Life Magazine UFO Photograph from 1957 Sent by Reader
Editor's Note: On December 7, 2008, I received a complete report of this incident from the man who took the photographs, Mr. Fogl. Check it out at Radio Officer's Amazing Story-Took Two Photographs of UFO from S. S. Ramsay.

All I have in my notes is that the photo was taken in December 1957, by the radio officer aboard the naval ship S. S. Ramsey. It was seen on deck, hovering in the sky. The radio officer grabbed his camera and took this picture before the object disappeared. I think the picture was first published in Flying Saucer Review. I wrote to them twice in 1996, but never got a reply.

I've attached the letter that I wrote to Life magazine to try to see if they had a good picture of it. I suspect that Life Magazine may still have old photo archives if you could get someone to take a look at them. With modern enhancement techniques, a good print (or especially a negative) might really be a winner! All the witnesses could be dead by now, although if there was someone about 22 years old in 1957, they'd be 71 or 71 now, and might still remember something.


A big thanks to Dave for sending us the info and photograph.

Click on picture above to see enlarged image

source and references:

Report © Dave

Photograph © Life Magazine


Hi BJ-As a long-time amateur investigator of UFOs, I find that your site is superb! I did want to add more information to the photo submitted by "Dave" in the 4/24/06 on-line issue. I first saw the photo back in the early 60's, published in the local CLEVELAND PLAIN DEALER newspaper.

The photograph was taken by Radio Officer Z. T Fogl of the S.S. Ramsay in December, 1957 off the California coast, as the ship was sailing from Vancouver, BC to Port Elizabeth via the Panama Canal.

In April, 1966, LIFE magazine used the photo, considered to be one of the most definitive and authenic photos of a UFO at the time, as a visual comparison to the Michigan UFO which had prompted J. Allen Hynek to call it "swamp gas."

The photo originally appeared in the February, 1959 issue of the British magazine FLYING SAUCER REVIEW, along with an interview of Mr. Fogl.

An interesting chain of events then occurred. FLYING SAUCER REVIEW was approached by the U.S. Air Force to see the negatives of Fogl's photos (apparently there was a second photo taken by Fogl). FSB did not have the negatives in their possession. FSB then pursued Fogl to obtain the negatives.

According to an article in FLYING SAUCERS, UFO Reports, Issue 3, October 1967 published by Dell Magazines (which is still in my possession after all these years), writer Ralph Rankow revealed that the Fogl UFO was a fake, fabricated by Fogl from parts of plastic airplane models.

The disc was made from 2 bases for the models (an F-104 Starfighter) and various antennae and a ladder on the disc was used from the model parts. Fogl hung the "UFO" by a silk thread, and was concerned that it might appear in the photos, but it did not. He used a Yashica "C" camera (35 mm?) with a 50mm or 75mm lens and a yellow filter.

When asked about faking the UFO, Fogl stated "The purpose of faking the picture was not to prove that it was easy to make a fake, but to show the public that certain people make utter fools of themselves. Far too many people make a racket of the UFO business - writing phony books supported by faked pictures". (Very much like "UFO Encounters - The Truth Behind the Brookhaven and Carp Incidents", written by J. B. Michaels in 1995, simply the BIGGEST pile of crap since George Adamski and Howard Menger).

What was even more bizarre about the whole situation was that the British UFO Research Association (BUFORA) apparently KNEW about the hoax for over 3 years after the photos were published. (Editor's Note: Mr. Fogl told me directly that he never contacted BUFORA, but that BUFORA contacted him.)

A person from that organization told Fogl that "quite a few people would be upset by the news [that the photos were hoaxes]" and Fogl supposedly told him to wait about a month and then make it public, which was never done.

I had forgotten about this article in the Dell magazine over the years and, after my interest was renewed back in the early 90's, I often wondered what the final verdict was regarding Fogl's photo. I happened to run across the Dell magazines (issues 1 thru 4) along the original LIFE Magazine color publication on UFOs and a large box full of paperbacks by the Lorenzens and many others. At that point, I rediscovered the article that indicated that the Fogl photo was a hoax.

Best regards,

J. B.

Stow, Ohio USA

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