An American astronomer from the University of New Mexico and a pioneer in the study of meteors.

LaPaz recovering Kansas meteor, 1948
LaPaz recovering Kansas meteor, 1948

On July 10th, 1947, while driving with his wife and children near Fort Sumner, New Mexico, La Paz reported seeing a huge elliptical object in the sky.

From Life magazine, April 7, 1952. “HAVE WE VISITORS FROM SPACE?”


On July 10, 1947 at 4:47 p.m., one of the U.S.’s top astronomers was driving from Clovis to Clines Corners, N. Mex. [Subsequently revealed to be Dr. Lincoln LaPaz, investigator of Incident 10, the mysterious green fireballs.] His wife and his teen-aged daughters were also in the car. (For professional reasons he has asked LIFE to withhold identity.) It was a bright sunny day, but the whole western half of the sky was a “confused cloud sea.” All at once, as the car headed toward these clouds, “all four of us almost simultaneously became aware of a curious bright object almost motionless” among the clouds. Instantly, from long habit in dealing with celestial phenomena, he began to make calculations. with what crude materials he had at hand. He held a pencil at arm’s length, measured the size of the object against the windshield of the car, measured the distance between his eyes and the windshield, etc. His wife and two daughters did the same, each making independent calculations. The object, says the scientist, “showed a sharp and firm regular outline, namely one of a smooth elliptical character much harder and sharper than the edges of the cloudlets… The hue of the luminous object was somewhat less white than the light of Jupiter in a dark sky, not aluminum or silver-colored…. The object clearly exhibited a sort of wobbling motion… This wobbling motion served to set off the object as a rigid, if not solid body.” After 30 seconds in plain view, the ellipsoid moved slowly behind a cloud (273 degrees azimuth, elevation 1 degree) “and we thought we had lost it.” But approximately five seconds later it reappeared (275 degrees azimuth, elevation 2 degrees). “This remarkably sudden ascent thoroughly convinced me that we were dealing with an absolutely novel airborne device.” After reappearing, the object moved slowly from south to north across the clouds. “As seen projected against these dark clouds, the object gave the strongest impression of self-luminosity.” About two and a half minutes after it first came into view, the thing disappeared finally behind a cloudbank.


The astronomer vouches for the approximate accuracy of his observations and computations. He determined that the object was not less than 20 nor more than 30 miles from his viewing point; that it was ellipsoidal and rigid; that it was 160 feet long and 65 feet thick, if seen at minimum distance; or 245 feet long and 100 feet thick if at maximum; and that its horizontal speed ranged between 120 and 180 mph and its vertical rise between 600 and 900 mph. He also observed that the object moved with a wobble, no sounds, and left no exhaust or vapor trail. His wife and daughters support his observations, and their computations were in accordance with his own, though slightly less conservative. The object’s appearance and behavior answer no known optical or celestial phenomenon. No known or projected aircraft, rocket or guided missile can make such a rapid vertical ascent without leaving an exhaust or vapor trail.

J Allen Hynek wrote:

[He] is thoroughly convinced that both the green fireballs and Zamora’s Soccoro sighting were observations of tests of advanced vehicles being produced by some project even more secret than the Manhattan Project. I am afraid that LaPaz is unshakable from this hypothesis.
(Peebles, 371)