We have talked about the possibility of a hoax in the Socorro UFO landing case. We have, or at least I have, thought that the idea of a student hoax has been rejected as implausible. There were way too many moving parts that required way too many unpredictable actions to be a reasonable scenario. From the very beginning, it required Lonnie Zamora to react in a way the students needed him to react so that he would find his way to the location of the landing.
|Socorro, New Mexico. Photo copyright by|
Dr. J. Allen Hynek, who seemed to have liked Zamora and thought of him as a good police officer also paid him a left-handed compliment. Hynek, according his “Report on Socorro New Mexico Trip” found in the Project Blue Book files, “That Zamora, although not overly bright or articulate, is basically sincere, honest, and reliable. He would not be capable of contriving a complex hoax, nor would his temperament indicate that he would have the slightest interest insuch (sic).”
Hynek seemed to be indicating that Zamora, on his own, couldn’t have pulled this off. He would have needed help which is suggestive of a conspiracy involving at least one other. Philip Klass thought that it was the mayor of Socorro who had a financial motive and the intelligence to set this up. Research by others, including Paul Harden, proved that this was not the case.
But then I got to thinking about it.
The hoax scenarios, as they have been developed over the years, are way too complex. They involve balloons, which should have been recognized as such, several different people who left no trace of their presence at the landing site, and no way for them to escape before the arrival of others on the scene to spot them. Sergeant Sam Chavez of the New Mexico State Police arrived within three minutes of receiving the call from Zamora but, unfortunately not long after the craft had disappeared.
All this presupposes that Zamora related, accurately, what he had seen. It presupposes that he didn’t embellish in any way, and it presupposes he wasn’t clever enough to have pulled it off, just as Hynek suggested.
Let’s look at this from, well, a different perspective.
According to what we know, no one else saw the landed craft. No one else saw it lift off and disappear in seconds. No one else saw the little beings near the craft. All of this came from Zamora and if he wasn’t telling the truth about it, well, then, the hoax becomes easier to accept. Just assume that he hadn’t really seen all these
things, and some of the arguments about the alien nature of the craft
and its capabilities are no longer relevant. The whole thing becomes much
simpler to explain in terrestrial terms.
Chavez said something during his interviews with the Lorenzens, when viewed in this light seems strange. According to The A.P.R.O. Bulletin of May 1964 (page 3, second column), “Sgt. Chavez also told the Lorenzens that he had looked into Zamora’s car to see if there were any implements of any kind with which the indentations and fire could have been effected. There were not. Mrs. L asked Chavez why he did that. Chavez admitted that Zamora’s story had been so strange, and he followed the regular procedure to establish evidence.”
Going back, and looking specifically at the descriptions of the landing marks, it seems that the various witnesses talked mostly about how the soil had been scraped to one side or the other. That seemed to indicate that something heavy had set down, but in the process, as the weight was applied, the landing pads shifted slightly. It didn’t seem as if they had been scraped out in the way it would look if a shovel had been used but more as if it was the result of something having landed there.
Ray Stanford reported in his book, Socorro Saucer in a Pentagon Pantry, in the caption on page 37, “The southwest imprint photographed on the morning after by New Mexico State Police Sergeant Samuel Chavez, giving the distinct impression of having been gouged into the earth by great weight from above.”
|One of the landing pad traces.|
And, finally, Hynek wrote in a letter to Dr. Donald Menzel of Harvard, on September 29, 1964: “…I have the word of nine witnesses who saw the marks within hours of the incident, who tell me that the center of the marks were moist as though the top soil had been freshly pushed aside.”
But we have to remember here that those nine people only saw the landing impressions and the burned vegetation. There might have some embellishment simply because it seems that no one really saw the bush smoking after the craft took off. Oh, it seems to have been reported that steam or smoke was rising from that bush by Chavez, but it is one of those things that is hard to pin down in the world today.
Although many rejected the idea that Zamora had created the hoax on his own for some unknown reason, the Zamora hoax explanation is by far the simplest. It eliminates the need for a balloon either hot air or helium filled, it eliminates the need for other participants to create the illusion of something landing there, and it explains the lack of physical evidence that the hoax scenario should have left behind. If Zamora had done it, he just needed his shovel and a tape measure. Then he called the station to make his report and request that Chavez come out to meet with him. This also explains why none of those other people who said they had seen something ever came forward. All the rest of it, from the alien creatures, the banging of the hatch, the red symbol… all of it was so much window dressing created by Zamora.
And while that theory is applauded for its simplicity, it fails when other facts are figured into it. We can begin with the three telephone calls into the police station. Again, we know little about them, we don’t know who made them, but they are documented in the records gathered that night and in the report filed by Richard Holder. It would mean that, at the very least, one other person had to be involved. He or she could have made the three telephone calls though it is more likely to have been three people.
It would have involved Opal Grinder who said that he had talked to the tourists from Colorado who mentioned the low flying aircraft. That adds another person to the conspiracy which is, of course, another person to spill the beans on this unless, of course, Grinder was the one who made the telephone calls to the police.
We also have to wonder what inspired Zamora to create the hoax. The Project Blue Book files confirm that there were no other reports of UFOs in New Mexico at the time and there had been very little publicity about them anywhere prior to Zamora’s sighting. In fact, from Hynek’s “Report on the Trip to Socorro – Albuquerque, March 12 – 12, 1965, we see, “One should remember that before the time of the sighting there had been no talk in the Socorro region of unidentified flying objects.”
Hynek also mentioned, “No paraphernalia of a hoax was ever found. It would be rather hard to have done away with all the tell-tale evidence, such as tubes of helium, release mechanism, etc.”
And one thing that might argue the loudest against Zamora doing it on his own was that the impressions on the ground, when corrected for the terrain features are symmetrical and the burned bush seemed to be located at the precise center where you would expect the rocket or jet used to lift it would be situated. That seems to be much too sophisticated for Zamora to have pulled off. It is one of those things that he might have lucked into, but it does seem to argue against a Zamora alone hoax.
I’m not a fan of the Zamora hoaxed the sighting without any real motivation and no real inspiration. Again, Hynek mentioned there had been no UFO sightings reported around Socorro prior to Zamora’s sighting, but afterwards, there were many (some of which were hoaxes). The sightings for April 1964 from other parts of the world are fairly mundane and didn’t receive much in the way of publicity if any at all. Had Zamora’s sighting come in the middle of the wave, it might be that these other reports suggested the idea to him.
I like this idea, that Zamora hoaxed it by himself because of the simplicity of it. However, when we add in other factors, all the factors, it seems that the theory is flawed. Hector Quintanilla suggested the solution for the case would probably be found in Zamora’s head, and had he hoaxed the thing, then Quintanilla had it right. But Zamora never suggested to anyone that he had made up the story, his friends and his actions that night seem to argue against hoax, and there is no real motivation for him to have created the hoax that included the landing site.
And any theory, or solution, that has to discount some of the evidence to work is no real solution. In this case there are too many factors that argue against a Zamora designed hoax, not the least of which is the physical evidence and the other, unidentified witnesses. If we can come up with a theory that explains all that, then we have something. Until that time, the case remains, “Unidentified.”
(Blogger’s note: I thought it important to say that in one aspect of my training as an intelligence officer, we were taught that you needed to review all possible scenarios when assessing a situation. In one example of that, I was analyzing the military and political situation on East Timor. In one of the most ridiculous scenarios, I had to determine the possibility of the United States and Australian peacekeeping forces engaging in some sort of conflict. The possibility of that happening was almost zero, but, given that armed military forces were occupying the same terrain, there was the possibility that something would go horribly wrong. Didn’t mean that it would, it was just one of the possible outcomes. I mention this because the idea that Zamora invented the whole tale it practically zero, but it is one possibility. I say this because I don’t believe it happened that way, but I do like the simplicity of that solution.)