McMinnville UFO Sighting

May 1950
The first of two iconic UFO photos taken by Paul Trent on May 11, 1950, on his family farm near McMinnville, Oregon.
The first of two iconic UFO photos taken by Paul Trent on May 11, 1950, on his family farm near McMinnville, Oregon.

On May 11, 1950, Paul and Evelyn Trent took two photographs of an object flying in the sky near their farm in rural Oregon. Skeptics have debated and attempted to debunk the photos for decades. Everyone can agree that the Trents never tried to profit from the photographs that became so famous and deeply scrutinized.

The Trents recounted witnessing a metallic, disc-shaped object move slowly across the sky in the early evening around 7:30-7:45 PM. Evelyn Trent spotted the UFO first, and she called for her husband, who was inside their house.

Paul Trent came outside, spotted the UFO, fetched his camera, and took two photos. The couple claimed that the object was "coming in toward us and seemed to be tipped up a little bit. It was very bright -- almost silvery -- and there was no noise or smoke."[1] The photos were taken with a span of about thirty seconds in Trent's estimation.

The second of two iconic UFO photos taken by Paul Trent on May 11, 1950, on his family farm near McMinnville, Oregon.
The second of two iconic UFO photos taken by Paul Trent on May 11, 1950, on his family farm near McMinnville, Oregon.
The Trents thought that the object was "a secret U.S. craft" and were reluctant to report or draw attention to what they witnessed. After finishing the roll of film on Mother's Day, they developed the film and shared it with some friends. Eventually a reporter at the McMinnville Telephone-Register heard of this event, followed up with the Trents, and published a front page story on June 8, 1950.

In 1967, Dr. William K. Hartmann, working for the Condon Committee, investigated this incident. Hartmann interviewed the Trents, did a photometric analysis of the images, and examined the geometry of the site. Hartmann concluded:

"This is one of the few UFO reports in which all factors investigated, geometric, psychological, and physical appear to be consistent with the assertion that an extraordinary flying object, silvery, metallic, disc-shaped, tens of meters in diameter, and evidently artificial, flew within sight of two witnesses. It cannot be said that the evidence positively rules out a fabrication, although there are some physical factors, such as the accuracy of certain photometric measures of the original negatives, which argue against a fabrication."[1]

Close up of the UFO in the first of two iconic UFO photos taken by Paul Trent on May 11, 1950, on his family farm near McMinnville, Oregon.
Close up of the UFO in the first of two iconic UFO photos taken by Paul Trent on May 11, 1950, on his family farm near McMinnville, Oregon.
Many parties have re-examined this case over the years and some have suggested the photos were staged. The main line of reasoning centered on the possibility that the object was hanging from telephone line in the photos, and the assertion that the shadows in the photos would imply that they were taken in the morning, which contradicts the Trents' claim that they were taken at about 7:30 PM.

Despite these hoax claims, counter claims have been made that provide solid reasoning that the photos are real. Evelyn and Paul Trent told a consistent account of their experience until they died in 1997 and 1998, respectively, and they never tried to profit from the photos over the years.

References

Official Explanation

Some parties claim the photos were staged.

Counter Argument

Despite extensive scrutiny, the photos and eyewitness accounts have held up over almost 50 years.

Evidence

Two photos. Eyewitness accounts.

Incident Map

Photos

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