The Trent UFO Photos
McMinnville, Oregon - May 11, 1950

Robert Sheaffer - The Debunker's Domain 

(Revised Sept. 10, 2014)


These These are the famous Trent UFO photos, taken in McMinnville, Oregon in 1950. They were investigated and left unresolved by the Condon Report. Trent Photo 2, enlarged

My unpublished 1969 paper on this "classic" case (often referred to but never before available) caused the Condon report's chief investigator of that case to reconsider his conclusion.

Trent Photo 1, enlarged

"Serious" UFOlogists, led by physicist Bruce Maccabee, have decided to take a "firm stand" defending the authenticity of these photos. However, it should be noted that Maccabee's photographic analysis has also unambiguously "validated" the ludicrous Gulf Breeze UFO photos of Ed Walters, which are widely rejected as a hoax even by many UFO believers. If we assume that Maccabee's photographic analyses are reliable, we reach an obviously untenable conclusion: that Ed Walters has taken close-up photos of dozens of "genuine" ET craft. Maccabee was also recently taken in by a very simple photographic hoax, the Lawton Triangle UFO Hoax. Maccabee's credibility as a photo analyst having self-destructed, there is no reason to accept the McMinnville "UFO photos" as authentic, based on anything he says.

Painstaking work by researcher Joel Carpenter (1959-2014) has stirred up a great deal of controversy. It strongly suggests that Trent's "UFO" may be a mirror from an old truck. However, this information was  removed from the Web (although it was always available using the Wayback Machine at the Internet Archive). I have restored Carpenter's original website about the Trent Photos,  and placed it on the Internet Archive.

In another paper never previously available, Philip J. Klass, the dean of UFO skeptics, points out what Bruce Maccabee doesn't tell you about the Trent Photos.

UFOlogists claim that the illumination in the Trent photos (normal for the morning, but a physical impossibility for an evening shot, as the witnesses claim) was caused by very bright clouds reflecting the sun. Unfortunately for them, the U.S. Weather Bureau reported that there were no clouds at all in McMinnville that evening!

View the "tangle of threads" (or something!) on top the wire that some UFOlogists insist aren't there and that I made up!

Paul Trent The local newspaper story marking the 50th anniversary of the snapping of the Trent photos.

Now the town of McMinnville holds and annual UFO Festival to make a few bucks off the fame of the Trent photos. 

This report by French invesitgators examines in detail the geometry of the object in the photos. It concludes that the object is small and close to the camera. It also claims to have detected photometrically a thread holding up the "UFO."

UFO proponent Anthony Bragalia thinks that the photos were hoaxed.

A 3D stereo image of the Trent UFO, created by J.J. Walter. To see the 3D effect, just cross your eyes! The perspectives are too far apart to yield a good clear stereo image, but it is obvious that the "UFO" is small and close to the camera. Compare it, for example, with the distant hills.


High-Resolution Scans of Trent Photo First-Generation Prints

Photo1, full-frame, 400 dpi. 734 kb.
Photo2, full-frame, 400 dpi. 839 kb.
"UFO" in photo1, 400 dpi. 262 kb.
"UFO" in photo2, 400 dpi. 23 kb.
Shadows of eaves in photo1, 200 dpi. 240 kb.
Shadows of eaves in photo2, 200 dpi. 257 kb.

I have placed some very high-resolution scans here, for those who want a closer look:

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