Thursday, August 9, 2012


Copyright 2012, InterAmerica, Inc.


For over four and a half decades many around the world have wondered about the true nature of the sighting of a landed unidentified flying object that was reported on the ground and then taking off by Officer Lonnie Zamora in Socorro, NM in 1964. In the fall of 2009 this author’s investigation disclosed that the Officer had been victim to a hoax that was perpetrated by students at the New Mexico Institute of Technology.

Now, three years later, a more complete account of the hoax has finally emerged including:

-          The astonishing way the hoax was accomplished
-          The number of people involved in the hoax
-          Why they did not come forward
-          Remarkable film that visually documents how the college students constructed and flew the craft, according to the college’s President
-          The collective concern for Officer Zamora by the perpetrators and the college President in the wake of a youthful folly snowballed out of control



The story of the Socorro UFO sighting by Zamora, the aftermath and the hoax solution to the sighting were reported by this author in a three-part series on the UFO Iconoclasts website:

Socorro Hoax Exposed (Famous UFO Sighting Was a College Prank)

Socorro UFO Hoax Part Two: Getting Closer to the Culprits

Socorro UFO Hoax: Physical Evidence Points to a Prank

Investigation and interviews had produced:

1)      A confession after 45 years had passed by renowned Los Alamos physicist Dr. Stirling Colgate who was the former President of New Mexico Institute of Technology (NMIT) that the event was a hoax by students that he knew. He also confirmed that he had explained this all decades ago to his friend, secret UFO researcher Dr. Linus Pauling.

2)      An acknowledgement by NMIT professor and philanthropist Dr. Frank Etscorn (who was the inventor of the nicotine patch) that it was a hoax

3)      A confirmation from a leader of the school’s Energetics lab (who as a student there in the mid- 1960s) that it was a hoax.

4)      Several former students and a school public information administrator offered astounding information on a long-standing tradition of technical pranks- and even a “society” devoted to the pursuit. (Of course one must ask why so many ranking NMIT administrators and illustrious men of science would implicate their own school after being approached if it were not so?)

5)      Little-known official reports at the time were surfaced that showed the presence of charred cardboard, footprints and evidence of pyrotechnic ignition at the UFO site.



Dr. Stirling Colgate is perhaps the greatest living physicist in the word. An associate of Edward Teller, at age 86 Colgate still reports daily to work helping to lead advanced physics for one of the most esteemed scientific institutions on the planet, Los Alamos National Laboratory.

Colgate was the former President of NMIT and was known as very affable, likable administrator who was very close to his students. So much so that it is reported that he often shared drinks and gossip at Socorro’s Capitol Bar. It is in this air of academic conviviality that Colgate learned of his student’s involvement in the hoax on Zamora.

When a document was discovered in the Pauling archives that Colgate wrote to his friend multiple Nobel Prize Winner Dr. Linus Pauling that the Zamora sighting was a hoax, this author then contacted Colgate. Colgate confirmed the contents of the letter to Pauling and that, among other things:

1) He still knew the incident to have been be a hoax 2) He remains friends with one of the hoaxers 3) That person “does not want his cover blown” and that  3) accomplishing the hoax “was a no-brainer.”

Now, very recently, Colgate has made things much clearer.

In email replies received by this author from Dr. Colgate dated August 1, 2012 and on August 8, 2012 to further questions that I had of him much was learned about the “reasons and ways” of the hoax.

Dr. Colgate has I believe, truthfully and on his legacy, now graciously imparted to me further insight on the hoax scenario. In his words:

“It was a prank and I was very concerned for Officer Zamora.”

“No one would come forward on this, they were all embarrassed.”

“So many things were pressuring me and still are about this.”

“I did not feel that I could add anything by pressuring the students, and recognized it as a prank.”

“The students were embarrassed about the possible harm that could have come to Zamora (from the prank.)”

“No additional communication with Pauling(on this)”

“He too may have been embarrassed.”

Colgate says more to me in another email, whose additional replies from him are given below. But we learn from the above cryptic comments that Colgate and cohorts acknowledge the obvious, for they too are human:

They felt pressured about what to do, felt embarrassed of what they had done, and were sorry with concern for Lonnie.  Lonnie could have conceivably been fired from the police force, psychologically marred for life or other adverse things.

The hoaxers must have been uncomfortably conscience-stricken about all of this. It was never thought that the story would get so big. They did not mean it to snowball like that.

They were confused about what to do and were shamed life-long about what they had done. And really, who wishes to bring up to friends, family and work associates the youthful follies which we all wished had never happened? Should these perpetrators (who are now retired seniors) turn their world upside down and go public simply for our satisfaction?

We also find out that Pauling too, lost interest and never brought up the Socorro subject with Colgate, because he too wished not to suffer any potential professional embarrassment in being in any way associated with Socorro. Confirming Colgate, further review of the Pauling archives shows that there was indeed ever any further interest in the subject by Pauling.



Beauty is often found in simplicity. And so it is with Socorro. For all of the speculations about the hoax involving such things as tethers, remote control and flame throwers- it needn’t be and wasn’t.

In the August 8th email from Stirling Colgate, he opened up even a bit further about how the students had hoaxed Lonnie. I had of course always wanted to know from him just exactly how the deed was done.  How did the students do it?

I stated to Colgate that he must know how they did it- and directly asked of him:

 “How did they do it? What was the craft made of?”

His short but telling reply:

“A candle in a balloon. Not sophisticated.”

I also asked of Stirling how many were “in on the hoax?” Again, a short reply received:

“I’d say about 3-6”

Those who still steadfastly adhere to explanations other than “hoax” to the Zamora sighting will no doubt dislike what was said by Stirling.

But an amazing video by two college-age students from the UK (posted just months after my series on the Socorro hoax) may give us visual documentation of exactly what Dr. Colgate is referring to and how the hoax was performed.

Skeptics of my work on this simply do not wish to accept the truth that Lonnie Zamora first radioed his police partner that the white object “looked like a balloon.”

Here in the video below, two very clever British boys show us what Colgate means by how a simple “candle in a balloon” can also be an extraordinarily effective hoax and aerial effect (you can advance to 1:17 if you wish to go directly to the launch):

Now, not only does Colgate say it that was a “balloon candle” type affair, but he also says that there were a very small number of college students that were involved, perhaps three to six.

And he is again right. There would have minimally been:



Two short students in white coveralls (actually white lab suits) acted as “aliens” and had launched from the ground Lonnie’s landed “UFO.” Lonnie never claimed that he saw the short people get into the “vehicle.” By that time he was escaping or planning his escape to really note where they went.



One additional student that was needed was a student speeder to lead Lonnie just out of town and near where the two “aliens” awaited Lonnie.  This should have been the most obvious clue of all to a hoax: Lonnie had to somehow be made to get to the hoax- and he was, by a freshman in the car like the above.



Another student was used to create the explosion that had diverted Lonnie on a direct path to the “staging area.” This student may have also created the roaring and high pitched sounds that Lonnie reported emitting from the UFO. The sounds that Lonnie reported were actually resultant from “pyrotechnic whistles” according to the President of the world’s leading fireworks association (see prior articles.)  All of this material was available at the school’s Energetics Lab which sponsors the annual July 4th fireworks.

So Colgate is correct that about at least 3-6 students were involved in executing the prank.

A very large white candle balloon (with a red, draw symbol on its side) launched by lab-suited students are what Lonnie saw. The roars were provided by both the balloon-flame contraption and by pyrotechnic whistles. As shown in the UK video above, such devices, even when rather large, can travel very high and far- and quickly.



Many still will insist that no one could be fooled by such a lit balloon contraption. But one must consider several things about the sole witness to the event:

Lonnie was confused, stirred up and frightened:

In small town Socorro, Officer Zamora was often tasked to “deal with” the students at the school. A student speeder trying to “show off” his hot vehicle whisks by Lonnie and Lonnie is in hot pursuit. This is surely not how Zamora wished to be spending a Spring evening awaiting the leave of the students from the school, being stirred up and having to chase some smart and smarmy kid-speeder. Lonnie then is startled to hear an explosion “like from a dynamite shack.” He was confused by the unfamiliar flying thing and frightened to crouch of the flame, roar and whistles.

Lonnie had impaired vision and required corrective lenses, which he lost:

We do not know if Lonnie wore single vision or bifocal lenses, but the images of him available to us show very thick lenses. Such lenses mean that the wearer’s vision is seriously compromised relative to the ability to correctly estimate distance.  And at a critical point of viewing the “UFO,” we know that startled Lonnie had jolted his glasses, dropped them to the ground, and stooped to locate them, found them, placed them back on his head and then re-adjusted his position to locate the UFO to see it again.

Lonnie reported things as he saw them, did his utmost best to answer questions put forth of him and was a good person. But like all of us, he had his flaws…including the flaws with his powers of perception that dusky day. He was not “Saint Zamora of Socorro.” He was neither an educated man nor an articulate or especially intelligent man, as gracefully noted by the Air Force’s Dr. J. Allen Hynek in his interview report of Zamora.  Lonnie probably never had seen such an unusual thing and to his faulted perception that day, remained honestly and thoroughly confused. And remember also the context of the time, 1964, a time when satellites were like science fiction and man had barely even been in space, and not yet on the moon.

Combining all of these things, it is easy to see how this sole witness out in the arroyo could imagine that he was seeing something truly remarkable. But it really was not all that at all.



Continued appeals to truth and to history sometimes pay off. Such persistence in doggedly pursuing such old folks to find that truth for history sometimes gets me in trouble on such old cases. I am called overly aggressive and “leading” by some.  Say what they will, but it often yields answers and the solutions to mysteries. I approach and re-approach witnesses to Roswell and in all my UFO investigation. When TV’s “Columbo” Peter Falk solved crimes it was always at the very end, after taking some time, and always with a “re-approach’ of someone with whom he had already discussed the crime. Waiting a few years perhaps got Dr. Colgate to thinking it was about time to tell as much of the truth as he could.

And so it is with Socorro. Time has finally told all.



  1. I think you know that I am sincere in my appreciation of your work. Obviously you have spent some quality time researching this. I have absolutely NO intention of argument, regarding the idea that it's a hoax.

    Still, questions remain, and with the utmost respect I would like to inquire about:

    1. Lonnie reacting the way he did to the loud roaring sound (not the dynamite shack roar, but the "take-off" roar) in real-time, which startled him in the extreme...which would seem to imply that it was pretty darn loud.

    2. The flame in this, and a couple of other reported incidents, was distinctively "blue"...insinuating Butane or Propane?

    So, the notation I would make is that it would be cool to see a redo of the film for the project, by somebody, utilizing a more precisely fabricated balloon (smooth egg-shape with landing struts), and a propane tank connection (or a better explanation of the blue color observed).

    Best Regards,

  2. A candle in a balloon? Wow, essentially a Chinese lantern. If that's accurate, I'm really surprised by that. The "intelligent design" of the whole encounter is pretty obvious. Keep it going!

  3. Hi Frank-

    As someone who appreciates the dynamics of magic and conjurors, you know that effective illusions can be just as impressive when they are "simple" as when they are complex. Often it is these simpler illusions that baffle us the very most...

    Hi Bob-

    Stirling did not say that butane or propane devices were (or were not) used. I asked him what the craft was made of, and he replied it was a Candle Balloon affair. He did not add further detail.

    It is likely that the pyrotechnics and pyrotechnic whistles (go to YouTube for videos to hear these whistles, especially the one using titanium) available at NMIT now and at the time were implemented.

  4. Tony, this is absolutely preposterous. Come on! A Chinese lantern "balloon" flying steady and level for 2 miles at high speed INTO THE WIND? How does that work?

    I went to weather records and plotted the winds over a wide area.

    There was a low pressure storm system starting to move through the state dropping snow at higher elevations and kicking up dust through high winds. Zamora said stiff gusts of wind were coming out of the south to soutwest. Zamora was exactly right if you look at the weather map. The winds in Socorro at the time were probably out of the SSW at the time.

    But the object took off to the WSW, about 30 degrees into the wind, with three major landmarks defining the direction in Zamora's report. It went UP the arroyo (WSW), seemed to pass over the dynamite shack about 500 feet to the WSW, flying level and fast to the perlite mine at the base of the mountains (WSW) about 2 miles away, then sharply angled up and in a matter of seconds rose and faded out in the sky.

    So the object without question took off to the WSW INTO a stiffly blowing wind. “Balloons” can't fly into the wind. Nor can they travel a level and steady horizontal path for two miles while flying into the wind, then suddenly angle up.

    Zamora estimated it took only 10 seconds to reach the base of the mountains. Ray Stanford going over this with him decided it probably took more like 20 seconds. 2 miles in 20 seconds is an AVERAGE speed of 360 miles/hour (top speed will be higher). Even if you get super-conservative and triple that departure time to one minute, the object would still have an AVERAGE speed of 120 miles/hour. Really, a "balloon" flying at 120 mph into a stiff wind?

    Just because Zamora at one point said it looked LIKE an balloon doesn't mean it WAS a balloon. He also compared it to an egg. Does that make it an egg?

    A balloon explanation doesn't work for the simple reason that it is physically IMPOSSIBLE.

    Comments on Zamora's vision next post.

  5. Tony, the video you link to of students launching a small hot-air balloon or "Chinese balloon" only shows exactly what you would expect. The balloon goes STRAIGHT UP. If there had been a wind, it would also have moved in the direction of the wind.

    But you ignore what Zamora actually reported. He said the object rose straight up for only about 20 feet. Then it took off HORIZONTALLY for about TWO MILES in a STRAIGHT LINE staying close to the ground.

    And, allow me to repeat, it departed horizontally INTO a stiff wind. A real hot air balloon would have been blown in the OPPOSITE DIRECTION. The data is unambiguous here. Your balloon explanation is simply impossible.

    It is always easy to debunk an unsolved case if you throw out 95% of the actual data and cherry-pick the few percent that fits your explanation. If I pretend Zamora was blind as a bat and his ears fell off instead of his glasses, then my "explanation" is that he saw a flaming helicopter, or a Harrier jet (never mind that they didn't exist yet), or a lunar lander (also didn't exist yet), or any number of other absurd "explanations".

    It would be like accepting only Sheridan Cavitt's "balloon" testimony for Roswell and ignoring the hundreds of other witnesses saying something else happened. Sterling Colgate is your Cavitt, and he is having you on.

  6. Hi Dave-

    Now, you of all people know how I feel about Sheridan Cavitt (LOL!)

    Please bear in mind that the video that I offer within the article is only representative of a large white "Candle Balloon." and it is hardly small! It is huge, especially next to the shorter college kids in the vid! AT 1:25 one of the Brit kids even says "This is absolutely massive!" And go to You Tube and use key words: Sky Lantern Uberlloon

    There are college kids making very large Sky Lanterns and Candle Balloon that are even larger, smoother in configuration (and in many configurations) that go even faster and farther quicker, likely to ride micro-currents and catch wind waves that make their path able to go appear to go against wind. And we only have Lonnie's testimony about which way he saw the balloon craft go- an impaired testimony.

    And Dave, I would rather believe Dr. Stirling Colgate and Dr. Frank Estcorn -famed men of real science- than the likes of fraud and troubled Ray Stanford- who used to sell channeled voices of Jesus and the White Brotherhood using his own voice- in the back of Fate Magazine in the 70s. Richard Hall did a little-known piece that Rich Reynolds is aware of that decimated Stanford's "research" on Socorro.


  7. David-

    Zamora is the only witness, aside from the students, and he was pretty unambiguous in his report . . . "It looks like a balloon."

    What you're doing is throwing out 95% of what Zamora actually reported and cherry picking his account. Your weather findings and Zamora's statements regarding the UFO leaving the area, whatever it was, presents some problem, but something did happen and it wasn't an ET vehicle. If it means Zamora was so flummoxed by the closer encounter he was off on that part of his report, then so be it. I think it's perfectly understandable and still think he was a good witness under unusual circumstances.

  8. Interesting, I appreciate our work on this, but I'm not sold just yet. Among my concerns is the very slow launch time for a balloon versus a jet-type thrust.

    Another minor gripe is the claims of Phil Klass, who said he spoke to the neighbor who had their windows open and heard and saw nothing. That cuts as about as hard at the hoax theory as it does an ET or secret Earth craft interpretation. Maybe worse, the kids hoaxing it would have had to have been setting it up for long enough for them to have been noticed.

    Also, your scenario is based on Zamora being fooled not just for a few seconds, but for his entire life. It just doesn't add up. From the story you've presented, it sounds like Colgate and Pauling didn't believe the story and favored the student prankster scenario, but have never delivered any evidence beyond their suspicions.

    One more gripe for now. You've provided an unnecessary explanation of the hooded lab suits. At the distance involved, Zamora might have just seen kids in white t-shirts. The deiial you've failed to cover is the escape method an route for the hoaxers. How were they able to leave the scene?

  9. Klass made all sorts of claims about Socorro including naming Zamora and Socorro's mayor, Holm Bursum, as conspirators in it. Their motivation was, according to Klass, turning the site into a tourist attraction and cashing in, an incredibly loathsome and unsubstantiated claim and certainly not true. He's about as credible on this case as Stanford.

    How was Zamora fooled? Yeah, he was led along but the pranksters expected him to do what a cop is supposed to do under those circumstances and he did. Zamora NEVER claimed what he saw was an ET vehicle or extraterrestrials.

    "Saw two people in white coveralls very close to the object. One of these persons seemed to turn and look straight at my car and seemed startled--seemed to jump quickly somewhat."

    It's in Zamora's initial report, how is explaining that these students had easy access to lab suits unnecessary?

  10. Frank,

    In my reading (and I have his book), Klass SUGGESTED the possibility that the town and mayor could have been doing this for tourism purposes and then listed reasons that tend to support the idea. I don't see where he actually stated it as a fact.

    I certainly don't think he proved the case and I don't really think he thought that he has proved the case.

    This is NO different than what is presented above by Tony (although I admit that Tony has collected more evidence than Klass, that evidence is still inconclusive).

    Notice how Rudiak above says things like "without question" when he describes the event. For him there can be no questions. He KNOWS exactly how the wind blew for all locations and places and he berates anyone (in his trademark nutty two part posts) who suggests otherwise.

    This is the kind of conspiracy mentality that you ought to be railing against.


  11. This is my second post on the vision questions. For some reason the first one didn't go through.

    Being a licensed optometrist, your comments about his vision somehow being grossly “impaired” are also nonsense. First of all, Zamora was a cop, and that fact alone tells you a great deal about his vision. Cops have to function even if they lose their glasses, therefore there are minimum acuity standards they have to pass without vision correction. This is typically their vision can be no worse than 20/100 without correction and 20/20 with correction. What this means is that even without correction, they still have to be able to read the letters about 2 inches high on an eye chart at 20 feet (20/100). (20/20 means making out letters only 10 mm high on an eye chart at 20 feet)

    If he can read letters 2 inches high at 20 feet, do you think he couldn't make out a 15-20 FOOT object at about 35-50 feet, about the closest he got to the object? Remember, at this distance, he also still HAD HIS GLASSES ON.

    Where were the "hoaxers" hiding at that distance as they supposedly launched the balloon? I was recently out at the site--there is no where to hide. Also it is interesting that they could be there and leave no footprints behind nor paraphernalia that left the ground and plants smoking for minutes afterward as backup arrived at the scene, starting within a minute of departure (officer Chavez). Also the Air Force took plant and soil samples and their lab report said no evidence of chemicals causing the burning. So what caused the burning?

    When the object took off with a roar and Zamora ran away, THAT is when he TEMPORARILY lost his glasses, when he bumped his car and ran beyond it to put distance and his car between him and the object. Maybe he ran as far as 100-150 feet from the object before the object went silent and he turned around. Even assuming worst vision (20/100), at 150 feet he could still read 15 inch letters. Think he still couldn't make out a 15-20 foot object as it departed?

    Then he quickly ran back, stooped down, put his glasses back on, and witnessed the remainder of the departure WITH HIS GLASSES ON, so he again was now at least 20/20 in his acuity.

    His prescription also has nothing to do with his stereoscopic depth perception, another misconception of yours. His stereo depth perception also has nothing to do with knowing which direction the object departed in, not with all those major landmarks he mentioned. Stereo depth perception also operates only to about 500-1000 feet distance, at which point other non-stereo depth cues dominate, in this case landmarks, rapidly diminishing size and the object now far in the distance climbing up a mountain range of known distance (~2 miles) away.

    So what do we have here? An impossible balloon that flies into a stiff wind at high speed on a straight course level to the ground for 2 miles, still no identities to the so-called hoaxers, still just the say-so of Sterling Colgate that it was a hoax done with a “balloon” and a “candle”. Colgate is just having you on.

    1. Two points:

      Zamora was a cop: I went to NMT 78-81 and lived in Socorro during the entire time. I knew the town cops. Nice guys, actually.

      But - we are not talking East LA here. These cops deal with domestic fights, auto accidents, and drunk drivers. Some theft and an occasional death (accidental, suicide, rarely a murder). They are not on the edge for most of their career. Most never draw their gun.

      To see Zamora as a crack trained observer and used to quickly reacting to unexpected events is stretching it. I think his basic report is accurate in the events, but one cannot read a lot more into it.

      Point 2: Colgate is sharp and knew what was happening on campus, even after he stepped down as president.

      NMT is a small community, and was really small then - probably 500..600 students. We all knew each other. When there is a hoax, folks know. The only reason from hiding the participants from the administration is the threat if legal action (ie the Green Toilet - a recent prank where Lopez threatened the participants with a felony charge because he *way* over-reacted).

      Your entire argument is due to the direction of the wind. The topology of the area can do funny things to wind direction. To take a general report of wind from years ago is a very flimsy data point.

      I know both Colgate and Etscorn. If they said they know the pranksters, I believe them.

      ... bandit

  12. Even "suggesting" is over the line in my opinion. People can debate back and forth, question this and that, but it's a sleazy suggestion and much different than what Tony has done.

    Rudiak's points about the wind are fair ones. I've seen his source, and it's fair. I'm as convinced as I can be that it was a prank short of actually being there and witnessing it myself, but I can still say he makes a fair point, the only fair point really, that argues against a balloon hoax. There is this loose end. It may be as simple, as I wrote earlier, that Zamora was so shocked by his closer encounter that he was wrong on some details there, but I recognize it's inconsistent to say he was very right early on and this supports the hoax and then reverse that when there's a sticking point. I would like to know the details of how the hoax was accomplished. The identities of the hoaxers are not of so much importance to me.

  13. I KNOW what directions the winds were blowing because I bothered to actually check the weather records. That Lance calls a "conspiracy mentality". I call it scientific research. Debunkers of Socorro seem to know these weather records couldn't be correct because they have psychic powers and know better about everything.

    The best way to see the pattern of winds is to check my graphic, where I compiled wind directions from all weather stations I could find. (From and NOAA websites if you want to double check for yourself.)

    You'll see a dozen weather stations plotted there with winds recorded between 5:00 and 7:00 p.m. (Socorro sighting was at about 5:50) ALL stations over hundreds of miles have winds consistent with the counterclockwise cyclonic wind pattern of a low pressure storm system that had begun pushing through New Mexico. There are no exceptions to this pattern.

    So, e.g., Albuquerque 75 miles from Socorro, had winds out of the S to SSW, Truth or Consequences, about 60 miles south of Socorro, had winds out of the SSW to SW, Alamogordo, about 100 miles to the SE, had winds out of SSW to WSW, El Paso, 150 miles south, had winds out of the W to SW, and so on.

    Zamora reported stiff winds kicking up dust out of the SSW to SW. (Gallup, N.M., e.g. posted wind gusts up to 70 mph, though they didn't get nearly that high in Socorro.) The ACTUAL weather records (not the wishful thinking one of Socorro debunkers) completely back up Zamora. Hynek variously reported the winds out of the South or Southwest.

    The most likely wind direction at the time given the surrounding winds was out of the SSW. You might expect some wind gust variation in direction, but probably no more than +/- 30 degrees from the average wind direction.

    But Zamora reported the object departing UP the arroyo to the WSW, going over and past the dynamite shack UP the arroyo to the WSW, flying horizontal to the ground for nearly 2 miles to the base of the mountains and a highly visible mine there to the WSW. This is almost directly INTO THE WIND, quite impossible for a balloon. And balloons don't fly horizontally like this, unbobbing, in a straight line. There is absolutely no way for the low pressure system to generate winds that could blow anything in the direction that Zamora reported the object departing (unless you travel 200-300 miles to the NW part of the low pressure system).

    To ignore the REAL wind data is disingenuous at best. Calling it a "conspiracy mentality" is typical Lance when he has no counterargument--start the name-calling and wave the hands.

    Either you have to believe that an entire 1000 mile wide low pressure system suddenly reversed circulation direction so that you can have the winds right for a "balloon", or you have to believe in the fantasy that Zamora was visually "impaired" to the point that he couldn't distinguish the nearby mountains to the west from the low-lying Rio Grande valley to the east and town of Socorro to the north.

  14. Dave-

    Wind data is collected to reflect far larger spans of time that the seconds that passed in which Lonnie saw the object aloft. This data (especially available then) does not reflect second-to-second changes in wind circulation. Wind and wind direction are not as "clean" of concepts as you would make them appear. What you show are wind "trends" for a given period. The truth is that -for brief periods of time- crosswinds, wind "micro-currents" and sudden gusts can make an aloft object (especially a very light one) appear to go "against" the wind or to make violent changes in direction suddenly. Happens all the time.

    More importantly, we have only Zamora's account of the direction and path and speed that the object took- an impaired perception, very likely of a sole witness.


  15. It was his "without question" comment that sparked my comment on Rudiak's conspiracy buff mindset.

    Yeah, there are questions.

    Rudiak understands everything in a black and white fashion--he takes an offhand comment, a partial observation or a disconnected bit of data and locks that into his conspiracy matrix, where it only means what he wants it to mean.

    Ahem, that said, I do agree that the wind data presented by Dr. Rudiak is compelling. And well presented.

    But it does it show the whole picture? That is a question.

    Why, I, being an actual human being, have witnessed the wind change direction dramatically rather than blowing continuously in the same direction until the next hourly measurement! Does that kind of thing happen regularly? That is a question. Near mountains? Another question.

    Tony has mentioned a few possibilities that run counter to Rudiak's presentation but need to be fleshed out. Was Zamora simply been mistaken? That is a question.

    Where is the report, Dr. Rudiak, on how the site was roped off and searched for footprints? That is a question.

    Again, Tony has presented a scenario without much evidence. It is somewhat plausible.

    The word of Colgate is not evidence, being second hand at best but it is interesting.

    The burning material at the scene could be remnants of the heat source used to fill the proposed balloon.

    There needs to be more evidence for those of us who still ask questions.


  16. Tony,

    Zamora probably saw the object aloft for 20-30 seconds before he saw it fade from view far to the WEST over the nearby mountain range. He saw it speed off in that direction flying in a straight line horizontal to the ground until it reached the base of the mountains, then sharply rose.

    Please don't use the debunker standby of "impaired perception". You are claiming Zamora couldn't tell the difference between straight up and sideways, up the arroyo from down the arroyo, nearby mountains to the west from Rio Grande valley lowlands to the east and Socorro to the north. Nobody's perception is that "impaired".

    And, yes, wind directions are exactly as clean as I'm saying. You would have to have the low pressure system winds out of the south to southwest (proven in every case by wind data from surrounding weather stations) suddenly shift to coming out of the east/northeast for tens of seconds in order to blow a balloon toward the mountains to the WSW. Also, even if you grossly exaggerate Zamora's estimated time of departure to the mountains, these winds would have to be blowing at at least hurricane force to speed the object to the mountain base in the given time.

    That's just wishful thinking to try to make your balloon "explanation" work. And even if that were the case, how exactly would a "balloon" fly in a straight line horizontal to the ground for 2 miles until getting to the mountain base. A real balloon will rise in the air, not hug the ground, and it is going to bob all over the place because of the "cross-winds" and "micro-currents" you are talking about.

    Also ask yourself the question how Zamora could approach so close to the object sitting on the ground (within 50 feet) WITH HIS GLASSES ON, and see no evidence of a flimsy balloon badly flopping around in stiff winds.

    It was exactly for all these reasons that any balloon explanation was rejected back in 1964 (read Hynek's comments). The Air Force Blue Book debunkers were eager for any explanation for Socorro, and we all know how much they like balloon explanations for UFOs, but even they knew "balloon" literally wouldn't fly given the actual facts of the case.

  17. To get an idea of about where Zamora parked his car at the edge of the arroyo and what view he had of the object as he got out of his car, I've put up a page on my website with a photo I recently took at the site from about 60' from the landing area with a 3D egg-shaped UFO inserted into the picture (using Google Sketch-up and Google Earth).

    Remember that Zamora said he took several steps toward the object before he heard the loud roar and saw the bluish flame coming out of the BOTTOM of the object and seeming to penetrate right into the soil. (Then he turned around and fled.) Thus, he probably got closer than 50 feet. (Both Hynek and Ray Stanford back in 1964 also took photos showing how close Zamora was.)

    This led Hynek to comment in one of his write-ups that it was hard to imagine how Zamora could have mistaken a balloon, helicopter, small plane, etc. from this close a distance.

    Zamora may have been more to the right of this picture site, thus had more of a "nose-on" view of the object as he approached, but this gives you a good idea of what the area looks like and what he would have seen. One question is where would "hoaxers" wrangling a balloon in stiff wind be hiding? How did they escape without notice and leave nothing behind to betray their presence? Notice how open it is out there.

  18. I think what Tony is implying (without being able to come right out and say it) is that Zamora's ability to accurately report what he saw was severely limited by another unmentioned factor.


    Tony, if I am speaking out of school here, don't feel obligated to post this.

  19. Lance:

    I'm stuck posting these comments -- Tony is above the fray.

    You're talking about Lonnie Zamora's alleged drinking, which I discount -- and also dismiss for the La Madera witness.

    Drinking doesn't necessarily impair one's observation of something bizarre -- it may even enhance the observation, according to studies by Duke University.


  20. I'm genuinely interested in this hoax hypothesis. Based on the psychological profile of the types of individuals likely to participate this one, this prank should not have been their only one. Is there any record of hoaxes or pranks in the area preceding or following the Socorro incident?

  21. Zamora said he hadn't been drinking that day and had done very little of it in the month leading up to the incident in his initial report. Whatever his life entailed leading up to the incident, I think he was a good witness that day.

  22. Hi Carddown-

    This is not their only one by any means- there is indeed a long history of pranks and hoaxes at NMIT. Please see my second article (link provided in this article) to "Socorro UFO Hoax Part 2: Getting loser to the Culprits" in the sections "Student Saucers in the Sixties" and "The School of Prank Technology." Colgate himself enjoyed pranks and pranking!


  23. Thanks, Anthony. somehow I missed instalment two. You do a good job of establishing a climate of prnaks and hoaxes, and it is consitent with what was going on around the US on other tech campuses. I still feel you fall short of proving your case, though.
    From what I've seen, hoaxer/pranksters acknowlege thier acts fairly quickly. it's basically a joke for them and reckognition is a crucial part of the punchline.
    Frauds are another story; people like George Adamski may stick to their story for the rest of their lives.

  24. Thanks Carddown-

    But bear in mind that "self preservation" is a very strong motivator. These kids could have been expelled from the College conceivably - never to have gone on to have become the scientists they became- had they not held their tongues. Once they had all moved on, Socorro was largely forgotten, and they wanted to forget.


  25. To all:

    I think proper perspective can be gained from the work of firefighters.

    >The winds aloft may be greatly different in speed and direction >from the surface winds.

    That the object floated consistently low over a given period of time encourages one wind regime over another. In this case possible surface wind dominance over winds aloft direction That the object eventually took off in another direction or even upward is consistent with these various regime changes as a function of altitude.

    That the object floated horizontally is completely plausible given that this presumed pranked object had a payload. I've made numerous candle driven balloons and this is completely consistent with their behavior. They can move quite quickly as well: Such estimates or effects are amplified since one judges speed based on passage over near by objects or surface as opposed to far away reference points.

    Estimates on distance are also very difficult and problematic. Often it can be overestimated by a factor of 2 or 3 even by experienced observers. And, that he had no experience with the object in question only compounds or fragments this perceptual effect.

    I remain open minded enough to entertain the reality of this explanation. But, the case may best be suited for a pro and con approach so that all readers come away with the full breadth of the various argument points, physical attributes, and sources.

    Viktor Golubic

    1. All quite possible but unfortunately dependent on hearsay evidence. We were not there, so the amount of time Zamora looked at it can not really be known or if he noticed someone scooting away around the mound he was on. Perhaps using a small motorcycle carrying two? I would like to go there and look around myself to see the lay of the land.

      I am still looking into the various experimental moon landers being quietly tested in order to be offered for consideration by different companies. We have discussed the idea that one of the many companies doing such work may have been where they were not supposed to and kept quiet about the whole thing. Controversy would hurt a proposal. I even doubt my own suggestion above due to the difficulty of such a lander being able to fly away for any distance. We still have trouble getting VTOL craft to function very well.

      This is still a great mystery to unravel. Maybe it was space aliens . . .

    2. I can entertain many possibilities. That I comment on this theory does not dismiss others. With so many contractors vying for this contract it's hard to throw them all out as distinct solutions on a parallel path with this one . . . . certainly!

      Viktor Golubic

  26. Great work here. It was no doubt a hoax. But as a psychologist I will add that the "need to believe" and not a "will to know the truth" will drive the "Nuts-And-Bolts" believers to claim that this is all a fabrication. Nevertheless, kudos on a great job Anthony.
    Dr. Greg Little

  27. "that the event was a hoax by students that he knew" - so he actually "knew" some of the 3 (or more) hoaxers? Apparently he's not going to out them, so they'll have to do it themselves. So the question is, why not? Who gets hurt at this point? For all the seriousness when this took place FORTY EIGHT years ago - that's a long time ago. Maybe the group has a pact not to reveal the hoax until everyone has died - could be a long wait since they would be in their late 60's. I guess if their original goal was to make UFO believers look foolish, they're going to drag this out as long as possible.

  28. The moon lander idea is a total non-starter. Proponents forget that what would have had to have happened is a launch fom a real site (they don't test these in the middle of nowhere) thn a landing at the famous site and then ANOTHER launch and landinng.

    This simply could not happen. The vehicles barely work in earth gravity and only for a short time. The whole idea is ludicrous, I think.


  29. Hi Greg- Nice to hear from you again and thanks for the comments. The psychology of hoaxing is an intriguing subject as you likely know. I wish more people would read up on the topic.

    Jamesrav- These retired seniors have no obligation to us. At this point nearly a half-century later, it means more to us UFO geeks than it does to them!

    And they have no reason to disrupt their lives and those of their wives and children. They have scientific legacies to preserve and they do not welcome shame. Would you want to disrupt your life and be questioned and ridiculed over something that you did when you were 19? And at the time they were afraid of being expelled, I assure you...


    1. how many hoaxers: “I’d say about 3-6”. Kind of a strange answer, considering he knows them (or at least one of them). Even if he knows just one, they must have discussed the hoax at some point over a drink - and hoaxer #1 didn't reveal there was also, no more and no less, Bob, Frank, Ted and George. So why the vague answer? This explanation has enough vagueness to it that one could conclude Mr. Colgate *believes* it was a hoax, but isn't 100% sure. As a Bigfoot junkie, this hoax explanation is much less robust than the Patterson-Gimlin film being a hoax, a 300 book was written on that possibility.

  30. Hughes Aircraft and the CIA, using the cover of Raven Industries, developed a "lander" that traveled on its own.

    The RRRGroup has provided extensive information at several of our blogs with videos, photos, and documents to supoport the hypotheis, Lance.

    The miscreant lander is a possibility for the Socorro event, although my view lies with the concomitant sightings in La Madera and other places (as David Rudiak indicates), and a recent posting by me at The UFO Iconoclast(s) favors something more exotic.


  31. I personally find it fascinating that the hoax explanation requires greater complexity than recognition that a military or other advanced craft was on site.

    Apologies if anyone was inadvertently cut by Occam's Razor.


  32. I wrote:

    To get an idea of about where Zamora parked his car at the edge of the arroyo and what view he had of the object as he got out of his car, I've put up a page on my website with a photo I recently took at the site from about 60' from the landing area with a 3D egg-shaped UFO inserted into the picture (using Google Sketch-up and Google Earth).

    The given URL is incorrect. The correct URL is:

  33. If AJB is right about this being a prank played on Zamora, then the youthful speeder must have been one of the conspirators. I was reading the documents made at the time of the incident, and read that Zamora thought he knew the identity of the speeder and said the he thought the boy was about 17 years old. If Zamora was right about his age, the speeder is a bit too young to have been a NMT college student, but he could possibly have been a friend or younger brother. Was the speeder ever publicly identified?

  34. Hi Carddown-

    The speeder was an 18 year old, a freshman at the college, enlisted by the older fellows. Never publicly identified. Although...


    1. Found it. Officer Zamora thought the speeder was Vivian Reynolds.
      See the Blue Book files on the case at

    2. Carddown-
      "Vivian" was a boy- a teenaged male, 17. He was not the speeder. And note to the Lonnie saw orangish flames- orange like in the Sky Lantern videos.

    3. Tony,

      What Zamora REALLY said was: "Flame was light BLUE and AT BOTTOM sort of orange color. An ordinary flame, like that of a candle, would be blue at the bottom (hottest gas) and orange at the top as the heated gas cooled.

      Zamora also reported the "flame" went straight down, not up. Flames in hot air balloons, whatever the type, go up, not down. They are filling the balloon with warm air to decrease air density. Can't do that if the flame is directed outward from the balloon envelope.

      Zamora also said it seemed to penetrate straight into the soil instead of bouncing off like an ordinary flame, like the rocket launch he had seen at White Sands.

      When Zamora first was alerted to the object, he also said the flame was a combination of blue and orange. As to shape: "It was a narrow type of flame. It was like a 'stream down" -- a funnel type -- narrower at top than at bottom. Flame possibly 3 degrees or so in width -- not wide."

      Rather strange shape for a simple "candle" flame, don't you think.

    4. I actually think (always have) that this is the one aspect of the case that is the most overlooked. That is, how in the world would the speeder know for certain that Zamora would actually chase after him? What timing would that involve with the other culprits - the whole thing hinges on the fact that they actually were succussful in 'guessing' that Zamora was going to take the bait at the right time and the others would have to know exactly when to do their part etc..This always seems to be an inconsequential part of the alleged hoax but i see it as its lynchpin that it did not happen that way -it was not part of any hoax - which in turn waters down the whole 'hoax' theory. My opinion of course :)

      Tommy Fischer

  35. Using historical wind data at, I've just added four more N.M. weather stations to my wind map: Cliff, Farmington, Santa Rosa, and Las Vegas, N.M.:

    The REAL wind data continues to be totally unambiguous: Winds were blowing out of the south to west at ALL weather stations in New Mexico at the time of the sighting and in the hour before and after. There are NO exceptions anywhere.

    I defy anyone to find an exception showing any easterly components to the wind anywhere in New Mexico, better yet northeasterly to account for the direction the object departed in (to the WSW). All I've seen his total denial of HARD EVIDENCE, handwaving arguments that we just don't know what the winds were in Socorro at the time.

    But the data is there for everyone to see. Wind directions were totally dominated by the strong, low pressure weather system beginning to pass through the state at the time.

    But never mind, don't believe your own lying eyes or true hard data. The Socorro debunkers just KNOW it must be a hoax and 1) Socorro completely defied an entire weather system and reversed wind directions, and/or 2) Zamora was "impaired", now apparently meaning blind as a bat and drunk.

    Reaching a new low in debunkery, a whispering campaign has now begun that Zamora was a drunk, known to drink on the job. All the "sources" are again anonymous, supposedly ex-NM Tech students who have passed this "information" onto CSICOP debunker Dave Thomas, who would never tell a lie.

    Gee, isn't it odd that the first responder on the scene, State Patrolman Sam Chavez who was there within a minute, strongly urged his supposedly soused good friend Zamora to file a report when Zamora was so shook up and disbelieving he didn't want to report anything? I guess Chavez wanted to get his friend in a lot of trouble and kicked off the force for drinking on the job.

    As for blind as a bat, the Socorro debunkers blow off the fact that Zamora had his glasses on at least 90% of the time, only temporarily lost his glasses, and even with his glasses off, national police standards for uncorrected vision (cops still have to identify suspects and do things like fire a gun even if visually “impaired”) tell us he would have had absolutely no trouble reporting exactly what he reported, the most important being the direction of departure UP the arroyo and towards the prominent mine at the base of the mountains to the WSW. He wasn't watching a jackrabbit run off, but a 15-20 foot object depart the scene at distances of only a few hundred feet.

    Even with the worst-case assumptions about the quality of his vision without glasses, he still could have seen such an object over a distance of at least a mile. And remember, once the object went silent and started to leave the area, he quickly ran back, picked up his dropped glasses and put them back on (probably in only 5-10 seconds), so he saw most of the departure WITH HIS GLASSES ON.

    What we have here are a bunch of "believers" of the debunking variety who refuse to face hard facts like actual wind directions, instead offering rumor, hearsay, and speculation as "evidence" of a hoax.

    1. Albuquerque has a balloon fiesta every years because the winds, at different levels, blow in all four directions, known by the pilots as a "box" because they can fly in a box direction as a function of the altitude.

      You are putting *way* too much value on skimpy general data. Go live in the Socorro area for a year so you can really understand the weather patterns. Socorro is in the Rio Grande river valley, with sharp mountains forming the valley. Winds are not a uniform, homogenous mass that behave the same because of micro-climates.

      On Colgate saying 3-6 students: Colgate is a sharp physicist. He created the field of digital astronomy. As such, he is careful. I think he *knows* 3, and suspects there has to be a total of 6 (for a variety of evidence).

  36. Dr. Rudiak has fixated on the not-quite-right allegations about Officer Zamora's drinking.

    We have suppressed comments about that as best as we could here as we don't think it is germane to the sighting or Officer Zamora's testimony.

    Moreover, it's hearsay.

    Every cop we know has a drink now and then. Does this impede their duties? No.

    Does it impact their observations? No in a detrimental way, unless they were falling down drunk.

    This wasn't the case with Officer Zamora during his sighting and not during his sojourn as a cop in Socorro.

    That some have tried to destroy Officer Zamora's witness account with an aside about drinking or drunkenness is intellectually despicable.

    Mr. Rudiak would do well to side-step that element of the comments here and elsewhere by UFO quidnuncs.


  37. In examining the "perception impairment issue" which RR will agree is everything- we must examine the total picture:

    - Lonnie was "stirred up" by having to go on a long chase out of town with a college-age student speeder. (This is not what he wanted to be doing and rarely do such chases go that far and long in such a small town. The speeder almost always yields. Its just too small a place.)Many have characterized Lonnie as being overly-strict and hot-headed with the students at NMIT.

    - Lonnie was confused by very loud explosion (and he was distracted and broke chase of the speeder)

    - Lonnie admits that he was frightened of the sight and sounds of the event

    - Lonnie had very bad vision. (It is evident in pictures and videos that he wore very thick glasses which impaired his perception of distance and/or detail)

    - Lonnie twice lost his glasses during the "UFO" encounter. He was a large and not-agile man who must have had to stumble, crouch and retrieve, then reposition his glasses and himself to continue to view the "UFO" and "aliens"

    - Lonnie did not know what he was seeing (though the white flying object appeared like a balloon) and this is because such things as Hot Air Balloons and certainly Giant Candle Balloons would be wholly unknown to Zamora. Such a thing was out of his realm of experience

    - Lonnie saw this in 1964. In the context of those more "innocent" times, such a sight would have been very unfamiliar- before the moon landing, etc.

    - Lonnie was noted by Hynek to not be particularly educated or articulate (though certainly a good man who was sincere)

    - Lonnie has been reported by several University Administrators and by former students who are now well-known scientists to have been a drinker. He drank often and more than one said he drank on the job. All of these accounts about Lonnie were related to me independently or to Dave Thomas of NMIT who is also researching this. We must -at the very least- consider that on that Friday evening at school year's end- Lonnie may have stopped into the Capitol Bar (which he did often) or he may not have. I merely put this out there as an item that must be considered. It must.

    Therefore, we are dealing with the impaired perception of a hot-headed, stirred up, distracted, confused and frightened man. He has extremely poor vision requiring thick corrective lenses, which he then loses twice during the encounter. Not physically fit, he lumbers back to his viewing position. Not especially intelligent himself, he sees this all during a period of time in history when such balloons were wholly unknown to most people.

    Finally we cannot ignore the honest reports from highly-placed and credible people (whose names are on file and known to me and others independent of me)who say that Lonnie enjoyed drink and had even been known to drink on the job. He may or may not have been- we will never know- though we must consider this amongst a possibility amongst all the very many perceptual impairments Lonnie clearly and without question suffered that day.

    And RR, to say drinking does not impair perception (as you did in an earlier comment) is not true. Ask the tens of thousands of families who lose loved ones to drunk drivers every year.


  38. Anthony mistakes degrees of impairment, while under the influence of alcohol (or drugs -- an issue he's dealt with at his blog and our blog).

    A totally drunk person is impaired, I'll give Tony that. But a few drinks does not cause sensory impairment and actually enhances it to some degree, as noted in studies that I'll have to put online it seems.

    Zamora was driving a car, and rather accurately it appears, from teh descriptions of where he had to travel -- down steep, dirty roads.

    He was able to radio for assistance -- something a drunk couldn't do.

    That Anthony and Mr. Rudiak are consumed by the rumor of Officer Zamora's drinking is baffling to me.

    It is a side-bar, if that.

    Officer Zamora had an observation. His account of that observation is quite good, excellent actually.

    That he may have misperceived some of the event -- during the time he lost his glasses -- goes to that part of the event, but doesn't not corrupt the totality of what he reported.

    Also, Officer Zamora's visualized insignia is a key to what he saw.

    That the symbol has tainted by insinuations that it wasn't what Officer Zamora drew but actually another symbol, created by the Air Force and thrust upon him to gull copy cat "witnesses" has complicated the issue.

    Ray Stanford hasn't been helpful in the matter.

    The "drunk" issue is peripheral to the observation.

    And as Jerry Clark mentioned at UFO Updates, he (and others, including us) take into account other sightings in the time-frame that mimic Lonnie Zamora's.

    Again, that Officer Zamora drank a beer now and then, on the job or off, is irrelevant, and merely muddies the story.

    The Socorro event remains open to me, as a bona fide UFO sighting, which can't be explained by a hoax scenario or the idea that Lonnie Zamora was so discombobulated by a few beers that he didn't really see what he says he saw.


  39. Dr. Rudiak wind discussion is a quite sound and is a huge impediment to Tony's case.

    His shrill attacks against imaginary "debunkers" (anyone who doesn't agree with him) is just part and parcel of how he operates. Observe above how most folks are just discussing possibilities. Everyone seems to know that none of this is set in stone. Rudiak will brook no discussion!

    In his conspiracy buff world EVERYTHING is just as he imagines it to be.

    When a Rudiak-supported witness speaks, every word is golden and perfect. There can be no mistakes or misidentifications. Every estimation of time, distance, direction, temperature, etc made by a witness is just as though a precision instrument was recorded on the scene.

    Rudiak takes any speculation that runs counter to his saucer religion and turns it into fraud, dishonesty or worse (he does the same thing with Roswell, only multiplied many times over). His nutty endless posts repeat the assertion that anyone who disagrees is a criminal.

    Any worthwhile contributions get lost in his hilariously nutty self-righteous church lady innuendo.


  40. I can't help but notice that Tony's attempt to think outside of the box has created a stir with the UFO Updates crowd. Evidently, one can, if allowed, only stray so far off of the reservation.

    Whether Tony's new hoax theory holds water remains to be seen. I agree that certain segments need to be followed up. Reading Robert Scheafer's blog comments gives me the impression that Colgate may shed more light within the next couple of weeks, yet there is no guarantee on that account.

    I think what ruffled most feathers was Tony's blog title...Finally Solved...

    Personally, I like it when someone looks at alternative theories rather than repeating the same old mantra over and over.

  41. Tim-

    The title is "Finally Told" - not "Finally Solved." Big difference. The remainder of the title explains that "new details" are being told- not that every aspect of the hoax has been "solved." And to my mind every aspect does not need to be solved. Sure, it is fun to speculate how they drew the Red Insignia on the shiny white large Sky Lantern balloon and what the symbol "meant." And it is amusing to speculate if the students in white lab suits jumped behind some shrub and brush, or simply dove into a depression in the ground, etc. But these fine details are not important relative to the essential truth:

    NMIT admin (from the college president to two professors) and students have put their reputations on the line by declaring with certitude that it was a hoax by pulled off by a few of their own...


  42. Tony wrote: (part 1 of 2)
    Lonnie had very bad vision. (It is evident in pictures and videos that he wore very thick glasses which impaired his perception of distance and/or detail)

    Tony, let me repeat this, because evidently it isn't getting through to you. We can tell a great deal about Zamora's vision because he was a cop. There are minimum vision standards for cops because they still have to be able to function at critical moments even if they lose their glasses, such is in the middle of a shootout or driving their car. The usual national standard was at least 20/100 vision, which is not by a long shot considered "very bad vision" nor would it require "very thick glasses" to correct. I'm a licensed optometrist--I know.

    Wearing glasses does NOT impair one's perception of distance and unless one has some sort eye disease, one's acuity is just as good as somebody who does not require glasses. If Zamora was near-sighted, losing one's glasses would affect one's acuity but not necessarily have a big effect on one's perception of distance, because there are multiple cues to distance, some relying on gross vision, such as relative size, looming, and relation to nearby objects of known distance.

    Lonnie twice lost his glasses during the "UFO" encounter.

    No Tony, you don't even know the basics of this case. He lost his glasses ONCE, not twice. Let's go through the sequence of events again:

    1. Chasing speeder, sees bright light, hears loud roar, turns off highway onto dirt road to investigate, has trouble climbing first hill, sees wind blowing his tire dust, gets to top of first hill and drives along crest: Time maybe 1 minute and HIS GLASSES ARE ON.

    2. From a distance of about 800 feet, has a longitudinal view up the arroyo where he first sees the object and two small figures standing next to it. Time maybe 10 seconds and HIS GLASSES ARE ON.

    3. Radios in for backup and speeds to location of object, sees object again as he climbs to crest of next hill, parks car off road at edge of arroyo, about 60 feet from object, views object out of his open driver's-side window, calls second time for backup. Time, ~20-30 seconds, HIS GLASSES ARE ON.

    4. Gets out of car, hears loud sounds like tank hatch closing, takes a few steps toward objects, sees large red insignia on side, sees girderlike struts supporting it, he's a distance of probably <50 feet and HIS GLASSES ARE ON.

    5. Object emits loud roar and "flame" that Zamora says seemed to penetrate into soil, not bounce off. Terrified Zamora turns around and throws himself to the ground, then gets up and starts running for his life back towards car, shooting a glance or two backward. HIS GLASSES ARE ON. Time of 4 & 5, maybe 10 seconds.

    6. Trying to run beyond car and put car between himself and object, he hits the rear bumper and FINALLY loses his glasses, but keeps running, still shooting glances back to see what the object is doing. He sees it rising out of the arroyo. At most, maybe he runs to 150 feet to 200 feet from object and crouches down., but with police-standard vision, he will have NO trouble seeing the car-sized object rising and its initial departure, including the CRITICAL detail of which direction it departs in.

  43. 7. Object goes silent and starts to depart. He races back to car, picks up his glasses (he knows where he dropped them and its mostly open ground there), puts them back on, all the time observing object as it leaves. During this time running back to car, he sees it going straight UP the arroyo (to the WSW), seems to pass directly over the dynamite shack about 500 feet to the WSW and barely clear it , and continue on to nearby mountains to west going in a straight line. Time without glasses when he observes all this, maybe 10-20 seconds.

    8. Watches rest of departure WITH HIS GLASSES ON, sees object receding rapidly into distance IN A STRAIGHT LINE headed for very prominent perlite mine at base of mountains to the WSW and 2 miles away. Sees the object suddenly rise when it reaches mountain base, climb rapidly upward, then fade out in the distance. Time, maybe 20 or 30 seconds. HIS GLASSES ARE ON, and his police-standard vision would be at least 20/20, i.e., normal acuity.

    (With normal acuity, he would be able to visually track Socorro-size object in distance from 3 to 8 miles, depending on his actual acuity, affects of sun glare, reflectance of object, atmospheric conditions such as haze, etc. He estimated it faded out in the vicinity of 6-mile canyon, which was indeed about 6 miles away from Socorro and Zamora, so he was right in the ball park in his estimate of possible fade-out distance.)

    So out of this whole sighting, which lasted maybe 2 to 3 minutes, Zamora was without his glasses for maybe 10-20 seconds. Zamora probably had his glasses on 90% of the time. I would like Tony to tell me:

    1. How Zamora lost his glasses "TWICE". Sources please.

    2. What critical detail about the sighting Zamora could not have seen because he temporarily lost his glasses, because I don't know of any.

    If you don't think Zamora couldn't tell the direction of travel of a large object at close range, then you don't know anything about visual perception. And the direction of travel and the straight line trajectory to the mountains are key to demolishing your entire hoax theory, since the object would have to be flying into a stiff wind (which you try so hard to pretend doesn't matter), so forget about Sterling Colgate's dumb hot-air balloon.

    You are also trying to portray Zamora as some sort of lumbering, crude, stupid, brute. No less than astronomer Dr. Lincoln LaPaz of the Univ. of N.M. vouched for Zamora as a witness, both in the newspapers and privately to Hynek. Read Hynek. LaPaz had worked with Zamora in the past. One quote from Hynek by LaPaz: "I have had contacts with Mr. Zamora for 16 years in my work and he is a thoroughly dependable observer." Another Hynek comment: "...a number of years before he [LaPaz] had worked with Zamora on a field trip in search of a fallen meteorite. He gave Zamora a very clean bill of health and said he was a completely reliable witness."

  44. Tony, I stand corrected. I, in haste, had quickly looked at your title and...

  45. David accepts, but never attempts to explain, some extraordinary coincidences. An advanced alien craft had to have landed on the outskirts of Socorro just as Mr. Zamora was chasing a speeding teenager in that direction. The vehicle's occupants, already walking around the immediate landing area, are startled by Mr. Zamora seeing them and scramble back into their vehicle, which Mr. Zamora did not see, and took off for their home planet. The final coincidence is the site itself, geographically perfect to pull off such an illusion. Of all the places on Earth an alien craft could have landed, they chose that one at 5:45 PM on a Friday afternoon on April 24, no more than a month before college finals.

    David never addresses this let alone explain it and hangs out his wind data as proof positive that the case isn't a hoax.

  46. Frank, you call that a logical argument?

    What hoax claimers have to explain are the critical details of the hoax, such as rapid, silent departure in a controlled straight line for the mountains against a stiff wind.

    Now if anyone can come up with a conventional object that can do ALL this, then all the more power to you. The only object that could possibly fly away silently would be a balloon, but balloons are totally at the mercy of the wind, can't possibly fly against the wind or in straight horizontal lines, much less at high speed.

    So the ACTUAL historical winds have EVERYTHING to do with it, and totally disprove the balloon/hoax hypothesis. That's the real scientific argument here.

    As for the N.M. Tech students from the period, most that weighed in over on skeptic Dave Thomas' blog don't think much of the N.M. Tech student hoax theory:

    Some comments:

    "I was a student at Tech (1962-67)... The population of Tech was relatively small at the time and everyone knew everyone and what they were up to. I never heard any rumors about this incident being "student engineered." That would have been impossible to keep a secret, especially considering the size of the mysterious craft. I think Dr. Colgate's comments were just his manner of glossing over the subject so as not to involve the school in the incident and possible negative backfire."

    "I was there in 1964. It was widely believed [note, not known] then that it was a Tech student's prank. There were numerous pranksters at Tech in those days. No one I know ever fessed up about it though. [Description of various simple pranks] Good old memories, but no proof that Techies did it, or didn't do it."

    "My tenure at Tech was '63 - '67... if us "schoolies" were responsible for it, I would have been either the ringleader, or an active supporter of the hoax. Bottom Line: Schoolies had no part in this incident." [description of other simple college pranks]

    "I still do not feel this was a typical college prank carried out by any of the "usual suspects." As I mentioned above, the enrollment at Tech was fairly small and this project would have required considerable planning, equipment and sophistication not available to your average student. It would have required faculty or staff involvement to obtain the necessary materials... it would have been all but impossible for a few students, acting on their own, to "borrow" the materials and equipment needed to pull off a major event such as this and escape detection. When the Lobo at UNM turned up with shamrocks painted on it, we all knew who did it within hours. When the dairy herd at NMSU was found with similar adornments one morning it was common knowledge to the student body who had been the perpetrators... These were run-of-the-mill, typical college pranks that required little planning or sophistication. An event, such as faking a UFO landing was a bit beyond the capabilities of your average student. It would have required a group to carry out and secrets were hard to hide at Tech... Some of the information I have read about this being a student prank just did not add up. These explanations were wild speculations that described a school that was not the Tech I graduated from back in '67."

  47. You still didn't address everything about the incident leading up to the into the wind aircraft departure. The overwhelming preponderance of the evidence points to hoax. You're basing your entire premise on one loose end.

  48. Frank,

    What exactly didn't I address? You hoax believers claim this was designed to lure him to the site. This was proposed 48 ears ago, was pure speculation then and now. Speculation is not fact. Also would have required hoaxers to know Zamora's whereabouts at all time since he patrolled randomly, not regular routes.

    The prank tradition at N.M. tech? Note the posts by some of the people there: unsophisticated kids stuff, like painting cows. One guy said a hoax of this magnitude (see “loose ends” below) was way beyond the ability of the students there and would have required cooperation of faculty, such as to procure necessary equipment. Another said he would of been in on it if not the ringleader, and he wasn't. Another comment it was a small school and everybody knew what everybody else was up to. Pranks were almost immediately bragged about and quickly known by everybody, but not in this case. Great "evidence" supporting a hoax.

    What you flippantly call "one loose end" is not speculation and hoax believer hand-waving but actual hard scientific data: the winds were completely wrong for it to be a hoax. Try flying a balloon INTO a stiff wind, also flying in a straight horizontal line for about 2 miles until it reached the mountains.

    And there was a lot more than one “loose end” to the hoax idea, all of it brought up almost 50 years ago:

    1. Police backup swarming over the site starting within a minute, thus no time for alleged hoaxers to escape and clean up after themselves. Really no place to hide out there under the nose of Zamora and first responders. I've been there; have you?

    2. Grass, brush, and ground still smoldering (multiple witnesses) minutes afterward, meaning freshly burned. No trace of accelerants or pyrotechnics found by the Air Force in soil and plant samples. No trace of the equipment that would be needed to do this. So what did the burning, how did they dispose of the equipment, and how would hoaxers time it so perfectly?

    3. No evidence of other humans being there: no tire tracks, no human footprints, no paraphernalia needed to pull off hoax, no nothing. Area immediately made a crime scene and carefully searched by police, FBI, and AF immediately afterward. Nothing.

    4. Fresh "landing pad" traces with moisture in bottom (9 witnesses said Hynek), therefore fresh. Everyone agreed (including FBI agent, AF investigator) that it appeared something of great weight had caused the impressions and pressed into the soil, compressing it and pushing up edges. Broken rock at end of one, with metal scrapings on it. Later testing by NASA initially said did not match metal alloy in their database. Nice touch for hoaxers, but to what end, if the purpose was merely to "get" Zamora?

    5. Radiation fogging first photos (according to officer Ted Jordon, who had his photos confiscated by Air Force, later told the film was ruined by radiation). Photos taken next morning unaffected, suggesting short-lived radiation. (Thus hoaxers would have needed something like a cyclotron to create such radioisotopes, then raced them to out to the site to plant them before they decayed away. What genius and timing, and for what? Again, how would this scare or embarrass Zamora?)

    6. Similar sightings reported in N.M. before and after. Hoaxers would have had to be all over the state.

    So Frank, why don't you take care of those hoaxing "loose ends" for us? (Are you going to amuse us with your pole vaulting students again?) Even the Air Force Project Blue Book people, who wanted desperately to explain this away, didn't buy "hoax" and acknowledged that Zamora had seen a real "vehicle" of some kind.

    1. That's not accurate David. Investigator David Moody thought it was a hoax and Hynek at least considered hoax but ruled it out for reasons other than it being impossible. He felt that the hoaxers would have taken credit.

      The burning you're talking about was not as fresh as you claim. There was burning but first responder Chavez (the swarm of police backup?) noted the burned foliage was cold to the touch and Hynek noted it was random, not consistent with some kind of vehicle emission from a fixed exhaust.

      They had all the time they needed to create landing pad traces . . . . which is interesting because Zamora wrote in his original account he only saw two "legs" on the vehicle which he also described as looking "like a balloon."

      I don't doubt the hoaxers went through a practice run or two before the April 24 incident.

  49. David-

    Larry Boucher wrote Dave Thomas:

    "It was widely believed back then that it was a Tech student's prank. There were numerous pranksters in those days. Ask Dave Thomas who Boucher is.

    From Richard...:

    "Zamora did drink too much"

    William Stockton:

    "Tech has always had older grad students who were (and still are) brilliant, quirky, clever and possibly subtle enough to pull off such a believable prank." and

    "Lonnie Zamora was reported to have a fondness for drink" and

    "If the flying saucer was a hoax, I would say that faculty members were in on it."

    David, for every one that says they heard nothing, there is someone that had. It's like RAAF and Roswell.

    If only 4 or so were directly involved, why would you think that the whole school would know who exactly did it? The whole purpose of pranking is to fool, to be secret, to have only a select few "in on it."

    I literally grew up in a college town -Boston- and I saw these technical pranks and hoaxes all of the time. I suggest that you look at the most "obvious" things first David- and become acquainted with the literature on the psychology of hoaxing.


  50. Larry Boucher wrote Dave Thomas: "It was widely believed back then that it was a Tech student's prank. There were numerous pranksters in those days. Ask Dave Thomas who Boucher is.

    Tony, I already quoted him above. Since when is mere belief the same as fact? Boucher also adds that nobody confessed to it, so he doesn't know if it was a hoax or not.

    William Stockton: "Tech has always had older grad students who were (and still are) brilliant, quirky, clever and possibly subtle enough to pull off such a believable prank."

    More mere speculation of who might/could have done it, but again no personal knowledge and no explanation of how such a “believable prank” might have been pulled off.

    From Richard...: "If the flying saucer was a hoax, I would say that faculty members were in on it."

    So IF it was a hoax, not that he knows it was a hoax. And IF it was a hoax, he would speculate (“I would say”) the faculty was involved. More great evidence of nothing.

    See also Richard's hearsay comment immediately below about Zamora's supposed drinking.

    David, for every one that says they heard nothing, there is someone that had. It's like RAAF and Roswell.

    Nobody you can quote says they actually KNOW it was a hoax. All these quotes are speculation, not fact. Can you quote anybody who says they know for a fact it was a hoax, they know who the hoaxers were, and can actually name names?

    From Richard...:"Zamora did drink too much" "Lonnie Zamora was reported to have a fondness for drink"

    Ahh, finally, when all else fails, the “Lonnie was a drunk” card. Let's see, “Lonnie was reported”. That's classic hearsay that wouldn't get you into traffic court.

    If only 4 or so were directly involved, why would you think that the whole school would know who exactly did it? The whole purpose of pranking is to fool, to be secret, to have only a select few "in on it."

    Not according to other comments that the pranks and pranksters were almost immediately known and the school was so small everybody knew what everybody else was up to.

    literally grew up in a college town -Boston- and I saw these technical pranks and hoaxes all of the time. I suggest that you look at the most "obvious" things first David- and become acquainted with the literature on the psychology of hoaxing.

    The level of technical sophistication needed to pull off a hoax of this magnitude is orders of magnitude beyond NM Tech's “painting cows” or reassembling a car in a dorm room (a classic MIT prank). NM Tech was no MIT in any case, and I seriously doubt our top scientists could have pulled off a “prank” like this.

    How do you get an object to fly silently at high speed into a stiff wind in a highly controlled manner (straight line)? That's what you have to explain to make a hoax semi-plausible and what you keep ducking.

  51. As was said about the notorious conspiracy theorist, Mark Lane, "If he talks for five minutes, it takes an hour to straighten out the record.

    It is much the same for the words of David Rudiak.

    I'm not going to respond to each of his points above (some of which are reasonable and some of which have been conspiracy-nutted). Instead let me just illustrate one instance of how the truth gets left behind when Rudiak speaks.

    His point one is:

    "1. Police backup swarming over the site starting within a minute, thus no time for alleged hoaxers to escape and clean up after themselves. Really no place to hide out there under the nose of Zamora and first responders. I've been there; have you?"

    Within a minute, huh?

    Zamora says that he drew the insignia after the sighting:

    "Just before Sgt. Chavez got to scene, I got my pen and drew a picture of the insignia on the object."

    He also says that he:

    1. Gave directions to the location via radio.
    2. Left the car and went down to the site and observed the burning, etc.
    3. Went back to car and finally talked Chavez into his location.

    "Gave directions to Nep Lopez at radio and to Sergeant M.S. Chavez to get there. Went down to where the object had been and I noted the brush was burning in several places. At that time I heard Sgt. Chavez (N.M. State Police at Socorro) calling me on radio for my location, and I returned to my car, told him he was looking at me."

    Does that sound like "within a minute" to anyone?

    So why did Rudiak say, "within a minute"?

    See, "within a minute is a short time" and Rudiak wanted it to be a short time, the shorter the better. So he said "within a minute" because that is the way he works.

    This kind of ham handed conspiracy-buff fabrication might be why no one takes any of this stuff seriously.


  52. Lance, nice how you leave out more source material. Read Hynek and Stanford, and even Zamora's affidavit. He made two calls before he even got to the site. You only mention the calls after the object left and then accuse me of lying about the timing. But you are just being Lance.

    Zamora first saw the object on top of the first bluff at a distance of about 800 feet where he could see unobstructed up the arroyo to where the object and "beings" were in the bottom of the arroyo. From there, Stanford says Zamora was beginning to suspect this was something highly unusual, maybe a secret craft from White Sands.

    So he FIRST radioed his friend Sgt. Sam Chavez of the State Police. (call 1) He asked him to come ALONE. Chavez would know the appropriate agency to call if it was something secret and the two of them could keep the information to themselves if necessary.

    This was confirmed by Hynek in his interview with Chavez, who told him that Zamora called him first and asked him to come alone. Now here's a simple logic question for you Lance. Why would Zamora ask Chavez to come ALONE if he had already radioed for full backup after the object left, as you claim?

    Then while driving to the site, he called into Socorro Police HQ (in Zamora's affidavit, e.g.) and said he was investigating a possible car crash. (call 2) Time to drive the distance down a lousy dirt road ~800', slow down, park the car at the edge of the arroyo and quickly evaluate the situation, maybe 30 seconds. Note, Chavez, who was patrolling nearby, was already on his way.

    Then Zamora called HQ and told them he was getting out of the car to investigate. (call 3) Then he took a few steps, the object let out a roar, he dived to the ground, got up, ran away, bumped the car, stumbled, lost his glasses, ran beyond the car maybe another 100', dived to the ground again, heard the object going silent and beginning to depart, ran back and picked up his glasses, got to the driver's seat and watched the object rapidly leaving the area. Time for all this, maybe 20-30 seconds. So approximately a minute from when he radioed Chavez and only 15-20 seconds from when the object left the scene.

    He called in to HQ and asked for full backup and told dispatcher Ned Lopez to try to see the object departing (call 4). Chavez then called and asked where he was. (call 5) Zamora saw him up on the first bluff and told him he was looking right at him. Time for Chavez to drive the rest of the way, again another 30 seconds or so.

    So Chavez was already overlooking the scene well within a minute, at the scene possibly within a minute or slightly more, just like I said.

    So now there were two witnesses as to whether hoaxers were there and fleeing. Zamora never left the scene, Chavez was overlooking the scene probably within half a minute to a minute of when the object first left, and there was no place for anyone to hide out there in open country.

    As Hynek noted (such as letter to Menzel), no place to hide, no possible time to clean up after themselves, and no time to flee right under the noses of Zamora and Chavez. When he got there, Chavez immediately made it a crime scene, and when more backup Socorro police got there within a few minutes (the police station was only a mile away and the site 1/2 mile from the highway), they scoured the area looking for signs of hoaxers being there. They never found anything, no tracks of any kind and no paraphernalia. This alone was recognized as a serious blow to any hoax theory back then. Even the AF acknowledged this, looked into the possibility of some sort of secret project, came up empty-handed, acknowledged a “vehicle” of some sort had been there, and called the incident unidentified.

  53. Notice how, now that his duplicity has been pointed out, Rudiak requires huge amounts of unsourced text to create his new nutty contentions.

    I quoted above from Zamora's Blue Book file.

    Rudiak has quoted from...oh he hasn't quoted from anywhere because his double-naught conspiracy buff ideas have to come from inside, man! You have to think!

    Notice also how Rudiak has just ignored that Zamora said that he drew the insigna BEFORE Chavez arrived. That act alone might easily take more than a minute. But it doesn't fit into conspiracy nut world so he'll just leave that out.


  54. Skeptical "conspiracy nut" Lance wrote:
    Notice also how Rudiak has just ignored that Zamora said that he drew the insigna BEFORE Chavez arrived. That act alone might easily take more than a minute. But it doesn't fit into conspiracy nut world so he'll just leave that out.

    Ha, ha. Somehow I just KNEW Lance would make that unbelievably LAME argument. Zamora drew one or the other of the following figures (depending on what version of the story you believe):

    According to our resident genius Lance, "That act alone might easily take more than a minute."

    Oh really? Look at these simple figures and ask yourself how long it would take for you to draw one. Think it would take more than a minute? I said it probably took Sgt. Sam Chavez about 30 seconds to drive from the first bluff to the second one where Zamora was drawing the figure when he got there (after Zamora told him over the radio that Chavez was looking right at him when Chavez called for directions). Think it would take even 30 seconds?

    Maybe it would take "easily more than a minute" for a temper-tantrum-throwing 2-year-old with a crayon, which is often a good description of our friend Lance.

  55. Mr. Rudiak fails to notice that Jerry Pippin's reproductions come from The UFO Iconolast(s) blog, as I had those symbols created for us by one of our guys (Max).

    If Mr. Rudiak will chastise Pippin for his purloining of our stuff, we may accept some of Mr. Rudiak's date and information.

    If he he lets the "steal" stand, we would have to find Mr. Rudiak's other attributions suspect.


  56. In nutty conspiracy world, everyone already has a pencil and piece of paper in hand, ready to draw the insignia they see. And don't forget the other things Zamora says that he did prior drawing the insignia.

    This is a little thing, of course. Its a small fabrication. But what conspiracy nuts do is create a whole web of little lies to make their fantasies hold together. Notice again that I quoted the actual words of Zamora while Rudiak insists that we listen his shrill interpretation of the events (and the nutty work of people like Stanford) to get to the conspiracy buff version of the story.

    No one else has chimed in here so I won't respond to Rudiak's next bit of raving. I do plan to write about this topic at my blog shortly...exposing one of Rudiak's most hilarious fabrications. I would just suggest that letting the kind of "research" that Rudiak espouses stand without comment doesn't raise the level of discourse. It keeps things in the realm of the pseudoscience and superstition. And it keeps the outsiders laughing.


  57. Don't you think, Lance, that if Mr. Rudiak doesn't know the source or quality of the data and material he's spewing all over the place, that his ravings can be dismissed, out of hand?


  58. Hi Rich,

    I can't dismiss anything anyone says out of hand.

    And truly, Dr. Rudiak brings up some good points here and elsewhere. But he talks so much and adds in so much conspiracy buff mumbo jumbo that it is tempting to simply toss out EVERYTHING he says.

    Essentially, I think he is correct that Tony has proven nothing and there is much evidence that speaks against Tony's hypothesis. There was no need to egg the pudding but Rudiak can't help himself...he seems to be unable to resist making up numbers and facts to support his views and I just wanted to point that out.

    In a face to face debate, I think he would be at a distinct disadvantage but fortunately for him that kind of thing never seems to happen.

    I find myself wondering about this case from time to time and I really don't have any better answer than others have theorized here. The dogmatic way that buffs like Rudiak twist and spin data should be the kind of thing that people who are interested in getting to the bottom of this stuff should repudiate, even at the risk of the childish, "I know you are but what am I?"rejoinders and endless off-topic raving. Instead, Rudiak is sadly seen as one of the better "researchers". Such is the state of the field.



  59. Yes, Lance, Dr. (of Optometry?) Rudiak has done some interesting research and thinking but when he incorporates links and sites that corroborate his theses, without vetting those links and sites, I feel all his research, like that of Jonah Lehrer (in the news right now) becomes suspect.

    And who has the time or desire to check every venue and fact that Mr. Rudiak throws at us?

    If his credibility becomes suspect, he's in trouble with cognoscenti.

    As for Anthony Bragalia's hoax conclusion, it may be wanting to many but is not based on whole cloth.

    Tony thinks Colgate is a credible source, and he may be right.

    But how do we really know that?

    It all comes down to faith.....a matter that is hardly scientific or intellectually valid, even if one accepts the credo of Thomas Aquinas (or other brilliant persons).

    Mr. Rudiak is so verbose that one thinks he may have obsessive, neurotic needs to be intellectually defensive.

    His views, if they were legitimate, wouldn't need all the ponderous "written verbiage" he can't help himself form pouring forth.

    (But I like his chutzpah.)


  60. Rich and Lance, (part 1 of 2)
    You guys are funnier than Laurel and Hardy. Rich, if Jerry Pippin "stole" your symbols, I wasn't aware of it. But weren't you just copying from Zamora and numerous other drawings of same? Highly original artwork or the Mona Lisa this is not. These are simple, line drawings that can be made in seconds by a five-year old. So that other readers would know what Lance was referencing, I quickly Googled for the two unadorned insignia versions and Pippin's site popped up. Does it really matter that much?

    How instead about getting back to the actual POINT I was making with the insignia before you got in a big huff about where they came from. What do you think of Lance's argument that it would take "easily more than a minute" for Zamora to draw? Do you really believe that?

    Lance: As to the sources which you claim I didn't give, I stated them, you just didn't acknowledge the fact: Ray Stanford ("Socorro 'Saucer' in a Pentagon Pantry)," Hynek (Blue Book report and letter to Donald Menzel:, Zamora's affidavit (same).

    Now children, can we get back to the original point? Lance for about the millionth time accused me of being a horrible liar and his usual "conspiracy nut" (this is his stock tirade for when he can't respond to points) for saying that among other factors against a hoax (besides the winds being completely wrong—let's not forgot those hoax-killing winds) was the fact that police backup was "swarming over the site starting within a minute, thus no time for alleged hoaxers to escape and clean up after themselves."

    Elsewhere I have been more detailed that Sgt. Sam Chavez, whom Zamora summoned FIRST before even getting to the site, was probably there within a minute after the object left (as first called backup) and multiple other officers were there minutes afterward when Zamora called for full backup (after the object left). Again, the Socorro police station was only about a mile away and the site ½ mile off the main road up the dirt road. Do you think it took them an hour to get there?

    Zamora also never left the site and blocked any escape route to the north toward town. Up and down gully to the west and east was fully exposed with no place to hide. The only place to escape would have been to the south and maybe hide behind a ridge several hundred feet away--maybe--but how do you escape so quickly under Zamora's nose (then Chavez) and leave no trace of your presence behind? Hynek was asking these questions 50 years ago, and so were other investigators, including the Air Force (more “conspiracy nutcases”).

    Lance then claimed that Zamora didn't call for help, including Chavez, until after the object left, therefore it was impossible for backup to arrive within a minute, and accused me of lying. (Then he made his totally idiotic if not deliberately disingenuous statement that it would take Zamora “more than a minute” to make a simple line drawng, trying to bolster his case that it took Chavez multiple minutes to arrive after the object left.

    But this was clearly untrue, because Zamora actually made at least two calls before then. Zamora, in his affidavit, related one driving to the scene, calling HQ saying he was investigating a possible car crash. But the critical one was the one before that. Stanford said Zamora called Chavez first because he suspected maybe a secret military craft and asked Chavez to come ALONE. Chavez confirmed this, according to Hynek (Blue Book report): “Chavez described Zamora's radio call to him on that evening and indicated that Zamora had asked him to come out ALONE.” Then later questioning Zamora: “He described that, at this point [where he first spotted object from top of first bluff], he picked up the radio and called back to Sgt. Chavez.” (end part 1 or 2)

  61. (part 2 of 2)

    So, I said, that Chavez was already on the way as backup BEFORE Zamora finished going to the site, before his close encounter, before running away and the object departing the scene. I asked Lance why Zamora would ask Chavez to come ALONE if Chavez wasn't called until after Zamora summoned full backup as Lance claimed. Notice, no response to point from Lance.

    THEN, as the object was still departing and disappearing to the west (after Zamora had run back to his car), Zamora called HQ about what had just happened and asked for full backup. Zamora (affidavit) said he then went down to look at the site ( about 30-50 feet) and noted the burning, then heard Chavez calling for his location. Zamora went back to the car (~30-50') and (affidavit): “told him he was looking at me.” Chavez was already overlooking the scene (otherwise Zamora couldn't have seen him up the road), probably within a minute of when the object departed (just like I said), probably up on the first bluff where Zamora first saw the object (~800'). Between that call and Chavez driving the last little bit, Zamora could EASILY have drawn his simple four-line insignia. Sheesh!

    Note, the important point that Lance will probably try to ignore, was that at NO time was the area NOT being observed by a police officer. Zamora was there the entire time, and Chavez was observing the scene soon after, and whether it was within 60 seconds or 90 seconds after the object left doesn't make a helluva lot of difference. Multiple other officers arrived a few minutes after that from town. Chavez had a head start on the other backup, having been called by Zamora BEFORE Zamora drove the full way to the site and BEFORE all hell broke loose and the object finally departed.

    BIG POINT: How do hoaxers escape unobserved and leave no traces behind if the scene is being observed the entire time? The police (soon joined by an FBI agent and uprange officer from White Sands) immediately went over the entire area looking for such things as footprints, tire tracks, hoaxing paraphernalia, etc., and never found a thing.

    We now return to Lance's usual diversionary ranting and raving about me being a “conspiratorial nutcase” and a liar instead of dealing with the actual facts and issues.

  62. David...

    I just hate when people take material and don't provide attribution.

    I did that with a photo "owned" by Kevin Randle (sent to me by our friend, Tony Bragalia) and made amends right away, per his urging.

    Citing Pippin's supposed work on the insignia, which he apparently took from us, is a journalistic no-no.

    And you giving him credit for the (childish) drawings just irritated.

    That said, you know (or should) that I'm not a big fan of the hoax hypothesis, and you've provided supporting material (from good sources I hope) against a hoax.

    But Tony Bragalia is entrenched in his hoax view because he believes and trusts NMIT's Colgate -- something I'd be wary to do.

    That's it.


  63. david-

    To repeat from above: "Wind data is collected to reflect far larger spans of time that the seconds that passed in which Lonnie saw the object aloft. This data (especially available then) does not reflect second-to-second changes in wind circulation. Wind and wind direction are not as "clean" of concepts as you would make them appear. What you show are wind "trends" for a given period. The truth is that -for brief periods of time- crosswinds, wind "micro-currents" and sudden gusts can make an aloft object (especially a very light one) momentarily appear to go "against" the wind or appear to make violent changes in direction suddenly. Happens all the time."


    "More importantly, we have only Zamora's account of the direction and path and speed that the object took- an impaired perception, very likely, and of a sole witness."


    Please read Victor Golubek's comment above from August 12, 12:44PM (signed under his name but posted as Anonymous) where he makes very similar observations- including about such device he himself has made! Lance too has made similar comments.


  64. I don't give the student hoax theory any credit, but I found some circumstantial evidence that could be imagined to support it From Life magazine, released a week before the incident.

    But getting back to reality, have we determined the size of the recovery team for the balloon? As Anthony has demonstrated, the winds could have been unpredictable, so more students should have been required to quickly and covertly recover the evidence. We already had a theoretical team of six conspirators. Is this enough to handle all neccessry assignments?

  65. Tony, please read Viktor Golubic's post today, Aug. 19, 2012, on UFO Updates ("Socorro Again - Weather Analysis Update")

    where he uses more contemporary weather data for Socorro specifically, tries to match up weather conditions to match those in Socorro on April 24, 1964 and concludes the following:

    "Having completed some data analysis with similar pressure surface patterns as was shown by David Rudiak on the day of Lonnie's sighting, it does appear that a balloon could not have been involved with the Socorro sighting, thus reducing the probability on the UNM prank hypothesis considerably: The proximity of the mountain range/valley does not appreciably affect the counterclockwise wind pattern generated by them regional surface pressure pattern NW of Socorro New Mexico (Low), other than to channel them to a more pronounced Northerly direction. However, when compiling data over an extended period, the wind rose pattern does reveal more air flow westward toward the mountains rather than away toward the East in agreement with my supposition, but only with winds at lower intensities than those present on the day in question or on days with different surface pressure pattens."

    So Viktor doesn't agree with you; previously he was just leaving open the possibility that maybe something like the nearby mountains strongly affected airflow and reversed the wind direction. But they don't, not when a strong low pressure system is moving through the area, as it was on April 24, 1964.

    As for your following comment:

    "Wind data is collected to reflect far larger spans of time that the seconds that passed in which Lonnie saw the object aloft. This data (especially available then) does not reflect second-to-second changes in wind circulation. Wind and wind direction are not as "clean" of concepts as you would make them appear. What you show are wind "trends" for a given period. The truth is that -for brief periods of time- crosswinds, wind "micro-currents" and sudden gusts can make an aloft object (especially a very light one) momentarily appear to go "against" the wind or appear to make violent changes in direction suddenly."

    Again, I suggest you actually spend some time over on the site, where they have HOURLY wind data for a number of these weather stations. Look at Albuquerque and Truth or Consequences, the two nearest stations I can find to Socorro (Alb. 75 mi. away to the N and TorC 60 mi. to the S ).

    What you'll see is that from mid-morning to midnight of April 24, 1964, winds were out of the south to west, not a single one being an easterly, which is the bare minimum requirement for a balloon hoax theory. Albuquerque had a little bit of low easterlies early in the morning, but these vanished around 8:00 a.m. as the low pressure storm system moved into the area, the pressure dropping and the winds picking up speed. There are no easterlies for T or C the entire day. These data points do NOT jump all over the place with winds suddenly reversing themselves hour by hour.

    Same story for other nearby stations like Roswell, 100 mi. away, with winds out of the S to W for the entire day. Also notice the high average wind speeds at these stations around the time of the sighting at 6:00 p.m. Now we have multi-dozens of wind data points just for these 3 stations spanning the sighting for multi-hours on each side, with no indication anywhere that the strong prevailing winds generated by a huge low pressure storm system could completely reverse momentarily just to accommodate Sterling Colgate's Chinese lantern story. If you want "trends", look at the data.

    You should still consider the possibility of a Socorro hoax and the prank culture of NMIT being a factor, but the real hoax is being run on you right now, not back in 1964.

  66. D R:

    I sent Viktor's UpDate posting to Tony this morning.


  67. Yesterday I gleaned the older (2009) blog - but I hadn't seen this discussion. I also managed to track down the exact spot (google earth)in Socorro where the incident took place courtesy of:

    Looks like the town has expanded somewhat since 1964 and there are some new roads too. A Baptist Temple now stands close to the original 'landing site.' Anyway, what really surprises me is that, even allowing for the town's expansion, the landing site is still quite close to the town center. This would have made it easier for pranksters to take the necessary equipment with them. On the other hand, it would have taken them some time to set everything up - thus making them vulnerable to discovery. There were no mobile phones of course - and the landing site pranksters would not have had access to a payphone either. So the accomplices in the speeding car that lead Zamora to the site, would have had to synchronise their watches with the landing site pranksters earlier in the day and agreed on a time - even gambling on the fact that Zamora would be patrolling where he was at the time and would be certain to give chase. But lets suppose they got lucky - and the bait worked. How did the field landing site pranksters know exactly when to let off the fireworks to distract Zamora ? Could they see the car chase, or hear Zamora's siren ? Did he activate the siren ? And what if Zamora had somehow managed to catch up with the speeding car and actually forced them to stop - Perhaps that's what the pranksters were expecting - to be stopped and then let Zamora get distracted by the loud noise and flame. But he would have recognised them afterwards and they would have had to answer to the speeding charge.

    Suppose further that the timing wasn't quite right, things didn't go exactly according to plan - but as luck would have it, Zamora saw the flame anyway and swerved off to investigate. By the time the flame and roar is heard by Zamora, the landing site guys would have been expecting the police car or Zamora to appear on the ridge any second - so why did one of them see Zamora and appear to be surprised/startled ?

    I am prepared to accept the prank story. Its plausible. But it is surprising that not one of the pranksters, even once in their life, ever mention the prank to anyone - not even a girlfriend/boyfriend/husband/wife/brother/sister/close friend. Not even after a couple of beers. Never. That's even more incredible than the extraterrestrial explanation ;-)

  68. Hi Stress Bunny-
    Thanks for the interest. I cannot confirm the specifics of the hoax because I do not know them. But yes, Lonnie was led to the staging site. Of course he would break chase from a college kid speeder in favor of turning to investigate an explosion of what he thought was a dynamite shack. And the accomplices likely had access to two-way radio devices (i.e. walkie-talkies) used at the school's atmospheric department (where they also had an array of balloons.)

    I won't publicly reveal these now-retired scientists. For what reason? Have them disrupt their lives for our edification, and likely not be believed even if they did? And yes, you were correct...they did not want to be suspended so they kept their mouths shut. After graduation they wanted jobs, so why re-open a thing that had snowballed out of their bounds...


  69. Pardon the late entry into this discussion, but I would just like to add my two cents worth here.

    When I was a kid, we had a half hour a day in school where we could go into the school's modest library and read whatever we wanted. I read this book over and over and over again, I don't recall the title, but it was a collection of UFO cases. It sparked my imagination and has left a lasting impression on me well into adulthood. Researching the topics of the unkown absolutely fascinate me. I always am gravitated towards cases that have compelling evidence. The Zamora/Socorro case is one of those cases that I could never find any reasonable amount of evidence that could refute the claims made. I often revisited the facts of the case as I grew into adulthood, and recently stumbled upon the 2012 hoax issue regarding this case.

    I am not alone. There are thousands of reasonable, intelligent, curious and rational individuals out there that quietly look for irrefutable, concrete evidence that we are not alone. These individuals sift through the massive amounts of info on the subject because their is just barely enough hard evidence to keep them searching. Any hard evidence, one way or another would be greatly appreciated. These individuals have an open mind on the subject of UFOs, but don't necessarily believe every half-baked claim or conspiracy theory that surfaces.

    The Zamora/Socorro case is a standout because of how well it was documented, the physical evidence that was left behind, and the amount of scrutiny it has been subjected to. It remained, at least until 2012, one of the most reliable cases on record. Often cited, often studied, often believed.

    If it is indeed a hoax, it has grown beyond the reputation of (now retired) pranksters, a (now deceased) police officer and any of our egos. I believe that it will ultimately do this field of study a great service if any kind of doubt can be removed from this case.

    If these (presumed) gentlemen can please step forward with the hows and whys for the prank, and why the nearly 50 years of silence, we can all move forward and spend our efforts and time on searching elsewhere. I am sure all involved and interested parties would eventually be grateful.

    I do not mean to offend, but a simple "My friend says he knows someone who was in on this prank" is simply not enough, and only accomplishes more confusion mistrust and an argumentative atmosphere. Don't you think that this field of study has a short supply of hard evidence as it is? Would it not benefit everyone involved and the general public if clarification could be made?

    Please gentlemen, if indeed this was a prank, come forward. Your college hijinks may well go down in history as the greatest prank ever pulled. Enough time has passed, no one will ridicule you for what you did. From my point of view, I will be impressed by your ingenuity, grateful for your honesty and will have less doubt regarding the subject of UFOs.

    Thank you for your time and consideration.

  70. So--our hero, truth-teller Stirling, is so sure what happened, what the students did, why they did it, how it was done, and why they never came forward--yet he doesn't even know how many students were involved? Bogus!