Pelicans In Socorro
Zamora was first attracted to the UFO while in a police car in hot pursuit of a speeder when he hear a "roar" (over the sound of his car and presumably a siren), looked and saw a flame descending. As determined by the military investigators, he was at a point about 3/4 of a mile from the landing spot. That's some loud balloon! That's also some flame! There has been some confusion about the orientation of the oval or ellipse he saw when he went to investigate. At "first glance" which was very brief, he was looking at a slightly downward angle at what he thought was an upturned car, a sort of end-on view at which point the oval appeared to have its "long axis vertical" and from this perspective two legs about 2.5 feet long were visible protruding from underneath. However, when the object rose off the ground it was seen from the side to be an "oval with long axis horizontal" and the red "lettering" was in the center. This orientation and description is confirmed by sketches contained in the USAF report.
The object did not disappear slowly; it ROSE slowly (i.e., increased its altitude) while "traveling very fast." (On the basis of times and distances, the speed was later estimated to be at least 120 m.p.h. as the object disappeared over the mountains.) That's some fast balloon! The object was shiny, aluminum-colored (i.e., metallic, not flat white in color). The physical trace evidence included the four rectangular imprints each about 6 in. x 16 in in size, forming a trapezoidal pattern about 12-15 feet on the side. According to interviews in the newspaper, they appeared to be made "by an object of considerable weight settling to earth at slow speed and not moving after touching the ground." The imprints remained clearly visible after 3.5 months of weather and erosion. That's some big, and heavy, balloon!
The "burned clumps of green grass and greasewood" were still smoldering when Sgt. Chavez of the State Police arrived. According to a 4/28/64 FBI teletype report, the site was still smoldering on April 26. Not to mention the reported fused sand found at the site and secretly analyzed. That's some hot balloon!
Did the USAF investigate balloon activity? Major Hector Quintanilla of Project Blue Book in 1966 published an article about UFO investigation in Studies In Intelligence. I quote: "During the course of the investigation ... everything that was humanly possible to verify was checked...The Holloman AFB Balloon Control Center was checked for balloon activity. All local stations and Air Force bases were checked for release of weather balloons...." He goes on to say that the USAF checked with all military bases and facilities in the area, with negative results.
Hot-air balloon propellant as the source of sound, heat, physical evidence? Quintanilla: "Laboratory analysis of the burned brush showed no chemicals that could have been propellant residue."