CLAIM: 1950 McMinnville (OR) photo by the Trents is a 25' flying saucer

Charlie Wiser

Senior Member.
Evelyn Trent says she saw a huge silvery disc while returning to the house after feeding the rabbits at 7:30PM, on the Trent farm near McMinnville OR, May 11, 1950. She ran inside to tell her husband Paul, who found the camera and took 2 photos. He estimated the disc at 20 to 30' diameter.

I would like to figure out how far away from the object Paul was standing if it's a small model hanging from the overhead wires (or a string with attached weight slung over the overhead wire and anchored, which removes the need for a ladder).

Here are the photos, supposedly taken 30 seconds apart. Note that Paul says after taking the first photo, the object began accelerating off to the left so he moved right to take the second photo, then it shot away. Robert Sheaffer reproduced a stereoscopic exercise on his blog that supposedly shows the object is small and close and also did not move between frames, as well as reporting on two studies that possibly detected a wire, but I wanted to try something else...

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There are powerlines in the background, or "electric light wires" as Evelyn calls them, which is where she said the UFO was hovering. But I'm referring here to the two thick wires seen higher and closer to the camera. For the Condon Report on this case by Hartmann, he visited the site and considered a model hung from these wires, which he states pass between the garage and the camera position: [p. 614, download pdf here]
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The photo below (from LIFE magazine a month later) matches the exact spot (different camera tilt, see also below). (h/t Michael Huntington who posted the extra photos on Twitter.)

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I'm using this LIFE photo because it includes the ground in frame. I added the object correctly scaled, with a hypothetical string. A line drawn downward from the object will hit the ground directly under the wires, which would be at least as far away from it as the ladder feet, if not closer and out of frame entirely.

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This 1967 photo (Condon Report 1969) is from a similar angle, but a few steps back bringing the house on the right into view. (Note the tank has been moved and the garage is painted white. Ignore the black scribble - it's an indication of how the witnesses described the UFO's movement.) Hartmann who took this photo noted the pair of wires but despite suggesting they were used to hang a model, he didn't photograph them! They would presumably be in frame had he tilted the camera upward.

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Speaking of which, by cropping the Condon photo to match the Trent photo, it's clear the two photographs were taken at different angles (i.e. tilt). The white rectangles below mark the same house. The white arrows show where the distant hills are intersecting with the garage. The LIFE photo was taken at a tilt in between these two extremes.

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There are some unknowns here so the answer will be approximate, but my question is: how far away is the object if it's a 5" wing mirror hanging from that wire? Given the object's extreme similarity to a wing mirror, I'd like to know if it's plausible based on the size.

If anyone can offer help with a recreation or just do the math I'd appreciate it.
 
You need to know the angle of view of the camera frame in degrees then you can do some rough calculations based on assumed object size or distance.

So the camera make/model/format and lens specifications are needed.
 
From Bruce Maccabee's investigation (1977-1981) - he initially named the wrong camera so this is his updated information from 2000:

Roamer 1" built by the Universal Camera Corporation
focal length 100 mm
f #22 since it's well focused into the distance
minimum f-stop [of the model?] was 11
shutter fixed at about 1/50 second

He also states the most distant wires were probably over 60 m away.

For some reason, when he started his research and until 2000 he thought the camera was:
Kodak Monitor or Vigilant type of camera
f/4.5 or f/6.3 ( the least expensive) lens
rated focal length with the bellows extended and locked was 103 or 105 mm
 
You would need to know where the wires are in relation to the camera and the garage, and therefore how far horizontally they are from the camera. I'm sure I remember seeing a map of the location years ago, was the location of the wires recorded?


Edit: yes... I posted this six years ago. I wish my memory was as good as this for actual useful stuff!

https://www.metabunk.org/threads/evidence-shows-possibility-of-extraterrestrials.9763/post-222616


The report has the relevant info:

The electric wires’ anchorage points on the house and on the garage being known, as well as Mr. Trent’s respective positions during both shots, he concluded that this crossing point could be either right under the power wires, or a few feet farther, depending on the reconstruction of the sighting area from photographic data and "known" sizes of objects in the photos.
Content from External Source
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Hartmann who took this photo noted the pair of wires but despite suggesting they were used to hang a model, he didn't photograph them! They would presumably be in frame had he tilted the camera upward

I think maybe the wires are visible, but very faint (just above the red lines below). In agreement with @Ravi(EDIT: Not Ravi rather @Trailblazer) post above with the diagram, the wires come from the anchor point off the gable of the main house and cross over to the garage. A common setup on older homes. The main service came from the big utility pole wires overhead to the house and presumably a meter of some sort. Then feeder wires were run through the attic and strung over to the garage for power.

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On a standard American house of the time 8' ceilings would be normal, so about where the roof starts would be top of wall at about 8'. Counting the pieces of lap siding, I get around 16 from ground to top of wall, though it's a little hard to see some. This would be standard 6" lap siding that is 7-8" tall with each piece above cover some of the one below to leave a 6" reveal. That would put the wires coming from the gable at around 10' and 12'. They pass overhead to the garage which is also likely 8' tall inside with the wires connecting to the gable.

All that to say, the wires that appear in the famous photo are around 10' off the ground. Certainly, no more than 12' and maybe 8' at the lowest.


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I think maybe the wires are visible, but very faint (just above the red lines below). In agreement with @Ravi post above with the diagram, the wires come from the anchor point off the gable of the main house and cross over to the garage. A common setup on older homes.
I am innocent! I guess you meant @Trailblazer..
 
The main service came from the big utility pole wires overhead to the house and presumably a meter of some sort. Then feeder wires were run through the attic and strung over to the garage for power.
i think the opposite is the case here (not that it matters much) but it seems the main wire from the pole goes to the barn. and then possibly wires back to the house.
no idea what the spliced thing off her front porch is :)
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From Bruce Maccabee's investigation (1977-1981) - he initially named the wrong camera so this is his updated information from 2000:

Roamer 1" built by the Universal Camera Corporation
focal length 100 mm
f #22 since it's well focused into the distance
minimum f-stop [of the model?] was 11
shutter fixed at about 1/50 second

He also states the most distant wires were probably over 60 m away.

For some reason, when he started his research and until 2000 he thought the camera was:
Kodak Monitor or Vigilant type of camera
f/4.5 or f/6.3 ( the least expensive) lens
rated focal length with the bellows extended and locked was 103 or 105 mm
if it's a bellows camera, it would probably have been held at about waist height to see the image in the viewfinder, if that's any help in position or angle estimates.
 
Roamer 1" built by the Universal Camera Corporation
focal length 100 mm
f #22 since it's well focused into the distance
minimum f-stop [of the model?] was 11
shutter fixed at about 1/50 second
hard to read but the sides and all match photos from my above link, and box says "universal camera corp". not sure why the brand here says kodak on website as the box doesnt say that.
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https://www.mercari.com/us/item/m81...ArCfxD4ci0GEzOkcMxQUG9lCDBmIOux1qNkaDnmiYhDIQ
 
A work colleague, now retired, was the immediate next door neighbor of the Trents when he was growing up; his parents knew them, and were of the opinion that the Trents were incapable of hoaxing the photos. Iirc, the photos disappeared for a time and were later returned. A descendent of the Trents is still alive, I think. There is a lot more, too. You can read that in the link in my profile.
 
hard to read but the sides and all match photos from my above link, and box says "universal camera corp". not sure why the brand here says kodak on website as the box doesnt say that.
Is that white circle the viewfinder on this model? If so, I stand corrected.
 
i think the opposite is the case here (not that it matters much) but it seems the main wire from the pole goes to the barn. and then possibly wires back to the house.
no idea what the spliced thing off her front porch is

The only reason it might matter is if Charlie wants to establish the height of the wires in the photo and clearly the wires in question go from the house to the garage. FWIW, I still think the wires feed the garage from the house. In this phot we see the wires in question attached to the gable of the garage as you noted:

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In this photo we can see the wires in question leading off the back of the house towards the garage (red lines right). The shell looking thing on the side of the house (bigger red circle) looks like an old-style Main Service Entrance. The 3 wires coming from the entrance and bending up are then spliced to the wires from the utility company's power pole (2 hot wires and a neutral). The wires from the utility company are anchored to a mast on the roof, possibly the pipe looking thing jutting up from the roof.

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Nowadays, the Main Service Entrance shell looking thing is mounted on top of the mast on the roof that anchors the wires from the power pole:

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The one thing I would note is that the first picture shows the wires going to the top of the garage gable, so my previous estimate of around 10' off the ground for the wires in the UFO photo could be a bit low, but they're still not more that 12' or so.


Here is a rare interview with Evelyn Trent:
You can read that in the link in my profile.

Todd, please, if there is anything relevant in any of these, please share it here. These are violations of the "No Click Policy" as I understand it. You can't tell/ask people to go find whatever it is that you think is important. If it has bearing on the discussion, then share it here please.
 
The only reason it might matter is if Charlie wants to establish the height of the wires in the photo
true. i think its just on fishing line strung between the two buildings. if you break the electric lines the missus is gonna be mad.
 
Here is a rare interview with Evelyn Trent:

Referencing my post above, this is why we don't just post links telling people things like this "is a rare interview". It's not.

In 1 and 1/2 hour video that just seems to be people recollecting things, at least in the bits I saw, Mrs. Tent's recollections about what happened decades earlier start at 18:48:


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And they end at 19:13:

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So, the "interview" is a whole 25 seconds of her remembering what she saw long ago. And she only speaks for about half of the 25 seconds, so it's more like 12 seconds.

Unless she appears again later in the video, but if so, your need to time stamp and share it as I'm not sitting through an hour and a half of UFOTV.
 
true. i think its just on fishing line strung between the two buildings. if you break the electric lines the missus is gonna be mad.

Yeah, but if I'm going to go through the trouble of stringing fishing line from the house to the garage, why leave the power lines in the photo? I think they just tossed some thread or something over the existing lines to hold the pie tins. The wires would more than sturdily enough for something light.
 
A work colleague, now retired, was the immediate next door neighbor of the Trents when he was growing up; his parents knew them, and were of the opinion that the Trents were incapable of hoaxing the photos. Iirc, the photos disappeared for a time and were later returned. A descendent of the Trents is still alive, I think. There is a lot more, too. You can read that in the link in my profile.

Anybody is capable of tying a small object to a wire and photographing it.
 
Here is a rare interview with Evelyn Trent:

An interview that conveniently leaves out the first part of the story with the glaring discrepancy in the Trents' story - who saw the UFO first. This is not something you forget. The very first (local) paper report has this direct quote from her:
We'd been out in the back yard. Both of us saw the object at the same time. The camera! Paul thought it was in the car but I was sure it was in the house. I was right.
Content from External Source
Source: Telephone Register (McMinnville) Jun 8, 1950, front page

Three days later this has morphed into the official story still told today:
Trent said his 28-year-old wife, Evelyn, first saw the saucer slipping toward their home about 7:30 in the evening of May 11. She was in the back yard. She called him, and he snatched his camera and took the picture.
Content from External Source
Source: Pasadena (Calif) Independent, Jun 11, 1950, p. 31

(More accurately: the official story has her running into the house, not just calling him, and then they head off in different directions to find the camera.)

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I think maybe the wires are visible, but very faint (just above the red lines below).

Thanks (to everyone) for the info about the wires. Any idea why they're so faint here, but thick and obvious in the UFO photos? I realize the time of day is different but still.
 
Yes, but this picture makes me think my first post was correct. Reflecting viewfinders are referred to as "Waist level viewfinders", although it's possible to use them in other positions. (They're trickier to aim with precision, which is undoubtedly why my mother always complained that dad cut people's heads off in the photos he took.) But a camera like that, with the attached case that opened a flap when you wanted to use it, would be less likely to be used up at the eye with the case flapping in your face, and a waist height seems probable for the position.

Miscellaneous information at http://camera-wiki.org/wiki/Viewfinder
 
Thanks (to everyone) for the info about the wires. Any idea why they're so faint here, but thick and obvious in the UFO photos? I realize the time of day is different but still.

Speaking of which, by cropping the Condon photo to match the Trent photo, it's clear the two photographs were taken at different angles (i.e. tilt). The white rectangles below mark the same house. The white arrows show where the distant hills are intersecting with the garage. The LIFE photo was taken at a tilt in between these two extremes.

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I think you've given the answer yourself without realizing it. I believe your comparison photos do not show a different TILT to the camera, but rather a different POSITION of the photographer. I don't think a tilt could show that much difference in the point where the background meets the house. If the original photo was taken from a point much closer to the wires, they'd naturally look thicker. There's also a bit of slope to the ground, so a misremembered or misjudged position would make a big change to the view.
 
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Anybody is capable of tying a small object to a wire and photographing it.
Might they have meant "are too honest to have told such a whopper?" Or even "lack the imagination to concoct such a scheme?" Might not be referring to lacking the skill set to physically accomplish it

In any case that would be a subjective judgment and need not be taken as fact.
 
The only reason it might matter is if Charlie wants to establish the height of the wires in the photo and clearly the wires in question go from the house to the garage. FWIW, I still think the wires feed the garage from the house. In this phot we see the wires in question attached to the gable of the garage as you noted:

1715129446438.png

In this photo we can see the wires in question leading off the back of the house towards the garage (red lines right). The shell looking thing on the side of the house (bigger red circle) looks like an old-style Main Service Entrance. The 3 wires coming from the entrance and bending up are then spliced to the wires from the utility company's power pole (2 hot wires and a neutral). The wires from the utility company are anchored to a mast on the roof, possibly the pipe looking thing jutting up from the roof.

1715129578371.png

Nowadays, the Main Service Entrance shell looking thing is mounted on top of the mast on the roof that anchors the wires from the power pole:

1715130412259.png

The one thing I would note is that the first picture shows the wires going to the top of the garage gable, so my previous estimate of around 10' off the ground for the wires in the UFO photo could be a bit low, but they're still not more that 12' or so.





Todd, please, if there is anything relevant in any of these, please share it here. These are violations of the "No Click Policy" as I understand it. You can't tell/ask people to go find whatever it is that you think is important. If it has bearing on the discussion, then share it here please.
Apologies about the timestamp! If you know of other interviews with Evelyn Trent especially, videos, I would certainly be interested. I don't think in such a linear way when discussing topics, which seems to be the rule on this forum (which has benefits for discussing technical information, but has its drawbacks, too). I just wanted to provide what I know now, as it has possible bearing on the nature of the photographs, and I don't know if I will be around later to provide that information. As I am trying to take a break from thinking about UFOs for a while.
 
with the glaring discrepancy in the Trents' story - who saw the UFO first. This is not something you forget. The very first (local) paper report has this direct quote from her:
for the record, i was quoted in a bigger paper than that, by a gal who got a journalism degree, and what they put in quotes, is not what i said. so you have to take what the reporters decide to report with a grain of salt. I think in my case she was trying, badly, to condense my answer.
 
I believe your comparison photos do not show a different TILT to the camera, but rather a different POSITION of the photographer.
agree, the cameraman is either further away or maybe a different focal length. (garage slats are smaller in 1967 photo)

plus if you look at the semi-original photo (vs a lighter version), it appears they moved the lines between 1950 and 1967. as it does appear the lines go to the front of the garage. unless what we think we see are just an amazing coincidence of pareidolia
https://www.project1947.com/shg/condon/plate25.html

in 1950 the wires attached to the back of the garage. ie. would be even closer to the cameraman.

Screenshot 2024-05-08 111119.png
Maccabi page 69 https://web.archive.org/web/20161017163652/https://cufos.org/books/The_Spectrum_of_Ufo_Research.pdf

that would be like twice the distance-ish
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more in line with the Life photos, 1950, which are also pretty pale
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Might they have meant "are too honest to have told such a whopper?" Or even "lack the imagination to concoct such a scheme?" Might not be referring to lacking the skill set to physically accomplish it

In any case that would be a subjective judgment and need not be taken as fact.

Yes, I was being facetious in that regard although of course what I said is also true on the face of it. This is why looking at how the timeline plays out is so important.

Trent took those photos and didn't get the film developed for several days, because he wanted to use up the roll. Then he didn't show them to anyone. A month later he "casually mentioned the pictures... in conversation":

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[Source: Pasadena (Calif) Independent, June 11, 1950, p. 31]

Overall this seems implausible behavior if what he clearly saw was a giant flying saucer over his property. I think a more likely scenario is that he made the images for a laugh and didn't think much of it, then they came out looking great, and then when the opportunity arose he showed them to a friend. Things quickly snowballed from there including national newspaper reports, LIFE magazine visiting, and a paid trip to NY to appear on TV. And because of his reputation as a salt-of-the-earth farmer, it was harder and harder at each step to back out and admit to the hoax.
 
The only problem I have with the hypothesis that this object was suspended from the wire seen in the photo, is that a freely suspended wire hanging from two points will form a smooth catenary curve, but if you hang a weight from the midpoint it changes to a flattened 'Y' shape'. catenary.png

I'm not really seeing this here.


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Perhaps the wires in the photo were particularly stiff and heavy-gauge, in which case the 'Y' shape would be reduced significantly. Or the wire that the object was suspended from is much higher, and not visible in the photo.
 
Perhaps the wires in the photo were particularly stiff and heavy-gauge
I wonder about that, since neither of the wires above the UFO actually show the expected smooth catenary, with the upper one seeming to curve the other way at a couple of points (red dots) while the lower seems to ascend to the left from a point in an almost straight line (from green dot to the left), while the one closest to it below shows an odd kink (at the light blue dot.)
Capture.JPG

This may be the result of curves/wrinkles in the photo paper, I suppose, but I'd be more convinced of that if I could find a similar distortion in any of the poles or structures in the photo, but I can't. If the paper is, in fact, distorted up around the wire, I guess that might hide where the catenary is disrupted by the hanging weight. Or the UFO may weigh much less than I'd expect a mirror to weigh.

The more I looks at those three wires, the more I'd be inclined to wonder if THEY are fake, perhaps smaller wire that, to scale, is too stiff and holds some kinks and curves that the "miniature maker/set dresser" didn't get all the way smoothed out -- except that I can't think of any reason why adding fake wires would be done. But they don't seem to hang believably at all (wires hanging to the right of the electrical pole to the left of the picture DO hang in a believable looking catenary, to my eye.)

Capture.JPG

Not sure what to make of all that...
 
Perhaps the wires in the photo were particularly stiff and heavy-gauge, in which case the 'Y' shape would be reduced significantly. Or the wire that the object was suspended from is much higher, and not visible in the photo.
It's easy to see that the wires do not hang in a smooth catenary, but have miscellaneous jogs and bends. That shows that they are not very flexible at all, and I would expect them not to be affected by a light-weight object hanging from a slender thread.

A wing mirror has been previously suggested; a light-weight aluminum lid to a cooking pot might also serve, but since they come in many sizes that doesn't make any numerical calculation easy.
 
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EDIT: Cross posted with Ann K above about the same thing.


The only problem I have with the hypothesis that this object was suspended from the wire seen in the photo, is that a freely suspended wire hanging from two points will form a smooth catenary curve, but if you hang a weight from the midpoint it changes to a flattened 'Y' shape'.
I wonder about that, since neither of the wires above the UFO actually show the expected smooth catenary, with the upper one seeming to curve the other way at a couple of points (red dots) while the lower seems to ascend to the left from a point in an almost straight line (from green dot to the left), while the one closest to it below shows an odd kink (at the light blue dot.)

The 3 big wires in the background are distribution wires that run from utility pole to utility pole which are usually around 300' apart in rural areas:

They are typically spaced about 125 ft (40 m) apart in urban areas, or about 300 ft (100 m) in rural areas, but distances vary widely based on terrain.
Content from External Source
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Utility_pole

So, over that distance they will get a natural catenary to them.

The feeder line from house to garage is a much shorter distance and appears to be made with an overly stiff wire. The flattened areas noted by JMart are a result of the wire being "kinked" or having a permanent bit of a bend in them. The wire's themselves don't exert enough downward weight to overcome the kinks, so while they do droop, they don't assume a nice smooth catenary.

Looking at the service entrance wires from the photo of the front porch, this is consistent with whatever stiff, possibly solid core, wire they were using. Note that these wires are not straight and smooth like a piece of rope, but are kinked:

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IF they were hanging a small mirror or other object from the wires, it might make the overall wire droop a bit more, but it wouldn't take the kink out.
 
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Trent took those photos and didn't get the film developed for several days, because he wanted to use up the roll. Then he didn't show them to anyone. A month later he "casually mentioned the pictures... in conversation"

This seems implausible, doesn't it- or at least, difficult-to-understand behaviour.
The Trents see what is unambiguously a flying saucer, apparently close to their home, photograph it, but (a) don't tell anyone, (b) are more motivated not to waste any remaining film than they are curious about the flying saucer photograph.

No obvious signs of concern about possible risks to themselves (or their young boy), or their neighbours.
 
And never mind the usual "UFO" red flag - the "saucer" shape that suddenly became popular after the 1947 Kenneth Arnold sighting, even though the objects he claimed to see weren't saucer shaped at all. Only once the headlines mentioned saucers did all the sightings suddenly go disc-shaped.
 
This seems implausible, doesn't it- or at least, difficult-to-understand behaviour.
The Trents see what is unambiguously a flying saucer, apparently close to their home, photograph it, but (a) don't tell anyone, (b) are more motivated not to waste any remaining film t
I dunno... ME, I'd rush to get the film developed. But I've know old time country folk who I'd very easily believe would not waste a penny on the grounds that the picture ain't going nowhere, it'll be just as good next week... and a penny saved is a penny earned, whatever the flying saucers are up to
 
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