CLASSIC UFO CASES AND PHOTOGRAPHS

By Larry Robinson

This report is of cases and photos where the page author has clearly identified the cause of the sighting.

Updated 07/27/2014


Prehistoric: Bayan Kara Ula, China: In 1938, diagrams were made of circular carved stones, called Dropa Stones. The stones are said by some to contain writing from 12000 years ago. They have a hole in the center and a slot on one side of the hole. Spiral grooves are engraved running from the center to the edge. This author recognized them as grindstones.


June 24, 1947; Mt. Rainier WA: A possibility that makes sense has now surfaced in this case. Some propeller driven predecessors to the RB-49 flying wing were being tested in that area at the time. They were boomerang-shaped, with vertical fins at the wingtips. There was a very short fuselage in the center, only slightly longer than the wing. Four pusher propellers provided thrust. The plane was the XB-35. One problem: There were only two built. But a plane might have been towing test dummies.

Arnold's distance and speed estimates don't jibe. Because of this, another theory says that the objects were geese.

It is also noteworthy how close Arnold's description came to the Horton HO-229 World War II jet fighter.


July 2 1947; Roswell NM (One of many reported dates and places): This is obvious, considering the military purpose at the time. A Mogul balloon crashed near Roswell. This balloon was secret until the 1980s, because it was to be used to monitor Soviet nuclear testing with high-flying microphones. An initial cover story was a "flying disc" crash. Then, the RaWin corner reflector weather balloon was substituted as an explanation to satisfy the press. Since the Mogul balloon was made from RaWin balloon parts, it was a logical explanation.


May 11, 1950; McMinnville OR: This appeared to be a strong case, until the following discrepancies appeared:

  • The reported time-of-day the photos were taken is in doubt. (GSW, Brookesmith)
  • This page author now has copies of six different photos, each purported to be one of the original two pictures taken by Trent:
    1. (Monochrome) A tilted disc seen from a bottom angle with the pole barely visible. (PHOTO 1 - ubiquitous)
    2. (Monochrome) A tilted disc seen edge-on with a slanting pole on top. (PHOTO 2 - ubiquitous)
    3. (Color) A tilted disc seen edge-on with a bubble dome on top. The sky is dark blue at the top and yellow near the horizon, and the foliage has grown compared to the first 2 photos. The structure of the garage door track is seen from a different angle compared to any of the previous photos. The position of the disk is much lower than in photos #1 and #2, and it is larger. (World Atlas of UFOs, John Spencer)
    4. (Color) The disc in the same position as in photo #3, but with an orange sky and almost black foliage. (UFO - The Complete Sightings, Peter Brookesmith)
    5. (Monochrome) A tilted disc seen from a bottom angle with a bubble dome on top, the sky has a dark band across it. The structure of the garage door track is seen from a different angle compared to any of the previous photos. The disk is in a position similar to the one in Photo #3, and the foliage matches photo #3. (Alien Contact - The first fifty years, Jenny Randles - USA release only)
    6. (Color) A disk on edge, near the horizon. The sky is cyan and the foliage is bright green. (UFO-II, CD-ROM)
    7. (Monochrome) A disc in the same position as in photo #1, but with the camera pointing more to the left. This photo has been shown to be just a different cropping of Photo #1. (UFOs Explained, Philip J Klass - appears in only the paperback edition. The hardback edition has the correct Photo #2.)
  • The Trents were known to local authorities as "repeat sighters." (Brookesmith)
  • The photometry results also match the case where the sun has just risen, and is behind the farmhouse. Bright clouds in the sky produce the shadows on the garage, and they also light up the bottom surface of the object in photo #1. This makes the photometry consistent with a model hung from the electric line. If monofilament fishing line had been used, even the GSW system would not detect it, for it matches anything behind it.
  • The object in photos #1 and #2 looks suspiciously like the top of a pressure cooker the page author's grandmother used to have. It had a handle that was raised up from one side to unlock it. The top had several concentric raised circles, each on top of the other. The bottom was flat except for a rim around the edge.
  • It has been suggested that the object in photos #1 and #2 is a side-view-mirror from the truck in the photo. A specular bottom surface could produce some very interesting photometry results.
  • The object in photos #1 and #2 also looks suspiciously like the record balancing disk on this 1949 Dual record changer (photo to right).
  • The object in photos #3, #4, and #5 looks like a Chrysler hubcap.
Dual 1000 record changer

Dual 1000 record changer from the 1940s.

Could the Trent UFO be its record balancing disk?


August 25-30, 1951; Lubbock TX: There are two different effects here.

  1. Most of the visual sightings were of flocks of birds. The page author has seen this himself in 1990.
  2. Examination of the photographs discloses a very faint image in the black background of a choir and a structure standing behind the rows of lights. I think these were flash pictures attempted beyond the effective range of the flashgun used, and that the photographer took advantage of the publicity to make some money on shots that were ruined. This effect is most evident in the John Spencer World Atlas of UFOs

May 7, 1952; Barra Da Tijuca Brazil: Photo #4 is the widely published and tested one, but it's Photo #5 that reveals the hoaxed nature of the photos. It shows the disk lighted from the bottom. That is a physical impossibility unless the photographer took the pictures from above the object. Since the photographer was on the ground in these shots, the object had to have been added by montage. The photos were claimed to be a series of shots of the same object. Hence, Photo #5 disqualifies all of the others as hoaxes too.


July 2, 1952; Tremonton UT: Delbert Newhouse took an 8mm movie of a group of white objects that were milling about near the Great Salt Lake. But the interesting part is that similar objects are also visible in the background in the portions of the film where he was filming his family. Nobody seems to have noticed them then. All of these objects are almost certainly seagulls.


July 14, 1952; Holloman Air Force Base, NM: This is obviously a time exposure of a TV screen with cartoons on. The page author can clearly see the image of one of his favorite 1950s cartoon characters, Fauntleroy Fox. Several other drawings, and a man's face, are superimposed.

A reason for this shot may be suggestions in photography magazines and books at the time. They suggested photographing a TV screen to check the accuracy of the shutter speed. At 1/60 second, the camera should capture exactly one field scan of the picture. They suggested using a channel that is unused in the area, so you see the entire white raster. This could combine faint pictures from distant stations.


July 19 and 26, 1952; Washington DC: The radar and visual sightings over the nation's capital had a technological cause. Shortly before the sightings, new RADAR equipment was installed at both Washington National Airport and Andrews Air Force Base. The new equipment was retrofitted, and provided MTI (moving target indication - removes stationary targets) and AGC (automatic gain control). These features worked together with operator inexperience with them to cause the strangeness of the reported events:


February 15 1954 Coniston England: Stephen Derbishire claimed to have photographed a UFO. He later admitted the photo was a joke. Inspection shows the photo is actually an out-of-focus wedding photo turned on its side. When turned so the dark patch is to the left, the bride and a flower girl are seen, along with their reflection in a well-polished floor. The dark patch is the in-focus head of a spectator.


November 19, 1954; Taormina Sicily: Newsman Giuseppe Grasso took a picture of some people outside. The photo appears to be a double exposure of the outdoor scene and a flash failure of a scene containing an art-deco tree lamp.

Update: It now looks like Grasso purposely staged the photo to go with a visual sighting of a sounding balloon reported the same day. The picture was published the day after it was taken. Also, there were two photos taken, each showing completely different objects.

Further update: The page author found the sounding balloon in the usually published photo. It is a tiny white dot, in the correct place for the people in the photo to be looking at it (the faked UFOs are too high for their gaze). Apparently, Grasso came in boasting that he had photos of a UFO (which was independently reported). He couldn't find the UFO in the print, guessed that the UFO had moved out of frame, and then tried to add in what he thought he had seen visually.


May 15, 1955; New York NY: The page author thought this was a nice photo of a Scotch Tape dispenser. But with further inspection (and the availability of a second photo), he identified it as a waving pennant "frozen" by the camera.


Spin-O-Reno toy July 17, 1956; Natal South Africa: Elizabeth Klarer, a reputed contactee who described breathing "pure Venusian air," took four black-and-white pictures. She used a cloud filter for some reason.

The object is a "Spin-O-Reno" toy. This is a plastic plate with a deep rim on the bottom and a raised center. See the photo at right. The contrast was enhanced to show the raised center. It was made so children can easily spin and balance it on a stick, in the manner that circus performers spin plates (but without breaking any china). The page author as a child got one as a birthday present that same year.

One question: Why was a cloud filter used on these photos? Maybe this was done to hide the true nature of the plastic plate. Photographers don't habitually keep cloud filters on their camera lenses.

Her "contact" contained all of the typical liberal platitudes: ban the bomb, abolish war, don't eat any meat, live together harmoniously, form a socialist world government, and community ownership of all property. These are things the untutored typically think of to make life better. Never mind that they don't work.

Klarer also reported other sightings over several years, including a ride to Venus, where she reported "breathing pure Venusian air." This sighting happened back when TV science fiction had people traveling to all of the other planets and meeting the humanoid inhabitants there. We now know that Venus has an atmosphere of carbon dioxide and sulfuric acid, contradicting her story.


August 13-14, 1956; Lakenheath-Bentwaters England: Solution page.


November 2, 1957; Levelland Texas: Many motorists saw lights in the night sky, some of them on roads ahead of their vehicles. As they approached these lights, their engines quit. What was not generally reported in these cases was the fact that the air was full of dust and was charged with electricity. This phenomenon is known in association with dust storms, and is also seen frequently at the tops of mountains (Pike's Peak is a documented example).

This charged atmosphere was sucked into engine compartments by radiator fans. This dust caused the spark plugs to fire continuously, stopping the engines. If the car so affected had a 6-volt battery (as over half of the cars then had), the headlights dimmed to less than half brilliance without the generator going (which is one reason cars now have 12-volt batteries).

Once the discharges through the spark plugs ceased, the engines could be restarted. The subsequent report that the engines somehow restarted themselves is contradicted by the original testimony.

Remember that many ignition wires didn't have rubber boots over the terminals back then.

The UFOs were modified forms of St. Elmo's Fire caused by the charged air and dust.


May 16, 1958; Trinidade Is. Brazil: This looked good, until the page author found out:

  1. The object was brighter than the sky to witnesses, but dark on the film.
  2. The object changes shape from photo to photo.
  3. Cartoon characters appear in the upper dome when the photo is enhanced (although this could be an artifact of the enhancement process).
  4. The page author remembers having a comic book with a similar saucer in it. It was given out about that time by Buster Brown Shoes.
    UPDATE: The author bought that comic book on eBay. It contains a similar, but not identical saucer. But Baruna might have distorted the image.
  5. Baruna was a specialist in trick photography.
  6. He earlier tricked an editor into running a fake story.
  7. Other fake UFO photos were produced by Baruna before and after the sighting.
  8. The grain of the UFO is coarser than the grain in the background, and has a halftone appearance similar to that used in colored comics (which should never happen in a true photograph). There is also a rectangular patch of grain anomaly surrounding the UFO.
  9. Baruna had reportedly confessed to someone that he faked the photos.

Note that this is NOT the famous Trinidad Island, of the country Trinidad and Tobago, near Venezuela. It is an island 3 miles long and less than 2 miles wide, with a Brazilian naval garrison of 32 stationed on it, at the end of an ocean ridge that extends about 740 miles due east of Vitoria Brazil.

It is the Trinidad Island referred to in Richard Henry Dana's Two Years Before the Mast.


April 24, 1959; Piata Beach, Itapoan Brazil: Helio Aguiar took this series of 4 photos of a tilted disc. They puzzled the page author, nagging at his memory. "I have seen this before! I should know what it is!" Then, one day in early 1996, he was servicing the rubber drive parts on his Collaro Conquest record changer (shown at upper right). Suddenly he realized that he was holding the Aguiar UFO in his hand! "That's where I've seen it!" The object is the drive wheel through which the motor powers the record changing cycle. This part is found by taking off the turntable and looking underneath it. It is the right hand wheel in the small photo. But the wheel in the UFO photo is minus its rubber covering. Notice the large hub on the wheel, which makes the "turret" of the UFO.

The rubber part covers an aluminum wheel that is approximately 7/8 of the diameter of the entire wheel. To keep the rubber from slipping, there are 4 slots in the aluminum wheel through which the rubber forms when it is cast into place. They are visible as 4 indentations on the smaller turntable drive wheel (on the left side of lower photo), but not normally seen on the larger wheel unless the rubber is cut apart and removed. The slots are round on the small wheel, but elongated in the direction of rotation on the larger one.

The original wheels (but not newer replacements) were made of real rubber, which tended to rot away quickly with high humidity. This happened to the author's original wheel, so he was able to find out what was inside it.

The photos shown here are of two different Collaro Conquest record changers. The brown one was manufactured in 1959, and the gold one was made in 1961. There are cosmetic differences between them (such as the size of the knobs), but they are essentially the same record changer mechanism.

In addition, Helio Aguiar reported an "automatic writing" event at the time he allegedly saw the disc. It contained the typical liberal platitude, "Put a stop to all nuclear tests!" This shows that the photos were probably intended for advancing a political cause through an appeal to force (which is a fallacy of argument).

(But can an invasion force of aliens who are small enough to fit inside a Collaro change-cycle drive wheel be considered to really be a credible threat???).

Collaro Conquest

The author's Collaro Conquest record changer

Collaro drive wheels

The drive wheels in a Collaro


October 12 1961: News commentator Frank Edwards saw a UFO in Indianapolis IN. The page author saw it too - the same date, time, and location! Solution page.


Spaceman mobile March 4, 1962; Sheffield England: Alex Birch took a picture of a mobile that the page author wanted for years as a kid. A neighbor kid had the same mobile, with the same cute little characters and spacemen on it. The author never got one, but he can still "see" the images that were printed on the cards, even though the picture shows only the silhouettes of the objects.

Update: The page author was able to enhance the Birch image with a computer and recover the original shapes of the mobile cards. See photo at right. As the page author remembers it, the card at the upper left was a "space convertible" with empty back seats and a driver similar to (but predating) Roger Ramjet. The card on the upper right was a rocket ship with a fin with a pod on the end. There was a guy in a space suit in a porthole, and the rocket had stripes on the nose. The one in the middle of the others was a flying saucer. A green alien with sharp teeth was under the dome. The other two were asteroids, one with a little guy on it.


May 15 1962; Burlington MA: This is obviously a kicked or passed football.


1963 - 1975; NM: Ground Saucer Watch has detected supporting threads in all of Paul Villa's photos. And most of them seem to be car parts.


April 24, 1964; Socorro NM: Solution page.


July 12, 1965; Athens OH: J Douglas Stewart took a picture of a lantern flashlight just like the one the page author's father had that year for fishing. The shape is obvious.


August 2, 1965; Tulsa OK: The page author doesn't think this photo Alan Smith took was taken on that date. It was probably a failed Christmas photo. The object is a color wheel for an aluminum Christmas tree. (The author had a used one of these for a couple of weeks, but traded it for a used stereo turntable.) The author thinks a real UFO photo had been taken, but then the wrong negative was chosen and printed. The proof:

The Tulsa Photo: Solution page.


August 3, 1965; Santa Ana CA: Rex Heflin's photos have been shown to be a hoax:

  1. Ground Saucer Watch detected a supporting thread through computer enhancement.
  2. The Condon committee showed that the pictures were not all taken at the same time.
  3. Object could be a safety helmet with a black cardboard ring on it. It also looks like a straw hat.

September 3, 1965; Exeter NH: Solution page.


September 3, 1965; Damon TX: This appears to be a partial fabrication, because some facts do not tally:

  1. When driving from Sweeny TX to West Columbia TX, one has to pass on through West Columbia to get to Damon, unlike the description given in the accounts the author has.
  2. The moon threw a shadow of the object on the ground, yet the object was bright enough to read by. How can both happen together?

October 21, 1965; St George MN: This is a 7-watt night light plugged into a wall outlet. Use a blue filter, and the shape is obvious. It was another flashbulb failure case. It's not the subject of the photo, but appears at one edge of the frame. Possibly the photographer attempted to photograph something too dim and distant to get on film, and when the pictures came back from the photo lab, he mistook a failed flashbulb shot for the UFO frame. The author once took some shots of a nearby plane at night, and had to hunt very hard to find its lights in the resulting slides, so it would be easy to pick the wrong frame. Look for the night-light bulb in these renderings of the photo. You can even find the filament. But note that when the photo lab printed it, it overexposed the part with the bulb:

St George UFO

St George UFO

Blue filter St George UFO

Blue filter (masked)

Enhanced contrast St George UFO

Enhanced contrast


November 9, 1965: The Northeast Blackout (and related UFO sightings): Solution page.


March 1966; Wall Township (what county?) NJ: Robert Salvo took a picture showing an out-of focus object. The page author recognized it as the ball release wheel of a Digi-Comp II. This is a demonstrator that shows how a computer does arithmetic. It uses marbles, instead of electric currents, so the user can watch it work. It really can run programs, but it takes a long time to run a small one. If the author didn't own this computer, he would never have recognized the object. Edmund Scientific sold this as an educational toy and teaching aid.


April 25, 1966; Utica NY: This is not a bolide, as claimed. There was a bolide on that date, but this is a Fourth-of-July sparkler. Another wrong negative?


December 27, 1966 St Paul MN: This is an orange plastic bell that is hung on power lines to warn low flying aircraft. They appear near most airports. Below the bell appears to be part of a kite stuck on the wire. It is really behind the bell.


January 24, 1967; Yorba Linda CA: This photo is of a satellite that was part of a Hasbro GI-Joe military space explorer set (with a space shuttle that was amazingly accurate for the 1966 release date). The focus of other objects indicates that the lens is focused on a small object very near to the camera. The fact that the object is darker than the window frame indicates that the object is inside the room. If it had been outside and larger, atmospheric scattering would have made the image much lighter.


Kenner roof panels April 21, 1967; Conisbrough England: How could the page author ever forget his favorite toy? These objects are roof panels with skylights from a Kenner Girder and Panel building set (see photo). The object in front in the UFO photo is the domed roof panel on the upper right of this photo. The other two objects are either the panel at upper left, or the panel at lower right. The panels are approximately 4 inches long on each edge.

The page author had several of these sets, along with several Kenner Bridge and Turnpike and Freeway USA sets, a Kenner Build a Home and Subdivision and several other Kenner sets. He used them to build a model city in the basement during his school years.


October 4, 1967; Shag Harbor NS: The sightings of orange objects in the air have all the characteristics of fire balloons. And a fire balloon could easily land in the water, making people think a plane crashed. One candle could even remain burning for a while, if the fire balloon touched down, but remained upright. The interesting part is the report by the rescuers:

  1. They didn't find any wreckage.... Or did they? They wouldn't be looking for a plastic dry-cleaner's suit bag. But it's also possible that the bag burned up.
  2. The strange scum on the water surface could have been candle wax residue from the burning candles. A burning suit bag could add to the scum. And anyone finding the remains of a plastic suit bag wouldn't associate it with the UFO.

The reports about a submarine object probably have nothing to do with the UFO sighting. It's much more likely that this object was a Soviet submarine doing some spying.


September 4, 1971; Lago de Cote, Costa Rica: The object is obviously a shirt button. Either it fell into the field of view for one frame, or it is a crew member's clothing reflected in the window the photo was taken through.


October 1973; Fort Worth TX: A woman reported a UFO. When asked how she knew it was a UFO, she responded, "It said 'UFO' right on the side!" Edmund Scientific sold model hot-air balloon kits that looked like flying saucers. They had the letters "U F O" on them, just as the woman reported. Case closed!


November and December 1975; Several Air Force Bases in the northern US: Strange objects were seen visually and on RADAR. This has now been revealed to have been a combination stealth technology test and readiness exercise.


December 27, 1980; Rendalsham Forest, England: The strange events now seem to have a set of prosaic explanations:

  1. We have to remember that this event happened just days before the end of the Iran Hostage Crisis.
  2. The initial falling object was probably an unscheduled spy satellite film drop, getting quick info on Iran to US intelligence. This is what produced the damage.
  3. Since the dropped body would have to have a heat shield, it should look similar to an Apollo capsule, but much smaller. That would explain the reported shape of the landed object.
  4. The police, and the military team, who came to opposite sides of the forest, saw each other's lights (and the beam from a lighthouse) through the forest.
  5. The military then came up with a wild story to cover up the film drop.
  6. Objects sighted two days later were probably fire balloons. The description of the closest object matches a fire balloon with a firecracker "time bomb" included for a spectacular finish.
  7. It is likely that Colonel Halt's report is intended to cover the satellite drop.

December 29, 1980; Huffman TX: The bright object that gave Betty Cash and two companions radiation exposure might have a prosaic explanation. The object was seen with a group of helicopters. A possibility is that a steel cable was inadvertently unreeled from one of the helicopters, and it became entangled in medium-tension power lines that follow highway FM1485. The reported shape of the UFO matches a common kind of weight used at the end of helicopter lifting cables. The resulting arc between power lines could have produced X-rays and ultraviolet light, which could have irradiated the victims. The helicopter would have stayed around until the cable could be freed, and the other helicopters in the convoy would have stayed close to render visual assistance.


Various times in 1981; in the general area of the Hudson River valley, NY: This series of sightings was admitted to be a repeated prank by a group of people flying ultralight aircraft in formation.


May 5, 1984; Earth orbit: An object that entered Earth's atmosphere, turned, and headed for deep space again. It was detected by satellite cameras. There is no mystery here, when one considers that many meteoroids, like comets, consist mostly of ice. As the meteor heats up upon entering the rarefied upper atmosphere, ice on the side facing Earth boils to steam, providing enough thrust to change the course of the meteoroid.


The MARS FACE: A quick examination of the shadow of the "face" and the shadows of surrounding objects shows that the "face" is actually a spire, and looks like a face at only that particular angle, with only that particular lighting. By the way, you can also look at Earth and find a face, a heart, a mitten, a high-heeled boot, and a roasted turkey.

Update: New (1998) photos of the same area show a sneaker-shaped hill instead.


November 11, 1987 and later dates; Gulf Breeze FL: The veracity of the Ed Walters photos is now in question, because the people who bought his house found a model of the UFO in the attic.


1991: The "Captured UFO" inside a building shown in some tabloids is actually the Minneapolis Metrodome, an inflatable sports arena dome. This famous picture was taken when snow made the inflatable dome top too heavy, and it hung down into the arena. The photo was really taken in the 1970s.


Many times since 1990: Objects called "rods" are recorded streaking past video cameras, but are not noticed by the videographers or bystanders. They have been identified as ordinary insects flying close to the camera lens. Their shapes are distorted and doubled by the effects of the interlaced raster scanning used in NTSC video. Raster scanning records a picture one dot at a time, by going across the image one line at a time (moving from left to right). Interlacing causes the camera to record all of the odd lines in the picture first (top to bottom), and then to go back and record all of the even lines (also from top to bottom). The scanning catches the bug at different points of its flight during different parts of the scan. This, plus the various ways computers combine images to display stills, explains rods.


March and April 1997; Arizona: solution page.


November 7, 2006; Chicago IL: The circular object over O'Hare Airport was a circular hole in a cloud base.


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