The afternoon of April 24, 1964, found police officer Lonnie Zamora of Socorro, New Mexico, behind the wheel of his white Pontiac patrol car. A black Chevrolet whizzed past the small town courthouse and Zamora took off in chase. Instead of issuing a simple speeding ticket, the five year veteran policeman took a detour through the Twilght Zone.
He was heading south on Old Rodeo Street in hot pursuit of the offender, when he "heard a roar and saw a flame in the sky to the southwest some distance away." Now outside the city limits, Zamora the hills and toward the roaring flame.
Zamora slid and swerved up the steep hill. Then he "suddenly noted a shiny type object to the south about one hundred fifty to two hundred yards away." At the bottom of an arroyo, Zamora saw what he first thought was an overturned car "standing on radiator or trunk." Beside it were "two people in white coveralls. One of these persons seemed to turn and look straight at my car."
Hoping to help, Zamora drove ahead, radioing headquarter about a possible accident. But when he heard the loud roar again, he dove for cover behind his car, knocking his glasses off in the process. Zamora said he could now see that the oval-shaped object was not an automobile at all, but an aluminum-white craft balanced on four landing legs. Its surface was smooth, with no visible doors or windows. Centered on one side was a red insignia, a bisected triangle two-and-a-half feet high and two feet wide. The thing rose out of the arroyo on a tail of fire, Zamora said, as the roar turned to a high-pitched whine.
When he went back to investigate the sighting sometime later, Zamora found some charred greasewood bushes and, more importantly, four podmarks indicating, he believed, the spot where the thing had landed.
Zamora's sighting was later investigated by several military and government officials, including Dr. J. Allen Hynek, then an astronomy consultant for the Air Force's Project Blue Book (a compendium of UFO sightings). Hynek tried to char the bushes with matches and create podlike impressions with a shovel, but found he couldn't satisfactorily reproduce the physical evidence himself. He also interviewed Zamora's old schoolteacher and a number of townsfolk, concluding that Zamora was a "solid, unimaginative cop."
The landing at Socorro, Hynek maintained until the day he died, was one of the most compelling pieces of evidence ever to fit into the puzzle of UFOs. Even more skeptical colleagues at Blue Book were swayed; some Air Force personnel spent years trying to prove Zamora's experience was the result of a secret government weapon gone dangerously awry.