UFO Conjecture(s)

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

The Socorro Imbroglio: ET, Hoax, Mistaken Observation, or ?

Copyright 2012, InterAmerica, Inc.


I’m sorry to regurgitate the Lonnie Zamora/Socorro sighting of 1964 but it keeps rearing its head, even when we attempt to take only an element from it – the insignia that Officer Zamora said he saw.

Steve Sawyer, a “ufologist” on the fringe of the UFO community, without blog or web-site, who parasitically attached bromides to others’ sites and blogs or inserts infrequent commentary at UFO UpDates, insists that the Stanford “mythology” that Officer Zamora was induced to draw an insiginia/symbol that was different from what he actually observed.

We’ve addressed the issue over and over again, as have others who visit here.

And we concluded that the story of a concocted symbol, to thwart hoaxers from duplicating Zamora’s observation, was a shill by the Air Force, Hynek, and ultimately Ray Stanford’s treating it as real occurrence, to throw off UFO investigators; that is, the disinformers wished to side-track UFO researchers, because the symbol is the vital clue as to what Zamora actually saw.


Mr. Sawyer perpetuates, or tries to, the concocted mythology, because he’s an intrepid supporter of the views held by the UFO old-guard, and wishes to remain in their good graces for some obtuse reason, not quite clear to me and others.

Here’s Zamora’s quoted observation:


That aside – we dismiss Mr. Sawyer’s sad attempts to keep the UFO phenomenon attuned to the ET scenario as espoused by UFO geezers – let’s see what we have experienced of late about Socorro…

Anthony Bragalia bludgeoned me yesterday [2/7/12] with his litany of circumstantial “evidence” that Officer Zamora was “punked” – Bragalia’s word.

Mr. Bragalia says that Officer Zamora was a cop who hassled New Mexico Institute of Technology students so they set out to create a UFO hoax to get back at him.


Mr. Bragalia has marshaled, I admit, some intriguing material that indicates a hoax may be a possibility.

And a hoax has been on the Socorro table since the sighting (in 1964).

We, like others – David Rudiak among them – dismiss the hoax hypothesis as ludicrous.

The observation by other witnesses takes Bragalia’s pyrotechnics and balloon scenario out of the reach of possibility.

Moreover, Mr. Bragalia hasn’t got a confession from any hoaxer, even after much diligence to find one.

He has found hints, but no one will admit to hoaxing the 1964 event, even after forty-eight years.

Mr. Bragalia’s “theory” is exquisite in its wayward presentation but too convoluted to pass muster with sensible people.

It is a fiction hoping to pass as fact.

Then we have those who think that Zamora observed an extraterrestrial craft, which is supported by other observations in the same time-frame: La Madera et cetera.

I accept the possibility but have leaned toward the idea that Officer Zamora observed a Hughes prototypical lunar lander that went astray, as explained by this man:

From the History Channel

Our hypothesis can be found earlier here, at this blog,, and at our RRRGroup blog, among other places, for those still interested at this point.

There was an Indiana University engineer who recalled a story he read in a magazine, in the 60s, about a balloon escapade by a paper company, a balloon excursion that went awry and came down in New Mexico.

We looked for that magazine article fro a very long time, and everywhere – internet archives, library archives, et cetera – to no avail, although some paper company logos do look like Zamora’s symbol -- the one he drew – the real one!


(In that vein, a contributor to our blog – Matthew Gilleece – found Hughes logos that also looked like the Zamora symbol drawing.)


My point here is that a seminal UFO sighting is rife for interpretation and debate still, after all thse years.

And why? Because it has elements that can be seen to support a number of explanations.

The ET explanation isn’t easily ruled out, in context of other sightings at the time.

The hoax scenario is a possibility and has been one since 1964, supported by much circumstantial material found by Anthony Bragalia recently.

The IU engineer’s balloon tale is still slightly open as I see it.

And my Hughes Aircraft/Toolco/CIA/Raven prototype misadventure remains viable for those who really understand what was going on the New Mexico area in 1964 pertaining to space adventures and experimentation.

But the bottom line for me has been that symbol - - that insignia that Lonnie Zamora saw and drew.

The problem is that the drawing has been compromised by the Stanford story and its promotion by such peripheral UFO stalwarts as Steve Sawyer.

If we can agree on what the actual symbol was, we might be able to trace it back to its originators: ET, NMIT hoaxers, a paper company, or Howard Hughes….



  • (This comment, from CDA, appeared appended to the posting before this one, in error apparently, so I've copied and pasted it here.

    Let no one think that CDA is associated with the RRRGroup; he and they would be appalled...RR)
    Socorro resonates with Roswell.
    In both cases we have old-style Ufologists, i.e ETHers, proposing that the authorities persuaded the main witness (Zamora or Brazel) to say or indicate something different to what he actually witnessed.

    With Brazel it is the account he gave to the RDR on the evening of July 8. With Zamora it is the picture of the insignia.

    Please tell me: if Zamora did indeed see an insignia on the object, and if he did indeed draw this insignia for official investigators, what purpose is served by the USAF, Hynek or whoever, in persuading him to draw it differently?

    It is like someone reporting an object as having orange flames shooting out of the back with blue flames dancing on the underside (Chiles-Whitted). Instead the AF coax the witness to say the opposite, i.e. that the object had blue flames shooting out the back and orange flames dancing underside.

    Just to fool the press and public!
    In other words, just to add a bit more 'mystery' to a case that appears baffling.

    In short, why do some researchers, and investigators, try to make a case more complicated than it already is? This happens with Roswell, Rendlesham, Berwyn Mountain, Socorro, Chiles-Whitted, Washington radar, etc. In fact anything that is the least 'complicated' has to be made more complicated. At least in the eyes of certain ufologists.

    Zamora (and his colleagues) suffered the same fate as many Roswell 'witnesses', namely being interviewed too many times by too many people, all with different axes to grind. Hence the differing accounts.


    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Wednesday, February 08, 2012  

  • Treating this strictly as a game, if you take a deep look at vertical spacecraft landers and\or those that could have been adapted for that use, Hughes is pretty low on a list headed by Bell Aerospace in that time frame. Or so it seems to me. If you look at what was on the table at that time in this chart within the essay:
    ( http://www.spacefuture.com/archiv/history_of_the_phoenix_vtol_ssto_and_recent_developments_in_single_stage_launch_systems.shtml )
    we see a variety of conical shapes. If anything it could have been a "runaway" equipped with gyroscopic features. Although this seems unlikely, the nature of the speculation is already full of holes. Although your positing this possibility is more "interesting" than the other variations from a gaming standpoint.

    By Blogger Bruce Duensing, at Wednesday, February 08, 2012  

  • BTW..Also mission insignias can be inscrutable. Look up Apollo 7 or the Juno space mission. If you did not know the context..well..good luck deciphering them.

    By Blogger Bruce Duensing, at Wednesday, February 08, 2012  

  • Let's look at Socorro realistically.
    Quantinilla and his AF guys spent a lot of time and energy on this case. Is it conceivable that the said object, had it been any kind of Apollo-related craft or something from Hughes aviation, would have escaped detection? All right, I suppose it is conceivable, but only just. In other words, any such craft ought to have been identified during their extensive enquiries, Why wasn't it?

    By Blogger cda, at Wednesday, February 08, 2012  

  • Christopher:

    The Hughes operation(s) were heavily CIA sponsored, through Raven Industries and other covers.

    Hughes actually interacted with the Soviets, and this during the Cold War.

    I doubt that the CIA allowed AF access to what they were doing.

    And the lander tests were in conjunction with the Soviets so I don't think Quintanilla et al. were in the loop.


    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Wednesday, February 08, 2012  

  • Without commenting on the question of this particular case, let me just say that Rich is correct in a general sense when he highlights the inter-service and inter-agency rivalries that were a hallmark of Cold War intelligence operations in the United States. On many occasions, the left hand didn't know what the right hand was up to... even within a particular agency. There's absolutely no reason to believe that if what Zamora saw was some kind of uber-secret project by an agency like the CIA, that the USAF would have been in the loop on it... or even that the CIA would have been in the loop on it. Folks like Christopher like to imagine that everyone knew everything, or would have access to the information at the very least, which was as far from what was really going on as one could get. Socorro? Who knows. But I have absolutely no doubt that a large number of UFO sightings can be explained as secret projects that one agency was running, and the rest knew nothing about.

    Like Mogul... ;-)


    By Blogger Paul Kimball, at Wednesday, February 08, 2012  

  • The sheer dumbness of the idea that a space lander took off, landed off target but then the pilots got back and in and took off again (and presumedly landed somewhere else) rivals any other dumb idea in a spectacularly dumb field.

    No lander on record ever did anything like this.


    By Blogger Lance, at Wednesday, February 08, 2012  

  • So Lance, you're saying it was a hoax or an alien visitation?


    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Wednesday, February 08, 2012  

  • Howard Hughes used to hang out and eat home-made fruit pies with George Van Tassel and his wife - the latter having made the pies.

    That's a true story!

    Van Tassel used to work for Hughes Aircraft and the two knew each other well.

    By Blogger Nick Redfern, at Wednesday, February 08, 2012  

  • I'm saying I don't know. I would on board for the hoax explanation if Tony gave a cohesive plausible and complete narrative of exactly what happened...but he can't apparently do that.


    By Blogger Lance, at Wednesday, February 08, 2012  

  • I can understand why the CIA, or some other agency, might keep the USAF out of the loop over the Socorro object for awhile. But for several decades? If it was indeed any sort of secret test vehicle, or even a lunar lander prototype, surely we would have had an answer to Socorro by now?

    And if it was such a vehicle, there are certainly written records to show this. This is a case where if there is a terrestrial solution, a GAO/AF investigation, as with Roswell, would turn up the answer. At least that is my view. No such investigation will take place, of course, because Socorro hardly has the same popular appeal as Roswell.

    I have seen nothing about Zamora, his character, subsequent career or social life, family and friends, etc. Quintanilla thought the answer might lie deep in Zamora's head. But he did not elaborate further.

    By Blogger cda, at Thursday, February 09, 2012  

  • Christopher:

    I think Zamora was a regular guy, a ragular cop, who saw something strange.

    Jose Caravaca thinks Zamora had a "distortion" event.

    Bragalia thinks Zamora was gulled by those NMIT student hoaxers.

    Rudiak, and others, think Zamora saw an extraterrestrial landing.

    I think Zamora saw the aftermath of a prototype test by Hughes Aircraft -- a test that went awry.

    My point, which I can't stress enough, is that Zamora's symbol is the "smoking gun" -- if we had a concrete example of what he saw, we could backtrack and see or conjecture, sensibly, about the source of that symbol.

    It might tell us if the thing Zamora saw was alien, part of a hoax, a military test vehicle, or something otherworldly.

    But that Stanford/Sawyer story about an AF/Hynek ruse, of a contrived symbol to throw off copy cat UFO observers, confuses the issue.

    UFO buffs can't help themeselves: they need to muck up sightings by inserting, unconsciously or consciously, their biases in the mix.


    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Thursday, February 09, 2012  

  • There was prototype testing of a Bell rocket capable of vertical take off and landing and in the testing, it took off and landed several times during the course of one test.One of many. It was tethered and it nearly killed one of the astronaut-test pilots. From everything I have read, the technology to do this remotely was not there in relation to gravity, whereas it was designed for space. Such a leap, if it did exist as created by Hughes, would have beat the Bell prototype by a mile and would have done a neat end run around Bell. It did not happen. However using Hughes and Jack Northrup as examples, they were known to experiment on their own dime, outside of federal funding, which Hughes loathed. Bearing in mind, this was not a space vehicle but was a vertical craft ( no way to reverse it's position in flight)
    Everything as far as guidance on the Apollo was done on board not from Marshall or elsewhere. All of this leads me to think this scenario was very improbable with a extremely slim chance of being true.
    Physics is physics whether you are an extraterrestrial or a human. I don't think he was hallucinating, and I don't think it was an extraterrestrial vehicle. The gag scenario is also full of holes.
    That leaves us with the witness, the evidence and the possibilities. What this demonstrates to me is that once something is put down in words, it's impossible to fully dislodge, and on the other end, it is very easy to say such and such. Whether it is the event or the post speculation. The problem with this one, like Roswell is a problem with using language alone to unravel what was said in relation to what happened. My conclusion is that something occurred and we will never know what it was and it cannot be pursued by either a defense or prosecution of the witness. This like many others will remain in a dead file and are a distraction and a heat sink for wasted energy.

    By Blogger Bruce Duensing, at Thursday, February 09, 2012  

  • I have only one question:
    given our technology in 1964, was ever built a lander with the same performances described by Zamora?

    By Blogger ilfakiro, at Thursday, February 09, 2012  

  • Bruce, et al....

    It's that damn symbol I'm interested in, not the event itself, or Bragalia's hoaxing obsession or Rudiak's and your (Bruce) ET speculation.

    It's the symbol, dammit.

    Can I say it any clearer?

    You fellows don't read carefully or my writing is befogged, something my media editors don't seem to find.


    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Thursday, February 09, 2012  

  • If you separate the event from the symbol as you are suggesting, you are still left with resorting to the context in relation to probability. Your strategy whether rightly or wrongly seems illogical. A symbol is a form of language as a referent and as a referent, let's assume this is a craft whose development represents millions of dollars in investment, prototyping, and testing. You are competing, you have an aim, to sell it, otherwise, why bother?
    Why in heavens name, if you had such a covert investment in it would you place a label on it that could be traced back to your firm, if the point is secrecy?
    If it is anything, it could have just as easily and more probably be a red herring, a straw dog intended to set wild goose chases.
    The symbol of itself means nothing, zero.

    By Blogger Bruce Duensing, at Thursday, February 09, 2012  

  • You are soooo wrong, Bruce.

    I'm surprised at that too.

    Whomever added the symbol did so for various reasons, ego being one.

    Or just a need to showcase an effort by a group.

    Hughes used logos like crazy as did and does the military.

    And our posts on Tassili indicate primitive mand did so also.

    You are being short-sighted, and I'm befuddled by that. You know the value of symbols, and what they can tell us about the perpetrator.

    Why the intransigence? And supidity?


    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Thursday, February 09, 2012  

  • "And stupidity?"
    You are suggesting a corporate symbol on a highly secretly held existence of an X craft. I said this was improbable or was a red herring.
    Why was this successful technology never applied to other applications that were in dire need of it? Spend all that money for launch facilities etc and then not make a profitable return? That's simply stupid.
    Where is a rocket that can land on a vertical basis? There are none.
    This is after decades of hypothetical further development by Hughes if this test did occur and the test by the witness account was successful, where is it? Many crashes, false starts, etc are in the historical record after spending billions of dollars on VTOL which only became available with the advent of sophisticated software. Why spend that amount of money if a contractor had a working model?
    All of this points to a Hughes craft highly unlikely. Is this stupid? Well..it's you belief, not mine and I say that's fine but as a Quixotic puzzle piece, it is a hope against hope as far as finding actual evidence as a corollary to this tale.

    By Blogger Bruce Duensing, at Thursday, February 09, 2012  

  • Bruce:

    I'm trying, like hell, to get you to focus.

    It isn't the event or the alleged LEM or hoax or ET possibility that I'm looking at.

    It's that symbol, just the symbol.

    Where did it come from?

    Does it have meaning, as Fromm's book I noted the other day says?

    You keep side-stepping the issue, the symbol point I'm driving at.

    You've done that a lot lately; that is, miss the point.

    I'm wondering why?

    Forget the stupid LEM hypothesis I've broached over the years.

    Address the significance of the symbol, whichever one is the right one, if you care to comment.

    Don't take us off on one of your abstruse journeys -- I'm begging you.


    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Thursday, February 09, 2012  

  • You want a commitment to a symbol being verifiable as a postulate when it is not and anything that questions the premise of a symbol divorced from it's potential context ...you say is off topic. You want agreement with a postulate as a originating basis of a comment which you do a great deal of lately, and anything that attempts to dislodge this belief is called stupid. What is to be done? Nothing. I think thats called tunnel vision.

    By Blogger Bruce Duensing, at Thursday, February 09, 2012  

  • Yes, Bruce...let's pull the alleged symbol from the context if necessary, to see if it stands on its own.

    For me, the symbol is an exquisite example of something tangible, unmarred by witness fluctuations.

    That is if we accept Zamora as a credible, sensible witness, which I do.

    He saw an insignia. What does that insignia mean? What is its origin?

    That's all.

    Don't flood the question with all the peripheral elements as you are wont to do.

    Just keep it simple.

    I know that's hard for you to do, but give it a try if you are inclined to so so.

    The symbol is not a postulate.

    It's just a damn symbol, all alone, by itself.

    What does it mean, without the literary or argumentative accoutrements you wish to add to it?


    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Thursday, February 09, 2012  

  • @ Bruce:
    you couldn't have said it better!
    to test an x-craft with so incredible performances (not yet reached in 2012!) was not a mere intellectual exercise, it was BUSINESS!
    so, where the hell is such an advanced X-craft?

    By Blogger ilfakiro, at Thursday, February 09, 2012  

  • See Bruce...you've even gotten ilfakiro side-tracked.


    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Thursday, February 09, 2012  

  • There is nothing tangible about it outside of it being said it was there. You are again wanting the tangibility of an intangible which is praiseworthy yet requires an valuation.
    1. the top symbol is the astronomical notation of the moon.
    2. The second symbol is pointing to the astronomical symbol of the moon, which could mean a motion toward it literally, or pointing to it's relevance.
    3. The bottom symbol might be a launch tower, which is "at the base" of the upward motion that points toward the astronomical symbol of the moon.
    This is speculative but has nothing to do with a corporate symbol. If it is not a corporate symbol and is a glyph signifying an event such as Apollo, combined with what was witnessed, then it was planted, but by whom or what?
    Was this a visionary experience, a game that deconstructs our concepts of reality in order to determine our response? You see, I cannot prove any of this just as you cannot prove it is a corporate symbol. You may be right, I might be wrong, or vice versa. The lack of tangibility leads in more than one direction outside of belief. That is my point.

    By Blogger Bruce Duensing, at Thursday, February 09, 2012  

  • Yes, and I enjoyed your hypothetical interpretation.


    It's like pulling teeth to get you to present your brilliant ideas in succinct form.


    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Thursday, February 09, 2012  

  • Socorro 64 was a hoax pulled off by NMIMT students.


    I don't know the source for the image file that purports to quote Zamora, but those quotes are BS. Read his original statement at the link above.

    By Blogger Frank Stalter, at Friday, February 10, 2012  

  • Sorry Frank...

    We've been contacted by a vetted, former NMT staffer who has provided some information that tosses the whole student hoax thing out the window.

    We (me and a few of my guys) are taking the details and verifying what the man is telling us.

    So far, his information demolishes Bragalia's and your view.

    The hoax scenario is a nice construct but so full of holes that it's no wonder serous UFO researchers dismiss it.

    Your provided link doesn't prove anything and is merely a piece of red-herring detritus that I'm surprised you are trying to pass off as proof of the Hoax hypothesis.

    (Don't use UFO Casebook if you want to be credible.)


    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Friday, February 10, 2012  

  • "Your provided link doesn't prove anything and is merely a piece of red-herring detritus that I'm surprised you are trying to pass off as proof of the Hoax hypothesis."

    It's only the sole witness' original statement. Best to ignore it . . . .

    By Blogger Frank Stalter, at Friday, February 10, 2012  

  • We have Officer Zamora's statements all over the place here, from reputable UFO venues.

    No hoax proof in what your linked statements show, Frank.

    That is sloppy evidence and reasoning.

    You surprise me by trying to pawn off an interpretation that Officer Zamora's testimony doesn't support.


    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Friday, February 10, 2012  

  • I have asked Frank also before to describe exactly how the hoax might plausibly have taken place. I ask him here again to do so.


    By Blogger Lance, at Friday, February 10, 2012  

  • "You surprise me by trying to pawn off an interpretation that Officer Zamora's testimony doesn't support."

    That is Zamora's testimony. Here's another link. I invite you to find discrepancies between this and the earlier link.


    It is his statement. How providing links to a witness' full and unexpurgated statement equals sloppy reasoning is something you will have to explain in greater detail to me. Zamora stated the opposite in regards to the quote you provided, no source for it I might add. Noiseless? No. Just hovering? No. Flew along the contour of the gulley? No.

    By Blogger Frank Stalter, at Friday, February 10, 2012  

  • Yes, Frank...

    And where does the hoax come in?

    You might try to comply with Lance's request.

    I'd like to see the hoax "proof" too.


    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Friday, February 10, 2012  

  • It was done more than two years ago. It was a BS case in 1964, it was a BS case two years ago and it's a BS case today. Just some very clever engineering students pranking a local cop. No evidence from any credible source points in any other direction. If I thought there was the slightest chance it was something else, I'd write it.

    By Blogger Frank Stalter, at Friday, February 10, 2012  

  • Frank...

    I have some circumstantial "evidence" for a Hughes prototype test but that doesn't prove anything.

    It's merely a conjecture on my part.

    You and Anthony Bragalia have been beating the hoax dead horse for a few years now.

    Tony has given up one can surmise to pursue other hoaxes by kids using CGI, Photoshop, and gadgets to fool UFO buffs.

    His hoax theory is lying dormant, mired in conjecture that's worse than my prototype suggestion.

    You insist that Officer Zamora's testimony proves a hoax.

    I don't see it, nor does Lance, or anyone else.

    You and Bragalia have let us down.

    Trying to place irrelevant links here that make your case is a Steve Sawyer ploy that I would hope you fellows wouldn't sink to.


    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Friday, February 10, 2012  

  • "You and Anthony Bragalia have been beating the hoax dead horse for a few years now."

    I stopped writing about it more than 2 years ago. I only comment when I see patent falsehoods that distort the true nature of the case.

    By Blogger Frank Stalter, at Friday, February 10, 2012  

  • RRR, you wrote:
    "I have some circumstantial "evidence" for a Hughes prototype test but that doesn't prove anything."
    well I'm so curious, tell us more, please!
    it's seems to me an x-files episode which ends with the words "to be continued"!!!!!!!!!

    By Blogger ilfakiro, at Saturday, February 11, 2012  

  • Ilfakiro...

    Our Hughes "stuff" has been on this blog and at our RRRGroup blog for years.

    I won't subject our regulars to a run-down of the material again.

    But Googling "Hughes Socorro" should bring up our postings.

    And you can find a synopsis of our Hughes thesis in a posting not far down in a scroll here, from a few days ago.


    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Saturday, February 11, 2012  

  • double R:
    I'm not convinced, sorry. as many followers of this blog I prefer to read here "the proofs" of socorro-hughes connection.
    after you gave up the hoax theory I'm afraid you are giving up hughes theory: another step toward your conversion to the nut and bolts field? :)

    By Blogger ilfakiro, at Saturday, February 11, 2012  

  • Ilfakiro...

    You would do well to try some heavy-lifting and not expect to be spoon-fed information.

    I'm not inclined to regurgitate information that we've already spent lots of time placing online here (and elsewhere).

    And, no, I'm not giving up the Hughes hypothesis.

    I'm just saying it, like the hoax theory, is unproven and only a conjecture.

    The nuts and bolts thesis is not anathema to me however.


    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Saturday, February 11, 2012  

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