. Illinois Jan 2000 (again a NIDS study is quite good on this).
20. Stephenville Jan 2008.

There may well be others worth considering too.

I must admit I am really uncomfortable with Rendlesham - tbc

Anthony Mugan said...

In terms of Rendlesham:
A reasonable case can be made that the original events were a complex and entirely understandable sequence of misidentifications and coincidences. I am always open to additional evidence but I do find Ian Ridpath's analysis persuasive.
In very broad outline:
The re-entry of part of a Cosmos rocket late the previous evening or possibly a bright meteor around 3am could well have set off a certain amount of 'chatter' as to what it could be that would no doubt have carried on during the night amongst the guards. It was perfectly reasonable to check this out further as it must have been an unusual sight.
The part of the forest they entered is quite narrow. There is debate around detailed lines of sight but there does appear to be a credible line of sight to the lighthouse. The pattern of behaviour of the light is very suggestive of a distant light source.
The clearing and the radiation readings....You do get clearings in forests. Natural tree fall or work by the Forestry Commission is the simplest explanation (off memory there is a reference to tree sap which suggested damage to trees was at least 24 hrs old). Likewise forests do tend to have rather uneven ground surfaces with all sorts of bumps and holes in them. In terms of the radiation readings...background radiation does vary. If you look at a map of background radiation you find the forest area is slightly higher than the surrounding area. Perhaps most obviously however the site is close to a nuclear power station. Now I can quite understand that the authorities would not want to highlight the possibility of slightly raised levels of radiation from particles deposited in the area, but lets be realistic about this.

The problem is that subsequent claims have escalated to the point where it can not simply be accepted as an honest misidentification. This was either an extraterrestrial craft or it was initially a misidentification that has turned into a hoax.

Very happy to listen carefully to any evidence to contrary as always.

Anonymous said...

@ Kevin

Anthony has a great idea . Why not post the events, along with the pro's and previous criticisms of these events, and you moderate.

That way people can examine the criticisms for validity, and determine which debunkers are just providing disinformation for the purpose of creating confusion.

Most of us agree live is beyond earth's boundaries. Whether it is visiting earth, and how frequently remains an open question.

This might make a good basis for a magazine article.

KRandle said...

Tomas -

The problem is the source of the letter is Colgate. While it is documentation, it is from the source we've already examined and there is nothing in the letter that leads us to more witnesses or the perpetrators of the hoax. Pauling is not confirming the hoax, he is only receiving information of it. What we need is someway to identify the hoaxers so that we can attempt to verify the information.

This is not unlike the Barney Barnett tale of a crash on the Plains of San Agustin. We can talk of multiple witnesses such as Harold Baca and Major Leeds and several others, but when we get to the end of the trail, there is Barney Barnett. We don't have any independent corroboration for the Barnett story. It is single source with all roads leading back to Barnett. This is a similar circumstance with all roads leading back to Colgate.

zoamchomsky said...

Brian says, "Was it a test rig from White Sands? Maybe, but that piloted lunar lander was not flying that day and from an engineering standpoint it's not at all like what Zamora described as a horizontal 'egg shaped' craft."

What Zamora described for most of the event was what looked like--from 150 to 200 yards--the underside of a car standing on end, taller than wide. So he thinks he's seeing an aluminum-silver colored nuts-and-bolts assemblage of ambiguous metal struts, cables, tanks and whatever. And then returns to his car and reports that he's going to investigate the overturned "car" in the arroyo.

Immediately after beginning that walk to the "car," the deafening high-pitched and changing-frequency roaring begins, which frightens Zamora so that he runs back to his car, running into it, falling down, losing his glasses, gets up runs past and beyond his car, where he falls to the ground again and covers his face with his hands. Only then, glancing up did he see what NOW appeared to an "egg shaped" craft rising and quickly moving away--in much the way of a rocket platform.

So one should be able to see why--if we can trust Zamora's account at all--the car-sized Bell prototype lander, taller than wide and composed of both "car" like undercarriage and "egg-shaped" Lexan canopy, seating two men, might just be the best fit for what he claimed he saw.

Bell had been working at White Sands since the 1940s, and on the Lander contract since 1961. They had built operational prototypes (as depicted above and below) that continued to be used in NASA training even after the LLRVs were delivered in 1964. And there's no doubt that prototype editions of the LLRV were built and tested before the first two contracted and operational LLRVs were delivered to NASA at Edwards in 1964.

There's just no evidence that Bell/NASA jet jockeys were out hotdogging it on that Friday afternoon. Otherwise it's a convincing case, I say.

zoamchomsky said...

All of the Terauchi story is freely available. The bottom line is that Terauchi was an ET flying-saucer obsessed repeater; his crew didn't support his wild after-the-fact confabulation; and none of the FAA records show anything extraordinary, only normal transient ground clutter and a common secondary echo of the 747 itself--none of which was coincident with Terauchi's imaginary "spaceships."

And it's worth repeating that there's never any discussion of the "spaceships" by the crew during the event. Certainly, if there had been fantastic "flying saucers" with rows of glowing exhaust directly in front of the 747, then the crewmen would have had no doubt about what they had seen. Instead, Tamefuji said it was just "some lights."

Kevin; The information is from Terauchi himself in "Japan Today" (2006) on his doctor's professional opinion, it was an "illusion." It seems like a credible source to me. It's been years since I read that, but my memory and writerly enhancements over years of repetition have changed it somewhat while maintaining the essential facts, tone and import: Terauchi regrets it all.

"Now 67 and retired, he lives quietly with his wife in a small town in north Kanto, and talks about the adventure as little as possible.

'I spoke to a doctor – he said it was an illusion,' he tells Shukan Shincho."

Matt Wiser said...

Kevin, where do you place the RB-47 incident from 17 Jul 1957? That's the first known incident where ELINT was gathered during a UFO incident. Doubly so considering that this was a SAC aircraft tasked with locating and plotting the locations of Soviet and Soviet-bloc radar stations (among other things).

KRandle said...

Zoam -

You know what the difference between skeptics and believers is? When I ask a skeptic for a source, he or she normally provides it. When I ask believers, they get snotty and tell me that I should do my own homework... A generalization, yes, but it is still a valid observation.

Anyway, you wrote, "Terauchi was later under a psychologist's care and expressed regret and great sadness about his life as a believer, calling his belief an illusion."

But the source you provided doesn't actually say that. It was the doctor that called it an illusion, which I'm sure, you'll agree is not the same thing. From what I read at the source you provided, it doesn't make a very strong case for the sighting to be an illusion.

KRandle said...

Zoam -

Let me add that I have found nothing about Terauchi being sad about his lifelong belief in UFOs. While you see his doctor's opinion as credible, it seems that it is an opinion rather than a fact.

Jim Robinson said...

My choice of one of the ten most solid cases is one which occurred in broad daylight back in 1952, and is one which I've not heard of anyone even mentioning since Hynek gave a brief account of it in The Hynek UFO Report. A B-36 bomber flew over Tucson headed west when it was overtaken by two disks, one of which pulled up and flew in close formation with the bomber,nestled in between the right wing and the tail. Before it suddenly flew away, all of the bomber crew except the pilot had a good close-up view of the object through the right blister. The encounter was also observed by a number of ground personnel at Davis-Monthan AFB, including the base intelligence officer.

The bomber was granted permission to return to Davis-Monthan, where the crew was debriefed. The intelligence officer later said he filed a very thick detailed report with Bluebook, where it promptly disappeared. Today there is very little in the BB files, only some letters between James McDonald and BB, plus a diagram of the encounter. I was also a ground witness,although very briefly, from the University of Arizona campus. I looked up just in time to see a dark round object overtake the bomber and disappear behind it. I think some of the other witnesses are probably still around, if only they could be located.

zoamchomsky said...

Kevin; That's right, as I admitted, it's his doctor's opinion, which just happens to agree with my opinion but is not evidence of anything concerning the case, which falls on its own. And neither is it an indictment of Terauchi's lifelong belief in "flying saucers." That was my mistaken memory of the quotation. I'm sorry about that; it wasn't my intention to misinform. But it did make a good emotional ending to a skeptical account. I'll try to avoid that sort of error. Your Bad Skeptic, Zoam

Voidoid said...

Nice to see that we share an interest in Levelland, Kevin. That many independent witnesses, many reporting similar E/M effects - the idea of someone not mounting a comprehensive investigation is just unconscionable. They just don't make cases like that anymore. The question is - why not?

Matt Wiser said...

Probably because no one bothers to report them.

ufodude2010 said...

Anthony Mugan said...

In terms of Rendlesham:
A reasonable case can be made that the original events were a complex and entirely understandable sequence of misidentifications and coincidences.

Please. So in effect, you are claiming Colonel Halt and company are incompetent. Are you serious? And by the way, you and many others are overthinking this. Clearly they saw something unidentified and it was not a light house. That makes it unidentified. They have it on audio tape for Christ's sake.

Anthony Mugan said...

Hello ufodude....

I think you may have misunderstood the point I was trying to make. This isn't a question of the competency of Lt-Col (later Colonel) Halt or the other witnesses in their military roles and responsibilities. Halt also did record his impressions of the event on the tape and I am sure he honestly reported events as he saw them on the tape and in the subsequent memo.

The issue here is how to interpret the various pieces of evidence presented. ( the light source, the radiation readings etc). Whilst I am persuaded by the totality of the evidence in favour of the ETH very few cases are totally convincing. We know that most reports are honest misidentifications so the issue to me is if there is concrete evidence that rules out conventional explanations ( I.e start with the assumption of a conventional explanation and then try to falsify all the various possibilities)

In this case the scenario presented by Ian Ridpath stands up to scrutiny very well in terms of the information collated at the time ( e.g the tape, Halt's memo etc). It only doesn't work if you include the much more extreme claims that have come out gradually over the yesrs. That pattern of behaviour doesn't automatically prove a hoax on the part of some people but it doesn't fill me with confidence.

I would be very interested in any concrete information that could falsify the Ridpath model for this event, if there is any.

Craig McDaniel said...


You wrote: "You know what the difference between skeptics and believers is? When I ask a skeptic for a source, he or she normally provides it. When I ask believers, they get snotty and tell me that I should do my own homework... A generalization, yes, but it is still a valid observation."

I was curious and looked up Phillip Klass in Google. I have heard the name of this debunker and seen some of his write ups but didn't know anything more about him. What I read about him suggests that there are two class (no pun here) of skeptical debunkers. They are novices and professional. Klass (Should be pronounced No-Klass) was a long time professional. Hell, even after death, his followers put up a Wikipedia page. Looks more like a perverted memorial for the guy to torment you and other UFO researchers.

purrlgurrl said...

The two cases I personally find most interesting - Shag Harbour (multiple witnesses, military involvement over several days) and JAL 1628 (still extant civilian radar and voice tapes).

Rendlesham - meh. Seems more like some kind of psyops/base security test (nuclear weapons were stored there) with the witnesses, including Halt, being the unwitting subjects.

The Minuteman shutdown seems more likely to have been a major malfunction in our then supposedly invulnerable missile defense system that got leaked, at least locally. It was then covered up by a far-fetched UFO story (casting doubt on the incident) to keep the media from seriously investigating how shaky the system really was.

This is one thought that keeps coming back to me and I just can't shake it. Since WWII, Americans have pretty much been led to believe that US skies are safe from incursions by foreign military aircraft. This was especially true during the Cold War with the PR blitz about the infallibility of the DEW Line, the Minuteman missile defense system, and SAC. But, in the real world we all know from firsthand experience nothing is infallible, military or otherwise. I wonder if in fact, some UFO incidents really were incursions by foreign military/intelligence aircraft that were covered up with UFO stories (Tremonton?). Can you imagine the widespread uproar and political fallout if it were discovered there were chinks in our "impenetrable" armor that were exploited by foreign powers, friendly or not, on numerous occasions? UFOs would have been a perfect cover story for these types of incidents.

cda said...


Rendlesham occurred over the Christmas holidays, hardly a likely time for the government (UK or US) to be performing a 'psyops/base security' test!

Tremonton a 'foreign military/intelligence' incursion? In which case there would have been aerial manoeuvers causing a terrific din, heard for miles around. Newhouse and family heard no sound at all. Also, in 64 years still no admission from the country concerned.

Neal Foy said...

Phil Klass was the reason my interest in the UFO subject was renewed, his lame "explanations" and nasty attitude made me wonder what it was that was so important that he would go to such lengths. Has there ever been a study that tries to explain just what makes debunkers tick? Why is it that they think they know better than the witnesses who were actually there and the investigators who followed?

@Paul Young: I agree, Hopkinsville is a very strange case that has never been explained as far as I know. The police who met with the family said that there was no sign of them being drunk and were in a state of anxiety. The physical evidence, shell casings, bullet holes, etc. appeared to back up the story.

Adding one more case to the list: Westall School, Australia. Naturally the debunkers had ready explanations for the event, problem was none quite fit. Many of the witnesses are still alive and haven't changed the story significantly.

Gilles Fernandez said...

To place Tremonton footage in a top best cases list, gimme a smile. Thank you, Kevin.

I have sound of an "experiment" using the same photographic material is on the way, stay tuned...



Paul Young said...

Purl Girl wrote..."Rendlesham - meh. Seems more like some kind of psyops/base security test..."

If this was a "base security test", then you Americans really know how to put your armed forces personnel through the ringer.

I've been through a few security exercises,(admittedly Devonport dockyard which was not a nuclear base) and on de-brief, we usually got a cuppa tea and biscuits and over a question and answer chat we get a run-down on what we did right...what we did wrong...and points to improve on.
They tended not to forceably keep me awake for days and inject me with truth drugs.

If "Rendlesham" was simply a method of keeping your boys on their toes, then I'm glad I was in the RN and not the USAF.

Larry said...

Part 1
Zoam’s thought processes (if we can call them that) always provide a target rich environment for critical analysis. His recent musings over the Zamora incident are no exception.

Let’s consider both the structure of his argument and then the content.

I think it’s worth considering the structure because it is an example of a kind of argument that I often see debunkers make and I personally have never seen criticized. It goes like this: an individual comes forward (Zamora, in this case) and claims to have taken in sensory data (sight, sound, sometimes smell and touch) which leads them to assert that they have witnessed an unconventional phenomenon (UP) of some sort. So, in general, they have a claim, UP, based on some set of claimed characteristics, let’s say characteristics A, B, C, D, and E. Then a debunker comes along with the aim of showing that UP was really a misidentified Conventional Phenomenon (CP1—in this case, perhaps the Lunar Surveyor spacecraft). They then list the characteristics of CP1, and find that it consists of C, D, E, F, and G. If the characteristics of CP1 had been A, B, C, D, and E, then congratulations; you would’ve probably just debunked the claim. However, because the characteristics of CP1 don’t overlap perfectly, the debunker is in the position of having to argue that the witness made mistakes and actually misinterpreted characteristics F and G as characteristics A and B. Sensing that this position is logically weak, the debunker will sometimes bring up another conventional explanation, CP2 (the Apollo LEM lander trainer, perhaps). CP2 will have its own set of characteristics, some of which must overlap with UP otherwise it wouldn’t be a viable explanation on the face of it. Furthermore, some of the characteristics of CP2 will probably overlap some of the characteristics of CP1, but some will not be shared with CP1, otherwise CP1 and CP2 would not be distinct phenomena. So let’s say that the characteristics of CP2 are A, B, C, G, and H.

The impulse on the part of debunkers to heap on multiple putative explanations is driven, no doubt by the desire to imply that there are so many possible CPs that one of them must be right.

The problem with piling on multiple conventional explanations (meteors, swamp gas, Venus, etc.) is that every time a new explanation is added the explainer is introducing characteristics that are at odds with the previous explanation. This is pretty good evidence that the explainer is actually quite uncertain about the veracity of some of the characteristics of their explanations. In the example above, if you are arguing for CP2, then you are simultaneously arguing that characteristics D and E which the witness said were present were actually not present and also that characteristic F (which is required by explanation CP1) was not present but that characteristic H was present (which neither the witness nor explanation CP1 admits).

You can see how it goes; by piling on multiple conventional explanations, the explainer is not only putting him/herself in opposition to assertions that the witness made, but also in opposition to assertions that the explainer him/herself made in a previous explanation. The larger the number of explanations, the worse it gets, so it’s actually a divergent process. The fact that a debunker can suggest a large number of putative conventional explanations that neither agree nor disagree completely with each other nor with the witness’ statements is not necessarily support for the idea that “a conventional explanation must be out there somewhere”. Rather, it could be an indication that the explainer(s) simply don’t know very much about the explanations they proffer and don’t care to think very deeply about the internal inconsistencies within them.

Larry said...

Part 2

Now, about the content of Zoam’s comments; he writes (not in this order):

“Whatever Zamora saw, the idea that he most likely saw a test vehicle from nearby White Sands Testing Range should have been an obvious explanation from the start.”

Earth to Zoam: it was.

According to the Wikipedia entry for the Lonnie Zamora incident: “….The evening of the encounter, Army Captain Richard T. Holder (then the senior officer at White Sands, as the higher-ranking officers had gone home for the weekend) and FBI agent Arthur Byrnes, Jr. together interviewed Zamora. … Zamora speculated that the object was some kind of newly developed craft being tested at White Sands Missile Range or at nearby Holloman Air Force Base. Holder shot down this idea, and was later quoted in a Socorro newspaper as saying, that there was in military custody "no object that would compare to the object described ... There was no known firing mission in progress at the time of the occurrence that would produce the conditions reported."

“Zamora's account describes a rocket-powered vehicle flying horizontally with a flame and after lifting off with same and a roaring noise. …”

No, he didn’t. He described an object flying around making noise and displaying some luminous energy source located at the bottom of the object, which he described in some detail. That energy source did NOT behave like a rocket plume, for several different reasons which—as a professional rocket scientist—I could enumerate, if anyone is interested. The conclusion that it was a rocket plume is erroneous and is added by people who don’t know what they’re talking about.

“And an even better physical match for what Zamora described was the Bell prototype Apollo Lunar Lander. It almost certainly existed at White Sands during that period but there's no evidence that it was flying that day.”

I think Zoam is confusing what at that time was called White Sands Missile Range (WSMR) with the NASA Dryden Flight Research Center (FRC). The FRC, located at the edge of the Rogers Dry Lake bed in the Mojave Desert managed the development of the Lunar Lander Research Vehicle (LLRV). According to the official NASA history of the LLRV, the first flyable unit was shipped to FRC in April of 1964, where it remained until its first flight on October 30, 1964. Thus at the time of the Zamora sighting, the LLRV appears to have been parked two states away from Socorro, New Mexico.

Larry said...

Part 3

"…on April 24, 1964, there were special tests being conducted at the north end of the White Sands Missile Range (WSMR) involving a helicopter used to carry a Lunar Surveyor around for some tests.... Surveyor was a three-legged, unmanned probe, which was used to learn about the moon before the Apollo program got there.... “

Those tests were of the radar landing system, NOT the propulsion system. The inert spacecraft (that means it didn’t contain any of the extremely toxic Hydrazine fuel) was dangled from a tether underneath a helicopter which flew approach and landing profiles over the basalt flows of North WSMR that mimic the lunar regolith. There are numerous reasons why such tests would be conducted with an inert spacecraft, safety being paramount among them. Another is the fact that the Surveyor spacecraft had a maximum total thrust from all 3 of its thrusters of about 310 lbf. The mass of the spacecraft was 292 kg. In the lunar gravity field, this would give it a thrust to weight ratio of close to 3 to 1. Obviously, the thrust to weight ratio has to be greater than 1 in order to provide a usable retro burn to null out the residual descent velocity, hover, and then soft land. However, in Earth’s gravity field, the thrust-to-weight ratio of Surveyor would have been less than 1 (about 0.5). Thus, it would have been entirely unable to fly around under its own power and there would have been no useful reason to have rocket propellant on board. At that point in time, I believe JPL (the managing Center for Surveyor) had a hydrazine handling facility located at the Dryden FRC. I would make an educated guess that that is where they would have conducted live firing tests of the propulsion system. There is no question that the Surveyor spacecraft could not have gotten from its test location at North WSMR to Socorro without being flown there by the helicopter it was attached to.

This is a good example of the multiple explanation problem I referred to above. If you support the LLRV explanation (leaving aside the fact that it was in the wrong state) then you have to believe that Zamora saw a piloted, jet-powered vehicle weighing about 2500 lb. If you support the Lunar Surveyor explanation then you have to believe that Zamora saw an unpiloted, rocket powered (but inert) vehicle weighing about 640 lb dangling from a helicopter. You can’t believe in both at the same time. The fact that debunkers can not distinguish between these two options based strictly on the testimony tells me they are simply flinging feces at the wall and hoping something sticks.

Paul Young said...

Yes Neal, when the debunkers really REALLY have to scrape the barrel with their explanations (swamp gas...lighthouses that can fly, hover and shine a beam directly to the ground, etc) that's when UFO investigators must really know they are on to something.

I bare this in mind every time I read about the Kelly-Hopkinsville event and the explanation that these guys were dealing with a few owls! (Chuckle...I bet the swamp-gas debunkers thought to themselves "why couldn't we have come up with such hilarious bollocks as that!")
I try to imagine how these country people, who were practically born with shotguns in their hands, couldn't hit their targets at such relatively close distance.
And, since I don't tend to get to interact with owls as much I would like...can someone tell me if it is an usual trait of an owl to tickle your hair from the roof, and generally "take the mickey" out of you while you're shooting your own house up.

Yep...I love these bizarre cases.

zoamchomsky said...

They're only "bizarre" cases if you take them literally, Paul. And they only continue to be if you steadfastly ignore, reject and straw-man all reasonable explanations that conflict with your beliefs. And then you blame the skeptic for offering real-world explanations! That's the believer modus operandi--the real difference between skeptics and believers--which is itself a subject of interest to skeptics and social psychologists.

Just look at Larry's multi-part straw-man from today. It's not that there's anything really wrong with my admittedly speculative identification of Zamora's object as the Bell prototype lunar lander (pictured) while it might have operated out of Bell at White Sands, it's simply that Larry fears this close physical match and so fairly plausible identification might finally destroy the Socorro case, one of the foundations of his belief in the "UFO" myth. So as a believer he must reject it immediately, even if to do so he must ignore what I really did say, straw-man the few parts he chooses, make the obligatory appeal to his own authority, and add a few dashes of ad hominem.

Near the northern extent of the White Sands testing range in 1964, Lonnie Zamora saw what he thought was the the underside of a car standing on end, so taller than wide, a silver colored nuts-and-bolts assemblage of ambiguous metal struts, cables and tanks. But he also described the object as being a vertical oval of sorts on splayed legs, in hindsight, and with a red arrow-like logo and two very human operators in coveralls.

Why was there ever a question about the most likely identification?

"Hynek and Air Force Major Hector Quintanilla initially thought the sighting might be explained as a test of a Lunar Excursion Module, though after some investigation, Hynek determined that this could be definitely ruled out as an explanation for what Zamora saw."

That's why. And my guess is that Hynek was misinformed--for whatever mundane reason.

purrlgurrl said...

CDA - Rendelsham, why not a security test over the holidays? Seems the perfect time for one since any foreign intelligence operation against the base would likely take place at a time when it was thought to be more vulnerable (e.g., during the Christmas/New Year holiday period, which is a big deal for Americans).

Tremonton - depending on distance and wind direction there might be no sound. I live near a military air base and often the noise from the jets is deafening, but sometimes though they can be seen in the distance you can't hear them.

purrlgurrl said...

Paul Young - have you not read any of the MK-Ultra material? Rendlesham was a walk in the park by comparison.

Craig McDaniel said...


In all 10 of your top 10 cases, none included crashes or crash recoveries. I recall several months ago, and might be wrong on this number, that you thought there were 8 crash recovered. Can you your thinking about why none of these crash cases didn't make your top 10? Do you have a different standard or criteria for crash cases?

EJ_Ding said...

No mention of Cash-Landrum from anyone? Does everyone think that's been resolved?

Neal Foy said...


Thank you for your informative and detailed posts. It's great to have you back posting again. Unfortunately zoam either didn't read or didn't understand what you were saying. A shame really.

He is still saying that a research platform that was two states away at the time was what Zamora saw. Un freaking believable. He fails miserably and is using the approach you described in post #1.

In fact, Quintanilla wrote in a CIA report two years after the sighting that they had no idea what Zamora saw even after extensive research of military records.

Sorry to address this to you Larry but there was no point in talking to zoam who is apparently unwilling or incapable of understanding simple facts.

Larry said...

Some Corrections to my previous posts are in order. I have located a technical paper that was presented at the 2004 AAS Rocky Mountain Guidance and Control Conference. The paper can be downloaded for free, here:
The author, Sam Thurman, was a member of the JPL team that had responsibility for developing the Surveyor Lander. He discusses the unique problems associated with developing the Radar guidance and control system that was used for the soft landing. In characteristic NASA fashion, the system was referred to by the acronym RADVS (for Radar Altimeter/Doppler Velocimeter System). According to the paper, the RADVS was “…used to measure slant range and velocity vector components for terminal descent guidance. The RADVS was an L-band FM-CW system employing two 36 in. parabolic antenna assemblies ….”. In other words it was a radio frequency electronics package.

He describes the testing process for the various parts of the spacecraft: “Subsystem testing included static firings of test models of the main retro motor and vernier engine assembly, static and dynamic tests of various mock-ups of the landing legs and crushable blocks mounted underneath the vehicle’s primary structure, ….”. Note that all of that testing would have been done somewhere other than WSMR.

But he goes on to add that there was “….extensive testing of the RADVS.” And this is the part that’s relevant to the helicopter testing that took place at WSMR: “ Due to the large altitude velocity regime of RADVS operation, a series of 18 tests were conducted using a specially modified RADVS- equipped helicopter, ultimately executing a series of 53 flight profiles designed to simulate various mission-like scenarios to the maximum extent possible. These tests were conducted at the White Sands Missile Range near Alamogordo, New Mexico. The helicopters used in the testing were equipped with a complete mock-up of the RADVS, employing a special test fixture that positioned the two antenna modules in the same relative locations and beam pattern geometry as on the actual spacecraft.”

So, I was right that the helicopter tests were intended to test the radar landing system. But I was wrong that the tests were conducted by dangling the spacecraft from a tether underneath the helicopter. Instead, the tests were conducted with a “complete mock-up of the RADVS” attached rigidly to the helicopter by a test fixture. According to the engineer who participated in the tests, there was no complete spacecraft involved in those helicopter tests. I repeat: there was NO Surveyor spacecraft present at WSMR at the time of the helicopter tests. I got the idea (some years ago) that there was a complete spacecraft present, from the source that Zoam cited, namely, “New Mexicans for Science and Reason (NMSR)”; like a lot of people (including Zoam) I accepted it at face value without checking into it further. I further assumed that if a complete Surveyor spacecraft was present, it would have to have been suspended beneath the helicopter for the simple reason that it is too large to be bolted solidly to the helicopter. This morning, when I re-read the NMSR article and realized that they were claiming that the helicopter supported the test apparatus from the side, I realized that there was a major disconnect somewhere in the story and I started digging deeper. That’s when I came up with the journal article that explained it all.

In summary, it appears that NEITHER a Lunar Surveyor NOR an Apollo LLRV lander was present at WSMR at the time of the Zamora sighting.

Larry said...


Where did NMSR get the notion that there was a Surveyor spacecraft at WSMR? According to the source Zoam cited, they got it “from Capt. James McAndrew, the AF's point man on Roswell”, who obtained copies of WSMR range logs. That’s the same CIC officer who so thoughtfully obtained copies of McCrary’s diary “proving” that the Roswell event was explained by Mogul flight #4. That’s a whole ‘nother story.

Larry said...


Correction of typo in my last post: That should be Crary, not McCrary

zoamchomsky said...


A recent paper on one aspect of Surveyor systems testing and development doesn't preclude all the other aspects and configurations of testing at White Sands. There were certainly other times when the full Surveyor was attached directly to a helicopter or was attached by cable to a helicopter. Records and expert witness testimony say this in fact, and the same for Bell lunar lander prototypes and the LLRVs, even though they were capable of free flight. As with the gantry test system, it kept various editions of these inherently unstable and expensive landers from crashing regularly and saved pilots lives.

And do you really think that the two LLRVs that at arrived at Dryden in early 1964 sprang out of nothing? As I've reported but you ignore: Bell built an operational prototype to win the NASA contract in 1962, and had an additional 14 months of R&D to build and test other prototypes (pictured) before delivering the operational and more horizontal and stable LLRV in early 1964. At least one of these LLRV prototypes, like the Bell prototype, even sported the Bell Lexan canopy instead of an open cockpit.

So take your pick. I say the Bell prototype is the best match in form, but an LLRV with the Lexan canopy would still match Zamora's understandably confused account that combined both "car" like trusswork and tanks standing on end with a vertical "oval" on "legs." Two very human operators in coveralls and a red arrow-like NASA logo should remove any last bit of doubt about the identity.

Zamora was confused even before got to the location--chasing a speeding car, seeing a rocket-like flame in the sky, hearing a boom, and thinking that a dynamite shack had exploded--and then being puzzled by what he saw at 150-200 yards and frightened by the roaring so much that he ran away and lost his glasses--never understanding what he had seen at any time during the event.

Larry, a bit of logic: Showing what did happen will never show what didn't happen. We simply don't know what testing might have occurred at Bell-White Sands on April 24 1964. What we do know is that nothing about what Lonnie Zamoro described required technology in advance of that available at that time.

Neal Foy said...


Give it up man! The LLRV was indeed capable of free flight but it had a very limited fuel supply. About 6 minutes, from one source, this does not make it suitable for tooling around the countryside. The object Zamora actually described was oval and had a skin with an insignia. That is not even close to any LLRV.

You keep coming back to the car, what Zamora actually said was that his first impression was of a car turned over with an exploded fuel tank. It would be perfectly natural for him to expect to see something mundane. You seem fixated on this one really irrelevant detail. When he got a better look he described the egg shaped object, no trusses involved. At no time did he describe what you say he did. He also said he saw two beings the size of children, How does that fit an LLRV? The object then took off with a sound that Zamora said WAS NOT A JET ENGINE SOUND. The engine on the LLRV was a jet engine.

The object then flew off quickly in a straight line, again this is not what an LLRV is capable of. It was a rather ponderous vehicle that was incredibly difficult to control. At least two of the later LLTVs crashed during training. One with Neil Armstrong at the controls. He did an incredible job of piloting to avoid death.

Anthony Mugan said...

Hello all
Re: Socorro
I'm sorry but I really don't understand why this case is so prominent. If Zamora's description of events is precisely accurate then it would indeed be an interesting event. I have absolutely no reason to doubt his integrity but we are ultimately dealing with a single witness report with no really diagnostic hard evidence one way or the other. Human perception can often lead to honest misperceptions.
Personally I can't see how anyone can reach a firm conclusion either way on is 'insufficient information' in my book.
What's needed is cases with multiple lines of evidence collated at the time or very shortly thereafter and with original primary sources available. The cases need to include enough such evidence to credibly eliminate all known mundane explanations AND need to suggest an artificial aspect to the characteristics or behaviour of the UFO.
There are a small number of cases that cut the mustard ( if that phrase crosses the pond). Of the ones Kevin has listed I personally think the very best ones are Tremonton and Levelland, but I would include a number of others as particularly important as previously discussed.

Larry said...

Part 1
Zoam wrote:
“There were certainly other times when the full Surveyor was attached directly to a helicopter or was attached by cable to a helicopter. Records and expert witness testimony say this in fact…”

I don’t necessarily dispute this. The Sam Thurman paper I cited says that later on in the program they built a special model of the complete spacecraft system that weighed 1/6 as much as the space flight article specifically so they could test it in free flight under its own power. They tested it by dropping it from a balloon. I can easily imagine that they might have transported that flight article around WSMR on a tether underneath a helicopter.

But so what? The crucial part of your statement is the “other times” part. This drop test doesn’t show up in the Range log on April 24, 1964. What do you want to bet that if someone looked at the range log for the year or two following April 24, 1964 they could find an entry for the Surveyor drop test?

“…and the same for Bell lunar lander prototypes and the LLRVs, even though they were capable of free flight. …”

Again, I don’t dispute this, but the LLRV would certainly not have been transported by the Bell 47 helicopter that was supposedly used for the Surveyor tests. The useful load of a Bell 47 is about 1000 lb, and the LLRV weighed about 2500 lb. But again, so what? You have produced zero evidence to support the idea that there was a Bell prototype or a LLRV at White Sands on the day in question.

“… And do you really think that the two LLRVs that at arrived at Dryden in early 1964 sprang out of nothing?”

Nope. I never implied that in any way, shape, or form. Total straw man argument.

“So take your pick. I say the Bell prototype is the best match in form, but an LLRV with the Lexan canopy would still match Zamora's understandably confused account that combined both "car" like trusswork and tanks standing on end with a vertical "oval" on "legs."

I pick neither one; you have produced zero evidence to support the idea that either object was present at White Sands on the day in question and could have made it to Socorro, even if it had been. Why do suppose there is no entry in the Range log on April 24 for a Bell flight mission?

I also agree with Neal Foy. I think that logically, Zamora’s best (i.e., most accurate observations would have been the ones when he was closest to the object (about 30 or 40 feet away). He described the object as oval and smooth with no windows or doors (with legs underneath, when it was on the ground). Even when he first saw the object at a distance of 150 to 200 yards, he described the object as shaped like a letter “O”. I can’t find any place where Zamora used the term “trusswork”. Is this just something that Zoam made up?

Larry said...

Part 2
“We simply don't know what testing might have occurred at Bell-White Sands on April 24 1964.”

Zoam, a bit of logic: The most parsimonious explanation is that no Bell testing whatsoever occurred at White Sands on April 24 1964; zero; nada; zilch. Otherwise it would have appeared in the Range log and Captain Holder would have mentioned it when he was summoned to Socorro that evening.

However, even if you want to take an extreme “absence of evidence is not evidence of absence” stance on this (oh, the irony!), there is no rule of logical inference that I was ever taught in my academic career (spanning 20 years and 4 separate degrees in science and engineering) that allows one to use some hypothetical “might have occurred” as evidence in an argument. The fact that you “simply don't know what testing might have occurred” means exactly that; you don’t know. If you stopped there, you would be on firm ground, logically. If, instead, you conjecture (in the absence of evidence) that any Bell testing occurred at all, you are moving into the realm of having a “hunch”, an “opinion”, or a “wild ass guess”. If you go further and conjecture that this presumed testing that you guess might have occurred has just exactly the right set of characteristics needed to explain the Zamora sighting—well, then you have moved decisively into the realm of just making crap up.

Larry said...

Anthony Mugan wrote:

"...I really don't understand why this case is so prominent. ... we are ultimately dealing with a single witness report with no really diagnostic hard evidence one way or the other."

Not true; this is a landing trace case. There were singed plants, vitrified sand, possible radiation fogging of camera film, and a complete absence of any surface disturbance that would be indicative of the presence of a high powered rocket or jet powered vehicle. These physical effects, together with a few supporting characteristics that appear in Zamora's testimony (the shape of the "flame" underneath the object, the peculiar sound, and the radiant heat he felt on his face from the "flame") paint an entirely consistent, picture that falsifies Zoam's naive, uninformed statement:

"... nothing about what Lonnie Zamoro [sic] described required technology in advance of that available at that time."

As a Physicist, Allen Hynek understood intuitively that all of these interlocking features of the case rendered it almost impossible that an individual like Zamora cold have made it up. This is why he said: "I think this case may be the 'Rosetta Stone' ... There's never been a strong case with so unimpeachable a witness."

zoamchomsky said...


Here's another bit of logic: Zamora's story is the best evidence that what he saw was very earthly technology.

He said he saw two "people," period. He refers to them as "persons" three times and adds that "possibly they were small adults," which is easy to understand since they were down in an arroyo 150-200 yards away.

He said he thought he was seeing the underside of a car standing on end--so it was the size of a car and taller than wide--but of white metal like aluminum. He said he thought it was an accident or prank. The underside of a mid-century car was composed of a framework of trusses, support bars and plates, components, cables and tanks. But it was also in the general shape of an "O" he said, with splayed legs.

Are we to ignore one part of his description in favor of the other? I suggest that he was describing two different parts of one thing, it was both at once, but he's never clear on that fact because he was never sure of what he was seeing. But I've seen a picture of a Bell lander prototype that amazingly combines the two, seats two men (who most likely wore white coveralls), and it has a red arrow logo on its side. All too much to be coincidence, I think.

So given that the location of this event is adjacent to the White Sands testing range, seeing a flying machine he doesn't understand attended by two men in white coveralls, I say a mundane explanation is the most very likely. And so much so that I can ask again, "Why was there ever a question about the most likely identification?"

That's the most parsimonious explanation, Larry. Nothing about what Lonnie Zamora described required technology in advance of that available at the time.

Do you think it's just possible that things could have gone on at White Sands that day that weren't logged? Of course they could. Things of which we have little knowledge and can only surmise and speculate given the bits of evidence we do have.

Deconstructing "UFO" stories is detective work, psychological analysis, cultural history, and "pelicanist" literary criticism. And the trials of most cases is composed of almost entirely circumstantial evidence. So yes, Larry, there is a lot of guesswork, inferences, imagining and best guessing involved, as I've freely admitted. The debunker and psychosocial methods of case analysis together--if they can be distinguished--are a formidable system.

If you know very well that the various Bell lander prototypes and R&D editions of the LLRV existed before two were delivered to Dryden in early 1964, then stop referring them as if they were the only ones in existence.

Show me where Zamora says he was 30-40 feet away.

The man saw some very earthly machine that he simply didn't understand. He could not comprehend what he saw, then it made a lot of noise that frightened him greatly. And his experience was transformed into a "UFO" report.

That doesn't make it a spaceship.

Anthony Mugan said...

Hi Larry
The problem to me is that whilst, if I were a betting man, I'd guess that Zamorra was telling the truth there is nothing in this to rule out a hoax.
All we have is evidence of fire, heating of sand, and some holes. Nothing that couldn't be done with a blowtorch and a spade. Even then we don't have any original paperwork for parts of that.
I guess I'm looking for things that force me to drop misidentification or hoax and this is nowhere near that (unlike Tran en Privence or Stephenville or the USS Gyatt cases for example).