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The Trinity UFO Crash of 1945

Donate The not-so-famous UFO case that caused the US Congress to spend millions of taxpayer dollars.  

by Brian Dunning

Filed under Aliens & UFOs

Skeptoid Podcast #929
March 26, 2024
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The Trinity UFO Crash of 1945

Page 1,196 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2023 calls for "a written report detailing the historical record of the United States Government relating to unidentified anomalous phenomena" and is to "focus on the period beginning on January 1, 1945." This requirement was added in by Congressman Mike Gallagher, a member of the House UFO Caucus. Why 1945? What's so important about that year that it needs to be so explicitly called out? It turns out that it's the year of an important claimed UFO crash in perhaps the most sensitive location possible: the Trinity site, only one month after the test of the world's first atomic bomb. This crash, which according to the story includes the recovery of an alien spacecraft and bodies, was such an important event in the history of UFOlogy that the Congressman deemed it essential to be reinvestigated, and yet you've probably never heard of it.

It's not super easy to track down. The only real account of it is a book that was self-published in 2011 by two men, Reme Baca and Jose Padilla, and is a memoir of events they say happened to them at the Trinity site, nearby where they lived as young boys. The title is Born on the Edge of Ground Zero. Ten years later, in 2021, this was followed by another self-published book by two UFOlogists, Jacques Vallée and Paola Harris, titled Trinity: The Best-Kept Secret. Vallée, now 84 years old, is one of the best-known figures in modern UFO and paranormal circles; Harris is an Italian UFO author who promotes herself as an expert on "exopolitics", the political machinations between various alien civilizations that have been transmitted to her by "contactees".

The story goes that Baca and Padilla, aged 7 and 9, were on horseback, hunting for a lost cow on the large ranch owned by Padilla's father. Following a large flash, they crested a ridge where they saw smoke, and traced it to a debris field. A large metallic, avocado-shaped craft had crashed and was burning. The boys picked up and kept a few pieces of debris. But when they saw a few small humanoid creatures moving about inside the craft, they left.

Two days later, the boys along with Padilla's father and a family friend, state police officer Eddie Apodaca, returned to the site. The two men climbed around inside the wreckage but found no sign of any creatures. They lectured the boys that this was government property, probably something from the military, and that they shouldn't tell anyone about it.

Two days after that, a military representative came to the Padilla home and explained that a weather balloon was down on their property, and they would be building a road to facilitate the collection of debris. The boys secretly watched the recovery operation which lasted several days, as the military loaded the debris onto flatbed trucks and drove it off the property. Again the boys secured a piece for themselves, and noted that the soldiers buried some of it as well. And that was basically the end of the story.

It was first published in a local paper, the Mountain Mail of Socorro, NM in October 30 and November 6, 2003, by reporter Ben Moffett, who had known Baca and Padilla since their school days together. It was the first time they'd ever told the story — 58 years after it had happened. When Moffett asked them why they'd kept it a secret so long, they just said that it was something they could never get out of their heads.

Paola Harris went on Coast to Coast AM with Baca and Padilla in 2010 and told the story to its first wide audience. Then, at her urging and with considerable help from her, Baca and Padilla's book was put out in 2011. But it was a small story, UFOs were not particularly fashionable at the time, so there wasn't much interest.

Things changed in 2017 when a number of longtime friends and associates in UFOlogy and the paranormal — who collectively referred to themselves as "The Invisible College" — got the infamous New York Times story published, "Glowing Auras and Black Money: The Pentagon's Mysterious U.F.O. Program." UFOs became a red hot topic. Invisible College veteran Jacques Vallée wanted a part in this, and selected the Trinity story. Aware of the work Harris had done on it, he got in touch with her through a mutual friend in the Paranormal Research Society in Los Angeles. They hit it off right away and decided to pursue the story. Together they hastily wrote their 2021 book, and quickly followed it up in 2022 with a revised edition.

By then the Invisible College had forged a pretty tight bond with the FOX News network, with its members frequently appearing as guests to spread the message of alien visitation. Prominent FOX News personality Tucker Carlson profiled the Trinity story extensively, and that's how it came to the attention of Congressman Mike Gallagher, also a Tucker Carlson regular.

And in a nutshell, that's how the story of two small boys on horseback one afternoon in 1945 eventually became a line item in the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2023. And by itself, that's a pretty great story. It would even make a great movie along the lines of Citizen Kane. But then, something happened that brought it all full stop.

And that was the February 2024 publication of the report that was called for in the National Defense Authorization Act, titled Report on the Historical Record of U.S. Government Involvement with Unidentified Anomalous Phenomena, by the Department of Defense's All-Domain Anomaly Resolution Office. What did it have to say on this 1945 incident?

Nothing. Not a single word. In fact, the report comprehensively and explicitly makes the point that there has never been any evidence that no branch of the government has ever had any alien anything — no bodies, no technology, no crash wreckage; and that all such stories are "the result of circular reporting from a group of individuals who believe this to be the case, despite the lack of any evidence." And who is that group of individuals? It's not stated in the report, but it's well known by those of us who report on this to be the Invisible College and their many friends and associates whose names you see pop up in UFO news every day.

In fact, it didn't even require this report for historians of the UFO phenomenon to know that the Baca and Padilla story had always been well known as a hoax — a literal hoax, made up by people who knew they were making it up — not a distorted memory, not an honestly misinterpreted experience — but a straight-up hoax. It has an endless supply of inconsistencies and impossibilities, nowhere better laid out than on the website of Douglas Dean Johnson, an independent researcher who does incredibly deep dives on the subjects he tackles, giving exhaustive sources and directly providing all the documents, videos, audio recordings, and other evidence.

The people in the story are all real people — or were; many of them were added to the story after they died so that they couldn't have contradicted their parts in it. Baca and Padilla themselves were indeed young friends on that New Mexico ranch together, but they've both fictionalized their lives since. Baca, for example, claimed to have had a career as a political heavyweight in Washington State as a senior staffer of Governor Dixy Lee Ray, and was the "kingmaker" who got her elected. In fact, he lifted this wholesale from the biography of her actual top aide Louis R. Guzzo. Baca actually worked as a tax compliance clerk for the Washington Department of Revenue, and later as an employment service specialist for the state. He was never a staffer for any governor, and died in 2013.

Correction - An earlier version of this munged the governor's name as Dixy Ray Lee. —BD

Padilla's false background was arguably worse: he claimed to have been a National Guardsman who was activated and sent to Korea, where he was shot. The National Guard has since confirmed that Padilla never served at all, and certainly never went to Korea — a case of stolen valor. Padilla also claimed to have been shot a second time while serving in the California Highway Patrol. Records searches have proven that he was never a California law enforcement officer at all — and, at only 5'3", he was at least six inches below the CHP's minimum height requirement at the time. Since having been confronted with this finding, Padilla, Harris, and Vallée have backtracked and conceded that he was merely a truck inspector contracted by the highway patrol and was shot in that capacity, but there is also no evidence for this either.

However, that Baca and Padilla have habitually fabricated large parts of the rest of their lives says nothing about whether they actually witnessed a flying saucer recovery in 1945. It's often been pointed out that they were young boys at the time, and young boys would never lie about something like that; however, if they did lie about it, it wasn't as young boys, it was when they were in their sixties. That's because there is no evidence that this story existed at all, ever, until 2003 when they told the story to Ben Moffett for the Mountain Mail article.

On his own, however, Baca had told various similar tales as much as eight years earlier — which some writers have described as "rough drafts" of the version he and Padilla later settled on. What may have triggered the entire thing was an incident in 1994, when Baca and his wife saw something they interpreted as a UFO, and reportedly became believers. Baca became an active member of MUFON, the largest organization of UFO enthusiasts, and became particularly enthralled with the Roswell incident.

In 1995, Baca attended a talk about Roswell given by author Donald Schmitt. After the talk, he told Schmitt he had a personal story about a UFO crash that happened to him in 1947 (not 1945). Schmitt wrote down Baca's contact information but didn't do anything with it.

Next, in late 2002 or early 2003, Baca contacted Thomas J. Carey, another author whose work on the Roswell story he knew well. Baca had a story that he thought would make a really good book and movie.

With Baca's permission, Carey tape recorded their phone call, and you can hear a tape of that on Johnson's website. This time Baca gave the year as 1946, one year after the Trinity test. He and his friend Padilla rode in a pickup truck (not on horseback). They came across a crashed disk-shaped craft (not avocado-shaped). They saw creatures moving around that looked like ants or bugs (not like small humanoids). When they returned the next day with Padilla's dad and an unnamed police officer (not Apodaca), they were disappointed to find the whole craft had been covered with dirt (rather than going inside it and inspecting it). For whatever reason, Carey did not express any interest in doing anything with the story, and left the matter there.

It was less than a year later in 2003 that Baca and Padilla, with a newly revamped version of the story, approached their old schoolmate Ben Moffett, who was more than happy to write it up for the Mountain Mail.

But the revamping of the story did not end there, and the next time the story appeared it was with new details from another source. Regular Skeptoid listeners may recognize the name of Bill Brophy. Brophy is a man who, in my opinion, presents as possibly being mentally ill. He has had a lifelong passion for UFO stories, and whenever he hears one, he adds his father to the tale. Brophy's father William Brophy (long since deceased) had been a US Air Force pilot, and Brophy would call or write the author of any given UFO story and tell them a fantastic tale about how his father had been intimately involved with that story, usually having been on the scene and having been the pilot who transported alien wreckage or whatever the story was about.

That's exactly what Brophy did again in this case. He was familiar with Paola Harris from her other UFO books, and when he heard Paola Harris talking about the Trinity story on podcasts in 2009, he contacted her in Italy and told her that he had some new details to add. Brophy claimed his father had personally supervised the recovery of the wreckage, personally oversaw the capture of one of the aliens still alive, and personally flew the alien bodies to Wright-Patterson AFB. Harris was hooked.

In 2010 she traveled to the US and interviewed Brophy, Baca, and Padilla. Baca and Padilla warmly accepted Brophy's additions to the story, as the involvement of a named Air Force officer gave it credibility. That's when Harris took Baca and Padilla onto Coast to Coast AM, and it's when she became the driving impetus behind getting their 2011 book published. When it came out, the elder Brophy had now become a major character in the story. The story now included the two small boys peering over the ledge at the wreckage, to see Lt. Col. Brophy supervising the work. The Lt. Col. had even been the first to find the crash site when flying over it, and spied the boys picking through it from the air — all new story elements that had not previously existed.

But there was still even more revamping to be done. When Vallée and Harris published their book years after the Baca and Padilla book, they carefully and quietly excised the parts about a live alien being captured and bodies being recovered, without any explanation. It's an awfully strange omission as that would arguably be the most important part of the story.

There are other problems with the whole story too, such as Apodaca, supposedly the state trooper who picked through the wreckage with the family, had actually been in Europe fighting in World War II at the time; and Johnson discovered that he didn't become a state trooper until 1951. But we can list little things like this all day long. The fact remains that the entire story is entirely without any evidence at all, and the story in fact did not exist at all — anywhere — until Baca succeeded in getting Moffett to write about it, 58 years after its alleged date.

The evidence that does exist proves that Reme Baca pitched multiple different versions of a story to multiple UFO authors until finally getting one published. The constantly changing story elements, the total lack of evidence or of any corroborating sources, and both Baca and Padilla's histories of lying about themselves, leave little reason for anything in the Trinity UFO story to be taken seriously. Finally, the fact that major elements of the story came from the imagination of Bill Brophy cast the story firmly in the fiction section of the bookstore.

For members of the United States Congress to do so little due diligence before enacting legislation involving public funds is unconscionable. There is ample evidence that the Trinity UFO crash of 1945 was literally just made up by random people, and there's not a shred of evidence to the contrary; and any Congressional aide should have been able to determine that in an hour or two on the Internet.

By Brian Dunning

Please contact us with any corrections or feedback.


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Cite this article:
Dunning, B. "The Trinity UFO Crash of 1945." Skeptoid Podcast. Skeptoid Media, 26 Mar 2024. Web. 19 Apr 2024. <>


References & Further Reading

117th Congress. James M. Inhofe National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2023. Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 2022. 1196.

AARO. Report on the Historical Record of U.S. Government Involvement with Unidentified Anomalous Phenomena (UAP): Volume I. Washington, DC: US Department of Defense, 2024.

Baca, R., Padilla, J. Born on the Edge of Ground Zero: Living in the Shadow of Area 51. Chicago: Independent Publisher Services, 2011.

Johnson, D. "Crash Story: The Trinity UFO Crash Hoax." Mirador. Douglas Dean Johnson, 1 May 2023. Web. 11 Mar. 2024. <>

Johnson, D. "Crash Story File: The Reme Baca Smoking-Gun Interview." Mirador. Douglas Dean Johnson, 20 May 2023. Web. 11 Mar. 2024. <>

Sheaffer, R. "Trinity UFO Crash Story Crashes - and Vallée Melts Down!" Bad UFOs: Skepticism, UFOs, and The Universe. Robert Sheaffer, 19 May 2023. Web. 11 Mar. 2024. <>

Vallée, J., Harris, P. Trinity: The Best-Kept Secret. Morrisville, NC: Lulu Press, 2021.


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