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The famous McMinnville UFO photos (also known as the ‘Trent UFO’) are at the centre of a tug-of-war between the Trent family and the local newspaper:

When her parents died in the mid-1990s, the location of the negatives was a mystery. Daughter Linda Sayler eventually discovered they had been in the hands of navy physicist and UFO investigator Bruce Maccabee since 1974.

…Maccabee agreed to return the negatives, and Sayler thought it would be safer if he sent them to the News-Register newspaper to pass on to her. That was 2001, and she’s been trying ever since to get the newspaper to give them back.

Phil Bladine ran the paper when the photos were first published. A letter from 1970 shows he helped get the negatives back from United Press International when they disappeared the first time. Bladine is also the man who lent the negatives to Maccabee with the permission of the Trents three decades ago.

The fact that Bladine had the negatives to lend is the crux of why the newspaper now wants to keep them. The newspaper argues in a letter sent to the family in 2004 that Paul Trent left the negatives in Bladine’s hands “with the indication that he wanted nothing more to do with them.”

The letter states the newspaper “believes that the negatives should become part of a permanent historic display in Yamhill County, with a mediated settlement as to access and other rights.” That’s even after Maccabee made it clear in an e-mail that he “sent the negatives to Phil Bladine under the assumption that he would return the photos to the Trent children” and they should be returned to the family.

It’s an interesting case. On the one hand, I do feel that if the family wants the negatives, the proper thing to do would be to pass them on. On the other, I’d hate to see that happen if the negatives be locked away and never open to further investigation.

You can find more information about Dr Bruce Maccabee’s investigation of the Trent photos at his website. The case was listed #4 in Paul Kimball’s UFO documentary Best Evidence: Top Ten UFO Cases.