Crash Story File: Trinity UFO-crash fictions clash with real atomic history

Crash Story File: Trinity UFO-crash fictions clash with real atomic history
Jacques Vallee shown speaking with reality-TV star Serena DC about the (mythical) 1945 Trinity UFO crash, in the new film We Are Not Alone.

By Douglas Dean Johnson

@ddeanjohnson on X/Twitter

Originally posted September 30, 2023. Any later updates or revisions are noted in a log at the end of the article.

A new alien-themed film set for release in early October will feature depictions and descriptions of the claimed 1945 Trinity UFO-crash, with contributions by Jacques Vallee and Paola Harris, authors of the book Trinity: The Best-Kept Secret.

The 90-minute film, titled We Are Not Alone, will be released on October 3 on DVD and on various digital platforms, according to a release from Elysium Media.

The film is the work of Serena DC, self-billed as a "talk show host, reality star, author, self love & dating expert," and Michael Mazzola. Both individuals have previously been involved in the production of films about Steven Greer, a man who has made many remarkable but poorly attested alien-related claims. My interest in the film is mostly in its inclusion of the tale of a UFO crash a month after and not many miles from the site of the first atomic bomb test, the Trinity test. Beginning in May 2023, I have published a series of investigative articles demonstrating that the Trinity UFO-crash story is a hoax. The articles that I have written on this subject are indexed here.

According to the Elysium Media promotional release, "We Are Not Alone is a call to action for all humanity to step up and hear the call from our galactic brothers and sisters that time is up for planet earth unless we make some significant changes to the way we live our lives, right now!" The release lists twelve participating "experts": Vallee, Harris, Greer, Mazzola, Jimmy Church, Adam Curry, Andrea Perron, Sid Goldberg, Yasmin Joyner ("she created some interest in air bending and has been practicing with a master"), Meisha Johnson ("a medium who has been in contact with aliens for years"), Yasmin Joyner (an animator), Danny Sheehan ("a constitutional and public interest lawyer...a big advocate that the ETs are trying to communicate so they can help us"), and Jim Myers ("a sasquatch specialist").

A trailer for the film was released on September 8. It begins with a glimpse of Vallee being interviewed by Serena DC. The view instantly jumps to an animation of a Tic-Tac-shaped craft clipping a tower and then crashing in flames, as Paola Harris's voice is heard saying, "The craft is not a flying saucer. It is the same shape as the casing of the Manhattan Project bomb."

Here is the opening clip from the trailer:


Clip of trailer for the film We Are Not Alone, depicting the claimed crash of a UFO in New Mexico in August 1945. (Fair use for educational and critical purposes.)

Here is the full trailer on YouTube:

A frame from the animated depiction of the purported Trinity UFO crash, from the film We Are Not Alone. Paola Harris is heard saying, "It is the same shape as the casing of the Manhattan Project bomb."
Jumbo, a 214-ton steel casing originally intended to house the first atomic bomb during the test detonation (but not used).

When Harris says, "It is the same shape as the casing of the Manhattan Project bomb," she is referring to "Jumbo," a massive steel capsule 25 feet long and 10 feet wide, in which Manhattan Project scientists at one point intended to place the first test atomic bomb prior to detonation, to prevent dispensation of dangerous plutonium if the attempted nuclear reaction fizzled. (The scientists later decided that the casing was unnecessary, so Jumbo was not actually used in the July 16, 1945 Trinity bomb test.) The animation does indeed depict a crashing object that is shaped somewhat like Jumbo, although more elongated– but I find this odd, since the alien object previously described as having crashed near the "Trinity" test site was not described or depicted as cylindrical.

The so-called "eyewitnesses" to the purported August 16, 1945 Trinity UFO crash, Reme Baca and Jose Padilla, generally have described an "avocado-shaped" object, with a dome. "The object is avocado shaped," Reme Baca told Harris in an interview on July 5, 2010. Jose Padilla told Mel Fabregas in an interview on November 24, 2010, "It had almost the shape of an avocado, except that up on the back, the rear back, there was like a little dome."

As recently as September 16, 2023, re-telling the tale, Harris said, "They walk up to this thing– they don't know what it is. It's avocado shaped." Likewise, in a "declaration" dated September 23, 2023, Vallee described the craft as "an 'avocado'."

An avocado is not cylinder-shaped – it has a taper.


The best-known image of the purported crashed craft is a color illustration that was produced by artist Jeff Neff in 2003. Reme Baca, the primary author of the 1945 crash story, strongly endorsed the Neff illustration, which he said was "almost as if you were there... It doesn't get any better."

Illustration of object that Reme Baca and Jose Padilla claimed crashed near San Antonio, New Mexico, in August, 1945, as rendered by Jeff Neff (2003).

Trinity: The Best-Kept Secret includes an illustration by Jose Padilla, dated 2018, that depicts an object with a rough degree of similarity to what Neff drew, although more elongated and less roundish, but in any event not resembling a cylinder with rounded ends as shown in the film animation, and not resembling Jumbo.

Illustration by Jose Padilla, 2018, from Trinity: The Best-Kept Secret, Second Edition, page 127.

Why would Paola Harris, and/or the producers of the We Are Not Alone, re-imagine the alien avocado-craft to resemble Jumbo, a famous artifact associated with the Manhattan Project and the Trinity atomic test? One possibility is that it is part of an ongoing effort by Harris and some others to tie the story, and the Vallee-Harris book, more closely to the Trinity atomic test itself, and to the movie Oppenheimer. The movie is a dramatization based on the life of J. Robert Oppenheimer, scientific director of the Los Alamos Laboratory during the World War II Manhattan Project and a key figure in the true story leading up to the July 16, 1945 Trinity nuclear test. Oppenheimer is currently the third-highest grossing film in the United States, and has awakened new public interest in the history of the Manhattan Project.

On September 16, 2023, Paola Harris presented an internet "master class," titled Beyond Oppenheimer to Trinity ($30 per ticket), that pitched the movie tie-in in explicit terms.

Harris and Vallee have repeatedly made implausible attempts to tie the UFO crash tale to real-world atomic-weapons history. In her September 16 "master class" presentation, Harris repeated her story that Reme Baca was responsible for the election of Dixy Lee Ray as governor of Washington State in 1976, and that as a reward, Ray--a former chair of the Atomic Energy Commission– showed Baca a secret AEC file dealing with the Trinity UFO crash. Harris said, "I just have Reme's word for it, but it makes sense. He got her elected, he had a Hispanic group, so she's going to return the favor."

In my article Crash Story File: The 'Secret File' of Governor Dixy Lee Ray (May 1, 2023), I demonstrated how utterly preposterous this Reme Baca story was, on multiple levels, and how foolish Paola Harris was to believe it. I also argued that Harris and Vallee were effectively smearing the long-dead governor by imputing such an act to her, since any scenario such as that described, had it really occurred, would have involved multiple federal felonies. My article included extensive commentary by Professor Alex Wellerstein, author of Restricted Data: The History of Nuclear Secrecy in the United States (University of Chicago Press, 2021) and Tim McMillan, executive director of The Debrief, both expounding on the implausibility of the Dixy Lee Ray secret-file story. But Harris plows on, oblivious.

I also published another article demonstrating, with much documentation, that the claims of Reme Baca to have been instrumental in the election of Dixy Lee Ray as governor, and to later to have been a member of the governor's executive staff, were gross exaggerations ranging into outright fictions, propped up by acts of blatant plagiarism, yet Harris continues to disseminate those discredited claims as well.

J. Robert Oppenheimer conversing with Albert Einstein, November 1947 (Princeton University Press).

In pushing the imagined Oppenheimer-UFO link, Harris employs a document that she believes to be a letter written jointly by Oppenheimer and Albert Einstein to President Truman, titled "Relationships with Inhabitants of Celestrial [sic] Bodies. The document (reproduced below) is marked TOP SECRET and "draft," and dated "June 1947." Harris associates this document with "MJ-12," a never-substantiated secret government group that some believe was in charge of the UFO/alien subject, to which innumerable hoaxed documents have been attributed since the 1980s.

Harris thinks the letter constitutes evidence that a UFO crash occurred in the United States prior to June 1947, which is the date on the document. There is no reference in the document to a crashed or recovered UFO. But in her September 16 presentation, Harris said, "Why would they write a letter? There had to be a crash before that [before June 1947]. So there was a crash before that." (The Roswell incident occurred in July 1947.)

Paola Harris displays fake "Einstein-Oppenheimer document" during her September 16, 2023 presentation titled Beyond Oppenheimer to Trinity. (Fair Use for journalistic and critical purposes.)

I am far from an expert on the troves of MJ-12 documents, but I have observed that some of them were adaptations of real documents or reflect other efforts to produce halfway convincing counterfeits. In contrast, this "Einstein-Oppenheimer" letter on inhabitants of "celestrial" bodies are as unconvincing as they come.

The document purports to be a discussion of issues raised by "relationships with extraterrestrial men," elsewhere referred to as "extraterrestrial biologic entities (EBE)," particularly if they wish "to settle here." The first four pages are so wretchedly written as to be virtually incoherent, besides being replete with misspellings. To the extent that this material conveys anything intelligible, it is filled with nonsensical statements– for example, the observation that "Another possibility may exist, that a species of homo sapiens might have established themselves as an independent nation on another celestrial [sic] body in our solar system and evolved culturally independent from ours." And, a call for international law to be replaced by "'Law Among Planetary Peoples,' following the Pentateuch" [the first five books of the Old Testament]. It is unfathomable to me that any person with a modicum of critical discernment could take this rambling nonsense to be an authentic product of either Oppenheimer or Einstein.

The voice of the document does shift near the bottom of page 4, beginning with this sentence, "And now to the final question of whether the presence of celestrial [sic] astroplanes in our atmosphere is a direct result of our testing atomic weapons?" Some of the material that follows -- barely more than a page-- is at least semi-coherent– for example, the expression of concern that ten years or so down the road, "mis-identification of these space-craft for an intercontenental [sic] missile in a re-entry phase of flight could lead to accidental nuclear war with horrible consequences."

I wondered if this final portion of the letter, at least, might have been inspired by a document that that Einstein and/or Oppenheimer actually wrote– not a letter about UFOs, but about the future dangers of accidental nuclear war. I thought that whoever forged the letter might have used some real document of that nature as a matrix into which to inject the UFO material.

I consulted first with Barry Greenwood, a researcher greatly knowledgeable on many aspects of ufological history, including the MJ-12 hoaxes. He responded in an email, "It looks to me like the O/E [Oppenheimer/Einstein] document was created out of whole cloth, with discussion that I can't imagine would have been like anything Oppenheimer or Einstein would have written that could have served as a model for the fake." [1]

I then consulted Professor Alex Wellerstein, the expert on the history of nuclear secrets and author of Restricted Data: The History of Nuclear Secret in the United States, seeking his observations of the section of the letter dealing with the dangers of accidental nuclear war. In an email dated August 10, 2023, Prof. Wellerstein wrote in part:

I know of no instance in which this was discussed by any of these people. I would note that contextually, the document contains things that Oppenheimer and Einstein for one would never say. For example, on page 5 [of the "Celestrial Inhabitants" letter] it laments the inability of international agreements to control atomic weapons. In June 1947 [the date on the fake letter], the failure of these agreements was not at all clear. Oppenheimer was himself deeply involved in the question of international control, and Einstein was advocating for it very strongly. So they would have regarded this as something in progress and not a failure. It is only several years later that any of them would have regarded these negotiations as obvious failures.
There are also some terminology issues. They would not have called thermonuclear weapons “fusion devices” in 1947, nor probably even “hydrogen bombs.” (They called them “Supers” at this time, and they were not discussed even with Truman.) The term “hydrogen bomb” was basically not used until late 1949/early 1950.
Even the bit referring to “atmospheric tests of late” is a bit anachronistic. The US had only tested 3 bombs by mid-1947. The last 2 (Operation Crossroads), they invited the Russians to observe. The adding of “atmospheric” is an unnecessary one in 1947 — there were no other kinds done nor contemplated at that point (only by the 1950s, as concerns about fallout began to grow, did the US start to think about underground testing, which is where distinguishing between underground and atmospheric testing makes a difference).
These are both the kind of things that would be not obvious to someone who wasn’t very, very steeped in the history — inadvertent anachronisms that give the game away.
This is separate from the fact that Einstein would absolutely not have been included in these discussions (he and Oppenheimer did not get along, Oppenheimer absolutely did not need Einstein’s “prestige” to be taken seriously, Einstein did not have a security clearance, etc.).

On the final page of the fake "Einstein-Oppenheimer" letter there appears a handwritten note, ostensibly written by Vannevar Bush, a leading government-affiliated science administrator during World War II and for a time thereafter (and, in MJ-12 lore, a leader of that shadowy group). The note indicated that Oppenheimer would not receive approval to discuss the matter with President Truman. It is possible that this note, at least, was lifted from some real document dealing with an unrelated subject, but if so, we have not identified the source.

[UPDATE (October 3, 2023): Hat tip to KeithCEGJ on X/Twitter, who pointed out that in real letters sent by Oppenheimer, the name of his employer is "The Institute for Advanced Study," not "Advanced Studies" as seen in the Oppenheimer signature caption in the fake letter. Also, in authentic letters, Oppenheimer rendered his name, both written and typewritten, simply as "Robert Oppenheimer" not "J. Robert Oppenheimer" as seen in the fake letter. I've inserted two examples below for purposes of illustration.]

Clockwise from 1 o'clock: Remigio (Reme) Baca, Paola Harris, William P. "Billy" Brophy, Jacques Vallee, Joseph Lopez (Jose) Padilla.


[1] In critique of the document published in January 1999, Barry Greenwood wrote, "Crude phrasing and spelling are attributed by the Woods [Robert and Ryan Wood] in their analysis to 'a secretary who couldn't spell.'...Imagine Einstein or Oppenheimer hiring a secretary who couldn't spell, given the precise language and computative requirements of a physicist! Imagine both approving of such a paper to be filed under their names (it was in MJ-12's files, according to the Woods). If Einstein were studying 'Celestrial' matters under such conditions, history would have been saddled with the famous formula: E=MJ2!" ("Majestic-12 Follies Returns," U.F.O. Historical Revue, January 1999, page 7.


(1) October 2, 2023: Add statement by Jose Padilla, "It had almost the shape of an avocado, except that up on the back, the rear back, there was like a little dome" (from interview conducted Nov. 24, 2010, and broadcast Dec. 10, 2010).

(2) October 3, 2023: Noted that the Oppeheimer did not use his initial letter "J." in authentic letters readily accessible on the internet, and that he was director of the "Institute for Advanced Study," not "Advanced Studies" as seen in the fake letter.

(3) March 10, 2024: Added End Note No. 1, quoting from January 1999 critique by Barry Greenwood.

You are in the Crash Story Files, a series of investigative reports examining claims that a UFO crashed and was recovered near San Antonio, New Mexico, in August 1945. To go back to the Crash Story hub and index, click here. The most recent major update is "Crash Story File: 'Witness' credibility implodes for Jacques Vallee's Trinity UFO crash tale," January 25, 2024.