Were the famous McMinnville UFO photos fakes after all? The iconic snapshots nothing but a hoax? Does this mean it's curtains for the annual UFO Fest in McMinnville, Oregon? Speculation from The Bragalia Files: MAKE-BELIEVE IN MCMINNVILLE: FAMOUS 1950 UFO PHOTOS FAKED? says it could be so.
After all this time, it's almost impossible to determine if the photos are of a genuine UFO, or simply fakes. The evidence presented by Bragalia is only speculation surrounding the facts: a photo of the Trent's little boy, on a ladder under the wires where the spaceship was seen, and photographed. The fact the Trents were "repeaters" -- repeat witnesses. But that last bit; the "repeater" label, doesn't prove anything either way. Many UFO witnesses (myself included) are "repeaters." Some of us have had encounters going back to childhood. Granted, Bragalia comments: "As Jerry Seinfeld might say, “not that there’s anything wrong with that” but then puts a judgement on how a witness should respond to a sighting. Referring to Mrs. Trent, Bragalia writes:
...but when you combine her prior UFO interest and prior sightings, her later sightings, her family discussions about UFOs- with the fact that Mrs. Trent reported being the first to see the photographed UFO- it is Mrs. Trent who should have been given more attention when investigating the photos. Paul finally got his wife a photograph of one of her coveted UFOs. She was certainly one darn lucky “repeat witness.”
Then there's the note, sent to Paul Trent, with Bragalia's oddly gender specific observation that it's in "male writing." This note was no doubt written by a close friend, Bragalia tells us, since said friend used his initials. From that we are to infer note writer and Trent were close friends, and the note itself? Hints that the whole thing was a hoax.
Finally, we have the over the top classist assumptions about the Trents and the community of McMinnville in Yamhill County Oregon. Phrases like "farming folks", "farm boy" and this description of "simple farm folk" pulling one over on them there city slickers:
“Fun” during those times, in that kind of place, may have encompassed playing around with a new camera, wanting to outwit the city folks, involve the family in some UFO entertainment and satisfy a wife’s saucer interests.
The Trents never were paid for their photos, or anything else concerning the UFO images. When the Trents wanted the photos returned in the 1970s, this was because, Bragalia speculates, they wanted the "accrued value" of the images.
This is not the first time Bragalia, as well as his associates, have attempted to expose McMinnville as a hoax. I wrote about that for UFO Digest in 2007. Revealing a third, "lost" Trent photo, we were promised, sort of, a revelation. Turns out the whole thing was a hoax. Er, that is, not McMinnville, but the third lost photo. McMinnville, at the time of the Trent sighting, was an active place for UFO sightings. More than fifty years later, that area is still a little hotspot for UFO sightings. Whether or not the Trent photos were fakes, well, we still don't know to this day. This recent speculation is just that, interesting, but certainly not proof in any way that McMinnville was a hoax.