The UFO Iconoclast(s)

Monday, September 03, 2012


Copyright 2012, InterAmerica, Inc.

My colleague on the Roswell research team, Dr. David Rudiak, has been vocal in his disagreement with me about the true nature of the 1964 Socorro UFO sighting by Lonnie Zamora. It is not essential that all members of the team agree with one another at all times about all aspects of Roswell or about all UFO cases. We do not, yet we continue to remain civil and cooperative.

It is not necessary for me to refute all the critics about how the Socorro UFO hoax was done, though, as some demand of me. The ways and means of the hoax are secondary to the fact that it was indeed a hoax. Just as it is not important for me to understand the intricacies of how the Bomb explodes - and it is only needed for me to know that it is massively deadly- so to it is with Socorro. I do not need to solve motion problems or other atmospheric or physics questions about the event.Hoaxers, like magicians, do not always like to reveal their secrets. Some of them adhere to the Magician’s Code: “Oppose the willful exposure to the public of the methods employed in any illusion.”


That said, I did effectively address the first issue (that ultimately was an irrelevant “non-issue”)brought up by David- that the International Paper (IP) logo as inspiration for the Red Insignia on the craft, as reported by Zamora. Though insisting the inspirative logo was not in use until after the sighting, I effectively disproved David and others about this, by showing that in reality the logo was indeed in use years before the sighting. This came through both the Graphis Annual of 1961 (compiled in 1960) and by the estate of the designer (Bealle) as well as through other sources and early images that were located.


The second issue is that of wind direction, another issue on which David is provably in error. Davidlocated historical wind records for Socorro for that day and reasons that prevailing winds that day would not allow for a large Sky Lantern to go against those winds. Therefore, he definitively reasons, it could not be a hoax. But David is deficient in his overly-lengthy analysis. There is no need to go to such obsessive posts. This is because:

The reported path and distance traveled of a rapidly-moving, aloft object can only be as “accurate” as the observation made by the individual on the ground reporting it:

-          - Lonnie was the sole witness to the entire event. Everything about the path of the object and the duration of his sighting of the object (which Lonnie radioed to his police partner looked like a balloon!) is based on one individual and his lone perception.

-          - His perception was clouded by being angered at the young speeder who led him to the scene; startled by the explosion he heard that diverted him to the staging area; and frightened by the sight and sounds he experienced. There is also credible testimony from well-placed individuals who knew Lonnie that he drank, including on the job.

-          - He had very poor vision and required thick, corrective lenses.

-          - He lost his glasses and had to recover his glasses. Lonnie, a large and unfit man, had to hunt for them unaided and place them back on and re-position himself upright to continue to view the event.

Other “wind” considerations include that:

-          - Wind data is collected to reflect far larger spans of time that the scant minute or so that Zamora says that he saw the thing.

-          - Aloft objects can be taken in different directions (and at fast distances) for brief (and sometimes extended) periods of time. Such objects can ride wind waves or wind eddies that make them appear to do all kinds of things.

-          - Crosswinds, sudden wind gusts and momentary changes in wind conditions (such as a sudden stillness of blowing wind) within localized areas are common (especially in April) all over the country. And of course (even today) they go unreported or not detailed in official wind records. Kids go out in March and April to go fly kites know about these real-world wind dynamics this all too well. If one would only get off the chair and away from the computer and actually go outside and see for yourself- one would see that these things are commonplace.

But the two strongest reasons for dismissal of such wind data as presented by David are these:

-          - The hoax UFO balloon (with a burning flame beneath it and hot air rising within it) is a Self-Propelled Object in the skyDavid wholly ignores this extremely important consideration in his lengthy pieces on Socorro winds. The reality is that such a high burn balloon is an energetic, powered, aloft object. It is “automotive” and thus capable of moving dynamically on its own within wind currents!

-          - When it comes to wind and Sky Lanterns, looks are very deceiving. This fact was duly noted by the UK-UFO website on December 23, 2010 when England was in the midst of a Chinese lantern hoax wave. The site warns: “Please note that the wind direction at ground level is not necessarily the same at the height at which the lantern is travelling . This may give the appearance that it is travelling against the wind.” And remember that Lonnie was positioned at odd angles while viewing this object, including admitting to crouching and to be cowered behind a car door.


I beseech everyone, including David, to go to YouTube and enter “SupermegaKube Sky Lantern or see it here:

View in full–screen and advance to 1:34 for the launch. At 2:31 things get interesting and the Lantern looks like a real spaceship! At 2:41 it makes a spontaneous change in direction. The whole thing shows it moving against and with wind- and it can appear to do other maneuvers- though it is just the angle of the view on the ground filming (and sudden wind shifts!) that creates this effect. If one were to view various YouTube lantern videos done in various wind and environmental conditions, one would see that the way these things look from the ground are often not what they are really doing in the air, simply put.

Such massive balloon lanterns almost take on a life of their own when they are aloft- and they deceive many, like Lonnie.

Anthony Bragalia


  • AB has taken a lot of flack for his solution to the Zamora sighting and some of it has been unfair in terms of tone and unnecessary ridicule.

    However, elsewhere one or two solid researchers have made a strong argument that the wind direction would not support the argument that a lantern could be responsible. Maybe if the shy hoaxers could include a means of propulsion in their hoax, it'd have a stronger foundation?

    Whilst Zamora did say he thought it was a balloon, he also thought it was a car that had crashed. He then settled on the description of it being an egg-shaped object with legs and this final judgement was the one he stood by.

    The wind speed and direction cannot be argued against without calling into question Zamora's accuracy as a witness. At this point, I think AB has taken a wrong turn and entered the arena of omniscient narrator.

    In fiction, it's whereby we know more than the protagonist in a story. In the arena of interpreting UFO reports, it's been misused by many a researcher.

    So in order to dismiss his original account, we replace the object on legs with a lantern. We characterise Zamora as a near blind witness expertly lured to a location where his emotions, as predicted, overcame his senses. We then attribute near-omniscient insight and control of events to the alleged students who manipulated Zamora with a skill that belied their young years and vocations as engineering students.

    The videos of huge lanterns don't help me to put myself in Zamora's shoes and I'm not against the idea of it being a 'set-piece.' If it gains traction and more details, I'll accept it. As it stands, looking at these videos, I can't imagine anyone misperceiving events in the way AB's case claims.

    By Blogger Kandinsky, at Monday, September 03, 2012  

  • Zamora didn't misinterpret much of anything. When he got his closest look at the UFO he said, "it looks like a balloon." He was right about that.

    No other explanation, not ET vehicle, not military test vehicle, not commercial test vehicle, fits at all. The only marginally loose end to the prank explanation is the wind . . . . that's it and the defenders of the ET story don't answer any of the other evidence that clearly points to hoax.

    By Blogger Frank Stalter, at Monday, September 03, 2012  

  • My take on this is a larger view by way of an observation regarding the dynamics of theories. I am very familiar with the criticisms of this sort of research regarding decades old events. However, it is inescapable that you and a few others have set yourselves a high bar, perhaps an impossible one to hurdle. That in of itself is laudable. At this point as it has for decades it is interesting to see the effects of suggestion..this suggests that, that suggests something else..toward theoretical (educated) best guesses based circumstantial evidence that in turn originates from the processes of suggestion and inference.
    There is undoubtedly a Quixotic quality to this errand..that is a type of anomaly in of itself. In other words taking what is best described as an apparition and trying to pin it with rational logic. That in of itself is a fascinating back story to Ufology, or whatever place holder name you care to use. Taking a step back and seeing the long view, tenacity and willpower might have been tricked by our technological social context into a dead heat that defies all of our best efforts.

    By Blogger Bruce Duensing, at Tuesday, September 04, 2012  

  • Kandinsky
    Your comment that "I think AB has taken a wrong turn and entered the arena of omniscient narrator." stuck inside my head. From an existentialist point of view, or from anyone who must posit to explore the ramifications of potential outcomes from any positivist statement, what has struck me over the years is the missing actor, the author, the a first person participant who is also the story. The lack of any philosophic rumination, disappointments, self deceits, causes and concerns coming from an arm's length approach. I always had the intuitive sense that something was not fleshed out..given a more substantive life, more context, a more human scale..For what it's worth, a comment on your comment.

    By Blogger Bruce Duensing, at Tuesday, September 04, 2012  

  • Both Tony and Frank Stalter have made credible movement towards the "hoax" aspect of Socorro's incident.

    Again, as I had posted on another blog (Randle's), Tony should be applauded for thinking outside of the box. I wish Tony would stick more to his research facts and sway away from his emotional attachment...that bias-thing tends to bite sometimes.

    Still waiting for Colgate's response per Robert Sheaffer's site.

    Socorro and Roswell (Roswell in particular) tends to be the Vietnam version of Ufology...a quagmire and no exit strategy.

    By Blogger Tim Hebert, at Tuesday, September 04, 2012  

  • Kadinsky-

    The landing struts were simply lightweight, white paperboard cut into strut shape and affixed to the bottom of the balloon. There are many examples on YouTube of college kids "dressing up" the lantern to make it appear even more ship-like!


    Colgate did indeed reply to me in emails precisely as I have reported- both three years ago and just a few months ago. Rich has all original email correspondence.

    And Colgate is well aware of the series of Socorro articles that I did- and had he had any issue with the accuracy of my reporting what his responses were to my questions- he would surely have made this known to me or publicly. He leaves no room for "interpretation" of his words as they were direct. He confirmed a hoax, he knew at least one of the pranksters and is still in communication with him, how they did the hoax, why they did not and will not come forward, etc. I cannot imagine any circumstance in which Colgate would deny he said these things. I can imagine that he will not elaborate on these things...


    By Blogger Anthony Bragalia, at Wednesday, September 05, 2012  

  • RRR - I am SO pleased that you have featured the undisputable research of Professor Tony Bragalia!!!

    I'll just bet that Phil Klass will not DARE to respond!!!!

    By Blogger Kurt Peters, at Wednesday, September 05, 2012  

  • KP:

    If Phil Klass does respond, we're outta here!


    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Wednesday, September 05, 2012  

  • RRR:

    "....Humor... a difficult concept...."

    (Lt. Saavik's response to Kirk's joke, in The Wrath of Khan)

    By Blogger Kurt Peters, at Wednesday, September 05, 2012  

  • Kadinsky-

    Your mention of the Sky Lantern videos got me to review them again. Note that the one featured in this piece the kid filming exclaims of the lantern "Its as big as a Mazda!" Well, incredibly, Lonnie Zamora (who said he thought it was a balloon to his police partner) compared it to the to the size of "an overturned car."!!!

    Coincidence? No. A car turned on its end is precisely the size of the giant Sky Lanterns!!!


    By Blogger Anthony Bragalia, at Wednesday, September 05, 2012  

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