Heflin UFO Photos
Santa Ana, California
August 3, 1965

The Heflin photographs in panorama

Summarized by Richard Hall:

Rex Heflin, an Orange County highway inspector,  was at work in a county vehicle at 12:37 P.M when he saw a hat-shaped (disc with dome) object hovering above the road. He grabbed his Polaroid camera normally used to record highway obstructions or other problems and took three photographs of the metallic-appearing object and a fourth of a black "smoke ring" left behind by the object after it departed at high speed. He reported seeing a rotating band of light on the underside of the object (like the sweep of a radar beam).

Heflin twice tried to radio his base, during the sighting, but the radio would not work. (It functioned normally after the object departed.) One of the photographs was published by the Santa Ana Register on September 20, 1965; then the story was picked up by the national newswire services.

The Los Angeles Subcommittee of NICAP, headed by Idabel Epperson, conducted  a thorough investigation of the case, including a detailed character and background check, on-site investigation and measurements (by engineer John Gray), and photoanalysis. Both Heflin and the newspaper cooperated fully in the investigation.

Computer enhancement and  photoanalysis was conducted by Robert Nathan at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, working with first-generation prints and copy negatives made by the newspaper. Among other things, the analysis established photographic evidence to confirm the "light beam" on the underside of the object. The Air Force issued a statement declaring the photographs a hoax, which was strongly disputed by NICAP. Nathan specifically ruled out a model suspended by a string as the explanation.

Unknown parties later attempted to tamper with the evidence and manipulate information. The copy negatives were obtained from Heflin under false pretenses, by someone pretending to be from the North American Air Defense Command.  

(Click here for copy of letter from Lt. Gen. Wheless).

Years later, Bill Spaulding of Ground Saucer Watch using computer enhancement techniques reported finding a linelike marking above the object, suggestive of a supporting string, implying that the UFO was hoaxed by using a small model. However, the alleged "line" clearly was either an artifact created by multigenerational copying of the photographs or a deliberately introduced marking to discredit Heflin. No such line was found in the originals by Nathan, the newspaper, or NICAP analysts.

In 1993, MUFON photoanalyst Jeffrey Sainio re-examined Spaulding's work and rejected the string hypothesis.

Technical data: Polaroid Model 101,114 mm focal length, variable aperture, built-in light meter, automatic settings; Type 107 black & white film, ASA 3000.

Conclusion: "A highly credible, thoroughly investigated case that meets all the criteria for significant evidence of a real, structured, craftlike UFO."

Richard Hall in The UFO Evidence, Volume II