Saturday, September 06, 2014

More Thoughts on McMinnville

I find that sometimes, if I pose a question here, someone out there has an answer. I have said for a very long time that there are only two conclusions to be drawn about the pictures taken in McMinnville, Oregon. They either show a craft from another world, or they are a hoax. I do not see a third possibility given the clarity of the photographs, the features of the object, and the state of our research and development of aircraft in 1950.

Philip Klass believed the photographs to be a hoax and research and analysis on the photographs suggested to Robert Sheaffer that the pictures were taken in the morning rather than the evening as claimed and they were taken in a different order than claimed. They believe that if the Trents lied about the time of day when the pictures were taken, then they probably lied about other aspects of the case, and that suggests hoax. If they are correct in their analysis, I would have to agree with them… if they are correct.

In today’s world, is there a way to resolve this?

Yes, but it depends on a couple of things. First, we have to locate the original negatives which I understand are now in the possession of MUFON. If true, all we need is for someone to look at them, which I hope this will inspire them to do.

Second, we have to hope that the negatives were numbered at the time they were developed. As we all know, 35 mm film, for example, is numbered, which would allow us to establish the sequence in which the pictures were taken. This was not a 35 mm camera but one that took a roll of film that was loaded into the camera by hand in a dark room. But if that film had numbers on it, or if the negatives are numbered, then we can determine the sequence in which the pictures were taken.

If we can do that, if there are numbers on the film, we can answer the question but I find nothing on the Internet to suggest that this has been done. I believe it is because most of those who studied the photographs were working from prints or copy negatives and the numbering sequence wasn’t important information during those earlier investigations… or it might just mean they weren’t numbered in which case we’re back to square one.

If they are numbered, however, that will either confirm or refute part of Sheaffer’s analysis by telling us in what order the pictures were taken. If they were taken in the sequence given by the Trents, then it is one more bit of evidence of authenticity. If they were taken in the order that Sheaffer suggested, then it is evidence that the Trents faked the whole thing. Either way, we learn something new about the photographs and that advances our understanding of the situation. I just can’t believe that someone has yet to do this.

(Update: Robert Sheaffer tells me that his original calculations came from prints that Philip Klass had supplied but in 1976 he, and Bruce Maccabee, made a study from the original negatives that Maccabee had retrieved. Sheaffer wrote that he didn’t remember seeing numbers on the negatives and that scans of those prints were available at This doesn’t completely resolve the issue but suggests that there may be no numbers on the negatives. I have yet to hear from Bruce Maccabee.)

(Update No. 2: I have received information that the film manufactured in the 1960s did not have numbers on it. I will assume from this, that this type of film from 1950 would not have numbers either. It was suggested that if the negatives are matched, meaning that they were usually hand trimmed so that the cuts wouldn't be perfect, it might be possible to deduce the order in which the photographs were taken.)


Matt Wiser said...

Mr. Randle, first of all, thank you for your military service to our country. I do agree that a new analysis of the photos would answer many questions, but even so, if the photos are shown to be genuine, as even the Condon Report strongly suggested, that will not silence the skeptics. As Stanton Friedman likes to say, "Don't confuse me with evidence, my mind is made up," and "It can't be, therefore it isn't. One question about Phil Klass: do you think he was on someone's payroll? After Dr. Donald Menzel passed on, someone had to take over as the arch-skeptic.

starman said...

Just the other day, cda commented that there is a "consensus" that they are fake. Really? That's not the impression I got from Kevin's previous posts on this topic.

starman said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
David Rudiak said...

(Part 1 of 2)
Philip Klass believed the photographs to be a hoax and research and analysis on the photographs suggested to Robert Sheaffer that the pictures were taken in the morning rather than the evening as claimed and they were taken in a different order than claimed. They believe that if the Trents lied about the time of day when the pictures were taken, then they probably lied about other aspects of the case, and that suggests hoax. If they are correct in their analysis, I would have to agree with them… if they are correct.

In today’s world, is there a way to resolve this?

It is very easy to resolve from details in the photos, some of which become apparent when the scene is recreated in a 3D raytracer. (Which I did after twice taking detailed measurements at the Trent place.)

Here is the simplest argument against Sheaffer that doesn’t require a raytracer and anyone can do. If he was right that the photos were were taken in the morning, then the east side of objects in the open exposed to morning sun from the east (or right side of the photos) should be much brighter than the left side of the objects (west side), which should be in relatively dark shadow.

A perfect test object in photo 1 is the power pole across the road toward the right of the photo, about 150 feet from the camera. . (A detailed photo of photo 1 from Sheaffer’s website showing the pole:

Use a histogram function in your paint program and compare the left and right halves of the pole. You will find almost no difference, meaning the scene is actually DIFFUSELY lit. (The right side may be 1 to 3% brighter depending on what part of the pole you sample, but not always. I’m not sure the difference is even statistically significant.)

Ray tracing of the recreated 3D scene also shows the following (based on direct detailed measurements I made at the Trent farm of the shed):

1. The small power lines where Trent allegedly suspended a model should cast a distinct shadow on the oil tank at the time of morning Sheaffer claims reproduces the rafter shadows (if illumination was direct morning sun), but no such shadows can be found. But much more diffuse eastward illumination would account for the lack of power line shadow.

2. The length of the rafter shadows are wrong for the time Sheaffer claims of 7:23 (PST) in the morning when the sun was due east (which he believes reproduces the shadows—they don’t; see next item.)

3. The rafter at the end of the garage/shed is actually a double 2x4, with the end one much longer than the other. Only the short rafter shadow can be seen, with the long rafter shadow missing. This means the light source for the rafter shadows is actually somewhat south of due east (thus the shadow of the long rafter is slightly north of the building and “misses” it).

In addition, Maccabee also found (from direct measurement off the negatives) that the shadow lengths in the two photos are not measureably different in length, meaning they were taken very close together in time. Thus one CANNOT order the sequence of the photos from the shadows, contrary to Sheaffer’s claim.

So what is the explanation of the diffuse lighting and rafter shadows on the east (right) side of the shed? How can there be shadows there if it is late in the day and the sun was low to the west (as the Trents said). It is actually very simple. The Trent place is close to the Pacific Ocean (about 30 miles) and with hills and coastal mountain ranges to the west. With the sun low in the sky and with the common evening coastal fog and mist, bright direct sunlight is cut off from the west but can pass over the mountains/clouds and be reflected off secondary light sources to the east by backscatter. This will create a diffusely lit scene (as the power pole lighting PROVES).

Since the rafter shadows are on the eastern wall of the shed (thus shielded from any sun from the west), shadows there will be created by backscatter from sources to the east.

KRandle said...

Matt -

Klass was on no one's payroll. He just enjoyed his role as the rat in the birthday cake and I think his attitude was payback for the trashing his ionized atmosphere received.

Starman -

I'm sure that in CDA's mind there is a consensus for fake and there are probably any number of debunkers who concur. However, that number is relatively small... with most of the rest of us still looking at the evidence.

David Rudiak said...

part 2 of 2

(If you think about it a moment, the only reason we can see anything in shadows here on Earth is because of scattering of light from secondary sources that illuminate the shadowed areas. On the moon, with no atmosphere, shadows can be totally black.)

Maccabee checking weather records from Salem airport (17 miles SE of the Trent place) found 10% cloud cover and large cumulous clouds reported east of the Trents near sunset, at the time and date the Trents said the photos were taken. Evening sunlight to the west reflected off such large clouds to the east would create a more diffuse secondary light source than the morning sun (even assuming the sun’s effective diameter was enlarged by heavy morning mist). Maccabee’s measurements showed that mist could effectively enlarge the sun’s diameter 2.5 to 3 times its actual angular size (~.5 degrees, so mist might make the sun appear ~1.5 degrees), but the edges of the shadows from direct densitometric measurement off the original negatives PROVED that the shadow edges are much fuzzier than would be expected even from an enlarged sun light source, indicating a light source about 10 times bigger than the sun (or around 5 degrees). E.g., a cumulous cloud 1 mile across and 11 miles east of the Trents would form a secondary light source about 5 degrees across.

I live in California 20 miles from the coast and have seen these secondary shadows cast by backscatter many times when direct sunlight from a low sun to the west is blocked by coastal mountains and clouds/fog and sun passing over these obstacles reflects off other sources (clouds, trees, even general haze) to the east. Like Maccabee, I have taken photos of these secondary shadows under such conditions reproducing rafter shadows and the bright sheen of the oil tank against the shed, both of which Sheaffer claims could only be due to morning sun. Well apparently NOT!

In my experiment (which coincidentally took place May 11, the same day as Trent said he took his photos, right after I got back from my first visit to Trent’s farm), it was near sunset, it was a fairly cloudy day, and there were clouds to the west blocking direct sunlight. My model rafter was a 2 x 4 leaning against the eastern wall of my house, thus the only source of illumination being backscatter light from the east. To simulate the oil tank, I used a metal ice cream tub. Lighting in my eastern backyard was very diffuse, coming from reflected light off trees in my backyard and clouds in the sky. (I also have photos showing the view in all directions.)

Nonetheless, my ice cream tub still had a bright sheen to it and a fairly discrete shadow was cast by the 2x4 “rafter”, even under these very diffuse secondary lighting conditions.

Thus Sheaffer’s (and Klass’) claim that the photos could only only have been taken in the morning can be 100% refuted by multiple lines of evidence, including DETAILED analysis of the scene and photos (in Maccabee’s case, by direct densimetric measurement of the negatives), something Sheaffer never did.

Again, anyone who doubts this should do their own simple measurements of that power pole across the road and see that it is indeed diffusely illuminated with almost equal left and right halves. This alone strongly refutes the scene being strongly lit by early morning sun. The only possible exception to this would be a morning scene the exact opposite of the evening one I suggested, with direct sunlight blocked by heavy early morning mist and back scatter off mist/clouds to the west. But this still wouldn’t explain the rafter shadow edges being 3 to 4 times fuzzier than would be expected from even heavily misted sunlight and an apparent enlarged solar disc.

Lance said...

This report makes a strong case for fraud:

David, do you have links for the 3D work you did. There is some new technology that may allow for additional exploration.


KRandle said...

Lance -

Actually, it makes a weak case for fraud, suggesting they had found a tread without actually seeing the tread. To prove fraud they're going to need something stronger than that.

KRandle said...

All -

For the counter to the IPACO article, see:

Lance said...

Here is the work by Joel Carpenter that draws further doubt on the photos:


cda said...

There is a French skeptics photo-analysis (forget the website) showing how the wires have dipped more than they should, strongly suggesting a model hanging on these wires.

We also need to establish, once and for all, if the USAF did or did not take an interest in these photos at the time they first appeared. I know Condon, i.e. Hartmann, did their own analysis
but this was 17 years afterwards.

Was any official interest shown or analysis done during, say, 1950? If there was, where are the results thereof?

Also, Tony Bragalia, on the Iconoclasts website, had a lot to say about the circumstances of the photos. I believe that one of the negating factors is that Trent waited until he had used up the film instead of getting them developed straightaway. Hardly the actions of someone who thought he might have photographed an ET craft!

Lance said...

Essentially all of the discussion of the relative brightness of the object (virtually the sole focus of Hartmann and Maccabbee) are not particularly helpful.

It is admitted that if the composition of the proposed hoax object was of a certain brightness then it cannot be ruled out.

On the other hand:
I do not see the tangle of wires that Sheaffer mentions.

Does anyone know where all this 3D data is published?


KRandle said...


We're way beyond your post... It is the IPACO study that Lance mentioned.

Woody said...

They were repeaters, were they not?
I realize that this may or may not necessarily mean much. But if they were, this in combination with their slow work in getting the pictures developed and given to authorities (as cda described) makes it more doubtful that they had actually gained photographic evidence of the alien spacecraft that they had witnessed before, now that they had finally been quick enough with the camera.


starman said...

To my knowledge, no skeptic has ever determined what kind of prosaic object the Trents allegedly used to perpetrate a hoax. There have been suggestions it was a phonographic device, a lampshade or hubcap perhaps but it says something that nothing has been clearly identified in over 64 years. Also, what would've motivated the Trents? As far as I know they didn't make money. They could've just wanted to see if they could fool people ("ha ha suckers!") but from what I've heard they both went to their graves without confessing anything. Contrast that with the guy who faked the nessie photo.

Jack Brewer said...

A few related thoughts, please:

People do things that don't make sense all the time, especially in the UFO community. A hoax having to make sense and having clear motive is not a prerequisite to its occurrence, much less an indication of an anomalous or ET event. If ifs and buts were candy and nuts we'd all have a merry Christmas and all that.

Thanks for bringing up the IPACO report, Lance. It deserves its share of attention, imo.

For one thing, IPACO did not claim a conclusion. They suggested hoax was the most likely explanation based on their study of the photos.

I realize the report might be difficult to wade through for what we might term those who want to believe in the Trent sighting, but there is much more to it than just suggestions of a thread as KR mentioned. For instance (and if I recall correctly), the IPACO report explained in detail how the center of the alleged craft remained almost exactly the same distance from the cross wire from one shot to the next. Such an occurrence would be highly suggestive of a small object hanging from the wire and twisting a bit. On the other hand, it would be virtually impossible that the alleged craft was soaring and banking while Trent's relation to its center remained constant with the cross wire.

The IPACO report is worth a focused read.

Lance said...

Thanks Jack,

For my money, the interviews Mrs. Trent did with Bruce Maccabee (as reported by Klass and disingenuously sanitized by Maccabee) seal the deal. It is in those interviews that we see that she was a repeater and there is much discussion that sounds quite deceptive to me about another supposed witness.

Also never mentioned by believers is the statement by Trent's father that he could feel the wind of the saucer as it went by!

Starman's idea that "you never figured out just what brand of car mirror was used so it must be a saucer" demonstrates the kind of low thinking that permeates this hobby.


Robtzu said...

Thank you for demonstrating a classic strawman attack, Lance. Rarely do I see such clear examples out in the wild.

Lance said...

Please identify the straw man.


David Rudiak said...

For the record:

The Trents NEVER said they thought they saw and filmed an "alien spacecraft". Paul Trent instead said he thought it was a secret government project and he might get in trouble for filming it.

"Trent was reluctant to release the negatives for publication because he was afraid he would get into trouble with the government. He apparently thought that he had photographed some secret military device. However, Powell [Bill Powell, reporter for the McMinnville paper, who blew up and examined the photos, interviewed the Trents in detail, and was absolutely convinced it was no hoax] who apparently convinced Mr. Trent that there would be no problem... In one newspaper interview, when asked why he had delayed so long before saying anything about the photos, Trent responded that he was "kinda scared of it" . He then said " ...I didn't believe all that talk about flying saucers before, but now I have an idea the Army knows what they are."

As for the delay in development, the first photos on the roll were of winter scenes and the roll was finished on Mother's Day three days after the object photos were taken. He waited another week to take it to the local drugstore for development (they lived a dozen miles from town), so only about a 10 day delay to when they developed the film. Maccabee estimates another week to get the film developed. (It would probably have to be sent to Portland. Indeed, I remember my father in the early 1950s taking film to the drugstore for development and it would take at least several days to come back. And that was living right in a town considerably larger than McMinnville. Skeptics seem to forget they didn't have one hour photo development back then.)

Thus the roll of film covered scenes from several months duration, the two object photos were somewhere in the middle surrounded by normal scenes (thus not multiple test shots to get the perfect shots like a hoaxer might do), and back in 1950 in rural Oregon it wasn't that simple to get a roll of film developed, requiring a drive into the nearby small town. They might have other things to do, like running a farm and taking care of two small children.

While none of this proves the photos are genuine, neither does the argument that they took a few days to develop the film and then hesitated to have them go public somehow indicate they were hoaxed. In fact, I am quite sure if Trent had immediately developed the film and was eager to show them around and have them published, the skeptics would likewise argue this indicated he was a hoaxer. You can't win.

cda said...

Starman's argument can just as easily apply to Adamski's 'scout craft' photos. Because nobody can say with certainty what these photos depict (all sorts of things have been suggested) the said object must be an ET craft.

We cannot with certainty show the photos are fakes or how they were faked, therefore since the object is no known type of aerial craft, it must be a non-earthly craft, i.e. a visiting spacecraft. The same applies to the Trents, in a sense.

The difference between the two, of course, is that the Trents never told a story of meeting the occupants of the said craft and having a conversation with them, nor did they ever claim to have been taken on a tour of the solar system, as Adamski did. Therefore the Trent's photos somehow seem more credible than Adamski's.

I doubt that Starman accepts Adamski's photos as authentic, but I could be wrong.

Lance said...

I agree with my dear friend, David Rudiak that the schedule of when the film got developed doesn't say much one way or the other. It is sort of odd but people do odd things.

The baloney about what a newspaperman SAID that he thought about a story that he widely promoted is absolutely worthless.

UFO believers do themselves no favors at all with the old "they SEEM reliable" argument. Mrs. Trent's interview shows a person who seems prone to exaggeration, possible deception and a UFO repeater.


Robtzu said...

@. Lance
You attributed a quote to Starman that he did not make. "You never figured out just what brand of car mirror was used so it must be a saucer". You then used this fictitious quote to make an arguement.

I suppose it could be said that you was merely paraphrasing or summarizing his post. However that would not be an accurate summary. He stated that the failure to identify the hoax object, not brand as you stated, should count for something; he did not state therefore it is extraterrestrial. Also he then made a further point concerning motivations to hoax.

Larry said...


When you wrote:

"..Also never mentioned by believers is the statement by Trent's father that he could feel the wind of the saucer as it went by!..."

I am unfamiliar with that statement and the conditions to which it refers and under which it was uttered. Perhaps you can clear this up?

Is Trent's father saying that he (the father) felt the wind as the saucer went by, or that Paul Trent (the son) felt the wind? Was Paul Trent's father present at the alleged sighting? I had not heard that. If Trent's father was not present, then his comments would be hearsay, I suppose.

In any case, It's not clear to me what you think the importance of this statement is, although I assume you think it makes the hoax explanation more likely than "real UFO" explanation. Could you say a little more about why you think this?

Lance said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lance said...


Yeah, that's not a straw man argument--you may want to look up what the term means. I suppose you could say that I exaggerated Starman's position and that would be slightly correct. The idiocy of the position remains just as I framed it. CDA discusses it above with more patience than I can muster.


Are you familiar with the case?

Yes, the parents were brought up as witnesses for the first time 19 years after the event by Paul Trent! I realize that in these parts that probably increases the belief in it!

Mrs. Trent brought up other witnesses as well!

This being a UFO story, the citations are hard to come by--Maccabee hasn't published the full interviews and UFO partisans often leave out details that don't fit into the saucer religion.

Here is one telling of the breeze story:

"Kim Trent Spencer, the farm couple's granddaughter, says she remembers talking about the UFO pictures when she was young, but back then she didn't know the details -- that her grandmother said she had seen UFOs before, that the object created a breeze that blew through her grandparents' hair, or which relative spotted the saucer first."

I have heard it more frequently ascribed to Paul Trent's father:

"His father described the UFO stating later that he could actually feel a slight breeze the UFO created with its power. "

What do you think of a claim of breezes in the hair of a witness not mentioned for 19 years?

Does it solidify the veracity for ya?


KRandle said...

Larry -

If I have the sequence right, it seems that both Trents (Paul and Evelyn) said they felt a breeze from the UFO. Paul said it was light and Evelyn described something much stronger... however, I don't believe this information appeared until William Hartmann of the Condon Committee interviewed them. So the information appeared more than a decade and a half after the sighting.

Lance -

Since you've decided to go down this road, I will point out that Klass was disingenuous when he reported on the case. He substituted his own beliefs on how the witness should have acted in 1950 without really knowing them. He attached great weight to Robert Sheaffer's analysis of the photographs, suggesting that this proved they were taken in an order different than that given by the Trents. He claimed that he had gathered the weather data for the area which proved there were no clouds in the sky when the photographs were taken, meaning that there were no clouds to reflect sunlight on the garage.

However, when the weather records for the entire region are examined, it is not "perfectly clear" as Klass maintained, but with various cloud cover reports from airports and weather stations in the area.

I will also note that Klass then explained the look of clouds in the pictures because the Trents might have closed their camera by pushing on the lens. That would leave a light coat of oil on the lens which would then give the impression that there were clouds in the sky when there were not.

Yes, Robert Sheaffer was able to reproduce the affect by smearing petroleum jelly on the lens of a similar type camera and taken pictures of the sky... but we are left with the conjecture that the Trents has smeared the lens with oil from their fingers.

The claim that the pictures were taken in a different order was what prompted this posting. While I am fairly certain that the negatives were not numbered, it has been suggested that they might have been hand trimmed which means we might be able to line them up and determine the order... and I have little enthusiasm that this will work. I had hoped there might be numbers which would resolve this issue.

The point is that those at the both ends of the spectrum tend to report what helps make their case and leaves out the data which does not. It is not the exclusive property of the true believer.

Robtzu said...


You misrepresented his position with a fictitious quote then attacked that quote instead of his arguement. That is the very definition of a straw man arguement.

David Rudiak said...

Lance wrote:
UFO believers do themselves no favors at all with the old "they SEEM reliable" argument. Mrs. Trent's interview shows a person who seems prone to exaggeration, possible deception and a UFO repeater.

And UFO disbelievers do themselves no favors at all with the old "they SEEM so unreliable" argument.

I don't think it is some sort of big secret that Lance seems to think ALL UFO witnesses are "prone to exaggeration", unreliable, liars, etc. Why should he interpret Mrs. Trent's comments any differently?

And how exactly does being a "UFO repeater" lower the credibility of a witness? Astronomer Clyde Tombaugh reported 6 UFO sightings, making him much more of a "repeater". Does that mean he was not credible, unreliable, etc., etc.?

cda said...

Kevin points out the 17-year gap between the sighting and the Trents reporting the rushing of the wind. This is certainly a strong negative to their story. It seems impossible that either of them could have omitted the wind rush from their original account, had it occurred.

It suggests to me that in the intervening years they had read of other similar UFO stories and added this 'padding' as an extra.

Also, the fact that they waited ten days before getting their film developed is another negative. Whether they thought it was an ET craft or not, they KNEW it was something highly unusual and came under the 'flying saucer' category, so common sense tells us that they would have hurried to get it developed at once (after all it was virtually the first ever photo of a 'saucer').

And I do not buy the dotty idea that they feared it was some secret US aircraft and were therefore reluctant to develop and publish the pics. If the object truly was such a device it would NOT be flying in public airspace anyway.

And the mere fact that Bluebook never examined them (as far as we know) indicates to me that the USAF simply were not interested in these dubious photos.

But with the various pro and con arguments going on and on indefinitely, I do have the feeling that this case is one that will, literally, never be resolved.

And I do mean 'never'.

Don Maor said...

So common sense tells you not it cda? How fortunate.

(The psychic powers of debunkers at work again.)

Anthony Mugan said...

In my opinion there is insufficient evidence to either reject or confirm these images.
Many of the arguments put forward against them ( repeat sightings, attempts at psychological interpretations about what a farmer might think about how classified programms might operate etc) are not intellectually rigorous. The alleged wires....well...less said the better probably.
Equally there is nothing decisive to confirm them either.

Lance said...

I encourage non-zealots to read the portions of the interview with Mrs Trent that have been published to see just how confused and confusing she is.

Rudiak hilariously suggests that I have called witnesses liars. Citation please. On the other hand , I am happy to show you how Rudiak bellows out that word regularly to describe anyone who doesn't agree with his saucer religion. Recently he made a complete fool of himself calling Robert Sheaffer a liar, until shown conclusively that it he was completely and utterly wrong. The regulars here were, naturally quite silent on this...I'm sure they were deep in saucer prayer.


KRandle said...

Lance -

Really? You want to go down that road?

Klass wrote: The Oregonian, June 10, 1950 [Partially based on recorded interview with Lou Gillette of station KMCM]: "She [Mrs. Trent] said she was the first to see it. She was out feeding the rabbits in the yard alongside the garage....She yelled to her husband then ran into the house to fetch him."

This is second-hand testimony, something that you'd be quick to caution us to avoid if it supported your point of view... Klass makes no distinction here, reporting it as if he heard Evelyn Trent make the claim rather than someone else telling us what he heard her say...

And in my research, I had already reviewed this page... which has nothing to do with the original posting here.

KRandle said...

Lance -

Really? You want to go down that road?

Klass wrote: The Oregonian, June 10, 1950 [Partially based on recorded interview with Lou Gillette of station KMCM]: "She [Mrs. Trent] said she was the first to see it. She was out feeding the rabbits in the yard alongside the garage....She yelled to her husband then ran into the house to fetch him."

This is second-hand testimony, something that you'd be quick to caution us to avoid if it supported your point of view... Klass makes no distinction here, reporting it as if he heard Evelyn Trent make the claim rather than someone else telling us what he heard her say...

And in my research, I had already reviewed this page... which has nothing to do with the original posting here.

Lance said...

Yes, Kevin, I should have only referred to the part of the page that relates to mrs Trent's own words as recorded by Maccabee. There is ample evidence there of the way she responded as a witness.

by the way, that it is quite unclear who was where when the supposed sighting took place...and after reading how Mrs Trent responded to questions, I wouldn't place the blame all on newsmen.


David Rudiak said...

Yes, Robert Sheaffer was able to reproduce the affect by smearing petroleum jelly on the lens of a similar type camera and taken pictures of the sky... but we are left with the conjecture that the Trents has smeared the lens with oil from their fingers.

The main problem with Sheaffer's argument is that you can't just affect small areas of the photos by smearing the lens (like the bottom of the object, which you are trying to lighten up with the veiling glare caused by the smear). EVERYTHING in the photo is affected, causing blurring and glare everywhere. But nearby objects, like the garage, oil tank, and overhead lines remain in sharp focus.

Maccabee demonstrated through experiment that even with a smeared lens and veiling glare, it doesn't significantly affect the distance scaling metric first used by Hartmann in the Condon study.

The claim that the pictures were taken in a different order was what prompted this posting.

All that can be said is that when the length of the shadows of the garage rafters were carefully studied by Maccabee off the negatives, they showed no significant difference, indicating that the two photos were taken closely in time. Also study of the other negatives on the film roll indicated there were no other object photos, like practice shots.

So far, most (not all) of the skeptical objections to the Trent photos do not hold up to scrutiny and others, like Mrs. Trent being a "repeater" I consider meaningless as discriminators.

I'm a "repeater" to seeing dead bodies lying on the road at vehicle accident scenes (a least four times). I bet most people are not. Doesn't prove a thing one way or the other.

David Rudiak said...

Lance hilariously wrote:
Rudiak hilariously suggests that I have called witnesses liars. Citation please.

Lance, do you really want to go there? One very recent example on Kevin's blog:

First Lance wrote: "We used to hear much more about Roswell first hand witnesses who saw a crashed craft and bodies at the various pretend crash sites. I think EVERY SINGLE ONE of those witnesses has now been discarded as a FRAUD." [In case Lance objects to not specifically used the word "liar", I think we all know that a "fraud" is somebody who knowingly lies or deceives.]

Don Ecsedy then wrote that while the world is full of "liars, pranksters, stupid, or insane", most people are NOT. To which Lance replied:

"The entirety of those claiming to have been first hand witnesses to a crash/bodies: frauds, liars, pranksters. So just 100%."

I think using descriptors like "100%" and "every single one" means that Lance is calling ALL such witnesses liars.

In case there was any doubt about what Lance meant, Larry followed up asking:

"Are you claiming that you have examined 100% of those cases where claims were made to have seen a crash/bodies and found independent evidence in each case that proves they were all frauds, liars, or pranksters? Or, are you claiming that a UFO crash with bodies is impossible, and therefore 100% of those claiming to have seen them must be frauds, liars, or pranksters?"

To which Lance replied:

"The former to my satisfaction and relying on the work of others (like Kevin to a large extent)."

Only 5 months ago. How quickly Lance "forgets".

That is just one reason why Lance's opinion of Mrs. Trent's credibility is totally worthless, since he wears his grossly biased opinion against ANY UFO witness on his sleeve (then denies it).

Lance said...

Oh good lord!

Yes, David, I did refer the former batch of supposed first hand witnesses (Kaufmann, Dennis, Ragsdale. et al) as frauds and liars just as virtually everyone on both sides has. I certainly wasn't the first to do so.

I didn't realize that there was still a nut wing of the Roswell crew who didn't think the same thing But I should never overestimate you.

My opinion of Mrs. Trent comes from her silly testimony--note how an uninvolved third party in her account seems to become a witness in the space of a few sentences! The kind of stuff that pious saucer apologists worship is truly breathtaking.


David Rudiak said...

Lance wrote:
Yes, David, I did refer the former batch of supposed first hand witnesses (Kaufmann, Dennis, Ragsdale. et al) as frauds and liars just as virtually everyone on both sides has. I certainly wasn't the first to do so.

No, but you were claiming you never used the word "liar" to describe any witness, as in "Rudiak hilariously suggests that I have called witnesses liars. Citation please."

Well you have certainly called witnesses "liars and frauds", QED, now you are changing your story to, "I only call the worst witnesses liars."

I could add you have also called researchers "liars" many times, including myself. I wish I had a dime for each time you called me a liar. I would be a millionaire. (Warning: Currency not specified.)

Concerning Roswell first-hand witnesses to crash and bodies, you write "et al, as in every single claimed first-hand witness is a "fraud and liar"?

First of all, the ONLY thing provably wrong about Dennis' story is that he gave a phony name for the nurse, but just about everything else he said has ample corroboration from other witnesses. So again, it is not just Dennis claiming a nurse involved and bodies at the base hospital or at the base hangar, or in the field:

Let's list additional claimed first-hand witnesses to bodies: Walter Haut, Frederick Benthal (says he photographed bodies), "Eli Benjamin" (pseudonym--says he escorted bodies from hangar to hospital), maybe Ruben Anaya and a few others. Can you prove they clearly lied about seeing bodies? There is no such consensus.

What about first-hand witnesses to the crash site, craft, and/or unusual crash debris: the Marcels, Bill Rickett, Loretta Proctor, Bill Brazel, Walter Haut, Chester Lytle, Robert Shirkey, Robert Smith, Marian Strickland, Linda Strickland Tadolini, Earl Fulford, Frankie Rowe, John Kromshroeder, and a few others. (With the list being much longer with 2nd-hand witnesses added, such as all those who heard Oliver Henderson speak of crash debris and bodies.)

ALL provable, consensus "liars and frauds"? That's news to me. As usual you paint all witnesses you don't like with the same brush.

Even the Ramey memo speaks of bodies and a craft ("the victims", "the 'disc'"). No doubt, just me and others (and computer OCR program) seeing things that aren't there.

I didn't realize that there was still a nut wing of the Roswell crew who didn't think the same thing But I should never overestimate you.

As usual, when pushed into a corner all you got left is your abusive language and insults, instead of saying, perhaps you overstated your case a bit. Really Lance, you come off more like a religious zealot than a true skeptic, with Sheaffer and Klass being your Jesus, never to be questioned.

Again, given your extreme biases, your purely second-hand, arm-chair opinion about Mrs. Trent's testimony is worthless (especially filtered through the likes of Klass). Just about everybody who actually knew or spoke to the Trents (except maybe Klass) found them credible.

Anthony Mugan said...

I very much look forward to the results of your OCR study, when it's complete (definitely not something to rush given the scrutiny it will receive).
I have come to the conclusion that your analysis of the words 'victims' and 'disc' amongst others is correct from which a lot follows, but can't make headway on much if it using manual methods...but I'm off topic so will leave it at that.

albert said...


I'm neither here nor there on McMinnville.

Your point about the 'secret aircraft' story can't be proven by: "...If the object truly was such a device it would NOT be flying in public airspace anyway...", This is not true. Secret aircraft fly in public airspace all the time. Every time one flies outside the Groom Lake 'box', it's in public airspace. Many such aircraft become operational before becoming declassified.

cda said...

One day, when he or she has nothing better to do, please can some pro-ET protagonist give a logical, coherent, meaningful reason why the US 'top guys' in the know have covered up perhaps the greatest scientific event of all time and are STILL holding the info, bodies, wreckage and all, as above top secret, after nearly 7 decades. Remember the national prestige there would be for being the first to reveal such a discovery.

Any ideas, Kevin or DR? And please don't make laughable excuses either.

On the other side of the coin, perhaps he or she can also explain why the Trents kept their fakes (if such they were) a secret to their death. All right I accept that the initial photos, if fakes, were for publicity purposes, and that the Condon endorsement was a great boost to this, but a secret of this sort for life does seem to defy explanation, at least in my estimate. I suppose that a deathbed confession would have convinced nobody. Indeed any confession after several decades would have had plenty of doubters.

Anthony Mugan said...

In terms of matters of national security a subject is assessed in terms of the situation at any one moment in time.
In this scenario we are dealing with an unusual set of factors.
What is the intent of the ETC?
What are the technical characteristics and capabilities of their technology?
What are the sociological and geopolitical implications of open contact or disclosure, given the anthropocentric nature of society and institutions ( see Wendt and Duvall for a further discussion)?
Are there advantages to be had from attempting to reverse engineer ET technology?

All of the above and perhaps other considerations would have argued against disclosure in 1947 and remain broadly unchanged in my assessment today, with the exception that we are not looking at imminent invasion.

This assessment is similar for all nation states, with a nuance that those not in possession of ET debris may want in on the act, whist those with it will want to keep it to themselves.

There can not be a ogre group ' in the know'. We can not build a UFO so no large scale engineering programme etc and there will no disclosure until we can build one, as then militarily we would be getting close to their level and that has implications for sociological factors also. In traditional US fashion some of this may well be done through private fronts, but it will remain very small until the basic science reaches a sufficient level.

I could go on, but won't. In short to assume some time limit to classification without reference to the context of the situation is ridiculous.

Tim Hebert said...

Getting back to the Trent photos, since everyone appears to be having fun dumping on Lance, what about others'interpretation of the photos?

No, I don't mean Klass or Scheaffer (am I allowed to mention these guys?), but Tony Bragalia.

Bragalia tends to be cherished at this site and has quite a few acolytes that comment here.

Bragalia wrote a post on his Bragalia Files about the Trent photos and his belief that it was a staged event.

Unless I mis-read Tony, he was leaning heavily towards the direction of hoax.

Perhaps Rudiak and others can chew on that one for a moment being this a form of apostasy on Tony's part.

Script note: "Then the choir chimes in..."

KRandle said...

Okay, Sports Fans -

The original purpose of the post was to question the idea that the pictures were taken in an order other than that suggested by the Trents. If that could be proved, then there was good evidence that the case was a hoax. If not, well, it didn't prove them authentic, but it removed one of the reasons to believe it was a hoax.

Klass wrote, in UFOs Explained, "Furthermore, his [Sheaffer's] analysis indicated that the photo which the Trents claimed had been taken first had really been shot several minutes after the other picture and not a few second earlier as the Trents said."

He was so impressed with this, he actually put the final part of the sentence in italics.

So, I asked Robert Sheaffer about this. he wrote to me... "I no longer think that you can tell from the measurements of the shadows which photo came first. The measurements are just too dicey. So they must be pretty close in time."

Or, in other words, one of the reasons that Klass thought proved the photographs a hoax no longer exists... To be frank, this issue of which photo came first has been rendered moot. This proves nothing about the authenticity. But it does answer the question that I had raised.

cda said...


What you are saying is that there are circumstances, which you list, where the discovery of intelligent life on other planets and the discovery that it has visited the earth in modern times, would be held top secret by a select group of people in one country almost forever (or until such time as the public is in a fit state to be told about it). In other words, perhaps for centuries.

This is Stan Friedman logic.

Is this what you are saying?

I do not believe a word of it.

But we are way off track of the said McMinnville photos.

Lance said...


I agree about the order of photography question.
I had never heard that argument previously--Sheaffer doesn't present it on his page.

Also, I can't support what Robert calls a bundle of wires. Unless I am missing something, this appears to be a round artifact or blemish that sits on top (but not quite touching) the wire. It looks like the kind of artifact that a drop of liquid might produce.

So as I said from the beginning, there is nothing confirmatory for fraud.

But, a small model is NOT ruled out by any of the supposed "analysis". That Hartmann and Maccabee got considerably different readings shows just how subjective these kinds of discussion really are. It's the kind of seeing animals in clouds (or "VICTIMS" in film grain) sort of argument that so much of the paranormal seems to rely upon.


Robert Sheaffer said...

Joel Carpenter (1959-2014) put up an excellent website debunking the Trent photos as a hoax in 2004. It was later taken down (although it was always available using the Internet Wayback Machine). I have just restored it, and placed it on the Internet Archive at

Carpenter suggested the object was a truck mirror. He also showed how Trent coming out of the house inexplicably moved away from the supposed object, to get the garage (and the overhead wires) in the frame. Trent also crouched down very low to the ground, presumably to get more distance between himself and the model.

Anthony Mugan said...

A question regarding the banked attitude of the object in the images...
These days that sort of flight attitude is almost paradigmatic following Hill. To what extent was that recognised at all in 1950? This was pre-Keyhoe and it isn't even in the characteristics in the Twining memo, not that the latter was public of course. Had that already appeared in press coverage by then?

Overall though I remain of the view that there is insufficient evidence on these images ( as noted by Lance above)

CDA...each situation is judged on its merits by self interested nation states. The UFO situation is odd as the context is similar for all nation states and the wider context is only very slowly evolving. The overall judgment is likely to be very similar in 2014 as in, say, 1960, once the initial fears of imminent attack were clearly behind us.
Future discoveries such as spectroscopic detection if bio-signatures or microbes elsewhere in the solar system do not present the same set of issues, and may even be helpful sociologically if they occur. Actual detection if an advanced ETC...again it would need to be considered on its merits. If it's far away and by radio, for example, it may give a very different calculus than right here, right now with some ill-defined operational intent and a very high level of capability.

Lance said...

"A question regarding the banked attitude of the object in the images...
These days that sort of flight attitude is almost paradigmatic following Hill. To what extent was that recognised at all in 1950? This was pre-Keyhoe and it isn't even in the characteristics in the Twining memo, not that the latter was public of course. Had that already appeared in press coverage by then?"

Since the main idea of skeptics is that the object depicted is probably small and close to camera suspended by string and likely swinging to and fro, this attitude might well be expected. But just so this odd observation doesn't become a common part of the discussion, see this page of pre-1947 depictions of saucer craft, many many of them in a banked attitude:

One bit of damning evidence against the photos is that the craft always seems to be in same place under the wires, another thing that apologists have to overlook.


Larry said...


Yes, banking to turn is entirely consistent with Paul Hill's theories.

However, the observed positions of the object as displayed in the two photos is also consistent with the suspended model hoax explanation.

Some time ago, over at the IPACO forum I was participating in a discussion regarding what one might deduce of the physical dynamics of a disc model suspended from a single thread. (Modeling and control of dynamic systems was my major subject in Aerospace Engineering graduate school.)

I pointed out that a disc model suspended by a single thread attached above the center of mass should behave like a compound pendulum with 5 degrees of freedom. When a compound pendulum is set in motion--let's say by a puff of wind--you would expect all 5 degrees of freedom to show some displacement. So, you would expect that 2 photos of a swinging compound pendulum taken at random itime ntervals should show random orientations relative to each other. That's not what the Trent photos show. The position and orientation of the object in successive photos (regardless of which order they were taken in) are obviously highly correlated. From this I concluded that the photos could NOT have been produced by a disc model hanging from a single string, as the IPACO group had postulated.

However, I went on to write:

"...Suppose that the model was actually hanging like a playground swing hangs—on two strings attached to two points on a diameter of the model. Then, it would swing like a playground swing swings—the pendulum mode would be in a single plane of motion, and the model itself would be constrained to tilt around one of its body-fixed axes. The plane of motion of the pendulum would be perpendicular to the axis of the support to which it was attached (the power wire, in this case).

What puzzled me [initially] was the fact that the plane of motion appears to have been coincidentally also the vertical plane that contains the camera LOS. But, from the Maccabee diagram showing the plan view of the photography site, we can see that the camera sighting lines are virtually perpendicular to the lower power wire axis. In other words, if you suspended a circular model with two threads (like the seat of a playground swing), tied the other two ends of the threads to the power wire, and positioned yourself with a camera at the end of the swing arc, you would get the geometric arrangement shown in the two photos. This method of suspension would suppress motion in exactly the 3 DOF that actually show no excitation. You could then set the model in motion by “pushing the swing” (with a shovel handle or similar object) and be assured of having the model in the field of view, regardless of where the model was in its arc of motion.

To me the hoax hypothesis just took a quantum jump increase in probability."

Lance said...

"This method of suspension would suppress motion in exactly the 3 DOF that actually show no excitation."

Larry can you elaborate on this idea. DOF=depth of field?


David Rudiak said...

(part 1 of 2) Robert Sheaffer wrote:
Carpenter suggested the object was a truck mirror.

Suggested is hardly the same as proved. Some big problems with "truck mirror":

1. No frame around bottom of object to hold alleged "mirror" in place, like a real "truck mirror" of the time. This should be VERY visible if it were there. Instead the bottom is a very evenly lit surface.

2. Mirrors have no innate brightness and are only as bright as the image they are reflecting, in this case an image of the ground. On the Paracast recently, Sheaffer claimed it was reflecting "bright ground,” which is extremely dubious at best. Instead a mirror would have reflected either the dark, lush green grass (it had been a very rainy winter) and/or the lighter dirt/gravel pathway between garage and house. Exactly what it would have reflected depends on the actual placement of such a mirror and photo position.

3. Either way, clumpy grass and dirt/gravel are not even surfaces, yet the bottom of the object in photo 1 has long been known to be very evenly illuminated.

4. “Truck mirrors” have significant weigh. Suspension from a wire should have created an obvious sag or kink in a very long and thin power line (used only to power a single bulb in garage). The recent IPACO study compared Trent’s photo #1 wires to a LIFE magazine photo taken soon afterward from a similar vantage point (but at different camera heights). They claimed that after scaling, Trent’s wires were slightly wider. (They assumed he would have tied suspension line to the LOWER of two wires, whereas Joel Carpenter assumed Trent slung suspension line over the TOP wire, which instead should have NARROWED the spacing between wires).

When I do the same test, scaling using distant, distinct landmarks along the hill ridgeline (which won’t be affected by slight differences in perspective or camera distance from the wires, I instead get that the wires are slightly WIDER for the LIFE photo than Trent’s (or the exact opposite result from IPACO, which makes me think their scaling method was flawed).. However, this is not unexpected because the LIFE photos were taken from a perspective about 1.5 ft. higher than Trent’s, which will indeed increase apparent wire spacing. I haven’t taken into account this perspective difference yet, but I suspect when this is done there will be NO significant difference in wire spacing between the two photos. This doesn’t rule out a model like one made from paper, only a heavier model, like a “truck mirror”.

He also showed how Trent coming out of the house inexplicably moved away from the supposed object, to get the garage (and the overhead wires) in the frame.

"Inexplicably"? Come now. Also, I get the framing argument, but why in the world would a SMART hoaxer also want to get hoaxing overhead suspension wires into the picture?

As to the why Trent would LOGICALLY be in the far back yard, Bruce Maccabee and Brad Sparks have already covered this, based on the Trents story of what happened. Mrs. Trent said she was feeding her rabbits at the FAR back of the garage (from the LIFE photo recreation showing her by the rabbit hutches, about 40-50 feet from the house) when she said she first spotted the object and shouted to her husband to get his camera. Paul Trent was in the house and had no idea what she was yammering about while searching for the camera. (Please also note below that he was hard of hearing—wore a hearing aid--another good reason why Paul Trent might well be confused initially.) Then he ran out the BACK door to the far BACK yard where Eveline Trent had been shouting at him about something (not knowing she was talking about an object in front of the house), and it wasn't until then he knew what her excitement was about, where he was supposed to be looking and what he was suppoed to be photographing.

So it makes perfect sense he would run out back first and shoot the photos from there in the limited time he had not knowing initially where he was supposed to be looking.

David Rudiak said...

(part 2 of 2)
Trent also crouched down very low to the ground, presumably to get more distance between himself and the model.

Wow, sounds like he was practically slithering on his belly from that description. Nice mind reading here too about his alleged motivations. Actually, Joel Carpenter’s argument was the low perspective made a model seem higher in the sky, which Trent could also have done closer to the model and from a higher camera point.

Although Carpenter said the photos were taken only 3’ to 3’4” up, Joel used only the shiplap siding for scale (which I provided him from my site visits) and failed to take into account the foundation, which would have added about 6” to the height. Thus the real height to the photo horizon was more like 3.5’ to 4.0’ (42” – 48”), values used by Brad Sparks, with which I would concur. This is also supported from the great difficulty it would have been to take photos as low as Carpenter claimed in any logical way (see below).

Given the camera Trent used, this could have been done in one of two ways (it had a straight through viewfinder and a small overhead viewfinder):

1. Standing up, looking down at the overhead viewfinder, held about belly high (LIFE photo of Trent using camera this way), using the garage at left and house at right to frame the picture, knowing the object in both pictures was in between. (This viewfinder inverted images, but using framing like this minimizes the problem of locating the object of interest in the picture if you know it is within the frame). You can also stabilize your arms against your body this way (try it) and not having the camera against your face enables you to simultaneously see your surroundings and helps prevent your body from swaying and wobbling (try closing your eyes standing up and see what I mean—why this is also part of a standard police roadside intoxication test). When I hold a camera like this with my body height, the camera lens is typically in the 42”-45” range, or right about what we see with the two Trent photos. This might also account for the difference in camera height between photos, which a kneeling position (below) does not do as well.

2. Kneeling down (using straight through viewfinder)--a very good motivation for doing so would be to stabilize the image like a tripod rather than holding the camera standing upright to his face (where your hands and body are going to wobble and shake more). When I kneel down like this using a straight-through viewfinder, the lens height is more like 45” give or take. (I dare anyone to find a logical, uncontorted kneeling position where the camera is only 36” high, another indication that Carpenter was wrong with his horizon position.)

Either position will give about the right camera height. Carpenter argued the overhead finder made no sense since it is small and difficult to use. However, I suspect Trent used the overhead finder, using the building to frame the picture (also a slightly quicker way of taking the picture if you know how to use it, though Carpenter disagreed).

However, I think decent arguments can be made either way. Carpenter felt a kneeling position made no sense since it was quicker and easier to snap pictures standing up with the regular viewfinder. But I think good counterarguments can be made to this. As usual, I believe this line of inquiry is a draw and cannot help us clearly discriminate real from hoax.

You can see Trent demonstrating both in the LIFE Loomis photos, so clearly he was aware of using both viewfinders:

(Also note his hearing aid in photos--he was hard of hearing, another reason he might have no clear idea initially what Mrs. Trent was shouting about.)

Lance said...

Above we see David Rudiak doing what he does best: blab about things endlessly, pretending some expertise, where there is none. (ask him to go on for 3 or 4 pages about neoprene in the sun, sometime! You don't seem to mention that anymore, David!).

The baloney he spouts about the wires sagging is typical of the kind of non-factual pontifications that he delights in hearing himself utter. In this case, he is intentionally dishonest:

I pointed out to him that a mirror of Carpenter's proposed era weighs less than a pound (info from ebay auction--and that was with a metal arm attached!).

But Rudiak is depending upon the fact that most people don't have a reference for stuff hanging from power lines.

So I also showed him that one can find tons of photos on Google of sneakers slung over all types of wires (just do an image search). A pair of sneakers weighs about TWICE what a potential mirror weighs. As you will see if you do the search, in some cases the wires DO sag under the shoes. But in many others they do not.

Here is an example of the latter:

Rudiak knows all this but chooses to ignore it because honesty just isn't his thing.


David Rudiak said...

Lance nastily wrote: (part 1 of 2)
Above we see David Rudiak doing what he does best: blab about things endlessly, pretending some expertise, where there is none.

I’ve done two site visits to the Trent place, made measurements others never made, shared them with other investigators, including Joel Carpenter, and constructed 3D models based on the measurements (currently redoing in Google Earth). (My degree in physics doesn’t hurt either.)

And Lance has done what work on the Trent photos.....? Oh, that’s right, absolutely nothing, other than uncritically accepting the arguments of skeptics he’s read (some who’ve done little or no real analysis) and getting highly abusive AGAIN when the skeptical arguments get shot down by detailed analysis.

(ask him to go on for 3 or 4 pages about neoprene in the sun, sometime! You don't seem to mention that anymore, David!).

Another tactic of Lance’s is to try to change the subject to his delusional triumphs over “Rudiak”, knowing full well this is not the forum for such a debate. (If Kevin wants to set up such a debate here, I welcome it.) I actually have a GREAT DEAL to say about Lance’s/Printy’s BADLY FLAWED neoprene rubber experiment. They obviously have no idea how to conduct a scientific experiment and were also obviously trying to force a result. E.g., they tacked down double neoprene balloon sheets to wooden boards several feet ABOVE THE GROUND and tried to prevent direct exposure to sunlight on the lower surface. (This was deliberately done to try to prevent deterioration of the lower sheet.) I wasn’t aware the Mogul balloon “rubber strips” at the Foster Ranch were tacked down to wooden platforms above the ground. Again, much more to say, but not here.

The baloney he spouts about the wires sagging is typical of the kind of non-factual pontifications that he delights in hearing himself utter. In this case, he is intentionally dishonest:

We’ll see who is being “non-factual” and “intentially dishonest” (more likely just plain ignorant). Notice Lance insinuating I’m a liar again. (But Lance will tell you only I call people liars.) Also notice that the sagging argument was just one of four objections to the mirror hypothesis I presented (Lance dodges the others), and it was also one argument of the French IPACO study, which contrary to Lance claimed they DID find evidence of the wire sagging, supposedly under the weight of a model. So is Lance saying IPACO is also “intentionally dishonest”? What the hell is he saying?

I pointed out to him that a mirror of Carpenter's proposed era weighs less than a pound (info from ebay auction--and that was with a metal arm attached!).

Carpenter’s mirror was obviously NOT an exact match to the Trent shape. Weights will vary with size and make. But just from estimates of glass and steel density and thickness, assuming a 5 inch diameter mirror and a stem 1 cm in diameter and about 2 inches long, a pound is about right. Still doesn’t matter one whit, as we shall see. A one pound weight will still cause a VERY SIGNIFICANT OBVIOUS SAG in the LONG, THIN wire of the Trent photos.

BTW, genius, do those old truck mirrors on eBay show any evidence of being RIMLESS? I guess you forgot, but that is one of those “dishonest” objections of mine (also Maccabee’s) that the object in the Trent photos lacks a rim at the bottom, which should very clearly be there if this was an old truck mirror.

But Rudiak is depending upon the fact that most people don't have a reference for stuff hanging from power lines. So I also showed him that one can find tons of photos on Google of sneakers slung over all types of wires (just do an image search). A pair of sneakers weighs about TWICE what a potential mirror weighs. As you will see if you do the search, in some cases the wires DO sag under the shoes. But in many others they do not....

Oh, so “in some cases the wires DO sag under the shoes.” Imagine that! Why is that Lance? Are the pictures hoaxes?

David Rudiak said...

(part 2 of 2)
Or, genius, do you think wire length, composition, tension and THICKNESS have something to do with it?

Indeed, ALL of them do. Oh, let’s annoy Lance and do the physics, those type of long, quantitative “dishonest” arguments he hates when his handwaving and insult are so much better.

The sag in a wire (absent something else weighing it down) is given approximately by D = W * L^2/(8*T), where D is the sag, W is the weight of the wire per unit length (which depends on composition and diameter of the wire), L is the length of the wire (notice that it is square, meaning a very strong dependency of wire length), and T is the tension in the wire. Because weight of the wire per unit length depends on the cross sectional area, it too goes up as the square of the diameter. So sag is strongly dependent on both wire length AND diameter.

Here is an example of the latter:

Yes, by all means everyone check out the example, and do your estimates of of the thickness of the wire. If I use 1’ or 30 cm for the length of the sneaker, then there are about 2 pixels per cm and the wire is about 3 pixels thick, or about 1.5 cm or 15 mm.

But the thin wires in the Trent photos (again, only powered one light bulb in garage) were no more than about 2-3 mm (let’s say 3 mm) based on actual measurment from photos (Maccabee).

This means the thickness of Lance’s wire is about 5 times that of the wire in the Trent photos, meaning if made of exactly the same stuff scaled up in size (and setting all other variables equal), will weigh about 25 times as much per unit length and sag 25 times as much.

I live in an old house (1924) which still has old wiring lying about. I pulled out one foot length of old #12 wire. It is 2.5 mm in diameter (definitely in the right ballpark) and weighed it on a mail scale. It was about ½ ounce or 15 grams. The wire in the Trent photos is about 50 feet long (based on on-site measurements and 3D model reconstruction.) Therefore it weighs about 50 * 15 or 750 gms or less than 2 pounds, but let’s call it 2 pounds.

What will a 1 pound “truck mirror”do to the deflection? Well assuming the weight was evenly distributed along the wire (bad assumption but simple; effects will actually be greater closer to where weight is suspended), it adds about 50 % to the weight and 50% to the deflection. The Trent wire sags on the order of about 1 foot, so a 1 pound mirror would be expected to cause an additional 6 inches of sag. (I am aware this is a rough estimate.) Even IPACO doesn’t claim anything remotely like that. If there is a model there, it weighs MUCH LESS than a “truck mirror”.

But what happens with Lance’s example, the cable, everything else assumed being equal except the diameter, will have VERY LITTLE RELATIVE WEIGHT added to it. Since it would weigh about 25 times more, an equivalent length would weigh roughly 50 pounds. One pound added to that (everything else being equal) would cause a deflection about 50 TIMES LESS than the Trent wire or only about 1/8”. Even with Lance’s sacred tennis shoes weighing about twice as much, the deflection would only be about ¼”, or less than half the cable thickness, not noticeable unless ONE HAD A CONTROL PHOTO showing nothing suspended. Oh, that’s right, we don’t have that, do we?

Gee, Lance, what do you think would actually happen if you actually conducted an experiment with 50’ feet of wire of the Trent diameter, set the tension to control the sag, then did an actual control with nothing suspended, then added something like a truck mirror weighing about a pound. How much do you wanna bet that there would be no noticeable deflection?

Rudiak knows all this but chooses to ignore it because honesty just isn't his thing.

Again calling me a liar based on nothing but his own ignorance. What a putz!

Lance said...

David, I never said I wouldn't call liars, liars....

Tell me more about this raised wooden platform that I used in the neoprene experiment? The one you are lying about. I put mine directly on the ground. And I have photos of it.


Larry said...

Lance asked:
"Larry can you elaborate on this idea. DOF=depth of field?"

Sorry for the use of jargon. In this case, DOF means Degrees of Freedom. In dynamic systems, a DOF is a mathematical variable that is used to describe what is called the "state" of a system.

For example, in studying the flight of aircraft, it is customary to keep track of the position (X,Y,Z) of the aircraft together with which way it is pointing, or its attitude (P,Q,R). In this example the degrees of freedom, X,Y,Z would represent displacement from a reference position, measured in meters and P,Q,R would represent ANGULAR displacement from a reference position, measured in degrees. If you know what value the six DOF X,Y,Z,P,Q,and R take on at any particular moment you know its state at that time.

In the case where the McMinnville photos are thought to be the result of a model hanging on a single string, only 5 DOF are necessary to describe the state of the system. First, the string itself could swing back and forward or side to side; that's two degrees of freedom. Second, the model could pitch up or down around the point where the string attaches to the model, or it could bank side to side around the attachment point,or it could yaw around the axis of rotation defined by the taut string.

The gist of my argument over at IPACO is that you would normally expect all the degrees of freedom to be coupled to each other. So for example, suppose you took the model I just described, hanging on a single string, and tried to excite only a single degree of freedom. Suppose you pulled the model toward you 10 inches and let it go. The DOF that corresponds to the back and forth swinging would obviously start taking on non-zero values. But because the disc is an aerodynamic object, it would create lift, drag, and turbulence which would start pumping energy into the other modes. After a few seconds, you would expect to see the model swinging not only back and forth but also side to side, and the model would be pitching and banking and yawing around the string attachment point. This is exactly what is seen in aircraft all the time--it is very difficult to design an airplane where you can change only one DOF (say, the pitch attitude) at a time.

So if you took a model disc suspended on a single string and whacked it with a broom handle or simply allowed the wind to blow it around to get it moving and then took two photos of it at some random interval, the overwhelming probability is that all 5 DOF would have non-zero values and would be different from each other.

But that's not what's seen. The change of state between the two photos is much simpler than that. IF it is a small model suspended from the wire, it has swung back and forth (no side to side motion) AND the model has banked from side to side (no pitching or yawing). Only 2 DOF are present in the motion of the object.

I simply note that this is a description of the motion that is displayed by someone sitting on the seat of a playground swing and swinging back and forth. I suggest that IF the photo were produced by a small model swinging under the wires, it would have to have been rigged in the same way as a playground swing; i.e., two strings and not one.

Lance said...

Thank you...yes, in my business DOF is jargon for depth of field!

Thanks also for the explanation.


Anthony Mugan said...

Lance and Larry...thanks for the info

David Rudiak said...

Larry wrote: (part 1 of 2)
I simply note that this is a description of the motion that is displayed by someone sitting on the seat of a playground swing and swinging back and forth. I suggest that IF the photo were produced by a small model swinging under the wires, it would have to have been rigged in the same way as a playground swing; i.e., two strings and not one.

The problem here Larry is that all it discriminates is a single thread suspension from a double thread, ASSUMING this was a model hung from the wires. This could still be a controlled aircraft off in the distance and you could still get the pictures we see. Thus it doesn’t discriminate model from “real UFO”. In fact, “real UFO” is probably a more economical explanation for OTHER details in the photos.

A model swinging AWAY from the camera might seem a natural way to explain the object going from bottom view in Photo 1 to side/edge view in Photo 2, but it takes a large swing to do this, on the order of 30 degrees. In the process, the model will diminish in size and also RISE significantly in angular elevation.

But the object in Photo 2, besides being substantially smaller in angular size, is LOWER in angular elevation, just like you would expect for an object moving off in the distance without much change in absolute elevation (close to level flight). This is exactly what the Trents testimony said happened. (Paul Trent thought maybe it was rising a little bit.)

So the question is, could the camera be positioned in the two photos to BOTH reproduce the size AND the angular elevation change with a simple swinging model?

There is another, more discriminating test of whether there is a model there, which I now appreciate much more after my dust-up with Lance, i.e. is the degree of sag in the overhead wires if there is a suspended model. Fortunately there is a control photo of what the lines look like WITHOUT a suspended weight, namely the one taken by LIFE photographer Loomis Dean about 5 weeks later, where he tried to replicate the view of the two Trent photos in the sequence of photos he took at the Trent place.

The one trying to replicate Trent Photo 1 has a fairly complete set of overhead wires and also is very close to Trent's position and vantage point (although Dean was a tiny bit to Trent's left judging by the perspective shift in more distant details). Another difference is that Trent took his photo down around 3.5-4.0', whereas Dean's photo is up around 5'.

I scaled the Dean and the Trent photo to the same size using distant details along the hill ridgeline and overlapped them. (As a check, I overlapped the oil container against the garage and its seem to exactly overlap in the two photos, meaning Dean was VERY close to the same distance from it and Trent's photo position).

The overlapped Dean wires are SLIGHTLY wider in distance than the Trent wires, by about 1-2 wire widths. (The exact opposite of what you would predict if there was a model suspended from the lower wire, the usual skeptical assumption.) However, because Dean's camera was up higher (roughly 1.5’), perspective will automatically widen the apparent gap slightly in his photo. I calculate about 2.6% (camera 20’ from wire) to 4.1% (camera 15’ from wire) . This assumes the wires are 1.5’ apart and the camera height difference is also 1.5’. (It’s probably a little less than this, so these % differences are probably slightly high.)

When I shrink the vertical distance in the Dean photo by the maximum 4%, (to give the hoax model all the chance it can get), the wires EXACTLY OVERLAP (to within less than one wire width) in the region where there would be a double suspension system above the object. I would estimate the error here at no more than 2 mm, i.e., less than the diameter of the wire itself (~3 mm). The small kink in the lower wire left of Trent’s object was used to align the two photos.

David Rudiak said...

(part 2 of 2)
RESULT: The wires in the Trent photos are so thin and long, it takes almost no weight at all to make them DETECTABLY sag further when compared to a control photo. In my debate with Lance, I said the weight of Trent's 50' wire was on the order of 2 pounds total. The degree of maximum sag is proportional to the weight of the wire. In the Trent photos, the wires sag roughly 1 foot (the lower wire starts about 12' up at the house and is about 11' above the object in photo 1).

Thus if you add a 1 pound "truck mirror" to the wire, the total weight increases 50% and the wire sags about 50%, more in this case increasing the sag about 6 inches or 150 mm, WAY BEYOND any possible difference in sag between the Dean and Trent photos.

This ABSOLUTELY rules out any sort of heavy model suspended from the wires.

You'll notice how sensitive this test is. Even a one ounce model (30 grams) would still noticeably deflect the line. Instead of 6", it would be deflected about 6"/16 = 3/8" or 1 cm or 10 mm or 3+ wire widths, still well beyond what we actually see when comparing the two photos.

In fact, you would have to have a model less than 10 gm in weight to get a deflection only about the width of the wire itself, where perhaps it might not be detectable. This is only about the weight of a sheet of paper or a small paper plate..

So basically Trent would have had to make a model out of something like a sheet of paper or paper plate to avoid sag detection. You might want to comment from your expertise in this area on the dynamics of such a featherweight model even in a very light breeze.

Incidentally, the degree of sag above is more than theoretical. I just did a scaled down version of this in my living room using a 13' piece of modern insulated #12 housing wire with all 3 wires (black, white, and ground plus outer insulation sheathing--didn't feel like ruining a perfectly good length of wire to prove a point). This is thicker, stiffer, and heavier than Trent's wire, in other words will sag less per length, but still works fine as a demonstration. The total weight of the triple wire was about 1 pound, or half of what I estimated (using old #12 wire) a 50 foot Trent length would have weighed, or it weighed about twice as much per length as the Trent wire.

I attached the two ends to two chairs 30 inches above the floor and adjusted the tension so that the sag in the middle placed the wire 24 inches above the floor. So the sag was about 6 inches.

Then I scaled down the weight to compensate for the shorter length and total weight of the wire. I said if the ~2 pound Trent wire sagged about 1 foot, then adding 1 pound would increase the weight 50% and should make it sag about another 6 inches.

In my experiment, I instead added 1/2 pound to the one pound wire, or again a 50% weight increase, and the wire sagged 3 inches, or just as predicted.

Regardless of the exact decimal points in the degree of sag, you cannot physically hang something like a one pound truck mirror from that long, thin Trent wire and not cause a VERY, VERY significant sag in the wire when compared to the control Dean photo. And the same is true even with a very lightweight model. You can still detect the sag when compared with a control. The model has to be truly featherweight to avoid detection if suspended from the power lines.

These results in my mind almost 100% rule out any sort of model suspended from the lines (except for something maybe like a small paper plate). Trent would have had to suspend any heavier model from something other than the power lines to make it work, something not even visible in the photos.

Larry said...

Part 1 of 2
I assume the above “debate” between David and Lance is driven by the fact that there is no consensus regarding whether the wire that supposedly supports a suspended model is definitely sagging. (I guess IPACO claims to have found that it is, but if so, it is such a small amount that it is not obvious to others).

Lance has apparently spent 5 minutes harvesting photos of sneakers tossed over power lines from the internet and considers that sufficient credentials to put the matter to rest. Presumably, he wishes to support the idea that we can’t conclude ANYTHING about the absence of a weight suspended from the wires just because there is an absence of wire sag in the Trent photos. Lance is basically saying, “I’ve looked at photos of sneakers tossed across wires; sometimes the wire sags and sometimes it doesn’t; I can’t conclude anything from that; therefore there is nothing to be learned by examining the McMinnville photos.”

David on the other hand, having spent years to earn a university degree in physics, presents the standard physics textbook mathematical treatment of a wire suspended between two supports in order to refute Lance’s idea that we can’t know anything about how it would behave. To the contrary, David thinks we can calculate with relative confidence how much the line would sag when loaded with different levels of weight. David gives a textbook equation that predicts the amount of sag as a function of the weight of the wire, its length, diameter, and material properties. This equation predicts that if we suspended an additional weight (i.e., a UFO model) approximately the same weight as the wire, at the mid-span of the wire, the amount of sag would be about twice what it is in the absence of the model. This amount of sagging would be obvious to any observer. Since the observed amount of sagging is either zero or a very small number (according to IPACO), the weight of the model must be much less than the weight of the wire. Since we know the approximate length and diameter of the wire and we know that it is made out of copper, we know the approximate weight of the wire. Therefore, we also know the upper limit of how much the model could weigh.

I hate getting involved in the sort of nasty to-and-fros that Lance seems to revel in, but this subject is actually important in the McMinnville case, and it has a quantitative yes/no answer. I say this as one who has also spent many years earning multiple degrees in physics and engineering. We do need to recognize that David is correct in his analysis above and Lance is incorrect.

Larry said...

Part 2 of 2
It turns out that the question of exactly what shape a rope or chain assumes when it is supported by a post at each end is a very old one, going back at least to the Romans. In fact, the shape is called a catenary, after the Roman word for “chain”. Before Issac Newton introduced calculus into the study of statics and dynamics, it was simply observed that ropes and chains would take on this shape, and attempts were made to describe it mathematically without any particular insight into why it took that shape. After Newton, it was possible to show that this shape is what results as the equilibrium condition between the weight of the chain in a gravitational field and the stress in the chain due to its mechanical strength. Some version of this problem is often assigned to undergraduate physics/engineering students (me, for example) to solve as a homework problem, sometimes with an isolated weight suspended in the middle of the rope (as in the McMinnville case) or a distributed weight (in the case of a suspension bridge). The mathematical answers to these problems have been worked on and known for centuries. When David presents an analysis based on this knowledge, he is not presenting his opinion, hunch, or wild ass guess, the way Lance is. David is actually presenting the consensus scientific understanding.

But if you don’t believe me or David, I invite any skeptic here to do a little experiment for yourself. I just did, and it only took about 10 minutes, a straight edge, a ruler, a two-meter piece of string and two supports to tie the ends of the string to (the backs of two chairs sitting back-to-back, for example). Tie one end of the string to one of the supports. Pull the string taut so that all the slack is taken out, but do not make any attempt to stretch it, then tie the end of the string you are pulling on to the other support. You should notice that the string sags downward in a smooth, continuous arc that is a catenary. Lay a straight edge across the two points where the string ends are tied and use the ruler to measure the distance from the edge to the point on the string where maximum sag occurs. That will be the mid-span. In my experiment, the span of the string was about 38 inches, and the string sagged down ½ inch. Next, cut a piece of string the same length as the span. This second piece of string obviously weighs the same as the string across the span. Fold the second piece of string in half and drape it over the span string, at the mid-span point. You have now loaded the catenary with a weight equal to the weight of the string. Using the straight edge and ruler, measure the new amount of sag. In my experiment, it was 1 inch, or double the amount of the original sag (to as close as I could eyeball it).

David’s prediction is verified. Moreover, the shape of the string is no longer a smooth catenary. Because the additional weight is loaded at a single point, that point represents a discontinuity in the curvature. The new shape of the string is more like a broad “V”. So, not only would the total amount of sag have doubled, the shape of the wire would have visibly changed.

Lance’s position is basically anti-scientific. Which is ironic, considering how Lance is one of those debunkers who loves to portray himself as representing the light of scientific reason and those of us who are actually applying scientific analysis, as magical thinkers.

I will close this post by reading some of Lance’s statements back to him, where I have substituted his name for David Rudiak’s.

“Above we see Lance doing what he does best: blab about things endlessly, pretending some expertise, where there is none…”

“The baloney Lance spouts about the wires sagging is typical of the kind of non-factual pontifications that he delights in hearing himself utter….”

“But Lance is depending upon the fact that most people don't have a reference for stuff hanging from power lines. …”

“Lance knows all this but chooses to ignore it because honesty just isn't his thing. “

Larry said...


I posted the above before reading your 2 posts above. It looks like we both independently did the same experiment.

Lance said...


Since I do like to be scientific, can you tell me how you determined the gauge of the wire seen in the photos and what gauge you have determined it to be?

Also what gauge is the wire seen in the sneakers photo I linked?



David Rudiak said...

Lance wrote: (part 1 of 2)
Since I do like to be scientific, can you tell me how you determined the gauge of the wire seen in the photos and what gauge you have determined it to be?

First of all Lance, this is going to be another 2 poster, because “being scientific” requires going into necessary, boring details.

First, wire gauge reference:

According to Maccabee, the wire diameter was somewhere from 1/8" to 3/16", or ~3.2 mm to ~4.8 mm.

With the Trent wire, it only powered a single 100W light bulb in the back of the garage. Either #12 gauge (thicker) or #14 gauge would be more than adequate for the job. #14 gauge is standard housing wire used for lighter wiring, such as bedrooms, with maximum power for safety being 1500 watts (small electrical room heater). #12 gauge is used for heavier loads, such as kitchens and workshops with a 2000 watt safety limit.

In the example I gave, an old 12 gauge wire from my house, the copper core is 2 mm in diameter, and, using an optical loupe, the outer diameter with insulation is 3.7 mm. The weight was ~.5 ounce/foot, or ~25 ounces (~1.6 pounds) for the Trent 50 foot run, which I rounded up to 2 pounds.

I also have some #14 wire with the 1.6 mm inner copper core, but with a much thicker layer of plastic insulation, making it 4.6 mm in diameter. The 12' length weighs only 5 ounces, scaled up to 50' it would be only 21 ounces, or lighter than my old #12 gauge sample. This is because plastic is much lighter than copper. The thicker copper core of the #12 wire trumps the thicker plastic outer coat of the #14 sample.

Either wire would fit within the size parameters for the wire by Maccabee. Again, because of uncertainties, I rounded up to 2 pounds (which LOWERS any wire sag of a model--I was actually being CONSERVATIVE here and trying to give the heavy hoax model theory the benefit of doubt) .

I CAN give an upper limit to the wire diameter based on the metal conduit I found at the back of the Trent garage where the two overhead wires went into the garage. This was 1/2" conduit with an inner diameter of 11 or 12 mm. This would limit the diameter of any wire to 5-6 mm, more likely 5 mm (for ease in sliding through conduit). Assuming, as in my examples, the wire diameter with insulation is double to triple the copper wire gauge, the gauge could be anywhere between 10 gauge (complete overkill) to 14 gauge, most likely 12 or 14 gauge. (Standard, lower wattage house wiring).

With a HEAVY model (truck mirror), it doesn't really matter, because the amount of sag in the middle will be substantial (measured in inches compared to the CONTROL photo by LIFE's Loomis Dean, which we know has nothing suspended from it.) This is why I wrote we can absolutely rule out a HEAVY model.

However, this doesn't necessarily rule out a VERY lightweight model, such as made from a small paper plate or small aluminum pie pan weighing under one ounce. (I estimated under 10 gm or 1/3 oz., because anything over that would create a noticeable sag compared to the control LIFE photo.)

Larry can discuss the significant winds for the day and time, which cause additional problems for a very lightweight model.

David Rudiak said...

(part 2 of 2)
Also what gauge is the wire seen in the sneakers photo I linked?

The sneakers measure ~62 pixels in length. Assuming the sneakers are 1 foot long or 31 cm, this works out conveniently to 2 pixels/cm.

The thickness of suspension wire is 3 to 4 pixels, or 15 to 20 mm, or triple to quadruple the thickness of the Trent wire's. (If the sneaker was longer, it would be fewer pixels/cm and increase the thickness even further). This very thick line of some sort, like the thickness of one's thumb.

Everything else being equal, it will be roughly 9 to 16 times heavier per length, and deflect at more than an order of magnitude less than a comparable weight on the Trent wires (all else being equal). Thus you are trying to compare apples and oranges, and also claiming no deflection when you don't have a control photo (unlike with Trent which has the control LIFE photo for comparison with no load on the wire).

I couldn't tell from your picture if it is even electrical wire. It could be braided steel cable, in which case, it would be MUCH heavier and deflect even less with a load added. Again, apples and oranges.

Assuming electrical line and double or triple thickness for insulation, it could be (see chart), anywhere from #4 wire with a 5 mm core to about 00 (2/0) with a 9+ mm core and weigh anywhere from roughly 6 times to 25 times as much/unit length as the Trent wires, again meaning much less relative deflection (and with no control deflection to compare it with).

Lance said...

David, holding off on the warfare for a moment, there is a Loomis photo that shows wires where they connected to their house--it's a pretty good shot of them. Are any of those wires the ones we see in the picture. If so, do they confirm your above message?

Is your wire stiff at all (if you don't mind a personal question :))? The Trent wire shows a great deal of stiffness--retaining kinks up and down between the time of the saucer and the magazine shoot.

1 pound isn't that heavy (and the 1 pound is actually higher than the actual weight--as I mentioned that weight included a metal arm to connect the mirror to the vehicle) so I am having a hard time accepting that, perhaps tied from two points, we would have such an obvious sag as you suggest.

But I could be wrong.


David Rudiak said...


1. Yes, those are the same wires, and the wires that eventually lead into the 1/2" metal conduit I mentioned beneath the rear peak and eaves. The metal conduit limits the maximum size the wires could be; as does photoanalysis. So probably thin, #12 or #14 standard house electrical wire.

2. Something like #12 or #14 gauge wire is stiff (solid copper core, not striated copper like in a flexible electrical cord), but the wire still sags considerably (which is easily visible by eye) and depends directly on the weight of the wire, in exactly the way I described.

In my experiment, I used a 13' length of THREE-wire #12 house wiring (i.e. the "hot" black wire, the "neutral" white wire, and the bare ground wire). It weighed a total of about 1 pound. It would have been stiffer than Trent's single wire and heavier/length, but is still very flexible and still sags. I adjusted tension in the wire so that it sagged 6" in the middle then added a 1/2 pound weight. The TOTAL weight of the wire was now 1.5 pounds, or 50% more than the wire alone and the middle sag increased to 9" (50% more), exactly as physics theory would predict. Had the weight been 1 pound, TOTAL wire weight would now be 2 pounds, or 100% more, and the wire sag by theory would increase 100% to 12".

In the Trent pictures, the total bare weight of the wire is also about 2 pounds (or a little less). If you add a 1 pound weight in the middle, again this is a 50% increase in the TOTAL weight and the sag will increase 50% to 18", just like in my experiment.

3. Whether Carpenter's mirror is 3/4 pound or 1 pound doesn't matter much, since the line is thin and doesn't weigh much (again, probably 2 pounds or less). There will still be a LARGE sag easily detectible in comparison to the control photo with no weight attached.

Let's say Carpenter's mirror weighed only 3/4 pound. TOTAL line weight is now 2.75 pounds, or 37.5% more and line sag will go from 1 foot to 1.375', or 4.5" more instead of the 6" for a 1 pound mirror.

Either way the extra sag is very large and easily detectable when you have a control photo at your disposable to compare the sag with. The spacing increase between wires will be a large fraction of the total original unloaded wire spacing. Instead when I scale the pictures to the same size, there is 0% difference in spacing.

Unlike most who assume attachment of a model to the lower wire, Carpenter assumed Trent slung line over the top line. This would drop the top line and DECREASE the wire spacing in the same way. A 1 pound weight would again increase sag by around 6" and drop the spacing between wires, again easily detectible.

The only possible way that a heavy model could not change the wire spacing would be to attach to BOTH top and bottom wires so that both sag equally (and about half as much as one line alone). Nobody has ever suggested this as a possibility, since most would consider it overly elaborate and unlikely than the much easier one-wire suspension system.

Maybe Trent was much smarter than everyone who knew him said he was (they actually politely indicated he was stupid and incapable of a hoax), and could have dreamed this up to fool sophisticated photoanalyzers years later, but this seems highly unlikely. (I myself only just now thought of it.)

The absence of any measurable increase (or decrease) in wire spacing almost 100% rules out a heavy model, but still allows for a VERY lightweight model that might be made out of something like a small paper plate, paper, aluminum pie pan, balsa wood, etc., which would cause very slight sagging that might not be detectible.

Something like a paper model or thin, translucent paper plate would also allow light to enter the top and brighten the bottom, perhaps accounting for the very light bottom. (Somebody would need to do an experiment to see if this is feasible.) If you still think model, this would be the way to go and forget about the heavy truck mirror.

Anthony Mugan said...

My word....
The (much) earlier discussion had also got me thinking, but more about the geometry of images of an object moving in an arc.
The analysis David presents above is theoretically sound and very clever indeed. I don't know enough about this case to know if all the parameters used ( type of wire etc) are definitely correct but the principle is valid. I suppose we also need to see the exact detail of the process for photo alignment etc. but that does look like an approach which is very interesting.
I am nowhere near as quick off the mark with this as you guys, but I've been thinking about the geometry of the images.
If the position of Trent in the two photos and the physical layout of the wires and buildings can be pinned down it should be possible to calculate the radius of the circle of rotation using the angle of tilt in the two images ( assuming Larry's approach to minimising rotation of the object around its axis). We can then look at the apparent size of the object to calculate if this fits with something suspended under the wires.
I doubt I shall get to actually do this anytime soon, and not even sure if the data exists to do this. Any thoughts on the concept though?

Lance said...

Ok, I am ready to admit defeat and offer David (and the gang) an apology on this matter. His above discussion is helpful and reasonable--mine was the opposite.

My example of the sneakers over the wire was faulty and unhelpful (but hey, I did get us closer to a weight for the Carpenter mirror idea--something I had not seen before!).

I do think there are some things that can be done to seal the deal in regards to the mirror idea.

I am not certain we have ascertained the correct gauge of the wire seen in the photos but accept that it could be between 10-14 gauge.

I am not certain that we have a final weight for the mirror (I like the mirror idea because the shape gets very close to the shape and oddities seen in the photos--but I realize there is no exact match yet). I know that it is less that 1 pound--I don't know how much less.

As you know, the Ipaco paper did suggest that they saw some sag on the lower wire and they showed their results. Their sag is exactly where we might think with a model--don't know how much they are showing (an inch?).

Now, I have to do things like lining up these photos for a living and I briefly looked at them. It isn't an easy job because Loomis was off angle-wise and distance-wise from the originals. Very small errors in sizing the photos are hard to detect visually but could throw off things considerably measurement-wise.

David did the same thing Ipaco did and says he sees no sag.

I am sending David an email requesting to see his work on this.

I also need to mention that I owe David another apology for another matter entirely related to Roswell. I promised him that I would mention it here if the topic came up--it hasn't but I haven't forgotten.


Larry said...

Lance: Apology accepted.

David, et. al.;
There are a few more bits of information that can be extracted from the above equation. It shows that—everything else being equal--the amount of sag in a (wire, rope, or chain) will decrease if the weight per unit length of the line DECREASES and the tension force in the line INCREASES. In other words, if you reduce the weight and pull hard on the ends of the line, you can get the amount of sag to decrease.

One real-world application where there is a desire to minimize the amount of sag is in stringing power, telephone, or other utility lines between utility poles or between poles and buildings. Utility poles are designed to allow a fair amount of tension in the lines strung between them specifically in order to reduce the amount of sag. Basically, when you pull on a string, wire, or chain, the tension in it will increase steadily, until you get to the point where the material yields, and takes a permanent stretch. The idea is to operate the string, wire, or chain, at a level of tension that is lower than the yield point, by a comfortable margin. So, the limit on how much tension you can pull in a wire is set by the intrinsic strength of the material it is made of.

What this means is that if you want to minimize the sag of a line between two supports, you want to make the line out of something with a high strength-to-weight ratio. Copper is a lousy choice for that application. Special high-strength steels designed specifically for cable construction for example, have a strength-to-weight-ratio almost 30 times that of Copper wire. Modern high-tenacity fibers like Kevlar can have a strength-to-weight-ratio twice again as high as that.

These days, whenever you want to minimize wire sag, you always use a wire that has a built-in support made of high-strength steel or a modern synthetic fiber. These cables are designed so that the high-strength support takes the entire tension load, and the copper conductors just go along for the ride. The amount of sag of one of these supported cables ends up being only a few percent as much as it would be for the equivalent bare copper wire.

Modern building codes and civil engineering practice have required for some time that all new wiring that is installed pole-to-pole or pole-to-structure is of the reinforced type. So, if you drive around today and look for tennis shoes slung over wires, chances are that more than 99% of the cables you see will have a high-strength support inside to minimize sag.

The pair of wires in the Trent photos that are the subject of our discussion would not have been installed by the power company or the telephone company, because, as I understand it, the wires do not connect the Trent buildings to the network. I suspect they were installed by Paul himself (or a previous owner) without regard for any building codes. I can speak from experience that that practice is still common in rural, unincorporated sections of America. Most likely, Paul (or previous owner) simply went down to the local hardware store, bought whatever wire and fixtures the store owner recommended, brought them home, and installed them.

A homeowner doing that same exercise today (like me) would find the hardware store selling electrical wire and fixtures that meet today’s trade practices. But Paul would have been confronted with the state of the art of pre-1950 rural America. Back in those days, the modern plastics that we take for granted today were not available, so wires were not as commonly bundled together inside a common plastic sheath. As I recall, single conductor house wiring of that vintage was often insulated with a rough asphalt/paper covering instead of today’s smooth vinyl; that’s what the Trent photos appear to show, to my eye.

BTW, all this discussion has gotten me revved up again on this case. This weekend I plan to go into my machine shop and build a scale model of the Trent UFO, hang it on a thread, and measure the angle of the dangle--as they say. I will report when I have results.

David Rudiak said...


Lance emailed me and asked for my work on the wire gap in Trent's photo compared to LIFE's Loomis Dean photo. This also got me doing a more detailed analysis and correction for various factors, which might help you in designing a model for testing.

I looked at two different possible Trent camera distances from the wires for photo 1: Maccabee's ~15' and my current ~20' (based on new analysis in Google Earth with distant landmarks and different garage/house placement and distances.)

First I rescaled to "Trent-size" the LIFE Loomis Dean photo taken at about the same vantage point as Trent #1. (Except it is a little left, and as it turns out, a little closer to the wires.) I did this using distinct details along the distant hill ridgeline clearly visible in both photos to make these distances equal.

Then I looked at the oil tank next to the garage to see if the dimensions matched up. Turns out out my earlier quick look at them that they seemed to exactly overlap was wrong. Instead the Dean photo has the height of the tank about 5.5% greater than Trent, meaning Dean was a little closer than Trent. There is a perspective correction for the fact that Dean's camera was about 1.5' higher than Trent's (near the center of the tank whereas Trent's was at the level near the bottom, compressing the height). This brought the "true" difference in height and distance down to about 4%. (4% at 15’; 4.2% at 20’).

Dean was also left of Trent a foot or two (obvious from the leftward shift in distant landmarks). If I assume he was directly left (west) of Trent's position, then the difference in the distance to the tank is explained by Dean being 1.4' left of Trent at 15' and 2.3' left at camera distance 20' (from Trent’s camera).

This in turn means Dean was about .7' closer to the wire at 15' and 1.0' closer at 20'. Corrections in vertical size to the Dean photo of 4.4% (15')% and 5% (20') have to be made. Another perspective correction has to be made for Dean's camera being higher (3.2% at 15', 2.0% at 20'). Total correction was 7.6% (15') and 7.0% (20').

RESULTS: Shrinking the vertical dimension of the Dean photo the higher 7.6%, overlapping the photos at the distinct kink left of the object, there is an EXACT overlap in the wire images in the area of the kink and to the right of the object. (Far to the left and right, the images no longer register because no corrections for perspective and distance were made, only for the area near where the object is.)

The upper wire is in perfect registration all above the region of the object. There is no evidence of any sag from a model here, thus no evidence of, e.g., Joel Carpenter's model suspension line slung over the top wire.

DIRECTLY above the object, the Trent lower wire is about one wire width or less below the Dean photo, or about 5 mm or less. If this was indeed caused by a model hanging there (and not artifact such as Dean pushing up on the lower wire there with a stick bending it slightly upward), then it seriously limits how heavy any model could be. If, as previously calculated, a one pound (450 gm) model deflects the wire about 6" or 150 mm, then a deflection of 5 mm or less requires a model 15 gm (1/2 ounce) or less. We are in paper plate model, balsa wood, or aluminum tart pan range. We can safely rule out Joel Carpenter/Robert Sheaffer's heavy truck mirror (close to one pound).

At 15', a model would be almost 6" in diameter, and at 20' 7-3/4". The latter would probably rule out an aluminum pie pan (might be too heavy).

My point is to fashion your planned model accordingly and not carve it from ivory.

Lance said...


Compressing only the vertical (squeezing the image so the wires get closer together) does not sound like the proper way to correct for a perspective shift. It would, eliminate sag, however.

I have to do this kind of work all the time for film and TV so I am quite familiar with the technique. Can you share this work? What software are you using.


Larry said...


Thanks for the information, David. My intention was to utilize 6 inches as the nominal diameter, so this accords well with your estimates and those of at least 1 of IPACO's estimates. I am interested in two questions. First, what would be the practical issues in building a model capable of fooling the next 6 decades of investigators, using the construction techniques plausibly available to Paul Trent? Second, what would the physical dynamics of such a model(s) be? I have predicted that the physical dynamics of a model hanging by a single thread would probably not produce two successive photos with the observed characteristics. Is that right or wrong? These questions do not require a model with an exact match to the photometric dimensions--approximate will do.

Initially, I planned to construct a model out of a material Trent could easily have obtained and worked with--Douglas Fir. Given your calculations for an upper limit on the weight of a model, I agree that we are in aluminum foil and paper territory. Perhaps I will do one of each.

I wonder if readers have any suggestions for the materials list that someone in Paul Trent's position could have used? Recall that many items that are available in today's modern society weren't necessarily available in 1950.

Lance said...


I am all in on the mirror explanation. It answers a lot of questions. So I would suggest 5 inches, not 6 for your model. Isn't it interesting that a model of that size precisely matches the size one would expect if a mirror was hanging from the wires. And also interesting that the object remains in the shot in the same location beneath the wires.

I would like to get a proper weight of a real mirror and perhaps do some test images.

I have been convinced by you guys that if we had the weight of the model + the exact composition of the wires (I think we have the length) we could probably eliminate the mirror idea.

Currently there is some evidence that the bottom wire is lower in Trent 1 and 2 than it is in Loomis.

Having fooled around with the photos, I am not convinced that they are right.

David has suggested a different result. But I don't think his solution as described could be correct either and I honestly (not rhetorically) don't think it is possible to get results down to the inch as he suggests he has done. I have asked to see his work so perhaps I am wrong.

I assume that Loomis shot with 35mm but I haven't seen what lens we believe he used. It wasn't 100mm (as Trent used) but something wider. I have some calibration software and I'll see what I can find.

Saying that the object in the Trent photos has fooled investigators for decades seems to be overstating matters. As far as I am aware no analysis has ever eliminated a small model.



zoamchomsky said...

"We can safely rule out...heavy truck mirror (close to one pound)." so says DR

Except "we" already know it's not heavy at all, and mid-century heavy-gauge solid-copper rod-like telephone wire does not sag at any point when a small weight is suspended from it but supports that weight over its length from attachment points.


Your typically pseudoscientific, facile, ignore-the-obvious, assumption-as-fact and make-it-up mathemagical mumbo-jumbo style of argument can never prove the object in Trent's photos is not a mid-century truck mirror--which is exactly what it looks like and most probably is. Rational people have accepted that determination after consideration of all the evidence because it's the most reasonable identification. Your silly guesswork cannot create any doubt about what is in reality most likely.

And even if one could manufacture some doubt about that one determination, your histrionic arguments would not apply to dozens of other manufactured objects and homemade models that could have been used in Trent's hoax. Desperately trying to prove the object in the photos is not of earthly manufacture will never make it alien.

Misrepresenting what we can and do know about Trent's hoax while making a nutty upside-down "not a mirror so ET" argument is worthless to even you. It's ridiculous.

Either Trent hoaxed the photos or ET traversed the vast interstellar distance and arrived on Earth in a spacecraft that looks exactly like a mid-century truck mirror!

KRandle said...

Zoom -

Thanks for the photo reference. Now, does anyone know where we might find one of these mirrors to get the weight of it. Seems to me that somewhere out there someone has one on a truck rusting away in a barn or shed or garage.

Lance said...

Kevin the photo referenced above is from Joel Carpenter. He said it was from a 1911 Ford Model T.

It does match very closely to the Trent object. One of the most telling aspects of the mirror idea is how the weird offset and tilted "superstructure" of the Trent saucer exactly matches what we see in mirrors of vehicles. This is the point that makes me think all effort should be given toward the idea of the mirror.

The one Joel found is not an exact match. The Trent object is very slightly deeper and very slightly squarer than this Model T one.

Having now looked through lots of ebay mirror auctions, I can tell you that these things are quite variable in shape. I have not found any closer match but I certainly wouldn't be surprised if I found one tomorrow.

As I have mentioned above, one auction did list a weight of about a pound for the mirror and the large arm that attaches to the vehicle. So I think we are safe in saying that the weight is <1 pound.

If a likely candidate crops up, I will buy it and get a better measurement for weight.



Lance said...

Loomis wasn't shooting 35mm, duh. His photos are all square format. I think we determined his camera previously, I'll check.


David Rudiak said...


First a correction. I had the model size at 15' and 20' as ~6" to 8". I thought the angular size was 1.76, but it was really 1.67. Thus model size more like 5.25" to 7". Your 6" as a nominal size a good choice.

My wife had 7" thin paper plates laying around. I weighed two of them on a mail scale and they weighed about 1/2 ounce total. That would be in the right territory.

Paper plates date back to 1904, though I don't know if the very thin variety were around in 1950. Plastic disposable plates probably not available in 1950. Plastic consumer items were not common then.

Paper plate with plain paper bottom glued to it would be easy to make. The stem on top with round ball is a puzzler. I was thinking one of Mrs. Trent's old-fashioned wooden clothes pins, but it might be too heavy.

Balsa wood is a possibility--common hobby material then, but not so easy to fashion a round pie-pan shape from or stem with round ball on top unless you have something like a lathe.

5-7" aluminum pie pans (tart pans?) might work if they had a thin gauge, otherwise might be too heavy.

As to testing dynamics, one of the puzzlers with the Trent photos is that Photo #1 shows the bottom of the object and #2 the object on edge, about 14% smaller, and LOWER in angular elevation.

A simple hoax model would be Trent with low camera position and underneath taking a picture of the model bottom about parallel to the ground while it is simply hanging there undisturbed. Photo #2 would require the object swinging away by about 30 degrees to get it on edge. Whether more-distant camera position plus backward swing are sufficient to minify the model as seen in the photos is open to question. The more serious problem is the LOWER elevation angle. (2 deg. lower according to Hartman) The simple swing model requires the model to be HIGHER in angular elevation photo #2, not lower.

A possible way out of this (more complicated swing model) is the model in #1 swinging UP toward he camera, and the one in #2 being the one at rest at the bottom of the arc, or swinging back in the other direction.

As you have noted elsewhere, there were decent winds at the time blowing out of the W to NNW (nominal recorded values of 10 mph--gusts obviously higher), or about perpendicular to the wires. A light model would be expected to be blown toward the camera. During a still period it might swing back the other way, or just hang passively there.

Possibly you could check the wind dynamics of a light hoax model in a ~10 mph wind (does it tilt, flutter, etc.), much more up your alley than mine.

Another constraint on any hoax besides the lightness of the model is that there is very little time between the photos. Trent would have had to be lucky to get the shots he got in just two takes.

David Rudiak said...

Kevin wrote:
Zoam, thanks for the photo reference. Now, does anyone know where we might find one of these mirrors to get the weight of it. Seems to me that somewhere out there someone has one on a truck rusting away in a barn or shed or garage.

I thought Larry and I had this settled already. Apparently not. There is always some dumbo, physical science ignorant skeptic like Zoam to deny the simplest physical reality when it goes against his religious beliefs.

Something like a truck mirror, whether it weighs 1/2 pound or 1 pound, will cause a very substantial ADDITIONAL sag in the line due to the extra weight added to the line.

If about a 2-pound 50 foot length of thin electrical wire (the Trent wire) sags (EVERYTHING thin and long like this sags in gravity) about 12" under its own weight (as PROVEN by measurement of the photos), adding 1 pound to the wire makes it 50% heavier and it sags an additional ~6". Adding 1/2 pound makes it 25% heavier and it sags ~3 inches more. This is Physics/Engineering 101 stuff and easily confirmed with simple living room type experiments, as both Larry and I have done (me using even thicker, stiffer wire than in the Trent photo). As Larry dared the skeptics to do with a simple experiment, stretch out ANY thin cable of some kind, whether stiff wire or string, adjust its sag in the middle to a certain amount by tensioning it, add an equal weight to it (same amount of string, wire, etc) and see if it the sag doesn't double as physics would predict.

Zoam may just as well argue that a grocer's scale can't distinguish the weight between a baseball and bowling bowl. The sag in the wire is just another type of scale.

When compared against the unweighted LIFE Loomis Dean photo 5 weeks later from about the same vantage point, we can EASILY determine whether any such sag exists, whether 3" or 6" (75-150 mm). The result is either no or hardly any sag at all, at most maybe one wire width or a <=5 mm. (IPACO dubiously claimed they found double this with another technique, but this would still point to almost no sag and a very lightweight model.)

That's still 25 to 50 times less sag than would happen with a 1/2 or 1 pound weight attached, meaning any model would have to weight 25 to 50 times less. This indeed, absolutely rules out any sort of heavy model like a "truck mirror".

It is also VERY EASY to be quantitative with how much a mirror of the right size would weigh, given assumptions about the thickness of the glass and gauge of the steel holder. From the photos we know the object in photo 1 is 1.67 degree and various people in different studies place the photo distance from the wire from about 15' to 20' At 15' that works out to a model 5.25" in diameter; at 20' 7.0".

To be conservative let's assume the smaller size, the glass mirror is fragile and only 1/8" (3 mm) thick and the steel is very thin (only 1 mm). From this we can compute the volume of the glass and steel. (Let's assume they are both simple, flat discs the same diameter, though the steel obvious is not and is larger.)

To convert to weight, multiply by the density. The density of normal glass is around 2.6 gm/cm^3 and steel 8.0 gm/cm^3.

This all works out (with flimsy construction, without even the stem, and unrealistically small size for heavy steel backing) to a total weight around 220 grams or 7.75 oz, or indeed about 1/2 pound. You can throw in at least another ounce or two for the ball and socket stem. And this is about the very lowest it could be given the constraints.

A more realistic and sturdier 5.25" mirror 3/16" thick, 2 mm thick steel would weigh 13.7 ounces without stem.

Lance himself said Joel Carpenter's sample mirror weighed a little less than 1 pound.

There is no way around this unless we throw out physical law and claim truck mirrors can't be this heavy and can't badly sag lightweight wires of comparable weight.

Lance said...


As I mentioned, gauge of wire is not firmly established but is isn't unreasonable to think it might be at least one size larger than you suggest.

Weight of mirror is just judging from one 1940's era mirror sold on eBay....all I can say is probably less than a pound not sure how much less...also not sure that glass had to be in mirror possibly lessening weight further.

Ipaco showed possibility that there was sag...this seems like a big problem.

Is it possible to see your work where you are claiming the opposite. Unlike physics, I do know a fair amount about image manipulation. Your discussion of simply shrinking the vertical dimensions of the photo doesn't seem like the proper way to adjust for angle change.


Larry said...

I guess the conversation was too cordial, too rational, and too productive for Zoam t be comfortable with, so he had to insert his stupidity into it to bring things down t his level.


Lance, you make a couple of good points. David estimated the wire size as 12 guage, based on its apparent thickness, measured in pixels. Given the uncertainty in the plate scale of the photos, the conductor could be thicker. However, it could also be thinner. That's the nature of uncertainty, at least in a mathematical sense.

Also, we should take into consideration the fact that wire is sold on its current carrying capacity. If you walk into a hardware store and tell the salesman you want to buy some wire to put in a new circuit in your house, the first thing they will ask is how much power you plan to put through it. Twelve guage wire would support a minimum of 25 100W light bulbs. So there would be no functional reason to go to thicker wire (a numerically lower guage). In fact, that would be quite a bit of overkill for a single lightbulb.

I also don't quite understand why David would change the vertical scale and not the horizontal one. I would think you would want the before and after photos to have the same aspect ratio (height to width ratio). I also wouldn't expect this to have much of an effect on the results, however.

If we admit that the amount of wire sag is now down to either zero or a few times the diameter of the wire itself, we need to consider other error sources. For example, changes in the temperature of the wire might account for this much sag. If one photo was taken on a warm day and/or the wires were carrying more current than on the other day, they would sag slightly more than if the wires were cold.

Anthony Mugan said...

I've been having a look at the geometry of the movement of the object between the two images, including the earlier studies such as Ipaco and Sparks' comments on that. This set of comments is a preliminary progress report and all criticism or suggestions gratefully recieved. It may run to more than one part ( both complexity of the subject and time constraints!).
OK. So....the IPACO study argues for a small model strung on a two foot thread, possibly ascending to the lower wire above the object in image 1 on a slant to the upper left as from the perspective of the photographer in image 1. They assume the object is below the wire in image 1 and swings back in image 2, photograped from a line of sight running 17 degrees west of the line for image 1. The line of sight is slightly east if north in image 1. The camera is assumed to be 5ft above the ground and horizontal. IPACO use distances to the wires etc as per those presented by Macabee...

The sight lines of the two images intersect 4ft behind the wires. The object must be somwhere on these sight lines for each image.the overhead lines run roughly NE to SW ( the lines of sight are not normal to the wires)

If object 1 was suspended on a 2 foot thread then the IPACO model doesn't work as it couldn't move back far enough to get on the right sight line for image 2. If you examine a longer thread located above or to the left of the object in image 1 you can make it move back further but the image in image 2 would shrink by more than is observed. This applies to a double string 'swing' and more so to a single thread in the area suggested by IPACO.

There may be a solution but it is tentative at this stage...TBC

zoamchomsky said...

There must have been dozens of very similarly shaped mirrors manufactured before 1950 in both cast alloy and (much lighter) form-pressed stainless steel.

Paul Trent's truck's mirror or one like it--possibly broken, without its glass so just a shell--is the most likely candidate.

And it would be an inconsequential weight on solid non-pliable copper wires which would display virtually no additional sag along their entire lengths--and certainly no imaginary "pinch point" due to a small weight.

David Rudiak said...

Larry wrote: (1/2)
I also don't quite understand why David would change the vertical scale and not the horizontal one. I would think you would want the before and after photos to have the same aspect ratio (height to width ratio). I also wouldn't expect this to have much of an effect on the results, however.

I first scaled the distant backgound in the 2 comparison photos using details along the hill ridge lines because distant features will be entirely unaffected by small differences in camera positions. Unless the background is first equalized in size, differences in the foreground details, like wire spacing, could be artifacts from not calibrating scene size first, rather than actual perspective shifts from different camera positions or actual wire shifts from a hung model.

Then we can focus on true differences in the foreground details, such as the oil tank or the wires. I didn't correct for horizontal dimensions because we are currently only debating the vertical gap between the wires in the region above the UFO. (IPACO, however, used some sort of overall image registration which is rather opaque—more later). I was trying to correct for those, and then see if there were were any real gap differences left. As long as we don’t stray too far from the region above the UFO, lack of correction for horizontal perspective won’t have a significant impact on the vertical result. As I mentioned earlier in another post, when we do get signfiicantly left or right of the UFO wire region, the two wire images go progressively further out of registration, but again our concern is the immediate wire area about the UFO.

We know from vertical horizon shift in the picture that LIFE's Loomis Dean's camera was about 1.5' higher than Trent's. Even if he was standing in the exact same spot as Trent, this alone brings his camera vertically a little closer to the wires and artifactually widens the gap. Without correction for this, when I overlap the wires (I used the well-defined kink in the lower wire left of the UFO for allignment—IPACO didn’t), Dean’s wires are wider apart than Trent’s by about 1 to 2 wire widths.

So first I used some geometry and trig to compute a perspective correction factor, assuming they were the same horizontal distance from the wire above the UFO. This was about 4% at Bruce Maccabee’s calculated distance (Dean was about 1.25 foot closer to the bottom wire). Shrinking only the vertical dimension in the Dean photo by 4% to compensate for perspective shift, the wire’s now overlapped to within one wire width. (If anything, Dean’s wires were maybe slightly still wider apart.)

This was all based on Dean being the same distance from the wires (directly above UFO), which was dubious, so I took a closer look yesterday to try to see where Dean was relative to Trent and the wires. Clearly he was really a little bit left of Trent because distinct background features such as fir trees and buildings had shifted a little left relative compared to foreground features, such as the two electrical poles in the photos or the garage. When I examined the oil tank next to the garage more carefully, instead of the end exactly registering vertically in the two images (as I first thought with a quick overlap look), I found Dean’s was about 5.5% taller, meaning he was left and closer to the tank. (He didn’t shift left in a way that would have kept the distance constant, such as more parallel to the wires.) Because his camera was also higher (near the middle of the tank instead of the bottom as in Trent’s photo), part of the vertical magnification was another artifact of perspective. When I again did the trig to correct for vertical perspective, it turned out Dean was ~4% closer to the tank. . (This turned out to be about 1 foot closer than Maccabee’s Trent position.) This gave me a distance to his position. I could then use the measuring tape feature in my 3D Google Earth model of the scene to try to figure out where Dean might have been left of Trent and 4% closer to the tank.

David Rudiak said...

The problem at this point, which I will be working on today, is exactly where left? My initial assumption was that he was due left of Trent (or west), but there is really an arc of positions left of Trent that could keep him the same distance from the oil tank, some of them bringing him a little closer to the wires than my assumption of due left. If he was due left of Maccabee’s Trent position, then he was about .7’ feet closer to the bottom wire near where the sighting lines of Trent’s two photos cross. (IPACO assumed, as it turned out, the UFO was directly beneath the lines in their image registration method, which is a cheat, as it is a way of trying to force a result, namely it WAS a model hung from the lower line. They should have chosen a distinct feature on the wires, such as the kink I used, which we know to be the same position in the two photos. I’ll have more to say on this in another post.)

I also realized last night that I made a mistake in a previous correction, adding the vertical corrections for the oil tank to those to the wires, when I should only be calculating for the wires. So that needs to be fixed. Instead I will try to calculate the MAXIMUM the wire correction could be (to give a hoax hypothesis all the chance it can get), shrink the Dean photo vertically to compensate for the vertical perspective artifact. I doubt the result will be much different.

(As an aside to Lance, I am not ignoring your email to me and your questions. I am working on it, but this work is complex and very time consuming. Some of my mistakes and simplifying assumption were due to my trying to rush my results to “press” for this discussion on the Trent photos. Some of my response to Larry I hope explains what I have done so far and what I plan to do, which was part of what you were asking.)

If we admit that the amount of wire sag is now down to either zero or a few times the diameter of the wire itself, we need to consider other error sources. For example, changes in the temperature of the wire might account for this much sag. If one photo was taken on a warm day and/or the wires were carrying more current than on the other day, they would sag slightly more than if the wires were cold.

I also thought of this. As it turns out, it was probably a warmer day overall when Trent took his picture because it was clearer than when Dean took his (significant cloud cover). The I say “probably” because we don’t know the exact day Dean was there, but we know he was there at least a week before LIFE ran the story June 26 and after the story went national on June 10. The LIFE documentation says June 6, which is impossible, probably a misprint for June 16. If we look at this day and say two days around it, old weather records for Portland and Salem show mostly a lot of cloudiness, some rain and smoke, and cooler temperatures (typical of summers in the Pacific northwest). Another factor is Trent’s photo was right after sunset May 1, probably around 7:30. Dean’s photo was midday, about 1:30 judging by the shadows and shading.

On May 11 in Portland 7-8:00 p.m., temperatures were 68-75, nominal value about 72. June 16 1-2:00 p.m. it was 68-69. June 18 it was 70-73. June 14, 15, and 17, it was much cooler: 56, 58-61, 62-63..

So temperatures could have been about the same (June 18), 5 degrees cooler (June 16), or 10-15 degrees cooler (June 14, 15, 17). A lot of uncertainty. Overall, I think it most likely it was June 16, about 5 degrees cooler then Trent time, with some obvious cloud cover in Dean’s photo. This would suggest the Trent wires were a little bit longer from temperature expansion, sagged a little bit more, but I doubt the gap in the wires itself would have increased, which is all we can really measure.

Larry, you are welcome to take a stab at a rough calculation and see if temperature expansion would have had a measurable effect.

Anthony Mugan said...

As mentioned earlier the geometry of the IPACO model doesn't work (essentially for the reasons outlined by Sparks in his response to the IPACO report on the NICAP website.
I have a possible model for the hoax scenario but it has (at least) one major issue which has me stumped..
My basic assumptions are for photo positions as given by Macabee and IPACO along with all dimensions and angles as reported in the IPACO report. I haven't separately checked these.
A tentative scenario is a 4.85 inch lightweight model suspended by one thin and light thread 4 ft in length. The thread attaches to the model along the lone of symmetry ( top of the dome) and to the lower wire to the right (NE) of the disk in image 1 as seen from the camera position.
I am assuming the disc swings like a pendulum but can rotate in a horizontal arc as well as a vertical arc, together with rotations and yaw type movements around its axes of symmetry.
IPACO measured the angle of tilt in image 1 to be just under 20 deg. Using 20 deg as a round figure gives an attachment point 1.37 ft horizontally along the wire to the right of a point directly above the disc, assuming it is directly below it. This last point is a bit of an assumption but this thing is already getting a bit small so I'm keeping it at maximum credible distance in image 1.

Sparks notes the relationship between diameter, distance and angular size and notes that in Image 2 the object must be 39.2 times it's diameter away from the camera. This gives 15.8 ft compared to 14.2 ft in image 1.

As image 2 was taken at 14 ft from the lower wire we can conclude that the disc had swung back behind the wire in image 2. The line if sight for image 2 crosses the wire at 1.22 ft to the right of the sight line in image 1. Thus the model is suspended slightly to the right of the sight line in image 2


Anthony Mugan said...

To continue.
In all these calculations I'm assuming that the camera was held quite low ( it was one of the type you look down into from the top). I've assumed 3 ft above the ground (arbitrarily).

The above requirements, if the disc swung back normal to the wire ( not quite correct but bear with me) would give a position 1.14ft horizontally behind the wire with the thread holding it up at an angle of 16.5 deg from the vertical. As the assumed camera position ( assuming image is taken horizontally) gives an angle of elevation of 18 deg, we should be looking more or less edge on to the disc, which is as in image 2.

Now for the problem. In both image 1 and 2 the disc is tilted to the north east ( lower on the right as you look at it) by almost exactly the same amount, according to IPACO measurements.
In image 1 that angle is what I'm using to calculate a fastening point for the thread on the wire, which allow it to get into a position suitable for image 2. By making it a long thread we can require the disc to be a bit left of an arc if rotation normal to the wire, but only by a small amount. How do we get the same angle of tilt in both images?

Suspending the disc by a single thread allows for movement in various ways ( necessary to get the positions right) and would allow for yaw around its vertical axis, but getting the same angle of tilt in the same direction when the forces on the disc should have been pushing in very different directions strikes me as unlikely.

Can anyone solve this part of the puzzle ( or spot any fundamental mistakes)?

It may be worth noting that the changes between the two images emerge naturally from the data if the object was large, distant and followed the trajectory Trent said it did, indeed the tilt to turn manoeuvres described are in line with Hill's theory ( e.g. Approach from the north and the halting with base turned towards the photograprapher in image 1 and a spiral around the image 2 point). The westerly trajectory described between the two images works perfectly to increase the distance whilst keeping the angular change between the images in line of sight relatively small. It really is a very neat fit. Quite remarkably so if we assume they made it up.

I may just have broke the world record record in hours spent to end up back at my original opinion ...inconclusive.

Any and all suggestions gratefully recieved.

Lance said...


How do your observations change if the position of the camera changes (various locations have been proposed and it certainly is not known with accuracy, if the height of the wires is changed(also not known with accuracy), if the height of the camera is changed (guessed at but not established).

By overlaying the two photos together and matching the clear kinks in the wire can very easily see that the saucer is basically in the same place under the wires and that the attitude and position of the object is easy to account for as a small model swinging on a string AND tilting on its own beneath that string.


Anthony Mugan said...

Hi Lance
I shall have a think about that and see if I can find a way of getting a sight line for each image that could work with that. At first sight the Macabee sight lines look credible but it would solve the tilt problem if such a pair of alignments could be made to work.

Doesn't look promising, to be honest but I'll have a go.

Anthony Mugan said...

Hi Lance
No joy with that idea. The positions of the photographer are quite tightly constrained by:
a) the wires are in both shots in almost the same relative position
b) the left edge is in almost the same position ( see the tank on the side of the garage)
c) the angle between the garage and the pole to its right opens up sugnificantly in image 2
d) the house is out if shot to the right.
Meeting all these requirements in both shots constrains the locations to positions very close to those suggested by Macabee and used by IPACO.
It may need the experimentalists or someone with much heavier physics than I to assess if that tilt in image 2 is possible. At the moment I'm not sure either way.

Lance said...

I'm not sure if anyone else is mentioned it (I am sure that David knows) but the negatives as we have them are cropped. Both have a good chunk of the bottom cropped off (maybe 1/5 or so) and one of them has the right side cropped quite a bit.

I don't know what happened to the negatives..were they physically cut?


David Rudiak said...

I've only taken a detailed look at the cropping of Photo 1 by comparing it with extremely poor quality full pictures on microfilm of the newspaper and photos by LIFE of reporter Bill Powell holding up the newspaper.

Photo 1 has about 2-2.5% of the left, right, and top cropped off and 15% of the bottom, holding potential useful information. The right side crop just removed the image of the side and eave of the house; the left side, part of the end of the oil tank; the bottom, details of the near ground and its illumination (but we have a good idea of what was there because of the LIFE photos the following month--mostly grass and a narrow dirt/rock path between the garage and the house). The most important is the edge of the house because it is needed for determining camera position by comparing its location to the features in the background (power pole, peaks of buildings). Nonethless, from reconstruction, I have a very good idea of where the house edge is (just barely chopped off at the eave.)

I know that roughly 15% was also cropped off the bottom of photo 2, but they spared on the edge of the house on the right.

I think Maccabee said one of the wire services cropped the negatives for reasons unknown when the pictures were run nationwide.

David Rudiak said...

Lance wrote: (1 of 2)
How do your observations change if the position of the camera changes (various locations have been proposed and it certainly is not known with accuracy, if the height of the wires is changed(also not known with accuracy), if the height of the camera is changed (guessed at but not established).

This mostly incorrect. Many things are typically not known with absolute precision, but this is SOP when doing calculations in science and engineering. Reasonably accurate calculations and tests of hypotheses can still be made within the boundaries of what IS known. E.g., as in our recent debate, we don’t know the exact weight of the wires, but we know the bounds on how long and thick they were and thus how heavy, probably to within 30% of true weight. This is good enough for government work. From this inperfect information, one can still easily distinguish a relatively heavy model on the wires (truck mirror), which would sag inches, from a very lightweight one (or none at all) which shows very little sag. The conclusion from little or no deflection of the wires is a VERY lightweight model (or none).

Camera position: Yes, still not known with absolute accuracy, but can be narrowed to within a few feet. (Working on this right now). But hypotheses can still be tested given various camera positions. You just have to modify parameters such as string length, model size, amount of model swing, etc.

Camera heights: Known with moderate precision by locating horizon lines relative to measured structures, such as oil tank next to garage. Camera in photo 1 about 3’9”; camera in photo 2 is about 3’6”, accuracy about +/- 3 inches.

We know the angular size of the object in the two photos with GREAT accuracy (1.67 and 1.46 degrees), the % difference in size with GREAT accuracy (object in photo 1 is 14.4% larger), the apparent angular elevation above the horizon is known with moderate accuracy (14 deg. photo 1, 12 deg. photo 2), we know how big a model would have to be at a given proposed camera distance (e.g., to be 1.67 deg at 14 feet, hanging passively the model has to be ~5.0”. At 18" it would need to be ~6.5", etc.

Wire height: Known with moderate accuracy. Starting and ending positions at house can be determined with good accuracy using on-site measurement of structures and old photos. E.g., at house, lower wire starts about 12’ up (known siding width can be used to scale and have Hartmann’s photo showing house with two wires attached. Garage has been measured by me. We know the wires sag in the middle, and comparison of a LIFE Loomis Dean photo of scaling 6’ stepladder under wires shows lower wire at about 11’, or about 1’ of sag from wire weight (top wire about 11” above that and 2-3” offset vertically). 3D reconstruction models can be used to refine this. At 11’, 3.75’ camera height (photo 1) and elevation angle give a camera distance of 18.2’. If the wire was ½ foot lower, the camera would have to be 1.3 feet closer, and if it were ½ foot higher, it would be 1.2 feet further away. If the camera were 3” lower, the camera would have to be move about 7” closer to get the same wire elevation angle.

Thus, even without knowing the wire height and camera height exactly, we can still tightly constrain where the photos could have been taken relative to the wires. So far, this looks to be in the 17-19’ range for photo 1 (further than where Maccabee places it.) Putting these sort of likelihood boundaries to values or bracketing is routine stuff in science and engineering and drilled into one’s head when you are trained in same.

David Rudiak said...

(2 of 2)
By overlaying the two photos together and matching the clear kinks in the wire can very easily see that the saucer is basically in the same place under the wires and that the attitude and position of the object is easy to account for as a small model swinging on a string AND tilting on its own beneath that string.

In reality, a model in ONE photo would be easy to account for, but a SELF-CONSISTENT model in TWO photos taken very close together in time is not. It is instead heavily constrained by numerous parameters: weight, angular size, absolute size, relative size, distances from camera, camera heights, angular elevations, azimuths, distance below wires, etc.

In contrast, much less is needed to make a self consistent model of a DISTANT object. Trent story: object approaches from north, banks to turn, takes off in a westerly direction and disappears while traveling at about the same elevation.

Hypothesis: distant object heading due west in level flight starting at azimuth 334, elevation 14 degrees (photo 1) and disappearing near azimuth 317, 12 degrees (photo 2), diminishing 14.4% in size.

Test: An object headed DUE west would shrink in size too much (~23%) for given azimuths/elevations, given the ASSUMED heading. But an object heading only 10 deg. S of due W and in near level flight, would work perfectly. Results very self-consistent with Trents’ story, as is the bright shaded bottom of the object (from atmospheric scattering evident in background of photo, such as distant hills and vegetation). The key here is the DROP in elevation angle and shrinkage in size is exactly what you would expect for a distant object flying level, plus the bright bottom. As Anthony Mugan says, Trent must have been real lucky to get the story he told to agree so well with photo details.

Far fewer variables need to be self-consistent to satisfy the distant object theory (unlike a near model theory): azimuth, elevation angle, relative size, and bottom brightness. Camera positions don’t really matter nor do sighting lines, relative positions of objects in photos, wire heights, etc.

Now for a simple swinging model theory (same model, no change in thread height between shots). Most CANNOT simultaneously account for the size shrinkage, DROP in elevation, sighting lines, wire elevation angles, and bright bottom. You have to make a great many assumptions, such as translucent model or camera flash to account for brightness, a double swing (to account for drop in elevation), i.e. model doesn’t sit passively in #1 but is swinging UP towards the camera and AWAY from the camera in #2 to help account for difference in elevation angles and differences in size.

Only a unique combination of factors can make this work, and I’m still not sure if a simple back and forth swing will fully account for the two profiles we see or where the sighting lines actually meet. One might have to assume some sideways swing and rocking of the model as well. Not easy, not obvious, and sighting lines meeting near the wires could be a coincidence of object moving to left while Trent had to move right and take photo before it disappeared from sight. (If you allow a sighting line crossing within wire hoax distance of say 1.5’ front to back, then there is very roughly a 25% probability this could have happened by accident given the circumstances—still working it out.)

Currently little or no sag in wires militates against a model, but doesn’t exclude it yet. (Also LIFE’s Loomis Dean standing on top of 6’ stepladder he has in photos under the wires, could have been probing looking for something like a leftover thread knot that would indicate a hoax. If in the process he managed to bend up the wire one wire width (like the width of a pencil), that would account for the maximum deflection I have currently found between his photo and Trent’s. We have to assume for evidence of a hoax (sagging wire from model weight) that the wires were undisturbed between photos by Trent and Dean, which was what IPACO assumed.)

Larry said...

Part 1
I have been spending a fair amount of time the last few days examining and measuring the Trent photos with precision calipers, protractors, magnifying glasses, and the like, in order to determine with as much precision as possible the actual geometry of the object, prior to building models. I started by taking copies of images from Bruce Maccabee’s website, enlarging them on a photocopier until they were approximately the same size as the supposed model (≈ 5 inches) and then making precision measurements on them.

After working on these images for several days, I discovered a surprising amount of geometric complexity and subtlety which I have not seen discussed before; so perhaps I’m the first one to notice this. A casual glance at Photo #2 reveals that the basic geometry is approximately that of a flat-top, truncated cone, with some kind of little appendage sticking out of the top surface at an angle upward and to the left. At the scale the photo was taken at, the image is grainy; as a result it is difficult to trace all the edges of the image with 100% certainty, however if we assume that all the edges are actually smooth and continuous on the scale of the graininess, it becomes possible to do a “best fit” of continuous lines to the image edges. If we assume that the object has radial symmetry about a vertical axis, a solid model of the object’s geometry can be synthesized. When I did this, it became apparent to me that the object (whatever its origin and whatever its size) was constructed rather exactly to conform to the geometry of a right circular conical surface with an included angle of 120 degrees. Stated another way, the right triangle which would generate the conical surface, when rotated about the axis of symmetry, is a 30-60-90 degree triangle.

If one imagines a cone with included angle of 120 degrees sitting on a flat horizontal surface, the flat topped surface of the UFO/model is located exactly half the distance from the base of the cone to the apex, and appears to be parallel to the base. Clearly, the side walls of the UFO/model slope inward as one moves upward from the base. Close inspection reveals that the slope of the side walls is not constant. The side walls appear to be biconic, meaning that they have one slope angle at the bottom, where they join the base and have a different slope angle at the upper surface, where they join the top. The slope angle of the upper portion of the side walls is 30 degrees with respect to the horizontal, meaning that it exactly nests within the 120 degree cone. The angled appendage is also sized such that its upper surface is precisely tangent to the 120 degree cone. Overall, the object appears to have been designed to fill up the envelope defined by the 120 degree cone, without going past it, suggesting that the conical surface represents some type of design boundary. Whether there is some deeper significance to this fact is open to debate, but I note it here for (I think) the first time.

Larry said...

Part 2
The following is what I think can be said with certainty regarding the geometry of the Trent object. If anyone has anything to add or subtract, I would appreciate critical comment.

1. The planform (the object’s outline as seen from above or below) is a circle. This is deduced from the fact that photo #1 shows the outline of the bottom to be an ellipse. Linear measurements presented below will be expressed as a fraction of the planform diameter, D.
2. The bottom of the object is flat and smooth.
3. The object consists of two sub-elements: what I refer to as the “Main Body” and a small protuberance from the upper surface of the Main Body, which I refer to as the “Appendage”.
4. The Main body consists of a lower surface (see point #2, above), an apparently flat upper surface, and a biconic surface connecting the two.
5. The upper surface and lower surface are parallel to each other, with a separation distance equal to 0.163D.
6. The biconic shell joins the Main Body BOTTOM surface at an included angle of 20 degrees to the horizontal. Part way up, the biconic surface transitions to an angle of 30 degrees to the horizontal; error estimate on angular measurement is +/- 1 degree. Both conical surfaces that collectively form the biconic shell appear to be located on a common axis of rotational symmetry.
7. The surface transition between the lower surface and the biconic shell appears to be via a small radius (≈ 0.025D) rather than via a sharp edge.
8. The profile of the Appendage is approximated by a narrow rectangle with a semicircular cap on top tipped at an angle of 14 degrees relative to the vertical. This appearance could be created by a planar structure with a rectangle/semicircle outline (a “fin”) or a short cylinder with a hemisphere on top (a “knob”).
9. The axis of symmetry of the Appendage intersects the upper surface of the Main Body to the camera left of the Main Body’s axis of symmetry.
10. The axis of symmetry of the Appendage intersects the lower surface of the Main Body directly on the Main Body’s axis of symmetry.

Larry said...

Part 3
I feel fairly certain about these features and could point them out in a photo or illustrate them in a drawing, if given the opportunity. To identify the object in the Trent photos as some mundane object, it is necessary that such an object not have any features that are inconsistent with this list. Personally, I have not yet seen any car/truck rear view mirrors that have been offered up that is a match. Most of them fail because the mounting stud (thought to be i the “Appendage” described above) is connected to the body of the mirror through a simple ball joint (which is necessary to allow a large range of adjustment for the mirror). The center of the ball joint is closely coincident with the top surface of these mirrors, therefore the axis of the ball joint stud intersects the main body at the UPPER surface, not the LOWER surface as is clearly shown in photo #2. In the photo that ZoamChomsky referenced above, the main body of the mirror is not conical at all—it is a complex ogival dome. The thickness to diameter ratio of the mirror does not match that of the photo; etc.

If the conjecture is that the Trent photos show an automotive mirror, it is not sufficient to observe—as Zoam does—that there is a generic resemblance between a random mirror and the Trent photo object. It is necessary to find a specific mirror and show that it matches point-for-point.

Similarly with other mundane objects such as pie pans, etc. I think it is pretty clear that the object in the photos does not have a substantial lip, rim, or other horizontal surface where the sloping side transitions to the bottom—there is just a small radius curve. This fact, together with the fact that the side surfaces are actually biconic makes the profile of the object more truly resemble a saucer, rather than a pie pan.

And so on. The point being that if the preceding list of 10 attributes is agreed upon, they can be used to screen possible candidate objects for identification.

Larry said...

Part 1
Above, ZoamChomsky babbled:
“…mid-century heavy-gauge solid-copper rod-like telephone wire does not sag at any point when a small weight is suspended from it but supports that weight over its length from attachment points…”

Honestly, sometimes he packs the bullshit (in the technical sense of the term, of course) in so densely that it is in danger of gravitational collapse like a neutron star.

Since the facts concerning the amount of wire sag are actually important to the argument here, I find it necessary to unpack his BS, for everyone to see. To the extent I can understand what he’s trying to say, his statement seems to contain three assertions jumbled together in a hopelessly confused word salad—and all three are factually incorrect.

The first factual error is that the wires in question are not telephone wires. Having been trained as a telephone lineman by Pacific Bell many, many years ago, I am familiar with the theory and practice of telephone wires. Telephone wires (“cables”, actually) contain numerous twisted pairs of copper conductors inside a common insulated covering. What we see in the Trent photos is a pair of separate, power wires (probably solid copper conductors, as Zoam suggests). Telephone wires are designed to transmit signals and power lines are designed to transmit power. This is an important difference, and as a result, the copper conductors in a phone cable are the absolute minimum diameter necessary to conduct low power at around 15 volts. Because of this and the fact that hundreds of twisted pairs of phone lines are bundled together in cables, most of the mass of a phone cable can actually consist of the insulation and sheathing, not the copper. The insulation and sheathing in the mid twentieth century was usually paper, so phone cables did not have much tensile strength, to speak of. That’s why they are supported by a high strength steel support cable when they are strung between poles.

Second, Zoam seems to be disputing the observation I made that when a concentrated load is placed on a cable, it’s shape changes to reflect the new loading (it takes on more of a v-shape). To be more exact: a flexible line with a uniform mass-per-unit length, tied between two fixed supports takes on the shape of a catenary; mathematically, this shape is characterized by the hyperbolic cosine function. The same line, with a concentrated load added to it at mid-span takes on the shape of a parabola; this shape is characterized by the square (X^2) function. This fundamental observation is not something I or David Rudiak made up. Go to Wikipedia or any one of a number of online sources and look it up. This fact has been known for more than 3 centuries! The fundamental result was first derived by scientists such as Christiaan Huyghens, Gottfried Leibnitz, and Johann Bernoulli in 1691, shortly after Newton popularized the practice of deriving physics results from the law of gravity coupled with calculus. If Zoam wishes to characterize these individuals as “scientifical”, he is a bigger idiot than I previously assumed.

Larry said...

Part 2
Third, Zoam seems to imply that the solid-rod nature of the copper conductor would invalidate the results that David calculated, based on the catenary equation. One can only imagine how clever Zoam thinks he is to be the first one to have thought of this angle. But of course, he is not. The two cases mentioned above—the catenary and the parabola—result from assuming that the intrinsic bending stiffness of the wire is zero. The case of a simply-supported beam with a non-zero bending stiffness is usually treated in introductory, undergraduate Strength of Materials courses in a Physics or Engineering curriculum. For example, in the textbook I used—“Strength of Materials” by J. P. Den Hartog--this case is covered in Chapter V, “The Deflection of Beams”, using the Myosotis method.

Qualitatively, the result is that the maximum deflection is proportional to the weight-per-unit length (just as it is in the catenary case), but multiplied times the beam length, raised to the fourth power (instead of the second power). What this means, qualitatively, is that for short wire lengths (where the wire length is maybe 10 to 100 times the wire diameter, the bending stiffness is significant and will resist forming a catenary or parabola. Where the wire length is longer than this, the bending stiffness rapidly becomes negligible. Note that in this case, the diameter of the power wire copper conductor is on the order of 1/10 inch. This would predict that for a wire length of about 10 inches, the bending stiffness of the wire could be a significant factor. For a wire length of 50 feet, the length of the wire is about 6,000 times the diameter, so the bending stiffness is negligible.

A more exact treatment of this case requires a computation-intensive method called Finite Element Analysis. One such example is treated in a paper in the journal “Advanced Materials Research”, Vols. 163-167 (2011) titled “Effects Analysis of Bending Stiffness of Cables on Stress Distribution and Curve Shape in Super-Long Single Suspension Cable Structures”. I quote from the Abstract: “The design scheme of a suspension bridge..was taken as an example, and calculating results…are compared…to study the effects of bending stiffness of cables on stress distribution and curve shape..on the basis of the Finite Element Method algorithm..and the analytical segmental catenary method for cables’ shape finding. The study shows that the influence of bending stiffness on curve shape-finding is negligible…”.

All three of the ideas in Zoam’s statement are just bullshit.

Dave said...

Larry's excellent discussion of various types of wires reminded me of a concern that I had regarding placing a model on a power cable.

Namely, I wouldn't be so foolhardy as to climb up a ladder and carefully hang a model using one or two wires, as mentioned above as a possible hoax.

Nosiree, I wouldn't take a chance on frying MY cohones just to pull a prank like that!

I had previously considered that these wires might be power lines on a farm in the 50s, subject to expansion and contraction, weathering, sun, birds pecking on them, squirrels, etc.

Anthony Mugan said...

Thanks Larry, David R and Lance for the combination of very interesting observation, measurements, analyses and thoughts above.

In combination there are a few items of data presented that made me sit up with jolt.

Larry notes that the 'appendage' on top of disc is angled relative to the body of the disc. If this was used as an attachment point the attachment would be to the left (as we look at it) of the disc's centre of gravity.

This would give a natural tendency to tilt to the right, as observed.


At the moment the best information available on the sight lines indicate the need for quite substantial amounts of swing between the two images. Having a similar tilt seems unnatural in that scenario - particularly given the good fit of the suggested trajectory of a more distant, large object (using Macabee's suggested trajectory curves, which model a range of distances). This last point is as described by DR above.


I am not a photoanalyst and I don't know if this next point is possible or not, but... If these images were cropped could this influence the 'best fit' location for the positions of the photographer? In particular if the left edge of image 2 should actually be a bit further back along the garage / tank than the actual left edge of image 1, could that push the position of image 2 back to the left, parallel to the wires by (say) a couple of feet???

I've no idea of the answer to that question, or how to get into solving it but if it did move the sight lines so they intersect closer to the wire and we note the slightly lower tilt to the right in image 2 to allow room for a small amount of swing between images 1 and 2, with a small margin for measurement error...could we end up with a solution close to that suggested by Lance above - a model suspended directly below the wire but with an offset centre of gravity...?

I don't know the answer to that. The position of the sight lines becomes crucial however. If they can be convincingly shown to be closer together at the wires then the hoax model hangs together (pun definitely intended) too well to be discounted. Conversely if they remain as now understood then the tilt in image 2 looks unnatural. Not impossible - someone could have given it a good push, but it wouldn't emerge naturally from the data whilst the large distant object option would then look the more self consistent solution.

zoamchomsky said...


This isn't rocket science, seriously; and you might try to develop a sense of humor about the "UFO" subject since it's nothing but a popular myth and social delusion.

You guys are at your worst when you're reduced to counting angels dancing on the head of a pin to make some imaginary inconsequential point and berating those who refuse to buy your upside-down world mathemagical mumbo-jumbo musings. I've seen it a hundred times over decades, it's the default position for "UFO" loons. The laughable "pseudoscientist as his own authority" act deserves study.

The wires adjacent to the truck mirror in Trent's photos are called "telephone wires" in one old source, but Lance has informed me recently that they are electric service to the garage. We don't know what sort of wire it is, except that it's probably copper.

We don't know the gauge of the wire, we don't know its tension and we don't know the weight of the mirror, so we cannot predict the wire's sag. Based on unknowns and contingencies we certainly cannot dismiss one identity out of various common manufactured objects of that size and shape based on the amount or lack of sag.

It could be a teapot lid, a pole cap or an automotive part, a gas cap or maybe a mirror; you just don't know. And pretending that you do know--or know what it is not--and have proven it in order to manufacture doubt about that one identity defies logic and is practicing pure pseudoscientific mumbo-jumbo. So one can only wonder what you think you are accomplishing. The Trent's goofy hoax remains unchanged.

Trent staged the photos and made up a flying-saucer scenario to give them context; it's a hoax, always was a hoax. So whether it's a gas cap or mirror--motionless and hanging by a thread--makes absolutely no difference. All you're showing is that your motivation is attacking more rational skeptical others who you perceive as a threat to your 1950s flying-saucer fantasy world. Believe me, Larry, it's not even a contest.

ufoolery is history already, let's make the "UFO" myth and delusion history as well.

Anthony Mugan said...

I now think the model I proposed earlier for a possible hoax model can be ruled out.

I think the reason for this leads us to a definitive test.

Earlier I was working with the sight lines and photographic positions proposed by Macabee and used in the IPACO report, together with angles etc as quoted by IPACO. The idea I presented above of the disc swinging left in image 1 and then swinging back away from the camera in image 2 was a way of getting the disc on to the sight lines at the right distances from the camera.

However all angles etc have to work in a self consistent manner. IPACO measured the angles of seperation between the wires and then from the lower wire to the disc. These angles reduce in image 2 by a ratio of 0.92 for the wires and 0.91 for the disc to wire gap. The diameter of the disc reduces by 0.90. These are very close to each other and suggest little movement of the disc relative to the wire.

In the model I proposed the vertical gap would be larger in image 2, so that doesn't work. In the IPACO model Sparks criticises the inconsistent assumptions of model diameter between the two images. In IPACO the swing isn't big enough to get it back on the sight line.

In short EITHER the sight lines are wrong, and actually cross close to the wires with a model tilting naturally from an offset centre of gravity OR the sight lines are right and we don't have a hoax model that works, it is then large and distant.

The sight lines look credible to me, but you would only need to get the two photograph points closer together by a couple of feet or thereabouts to solve the problem, so it becomes a critical question.

And one I lack the skills to resolve, dash it!

Larry said...

Part 1
To anyone still paying attention (Anthony?, David?):
I finished the first of what I expect to be several McMinnville UFO models a couple of days ago, built to the proportions I listed in one of my above posts. I turned the Main Body out of kiln-dried Douglas Fir to a nominal 5-inch diameter (4.900 in., +/- .0025 in.) on a six-inch-swing metal working lathe. The total amount of time invested is approximately 8 hours and material costs about $10. The weight of the model came out at 112 grams.

A number of lessons are starting to emerge—none of them surprising, in retrospect. First, I chose Douglas Fir as the construction material on the basis that Paul Trent could obviously have had access to that material, it is relatively light, and it is relatively easy to work. The body of the UFO shape is a body of revolution, so it makes sense that someone making a small model for a hoax would probably use a lathe to turn the body. I used a metal-working lathe, which is overkill and which Paul Trent is unlikely to have owned; one could easily use a smaller, cheaper wood-turning lathe to turn out the equivalent shape.

Although wood is cheap, available, and easy to work with, I am concluding that it is a poor candidate for a 5-inch model. Wood is a non-isotropic material—it has a grain. That means that it is stronger and harder in one direction than in another, that it warps, and also splinters. I had to start building two different models in order to end up with one complete one, and the one I ended up with has visible cracks and splinters. Anyone trying to hoax a UFO with a small wooden model would have to count on building multiple copies in order to end up with one good one.

Also, even though I built the model to the proportions and dimensions mentioned above, my assessment is that it wouldn’t fool anyone, primarily due to its shape and surface imperfections. I suppose that the craftsmen who build special effects models for science fiction movies are familiar with this phenomenon. When working with wood, I can routinely locate surfaces and holes to within +/- .0025 inches (an error range of 1 part in a thousand or .1%, on a 5-inch model). The same error range on an object 20 feet in diameter produces a shape that is about 50 times more precise. The human eye is relatively good at figuring out the scale of an object based on these perceptual clues. I think a 5 to 6 inch model would have to be manufactured out of something that was stronger and more isotropic than wood so that it could have the dimensional and surface finish that we see here.

I located the center of mass of the model and attached a 1 m thread to the upper surface directly above the center of mass as closely as I could. The model hangs stationary with the bottom surface only a few degrees off the horizontal. Two classic methods for investigating the dynamics of a physical system are the impulse response and the response to white noise. The first method displays the free motion of the system when given some non-zero initial conditions. The second method displays the motion when the system is subjected to a continuing, external forcing function.

Larry said...

Part 2
Part 2
I began by suspending the model from a rigid support point above a table surface and observed the impulse response behavior. An impulse can be imparted to the model by providing a short, sharp whack to the side, or by pulling the model to the side in a random orientation and releasing it. In either case, the impulse gives the Degrees of Freedom of the model some initial, non-zero values, which then evolve with time, according to the natural modes of the system. Since there is no additional energy put into the system after the initial impulse, the system dissipates energy monotonically and eventually “rings down” to its original stationary state. As I predicted, there are 5 degrees of freedom evident in the free motion of the object. The large scale motion of the system is dominated by the circular pendulum mode (swinging back and forth and side to side). The pendulum equation predicts a period of swing of 2 seconds for a 1 meter string, which is what I observed to within the measurement error. The model also has two oscillatory modes where it tips fore and aft and side to side around the point of attachment. As one would expect, the frequency of oscillation for that mode is higher than the primary pendulum mode by about an order of magnitude (it was high enough that it couldn’t be readily measured by eyeball and stopwatch). Finally, and most importantly, the fifth mode of motion is the yaw rotation around the axis formed by the thread. The rotational stiffness and damping of the thread is—for all practical purposes—nearly zero; this means that once the yaw motion is stimulated, it keeps on going for minutes at a time. Moreover, it is almost impossible to give the model initial conditions that do not stimulate this mode. This confirms my suspicion that if you took two photos of a small object suspended on a single thread, let’s say about 10 seconds apart, there is very little chance that the appendage located on the upper surface at an angle would be pointing in the same direction in the two photos. This was exactly the same line of argument that Hartmann used to discard the possibility that the photo could have been hoaxed by a small thrown Frisbee-like-object .

Larry said...

Part 3
I then placed a high output fan about 1 m from the model and subjected it to varying levels of wind (in the horizontal direction). The wind from the fan consists of a steady-state velocity superimposed on a random turbulence field (white noise). The response of the system to this kind of input is considered “forced” motion. Because there is a continuing energy input, the motion of the system will continue until the energy source is turned off. As I predicted, the steady-state motion of the system when exposed to time varying wind becomes dominated by the aerodynamics of the model. Specifically, when wind blows horizontally across a cambered, edge-on disc, it generates aerodynamic lift and drag. Introductory aerodynamic theory shows that the lift vector will act as if it is concentrated at the quarter chord (approximately ¼ the distance from the front edge of the disc to the center of the disc). The center of mass of the disc will be very close to the geometric center of the disc (the tilted appendage will move it very slightly toward the rear edge of the disc). Because the center of lift is forward of the center of mass conditions are set up for the classic divergence instability. In this condition, the lift vector acts to pitch the front edge of the disc upward, the upward pitch increases the aerodynamic angle of attack, which increases the lift, which increases the pitch, and so on. The pitch up of the disc will increase exponentially until it reaches the angle where the airfoil stalls (i.e., the airflow diverges). At that point, the rotational angular momentum of the disc will keep the disc pitching to higher and higher angles of attack until the disc is flat side on to the airflow. At that point, there will be no lift but a lot of drag, which will cause the mass of the model to be dragged along backward with the airflow. This excites the pendulum mode of the system, which allows the disc to start pitching downward. When the disc pitches downward past the horizontal, it develops negative lift, which causes aerodynamic divergence in the negative pitch direction, etc. When the airspeed is fast enough, this will cause the disc to flutter back and forth around the pitch axis at high frequency. Over many trials, I found that the model would enter this chaotic flutter mode after only a few seconds of exposure to the wind. Because the disc has no preferred yaw direction, I found that the yaw angle took on a random walk behavior when all the other modes of the system were being excited.

My conjecture before beginning this experiment was that a discoid model suspended by a single thread at the center of mass would not be stable to rotation around the yaw axis when excited by either an impulse or the wind. The experiment supports that conjecture. As a result, the appendage on the upper surface of the disc should appear at differing azimuth angles when photos are taken at random intervals. Instead, the two photos show the appendage at the same azimuth angle. If the photos were created by a small model hanging by thread, there has to have been more than one thread.

I plan to take videos of this behavior and could make them available, if anyone is interested.

Looking ahead, I plan to 1) hang this single-thread on a long catenary line and observe the dynamic behavior and 2) then construct a two-thread model and put it through the same tests.

Larry said...

Part 4
Up to this point, the discussion has been predicated on the assumption that the upper anchor point for the thread was fixed rigidly in space. If it were tied to the middle of a span of free-hanging wire, this would not actually be the case. The span of wire would actually have two degrees of freedom of motion, itself. One mode of oscillation would be up and down (transition from parabola to catenary and back) and the other mode of oscillation would be the wire swinging back and forth like a skip rope. If the pendulum string of the model is assumed to have been displaced sideways by as much as 30 degrees (in order produce the reduction in image size) then this should have produced a corresponding displacement in the skip rope mode of the wire. In other words, we should also be looking at the horizontal alignment of the wires in the two photos. That may actually be a more sensitive indicator of whether or not there is a mass suspended from one or both of them.

Dave said...

Interesting discussion.

That is a very particular if not unique profile shape for the object. I have looked at antique cookware sites of the first half of the 20th century but have not found any lids that closely matches that profile. (Also looked at common farm containers, machinery etc).

I know these lids would be too heavy for suspension but still could be tossed and photographed while at the top of its trajectory (to prevent motion blur).

It's a little reminiscent of a pressure cooker lid that one has to screw onto the flanges of the pot, hence the slightly rounded edges, as opposed to a simple lid.

However, in trent1, one should be able to see some detail on the inside bottom, but one doesn't; even while adjusting various photo editing parameters.

The negatives show a lot of wear, scratches, and spots, even when Dr. Maccabee had them. I wonder if the IPACO team may have mistaken an invisible (to the eye) scratch or line, but that their software picked up.

Awaiting your further experiments.

Anthony Mugan said...

Hi Larry
A very interesting discussion indeed. I suspect that my earlier attempt to construct a model that would get a small disc into the correct location on the sight lines as currently understood is doomed. Not only does it produce an incorrect spacing between the lower wire and the disc in image 2 but it required a single thread supporting the disc to get a swing to the left more or less parallel to the wires in image 1 and then back for image 2. The arguments you present against a single thread model are persuasive...not strictly impossible but it's evidently very unlikely that something moving in such a manner would have a very similar tilt in the two images, as you ( and Hartmann) both conclude. that take us to a fairly restricted set of options for the hoax model, namely a small very lightweight disc suspended by two wires or threads and remaining essentially motionless between the two images?
For that to work there would I think have to be an error with sight lines and they would need to actually intersect very close to the overhead wires.

I'll have a look back over the existing work on those sight lines but doubt I'll be able to assess if the cropping discussed above noticeably effects it.

Larry said...

Dave wrote: "...That is a very particular if not unique profile shape for the object...."

That's my reaction, as well. It looks to me like there are only two generic options for the small model theory. Either the Trent's serendipitously found some object in their environment (mirror, hubcap, ashtray, etc.) that just happens to have this exact profile. I don't know what that would be, and to my knowledge it hasn't turned up yet. If it does, then I guess the case will be closed.

The other option is that the Trents--having decided to perpetrate a hoax--fabricated a small model, like I did, specifically for the purpose. Having gone through that exercise, I tend to lean toward the former explanation as more probable. One factor that is not necessarily obvious in the absence of doing the exercise is that a 5 or 6 inch model is quite a bit smaller that would be optimum from the standpoint of construction. It's actually quite a bit more difficult to work on than if it had been, say, 10 or 12 inches.

Anthony asked: "...does that take us to a fairly restricted set of options for the hoax model, namely a small very lightweight disc suspended by two wires or threads and remaining essentially motionless between the two images?..."

That's my reading of it. Although, to be fair, I have not been following the sight line argument as closely as I have been thinking about the physical dynamics. Since I have about exhausted the physical dynamics experiment for the time being, I expect to spend more CPU cycles thinking about the geometry.

I have modified the model with a two-string suspension system and expect to conduct an impulse response and forced response test, later today; maybe report the results this evening.

Dave said...

While I keep an open mind to various possibilities in this case, I note that objects with protuberances on the top similar to those shown in the Trent photos have been photographed before, including the slight vertical offset of the 'antenna'.

One case in Rouen, France, in '54 (or '57), looks nearly identical.

Plug this into google for the photo:
ufo photo rouen france

Lance said...


I am following the discussion here. Certainly disagree with some of the claims but I want to be sure that I can present something helpful.

I am looking into this and hope that I can offer something interesting in response.


Dave said...

Having just re-read Maccabee's Trent analysis, I note he also mentions the Rouen photo. It's been a long time since I originally read his material, and I've had the Rouen photo in my archive since mid 90s.

It's good to see he had joined the dots long before I had.

Anthony Mugan said...

There seems to be a view that the Rouen photo is a retouched version of McMinnville. Can't say I've looked at it in detail but see the discussion on the NICAP sight ( link comes up on the Google search you suggest). Macabee disagrees, but there doesn't seem to be much provenence to it.

Larry said...

Part 1
Well, yesterday I managed to cobble together and test an ultralightweight 5-inch model consisting of nothing but a plastic partyware bowl with a piece of white construction paper glued over the mouth of the bowl. When turned upside down, it resembles the Trent photo object, but is obviously not exactly the same proportions. It represents what is probably the absolutely lightest weight model one could imagine. It came in at 10 grams. I have been using a clothesline in my backyard as the catenary from which to hang the models. It consists of a single continuous loop, passing over pulleys at each end; this forms an upper and a lower line separated from each other by the diameter of the pulley (about 4 inches). When a model is suspended from the lower line, its vertical displacement is readily apparent by comparison to the upper line. I take photos of the lines before and after hanging the model, so the amount of static displacement can be measured. The span of the clothesline is 38 feet, and the weight of a single span of the 3/16 inch line is 165 grams.

Without question, the lightest model produces the least static deflection of the line, but it is still noticeable. I have also noticed (as I predicted in a previous post) that the lateral deflection of the line is greater, for a given model weight, than the vertical deflection. This should make intuitive sense, because the lateral deflection (the skip rope mode) does not require any stretching of the line, nor does it require (for small angles of displacement) raising any mass in the gravity field. So, it doesn’t take much energy to excite this mode.

With a model this light weight, its dynamic behavior is noticeably different than the wooden model, due to the influence of aerodynamics. For one thing, its ballistic coefficient is an order of magnitude lower than that of the wooden model, so the time it takes for an initial pendulum displacement to decay is ten times faster. So, for example, if you initially pulled the model to the side until the pendulum string was 30 degrees from the vertical and then released it, it would only swing out to, say, 27 degrees on the other side, 24 degrees when it returned, and so on. In other words, any initial motion of the system would die out very fast, compared to a heavier model.

On the other hand, the low ballistic coefficient makes the model ten times more responsive to wind than the wooden model. In the presence of even a slight breeze, the lightweight model never comes to rest. In the presence of a constant wind, the lightweight model enters into a constant state of flutter, as discussed above.

Larry said...

Part 2
When the wooden model was rigged with a two-point suspension system, it displayed a noticeable reduction in overall dynamics, as predicted. Recall that the overall goal of going to something more complex than a single point suspension is to have a higher probability of the model duplicating the results that are portrayed in the photos: an approximately 30 degree difference in bank angle of the object coupled with virtually zero change in the yaw and pitch angles. However, even with a two point suspension, the model still displayed a very low level of yaw damping, for a reason I did not anticipate. The fore-to-aft spacing of the two suspension threads on the model is about 3 inches; the length of the suspension threads is about 36 inches. When the model yaws, the separation of the two attachment points creates a slight helical motion of the object (it tries to “wind up”) which has the effect of trying to raise the model in the gravity field. The model’s weight resists this tendency and creates a restoring yaw torque, which tries to restore the model to a zero yaw angle. The problem is that this restoring torque decreases with the ratio between the fore-to-aft spacing relative to the string length—in this case, a ratio of 1 to 12. This is apparently such a low restoring torque that it doesn’t have much effect on the model. What happens in real life is that the model keeps rotating in the yaw direction until the threads wind around each other. At that point, there is no restoring force at all, and the model behaves as though there is only one thread. My initial conjecture that a two point mounting system would increase the torsional (yaw) stiffness of the system enough to keep the yaw angle effectively constant between the two photos is not supported by the empirical data. At this particular scale, a two point mounting system produces the same qualitative behavior as a single point system.

Readers may recall that I began this discussion by stating that after first hypothesizing a two point mounting system, “… To me the hoax hypothesis just took a quantum jump increase in probability." Based on the empirical results, I retract that statement.

Larry said...

Part 3
As I see it, here is an approximate summary of the challenges to the suspended model hoax hypothesis:
1) From simple kinematics, there needs to be one specific spot on one of the wires where one end of a pendulum thread could be attached and there needs to be one specific length of the pendulum thread and one specific diameter of the disc model that simultaneously allows the model to reach both locations and have the correct apparent sizes, depicted in the photos. According to the Brad Sparks discussion, the kinematics in the two photos fails to achieve this by about 20%.
2) Any model constructed of realistic materials, from the lightest (essentially a paper plate) to the heaviest (a steel/glass automotive mirror) should produce detectible displacement of the wire (both vertical and horizontal) to which it is attached, both statically and dynamically. If you consider the three photos: Trent #1, Trent #2, and the Life magazine photo, they should all three show different wire shapes, if there was a model.
3) Neither a single point nor a two point suspension system would allow a model to have a high probability of maintaining a constant yaw angle in the two photos when the swinging motion of the model was excited by any combination of initial conditions and wind.

Anthony Mugan said...

Can I ask if the model was suspended by threads that were vertical or if a triangular arrangement was used. IPACO suggested a thread at an angle and I wonder if that might be more stable?
I've been attempting to play around with the angles, both in terms of bearings and apparent size. There is enough uncertainty in a number of the criteria used in the model to allow some room for manoeuvre, but not much and the tricky bit is that generally this lies in things like the assumed dimensions of various objects, which just moves both positions proportionally.
This is really tricky and I don't have the expertise to bring it to a firm conclusion. My instinct is erring to the hoax hypothesis, but it's hard to see how to get it to work whilst a large distant object fits the data very naturally,

To be honest the reason I'm uncomfortable with these photos is that they just don't look right ( not that I've seen an inventory of craft in use by whoever they are circa 1950), but that offset tilted appendage on the top just looks wrong. How's that for being totally unscientific!
At the moment however the data tilts a bit the other way, but hopefully in due course someone can give a definitive view on the sight lines. I shall have to leave it at that for now.

Larry said...

Anthony: I used suspension threads that were substantially vertical. I can go back and do the test with the threads at an angle.

Dave said...

@Anthony Mugan

I was mainly looking at the shape of the object, not so much the provenance. First mention was in a British aviation mag in 1957. Couldn't find anything earlier. Checked the COMETA report, but it's not mentioned there.

I wonder if Jacques Vallee might know, don't happen to have his email.

I did look through his online books, but again, found nothing.

Robert Sheaffer said...

I have just posted a detailed "Special Report" on the McMinnville photos on my BadUFOs Blog.It includes new, independent evidence of a suspension string.

Larry said...

Robert; two quick responses:

In your special report, the analysis by Jay Walter purports to show evidence for a slender thread on an essentially vertical line. The IPACO analysis purports to show the model in the two different photos as hanging on a thread that is about 11 degrees off the vertical in one case and about 10+ degrees in the other. How do you explain the difference?

It would seem that there are only a few options.
1) Perhaps there are actually two threads on the object and each analysis (IPACO and Walker) failed to detect one of them (but not the same one).
2) There is only one thread, in which case at least one of the analyses is wrong--having produced a false positive. This would indicate that it is fairly easy to produce false positives in this kind of analysis.
3) There are no threads and both purported detections are false positives.

With this level of disagreement between the two analyses, I would want to see some very convincing error analyses regarding how likely it is to create false positives before I would accept the results. At least, that's the standard I set when I peer review technical papers.

Second, the IPACO analysis begins by calculating the angular size of the images in both photos; they are known with precision probably significantly greater than 1%. Also, the distance from the camera to the power wires is known to within about 10%. Knowing the focal length of the camera, this sets the absolute diameter of the object as between 5 and 6 inches (depending on whether you think it is swinging toward or away from the camera). The 8 inch diameter that Jay Walker suggests as being representative of an appliance motor cover is out of the question--it is quite a bit bigger than the IPACO analysis would allow.

Larry said...

Part 1

I re-ran the experiment with a two point suspension system with the attachment points of the threads on the overhead wire separated by about 2 ft; that produces approximately a 60 degree included angle. This much angular separation does create a substantial yaw-restoring torque. What this does is make the playground swing mode more prominent, as predicted. In the absence of wind, it is possible to pull the pendulum toward the viewer by a large swing angle, carefully release it without tip-off errors and watch it swing back and forth without noticeable yaw motion. That’s the good news.

The bad news is that this suspension system adds very substantial stiffness to the connection between the bank angle of the model and the swing angle of the pendulum. This is what you see when observing a playground swing; the swing seat has a very strong tendency to stay perpendicular to the suspension lines. What this means is that the bank angle of the object is effectively one and the the same as the swing angle of the pendulum.

This is a problem for the suspended model hoax hypothesis. IPACO showed that between the two photos, the yaw angle and the pitch angle of the object did not change at all, but the bank angle of the object changed by 25 degrees; this means that the pendulum swing angle between the two photos was also about 25 degrees. But more than that, since the bank angle in Trent #2 is zero (i.e., the “wings” are level) that means that the pendulum is at the bottom of its stroke; it can’t get any lower and it is presumably directly under its suspension point (15.1 ft from the camera). From the geometry of the Trents’ house, yard, and outbuildings, IPACO calculated the presumed small model to be about 15 feet from the camera in MM1 and requires about a 2 foot increase in distance in MM2 to produce the 11% observed reduction in image size. Also, as David pointed out, the image lost about 2 degrees of elevation relative to the horizon in going from MM1 to MM2. If the increase in distance from the camera between MM1 and MM2 is due to the pendulum swing, then the reduction in elevation also has to be due to the pendulum swing. In other words, MM1 is closer to the camera and higher on the pendulum arc and MM2 is further away and lower. The only way this can work is if , in MM1, the pendulum has swung toward the camera and therefore increased its altitude and , in MM2, has swung away from the camera and lowered its altitude. IPACO calculated that if the model was about 5 inches in diameter then the pendulum length was about 25 inches. A swing angle of 25 degrees is far too small to account for the 11% change in image size between the two photos, if the pendulum length is 25 inches. When I worked the trigonometry, it turned out that the pendulum string would have to have been about 56 inches in length for a 25 degree swing to produce a 2 foot difference in distance to the camera; that would put the supposed attachment point about 2 feet ABOVE the wire. Moreover, that would also produce an apparent reduction in elevation angle of about 3.6 degrees—almost twice what David calculated, above.
So the bottom line is that while a two-point suspension COULD solve the problem of maintaining the pitch and yaw angles constant while allowing the bank angle to change, it totally fails to match the geometry constraints of simultaneously producing the reduction in image size and image elevation angle.

Larry said...

Part 2
But IPACO continues to insist that what we are seeing is a lightweight model suspended on a single string attached to the upper surface of the model directly above the model’s center of mass. They calculate the “angle of the dangle” to be about 11 degrees in one case and 10.3 degrees in the other, both side-to-side, relative to the camera’s line of sight. They propose that this angle is maintained at a nearly constant value by the presence of a mild wind, blowing from photo left to photo right. There are two problems with this. Their conclusion could not take into account the dynamics modeling I have done in the last week or two, but if it did, it would be apparent that the combination of single point suspension, lightweight model, and mild wind is virtually guaranteed to produce differences in the pitch angle, yaw angle, AND bank angle from photo to photo.

Second, if they had bothered to work out the large scale geometry of this assumption, they would have seen that it is also inconsistent with simultaneously reducing the image size and image elevation angle. Recall that in order to produce a 24 inch difference, front-to-back in the model location with a 25 inch pendulum, it is necessary to have a minimum pendulum swing of around 45 degrees in the back-and-forth direction. I think the only way to produce an apparent side-to-side displacement of 11 degrees while simultaneously producing a back-and-forth displacement of 45 degrees is to have the model describe a circular trajectory; i.e., it’s orbiting a point directly under the attachment point. (Note: this is a well known singular solution to the spherical pendulum case; if someone else can come up with an alternative explanation, I would like to know about it.) In this case, the camera line of sight is looking across the orbit plane, a little to the right of the center of rotation. If the model had proceeded about 14 degrees in its orbit past the point of closest approach, the pendulum string would produce an approximate 11 degree angle, relative to the vertical. As the model continues around in its orbit and gets to 14 degrees before its farthest point, it also produces an apparent string angle of 11 degrees. This geometry has to be symmetric around the camera line of sight in order to produce the observed effect that the object appears to have moved directly away from the camera on the line of sight, in the interval of the two photos. The result of all these considerations is that the model would have to be at the same altitude in MM1 and MM2, and could not have shown any decrease in elevation angle.

The specific IPACO hypothesis does not seem to be consistent with the behavior of real-world, compound pendulum dynamics. Other models—to be determined--might be

Anthony Mugan said...

Hi Larry
thanks for that - I agree...I had wondered about having a circular rotation earlier and thought for a while that that might have cracked it, but I agree it doesn't work when you have all the constraints we do have in these images.
I short I can think of three possible solutions
a) There is an outside chance that there is a basic error in our understanding of the layout of the farm - but not obvious what is would be.
b) It is large and distant
c) Someone untied the model and re-attached it at a different point to get the angle for image 2.

Perhaps we are over thinking this...Mind you getting option (c) right would require a degree of understanding of maths etc and careful planning, which may not be very likely in this case.

Larry said...


I’m not sure a longer string would solve the problem (although it deserves more thought). When you strip away all the extraneous material, here’s what it comes down to: The line of sight from the camera to the images in the two photos is supposedly a single line, fixed in space (i.e., the object moved directly away from the photographer from MM! to MM2). The line connecting the two objects is tilted about 2 degrees below the horizontal. These two lines, at best, share a single point of intersection. The objects can not both simultaneously be on both lines. I think this argues that in moving from MM1 to MM2, the object had to move a distance that is on the same scale as the horizon; hence, a large distant object. If this line of reasoning holds up under critical scrutiny, this could be a discriminator between the small/close, large/far explanations.

Dave said...

@ Anthony

The shadow data argues that the two photos were taken very close in time.

Re-attaching the model would have required setting up a ladder, stringing up the model again on a live power line, then removing the ladder, while making sure there were no knots or strings left dangling from the wire and then taking the second photo. (Was there even a ladder available on the Trent farm?)

This is harder for me to believe than the object-at-distance scenario.

Anthony Mugan said...

Hi Larry and Dave...
Thanks for both comments.
Larry I'm it sure I follow. If I've understood it correctly the current best estimate for the location the two photos were taken from are in different locations and on different angles of view, with the sight lines intersecting about 4 feet behind the overhead wires. I agree it is not a at all clear how to get a model suspended from the lower wire into the right positions for both photos. If we assume the photos were taken in quick succession this does indeed argue for a distant object. Are we saying the same thing here?
My worry is in the tilt of the object which is consistent with an offset centre of gravity ( but is also consistent with bank to turn for a distant object). I confess I just am uncomfortable with the physical design of it.

I began to wonder if the model could simply have been moved between shots...

Dave...I think I'm right in saying the wire in the photos is thought to be insulated wire for domestic use...? There is a step ladder that appears in a number of the press photos taken some weeks later ( including one with one of the Trent children climbing on it under the wires). The wires were not particularly high and within easy reach for an adult using the stepladder shown.
Not tried an actual experiment, but can't imagine it would take long to untie and retie it. The logic for doing so could either have been a realisation that image 1 location would have been too far south to get an image for photo 2 looking west without the disc being in front if the garage. Alternatively the decision to take image 2 could simply have been a spur of the moment decision taken shortly later with the model reattached in a slightly different position.

I do agree this scenario is speculative and can not be proven. The images are also consistent with a large distant object and if we had some high reliability reports of a similar design I'd be more positive about it, but we don't so on balance I think it remains inconclusive but I am slightly more inclined towards the hoax hypothesis. Not sure there is much more that can be done with it unless some basic discrepancy in the layout if the farm turns up.

starman said...

"Mind you getting option (c) right would require a degree of understanding of maths etc and careful planning, which may not be very likely in this case."

An allusion to the "mentally challenged" Trents? I believe Maccabee said even if a hoax were theoretically possible it was beyond their capacity. All things considered isn't a distant object most parsimonious?

David Rudiak said...

(Part 1/4)
I don’t know if anybody is still paying attention, but here is a summary to date of my Google Earth (GE) model revisitation of the Trent photos, which I believe to be the most precise recreation of the scene in 3D. This is based on my on-site measurements of rafter , sideboard spacing, and dimensions of the surviving garage, measurement of the garage-house distance (to the surviving house foundation under a poured concrete slab), plus recreation of the Trent house dimensions based on Hartmann’s and LIFE Loomis Dean photos plus a 1948 aerial photo found by Maccabee, also scaled in height using the sideboard spacing of the garage.

The house dimensions and position are important in determining the height of the 2 wires coming off the house near the peak (12’ and 13’3” up and ~9’ E of the corner), which determines where the wires were running relative to Trent’s photo positions, where a potential hoax model would be hung, and how this relates to the camera sighting lines (SL’s) to the two UFO images.

In addition, I also measured the height of the wires near where they sagged down to where something would be hung using another Dean photo showing Mrs. Trent in front of her house with a 6’ stepladder underneath the wires. Scaled against the stepladder, the lower wire is about 11’ above the ground +/- 2”.

Finally I located distant features in the photos (houses, barns, power pole, etc.) that are still present and can be very precisely located in GE using modern, much more detailed satellite photos. GE also has a ruler tool for measuring azimuth’s and distances. Detailed 3D models of the Trent garage/house were created in Google Sketch-up based on my measurements and inserted into the scene, along with simpler models of distant houses, barns, power poles, etc. (plus saucers, of course). GE also renders the 3D landscape, which can be compared with the profiles of the hills seen in the Trent and Dean photos. One can also relatively crudely adjust camera height to change the horizon line, which can be used to estimate camera heights in different photos, probably accurate to +/- 2 inches.

By locating the center line of the photos (not always obvious with cropped photos but very important), drawing a perpendicular projection plane to this, starting at the corner of the garage, and scaling distant features (houses, barns, hill profile dips) and nearer known ones like garage rafter ends onto this plane based on Trent’s photos, it is possible to very precisely locate where Trent was standing relative to the garage/house and the wires by lining up the projection plane features with the 3D ones rendered by GE. The same can be done with the LIFE Dean photos taken from about the same two vantage points. (I’m still having trouble with these, perhaps because of Dean’s camera having a signficant lens aberration.)

Ideally, everything lines up at a unique point, the camera position for a scene. Once you know these positions with some precision (plus camera heights) can one then sensibly speculate with various hypotheses for a hoax, such as how long a suspension string would have been, the relative sizes of a model passively suspended from the lower wire (and how this compares to real measured relative sizes), where the saucer SLs meet relative to the wires, the degree of sag in the wires (comparing Dean to Trent photos), etc.

DISCLAIMER NOTICE: This is extremely complicated and time-consuming work which is ongoing. The results presented here may change with further analysis. I am presenting preliminary results only before this thread (or me) dies a natural death, so possibly I have made some inadvertent mistakes here and there.

David Rudiak said...

(part 2/4)
First of all, the basic photogrammetric details:

Saucer azimuths (deg):
Hartmann Rudiak
S1: 334 334.0
S2: 317 319.5

Saucer elevations (deg):
Hartmann Rudiak
S1: 14 12.5
S2: 12 10.4

Saucer angular sizes (deg)
Hartmann Rudiak
S1: 1.67 1.46
S2: 1.46 1.28

% diff in angular size (S1/S2)
Hartmann Maccabee
14.4% 14.4%

Why some of these values vary so much from previous studies I generally do not know, such as Hartmann’s much larger angular sizes. My angular size is based on the 100mm FL of Trent’s camera (with a 42 deg field width of Trent’s 120 film with 1.37 aspect ratio and 77mm film width) and Maccabee’s size measurements from the negatives (2.922 mm and 2.555 mm). Hartmann’s S2 angular size equates to my S1 size, and I’m wondering if he simply got the two confused (switched S2 for the real S1), then scaled up to get the wrong S1 size. Elevation angle differences may possibly be due to using different assumed horizons. According to GE, the top of the profile of the distant barn seen in the photos is at about the same elevation as Trent, so I used that as a convenient horizon marker, whereas Hartmann appears to have used something at the level of the bottom of the oil tank. Or maybe he just scaled the whole thing wrong. There are similarly problems with Maccabee’s azimuth values for various details in the pictures, which I think threw off his calculations for camera positions and sighting lines. Maccabee also used a much wider Trent house, based on an old aerial photo, which moved his assumed wire attachment points much further back and added several feet to his resulting difference between wire position and UFO sighting line crossing. (I won’t go into the details here.)

Previously I noted that Hartmann’s azimuths, elevation angles, and difference in angular size were all highly consistent with the Trents’ story of the object disappearing to the west in approximately level flight. The only adjustment I had to make to the trajectory was a departure of 10 degrees south of due west to get the relative sizes correct. With my newer azimuths and elevation angles, the only real change of significance is that the object would need to depart only 5 deg from due west to account for the size differences.

As previously noted by myself and others like Anthony Mugan, this economically accounts for all the basic details in the photos, including atmospheric haze making the bottom very light. In contrast, it is more difficult to make a hoax model work. ALL of the basic photogrammetric details (relative size, elevation angles, azimuths, tilts, camera heights, wire height, thread length, etc., have to be SELF-CONSISTENT, which is hard to do in any simple hoax model, with a model strongly constrained by being attached to suspending threads, making all the variables dependent on one another). The simplest scenario would be Trent hangs a model, photographs it from two different angles and distances, and this alone accounts for relative size difference, object profiles, elevation angles, and angle of tilt.

First the good news for the skeptics. In my present GE model, the saucer SL's cross only about 7" to 8” beyond (or in front of) the lower wire, very different from Maccabee’s 4’ beyond (again this is mainly because Maccabee assumed a much wider house and put the wires several feet further back). That certainly puts a hoax model within range of the wires, but clearly the simple passive model fails because it is unable to explain the SL's not crossing directly beneath the wires and the size differences and elevation angles (next post).

David Rudiak said...

(part 3/4)
My GE 3D model places camera #1 18.9’ behind the wire and camera #2 20.7’. This might shift a few inches depending on the true dimensions of the house, but the camera postions I currently consider to be very accurate, so the 1.8’ difference isn’t going to change much. This means the relative size difference is 20.7/18.9 = 1.095. But the correct ratio should be 1.144, or about a 5% difference. At about 20’ from the wire, to make up that 5% difference in size, the model has to swing about a foot towards cam. #1 or away from cam. #2.

I ran a number of spreadsheet “what-if” scenarios. For a model to swing towards cam. #1 and reproduce the relative size difference and measured elevation angles (assuming an 11’ wire height), a thread 3.4’ long swinging 1.01’ with an angle of 16.5 deg. would work, BUT only if I increase cam #1 and decrease cam #2 heights until they are about the same instead of cam#2 being around 3” higher.. Also you have the SL’s crossing on the wrong side of the wire (closer to camera) if the model swings square to the wire, and would have to have a side sway of about 2” left to the true SL to make the SL’s cross where we see them. And then there is the problem of the profiles being wrong, which might be dealt with by rotating the off-axis model to edge-on view when hanging passively, with the bottom showing almost correctly when swung toward the camera. There are a lot of “what-if’s” involved here.

The more natural way to hoax would be to passively hang the model for photo 1, which would naturally show about the correct amount of bottom since Trent would be underneath, and then swing the model away from the camera, which would about take it to edge-on view. (I calculate about 19 deg. being subtracted from the angle of exposure with the model just hanging there, which would nearly be edge-on.) This can be accomplished with a 3.3’ thread swung 13” away from cam. #2, which gives right elevation angles and relative sizes, BUT this only works if I increase cam. #2’s height by almost 2”, which may or may not be viable. (I suspect this would be beyond margin of error). The SL would be about 6” beyond where I have it, which could be accounted for by a modest ¾” sway to the left from true perpendicular swing.

Another constraint is that the lack of sag in the wire, that I previously established, limits any model (which would be about 6” in diameter at the given distance) to paper plate weight. May 11, 1950, was a breezy day, according to local weather records, with average hourly winds being around 10 mph, coming out of about the NW, or about square on to the wire. This would present problems for Trent, who you would think would wait for a calmer day if he was planning a hoax. Instead, Trent would have to wait for a relatively calm period to take photo 1 with the model just dangling there. Then he would have to give the model a GREAT big swing, RUN back and take photo 2 before the light-weight model quickly slowed down in its swing (or Mrs. Trent swung it for him), hopefully with no significant breeze as it swung away from the wire directly INTO any wind. (Of course, we only have the Trents’ word that the photos were actually taken May 11, but there seems no reason to make up a date.)

Two other constraints on Trent would be the rafter shadows indicating the photos were taken within minutes of one another and Trent having to pull this off in only two photos. He would also have to take photo #2 of the moving model at just the right moment to get it nearly edge on, then make up a story about how the photos were taken and how the object moved away that conforms extremely well to a DISTANT object. And he would have to do the hoax for no obvious reason, get Mrs. Trent on-board with the story, and the two of them would stick to the story for the rest of their lives with no “death-bed” confessions. This from two people who were described as very honext but not very bright. So as Maccabee has written, Trent would also have to be very lucky to get everything right.

David Rudiak said...

(part 4/4)
Against this, the non-hoax scenario, the distant saucer, which explains most details with fewer assumptions (azimuths, elevation angles, relative size difference, and light bottom in photo #1) and is perfectly consistent with the Trent’s story, still has to explain the SL being close to the wire. This might be explained by the limited angle of movement between the two photos (14.5 deg. difference in azimuth) and Trent’s different photo positions.

Let us assume that +/ - 1 foot from the wire places the SL’s within hoax territory. (We could make it greater than this, like +/- 1.5 feet, which increases the odds that Trent, by pure chance, would snap a photo in “hoax range”, but I’m giving a more conservatie example.) That’s a difference of about 1.5 deg. in azimuth.

Photo 1 has the saucer almost dead center in the photo. Photo 2 has the saucer only about 2.7 deg left of center. If Trent stepped to his right to keep the UFO in view as it “fled” westward , before disappearing behind the roof-line of the garage to his left, then tried to center the UFO like in photo #1 to take the second photo of the UFO as it sped westward, that already accounts for about 11 deg.of the 14.5 deg azimuth change.

If he had managed to take the UFO photo dead center, the SL’s would have met ~5.5’ beyond the wire, but the UFO moving only 2.5 deg. west before he could snap the picture would take it into SL “hoax territory” a foot beyond the wire, and moving 4 deg, in a non-hoax scenario (given my assumption of him trying to frame the UFO in the center like in photo #1), Trent would have had roughly a 50/50 chance of the SL’s meeting in hoax territory anyway. (Yes, I know, you could expand the range of possible angles, say to 5 deg, and the odds would fall to 30% of him snapping the picture within the hoax territory 1.5 deg, etc., but I’m just giving an example that the odds are not huge long-shots. To compensate, I could also expand the swing range to +/- 1.5’ from the wire, getting us back into 50/50 odds range again.)

Nonetheless, this long, detailed (still unfinished) analysis indicates that a hoax scenario is certaily viable, though one has to jiggle with the difference in camera heights perhaps beyond measurement error to make it happen. The hoax scenario also still has to explain the very light UFO bottom, which requires additional hoax assumptions, such as flash bulb, translucent model, and/or additional non-flash illumination source (like another large cumulus cloud south of Trent, like one east of Trent which could have cast the eastern wall rafter shadows, two of the three again requiring Trent to be very lucky).

Anthony Mugan said...

David... Still paying attention.

This deserves formally writing up. If it 'hangs together' on scrutiny in would indeed move the sight lines sufficiently close together.
I am a bit puzzled about the house dimensions. I had assumed the aerial photovfromvthe 1940s had pretty much settled that rather than any rains still present?
Conscious that using the other measurements move things away from the hoax model, but I was surprised at that being the basis for the change in the SLs

Anthony Mugan said...

Goodness...I hate predictive text...that should read 'remains' rather than 'rains'

Anthony Mugan said...

On reflection I wonder if this is a case that will remain inconclusive, regardless of the amount of effort thrown at it.

The distant trajectory works very nicely and there doesn't appear to be anything to falsify Trent's version of what happened. Alternatively it does seem possible to construct scenarios in which a hoax could have been perpetrated.

In short the data cannot be used for any further analysis as it isn't possible to decisively discriminate between these possibilities.

It may therefore, on reflection, not be a particularly good use of time to take this too much further in terms of formal write up etc. In contrast some of your other work (e.g. on the memo for example) already gives clear results.

Anthony Mugan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
David Rudiak said...


Yes, in the end, the case may remain inconclusive, with nothing in the photos themselves clearly pointing one way or the other. Bruce Maccabee has long stated that given the right circumstances of planning and just dumb luck, hoaxed photos can withstand the most intense scrutiny. You can never prove absolutely that photos are real, only that they are hoaxed if some detail emerges pointing that way, such as a clearly defined suspension thread or maybe a confession from the photographer.

The Trent UFO photos are highly unusual in that they are a pair taken from different vantage points. It is much more difficult to fake sets of photos than just one photo. With one photo you can just hang a model there, take a picture, and it is what it is with nothing to compare it to. But with a pair, the situation is much different. You can compare sizes, azimuths, and elevation angles. There are other variables, such as camera heights, suspension height, thread length, etc. For it to be faked, these ALL have to be self-consistent. Not so with a free-flying object off in the distance or only one photo of a model.

I don't think skeptics appreciate just how highly constrained a model on a thread (or pair of threads) really is. It is easy to get the relative sizes correct with the right combination of camera distances and swing of the model on a thread. But do the elevation angles match? (Other things should also match, such as the object profiles, the tilts you noted, etc., but the two main ones are sizes and elevations.)

It is NOT easy to match elevation angles SIMULTANEOUSLY with the relative size. In order to do both at the same time, I have to play games with the camera heights. In the most natural hoax scenario of swinging the model in photo #2 away from the camera, I have to raise the camera about 2 inches to get everything to work, giving about a 5 inch difference in camera heights between photos, which itself seems a little bit unlikely.

I just took a more careful look today at camera heights, using that barn roof profile in both photos as my horizon line, making sure the roof tops were both horizontal, drawing a line from both to the oil tank, scaling the oil tank to the same vertical size, and then using the known dimensions of the tank to determine distance between horizon lines (which gives difference in camera heights). I am still getting only 3", not the 5" I need to make the hoax model work properly.

I will try to do some more cross-checks, but so far it seems that the only way I'll get a model on a thread to work is to assume something else, like a breeze lifting one of the models a little bit, or the wire bouncing a little bit because of a breeze or Trent swinging the model. That might also conceal a little sag in the wire from the weight of a model, which so far my work suggests is NOT there.

This all requires Trent to be very, very lucky, but I still can't rule out a hoax because maybe he was lucky.

This work does suggest that a hoax is marginally viable and certainly does establish that the saucer sighting line crossing to be much closer to the wires than Maccabee had it, making a hoax more plausible.

But as I also tried to argue, the SLs crossing close to the wires might also be reasonably expected given the story Trent gave of how the pictures were taken.

I could abuse the logical test of poor William of Occam that the hypothesis with the fewest assumptions that explains all the facts is usually the right one. In that case, non-hoax wins. But unlike the pseudo-skeptics, I don't consider Occam's razor to be a killer argument. Sometimes the more complicated hypothesis is correct. Evolutionary theory and modern cosmology are much more complicated than Biblical Genesis creationism.

David Rudiak said...


Concerning the house dimensions, the aerial photo does suggest the total width of the house at about 24'. Maccabee used half of that, or 12', for the take-off points for the two wires under the house peak (shown in Hartmann's Condon photo).

The problem is the peak ridge-line in that same photo is NOT in the center, but left of center. In fact, if you overlap the house aerial image with the garage image in the same photo, the two fall on top of one another. I know the surviving garage is about 18' wide because I measured it. The garage and the main part of the house seem to have been built to the same floor plan, including the same length. Therefore the house roof ridge line is closer to 9' from the left edge (west edge) of the house, rather than Maccabee's 12'.

Another about 6' portion of the house was added to the right (east side) bringing the total width to about 24', but peak of the main part of the house where the wires start is not dead center. A little bit of the add-on to the main house part can be seen in the Loomis Dean photos with Mrs. Trent in front of her house.

The Hartmann and Dean photos also show the house roof to be much steeper than the garage. Too bad we don't have a full view of the house front or back to nail this down a little better.

Hartmann's photo of the rear shows a suggestion of a door at the far right of the photo. If correct, this is where Paul Trent would have emerged into the back yard when Mrs. Trent was yelling at him to get his camera. He would be about 12 feet from the left edge of the house. Running towards the rabbit hutches, which were behind the garage and where Mrs. Trent said she first spotted the object while feeding the rabbits, would have taken him deep into the back yard, where indeed he did take the photos.

If you want the dimensions of everything, the house left/west edge is about 18' 10" east and 2' north of the NE corner of the garage, and both garage and house are rotated about 2 deg clockwise from true north. (Why should anything be simple?)

Draw an East/West baseline from the garage corner. Then here is a comparison of where Bruce Maccabee and I have the two photo positions:

Maccabee....x(east)..y (south)
Camera 1.....22.2'....22.7'
Camera 2.....27.4'....19.4'

Rudiak......x(east)..y (south)
Camera 1.....21.9.....26.1'
Camera 2.....27.4.....24.8

You'll notice our x(east) positions are about the same, but my y(south) positions are about 3.5'-5' further back.

Distance to wire:

As for sighting line cross point:

SL crossing distance from wire:
Maccabee: 4.2’ (or 2.6’ with my wire position)
Rudiak: 7"-8”

Anthony Mugan said...

Thanks David...

Lance said...


I started a 3D model myself using the high-end 3D software, Cinema 4D Studio.

Would you mind sharing your sketch up model?
I was able to model the wires precisely with every kink but I will bet that your model of the farmyard is more accurate than mine.

If we did have an accurate model + camera, we could should be able to position and see the scene exactly as seen in the photos.

One issue, I wonder if you have solved is how to create the proper camera for the scene? I realize that the lens was 100mm but obviously the scene is not the same as a 100mm image on 35mm film. It is much wider. My calibration software guessed it at something like 43 mm in rough tests. Did you by any chance get a 35mm equivalent?

I can feed in these parameters to my camera:

Focal Length
Sensor Size (Film Gate)
This then results in a 35mm equivalent.

The problem for me is that placing the camera in roughly the positions indicated and getting a resulting scene that (somewhat) matches the photos requires a very large sensor size (~100mm).

I do work in 3D for films and TV but I dont do forensic work in 3D so I don't know what my error is.



David Rudiak said...

Lance wrote:
I started a 3D model myself using the high-end 3D software, Cinema 4D Studio.

I welcome your effort to create your own model. Never hurts to double-check results.

Would you mind sharing your sketch up model?

No problem, but it is continually being modified.

I was able to model the wires precisely with every kink but I will bet that your model of the farmyard is more accurate than mine.

I'm preparing a spreadsheet with my measurements and will forward it on to you. My Sketch-Up wires leave much to be desired since they are presently modeled with circular arcs. Sketch-up has no simple way to model different curves, such as more realistic parabolas for the wires.

If we did have an accurate model + camera, we could should be able to position and see the scene exactly as seen in the photos.

Exactly. Using known objects in known positions projected into the image plane of the ray tracer, it should be possible to exactly match these objects in the model to their images in the photos. If everything is dimensioned correctly, there is a unique position for the camera where this will happen. I already have this "dead-on" for Photo 1, which is why I have high confidence that my camera position is right to maybe 2 or 3". Camera 2 needs a little work, and Loomis Dean's LIFE photos even more.

The main fly in the ointment is unknown lens aberrations in the cameras, such that the film projections are slightly distorted from what one would get with a "pure" geometric projection from a pinhole camera or computer ray tracer. I may need future help with this.

One issue, I wonder if you have solved is how to create the proper camera for the scene? I realize that the lens was 100mm but obviously the scene is not the same as a 100mm image on 35mm film. It is much wider. My calibration software guessed it at something like 43 mm in rough tests. Did you by any chance get a 35mm equivalent?

Trent's Universal Roamer I camera used 120 film, which is capable of variable image width size depending on the camera (with a fixed vertical size--the film width of 56 mm). The photos seem close to one of the 120 film's 1.37/1 image ratio standard (same as 35 mm film), which translates in 120 film to 77 mm image width, or 42 deg. field.

I can feed in these parameters to my camera:

Focal Length
Sensor Size (Film Gate)
This then results in a 35mm equivalent.

Don't quite understand this, but think it means your model camera standardizes for 35 mm film, which would mean the FL would need to be scaled to reduce 77 mm wide film to 35 mm. I would guess this means the FL of Trent's camera would need to be scaled to 35/77 * 100 = 45.5 mm, which would still give a 42 degree field.

Since Trent's camera fortuitously seems to have had the same aspect ratio as 35 mm film (=~1.37" wide), the vertical dimension would be 1 inch or ~25 mm.

The problem for me is that placing the camera in roughly the positions indicated and getting a resulting scene that (somewhat) matches the photos requires a very large sensor size (~100mm).

Again, I'm a bit confused as to what the problem is here. Maybe the wrong focal length again for the film/sensor size?

Lance said...

Thanks David.

That is exactly right--my 3D cameras can be configured in most any way but they display as 35mm equivalents.

If you are saying that the Trent setup was the equivalent of 45.5 mm lens in a 35mm camera that would make a lot of sense.

My rough calibration check (which takes defined straight lines in the scene and tries to solve for the camera) guessed at about 43mm so I wasn't too far off.

Let me take a look at the sketch up file and see what's involved in converting it... The advantage of doing this in a full 3D program is that I can do things like dial in the size of the wires, etc and perhaps get a more photo realistic result.

If the conversion is trivial then you could continue to refine your model and I could pop it into C4D when it was finalized. Also you get the fantastic advantage of having a skeptic double check your work!

If it is non-trivial then I may not be able to devote enough time to this project but I would be be willing to try.

My wires follow the exact shape in the photos (as viewed from the one angle). but since that only covers what is seen in the photos--either end would have to be interpolated--which could be done with a nice farm layout.

I am sure you noted the one Dean photo that does show the hookup on the garage--something I think had only been guessed at previously?


zoamchomsky said...

Ron S. said...

One thing that never get's mentioned is how the "mast" or "post" on top of the object is askew to one side. The theory of the truck mirror makes perfect sense. When the mirror is affixed to the bracket on the truck, one adjust the mirror with their hand, once the mirror is taken off, chances are the mirror is still adjusted at the angle that the driver used. Wny would a flying object have a post in the middle of it but listed to one side?

Total hoax. Totally a mirror, IMO.