In May of 1950, Paul and Evelyn Trent sighted an unidentified flying object over their farm near McMinnville, Oregon. What happened next changed their lives and cemented their names in Ufology history.
On May 11, 1950, Evelyn Trent went to tend to her animals behind her farmhouse when she suddenly noticed a metallic disc-shaped object hovering above her. She ran to call her husband so he could grab their camera to photograph the object. Her husband, Paul Trent, managed to snap two photos before the object silently flew away. Both photos were snapped within 30 seconds.
Paul did not develop the photos until several weeks later. Once he did, he showed them to a friend, Frank Wortman, who took them to the local newspaper. The paper quickly sent out a reporter to the Trent's farm to learn about their incredible sighting. When initially asked to borrow the negatives, the Trent’s could not find them. Eventually, they were found under their couch as their kids were playing with them.
On June 8, 1950, McMinnville’s Telephone Register newspaper published the images on their front page with the headline “At Long Last--Authentic Photographs Of Flying Saucer [?]” Within days, the story quickly spread as Trent's photos were published in papers all over the U.S.
Frank Edwards (pictured to the left) became fascinated with the photos and said he had personally taken them to The Pentagon. Edwards said that he was told that “they were the best civilian photographs of an Unidentified Flying Object that the Air Force had ever seen.” Edwards promoted the story on his radio program and encouraged listeners to order copies of the Telephone Register’s newspaper. All in all, the paper went to press three times as over 10,000 copies were sent out to 48 states within three weeks. The two photos and an exclusive article were famously featured in the widely popular and publicized LIFE Magazine. In a 1950 Miami newspaper, Paul Trent is quoted as saying, “I didn’t believe all that talk about flying saucers before, but now I have an idea the Army knows what they are.”
In the late 1960s, the Condon Committee investigated the original negatives and concluded: “…This is one of the few UFO reports in which all factors investigated…appear to be consistent with the assertion that an extraordinary flying object…flew within sight of two witnesses.”
For decades, the legitimacy of the images has been debated. Skeptics say they were hoaxed, while researchers say they are as authentic as can be. The photos have been heavily examined and investigated by several Ufologists and photo analysts. Most notable among those who've analyzed the negatives is optical physicist Dr. Bruce Maccabee. He obtained the original negatives in 1975 and, after various tests, found them to be authentic.
In a rare interview, Evelyn Trent explained what they sighted and how everything transpired.
"I happened to look up and I seen this thing, and I ran into the house to tell him [Paul] about it. He went after a camera, and I went another way after a camera and between the both of us we found it. The best thing I can say, it was about the size of a parachute without any strings or anything like that. It was all flat on the bottom, and it was silvery colored. That was about the only thing that there was. There was no smoke, no noise either way. It was just above the electric light wires. The distance and stuff, I just don't know. It basically hovered for a while just like that and he took the picture. Just as soon as he took the picture, he round the film to re-roll to take another one and as soon as he took it, it turned and just took off very fast." - Evelyn Trent
The Trent’s did not financially gain from the photos and were even left without the original negatives for decades. Nonetheless, the Trent UFO photos are among the most historically significant images in Ufology.