Saturday, September 29, 2018

Treasure Quest and the Bat Cave

Well folks, last night (September 28) was maybe the worst of the episodes but only for what it revealed about the great treasure hunt. They penetrated another tunnel, or in this case a cave, filled with toxic chemicals thanks to the vampire bats, and found nothing. They reached the dead end, avoiding the bats by shining their lights down so as not to disturb them. Oh, and they created a huge air vent to blow the toxic gas out using some of the one hundred plastic bags they had brought in. Really? A hundred plastic bags?

All that really proves was that they had access to a great deal of equipment and supplies that, again, suggested, they weren’t traveling into the deep wilderness without a lot of support. If they were trekking into this remote area, I can’t think of a good reason to bring in all those plastic bags because they would have limited weight capabilities on those burros they allegedly used… but, of course, we know that isn’t true. They’re an hour or so from Quime and what, ten hours from La Paz
C. H. Prodgers
by those SUVs that have become more prevalent in the last few episodes. I note here that C. H. Prodgers, who was there a hundred years ago, wrote that the trip to La Paz would take eight to ten days. I bring this up only for perspective.

Did I mention they found a bell? It had a couple of cracks in it and was made of bronze which is not a treasure but was cool. And, they found more of that oxen chain. All that led them, indirectly, to the Bat Cave, which turned out to be a bust.
So, they’re standing there, wondering what to do next because Winter is Coming… I mean, the rainy season is coming, so they don’t have much time. They deploy a drone, which is another bit of technology that requires some kind of external support such as batteries and recharging capabilities. With it they find another area several miles away that has three rivers coming together and with a mesa close by. They decide they must get to that area because that also fits the descriptions of the Roman Document.

After a hike, they walk into the area, climb the hill and look for the egg-shaped rock that is supposed to mark the location of the tunnel of treasure. It was so big it took 500 of the locals to place on top of the hill. Prodgers had written nearly a hundred years ago that, “If you dig down underneath this stone for five yards, you will find the roof of a large cave, which took 500 men two and a half years to hollow out. The roof is seventy yards long, and there are two compartments and a long narrow passage leading from the room on the east side to the main entrance two hundred yards away.”

Prodgers continued his commentary, “The stone was exactly ten feet high above the ground, five feet below, and fourteen feet wide around the middle.”

One of our guys talked about the huge stone and they all begin a search for the rock but don’t find it. Instead they discover a boulder that has smaller rocks scattered around it. They postulate that this might have been the egg-shaped rock that weather had shattered. Prodgers, however, wrote, “I started off the excavation by blowing the big egg-shaped stone to pieces with dynamite.” That certainly would have done a better job of breaking the boulder apart.

You would think that this latest expedition, that has been talking about all its technology would have, at the very least, searched out some of these old records and stories before heading to Bolivia. You would think that they would have known that Prodgers blew up the rock so that it wouldn’t be there. I knew it. I learned about it weeks ago and didn’t even have to visit a library to learn it.

While our guys are looking around, they find a huge void underground using their ground penetrating radar and a couple of other gadgets, and I wonder where all that equipment came from because it sure didn’t look as if they had lugged it into the wild during the latest trek. Their packs were somewhat smaller so that equipment should have been visible. But never mind.

After working their way around the rock and plateau, they find a void, but Prodgers told us where it was. He wrote, nearly a century ago, “The roof of the cave was covered over by earth and grass for eighteen inches or two feet, except at the end where the big stone was, where it was covered rather deeper.”

Our guys determine it is even deeper than that. They’re going to need their excavator and wonder if they can get it up there. (Sure, I know the sentence has some syntax problems but I wanted to get all forms of there in it.) While a couple of them set up base camp, with more stuff that they hadn’t seemed to carry in with them, the others head back to the original and obviously wrong site. They crank up
Josh Gates. Photo copyright by
Kevin Randle
the excavator and one of those ubiquitous SUVs for the drive back… Yeah, they can actually drive to the new location and you have to wonder if they didn’t know that all the time. You wonder if they drove over, climbed out then waded around in the river to make it look good on television because what sort of expedition drives to its new, important location, other than Josh Gates and his pals? Certainly not those guys on Treasure Quest.

They drive the excavator up the hill, position it to dig down and wonder if it has the capability to dig as deep as they need… But, of course it does, and they breakthrough into the cavern. I will point out here the Prodgers had done that a hundred years ago. He described the cavern but he didn’t describe any treasure found in it. Prodgers, by the way, never found the treasure, as I noted in an earlier post, but he seems to have been at this very location a hundred years before our guys arrived.

They do break into the tunnel or cave, and they try to test the air. Prodgers had suggested that it was toxic. One of the men begins a descent into the hole they opened, mentioning that it looks deep. He keeps going but stops responding to them. As they panic, they realize the line is now slack and call for a medic that we’ve never seen but who was obviously there with a cameraman or two.  Before this is resolved, we cut away for commercials. When we come back it is obvious that we’ll have to wait until next week to find out if the man survived and if they have found the treasure. I’ll say “Yes and no.” Yes, he survives and no, they’ll find no treasure.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Treasure Quest Latest - What a Snooze Fest

Well, Friday’s show (Sept 21) was certainly a snooze fest. I can say that because halfway through I fell asleep and missed some of it. I figured that I’d pick it up on Sunday, but I fell asleep again. Not in the same place but the show still put me to sleep. There just wasn’t anything going on that was all that interesting and I could have been watching the football game.

I did see them reach the end of the tunnel and find nothing there. They did check the walls to make sure there wasn’t a hidden chamber somewhere, but found nothing. I would have though as they used their ground penetrating radar they might have found a hint of that, but no.

From the teasers, I do know they have to find some sort of underground lake, or pond or mud puddle. They hint that they’ll find something of interest hidden in the water, but I’ve been watching this show since they were fooling around on Snake Island. There never is any sort of payoff. Just a hint of something bigger and better coming at some later date. All I have to do is point to the bale seal and say, “But this was supposed to be part of the treasure.”

I did wake up in time to listen to their plan to find out what the symbols on bale seal they had found are. They needed an expert and there was one in La Paz. Well, from the first episode, we were lead to believe that they were in an isolate area of Bolivia, so remote they had to walk in using burros to transport their gear. We have since learned of the secret road that while in crummy shape was still good enough to bring in heavy equipment. And, they had a SUV that apparently can
Quime and the "secret" roads.
make it to Quime in an hour or two.

Now we learn they are only about eight hours from La Paz. I’m wondering if they really camp out in the Sacambaya Valley where there are snakes and scorpions, or if they commute in and out as the shooting schedule requires. They give the impression that they are out there, in the field, day after day, but I think they are only there periodically, so that they can get some footage of them digging around and blowing up things.

Anyway, a couple of the guys head over to talk with a man who is versed in the history of the area and can tell them all about the bale seal. They arrive at his house, which is about the most impressive thing I’ve seen since they started this version of Snake Island. As happens only on TV, they knock on the door and he opens it immediately. That suggests that a meeting had been arranged… which seems likely because they have to get the cameras and sound equipment into the room to film and it would be a real waste of time to show up if the guy was on vacation or out shopping or something.

The expert, whose name I didn’t bother to learn, tells them the bale seal is from the Jesuits, and that the other symbols provide a clue as to where the package was prepared and its destination. There are three wavy lines, which they interpret to mean the Sacambaya Valley where the package was prepared. But, there are three wavy lines in the other spot suggesting the destination. They wonder if that means the Sacambaya Valley where the three rivers meet. They wonder if that means the destination is the same place, but I have to say, that doesn’t make a lot of sense to me.

When the episode ends, not much has happened. Maybe it was in the parts I slept through, but I doubt that. All I really learned was that they are close enough to La Paz, that they could almost commute from Sacambaya to La Paz and back. No reason to rough it in the wild, which, by the way, probably isn’t all that wild.

I will now predict that they will find nothing other than the type of debris you would expect on a site that was occupied for a couple of hundred years. A hundred years ago, an expedition into the area would be been much more difficult than it is today and probably left more debris for them to find. We’ve seen the roads, we’ve seen them bring in heavy equipment, and we have extrapolated that they had a source of electric power. Those a hundred years ago would have had to stay on site because it would have probably taken days to get into the area but today, it is a matter of a couple of hours.

Yes, I’ll follow this to the conclusion but I’m looking forward to Gold Rush. While they aren’t looking for a treasure, they do find lots of gold. Parker and Tony have pulled millions of dollars from the ground without the artificial drama of pretending they are days away from civilization. I just hope Ashley has a bigger role this year (or that she is still around but I guess she’s not there, to quote the Zombies).

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

The Socorro Barrel and Bruno R.

I now know more about the barrel launching Bruno R (name left out of the original post that Dave Thomas put on his website at: Tony Bragalia, working with a little information that I supplied and searching through other sources, was able to speak with Bruno in an attempt to corroborate Kevin Ashley’s story at Thomas’s site. Bruno said that he did not remember revealing his involvement to Ashely.

Bruno said that he was, in fact, responsible for the Socorro UFO sighting. He, and a colleague he refused to name, said they were using Ammonium Nitrate, an electric blasting cap, dynamite, a large barrel and a gasoline pan. This was how they launched the barrel, and as we’ve seen, the lift off
Barrel launch.
would be with a roar as the barrel shot straight up into the air.

Bruno said that both of them were wearing blue jeans and not white coveralls. He said that he wasn’t short, as suggested by Lonnie Zamora’s statements. He also said they had not decorated the barrel in any way so he doesn’t know what the insignia was that Zamora had mentioned.

Interestingly, he said that he and his partner said nothing about this because they were afraid they would be expelled. He said that after graduation, he had left to work in Central America so that he was unavailable to anyone searching for him. He did say, “Now I feel bad for Lonnie.” Which is interesting given the theory that the sighting was a hoax designed to torment Zamora.

My initial reaction is that this doesn’t fit in with the physical evidence that was gathered on the site within hours of the craft lifting off. This included soil samples. Captain Richard T. Holder, according to the Project Blue Book files, took soil samples. He gave these to Dr. J. Allen Hynek, who was on the scene as the Air Force Consultant to Blue Book. This means, of course, that the samples were gathered before the scene was trampled by curiosity seekers. Remember that Dorothy Landoll told me that she and her husband were out there the next day.

According to the Blue Book files, “Laboratory analysis of soil samples disclosed no foreign material… analysis of the burned bush showed no chemicals which would indicate a type of propellant.”

Lonnie Zamora and various individuals on the
landing site.
In the descriptions of the site by those who were there that evening including Zamora, his friend Sergeant Sam Chavez, Holder, FBI agent Arthur Byrnes, several other law enforcement officers and military police, no one said a word about a battered barrel (I am assuming here that the barrel would be battered after being blasted upwards and falling back). They talked of other things they saw including burned bits of cardboard, so they were talking about all sorts of debris.

The landing traces and there were four, were not what you would expect from the launching of the barrel. These were suggested to be landing gear imprints and not the haphazard craters created by denotating dynamite. To those on the scene the impressions looked as if they had been pressed into the ground rather than caused by an explosion, or for that matter, by a shovel.

There are some other problems with this tale. How did Bruno and his partner get away without some kind of vehicle in the area, and the area was searched for tire tracks?  Bruno said that they had not decorated the barrel so he doesn’t know where that insignia came from that Zamora had reported. As I say, what happened to that barrel? It was not found.

There are some problems with this confession (well, this interview or conversation… it really wasn’t a confession). It just doesn’t fit in with what we really know based on the interviews conducted on the night of the sighting. It doesn’t fit with the physical evidence collected. It doesn’t fit with the other sightings that were reported to the police prior to Zamora arriving on the scene.

Hector Quintanilla seated.
But I did think of one thing. Bruno suggested that maybe Zamora had embellished the sighting, embarrassed by all the commotion it had stirred. Hector Quintanilla, who was the chief of Project Blue Book in 1964, said that he could not find an explanation for he sighting and believed the solution might be hiding in Zamora’s head. He was saying, I think, that there might have been an observation or a bit of knowledge that Zamora had that he didn’t share with the investigators. If Zamora was embellishing the story, then that might be what Quintanilla was thinking.

As I wrote that last sentence, I knew that it would be misinterpreted by many. No, I don’t believe the barrel explanation solves the case. But, if I’m going to be intellectually honest about the investigation, I must look at all sides, and to be fair, I must present all information. I find this tale interesting and slightly disturbing, but I don’t believe this is the solution… which is not to say that Bruno and his pal weren’t blowing up barrels, or that he believes this solves Socorro. It is just one more complication as we attempt to learn what happened back in 1964.

Monday, September 24, 2018

Barrels of Fun in Socorro

As you all know, I have been looking at the Socorro UFO landing case and in the last couple of weeks published an article about it. In that article, I mentioned that a fellow, Kevin Ashley, had heard a solution for the case from an engineer who had attended school at the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology in 1964. His story, though a bit hard to believe was that he and a pal had been responsible for what Socorro Police Officer Lonnie Zamora had found. To recap for those who might not have seen that post:

He [Bruno, the former student] said that he and another mining student were bored and looking for something to do that day. They got their hands on some dynamite (possibly from the dynamite shack mentioned in Officer Zamora’s account) and decided to have some fun setting it off under an old overturned metal barrel. The first time they did this the barrel went flying into the air which they found very amusing so they did it a couple more times. (It was probably the third explosion that attracted the attention of Officer Zamora.) Delighted with the result of the barrel being thrown in the air again, they set about putting together one more explosion. As they were bending down getting everything set they were apparently seen from across the arroyo by Officer Zamora. The two of them, who were wearing white coveralls, were seized with a sudden need to get the hell out of there because being caught doing a stupid stunt like this with dynamite would get them both expelled… Evidently the fuse had already been lit when Bruno and his friend legged it for their vehicle to get away. Office Zamora started toward the site when the explosion went off and as he dived for cover he lost his glasses. What he saw the couple of times he glanced up was the oil drum being projected upwards with flame coming out from the bottom.
As I mentioned, this seems a little bit farfetched. So, why bring it up again? Tony Bragalia found, on YouTube, a couple of videos that show people putting quarter sticks of dynamite under upside down barrels. It does show, to some degree, what Zamora had reported. You can watch these short videos at:
The trouble here is that the barrels just didn’t disappear. They come back down, though in the first video, you don’t see that until the very end. In the second, you see it immediately. No barrel was found at the scene.
Launching a barrel with dynamite.
And, the dynamite would have left residue on the scene. Soil samples were taken, but none found any evidence of a pyrotechnic detonation. In other words, no evidence of dynamite being detonated on that site at the time indicated.
Of course, the barrel wasn’t found, though there was discussion of debris on the scene such as burned cardboard. Those who were there didn’t believe the cardboard was related to the sighting.
Anyway, Tony sent me the links and I thought them interesting enough to post here. This doesn’t seem to be a viable solution given the other evidence and the number of people who were there in a matter of minutes, but the videos are fun. If there was any evidence for this solution, then it might be the answer. Without any sort of evidence or even a statement or two from Bruno, this is a nonstarter, but as I say, it is a fun explanation.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Treasure Quest - The Bolivian Brown and a Bale Seal

Well, another episode and another major disappointment. However, it did get me thinking about the production of the show rather than what was happening on my TV screen.

What do you mean, you might ask?

Remember that we were treated to that harrowing ride on the Highway of Death, the trek with a number of burros, the just missed landslide, and all the other obstacles they had to defeat just to reach the Sacambaya Valley where the treasure is allegedly hidden. I wonder just how many people made the trek, how much equipment they had brought in with them, and how much food and other supplies they had. Certainly, way too much for the short burro train we saw.

Since we have seen all four of the treasure hunters on screen at the same time, there is obviously a cameraman somewhere around. The shots change suggesting a cameraman. There might be two because the team is sometimes split. Once, some of them went to Quime, and others stayed behind digging around, suggesting two cameramen.

Larry King Live! in the desert near Rachel, Nevada. While this was a live show, the point is that there are many
support people and lots of equipment required. Photo copyright by Kevin Randle.

The number isn’t all that important. What is important is the myth that they’re in some remote area which is nearly impossible to reach. They had trekked in, mainly on foot. But we now see there are more than just the treasure hunters. We have the support team for a television production and that implies a source of resupply that does not rely on burros.

Larry King Live! outside Rachel, Nevada. More of the
support staff for the show and the panel of interview
guests. Photo copyright by Kevin Randle

Of course, we now know that there is a road, a crummy road but a road, from Quime into the Sacambaya Valley. Say what you will about the road, they did manage to get an 18-wheeler over that road, carrying an excavator on its trailer. It might not have been easy, but they did it. And, importantly, the big truck was led by an SUV, which could have made the drive without any real problems. By itself, the SUV might have been able to make the trip in less than an hour.

Which brings us back to the latest episode. They begin their assault on the tunnel they relocated with their ground penetrating radar, but the heavy excavator, using a jackhammer tip, created such vibrations that rocks began tumbling from high above them. Realizing that this could be a problem, they decided to blow off the dangerous sections of the rock formations, attempting to direct the blast so that the rocks fell on the other side of the ridge. While I have no problems with that, this is just another example of all the materiel they brought with them… and remember the makeshift explosives that they had to create in an earlier episode. Why didn’t they use these real explosives then? And, if they didn’t have them then, where did they come from now?

They do break through into the tunnel. They find an old ore cart, something that would have been used in the mining operation. It is, of course, in lousy shape, but it is an interesting artifact. Near it, they find a bit of ornate cloth, that had been interwoven with gold. It is an interesting scrap but only proves that the Jesuits had been there at one time. We already knew that.

Outside, one of the team is worried about the weight of the heavy equipment crushing the tunnel, so he orders it moved back, away from the new entrance they made. While the excavator starts right up, the backhoe doesn’t. The battery is nearly dead. But never to worry, one of the team tells them they’ll just have to slow roast it.

Yup. That’s what he said. So, while the others take the battery out, he builds a fire. He tells us that heat will stimulate the molecules in the battery and that might be enough to get the backhoe’s engine to crank. Sure, it’s dangerous, and rather than stand back, out of the way in case the battery explodes, he stands right next to it as if he has to turn it on a spit, like, well, a roast.

The plan works without a catastrophic explosion. They replace the battery, while being urged to hurry, while it’s still warm… as if it’s going to cool off in that topical environment. Of course, the plan works, because, well, this is Treasure Quest.

Meanwhile, back in the tunnel, the rest of the team continues their search for treasure. No, they don’t fine it but do, eventually, find a skeleton with a massive wound in the skull. The blow could have been the result of any of a number of things, including trauma sustained long after death. Interestingly, they wrap the bones in a shroud and do bury it outside the tunnel showing respect for those who had been there before them. They mark the grave with a cross… and I’ll let it go at that.

Finished with the big finds, for a moment, we are now shown the tents they have been staying in at night, or so we’re led to believe. To the horror of the team, a Bolivian Brown Scorpion has invaded one tent so we have the drama of the others trying to capture the scorpion before it stings the victim. They catch it in a boot and one man puts his hand over the top to keep the scorpion from getting out. I’m thinking that is a good way to get stung, but then, they were messing around with that snake found in their camp in an earlier episode. Nothing like a little brush with danger to keep the drama high.

I did learn that the deadliest scorpion in South America is the Brazilian Yellow. Although it is claimed it rarely delivers a fatal dose, Brazilian health officials suggest one person killed every other day. The Bolivian Brown made no list I could find as the most dangerous, but then any scorpion sting can have major consequences. But I digress.

And they find a coin, or what looked like a coin. They have been teasing us with this find for weeks. We’ve seen it a dozen times, but now we learn it really isn’t a coin, but some sort of lead marker or bale seal for what would have bundles or boxes of real treasure, or so we’re told. It tells the recipient that the package had not been opened somewhere along the journey.  

Since the number on it is 136 (I think, it was one hundred thirty something) that suggests a large number of these bundles, packages, boxes having been created. While they tell us that this proves there is a treasure somewhere around, it doesn’t mean any such thing. The bale seal could have been on any number of different things shipped out of there or even into there depending on the circumstances. Regardless of what they say, it doesn’t mean that the treasure is still hidden nearby, only that gold and/or silver may had been collected there at one time or another. Or maybe I should say something had been collected there for shipment at one time.

We’ve reached the end of the story for the moment. They have found, a bit of ornate cloth interwoven with gold, an old mining cart, a skeleton, a Bolivian Brown Scorpion, and a bale seal. As with all these other treasure hunting shows, we’re seeing a lot of the debris of human habitation, but we’re seeing nothing to tell us that there is two BILLION dollars worth of gold around the Sacambaya Valley. We only know that Jesuits were there a couple of hundred years ago, that they did mine the area, and that they are long gone. Interesting, from an anthropological point of view, but nothing that tells us that there is any treasure hidden around there.

Friday, September 14, 2018

New Socorro UFO Landing Information

The other day Rich Reynolds over at the UFO Conjectures blog, sent me a link to a skeptics site. He wondered if I had seen the information published there about the Socorro UFO landing. I had not, but found the information interesting. You can see that here for yourself:

Dave Thomas, who hosts the site, gave me permission to quote from the two new stories that he had put up there. Neither had been available when I wrote Encounter in the Desert. Had they been, I would have mentioned them, though one is a tad bit farfetched.

Thomas published a letter from Ron Landoll, whose mother lived in Socorro at the time of Lonnie Zamora’s sighting. He related what she told him, but I am disinterested in it. The tale is second hand, but in this case, it turns out that this second-hand testimony accurately reflects what his mother told him. I’m ignoring it because the second letter published by Thomas is from Landoll’s mother, Dorothy.

There are some very interesting things in that letter. First, she wrote that she was at home, in Socorro, taking care of the baby (Ron) when her husband called. He was a senior at New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology (NMIMT) and said that the campus was “abuzz with a UFO that had been sighted.”

She turned on the radio and said that it was tuned to KOMA, which was (or is) an Oklahoma City station. I know that at one time it played rock and roll, because when I lived in Texas some four or five years after the Zamora case, I listened to it. But the real point here is that an Oklahoma City radio station was broadcasting the news of the UFO landing within, what minutes, certainly hours, of the landing. They, like other members of the media got onto the story quickly. This is a point that would become somewhat important later when two men from Dubuque, Iowa claimed to have been in Socorro at the time. Their story seemed to surface almost as did that from Zamora, but a careful reading of suggests it was an invention by those men for some reason. Some of the details they gave turned out to be from a different sighting. They’d gotten their facts mixed up.

The next morning, which would be April 25, 1964, the Landolls drove out to the site. Dorothy Landoll wrote to Thomas:

The next morning we drove out to the site. There was a police car sitting off to one side. There were perhaps 7 or 8 cars parked over to the other side and folks just standing around looking. There wasn't a lot to see. There was one round indentation in the dust near where we were standing (I don't know how many total) - about like what our tires were making. There was no indentation into the hard packed ground as some later stories said. I walked up to the little mesquite bush in the middle and it was somewhat blackened. I didn't touch it but it may have been burned a little and might have had a bit of oil on it. We stood around for a bit too and then left to go home.
While it is interesting to have another first-hand account of what was going on that next morning, it is also necessary to point out that there were impressions in the ground. These were seen by nearly everyone else and either the Army or the police had surrounded the markings with rocks to protect them. They were photographed by
Landing impression. Photo courtesy
of the USAF.
several people including members of the military. Jim and Coral Lorenzen published a picture of one of the landing gear imprints in the May 1964 edition of The A.P.R.O. Bulletin. That picture was taken by State Police Sergeant Sam Chavez.
Dorothy Landoll continued her narrative of the incident. She wrote that:
Holm Bursum III was president of the First State Bank and Polo Pineda was his right-hand man [were there]. At the time of the sighting, Polo was acting sheriff… [I worked at the bank and] still took my morning breaks with her, Polo and one of the tellers. On Monday morning we were in the kitchen when Polo came in… He was as mad as a hornet. Ruth asked him what was going on with the UFO. His first comment was that he'd been told that he wasn't to talk to anyone about what had happened but this was his town and he'd talk to whoever he pleased! He sat down with his coffee and proceeded to tell us.
She provided a synopsis of the Zamora tale and then added an interesting note. She wrote:
Lonnie Zamora was pursuing a vehicle going south near the edge of town when something caught his eye. He drove up on the mesa and looked down to see a round craft with two individuals in silver suits walking around it. After a minute or two they got in and it took off. Describing the craft, he said that it had markings on it similar to what Boeing puts on its planes. Lonnie was so upset/scared that he first headed to the Catholic church for confessional and then contacted Polo. Shortly after that, I was in the front of the bank and there were two obviously FBI men - black suits and sunglasses (which they took off as they entered). They went up to one of the tellers and asked for Polo. I went back and told Polo they were looking for him.
I would like to have known if there was anything more to this encounter between the sheriff and the FBI. We know that one FBI agent was there from the beginning. I don’t know of a second FBI agent in the area, but that doesn’t mean that there hadn’t been one.
It also seems a little strange that the FBI would tell the sheriff not to talk about this when the information had been broadcast on April 24, on a radio station that had the power to reach all the way to Socorro. And that station reached into several other states as well. It was one of the powerhouses of that era.
I do know that Captain Richard Holder, an Army officer involved within about 90 minutes, and the FBI agent Arthur Byrnes, had spoken to Zamora, suggesting that he not talk about seeing any beings associated with the sighting, and to keep the true insignia to himself. Byrnes thought the news media might be a little rough of Zamora for seeing “little green men,” and Holder thought keeping the insignia hidden would help to weed out copycats.
Landoll, in her letter to Thomas, also suggests a solution for the Socorro craft that Zamora reported. She wrote:
The following year we were living in Midland, TX, I'm guessing maybe May or June, my husband had brought in the newspaper and it was lying on the couch. I glanced down at it and hollered to my husband that Lonnie's UFO was on the front page of the paper. What I saw fit the exact description that Polo had given us. It was a photo of a LEM with an article. I wish I had kept that newspaper but it simply wasn't anything of consequence at the time.
And, for those of us who have been paying attention, the illustration drawn by Rick Baca, under the guidance of Zamora, does resemble the LEM. But documentation suggests that the prototype LEMs being tested in New
Rick Baca holding the illustration he made in
consultation with Lonnie Zamora. Photo
copyright by Rich Baca.
Mexico at the time were not powered. The testing involved a helicopter. It seems unlikely that this is the explanation, especially when it is remembered that the Captain Hector Quintanilla, the chief of Blue Book at the time, looked into that possibility. He carried a top-secret clearance, and personally checked at Holloman Air Force Base and the White Sands Missile Range to see if they might have the explanation for the sighting.
But this isn’t the only new additions to Thomas’s skeptics website. He received another communication that provided a much more exciting solution for the case. Kevin J. Ashley wrote that he had been a student at the NMIMT a few years later and that he had been interested in the Zamora sighting. According to him, once he graduated and was employed, he told co-workers about the case. He wrote:
In short, I know the answer to the Socorro Saucer Siting [sic] because I talked to one of the people who was on the other side of the arroyo that morning when Officer Zamora showed up. His name is Bruno R____ and he was a mining engineering student at Tech in the early 1960’s…
As I finished the story I noticed one of the other mining engineers who worked there leaning against the door and laughing. When I asked him what he was laughing at he said, “It was me.”
He then told his story about the incident. He said that he and another mining student were bored and looking for something to do that day. They got their hands on some dynamite (possibly from the dynamite shack mentioned in Officer Zamora’s account) and decided to have some fun setting it off under an old overturned metal barrel. The first time they did this the barrel went flying into the air which they found very amusing so they did it a couple more times. (It was probably the third explosion that attracted the attention of Officer Zamora.) Delighted with the result of the barrel being thrown in the air again, they set about putting together one more explosion. As they were bending down getting everything set they were apparently seen from across the arroyo by Officer Zamora. The two of them, who were wearing white coveralls, were seized with a sudden need to get the hell out of there because being caught doing a stupid stunt like this with dynamite would get them both expelled. (Officer Zamora notes in his statement that one of the persons looked at him and seemed very concerned.) Evidently the fuse had already been lit when Bruno and his friend legged it for their vehicle to get away. Office Zamora started toward the site when the explosion went off and as he dived for cover he lost his glasses. What he saw the couple of times he glanced up was the oil drum being projected upwards with flame coming out from the bottom. Bruno and his friend kept a low profile throughout the entire affair after that and I may have been the first person he told this story to. This was in 1980, sixteen years after the affair.
I suppose, we could believe that two college students, in their early 20s would be dumb enough to play with dynamite in that fashion. And we could believe that Zamora somehow concocted a craft that roared off into the sky out of this.
Ashley did, however, elaborate on what he had been told. This according to what Bruno R. told Ashely:
Reading over the account by Officer Zamora his original description seems to fit well with Bruno’s account. It is the “filling in” of details where the mystery arises. For instance, when people went back and found four burn spots, these became a configuration of thrusters from a vehicle, not the scorched remnants of multiple dynamite explosions. Also important is that this was not a hoax. Bruno and his friend were not trying to fool anyone. This is just a case of an observer trying to explain something that they have not seen before.
The problem here, however, is that the four markings were never considered to be marks of the thrusters, but marks made by the landing gear. The area that would have been under the center of the craft had showed evidence of high heat. No evidence that would have been left behind by dynamite explosions was found, which, I believe rules out this explanation.
Tony Bragalia, who is a proponent of the hoax theory, noted that Bruno R. thougt Ashely, had gotten some of the facts right. Bragalia theorized that three students had been involved, Zamora had been chasing a speeder and the roar of the craft did capture his attention. Bragalia also noted that this wasn’t “innocent” fun as suggested by Ashley, but that it was a planned hoax.
Ashley supplies a little more information about Bruno R. Apparently, he lives in Felton, California. Thomas didn’t follow up on the story imediately. I think he thought the same thing as me. It really is rather farfetched. But then, I do believe we should follow up because we don’t know exactly what Bruno said. I have tried to locate him given the information supplied, but have had no success. Bragalia is also trying. His resources in this are better than mine, so there might be more learned.
The real point here is that we have some new information. I find the tale told by Dorothy Landoll quite interesting because she said she was on the scene the next morning. She described what she saw… and importantly, felt no obligation to share that information with anyone until decades after the sighting. I’m hoping to reach her to find out why she didn’t come forward before now.
If I learn anything new about this, I’ll post it here. For now, you can read the entire text of the letters from the Landolls and Ashley at Thomas’s New Mexico Skeptics website, and for the complete story, you can take a look at Encounter in the Desert, which provides quite a bit of new and additional information about the Socorro Landing.

Sunday, September 09, 2018

Dr. Davis Confirms Del Rio UFO Crash?

A couple of weeks ago we were all told, alerted to the fact really, that the Del Rio UFO crash of the mid-1950s had been validated. New information had been mentioned to George Knapp during his hosting duties on Coast-to-Coast. Dr. Eric Davis had made the comment.

But what did he actually say?

Knapp, during their discussion, said, “That makes it sound like there is something to analyze or reverse engineer.

Then, according to the radio program, and a brief transcript offered at a number of UFO related websites, Davis said, “Yeah, they’ve got…I would say…you know…If you’re going to throw your bets on Roswell, your bet’s really good. Del Rio, Texas, that was a 1950s case, that was another one, and the other ones I won’t bring up because those are still classified.”
That was the extent of what he said about the Del Rio crash. He added, “But um… and they have not been investigated to my knowledge, I’m sorry, they have not been REVEALED or PUBLISHED to my knowledge. So without knowing that that’s the case I won’t talk about it any further, but we have crash retrievals and they’ve been analyzed and
Dr. Eric Davis Photo copyright
by EarthTech Int'l
unfortunately our laboratory diagnostic technologies and our materials sciences and the understanding of physics that we had were not advanced enough to be able to make heads or tails of what it is, of what they had their hands on.”
And that is it.
If he knew more about the case, or had communicated more about to anyone, I wanted to know because I had come to believe that the Del Rio crash never happened. Too much of the information had radically changed over the years in a way that suggested the tale was untrue. But, in UFO research, you are required to take a look at anything that seems to be new and that provides, well, a different perspective.
The first question is: What do we know about Dr. Davis?
According to his biography published around the Internet, we learn that he has a Ph.D. and “is the Chief Science Officer of EarthTech Int’l, Inc. and the Institute for Advanced Studies at Austin. Dr. Davis’ research specializations include breakthrough propulsion physics for interstellar flight, interstellar flight science, beamed energy propulsion, advanced space nuclear power and propulsion, directed energy weapons, future and transformational technology, general relativity theory, quantum field theory, quantum gravity theories, experimental quantum optics, and SETI-xenoarchaeology.”
So, the next step is to take a look at this EarthTech Int’l website.  There we learn more about his background. According to the website he is also described as:
Dr. Davis’ research activities include megawatt-class laser propulsion physics, systems design and performance metrics, and mission applications for the U.S. Air Force laser Lightcraft program; quantum optics tomography experiments to measure negative vacuum energy; studies on the multilayered quantum vacuum structure and its applications; general relativistic time machines and causality, superluminal photons in curved spacetime, gravastars and black holes, and quantum entanglement/teleportation and nonlocality; studies on traversable wormhole and warp drive spacetimes for faster-than-light propulsion; and feasibility studies on laser inertial confinement, inertial electrostatic confinement, Z-pinch, and dense plasma focus fusion concepts for space propulsion.
Dr. Davis serves as an Adjunct Professor in the Early Universe, Cosmology and Strings Group at the Center for Astrophysics, Space Physics & Engineering Research at Baylor University in Waco, TX. He earned his Ph.D. in Astrophysics from the University of Arizona in 1991.
Dr. Davis is a Fellow of the British Interplanetary Society, Associate Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, and a member of the New York Academy of Sciences, Directed Energy Professional Society, SPIE, American Astronomical Society, and Association of Former Intelligence Officers.
That sounds pretty impressive. He has also written a number of peer reviewed papers and published a long list of other articles. So, the next thing to do is look at the organization for which he works. There we learn:
The Institute for Advanced Studies at Austin was founded in 1985 by Harold Puthoff, PhD, and later incorporated under EarthTech International, Inc., in 1991 as an innovative research facility with a highpowered creative staff dedicated to exploring the forefront reaches of science and engineering. Our research interests include theories of spacetime, gravity and cosmology; studies of the quantum vacuum; modifications of standard theories of electrodynamics; interstellar flight science; and the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, specifically as these topics may apply to developing innovative space propulsion and sources of energy. We strive to translate these ideas into laboratory experiments.
I guess the point here is that he doesn’t sound like your typical UFO guy. His credentials seem to be solid and his work seems to be advanced. That just brings us back to his comment about Del Rio. Is there more to that?
Everything that I can find suggests he just made the one comment on Coast-to-Coast. George Knapp couldn’t tell me anything more but did mention that Davis had said he was getting a lot of emails after his appearance on the show. That was not much help.
Ruben Uriarte, who was delighted with the endorsement of the Del Rio crash, didn’t know anything more about it either. He thought it would be great to obtain additional documents from the Mexican government or the US military about the crash. That, of
CAP Major Robert
course, presupposes that there are documents from either of those sources, which Davis seemed to imply but I have no information that this is accurate.
I did attempt to learn more from Davis, but my emails to him went unanswered. I, as did so many others, wanted to know what additional information he could supply. Without anything, we are left with only the original source of the tale, Robert Willingham, who claimed to have been an Air Force officer, a fighter pilot, and the one who had seen the crashed craft in Del Rio. The problem is, Willingham was none of those things, and rather than repeat all the information here, I’ll just suggest you take a look on what I found several years ago. You can read it here:
Or, if you are interested, I published a list of the various articles about Willingham which also covers some of the other problems with his tales here:
That first article will let you sort through quite a bit of information about the Del Rio crash in all its various incarnations and the ever-shifting date as supplied by Willingham. For those of us who actually served in a combat environment, who were actually military pilots, the whole Willingham tale is an insult.
The problem for me is if Dr. Davis has no additional information and was relying on the statements made by Willingham, then that calls some of his other comments into question. The Del Rio crash can be traced only to Willingham and there is no corroboration for it. That’s why I was surprised that Davis had mentioned it specifically.
I have emailed Davis again, asking for any sort of corroboration of this crash tale. I suspect I won’t learn much more because there isn’t any more to learn. Willingham invented the tale in 1968, claimed it happened in 1948, later claimed it happened in 1950 and finally said it happened in the mid-1950s. He wasn’t a colonel and he wasn’t a fighter pilot. With that, Willingham inadvertently takes some of Davis’s credibility with him.
And that is what so frequently happens in UFO research.

Saturday, September 08, 2018

Treasure Quest and the Secret Road

I have come to believe that the producers of Treasure Quest believe that we all are pretty dumb. The last two episodes prove that point. First, we have the great snake fight as they try to chase away a rather large snake that was annoying the burros. I’m just not sure of the wisdom of messing with something like that. I don’t know what kind of snake it was, but I do know there are some very deadly snakes in the area and a bite would prove fatal unless they could get to the hospital quickly.

Yes, that’s my take away from that episode. About the only other thing they did was discover a tunnel and managed to break through the top. They explored it quickly but found little. C. H. Prodgers, who was one of the first to search for the treasure at the turn of the last century had found tunnels as well. Seems like the Jesuits, who built the mission and who were responsible for mining in the area, built lots of tunnels and mine shafts. Finding one was not of great importance.

The episode was a sort of “let’s get this show on the road” type thing, setting up those episodes that would follow. Just enough to hold our interest (well, almost) and get us to come back to see if anything exciting happens next.

It was in episode three where I think the whole thing comes off the rails. It demonstrates that there is a lot of imagination going on and I’m not sure we can call this a reality show anymore. There was obviously research that had been conducted by the production staff about this area before anyone arrived and there was a long list of necessary equipment created.

Here’s what I mean. They have metal detectors. They have ground penetrating radar. They have another device that allows them to look below the surface and has been instrumental in them locating and following one of these tunnels which is different from the ground penetrating radar. I have to ask, “How do they power all these electronic devices?”

Sure, they brought in batteries, but how do they recharge them? They need a source of electricity, and if there is wiring for electricity into the area, then it is not as remote as they suggest. And if there isn’t, then they had to bring in something to create the electricity to recharge all those batteries which suggests that the area is not as remote as they suggest.

Taking this a step further, and I’ve mention this before, what about all the camera and sound equipment? In this last episode we watch as they take apart one of the drones, attach the parts of it to another piece of equipment that is used by the camera crew and make some sort of remote control rover. Now, attaching a camera to it, they can explore the tunnel they found that was almost completely blocked by a cave-in. They just allow the rover to drive through the small opening at the top of the debris, and now they can look at the other side of the tunnel. But what that really tells us is that they have a lot of stuff that we haven’t seen and I wonder where it all came from.

They begin to dig another access point beyond the cave in, found by using that fancy equipment. They’re digging with picks and shovels, and since this is a treasure hunt, you’d expect them to bring that sort of thing in with them. But, you must remember that these tools are heavy and apparently, they didn’t have all that many burros on their long trek into the Sacambaya Valley, which suggests the journey was more drama than necessity.

They realize that digging another hole to get into the tunnel is nearly impossible because the ground is too hard or too rocky. They’re going to need something heavier. We learn now that there is a mining town not all that far away. They can walk to it in a matter of hours, okay, twelve or thirteen hours, to see if there is any heavy equipment available to rent, all the while assuming there will be a way to get that stuff back to the valley. I mean you can rent all the excavators you want but if there is no road, then the excavator will be useless.

A 3D view of Quime and the roads leading in and out.
To me this idea of heavy equipment and a road is an incredible piece of information and deduction. According to what we have been told before, or shown before, the Sacambaya Valley is nearly impossible to reach. They had to walk in with burros carrying everything they would need such as food. How big is that crew anyway? We do see a cameraman so we learn that not only the on-air “talent” is there, but something of a support staff as well… But I digress.

They make the trek, find the town, and find a company that is willing to rent them some heavy equipment such as an excavator and a back hoe. First, of course, they must get a blessing from a local shaman. I find this interesting from an anthropological point of view, but it does nothing to really advance the story. Just what Hollywood used to call “Oat meal.” That is, something put into a story to stretch it out. Filler.

They manage to rent the equipment (why am I not surprised), and, one of the locals knows of a “secret” road that leads back, into the
Downtown Quime.
Sacambaya Valley. Really? There is a road into the area? And since they’re in a town, there are roads leading to it as well so the journey over the Highway of Death and then with the burros down into the valley could have been avoided if they all had been smart enough to check out the surrounding area. Someone surely had to know what was going on. You just don’t assume that you’ll be able to get to the town, rent the equipment you need, and that there will be a road to take them back into the valley. This does, sort of, wreck my helicopter theory but it also smacks of a script.

Anyway, they rent the equipment and head out, but no, there is another obstacle. Part of the road has been washed out. They get their SUV beyond it, but the tractor-trailer carrying the excavator is too big and too heavy to make it across. BUT WAIT, one of the local men has a friend who can bring them some logs to bridge the gap. Sure, he can get there quickly, but it will cost them. Sure, he does get there quickly.

And yes, they bridge the gap, get the equipment across just as part of the bridge falls away. Does anyone else see this as just another part of the script to enhance the drama?

To recap briefly. They entered the area unaware of the mining community only a long walk from the Sacambaya Valley. They are unaware of the road that leads from that community to where they are working. According to them, they didn’t see the road on any map, but I wonder if they have ever heard of Google Earth.

We know they trekked over to Quime, which isn’t all that isolated. There are roads on the aerial views that lead in and out of town. These are unnamed roads, which might not appear on any maps, but do show up on Google Earth. Did the producers not search the area using the Internet? Had they never heard of Google Earth? Wouldn’t this explain where the burros came from in the first place?

One of the hotel rooms available in Quime.
There are two hotels, at least, in Quime, and neither are very expensive. While the walk to them might take ten or twelve hours, I’m thinking that it would be worth the effort for a couple of days of living inside where there would be hot water, better food, and probably Internet access. And they wouldn’t have to worry about snakes joining them in their sleeping bags, something else they would have had to bring in on the backs of those poor, tiny burros.

Here’s the point. We are lead to believe that these guys trekked in, avoiding danger, dodging landslides and snakes and other hazards. But the equipment they have suggests something else. There is no visible support for the technology, but it still works. There is no electricity but the batteries never run down. They have all the food they need and while I’m not sure about the river water as a source of potable water, there certainly are ways to purify it.

But the point that leaves me cold was the location of the town with mining equipment and a road that leads back to the Sacambaya Valley. They say that it wasn’t on the maps which might be true, but it is on Google Earth and I don’t believe that they headed into the area without knowing about it. I find that a little dishonest but then, the isolation and the invented danger certainly makes for better television. I’d hate to think they were spending their nights in a hotel in Quime, and using their SUV to get to the valley to shoot the adventure when the production schedule called for it.

So, here’s my prediction. They will find little bits and pieces of old coins and other artifacts, but they’ll just not be able to get to the big stash. In the end, they’ll just fade away as those looking for the Treasure of the Trinity faded away after it seemed they were onto something. This is just an adventure show that is pretending to be reality, but it is nothing more than a scripted adventure created for entertainment.