Bad UFOs: Skepticism, UFOs, and The Universe: “Trinity UFO Crash” Story Crashes


Bad UFOs: Skepticism, UFOs, and The Universe: “Trinity UFO Crash” Story Crashes

Those who follow developments in UFOdumb are probably familiar with the book Trinity, The Best-Kept Secret, self-published by Paola Harris and Jacques Vallee. I wrote only a little about it early last year. It’s the story of a supposed saucer crash in New Mexico in August, 1945 not far from the site of the Trinity nuclear test, the world’s first. It’s primarily based on the accounts of two young boys who supposedly witnessed the saucer crash, saw still-living aliens, and then watched as the army carried it all off.

The Second Edition
Paola Harris and Jacques Vallee




When the book was first published, to say it was not well-received by serious researchers would be an understatement. Longtime researcher Kevin Randle interviewed both authors in 2021, and wrote

I’ll just point out that Vallee and Paola said that there was no documentation, the physical evidence that was talked about didn’t exist in today’s world, other than a couple of pieces that, when analyzed didn’t demonstrate an extraterrestrial origin. 

Not exactly a ringing endorsement. Others were less generous. Bryan Sentes wrote on the Skunkworks Blog

On finishing Vallée’s and Harris’ Trinity, the reader would be forgiven if they wondered if the “Jacques Vallée” who co-authored this book were the same “Jacques Vallée” credited with writing Revelations or the recently re-issued Passport to Magonia. Where the last volume is, at least in certain circles, highly-prized for being inventive and groundbreaking and Revelations is a focussed, critical examination of the stories about alien abduction, crashed flying saucers and dead aliens, secret alien bases and cattle mutilation, Trinity is an unfocussed, raggedly-composed, eye-rollingly credulous mess of a book.

It would be a tedious exercise to catalogue its manifold failings. While Vallée speaks of himself as a scientist and even imagines scientists reading the book (286), Trinity is no work of science, scholarship, or even investigative journalism. Indeed, it reads like a first draft, in sore need of a thorough editing for content and structure, let alone a proof-reading.

And Jason Colavito wrote

The San Antonio crash story is rather unbelievable, even by UFO standards. According to the most common version of the story, Jose Padilla and Reme Baca, then aged 9 and 7, witnessed a nearly thirty-foot-long spacecraft crash into the desert. They ran to the crash site and saw two little men emerge and begin running about in a panic. One of the boys took a piece of debris from the crash site. Then, the U.S. Army arrived, built a road out to the crash site, and retrieved the spaceship. The boys never knew what became of the little men from inside the ship.

So the Trinity UFO Crash story was on pretty thin ice, from the time of its release in May, 2021. But now it has been blown apart completely. A very diligent researcher named Douglas Dean Johnson has dropped a whole boxcar of dynamite on the yarn, and blown it to smithereens. Johnson did the research that Vallee and Harris should have done before publishing this outlandish tale.

I first heard of Johnson about two years ago, when he sent me material critical of the UFO claims of Ray Stanford. Now he has published a very careful and detailed refutation of the principal claims of the Trinity Crash story, mortally wounding it. He writes,

This article, Crash Story: The Trinity UFO Crash Hoax, and the linked Crash Story File series, are based on my journalistic investigations (extending over three months, as of May 1, 2023). I present extensive documentation establishing that all three of the claimed “eyewitness” sources – Baca, Padilla, Brophy — have propagated lies and/or fantasies that are absolutely fatal to their credibility. Because I have demonstrated, in my opinion, that the three primary sources have all engaged in multiple gross fabrications, it would be folly to attach any credence whatever to any of the oft-conflicting versions of the UFO crash-recovery events that they have described….

the Trinity UFO-crash story is a tale dreamed up by a serial pretender, Remigio (Reme) Baca, AKA “Ray Baca,” now deceased– who faked a history as a political “kingmaker” and senior aide to a governor, and fabricated a story about viewing an ultra-secret government file about his fake UFO crash.  Baca enlisted a man who faked a history as a police officer and wounded veteran, Joseph Lopez (Jose) Padilla. These two fakers hijacked the names and personas of a real policeman (Eddie Apodaca) and a real governor (Dixy Lee Ray) as characters in their shoddy work of fiction…. The tale has grown and morphed over a 20-year period. The current Vallee-Harris presentation incorporates claims that flatly contradict early statements by Baca and Padilla that have been overlooked, ignored, or forgotten.

Johnson’s findings were for the most part embraced by the UFO community. Journalist Billy Cox, a staunch UFO promoter, wrote “Based on three months’ worth of scouring public records, contemporaneous newspaper articles, myriad podcasts and consultations with experts, Johnson’s fact-checking revelations are absolutely devastating.” And Kevin Randle wrote that Johnson’s research “should be the stake in the heart of this tale.”

For a few weeks, everyone wondered – what would Vallee and Harris say about this? Would Vallee admit his mistakes, apologize, and move on? Harris herself of course said nothing, then on May 15 she published a reply from Vallee to Johnson on her website. Vallee writes that the history of UFO research

is littered with interminable fights, meaningless boastings and pretentious proclamations, more often designed to denigrate an opponent than to elevate a debate.

The attack against the work that Mrs. Harris and I have conducted in New Mexico since 2018 with the guidance of a scientific research team is a case in point.

There was no “attack” in anything Johnson wrote; he was simply noting the discrepancies between what V&H wrote, and verifiable facts. And Lord knows that one must never dispute “the guidance of a scientific research team”!! Vallee continues,

The accusation of naivety and negligence against us made in « Crash Story » is inaccurate: As the primary author, I only used the recorded data originating from Reme Baca when it could be compared and verified against other statements of fact. Why support the fictitious tale that our book relies primarily on Baca’s version of the story ? That is simply inaccurate.

To which Johnson replies with a quote that is in both editions of Trinity:

From “Trinity: The Best-Kept Secret” (1st Ed. p. 317; 2nd Ed. p. 337): “The primary reference to the events described here [in Trinity] is a monograph by Reme Baca and Jose Padilla, entitled, Born on the Edge of Ground Zero…”

So Vallee apparently does not even remember what he wrote about his own sources.


In fact, Ms. Paola is so far into “Exopolitics” that she is teaching a course in the “Exopolitics Institute,” titled “Exo-109 – Messages from Space – Past and Present Contact.”  From the course description:

This course takes us back to the early days of contact and the messages given to early contactees. It examines the geopolitical structure of the world in a cold war era. It focuses on the giant Rock conventions and the mission of people like George Van Tassel , Howard Menger and George Adamski. Then the course will shift to present day human alien contacts in both Italy and Latin America.  Contactees such as Sixto Paz, Ricardo Gonzales and Luis Fernando have given us messages about the shift that is taking place and the current evolution of man in the context of an inhabited cosmos.

Got that? The messages from the Space People given to “Classic” contactees like Adamski and Menger were authentic, and so are those of later contactees, as well. How Vallee could simply ignore such absurdity strongly suggests that his discernment, his reasoning, is not what it used to be.


Reading Vallee’s autobiographical volumes Forbidden Science, it is apparent that the Vallee of old was not one to simply accept fantastic tales, and he was told plenty of them over the years. He would  react with sort of a bemused smile, and a suggestion that their story might be more compelling if they had any actual evidence. In 1977 I wrote in the Skeptical Inquirer a rather dismissive review of Vallee’s book The Invisible College, which teaches “Metalogic.” Given the opportunity to reply, Vallee wrote a few calm lines, noting that “a great deal of my time is spent precisely in exposing the contradictions of contactee stories,” and he ended it with a silly poem he wrote about the recently-deceased Dr. Donald Menzel. He was unflappable under criticism, which is so different from the Vallee we see in this current screed

Also, in reading Forbidden Science, one is constantly reminded how close Vallee was with his wife Janine, who died in 2010. Her death must have been a tremendous blow to him. One suspects that Janine’s death, combined with age-related mental issues, has left Vallee in a rather vulnerable state, prone to being unduly influenced by others. The fact is that Vallee, come September, will be 84, and mental confusion and decline is extremely common among persons of that age. It would be ironic if Vallee’s reputation in UFO history were to be largely determined by this absurd screed written in his dotage. It is reminiscent of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and his foolish embrace, in his old age, of the Cottingley Fairies.

Update May 20, 2023: Douglas Dean Johnson has done it again!


Less than a year before going public with what became the Jacques Vallee-Paola Harris story of the 1945 crash of an avocado-shaped UFO, Reme Baca was tape-recorded peddling a very different story about a boyhood encounter that he and Jose Padilla had with a very different sort of UFO: a tale of their discovery of a classical flying saucer, crashed– in 1946. And that’s just the start.

Reme Baca contacted Roswell author Tom Carey peddling a different “crashed saucer” yarn. This one took place in 1946, not 1945, and involved different circumstances. Johnson posts the recording and the transcript. There is no ‘wiggling away’ from this one. 

I wonder what rationalization Jacques Vallee will use to dismiss this one? 😄

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