UFO Conjectures

Thursday, December 20, 2012

The real question about the Trent/McMinnville photos

Copyright 2012, InterAmerica, Inc.

We’ve addressed this before, but because of the current imbroglio about Tony Bragalia’s thesis that farmer Paul Trent concocted – faked/hoaxed – his iconic 1950 flying disk photos. Let me raise the issue again.

Here are a few photos of farmer Trent from a batch of photos that David Rudiak found and provided to those embroiled in the Bragalia brouhaha:


Note how Paul Trent took pictures or had to, because of the viewfinder on his new camera.

Now if we take the scenario that his wife spotted the UFO and called to him to see it or retrieve his camera to get a picture, one has to conclude that the disk was flying rather slowly, cruising, as it were.

If it was traveling at a speed that one imagines flying saucers, of the period (1950) flew at – something in the pre-jet range that Ken Arnold and his supporters provided for his sighting of nine disks near Mt. Rainier -- it is impossible for Mrs. Trent to see the object, call out to her husband, and he able to take two shots, using the viewfinder on his camera, as pictured above.

The disk would have been hanging in mid-air for this to play out as it has been pictured and presented.

Here are the two photos:



Why is the “saucer” still in view?

It’s lollying in the sky.

The who took the photos and why is still open to debate, but I ask why an alleged flying saucer waited around to have a visual and two photos of it taken?

Something doesn’t add up here, for me.

The issue of the possible fakery of the Trent photos has gotten sidetracked by the allegation that a photo of Trent’s son on a ladder bespeaks a set-up for the hoax that Tony Bragalia alleges.

Lance Moody’s submission of the photos from a separate roll than that in which the Trent disk appears seems to end that controversy.

But it doesn’t end the possibility that Paul Trent created a bogus flying saucer photo, does it?



  • What all boils down to is:

    1. The Trent photos were almost certainly faked.
    2. The wrong evidence (i.e. the boy on the ladder) was provided to prove this.

    I cannot agree that your own evidence amounts to anything significant. You refer to the speed of the UFO. So what? How do you know what a genuine UFO is capable of? It can travel very fast, slow down, stop in mid-air, reverse in mid-air, even dematerialise (and then rematerialise itself!) according to some writers. Therefore Paul Trent could perfectly easily have taken a genuine UFO photo either one second or 10 minutes after his wife first saw it. Yes, the UFO 'waited around' to be photographed. Can you disprove this?

    So your evidence falls into the same category. Yes the photos are fakes, but the various methods to prove this simply don't work.

    Which means that Tony and you have, in effect, got nowhere to further your 'hoax' thesis.

    By Blogger cda, at Friday, December 21, 2012  

  • Christopher:

    What is presented here, by me, is mere speculation.

    I suggest that you and others read Micah Hanks book, wherein he eschews how UFO mavens/buffs have lost the ability to speculate.

    This blog isn't a scientific romp by any means.

    It's only a spot to throw out some ideas, some possibilities.

    I get the idea, surprisingly, that you (and a few others) would like to stifle conjecture/speculation; that is, censor thought and comment altogether.

    You've made your point: my idea that the Trent flying disk moved too slowly in the context of what other UFOs of the day were reported as doing -- they were zipping around.

    The airships of the 1890s lolled but the flying saucers of the 1947-1950s were almost always reported as flying fast.

    Yes they did hover, but while in flight they moved along.

    It's just an idea that I've thrown out here -- in my little blog.

    If you want to counter my obtuse suggestions and the by Kevin Randle
    and others who proffer speculation, why not start your own blog.

    We'll send people to it, and you can pro-act rather than react to things you don't want to read or see online.

    You guys have gotten a bit testy with Tony Bragalia and now me, only because we've presented what you see as loopy ideas.

    Here in the States, that's allowed: the right to be loopy and the right to proclaim anti-theses.

    So, take it easy, won't you?

    It's, as Gilles Fernandez often tells us, only ufology.


    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Friday, December 21, 2012  

  • You ask me to "take it easy".
    A bit difficult when the planet you and I live on is going to disappear within a few hours.

    By Blogger cda, at Friday, December 21, 2012  

  • Your comment, CDA, was so unlike you, I thought we were already gone and I was in Hell (or maybe Purgatory).


    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Friday, December 21, 2012  

  • Oh, please lighten up everyone.

    Let's not make the world an uglier and more contentious place than it, sadly, already is. Let's just toast each other with a cup of holiday cheer and agree to disagree.

    After all, when it comes to UFOs, there are no irrefutable facts. It's all just unsubstantiated hypothesizing.

    Ho, ho, ho.

    By Blogger purrlgurrl, at Friday, December 21, 2012  

  • If Paul Trent had "faked" his UFO photos, would not his role of film contain other poorly faked photos that simply did not work? Yet from what I've been reading on this blog, all of Trent's 8 photos on that role of film have been accounted for, and none contain any tell-tale botched UFO evidence. Isn't this evidentary of the fact that he actually photographed some unknown object? And if not, why not?

    By Blogger Dominick, at Friday, December 21, 2012  

  • Dominick:

    As usual, you make an interesting and valid point.

    It would seem likely that there would be a botched try or tries, and they would be on the roll of film -- unless farmer Trent used up his practice film and put his successful attempts on a new roll.

    That said, you offer a sensible retort to the skeptics here.


    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Friday, December 21, 2012  

  • We're posting this for Ray ,who couldn't get Blogger to accept his comment. (He's not a RRRGroup guy, nor wishes to be we bet.)...

    I'll repeat here what I've said elsewhere, namely--if it's a hoax, one is obliged to explain how Trent faked the level of atmospheric haze that's visible on the object (and which indicates it's a fair distance away, certainly more than a few dozen yards). This isn't a minor point. As a photographer, I don't know of any way that could have been done in the early 50s by an amateur photographer without sophisticated equipment on hand. Until someone can offer up a possible explanation for this detail, the hoax theory doesn't seem likely, IMO. -Ray G.

    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Saturday, December 22, 2012  

  • Looking at these pics again Rick it's even more clear to me the key to them's the lopsided post to the right of the hut as we look at it.

    In the first shot the lopsided pole's quite a ways out from the hut and the 'bin lid' seems much further off.

    In the second the 'bin lid''s closer but the pole's almost disappearing behind the hut meaning the photographer who appears to've been aiming his camera down on one knee to get those particular upward looking elevations's had to get up and move much more to his left then get back down on one knee again.

    This strongly suggests to me the object was very definitely moving across the sky and not just hanging from the overhead wires.

    It also rules out my idea the 'bin lid' may've been tied to the pole and was whirling round it because Trent would've been aware of how it'd move across the sky and would've picked a position where he could get in both shots but clearly the fact he's had to move and readjust both himself and the part of the sky he had to aim at means he wasn't.

    The weird thing is until I read that scientific study about this case you blogged a while back I'd never considered this case anything but a hoax whereas now I'm almost convinced something really happened to this guy.

    By Blogger alanborky, at Saturday, December 22, 2012  

  • Yes, Alan...

    The sighting is still an open question.


    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Saturday, December 22, 2012  

  • Rich; I had the very same--not unreasonable--thought about the Trents' fairy tale: a real nuts-and-bolts flying thing would've had to hang around too long to for them to see it, find the camera and take the pictures. They claimed it was moving slowly; and though Chris has a point, I think you and I are thinking of practical experience: the would-be subjects of photographs don't wait around for us to find our cameras!

    And the two pictures are only slightly different. Hartmann's analysis shows that the position of the object barely changed between the two shots--a change attributable to the imprecision of measurements. Trent's position changed a few steps, but the object's position--suspended from the wire above, no doubt--barely changed. And unless they were the last two shots on the roll, why didn't he keep shooting? Where can we see the rest of the exposures from Trent's roll? As if that will show anything.

    By Blogger zoamchomsky, at Saturday, December 22, 2012  

  • I think the very obvious answer to Dominick's objection is that we're seeing them!

    How many phony flying-saucer photos does one need to make to show your kids?

    And then, when someone suggests that there might be a little money in it for you....

    By Blogger zoamchomsky, at Saturday, December 22, 2012  

  • "if it's a hoax, one is obliged to explain how Trent faked the level of atmospheric haze that's visible on the object," asks Ray, who has never assumed an answer.

    Ray's misinterpretation of ambient light scattered off the dull weathered chrome of an old automobile mirror set against a hazy infinite background is understandable. Even skeptic Hartmann's original analysis admits the possibility of a distant object.

    But given that these "flying saucer" photos have been utterly debunked in so many ways: obvious practical objections to the Trents' "flying saucer" fairy tale and their implausible behavior and rationales after the fact--being "flying saucer" repeaters; and the damning evidence contained in the photos themselves, made in morning not evening--the shadows show--as the Trents claimed; the object, below wires, that barely moves, if at all, between shots while Trent did; photos that could only have been made by Trent squatting in the rear of the backyard when, he claims, he went into the house to retrieve his camera in a rush to capture the "flying saucer" on film. Certainly a distant object would have been just as visible there as in the backyard.

    And that's just the surface. Now do you really think your subjective misinterpretation of the reflection off of a dull weathered chrome mirror as "atmospheric haze" means much? I would say "I thought I had heard it all" but Ray asked a reasonable question.

    By Blogger zoamchomsky, at Saturday, December 22, 2012  

  • One often overlooked aspects of the Trent photos is layout of the backyard locations from which they were taken. The house is on the right of the photographer, the garage on the left. If you initially sighted a flying saucer from this spot, the natural reaction would be to run into the unobstructed open space in front of the property to photograph it. The fact that this didn't happen only makes sense if the photographs are of an object suspended from the wires running between the house and the garage.

    By Blogger Marco Sedlav, at Wednesday, April 17, 2013  

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