High Strangeness: UFO Puzzler: Insect or Egg?

Monday, January 19, 2015

UFO Puzzler: Insect or Egg?

Along with the new archive of Project Blue Book documents available here, there's been some interesting discussion at a neighboring blog UFO Conjecture(s) about what those documents have to say about the famous 1964 Lonnie Zamora Case. In this incident, a policeman named Lonnie Zamora, from the central New Mexico town of Socorro, was on patrol when he saw a flame from a nearby arroyo. On investigation, he saw a white, egg-shaped vehicle standing on spidery legs with two diminutive humanoid occupants in white jump suits beside it. Apparently realizing they had been seen, the two occupants got inside the craft, launched it straight into the sky on a plume of flame, and flew away into the distance.

What Zamora thought he saw...
The case got a lot of press, in no small part because Officer Zamora was such a solid, dependable witness, and because there was corroborating testimony to back him up. Because any solid sighting was a potential source of embarrassment to the Air Force, Project Blue Book put a lot of effort into investigating this puzzler. Blue Book sent Dr. J. Allen Hynek and his associate Bill Powers to Socorro to meet with Zamora and inspect the "landing site" while the body was still warm, so to speak.

Blogger RR finds a lot of evidence in the newly archived Blue Book files suggesting that the craft Officer Zamora saw was in fact an experimental NASA lunar lander, and it's clear from the files that Blue Book took a serious look at this possibility. Indeed, there is an abundance of evidence that Bell Aero Systems and other defense contractors were working on such vehicles at the time. For some, this explains the case rather tidily: NASA was testing a lunar lander at a nearby base; Zamora got a glimpse of the classified technology and the government tried to hush it up the best it could.
What some people think Zamora saw...

That explanation holds some appeal, in an Occam-y Razor-y way, but I have some reason to question it. First of all, I interviewed Bill Powers shortly before he died in 2013, and he shared some insights from his and Hynek's Zamora investigation (that I will recount in my Hynek bio) that put an interesting spin on the case. Second of all, there are just too many loose ends to the NASA lunar lander hypothesis that bother me...

  • The nearest NASA facility to Socorro is the White Sands Test Facility, just outside of Las Cruces. White Sands, which was newly-opened around the time of Zamora's sighting, is well over 100 miles from Socorro. I have a hard time believing that any experimental lunar lander could travel over 100 miles from base, and even it it could, why would it? Give me one good reason! I seriously doubt that NASA ever entertained plans to fly over 100 miles across the moon's surface with its lunar lander. Neil and Buzz went down, they came up, that's it.
  • It is well-known to the geniuses at NASA that the moon's gravity is about 1/6th that of earth. So why test a lunar lander that needs to work against earth gravity, 6 times the gravitational pull that the working model would need to negotiate? NASA would need to design, engineer and build the test lander to be immensely more massive and powerful than the real thing. Is that likely?
  • As we all know, NASA's real lunar landers came in two parts. Both parts landed on the moon, but only one part left the moon. Why? It was all about efficiency: the landing platform was dead weight once the vehicle landed on the moon, so it was designed to be used once and abandoned. Zamora's vehicle did not leave any part of it behind. Now it's true that the Blue Book evidence shows that at least some of the lander prototypes tested by NASA were a one-piece design, but that leads us to my last point...
  • The one-piece Bell Aero design seen here is able to function as a single unit because it is a lightweight, spidery thing, all struts and beams. There is no hull, no shell, no fuselage, no scientific equipment, no huge mass of rocket fuel, and, crucially, no pressurized passenger environment. Not only does this insectoid craft not look anything at all like the egg-shaped object Officer Zamora described, it can only hold one pilot. To me, that's the kicker right there, as you will recall that Zamora saw two (2) beings outside his craft.

Does that prove anything? Perhaps not, but it leaves the Zamora case very much an open book to my way of seeing things.

And then there's this one nagging detail that no one ever seems to consider (and which I very much regret not having asked Bill Powers about): At one point, Officer Zamora said that when he first caught sight of the UFO in the arroyo, it appeared to be an "overturned white car ... up on radiator or on trunk"... How does that jibe with his later description of the vehicle as egg-shaped...?

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