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The Zamora case, Soccoro, New Mexico, USA, 1964:

This famous event happened to Lonnie Zamora, a police officer, near Socorro, New Mexico, April 24, 1964. This is a close encounter of the third kind that Project Blue Book classifies as "unexplained". There are FOIA released documents (see bottom of page) that indicate that there were little doubt at the FBI, the SAC and Project Blue Book that Officer Zamora has really encountered alien beings.

Ellipse shaped UFO leaves landing marks:

While chasing a speeding car at about 5:45 p.m., Officer Lonnie Zamora of the Socorro Police Department heard a roar and saw flame in the sky to the southwest. Thinking that a dynamite shack in that area must have blown up, he abandoned the chase and went to investigate. As he approached the arroyo on unpaved roads he saw an elliptical object resting on legs in a gully. A red "insignia" or emblem was visible on the side toward him, and standing near it were two humanoid figures.

Zamora did not comprehend what he was seeing, so he reported in to the dispatcher that he would be out of his car "checking the car down in the arroyo." As he got out of his car he heard two or three loud "thumps," like someone slamming a door. The beings were no longer visible. The craft took off with a loud roar and blast of flames, and when it cleared the ground, rising straight up, it came silent, leveled off and flew away horizontally. Then it rose at a slight angle and accelerated until it disappeared in the distance over the mountains, just clearing Six Mile Canyon Mountain.

After Zamora called the dispatcher to report the incident, Sergeant M.S. Chavez of the State Police was directed to the site as back-up. While waiting for Chavez, Zamora noticed that the underbrush was burning in several places. In his later report to Army investigators, Zamora described what happened next:

"Then Sergeant Chavez came up, 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 brush. Then Sergeant Chavez and I went to the spot, and Sergeant Chavez pointed out the tracks."

Socorro Deputy Sheriff James Luckie arrived a few minutes after Chavez, and he also confirmed the imprints and the still-smoking foliage.

Zamora had not paid much attention to the "legs" on the object at the time, but now they took on new significance. Four squarish indentations arranged in a trapezoidal pattern were visible. Four burned areas, three of them within the pattern of imprints, also were noted. Several small, shallow circular indentations adjacent to the other markings are labeled "footprints" in the Air Force case file.

The first military investigator on the scene, on April 25, was Army Captain Richard T. Holder, Up-Range Commander of White Sands Proving Grounds, along with an FBI agent, D. Arthur Byrnes, Jr., from the Albuquerque office. Major William Connor from Kirtland AFB and Sgt. David Moody, who was in the area on TDY, investigated for Air Force Project Blue Book on April 26. Dr. J. Allen Hynek arrived on April 28. Hynek also conducted a follow-up investigation on August 15, 1964. Following is an excerpt from Capt. Holder's report:

"Present when we arrived were Officer Zamora, Officer Melvin Katzlaff, [and] Bill Pyland, all of the Socorro Police Department, who assisted in making the measurements. When we had completed examination of the area, Mr. Byrnes, Officer Zamora, and I returned to the State Police Office [at] Socorro, then completed these reports. Upon arrival at the office location in the Socorro County Building, we were informed by Nep Lopez, Sheriff's Office radio operator, that approximately three reports had been called in by telephone of a blue flame of light in the area... the dispatcher indicated that the times were roughly similar..."

Zamora told Capt. Holder and Major Connor, according to their notes:

"Noise was a roar, not a blast. Not like a jet. Changed from high frequency to low frequency and then stopped. Roar lasted possibly 10 seconds was going towards it at that time on the rough gravel road... At same time as roar, saw flame. Flame was under the object. Object was starting to go straight up slowly up... Flame was light blue and at bottom was sort of orange color... Thought, from roar, it might blow up..."

When the roar stopped, he heard a whining sound going from high tone to low tone, which lasted about a second. "Then," he said, "there was complete silence... It appeared to go in [a] straight line and at same [constant] height, possibly 10 to 15 feet from ground, and it cleared the dynamite shack by about three feet... Object was traveling very fast. It seemed to rise up, and take off immediately across country."

In 1968, Dr. James E. McDonald, an atmospheric physicist at the University of Arizona, said that he had learned of an alleged patch of "fused sand" at the Socorro landing site:

"A woman who is now a radiological chemist with the Public Health Service in Las Vegas was involved in some special analyses of materials collected at the Socorro site, and when she was there, the morning after [Apr. 25, 1964], she claims that there was a patch of melted and resolidified sand right under the landing area. I have talked to her both by telephone and in person here in Tucson recently."

She had analyzed plant fluids exuded from the scorched greasewood and mesquite plants, and told McDonald, "There were a few organic materials they couldn't identify," but most of the sample was just sap. "Shortly after she finished her work," she told him, "Air Force personnel came and took all her notes and materials and told her she wasn't to talk about it any more." Analysis reports of physical evidence at the site have never been released to the public.

Two additional witnesses, Paul Kies and Larry Kratzer of Dubuque, Iowa, submitted statements to Dr. Hynek on May 29, 1968. In May of 1978 Ralph C. DeGraw, an Iowa investigator, interviewed them. They were driving just southwest of Socorro at about 6:00 p.m. that day when they noticed something shiny and a cloud of smoke near the ground in the vicinity of the town. Later they heard a newscast about Zamora's sighting and the significance of what they had seen became apparent.

Kratzer said he watched as "a round, saucer or egg-shaped object ascended vertically from the black smoke... After climbing vertically out of the smoke, the object leveled off and moved in a southwest direction." He said the object was silvery and had a row of apparent portholes across the side and a "red Z" marking toward one end. At the time he thought it might have been an experimental vertical-lift aircraft. Kies saw only a shiny spot and the smoke.

An FBI report dated May 8, 1964, notes that Zamora has been personally known for about 5 years and is "well regarded as a sober, industrious, and conscientious officer and not given to fantasy." The report also confirms the scorched foliage and the imprints, noting that, "Each depression seemed to have been made by an object going into the earth at an angle from a center line [and each] pushed some earth to the far side."

Two years after the sighting, Major Hector Quintanilla, Air Force Chief of Project Blue Book at the time of the sighting, confided to intelligence specialists in a classified CIA publication that the Socorro case remained "puzzling." With the help of many other agencies, he had conducted an exhaustive check of military activities looking for an explanation, but none could be found.

"There is no doubt that Lonnie Zamora saw an object which left quite an impression on him. There is also 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."


Note: oddly enough, this case has "disappeared" from the official list on unexplained cases of the Project Blue Book.

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This page was last updated on November 7, 2018.