Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Socorro, New Mexico UFO Landing

Officer Lonnie Zamora’s UFO sighting near the town of Socorro, New Mexico (USA) on April 24, 1964, stands as one of the most intriguing UFO events in modern history. Police officers are usually considered credible eyewitnesses, and what he observed from up-close in broad daylight, in an open field, make the case even more intriguing. This encounter is also one of the best documented events with physical trace evidence and several witnesses.

The car chase:

On the above date, at approximately 5:45 pm, Sergeant Lonnie Zamora (31 years old at the time) was performing his town patrol duties when he observed a black Chevy speeding through the town. Patrolman Zamora gave chase and proceeded to the edge of town and out into the desert in pursuit of the speeding vehicle. Suddenly, the officer thought he heard an explosion, a loud roar in the distance, accompanied by a bluish, orange flame rising into the air. He knew that there was a dynamite shack not too far from him and thought that it may have exploded. The officer broke off the chase and drove towards the “explosion” to investigate.

Two small humanoid figures:

He made his way up a rough embankment and began moving slowly along a narrow gravel road that ran beside a small arroyo (a shallow dry gully). From this vantage point, in the distance he noticed a shining white object in the arroyo. He first thought that it might be an overturned car and its gas tank had exploded. Officer Zamora radioed his headquarters for backup, and assistance then stopped the car to investigate. It was at this point that he saw what he described as two small figures in white coveralls walking around it. As he drove around to get a closer look from about 100 feet, one of the little men in white overalls appeared startled at his approach and seemed to "jump somewhat".

Then the officer heard several loud metallic “thumps” or “slams”, like doors closing. The officer left the patrol car and walked towards the gully, he noticed that the object was not an upturned car but a white elongated oval shaped craft with "girder-like" legs and with red markings on the hull. Officer Zamora made several attempts to contact headquarters again but couldn’t break through the heavy static.

The UFO leaves:

In that instant there was a loud roar and a bluish flame shot out from the underside of the object. Officer Zamora astonished did not hesitate...he hit the ground thinking it was about to explode, crawled behind his car and radioed his friend, Sergeant Sam Chavez, of the New Mexico State Police. He told Officer Chavez on the radio to come fast and to come alone. He heard a whirring noise and watched the object rise up out of the arroyo. The craft lifted up 20 to 30 feet up in the air and hovered there for a while. The flame and the “legs” were no longer visible. As he watched, the now-silent vehicle moved west traveling parallel to the ground, moving slowly and picking up speed as it left the area.

Officer Chavez arrives:

Officer Chavez arrived quickly after hearing Zamora’s frantic call and found him excited and scared. He explained to Officer Chavez what he had just witnessed and drew the craft and the markings he saw on it on a piece of paper. Officer Zamora reluctantly went down the arroyo with Officer Chavez to investigate. Both officers found a half burned bush and four angular indentations on the sandy ground where the craft had landed. The indentations were 9 inches deep, 9 inches long and 8 inches wide. They began looking for human tracks or shoe prints, but nothing was found. The only thing they saw on the ground was impressions made by perfect circles.

Further inspection of the landing site:

Within 90 minutes, US army officials at nearby White Sands Missile Range sent Captain Richard T. Holder to investigate. At the site, Captain Holder noticed the unusual impressions left in the sand. On the edge of the landing area he found a bush burned to a crisp, but only on one side as though seared by a blowtorch. The landing site area was considered sensitive and no one was permitted in the area. State trooper Ted Jordan was taking pictures of the landing site, but his camera and films were confiscated on the spot. The next morning police was back at the scene and Air Force personnel were also there with Geiger counters. Sergeant Sam Chavez was able to take several photos of the area that morning.

The period following the sighting in 1964 the small town of Socorro, New Mexico was literally “invaded” by journalists and UFO researchers. This included officials from the US Air Force Project Blue Book, investigators from the civilian UFO study group NICAP and noted skeptics. The story received national and international media attention. To this very day Socorro remains one of the most well-known UFO incidents in history.

Dr. J. Allen Hynek Investigates:

The late American astronomer, professor and ufologist, Dr. J. Allen Hynek stated that besides the ample evidence at the scene to verify the sighting, Zamora himself was known as a reliable police officer, family and church man, and well-liked around the city. He was forthcoming with his view of the incident to all of the investigators. His account of the strange object landing was accepted as fact by Dr. J. Allen Hynek, who was representing the U.S. Air Force Project Blue Book at the time. This would become one of Hynek and Blue Book's most famous cases. Zamora made a drawing of the red insignia that he had seen on the craft.

Other witnesses:

Several independent witnesses reported either an "egg" shaped craft or a bluish flame at roughly the same time and in the same area — some of them within minutes of Zamora's encounter, before word of it had spread.

1) Two tourists named Paul Kies and Larry Kratzer, who were approaching Socorro in their car from the southwest, less than a mile from the landing site. They apparently witnessed either the landing or takeoff and reported seeing the flame and brownish dust being kicked up. Their story was reported in the Dubuque, Iowa Telegraph-Herald a few days later after their return.

2) A family of five tourists from Colorado headed north also saw the oval object as it approached Socorro at a very low altitude, going east to west just south of town. It passed directly over their car only a few feet above it. After the encounter, the tourists stopped for gas in Socorro. Their identity was never discovered, but the story was learned from the service station operator, Opal Grinder, who reported the incident at the time and later signed an affidavit in 1967. According to Grinder, the husband told him "Your aircraft sure fly low around here!" and that the object almost took the roof off their car. The man thought it was in trouble since it came down west of the highways instead of the nearby airport to the south. He saw the police car headed up the hill towards it with the lights and siren on, he thought it was going to render assistance.

3) Another witness called an Albuquerque television station around 5:30 p.m. to report an oval object at low altitude traveling slowly south towards Socorro. Several other stories appeared in New Mexico newspapers in succeeding days of other sightings of oval-shaped objects, including another landing case with burned soil near La Madera in northern N.M. Also similar to the Socorro incident, the FBI report on the La Madera case further noted the witness reporting a blue-white flame associated with the object, four rectangular, V-shaped landing marks, and several circular marks about 4 inches in diameter.

4) There were a large number of aural witnesses to the object's loud roar during takeoff and landing. One member of the Socorro sheriff's office said that "hundreds of persons" on the south side of town had heard it. The two women, who heard the roar just before 6 p.m., said that there were two distinct roars, maybe a minute or so apart.

5) In addition to the above witnesses, there were three other persons who called the police dispatcher immediately following the incident, before it was ever publicized, reporting a bright flame. In October 2009, it was revealed that Sgt. Chavez, the first policeman to provide backup for Zamora, had privately confided to fellow police officers that he too had seen the object rapidly departing to the west over the mountains as he approached the site. However, in public statements, Chavez was firm that he arrived too late to see the object. When Chavez first arrived at the scene within a minute or two after the object had departed, he also noted that burnt bushes were still smoldering and Zamora appeared to be in a state of shock.

6) Multiple policemen arrived soon after to help investigate, including Ted Jordan and James Luckie. All noted fresh burning at the site. Luckie and Chavez were quoted in the Socorro newspaper saying that clumps of grass and burned greasewood bushes were "still hot" when they arrived. Chavez was also quoted saying that dry grass was still "smoldering" as were the greasewood plants. Jordan later filled out a sworn statement saying, "When I arrived, greasewood branches were still smoking." Zamora was likewise quoted about the green bush "burned bare by exhaust heat" and that it was "still smoking several minutes after the craft's departure." The FBI report written by the agent on the scene within two hours similarly reported that all first responders noted "four irregularly shaped smoldering areas."

7) Chavez was again quoted in an Air Force report written two days later about smoking brush. “Chavez then went to the area were the craft or thing was supposedly sighted and found four fresh indentations in the ground and several charred or burned bushes. Smoke appeared to come from the bush and he assumed it was burning, however no coals were visible and the charred portions of the bush were cold to the touch.”

8) Chavez was further reported securing the area and scouring the ground looking for the presence of other human activity. He could find no other tire tracks besides Zamora's and was "adamant" that there was no other "track activity" (footprints or other marks) in the area. In addition, Chavez was also quoted in the report saying that the indentations appeared to be new: "He stated that the marks were definitely 'fresh', and the dirt showed evidence of 'dew' or moisture."

9) Similarly, several policemen later stated that whatever had produced the rectangular, wedge-shaped landing traces appeared to have penetrated into the moist subsoil, as the bottoms of the traces were moist for several hours, suggesting that the traces were freshly made. Hynek also commented on the freshness of the soil impressions in a letter to astronomer Donald Menzel: "I have the word of nine witnesses who saw the marks within hours of the incident, who tell me the center of the marks, were moist as though the topsoil had been freshly pushed aside."

10) The FBI investigator also observed that the rectangular marks "seemed to have been made by an object going into the earth at an angle from a center line" pushing "some earth to the far side." Also observed were "three circular marks in the earth which were small, approximately four inches in diameter and penetrated in the sandy earth approximately one-eighth of an inch." Speculation was that these were ladder indentations for the crew to exit and enter the craft.

Was it a Hoax?

The so-called "Socorro UFO hoax exposed", and that the sighting was a “college prank” the only thing I can say is, yeah, right! This is probably an attempt by those who publicized it on the Internet for personal gain. The allegation out there on the Internet is that it was an elaborate school prank by some school kids. Well, it couldn’t have been because Sgt. Zamora saw with his own eyes the craft takeoff. Unless those kids had an advance technological know-how to create a vehicle that would takeoff in a roar and fly silently across the state of New Mexico in excess of 150 miles an hours and being witnessed by people across the state, then I’d believe it. If it were true, they should have worked for NASA to help the US win the “Space Race” against the Soviet Union during the Cold War at that time and not live in the small town of Socorro.

Was it the Lunar Lander?

Some also assert that it may have been a Lunar Lander (or Lunar Module). Below are two photos one of the Lunar Module and the other one, the object described by Officer Zamora. See the difference? Police Officers are trained eyewitnesses. He first thought that it was an overturned car, but when he looked closely, he identified it as being an oval shaped object. I am certain that Officer Zamora would have certainly known the difference.


During repeated examinations of the landing site, investigators try to find out if they can see any evidence or things that would make them think that it was a hoax, they found nothing. Everything they saw seems to support the story that Officer Zamora recounted. The officer was mystified and wanted an explanation. Nothing that investigators heard of later gave them the slightest hint that he did that as a hoax, or cooked it up for fame or fortune.

According to the late American astronomer, professor and ufologist, Dr. J. Allen Hynek: “the Socorro UFO landing is the “Rosetta Stone”. There has never been a stronger case and a more impeachable witness as Lonnie Zamora. The physical trace evidence is extremely compelling, but the most persuasive argument for a genuine UFO sighting is Lonnie Zamora himself”. Lonnie Zamora passed away on November 2, 2009 in Socorro from a heart attack.




There are FBI files that report Lonnie Zamora's sighting of the UFO, with some of the cable being blacked out. It has been on the internet. An aquaintence had a personal interview with Lonnie Zamora. He states that Lonnie said it really happened, and it really shocked him when he saw the landed UFO. Upon seeing Lonnie, the EBEs became very agitated and immediately made preparations to go up the ladder and depart quickly. He stated that the worst decision he ever made was reporting the UFO sighting. His life was not normal for then on. People from around the world would come asking for interviews,and for him to tell the story of the "Flying Saucer". He finally refused to talk to anyone, or give interviews. The symbol supposedly drawn by artists a few different ways by the media on the side of the craft was not the real symbol he really saw, The craft and the EBEs he saw were not from Earth, and he was emphatic about this. His honesty and reputation is impeccable in Socorro, New Mexico.

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Although there have been many unexplained sightings in the town of Lajas, the situation there has been hyped by the amount of lies and exaggeration by a group of so-called, "ufologists" who ignore other areas of Puerto Rico to promote tourism in Lajas. That was evident when my wife and my daughter confronted a terrifying experience in the town of Aguada with extraterrestrials and that group of charlatans refused our plea for help. Of course, if it happened in Lajas they would have jumped on the opportunity for fame and tourism for that town. Those hoaxes and lies were approved and sanctioned by the then mayor of that town who named route 303 "The extraterrestrial route". The idea of building an "UFOport" (ovnipuerto), “la llorona sightings" and the biggest hoax of them all, "that a UFO crashed there" all this could only be found in a science fiction novel.

By Nelson C. Rivera
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The dancing alien

The back of United States Quarters depicting Puerto Rico

About me

Ufologist, criminal investigator, musician, artist and writer.

I worked 20 years for the New York City Department of Correction. First as a Correction Officer for 4 years, Captain for 12 years, and as a Deputy Warden for 4 years. As a law enforcement officer and supervisor, I have conducted countless of criminal investigations, some for unimaginable allegations.

On June of 2005, after my retirement, I moved to Puerto Rico with my family where my wife and my daughter faced extraordinary experiences with extraterrestrials. These alien encounters, subsequent abductions of my wife and the lack of help from so-called, "ufologists" here on the island, prompted me to become involved in the field of ufology and in the need to help others who have had similar experiences.


PRUFON, Puerto Rico UFO Network, Inc., is a nonprofit organization which conducts serious no nonsense UFO investigations. Our aim is to find the truth and answers to some of the toughest questions pertaining to UFO sightings, alien encounters and alien abductions, etc. We are not affiliated with any other ufology organization in Puerto Rico or in the world. PRUFON was founded in the city of Aguadilla, Puerto Rico on September of 2009 to share with the public what we have accomplished and researched in the related fields of ufology.

This internet network (PRUFON.com) offers a different perspective on life, and works hard to keep you informed about unexplained phenomena occurring on the island of Puerto Rico and in the Caribbean. We collect and gather information dealing with the Unidentified Flying Objects (UFOs) and other unusual events that the mainstream news media and science fail to expose to the public, fail to study or acknowledge.

Any unusual encounter or sighting that you have had and wish an investigation and/or wish to publish it on this website, contact PRUFON at prufon@gmail.com. You will remain anonymous if you state it in writing.

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