It has taken awhile, but I have now been able to follow up on the tale originally told to us by Kevin Ashley, as told by someone he knew. To briefly recap, Ashley said that he was talking about the Socorro UFO landing when another man entered the conversation, suggesting that this was an experiment by either staff or students at the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology. They had launched a barrel
about the time that Lonnie Zamora arrived on the scene.
Zamora had seen their experiment, had seen them, and that these guys escaped
later while leaving no trace.
Both Tony Bragalia and I communicated with Ashley, who provided additional information about what he knew on October 4, 2018. In fact, he produced a report about it, covering several of the points. He does suggest the balloon explanation isn’t viable because, as he wrote, based on his assumptions about the sighting, “… a balloon only ten feet long would not be large enough to support two individuals and if the balloon were left to float away by itself, then the question arises as to where the people who launched the balloon went considering that the site was examined immediately afterwards.”
In addressing the barrel theory, Ashely wrote, “This explanation also has the problem of where did the perpetrators go, since the site was examined immediately after the sightings by both Officer Zamora an Sgt. Chavez.”
And that has been my thinking as well. The people responsible for launching either the balloon or the barrel would have been seen leaving the area. There is no way for them to have escaped unless they were in the balloon.
Of course, these are Ashley’s thoughts based on what he knows about the case, but not based on first-hand observations. Remember, in the original story, he had accepted the theory that Zamora had seen something extraordinary. It wasn’t until the fellow he identified as Bruno gave him the details of what happened that he began to change his mind. The details, then, were second hand… but it does get worse.
As noted, Bruno had told Tony that he and another fellow were responsible for the sighting. They had been launching a barrel using explosives. It was some sort of an experiment. Zamora had stumbled onto it, and they had fled, fearing they might be expelled if their involvement was uncovered by the school. There were problems with the information and there were certainly questions left unanswered. Some of them were suggested by those who visit here on a regular basis.
According to Tony, Bruno seemed somewhat reluctant to talk about any of this, though in the world today, nothing that happened so long ago would adversely affect Bruno. He certainly wouldn’t be expelled. Anyway, there seemed to be nothing new coming, so I sent Bruno a rather benign email with a couple of questions. I didn’t expect a response, but on October 20, there was one.
About the first thing he wrote was, “I am not admitting that I was involved in this incident of the UPO (sic), and feel sad if it had caused any grief for the Zamora family.”
This is in conflict with what he had told Tony, but it could be suggested that he said this just so that he wouldn’t be overwhelmed by UFO researchers asking for information… Or it could be the truth.
He then wrote, “I learned only recently that this UFO hoax had caused so much publicity.”
Hoax is not the correct word in this scenario. There was no intention to fool anyone. It wasn’t designed to convince anyone that some sort of alien craft had landed. It was, according to Bruno, an experiment, one seen by Zamora by accident.
According to Bruno, two students from the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology were trying to produce an explosion that would resemble an atom bomb blast. He wrote:
Exploring old abandoned mines they found a military hand held blasting machine that was operated by twisting the handle. The magneto inside the blasting machine produced enough current to set off 10 electric blasting caps in a series connection. Also found in abandoned mines were several sacks of ammonium nitrate. The plan was to pour some gasoline into a shallow pan, put a board across the pan to hold a sack of ammonium nitrate with a stick of dynamite inserted to set off the ammonium nitrate. An electric blasting cap inserted in the dynamite was used to start the explosion. The experiment was set up close to a dirt road, a safe distance from town, and far enough away so that nobody would see the experiment. A 55 gallon drum was placed open end down, to cover the gasoline pan and explosives. The idea was to let the hot sun beat down on the 55 gallon drum to produce gasoline fumes, thereby causing a fire ball that would rise up to form a mushroom cloud. Just when the action was to take place, our scientists noticed a dust cloud on the road from an approaching vehicle, which turned out to be a police car.
Given what we know about the location of the landing site, I’m not all that sure they were safely out of town. Watching Mythbusters, I know they routinely blew up stuff near Socorro with the help of the school, but I don’t think they were ever as close as this experiment had to be. There was then, and still is now, lots of open area around Socorro. I don’t think they needed to be as close to the town as they were.
Bruno wrote that with the police car approaching, they made the decision to detonate the mixture before the police car would be in danger, as opposed, I guess, as waiting until the police car was gone. According to Bruno:
The experiment was near perfect with a large red ball of flame rising up from the ground to form a nice mushroom cloud. The police car came to a stop, the policeman jumped out of the car watching the result of the experiment. The policeman got back in his car, turned the car around, and took off back to town. Our happy scientists slowly gathered up the debris from the experiment such as pieces of 55 gallon drum, rolled up the blasting wire, and took all the stuff back with them on the jeep.
This is where the tale really slides off the rails. Those of us who have studied the case know that there was no mushroom cloud, that the site was never without someone on it from the time that Zamora saw the craft until much later that night.
The final bit of information was, “They got in their jeep, and as they were following the news directions, something started looking familiar. It turned out that it was their experiment site. Reporters had come in from Albuquerque, and were overheard talking about places where weeds were burned, and ground had been singed from the UFO takeoff.”
Although it is probably unnecessary, I will point out that samples were gathered by Holder that night and forwarded to the Air Force. Their analysis found no trace of any of the components of the “experiment.” Such residue would have been left, and Bruno tells us that the “happy scientists,” returned to confirm that their experimental site was the same as Zamora’s landing site. According to that Blue Book, “Laboratory analysis of soil samples disclosed no foreign material… analysis of the burned bush showed no chemicals which would indicate a type of propellant.”
While none of this proves that was Zamora saw was an alien spacecraft, it does eliminate this particular explanation. There are simply too many problems with this explanation, as I have noted. I think that we can close this particular chapter of the Socorro landing.