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Lonnie Zamora UFO Incident: A Reliable Police Officer, Blue Flames, A Landed Craft & Small Beings

An in-depth look at one of the most outstanding and unsolved UFO cases in history. Lonnie Zamora was a reliable witness whose story was backed up by many other eyewitnesses.


Lonnie Zamora UFO
The Lonnie Zamora UFO incident remains one of the most remarkable UFO encounters in history

It was April 24, 1964, a Friday, and close to 5:50 p.m. in Socorro, New Mexico. Police Officer Lonnie Zamora, who had just observed a speeding car heading south, was in hot pursuit and heading toward the rodeo grounds. Less than a minute into the chase he heard what he thought was an explosion. He immediately thought of a nearby dynamite shack.


When he observed a brilliant blue "cone of flame" off to the south-south-west in the direction of the shack, he veered off to the right onto a gravel road. Even over the crunching-tire sound, Zamora could hear a continuous roar. The slowly descending flame fell out of his line of sight, eclipsed by a hill. He turned off the road and attempted twice to drive over the hill, succeeding on the third attempt. Meanwhile, the roaring sound diminished and ceased. By the time he got to the top of the hill, all was silent, and the flame was no longer visible.



Zamora stopped his car and looked around for a few moments until his eye caught a metallic object in a ravine to the southwest, about 150 yards away. His initial impression was that it was a white car lying either on its side or upside down. Then he "saw two figures in what resembled white coveralls, pretty close to the object on its northwest side, as if inspecting it. They were standing between it and a good-size greasewood (creosote) bush. One of the figures - the one in front nearest me seemed to turn as if it heard or saw my car coming. It must have seen me, cause when I turned and it looked straight at my car, it seemed startled - almost seemed to jump somewhat."


The figures were small, "maybe the size of boys," and from a distance they looked "normal in shape." The object was oval-shaped and positioned so that its long axis was horizontal. As he would write in his official report, "At this time I started moving my car towards them quickly, with idea to help. Had stopped about only a couple of seconds." As he resumed his drive toward the object, the car descended into a dip, and the sight was lost to view momentarily. He radioed headquarters to report that he was investigating a "possible 10-40" - police code for accident. Yet he was no longer sure that was what he was seeing. Maybe this was an experimental aircraft from nearby White Sands Proving Grounds.


He was still on the radio when he stopped for a second time and stepped outside. The microphone slipped from his hand. As he picked it up, he heard two or three loud thumps, "like someone hammering or shutting a door or doors, heard possibly a second or less apart." He quickly placed the microphone back into its slot, then got out again. At that moment a roar filled his ears. In the terse words of the police report he soon would file:


"Started low frequency quickly, then rose in frequency (higher tone) and in loudness - from loud to very loud. At same time as roar saw flame. Flame was under the object. Object was starting to go straight up - slowly up... straight up. Flame was light blue and at bottom was sort of orange color. From this angle, saw what might be the side of object (not end, as first noted). Difficult to describe flame. Thought, from roar, it might blow up. Flame might have come from underside of object, at middle, possibly a four-feet area - very rough guess... No smoke, except dust in immediate area.


Object was smooth - no windows or doors. As roar started it was still on or near ground. Noted red lettering of some type... Insignia about 2 1/2 by 2 feet wide, guess. Was in middle of object... Object still like aluminum - white."


When this was happening, Zamora was within 50 feet of the object. As soon as he saw the flame, "I immediately thought the thing might explode," he told ufologist Ray Stanford, "so I hit the dirt in a prone position there on the slope for a moment until I heard the roar continue and knew there was no explosion." During that moment he felt some faint heat from the flame. He rose and dashed to the car, watching the object all the while. Because his attention was elsewhere, he collided with the rear of the car and was knocked down. His glasses and sunshades went flying. Staggering to his feet, he kept running, determined to get himself positioned behind the car. To quote from his report:


"Kept running to north, with car between me and object. Glanced back couple of times. Noted object to rise to about level of car, about 20 to 25 feet guess - took, I guess, about six seconds when object started rise and I glanced back. I guess I ran about halfway to where I ducked down, just over the edge of hill. I guess I had run about 25 feet when I glanced back and saw the object about level with the car and it appeared directly over the place where it rose from." I was still running and I jumped just over the hill - I stopped because I did not hear the roar. I was scared of the roar, and I had planned to continue running down the hill. I turned around toward the object and at the same time put my head toward ground, covering my face with arms. Being that there was no roar, I looked up, and I saw the object going away from me, in a southwest direction. When the roar stopped, heard a sharp tone whine from high tone to low tone. At the end of roar was this whine and the whine lasted maybe a second. Then there was complete silence about the object. That's when I lifted up my head and saw object going away from me. It did not come any closer to me. It appeared to go in a straight line and at same height - possibly 10 to 15 feet from the ground, and it cleared the dynamite shack by about 3 feet. Shack about 8 feet high. Object was traveling very fast. It seemed to rise up, and take off immediately across country. I ran back to my car and as I ran back I kept an eye on the object. I picked up my glasses (I left the sunglasses on the ground), got into the car, and radioed to Nep Lopez, radio operator, to "look out of the window, to see if you can see an object." He asked, "What is it?" I answered, "It looks like a balloon." I don't know if he saw it. If Nep looked out of his window, which faces north, he couldn't have seen it. I did not tell him at the moment which window to look out of.


As I was calling Nep, I could still see the object. The object seemed to lift up slowly, and to "get small" in the distance very fast. It seemed to just clear Box Canyon or Six Mile Canyon mountain. It disappeared as it went over the mountains. It had no flame whatsoever as it was travelling over the ground, and made no smoke or noise.


Noted no odors. Noted no sounds other than described. Gave directions to Nep Lopez at radio and to Sgt M.S. Chavez to get there. Went down to where object was (had been), and I noted the brush was burning in several places. At that time, I heard Sgt. Chavez calling me on radio for my location, and I returned to my car, told him he was looking at me. Then Sgt. Chavez came up and asked me what the trouble was, because I was sweating and he told me I was white, very pale. I asked the Sergeant to see what I saw, and that was the burning bush, then Sgt. Chavez and I went to the spot, and Sgt. Chavez pointed out the tracks."


The entire incident - from the sighting of the flame to the disappearance of the object - took place in less than two minutes. When Chavez arrived, he was struck by Zamora's distraught expression. "You look like you've seen the devil," Chavez said. "Maybe I have," Zamora replied. He no longer was thinking in terms of secret military devices.

The "tracks" were four asymmetrically placed, trapezoidal imprints. Stanford, who saw them, described them thus:

"They apparently made by wedge-shaped units being forced, by great weight, down into the rather well-packed soil of the ravine. The dimensions of each wedge involved must have been: a horizontal length of 12 to 16 inches, a width, horizontally, of 6 to 8 inches; and a vertical wedge - depth of possibly 4 to 6 inches, although the total depth is difficult to determine from the soil depressions."


The local newspaper observed, "They did not appear to have been made by an object striking the earth with great force, but by an object of considerable weight settling to earth at slow speed and not moving after touching the ground." The imprints also felt moist to the touch, unlike the surrounding soil.


Lonnie Zamora's sketch of small, mysterious footprints near the UFO landing site in Socorro.
Officer Lonnie Zamora's sketch of small, mysterious footprints near the UFO landing site in Socorro.

To Chavez, though he had known Zamora for years and considered him honest and reliable, the story seemed mindboggling and impossible. Chavez examined a greasewood bush situated approximately in the center of the quadrangle. Though a smoke, or steamlike substance was rising from it, it felt cool to the touch. Rocks and clumps of grass looked as if they had been seared. There was no evidence of flame or coals; yet, as an officer who saw the bush a few minutes later would remark, "The flame from that damn thing just sliced that greasewood bush in half, just burned it off clean like a blade of fire had cut through it." Chavez surreptitiously looked into Zamora's car to see if it contained any implements with which the effects could have been manufactured, but he found nothing.


Zamora, who had sketched the insignia just prior to Chavez's arrival on the scene, showed it to his fellow officer. It was peculiar: an arrow shape pointing upward from a straight-line base; a half-circle surrounded the arrow and came down nearly all the way to the base. Neither man had ever seen anything like it. Within minutes State Police Senior Patrolman Ted V. Jordan arrived, as did Undersheriff James Luckie and cattle inspector Robert White, who had overheard the radio traffic. Jordan took photographs of the site with his Argus C-3 camera. The group stayed at the site until just before 7 p.m., when Chavez and Zamora left to go to the state police office. Having restored their shattered nerves, the two were back to speculating that the object had come from White Sands, the size of its pilots notwithstanding, and they were looking for guidance on what to do next. They arrived there at 7:05.


Other Witnesses


Just before 6 p.m. on April 24, a car pulled into the Whiting Brother's service station in Socorro. Inside were five members of a family: a man, a woman, and three boys, the oldest of them appearing to be 11 or 12 years old. The man spoke to Opal Grinder, manager of the establishment. "Your aircraft sure fly low around here," he said. An "airplane," he went on, "almost took the roof off our car" just minutes before. They had been on the south side of town, driving north on Highway 85, north of the airport, and within sight of a junkyard when they saw the aircraft. The man told Grinder that the craft apparently was in trouble because at the same time he had seen a police car pull off the main road and travel up a hill along the flight path. When Grinder suggested he had seen a helicopter, the man replied that if that was so, it was certainly a funny-looking helicopter. It was only two days later, when Grinder heard of Zamora's encounter, that he understood that his customer had independently witnessed Zamora's UFO. The man had paid in cash, so there was no credit-card receipt with which to trace him. Grinder's son Jimmy thought he recalled that the car had a Colorado license plate. Though Zamora's experience would be widely publicized, these witnesses have never stepped forward to identify themselves.


In his book on the case, Socorro Saucer, Ray Stanford mentions a phone call an Albuquerque television station took just before 5:30 p.m. The caller claimed to have just seen an egg, or oval-shaped UFO traveling southward at a speed compared to that of an ordinary propeller-driven aircraft. Stanford speculates that this was the UFO, also reported as relatively slow-moving, that Zamora would see less than half an hour later (Socorro is 70 miles straight south of Albuquerque).


Stanford also mentions a meeting with two women who lived on the south side of Socorro and who claimed to have heard the roaring sound associated with the object, though they did not see the object itself. The women said that many other residents of the area had also heard the sounds, and someone in the sheriff's department told Stanford the same thing. He did not interview any of these other witnesses, however.


There were still more witnesses, according to information that would surface years later when the individuals involved could no longer be traced. In a 1995 interview, Ted Jordan recalled a sighting related to him by Robert Dusenberry, who worked for the Socorro Electric Corporation. Dusenberry said he and two other men had been traveling in a car near the landing site when they witnessed what apparently was the UFOs departure. Dusenberry kept his experience to himself and later related it to Jordan, a friend.



Sometime between 8 and 8:30 p.m. a master sergeant driving south from Stallion Range Center, the up-range (northern) station of the White Sands Missile Range, spotted a light-blue glow tipped with orange at the bottom. It was in the mountains some miles to his west from his location near Las Cruces. When the glow intensified, his car engine died, and the electrical system failed. The sergeant, a master mechanic who was in charge of the center's vehicle-repair shop, was startled; he had made sure the car was in perfect operating condition before he left. He stepped out of the car and watched the glow for a short time before it faded out. As it did so, the car started again. When he got to the main station, he had the car carefully checked. There was nothing wrong with it.


The witness was some miles southeast of Socorro. The glow, which arguably could have been from the bluish "cone of flame" Zamora first saw (as, apparently, did others), was situated in the mountains to the southwest of Socorro - the direction it was going when Zamora lost sight of it. It is possible, in other words, that the sergeant observed the same UFO.

Investigations


When Zamora and Chavez arrived at the state police station early that evening, Zamora spoke briefly with FBI agent Arthur Byrnes, Jr., who had heard about the incident over the police radio. Just after 7 o'clock Byrnes contacted White Sands, and the officer who took the call immediately notified Army Captain Richard T. Holder, commander of the up-range station. Holder, 28, was the senior military officer in the immediate area.


Within a few minutes, Holder and Byrnes were talking directly, and Holder headed for police headquarters, where he and Byrnes interviewed Zamora. Soon they and several Socorro police officers were at the site. After studying the area, the group returned to the station. At that point dispatcher Lopez mentioned that approximately three reports had come over the phone from locals who said they had seen a blue flame of light in the area. These sightings occurred, he said, around the time of Zamora's encounter. Unfortunately, he did not enter the reports in the dispatcher's log. Holder subsequently told the Socorro newspaper, "After being appraised of the situation, I attempted to determine whether White Sands Missile Range or Holloman Air Force Base had anything that might produce the conditions described. Neither had an object that would compare to the object described. There was no known firing mission in progress at the time of the occurrence that would produce the conditions reported."


That evening Holder called in military policemen from the Stallion station. Working by flashlight, they roped off the site, took measurements, and collected samples. Holder would recall, "I saw rocks that were normal on one side and charred on the other. There were bushes alive on one side, but when you'd touch them, the other side would flake to ash. When an object blasts off by rocket or jet propulsion, there's usually damage or debris in the area. But there was no indication of that type of disturbance." Holder also noticed that the geometric pattern of the "footprints" was "very similar to the geometric pattern of the vehicular prints. They were some distance from the object, about the size of a footprint that a bigfooted teenager would make.


The next morning Holder was surprised to get a call from a colonel who said he was phoning from the war room of the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the Pentagon. He wanted to know if Holder had prepared a report on the incident. When he said he had, he was ordered to read it into the scrambler. He had just begun to do so when the connection was broken. Still wondering what he, a young captain at a remote post, was doing talking with someone in such a high position in the national-security establishment, Holder phoned the war room, spoke again with the colonel, and then got reconnected onto the scrambler, Years later he was still wondering, "Why in the world were they so interested?"


The publicity, which would be massive once the story hit the press wires, started hours later, and over the next couple of days, many hundreds of curiosity-seekers had descended on the site, wiping out much of the surviving physical evidence. On Sunday, the twenty-sixth, Jim and Coral Lorenzen, directors of the Tucson-based Aerial Phenomena Research Organization (APRO), were in Socorro. So were T/Sgt. David Moody of Project Blue Book and Kirtland AFB UFO-reporting officer Major William Conner. Moody and Conner checked the area for radioactivity and detected nothing unusual. They also failed to uncover any radar confirmation of the object's passing. This was not significant. Because it was a Friday evening, the radars at Stallion - used for testing purposes, not for air defense - were off. Even had they been on, it would have been extremely difficult to track an object moving against a mountain background.


On Tuesday, April 28, Stanford arrived to investigate the case for the National Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenomena (NICAP). Early that afternoon Blue Book scientific consultant and Northwestern University astronomer J.Allen Hynek boarded a plane for New Mexico two hours after getting a call from the project's commanding officer, Captain Hector Quintanilla.


Hynek, who had been associated with Air Force UFO projects since the late 1940s, was growing increasingly disenchanted with what he saw as the inept handling of the phenomenon. Ironically, Hynek, along with one of his graduate students, had been at Blue Book headquarters at Wright-Patterson AFB, Dayton, Ohio, visiting Quintanilla at the very moment - unknown, of course, to any of them - Zamora's encounter was taking place. The graduate student, Jacques Vallee, had been actively encouraging the older man to take a fresh look at the UFO evidence and to distance himself from the Air Force's negative party line. By now the traditionally cautious Hynek was receptive not only to Vallee's entreaties but to the Socorro event, which appeared to be an unusually promising and evidential UFO case.


In a private memorandum written on May 20, Hynek expressed his disdain for the situation at Blue Book. "The Air Force is in a spot over Socorro," he noted. Quintanilla was trying to evade congressional pressure by offering a "vague statement identifying the object as an unspecified U.S. experimental aircraft," but in Hynek's estimation that "won't go down... The AF doesn't know what science is."


Arriving at the Albuquerque airport at mid-afternoon, Hynek was met by Major Conner. On the drive to Socorro, the Air Force vehicle got a flat tyre. It had no jack, so Hynek was forced to hitchhike the rest of the way. The symbolism of this seems a little too perfect. Hynek was happy to get there "before the AF people." According to the memo:


"Found Zamora & Chavez were very anti-AF. I got rid of the AF people & got the story from them that night at the jail. (A slow process - they were not eager to talk at first.) The next morning we went & reenacted it at the spot. A NICAP person (Ray Stanford) was already there & lent me some bottles for taking specimens. I had brought nothing. Z. is an unimaginative cop of an old Socorro family, incapable of hoax, and pretty sore at being regarded as a romancer. It took at least 1/2 an hour to thaw him out...


The marks left on the ground: 4 rectangular scrapings as if a rectangular object had scraped along, digging into the ground - deeper at the end. The gouging was done away from the center in every case. The arrangement was not regular, but the diagonals were perfectly at right angles. When I was there this had been all tromped up in spite of a wall of stones that a Captain Holder, an Army "downrange officer," had carefully built around them.


Still, Hynek was impressed. "I think this case may be the 'Rosetta Stone'," he concluded. "There's never been a strong case with so unimpeachable a witness."


Investigations and Theories


On June 8 the Air Force issued an official two-page report on the case. The document, riddled with error, starts with the false claim that at the initiation of the sighting Zamora was going "north on US 85" when in fact he was going south on Park Street west of the highway. The report said the Blue Book investigation had determined the following:


  • No other witnesses to the object reported by Mr Zamora could be located.

  • There were no unidentified helicopters or aircraft in the area

  • Observers at radar installations had observed no unusual or unidentified blips.

  • There was no unusual meteorological activity; no thunderstorms. The weather was windy but clear.

  • There was no evidence of markings of any sort in the area other than the shallow depressions at the location where Mr Zamora reported sighting the object.

  • Laboratory analysis of soil samples disclosed no foreign material or radiation above normal for the surrounding area.

  • Laboratory analysis of the burned brush showed no chemicals that would indicate a type of propellant.

  • There was no evidence presented that the object was extraterrestrial in origin or represented a threat to the security of the United States.

  • The Air Force is continuing its investigation and the case is still open.


Where the alleged absence of other witnesses was concerned, Blue Book spoke with no real authority. Hynek would write that he had tried his best to persuade project personnel to conduct a search for possible witnesses, including the one with whom Opal Grinder claimed to have spoken, but "they evinced no interest whatsoever."



Hynek returned to Socorro on August 15 and again on March 12-13, 1965, but learned nothing new or significant. Most people, including Sergeant Chavez, now thought the object was a secret experimental device, a view that over the years would hold favor among those who could not accept the idea that Zamora had encountered an extraterrestrial spacecraft. (Zamora, reluctant to talk further, expressed no opinion.) Hynek found only one Socorro resident who considered Zamora, otherwise regarded as a man of upstanding character, a hoaxer. Felix Phillips, who lived about a thousand feet south of the landing site, reported that neither he nor his wife had heard the booming sounds Zamora described; therefore they doubted Zamora's veracity. Hynek was skeptical, however. As he wrote in an official memo on the trip:


"Phillips was directly downwind from the gully, there was a very strong southwest wind blowing, and the gully is on the opposite side of the hill from where Phillips was listening. This, of course, can make a tremendous difference in ability to hear. Further, there are trucks passing along the highway quite close to Phillip's house, and he undoubtedly is used to hearing backfires and truck roars of one sort or another."


No evidence of a hoax would ever emerge. Even Blue Book chief Quintanilla, writing in the classified CIA journal Studies in Intelligence, offered this endorsement of the case:


"There is no doubt that Lonnie Zamora saw an object which left quite an impression on him. There is no question about Zamora's reliability. He is a serious police officer, a pillar of his church, and a man well versed in recognizing airborne vehicles in his area. He is puzzled by what he saw and frankly, so are we. This is the best-documented case on record, and still, we have been unable, in spite of thorough investigation, to find the vehicle or other stimulus that scared Zamora to the point of panic."


Lonnie Zamora next to the apparent UFO landing site in Socorro
Lonnie Zamora next to the apparent UFO landing site in Socorro

Quintanilla was not endorsing the extraterrestrial interpretation, but he did not doubt that the officer had seen some sort of unusual aircraft. (Years later, however, in a memoir of his Blue Book years, Quintanilla, lamenting his inability to solve the case and the use "UFO buffs and hobby clubs" had made of the fact, intimated - without bringing any new or relevant information in the discussion - that Zamora had faked the sighting.)


The absence of evidence for a hoax did not discourage two UFO debunkers from proposing separate versions of a hoax hypothesis. In a letter to Hynek, Harvard University astronomer Donald H. Menzel outlined an elaborate scenario in which local high school students, using a balloon and various chemicals, "planned the whole business to 'get' Zamora." Hynek found no enthusiasm for this hypothesis among Socorro citizens to whom he showed the letter. In June 1970, debating ufologist Raymond E. Fowler on a Boston television show, Menzel opined that Zamora had seen a "dust devil."


Drawing on innuendo rather than on specific evidence, Philip J. Klass speculated that Zamora had conspired with Mayor Holm Bursum, Jr. (who owned the property on which the UFO landing reportedly occurred), to manufacture a UFO incident to attract tourists to the town. No such commercial exploitation ever took place, and there is no reason to take Klass's theory seriously. In an earlier interpretation, Klass had Zamora seeing an extraordinary plasma phenomenon associated with a nearby high-voltage transmission line.


Other Incidents


The Socorro event was not an isolated occurrence but only the most-publicized of a wave that began in the Southwest and soon spread throughout the country. At 9 p.m. on April 22, a car driving 10 or 15 miles east of Lordsburg, New Mexico, was paced by a large round light, as brilliant as a welder's torch and consisting of numerous lenslike lights. As it passed about 10 feet over the top of the car, it illuminated the interior of the vehicle and emitted a whirring, whining sound. The UFO then rose but maintained its course on the highway. Finally, it veered toward the north and was lost to sight. The sighting lasted no more than two or three minutes.


On the morning of the twenty-fifth, eighty miles southeast of Socorro, J.D. Hatch of Roswell was driving on U.S. 70 between Mescalero and Tularosa when a bright oval object descended from the sky and seemed to land on the other side of Round Mountain, east of Tularosa. That evening two motorists driving between Abiquiu and Espanola on U.S. 84, in north-central New Mexico (Socorro is in the west-central part of the state) reported that a strange object, definitely not a plane, flew straight toward their car before shooting away. All they could see of it was a blue-flamed jet stream.


None of these reports received the attention or extensive investigation the Socorro report received. This neglect is particularly unfortunate in the case of Orlando Gallegos, a 35-year-old Santa Fe resident who had an odd encounter while he and his family were visiting his father's ranch just north of La Madera, a remote community a few miles north of the just-mentioned U.S. 84 sighting location and 170 miles north of Socorro. At 1 a.m. on the twenty-sixth, Gallegos stepped outside to chase away some horses that had run into the yard. This accomplished, he happened to look out toward the Vallecitos creek bank some 300 yards away. There, resting on a spot between a dumping area and a dirt road, he saw a peculiar structure.


It looked like a butane tank "as long as a telephone pole." It was metallic, windowless, about 14 feet in diameter, and shooting blue flames out of holes in the sides along the bottom. Over the next minute, the flame suddenly died out. At no time did the object make any sound. When he went inside to report it, he was laughed at. Finally, he went to bed, and when he checked in the morning, the object was gone.


Before leaving La Madera that afternoon, Gallegos told City Officer Nick Naranjo about the incident and soon was telling his story to State Police Officers Marvin Romero and David Kingsbury. They, in turn, notified State Police Captain Martin E. Vigil, who dispatched another officer, Albert Vega, to the site. At 7:30 p.m. Vigil and Kingsbury joined him there. Vigil would recall: "At that time, the ground was still smouldering and badly scorched. Officer Vega advised that he had observed four depressions on the ground, one of which was quite clear, the others having been obliterated due to windy weather conditions. Officer Vega stated that this depression was approximately eight by twelve inches in size, about three or four inches deep, and sort of "V" shaped at the bottom.


There were also numerous oval-shaped, or "cat-paw like", markings around the scorched area. These were approximately three and one-half inches in diameter."


Vigil saw to it that Kirtland AFB, Albuquerque, and the FBI heard about the incident. So did Major William Conner, who had also been involved in the Air Force investigation at Socorro. On the twenty-seventh Conner went to the site with Gallegos. The same day Santa Fe new Mexican reporter Doyle Akers examined the spot, which he described as follows:


"At the scene itself, the charred area was a peculiar shape, like two overlapping circles. It was about 20 feet across. Large rocks within the area showed evidence of extreme heat, while others within a few feet weren't damaged at all. A soft drink bottle had melted while another five feet away was intact. An attempt to set fire to chamisa brush nearby failed."


Vega recalled that late the previous evening he had sent a group of drunken young people home from a dance in nearby Ojo Caliente. They would have passed by the La Madera site, but when Vega asked them, they said they had seen nothing out of the ordinary. When he himself first came to the spot, it was still smoking. "That area just wouldn't start burning from a match or a cigarette," Vega said. "You'd have to have some kind of gasoline or chemical to make it burn like that. But I don't think anybody would be out starting a fire a 1 o'clock in the morning."



Blue Book explained the incident as having been occasioned by a fire set in the dumping ground. Its investigation was cursory, and Hynek, who was interested in the case, was refused authorization to go to La Madera. In 1970, a United Press International dispatch quoted Emilio Naranjo, who in April 1964 had been Rio Arriba County sheriff, as asserting, "Our investigation showed that three or four young boys had been washing a car at the river and started a fire to burn the rags they had used. That was the flying saucer Gallegos saw." Nothing in Gallegos's testimony or in the reports of those who saw the physical evidence the next day provides much support for this claim.


It is tempting to link the La Madera blue-flame-spewing object with the UFO seen not far away and just two hours earlier. Unfortunately, the absence of a comprehensive investigation leaves this potentially significant case in limbo.


Let us know your opinions on the Lonnie Zamora UFO incident at Socorro in the comments section below. Now you have read this article, take the time to look at Pascagoula Alien Abduction Case: In 1973 Two Men Claimed To Be Abducted By Extraterrestrial Beings.