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Thread: The Rex Heflin Case (1965), Fact or Fiction

  1. #1
    Image analysis expert Marvin's Avatar
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    The Rex Heflin Case (1965), Fact or Fiction

    I did an analysis some time ago on OMF (which is no longer available on the Internet) and though I would re-post it here. I have included some additional analysis and detail which I had left out of the OMF post. This is a highly “charged” and controversial case (a “Holy Grail” of UFOlogy). I just want to supply the evidence so that you can make your own informed decision.



    The Case:

    On 3 August 1965, Rex Heflin (a highway investigator for the Orange County California Highway Department) took 3 photographs of a UFO in Santa Ana, California.

    The photos have been regarded as being “one of the most highly regarded series of ‘classic’ UFO photos of all time”.

    Rex used the Highway Department’s Model 101 Polaroid camera to take four photos, three of which appear to show a UFO and the forth shows a “smoke ring” (reportedly created by the object as it left the area).

    Further details, information and opinions may be found on the following link:


    http://www.scientificexploration.org..._4_druffel.pdf







    The three UFO photos:


    Photo #1 (a darken version)

    Last edited by Marvin; 07-19-2012 at 04:13 PM.


    Mmm, yes, very curious, very interesting...

  2. #2
    Image analysis expert Marvin's Avatar
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    The testimony and investigation:

    Heflin approximated the size of the UFO by comparing it to the traffic lanes over which it flew. These lanes, he knew, were 20 feet wide, and the craft was about the same apparent width as both lanes combined (the width of the highway).

    As the flying object crossed Myford Road, it seemed to hover and Heflin photographed it through his windshield as it crossed his line of vision (Photo # 1). As the craft moved toward the east, it tipped and revealed a dark underside. “This is when I saw a rotating beam of light emitting from the center of the UFO on the bottom side.”

    Heflin described the beam as greenish white and rotating clockwise around the bottom from the center out to the rim; each rotation took about 2 seconds. He snapped a second photo (Photo #2) through his passenger window.

    Throughout its passage, the craft seemed to “wobble” slightly. In Heflin’s words, its motion was “similar to a gyroscope when losing its stability.” As the object moved further east, it began a turning motion, and Heflin snapped a third photo (Photo #3). “The UFO continued moving away, slowly gaining altitude… seemed to gain stability, then it increased its velocity and altitude more rapidly leaving a deposit of smoke like vapor”.

    He was not particularly excited about the pictures he had taken and didn’t mention the incident to anyone until he showed the photos that afternoon to a few coworkers in his Santa Ana office. They caused considerable interest, but some of his workmates seemed agitated by the fourth picture of the smoke ring; it wasn’t anything one would expect to see associated with experimental aircraft. Heflin decided that “three pictures were enough for one day” and stopped showing the fourth (McDonald, 1968). In fact, he thought little more about any of them until some of his relatives and friends became intrigued with them.

    Heflin never sought publicity, but when he was sought out by objective researchers, he was always forthright and cooperative.

    The results of the Air Force experiment evidently satisfied Project Blue Book personnel that the photos were hoaxed. Blue Book was, at the time, the only publicly known official Air Force group responsible for studying UFOs, and it officially listed the Heflin photos as a hoax (Project Blue Book Case Number 9654).


    Mmm, yes, very curious, very interesting...

  3. #3
    Image analysis expert Marvin's Avatar
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    Analysis of Photo #1:

    Heflin stated the object was about as wide as the two lane highway, based on comparing the two as the object crossed over the highway. Just to get an idea as to Heflin’s description of the object’s size, let’s do a comparison.



    The objects width is 73 pixels. Let’s find where on the highway it is 73 pixels wide.



    If Heflin’s testimony is reliable, this 73 pixel line on the highway is the approximate distance to the object from the camera (about 700 feet).





    We can now begin to look for the shadow of the object on the ground. The object in the sky shows a distinct shadow as do vegetation on the ground. We can see where the “telephone poles” appear to cast shadows on the ground. If we use the same angle from the edges of the object as from the “telephone poles” then the shadow of the object should be somewhere between the two lines drawn down from the edges of the object.

    We cannot detect any shadow there (in the above photo), but that could be due to the “rough terrain” in that area of the photo, the shadow may be difficult to see (or, there really isn’t any shadow).

    Let’s take a close look at “Photo #1” to if it is possible to get any visual clues about the distance of the object to the camera.





    The above photo is an enhancement (and a composite, overlaying the original photo outside the truck on a lighten version of rest of the photo) of “Photo #1” to better show the details of the cab. Actually, I was amazed by the focus and clarity of objects within the cab (they are not well lit, but they are in focus).

    I am not an expert on the Model 101 Polaroid camera, but the focus setting (when the images were captured) was able to “see” items close to the camera while the focus was set to infinity (the focus setting was relayed to investigators by Heflin). In fact, if you look closely, the closer an object is to the camera, the more clear the image.

    Heflin stated the object was about 700 feet away. If true, why is the “craft” more clear (sharper and well defined as object which are close to the camera) than other objects which are 700 feet away?
    Last edited by Marvin; 07-19-2012 at 04:05 PM.


    Mmm, yes, very curious, very interesting...

  4. #4
    Image analysis expert Marvin's Avatar
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    Analysis of Photo #2 and #3:

    In a sense, we are fortunate to have these two photos which were taken in the same basic direction from two slightly different locations within the cab of Heflin’s truck. This allows us to create a Stereoscopic Pair (please click on this link). The Stereoscopic Pair creates a three dimensional image which allows us to easily determine relative distances. You can also overlap the two images to more easily demonstrate the distances.





    The above image is a Stereoscopic Pair created from Photo #2 and #3. The two photos were centered on the UFO to create the pair.


    Distance to objects in the Stereoscopic Pair:

    Since the object was reported to be at least 700 feet away, let’s take a look at distant object on the ground… the background trees.





    As you can see, when the trees are overlapped, the object does not overlay, so we know the object is not the same distance as the trees.





    When we overlay the vegetation next to the road (above), again the object still do not overlay but the object is getting closer together.





    When we overlay the truck mirror (above), the object is perfectly overlapped. We now know the distance to the object from the camera… it is the distance to the truck mirror.




    Just to prove the point of distance, if we overlap the truck window (above), the object in the two images pass each other… meaning we have gone too far, distance wise (too close to the truck).

    There is no doubt, the object is the same width and the same distance from the camera at the truck’s mirror.
    Last edited by Marvin; 07-19-2012 at 04:08 PM.


    Mmm, yes, very curious, very interesting...

  5. #5
    Image analysis expert Marvin's Avatar
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    Double checking the object distance and mirror:





    In the diagram above, I show the two relative positions of the camera in the truck and show the directions to the object from those two positions which converge at the mirror (as shown by the Stereoscopic Pair).

    Heflin’s own testimony stated the object continued to travel east from Photo #2 to Photo #3. Based on the camera’s position and the direction of the object (relative to the camera), Heflin had to be grossly mistaken. The lines to the object clearly show, the object had to be going in a westerly direction (not east), assuming this was a 20 foot wide craft which was over 700 feet away. The odds are not in favor of a large free flying object remaining the same distance (to the camera) and altitude in both Photo #2 and Photo #3. The evidence supports a small object suspended from the truck near the mirror.

    At no time did Heflin make or file a UFO report.

    Was Heflin not telling the truth about the eastern direction of travel… or was the whole affair just a practical joke that grew out of control?
    Last edited by Marvin; 07-19-2012 at 04:17 PM.


    Mmm, yes, very curious, very interesting...

  6. #6
    This one was being exhaustively reviewed back before OM when I used to keep up by reading at UFO Updates. None of the debunking was at all convincing to me but, alas, that damn object just does look too clear to be that far away! I did go to the area way back when but that really didn't reveal much of anything. Just typical SoCal terrain and landscape.

    BTW, we are seeing a load of pics at our Facebook group but so far I haven't been able to get anyone to submit them for analysis. I keep trying though.

    http://www.facebook.com/groups/23070...group_activity

  7. #7
    This one seems like a hoaxed genuine UFO- a bit like how Adamski's weird saucers show up in other people's snapshots through the decades- as though a real craft is being hoaxed for some reason. Likewise the Heflin UFO is also the basis for the ARV story- same shape- and the 1964 (1966?) Utah UFO- same shape again...

  8. #8
    Marvin,

    That was a lot of work...

    Thanks...

  9. #9
    The favored debunking theory in the mid-2000s was that it was a model railroad wheel suspended from a transparent fishing line. Unfortunately the flange of the wheel was not the correct angle or dimensions and nobody had shown any evidence of the actual presence of fishing line when I stopped reading. I stopped reading because, as so often is the case, honest investigators who may have had a bit of a bias where running headlong into colossal egos that already knew it all without investigating.

  10. #10
    Image analysis expert Marvin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Doc View Post
    The favored debunking theory in the mid-2000s was that it was a model railroad wheel suspended from a transparent fishing line. Unfortunately the flange of the wheel was not the correct angle or dimensions and nobody had shown any evidence of the actual presence of fishing line when I stopped reading. I stopped reading because, as so often is the case, honest investigators who may have had a bit of a bias where running headlong into colossal egos that already knew it all without investigating.

    I knew the missing "fishing line" question would come up, so....





    If you run edge detection... you will notice the "power lines" are not always visible in Photo #1. Therefore, it is not a large “leap of faith” to think a small thread could be invisible in the same photo. To demonstrate this beyond a “shadow of a doubt…” one would have to do an experiment with a Model 101 Polaroid and an object on a thread. Unfortunately, I do not have the equiptment.


    M


    Mmm, yes, very curious, very interesting...

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