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The UFO Phenomenon

Mysteries revisited: the McMinnville UFO photographs

January 8, 2022 | Comment icon 42 comments



The two Trent photographs of the 'UFO'. Image Credit: CC BY-SA 3.0 Paul Trent
Images of an alleged flying saucer taken at a farm in Oregon in 1950 generated controversy and debate in equal measure.
On 7:30pm on May 11th of that year, Evelyn Trent had been walking to her farmhouse near McMinnville, Oregon when she reported seeing a metallic disc moving slowly across the sky.

She called for her husband, Paul Trent, to come outside and see what he thought it could be.

Keen to take a photograph, he returned to the house briefly to fetch his camera. He managed to take two shots before the metallic disc sped up and disappeared towards the west.

The following month, the two photographs - alongside the headline "At Long Last - Authentic Photographs Of Flying Saucer[?]" - appeared in the local McMinnville Telephone-Register.

The images would go on to become two of the most debated pieces of UFO evidence ever captured, with UFO investigators, scientists and photography experts all weighing in on their authenticity.
While many believed that the couple had captured something unusual, others were more skeptical, instead insisting that the photographs had been faked.

One popular theory is that the 'flying saucer' was in fact the wing mirror from a vehicle that had been suspended with fishing line from the overhead cables to make it look like it was floating in the air.

Astronomer William K. Hartmann, who had also investigated the case, noted that the lighting in the photograph suggested a different time of day to that claimed by the Trents.

"There could be a possible discrepancy in view of the fact that the UFO, the telephone pole, possibly the garage at the left, and especially the distant house gables (left of the distant barn) are illuminated from the right, or east," he noted.

"The house, in particular, appears to have a shadow under its roof that would suggest a daylit photo, and combined with the eastward incidence, one could argue that the photos were taken on a dull, sunlit day at, say, 10 a.m."

While today the photographs continue to remain an intriguing entry in the annals of UFO history, the general consensus is that they are not genuine and that the Trents' story was in fact a hoax.

Source: Only In Your State | Comments (42)


Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #33 Posted by and then 3 days ago
Today, sure.  Were there a lot of commonly-owned cameras that could snap pictures with fast enough film to get a crisp image like this in 1950?  The edges of, whatever the thing is, aren't really blurred at all.  I'm not a believer in alien visitation in the form of craft we're allowed to see.  My guess is that any entity that could travel this far either wouldn't be be bothered with us or would be likely to not be seen.   Also, remember that I'm a believer in that book of fairy tales and I think an "alien visitation" could well be the "strong delusion" God sends to the earth to test people.  
Comment icon #34 Posted by ChrLzs 2 days ago
Yes.  The speed of the film was the most restricting factor, 25-100 ISO film was common, with 200 ISO available but not commonly used.  Most cameras of the day were capable of shutter speeds up to 1/500 second, and there's this thing called the Sunny 16 rule... Essentially, it means that in bright daylight you will mostly get a good shot by setting the camera's aperture to f16, and then using the inverse of the ISO speed as your shutter speed.  Ie, f16 with 1/100 sec will work if using 100 ISO film. As photographers know, f16 is a small aperture - so if you increase the size to f11, then the s... [More]
Comment icon #35 Posted by stereologist 2 days ago
Thank you for admitting the "science professionals" analysis is the opinion of one person.
Comment icon #36 Posted by Hammerclaw 2 days ago
He was one of a group of fellow scientists and with noteworthy, impeccable credentials. He's certainly somebody whose opinion I value far more than that of any nameless nobody I might have the misfortune to encounter on the internet. Thank you ever so much for your own, uninformed, opinion. 
Comment icon #37 Posted by stereologist 2 days ago
All I did was point out that you purposely misrepresented the issue. I never posted anything on this subject therefore you are again wrong.
Comment icon #38 Posted by Hammerclaw 2 days ago
Well thank you for admitting you contributed nothing to the discussion, only that little straw man gotcha moment that's s-o-o-o-o important to you. This coming from someone who was pounding the table about the veracity of fake yellow journal reports, of turn of last century UFOs, is particularly droll! 
Comment icon #39 Posted by the13bats 1 day ago
Did you know bruce macabee hails this one as likely real...
Comment icon #40 Posted by ChrLzs 1 day ago
I'm afraid Macca is near the top of the image analysis pretenders.  He very often gets suckered, and also tends to roll out 'interesting' but completely unsupported and unsupportable pseudoscience.  He rather reminds me of folks like Kevin Knuth, who posts some decent scientific stuff to well respected journals. but then he does wacky stuff like bell-curve statistical / probability analysis of a video... wth..?  In both cases those folks do NOT submit their bull****-laden 'studies' to decent journals - in Kevin Knuth's case, he owns his own journal for that! .. but it's not well-respected. I m... [More]
Comment icon #41 Posted by the13bats 1 day ago
I made that remark being a wiseass, I place macca in with meldrum, I really laughed hard when macca was pushing that his wife while up a tree hunting hogs photographed a predator alien while it was in stealth mode, no kidding, look it up, As far as this threads pics iirc what macca said was no one was able to find evidence the item was suspended or tossed, he didnt say how he came to that end and i didnt know any of his "UFO" stuff was up for peer review. macca greatest blunder he was on board with that utterly riduculous carp Ontario  "guardian" vhs tape case that included Bob Oechslers buffo... [More]
Comment icon #42 Posted by South Alabam 19 hours ago
Amazing how UFO pictures like this seem to mimic UFO's from movies in every era.


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