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Screening of Trent UFO Documentary
Mattie's Room at Hotel Oregon
The Story of the Trent UFO Photos
On May 11, 1950 an uneventful afternoon became, in just a few chaotic seconds, a life-transforming experience in the lives of a family near McMinnville, OR. It was also a moment that completely altered the debate surrounding the search for extraterrestrial life and UFOs.
On that day, Evelyn Trent went out to feed the chickens and rabbits behind the farmhouse where she and her husband Paul lived. Evelyn was astonished to see a large, metallic-looking, disc-shaped object hovering silently in the sky to the northeast. She called for Paul, who grabbed their camera.
The disc was moving slowly to the west, and Paul clicked off two snapshots. As it gathered speed and disappeared near the horizon, the Trents said it created a silent “wind.”
The couple was quiet about the strange encounter for a while, thinking they may have witnessed a secret government project, and it would be another three weeks before Paul had the film developed. Eventually, he showed the pictures to his friend Frank Wortman, who alerted the local paper. The Telephone Register dispatched a reporter to interview the Trents.
Long story, short: the story was picked up by the international press and a firestorm ignited. A story appeared in LIFE magazine, and the Trents were flown to New York to appear on the popular TV show, We the People. Interestingly, the show’s producers instructed them to bring the negatives along; the show “borrowed” them, and the Trents never saw the negatives again. National radio personality and self-described UFO authority Frank Edwards claimed to have personally taken two enlargements of the photos to the Pentagon. “I was told,” he said on his national radio program, “they were the best civilian photographs of an Unidentified Flying Object that the Air Force had ever seen.”
While the media frenzy soon calmed down, the controversy surrounding the pictures never did. The photos became some of the most hotly debated UFO photographs ever, attaining status as evidence of one of the most reliable and well-documented cases in UFO history. The photos have been subject to intense scrutiny, reinvestigation and reanalysis by investigators and scientists, but the images’ authenticity has been upheld.
The Trents never did try to get the negatives back. In his last interview, Paul Trent indicated that the images were more of a hassle than anything, and Evelyn agreed, citing, “Just too much publicity.”
The historic photos are still relevant today. On the Internet and at meetings around the world, the case’s authenticity is still argued, defended and debated. Perhaps we will never know what exactly hovered above the farms outside McMinville that day. In fact, the Trents themselves were never sure.