MUFON of Ohio
The Mutual UFO
Network of Ohio
by Warren B.
Nicholson and Ronald Fisher
We arrived at
Ralph Ditter’s barbershop on the morning of
October 23, 1971. The shop was located on
Main Street in Zanesville, Ohio.
proceeded to get a haircut and engaged Mr.
Ditter in a conversation about his rather
famous UFO photographs, reportedly taken in
Zanesville on November 13, 1966. Early in
the conversation Mr. Ditter handed Mr.
Nicholson a document about 3/8" thick and
requested that he read this first, and then
they could talk about his photos.
The document was
a report by the Rand Corporation that dealt
with the photographic analysis of the photos
Mr. Ditter had taken. Mr. Nicholson scanned
the report checking their methodology and
read their conclusions about the photos. The
report stated, (1) the object in the photos
was 3 to 4 inches in diameter, not 30 feet
as claimed by Mr. Ditter, (2) the object was
not at a considerable distance, but a mere 3
to 4 feet from the camera lens, and (3) the
photos were not taken in rapid succession,
but approximately one hour and ten minutes
had elapsed between photos. Also, the
numbers on the backs of the photographs were
out of sequence with Mr. Ditter’s story.
At this point,
Mr. Nicholson asked Mr. Ditter what he
thought of their analysis and he replied,
"What do you think of it?" Mr. Nicholson
again asked his opinion and stated he felt
that Mr. Ditter’s response was of more value
at this point.
Mr. Ditter then
stated, "Well, I am the one who faked them.
What do you think?" Mr. Ditter then
proceeded to tell the authors the entire
story of the bogus photographs.
story began about a year and three months
before the photos first hit the press. His
daughter had just read a book on UFOs and
had said, "Daddy, will you take a UFO
picture for me?" The father replied, "Yes,
three months after this, Mr. Ditter was
cleaning and repairing his daughter’s wagon.
During this process he removed the hubcaps
and wire brushed them. He noticed how much
they appeared like UFO photos he had seen in
books and magazines.
daughter’s request, he took his Polaroid
camera and started taking some snap shots.
After about a pack and a half of film and
some interruptions he had two photos which
resembled photos he had seen.
Mr. Ditter gave
the photos to his daughter who was very
happy with her father’s handy work. What his
daughter did with the photos is not known
but about three months later Mr. Ditter saw
the photos lying around the house so he
decided to take them to the shop. The photos
were then taped to the mirror behind his
barber chair where, when his patrons
inquired about them, he had a suitable story
nine months later a customer saw them for
the first time and asked about them. He then
excitedly left the shop and contacted his
physician who was a member of The National
Investigation Committee on Aerial Phenomena
(NICAP). The physician then reported the
photos to NICAP and to the media. The next
thing Mr. Ditter knew, in to his shop walked
representatives of the media and the ball
The pressure was
now on Mr. Ditter to again tell his story,
which he did, but this time it went far
beyond the barbershop. The story was on the
news wires and his shop was besieged with
investigators, reporters, and the curious.
Mr. Ditter was
now riding high on the publicity from radio,
TV, and the press, but the crash was soon to
come. Investigators soon spotted a
discrepancy in his story. The first photo he
took according to his story was of the UFO
hovering over his house,. The second photo
was of the UFO as it moved away from the
house and was over a field. Investigators
asked him if he was sure that was the
sequence of events, and he stuck to his
The photos were
numbered on the back and his so-called first
photo was numbered 7 and the second was
numbered 6, showing a reverse of sequence.
With his back to the wall, so to speak, Mr.
Ditter stuck to his story. Polaroid was
contacted and they stated that very rarely
are film packs mislabeled, but that it did
Ralph was still
holding firm to his story, but that was
enough proof for many investigators and the
photos were dubbed a hoax. The photos were
then sent to the Rand Corporation for
Mail poured in to
Ralph Ditter’s barbershop from all over the
world. The mail was from people who claimed
to have had sightings and who were very
supportive of Mr. Ditter’s position. Time
proceeded and by the time the Rand
Corporation’s results came out, the world
had finally lost interest in Ralph Ditter
and his photographs.
The Rand report
is unknown to most UFO investigators, but
when studied it shows that many man-hours of
excellent work had been done in a scientific
manner. Mr. Ditter stated to us, "I don’t
know how they did it but they were just
about damn right about everything they said
about those pictures."
wrote this unpublished report for the now
defunct Columbus based Civil Commission on
Aerial Phenomena (CCAP) in late 1971. In
spite of their report, the Rand report and
Mr. Ditter’s relatively unknown confession,
Mr. Ditter’s photographs still show up
occasionally in books and magazines. We are
publishing the CCAP report in order to put
the record straight about this well-known
Ohio case. We understand that Mr. Ditter
passed away several years ago. This report
is a testament to his accidental
contribution to ufology. His contribution is
not the photographs, but the lesson that not
all hoaxes in this field are planned. Some
are quite accidental, but they are no less
damaging to the credibility of scientific
UFO research. Hoaxes may be more numerous
than we might wish to admit.
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