Socorro, New Mexico Landing
Date: April 24, 1964
Location: Socorro, NM
While chasing a speeding car at about 5:45 p.m., Officer Lonnie Zamora of the Socorro Police Department heard a roar and saw flames 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.
Puzzled by what he saw, Zamora 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 loud thumps, like someone slamming a door. The beings were no longer visible. The craft took off with a loud roar and accompanied by a blast of flames, and when it cleared the ground, rising straight up, it became 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. 4 squarish indentations arranged in a trapezoidal pattern were visible. 4 burned areas, 3 of them within the pattern of imprints, also were noted. Several small, shallow circular indentations adjacent to the other markings were labeled as 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 & 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, and also conducted a follow up investigation on August 15, 1964.
Zamora told Capt. Holder and Major Connor, according to their notes:
Present when we arrived were Officer Zamora, Officer Melvin Katzlaff, 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, Socorro, then completed these reports. Upon arrival at the office location in the Socorro County Building, we were informed by Nep Lopez, Sheriffs Office radio operator, that approximately 3 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.
It was smooth, no windows or doors. As the roar started, it was still on or near the ground. There was red lettering of some type. The insignia was about 2½' high and about 2' wide. It was in the middle of the object. The object was aluminum-white. 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, there was complete silence. It appeared to go in a straight line and at same height, possibly 10' to 15' from ground, and it cleared the dynamite shack by about 3'. 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 analysis of materials collected at the Socorro site, and when she was there, the morning after, 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, Air Force personnel came and took all her notes and materials and told her she wasn't to talk about it any more. The information from these reports has never been released to the public.
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. This reported corroborated the finding of scorched foliage and imprints, specifically, Each depression seemed to have been made by an object going into the earth at an angle from a center line 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, revealed 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.
From an oil painting based on photographs taken of the actual landing site. The image portrays the object just as it began to lift off and from a viewpoint near where Mr. Zamora reportedly stood. Mr. Zamora has seen this illustration and stated that it is a good representation of what he observed, though he felt that the legs might have been extended slightly further than what is portrayed in the painting. The dimensions presented are taken from both the witnesses description and the exact measurements provided by investigators of the impressions in the soil.