Extraordinary claims. Ordinary investigations.

The Laredo, Texas, “Tomato Man”


“In 1978, a former Naval photographer released a series of photographs of the charred remains of a head and torso, which he claimed were extraterrestrial. He said that the photos were taken in 1948, when he was flown to Mexico, south of Laredo, Texas, to document the crash of 90-foot diameter "flying saucer" and its dead pilot.”
[Ron Schaffner, “TOMATO MAN REVISITED: The Alleged Alien Body Photographs”]

Schaffner’s investigation of these two photos is a very nice work which deserves to be read in full. This is simply a summary.

Several inconsistencies were noted in the original story from an unnamed source, including F-94 fighter planes scrambling the flying saucer in 1948, a year before the F-94 was even a prototype, from an Air Base that didn’t exist under its referred name; travelling in an aircraft that wasn’t built before 1950 and had no room for the number of people claimed and, “probably the largest gaff in the entire scenario: If one takes all the information given and does some simple calculations, the object should have crashed in Oklahoma or Kansas. In order to reach Mexico, our ‘spaceship’ would have had to make another 90 degree turn and fly south by southwest.”

The analysis also noted that:


“1. Upon closer examination of photo #1, what appears to be two conductor cable, probably "earthly" in origin, can be seen..
2. Near the right shoulder we find the frames of some type of eyeglasses. It was our opinion that this was the remains of flight glasses used by pilots.
3. Close scrutiny of the structural remains look man-made. You can see a six-sided hex nut, tubular piping, angle iron and many welded areas. The welds conform to all standard procedures indicative of that time.

Photograph #2 was cropped to reserve web space. The original picture we have on file shows what appears to be three individuals standing behind the body. The legs of the person you are seeing is definitely military since his fatigues are bloused above his field boots. The others seem to be wearing raincoats. If one of these persons is an Officer, he is wearing low quarters and a class "A" uniform (Greens). According to the Air Force, the class "A" uniform with the black stripe down the side of the pants did not come into use until 1957. This uniform is only worn during the winter months.”

All very earthly. And human. In the course of the investigation, they contacted the “Burns Institute (Shriners Hospital for Crippled Children, Cincinnati, Ohio). This hospital is world known for its work with burned patients. We interviewed the Chief of Staff and allowed him to study the photographs. It was his expert opinion that the photos represented an incinerated body of a human. The swelling of the head would be caused by extreme heat flash.”

Which all leads to the conclusion that:

This was a photograph of a light aircraft crash and its dead pilot. Whether it was military or not is still an issue open for debate.”

This thorough analysis was conducted by Schaffner in 1981, just three years after the photos were initially circulated. It didn’t stop the photos from being promoted as mysterious in the literature, with little regard for the crash victim. [with thanks to Luis Ruiz Noguez]

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Posted in Aliens | 3 comments

3 Comments so far

  1. Terrence Brown January 6th, 2010 8:57 pm

    Just a thought: instead of a bloated head, could that be a globe-shaped helmet (like a motorcyclist wears) and the “missing” face in merely pointed down, chin resting on chest?

  2. Mori January 6th, 2010 9:43 pm

    It’s possible, Terrence, though if it was a metal helmet I don’t think it would have that texture after an intense fire. It’s just a guess from my part, however.

  3. […] photographs of humans, some are misidentifications of shadows and so on, and at least one shows a dead human pilot horribly burnt following a crash (the wire rims of his spectacles are glearly visible). […]

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