It was August 3, 1965, when Orange County Highway Maintenance Engineer, Rex Hefflin took 4 photographs of an unidentified flying object (UFO) he saw out of his van window. He was at work, detecting traffic hazards, at the corner of Myford and Walnut, near the railroad crossing, in Santa Ana, California.
A team of scientists recently reanalyzed Heflin’s photos with state-of the-art computer technology, and had their findings published in a refereed scientific journal, the Journal of Scientific Exploration. They have failed to find any evidence of a hoax. He had taken 3, quick and sharp, photos of the object, in approximately 20 seconds, with Polaroid 101 camera that used 3000 ASA film. This is the kind that requires two hands and you have to remove the photo after each shot which then develops about one minute later.
The show “Fact or Faked Paranormal Files” did a show on this subject (Season 2, Episode 9) that proved that taking these photos in the 20 second range, was hard, but not impossible. Hefflin took a 4th photo, of a black smoke ring, 1 minute later. supposedly of where the object was last seen.
He had the camera as part of his job, normally used to record highway obstructions or other problems. He also reported seeing a rotating band of light underneath the object. Twice, he tried to radio his base office during the event but the radio was dead, and returned to working order only after the object had exited sight.
Two men (in black) showed up at Heflin’s door, two days later, September 20, 1965, flashed a salmon & green card (no photo) and claimed to be with NORAD, North American Aerospace Defense Command. They asked to see the photos and said they’d get them right back to him.
They did not ask about the fourth photo which Rex kept. After some time passed, and the photos were not returned, Heflin tried to track them down with the assistance of NICAP– LANS (National Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenomena – Los Angeles NICAP Subcommittee).
They failed to find the photos and NORAD said they didn’t have them, nor had they sent anyone to visit Rex Heflin. The Air Force’s Project Bluebook listed the Heflin photos as a “hoax.” Mysteriously, in 1993 the phone rang in Heflin’s Northern California home and a woman asked, “Have you checked your mailbox lately?”, and hung up. He went to the mailbox, which was empty. Approximately 30 minutes later, another phone call, the same woman, the same question and hang up. Rex went to the mailbox again, this time there was a plain 9 x 12 inch manila envelope, no writing or postage on it, which contained the original 3 photos (verified by experts, comparing it to the fourth photo still in Heflin’s possession). Fact of Faked Paranormal Files tried a few experiments based on ideas people have posted of what they thought it could have been. It looks a lot like a hat so they tried to blow a hat by in the wind and were able to get one similar photo, but the hat did not stay in the area long enough for 3 photos. They also tried a hat dangled from a fishing line but this certainly would have required an accomplice, which there has been no knowledge of in over 50 years.
They thought, that since El Toro Marine Corp Base is nearby, maybe it could have been some experimental vehicle, maybe like a blimp. If so, it could have possibly hit the power lines and burned up, causing the smoke ring in the fourth picture.
They tried to re-create this, which was cool, but did not look like the photo. I found several comments online like, “I was thinking a disc brake rotor”, “It’s actually a wheel from a model train. Heflin was a model train set enthusiast.”, “Last one looks like the smoke ring from a transformer explosion” and “There was analysis done on these photos at some point. They determined this was a real object that was far away. I think the photo is legit.”
Rex Heflin died on October 19, 2005 after battling a long illness. Faked or not this object certainly remains a mystery, a UFO. In my opinion, it was clearly a weather balloon. That is the standard military explanation so I’m sticking with that.