October 12, 2017
Evelyn Trent started yelling for her husband at about 7:45 that evening. She was feeding their rabbits in the yard of the couple’s Dayton farm when she saw it — “like a good-sized parachute canopy without the strings, only silver-bright mixed with bronze.”
“It was as pretty as anything I ever saw,” she recalled later.
She ran into the house, found her husband — and their camera — and they raced back into the yard. Paul Trent spotted it too — “a round, shiny, wingless object” hovering in the sky.
The 43-year-old farmer managed to take two photographs before the flying object disappeared into the evening mist.
They’re the most famous photos ever to come out of Yamhill County.
The McMinnville Telephone Register and The Oregonian published the images in June of 1950, a month after Paul Trent took them. (He had to finish off the roll before getting the images developed. The final three photos he took were of a family picnic on Mother’s Day.)
Life magazine followed the Oregon newspapers, offering its national audience a gander at the unidentified flying object. Soon, a U.S. Air Force investigator came to the Trent farm outside McMinnville. “The object was coming in toward us and seemed to be tipped up a little bit,” Paul Trent told the officer. “It was very bright — almost silvery — and there was no noise.”
The investigator had heard such stories before. This was the Golden Age of UFO sightings. But while most alien-craft tales were easily debunked — they were discovered to be weather balloons or private planes or obvious hoaxes — that wasn’t the case with the Trents’ photos.
In 1967, the Air Force commissioned prominent nuclear physicist Edward U. Condon to lead an exhaustive UFO study. The 950-page report, titled “Scientific Study of Unidentified Flying Objects,” easily dismissed most of the reported sightings, but, it stated, “at least one, showing a disk-shaped object in flight over Oregon, is classed as difficult to explain in a conventional way.” The study determined that the photos were genuine and the Trents truthful.
“This is one of the few UFO reports,” the study declared, “in which all factors investigated — gemetic, psychological and physical — appear to be consistent with the assertion that an extraordinary flying object, silvery, metallic, disk-shaped, tens of meters in diameter and evidently artificial, flew within sight of two [credible] witnesses.”
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