Friday, November 26, 2010

Did UFOs Disable Minuteman Missiles at Malmstrom AFB in 1967?

When it comes to the existence of UFOs, I have to admit that I'm rather agnostic about the subject.  Its simple for me, over the past 53 years, I've never seen a UFO.  I don't rule the phenomenon out completely, but I'm of the mind frame that you have to "show me the saucer" or better yet, I need to see one with my own eyes.  The case of the Malmstrom AFB UFO incident that allegedly happened in 1967 caught my attention about a year ago.  Malmstrom was my first Air Force assignment, stationed there from 1981 to 1985.  I was assigned to the 490th Strategic Missile Squadron as a Minuteman II launch officer.  My primary alert facilities where November-01, Lima-01 and Kilo-01.  During my time on station, I never saw a UFO, nor did I hear from other alert crew members that they had seen one.  Curiously, I had never heard of any stories about UFOs disabling ICBM.  We would talk about the myths and legends surrounding our "haunted" Launch Facility, A-05, but UFOs weren't in our lexicon.

A UFO Mysteriously Causes 10 Minuteman ICBMs to Drop Off Alert

On the morning of March 16, 1967, Capt Eric Carlson and Lt Walter Figel were finishing up their alert cycle at the 10th Strategic Missile Squadron's Echo-01 Launch Control Center located near Winifred, MT. At approximately 0845, an alarm sounded indicating a missile fault. One of Echo's Launch Facilities (LF) had dropped from "Strategic Alert" to off alert. The crew, following tech order procedures initiated a Voice Reporting Signal Assembly (VRSA) channel check that revealed a reporting channel 9, LF No-Go, effecting the Minuteman I's guidance and control system. In rapid succession, the rest of Echo's remaining 9 sorties drop off alert status. All with the same VRSA channel 9 LF No-Go report.

Fast forward three decades. UFO researcher, Robert Hastings, tells an interesting tale of UFOs and a subsequent Air Force cover-up involving the Echo Flight shutdown. In an article on the web site, "Did UFOs Cause the Shutdown of ICBMs at Malmstrom AFB in March 1967?" dated 12-26-2008, Hastings provides the contents of a telephone interview with Col Walter Figel (USAF Ret).

Figel basically tells Hastings that during the morning of 16 March 1967 all ten missile did drop off alert with VRSA ch 9 No-Go reports. At least two of the LFs had maintenance teams on site. Two LFs were on diesel generators as backup power sources. When asked what was causing the faults, the maintenance team member stated, "Must be a UFO hovering over the site." Figel thought that the individual was joking. A subsequent call from a security guard stated that he could see an object over the LF. Figel thought that the man seemed serious but not panicked.

Figel recalls being relieved by the new on-coming crew and returning to base where he and Carlson were questioned by squadron personnel. When asked if Carlson heard all of the radio communications from the maintenance and security teams, Figel said that Carlson heard everything as he was sitting no more than two feet away.

When asked if Carlson had said anything to Hastings in a 10-6-08 interview, Hastings stated that Carlson seemed reluctant to talk about it. Carlson did not recall any UFO involvement nor did he recall ever talking to Figel about UFOs causing the shutdown incident. Thus ended the interview.

In another on-line article on the site, Robert Salas and Jim Klotz, "The Malmstrom AFB UFO/Missile Incident" originally dated 27 Nov 1996, updated 15 May 2000, provides a brief accounting of the Echo Flight incident basically identical to the Hastings/Figel account. The thrust of the article promotes Salas experience at Oscar Flight on 24 March 1967. Salas states that on alert as a Deputy Missile Combat Crew Commander at the 490th SMS Oscar Flight (near Roy, MT), security personnel top-side reported that they saw two star-like objects zig-zagging around in the night sky. Moments later, Oscar's Flight Security Controller (FSC) reported a UFO hovering outside of the facility's gate. The object was glowing red. Salas states that he then reported the information to the command post. (Kilo-01, the squadron's command post or the Wing Command Post back at the base?) The FSC calls back Salas that one man has been injured and is in the process of being evacuated by helicopter back to the base. At this point Salas awakens his crew commander, Fred Meiwald, and briefs him on the events. About this time, alarms sound and 6 to 8 LFs drop off of alert and all registering No-Go indications.

What is interesting about the Salas and Klotz article is that Salas thought that he was on alert at November-01 LCC during the night of 24 March 1967, hence the update to the original article now depicting Salas at Oscar-01.  There is no documentation showing that anyone was injured at Oscar-01 and helicoptered back to base.

So, as can be seen, Hastings, Salas and Klotz present testimony that UFOs caused, not just Echo Flight to shutdown, but 6 to 8 missile shut downs in Oscar Flight. Since the Echo Flight incident is referenced in detail in declassified Air Force documents with no mentioning of the Oscar Flight incident, Hastings, Salas and Klotz have declared that SAC and the Air Force intentionally covered-up the fact that UFOs disabled numerous ICBMs.

Robert Jamison

On 1-12-2009, Robert Hastings posted another article on, "UFOs DID Shutdown Minuteman Missiles at Echo and Oscar Flight at Malmstrom AFB in March 1967." The focus of Hastings article was to show that Figel's account was echoed in a interview given to Robert Salas and Jim Klotz. By this time Salas and Klotz were in the process of writing their co-authored book, Faded Giant. Hastings provides another interview which he uses as confirmation that both Echo and Oscar Flights were brought down by a UFO. Thus in Hastings' opinion this proves that SAC and the Air Force engaged in a cover-up.

Robert C. Jamison provided Hastings with his experience during the March 1967 incident. Jamison was a 1stLt assigned to a Combat Targeting Team (CTT). As the CTT commander, Jamison assisted in the restart of an entire flight of ten Minueman I ICBMs. He was "certain" that the restart occurred in a flight near Lewistown, MT believing that in may have been Oscar Flight. (Oscar is near Roy, MT; November is near Grassrange, MT) Jamison recalled that the start ups occurred around the 24/25 March time-frame.

Prior to being dispatched to the field, Jamison's team is kept on the base as a precaution to UFO reports coming from the field. He and his team received a special briefing concerning UFO reporting procedures. While awaiting to be dispatched to the field, Jamison overhears radio traffic concerning a UFO sighting near Belt, MT. (Belt is approx. 15 miles east of Great Falls/Malmstrom) Jamison's team is eventually dispatched and performs restarts at 3 to 4 LFs. While performing his tasks, Jamison stated that he saw nothing unusual. Two weeks later Jamison responded to a partial flight shutdown southwest of Great Falls. Hastings believes that this may have been India Flight.

In Hastings' conclusion, he believes that Jamison responded to the Oscar Flight shutdowns. This is interesting as Jamison stated that he responded to a full flight shutdown not a partial shutdown as stated in Salas' and Klotz's article. No where in the article does Jamison actually state what flight/flights that the restarts occurred in. After conferring with Hastings, Salas would then change his story that he was at Oscar rather than November Flight.

Who Saw the UFOs?

Let's look at some of the particular claims that supposedly supports UFOs as the cause of the Echo Flight shutdowns.

1. Lt. Walter Figel receives a report from one of the maintenance personnel at one of Echo's LFs that a UFO is seen hovering over the site. The maintenance team member would have either been in the Soft Support Building (partially underground, housing the diesel generator and other equipment, totally separate from the silo itself) or from inside the LF/silo. In either case, there would have been no way that the maintenance personnel could have had visual sighting of any object. Figel stated to Hastings that he contacted the maintenance team by radio.  In order to verify the LF No-Go and its corresponding VRSA channel, the maintenance team would have had to have been in the LF itself and communicating back to Figel by use of the Secure Intersite Network (SIN) lines.  Both team members would have had to have been together in the LF since the inside of the LF was a "NO LONE ZONE" and the enforcement of the SAC Two Man Policy would have been in effect.  Only the security guard would have been topside providing site security.

2. There are no names associated with the maintenance/security personnel. Simply, we do not know who these individuals were. Of all of the individuals that Hastings had interviewed, the people that supposedly saw the UFO remain unknown to this day.

3. Lt. Figel thought that the maintenance team chief was joking. He initially did not take this seriously. And most importantly neither Figel or his commander, Eric Carlson, ever make the claim that they had seen a UFO. After they were relieved from their alert duties, Carlson and Figel would have had at least a two hour drive back to Malmstrom. Surely they would have observed something unusual and would have told Hastings during the interviews.

4. Lt. Jamison tells a story of UFO briefings prior to dispatching to the field, yet he does not report seeing a UFO while performing his tasks for the missile restarts. Jamison states that he was dispatched with his CTT to perform a full flight missile restart, yet he cannot recall what flight that he responded to.

5. Salas has had difficulty in deciding which site that he was on alert. Initially he thought that he was at November but later changed to being at Oscar only after conferring with Hastings. Regardless, the 341st SMW Wing History, 1 Jan -30 March 1967 (pg 32) only describes the Echo Flight shutdowns. There is no mentioning of any issues occurring in either Oscar or November Flights. There is no mentioning of airlifting an injured man back to the base via helicopter. Salas never states that he actually saw a UFO. Salas, like Hastings, is unable to name the individuals at Oscar that supposedly saw a UFO.

UFOs are talked about or alluded to, but none of the principle characters of Hastings' story sees or reports any strange objects flying in the sky or hovering over an ICBM launch site. The UFO hypothesis remains seriously in doubt. I propose a different set of hypothesis based upon the Minuteman I's complexity and the reporting of UFO sightings starting in January of 1967.

1.The ten missiles in Echo Flight shut down due to a power system anomaly, though unusual in the number of involved LFs, a similar incident had occurred in 1966, on a smaller scale, at another 10th Strategic Missile Squadron Flight.

2. The involvement of UFOs started out as a practical joke due to the past reports of sighting by the local population and subsequently published reports in the local newspapers and talked about for three months prior to the 16 March 1967 Echo Flight incident.

Echo Flight's ten Launch Facilities (LFs) shutdown due to a power system/supply anomaly.

The concept, design and development of the Minuteman ICBM weapon system started as mobile rail based system. But due to logistical and local political problems, the system eventually evolved into a underground silo based missile system. The basing concept was one that had one Launch Control Center (LCC) being able to remotely monitor 10 distant LFs. Initially, each LF housed the Minuteman IA ICBM and over the coming decades the missile and its corresponding command and control system would be modified to eventually support the current Minuteman III system. The initial growth in the system's complexity was mainly due to the ongoing enhancement of positive control and the fear of an unauthorized launch.

Yet, as the system matured, problems arose due to the remoteness of the LFs from the support base. An LF could be as close to it's support base as 20 miles and as far as 150 miles. Security for the LF was remotely monitored from its LCC. The LF needed power which was supplied commercially and in the case of interruptions, a back up diesel generator supplied standby power until commercial powere returned. Should the backup diesel generator fail, then the site would go on battery power. USAF Ballistic Missile Program, 1964-1966, Bernard Nalty.

As early as 1964, the LF diesel generators were a growing problem. Due to the initial system design, the missile launch crew could not monitor the backup diesel generators. The original diesel generators were used more than what SAC had anticipated causing an increase in fuel consumption and decreasing the oil levels leading to infield failures. This required the LF to switch to its last redundant backup system ....batteries. USAF Ballistic Missile Program, 1967-1968, Bernard Nalty.

During the 1965-1966, SAC's Minuteman wings faced numerous operational disruptions due to storms which downed commercial power lines. Diesel generator failures out in the field was of great concern. (pg. 13) In some cases, diesel generators continued running well after returning to commercial power. In 1966, SAC started a program to refurbish/replace the standby diesel generators and components. The program resulted in:

1. Mechanism to switch automatically to internal power supply.
2. Found out that the new switching mechanism was overly sensitive to fluctuations in commercial current.
3. This sensitivity was fixed by installing a 2 second delay after sensing a change in voltage and the shutting off of commercial power. Then the system would allow a switch to diesel generators.

 Bernard Nalty's History and James Carlson's Research

After the Echo Flight shutdown, SAC and other agencies began a comprehensive investigation. Bernard Nalty briefly gives a short accounting of the incident, USAF Ballistic Missile Program, 1967-1968 (pgs 16-17).

March 1967- entire flight of Minuteman I missiles at Malmstrom AFB abruptly drop off alert. Tests at Malmstrom, Ogden, and Boeing revealed the following:

1. Possible electronic noise pulse as probable causation.

2. Surge pulse was similar to an Electro-Magnetic Pulse (EMP) event.

3. Follow on test and evaluations showed that the Minuteman I was most vulnerable to electronic noise pulses that interfered with the LF's Logic Coupler, located in the missile's MGS.

4. Further testing showed that the Minuteman II missile guidance system was equally vulnerable to noise pulses.

5. The recommended fixes via Engineering Change Proposals (ECPs) was a system-wide installation of EMP filters for the suppression of EMP and other related "noise" pulses.

As I stated above, Nalty gives the incident a brief notation in his history, but he confirms that the event actually occurred, but was there a cover-up? Nalty does not mention any other flights dropping off alert, ie, November or Oscar flights. This is where I have to give James Carlson credit for his research. James Carlson is the son of Eric Carlson.  James has been persistent that no UFO had caused the Echo Flight shutdowns.  Eric Carlson has always claimed that no UFOs were involved.  James' debate with Hastings showed that he had "dug" into the "noise" pulse theory in a rather thorough manner. In fact, James was doing what Hastings and others should have been doing: ruling out other possible factors that could have caused the flight to drop off alert.

The 341st Strategic Missile Wing Unit History

Via the Black site's FOIA documents, UFO Case: Malmstrom AFB UFO/Missile Incident March 16, 1967 excerpts from the declassified 341st SMW Unit History.

"The 341st SMW and 341st Combat Support Group 1 Jan-30 Mar 1967" Prepared by A2C David B. Gamble.

The unit's history was initially classified SECRET to comply with SACR 210-1 and AFR 205-1. The reason for the unit's classified history was due to the revealing of the unit's current military capabilities and operational status.

Page 32, titled "Investigation of Echo Flight Incident" documents the actual shutdown and the wing's, SAC, AF, and other agencies response.

16 Mar 1967, 0845, all ten sorties of Echo Flight shutdown with No-Go VRSA channels 9 and 12 indications. All of the sorties dropped off alert nearly simultaneously. Not other units were effected. A Guidance and Control channel 50 data dump was collected from LFs E-7 and E-08. All ten of the LFs were returned to strategic alert without the need for equipment replacement. All sorties showed that they were subjected to a "normal" controlled shutdown.

E-8 was previously experiencing intermittent operation of diesel generator, that is, on stand-by power and not on commercial power.  Inspection of the LCC cables, communication cable lines from LCC to all 10 LFs, showed not discrepancies. The LCF/LCC had commercial power problems in the afternoon of 16 March. This resulted in the burnout of the 10HP ECS chiller compressor motor.  The chiller provides cooling air for the LCC and its equipment racks.  Based upon the non-alert status of an entire missile flight, SAC HQ directed analysis by OOAMA (Ogeden/Hill AFB). A task force was set up involving OOMA, Boeing, Autonetics, and 15th AF. (Pg. 33)

Fault Isolator Test Tapes were extracted from both E-07 and E-08. (pg 34) The LCC crew was questioned about the days events by the Wing Maintenance Evaluation Team, OOMA and Boeing on 16 March. (Figel had told Hastings that they were questioned only by squadron personnel. He omitted be questioned by members of the task force.) The crew reported that all ten sorties dropped off of alert within 10-40 seconds. On the commander's console stand-by lights or fault lights were illuminated. (I am assuming what was meant is that prior to the sorties dropping off alert there were no fault indication lights illuminated. Once the sorties dropped off alert, there would have been a fault light illuminated, then the crew would have interrogated for any active VRSA channels via the VRSA panel located on the deputy's console.) E-8 had previously had an active VRSA channel 26 which showed the the site was operating on back-up diesel generator. (pg 35)

The deputy commander (Figel) had awaken the commander (Carlson). The commander was first to see the faults on his console, the deputy commander had his back turned from the console. (pg 36) (Again, assuming that Figel received the radio reports from the maintenance teams and Carlson awoke just in time to see the fault indications on his console.) The Channel 50 data dump for E-7 and E-8 showed that both sites had shut down due to external influences to the Guidance and Control.

19 March, channel 50 data dump was obtained for E-02 and E-09. By then, both missiles had been returned to strategic alert. Both missile's Guidance and Control showed no previous No-Go loop. If a true No-Go situation had occurred, both Guidance and Controls would have showed LFNA (not authenticating due to loss of codes) and only VRSA channel 9. Due to the lack of these indications and data, the No-Go theory was eliminated. All ten sorties had reported VRSA channels 9 and 12 (effecting the guidance and control and the logic coupler respectively). Only the logic coupler is capable of generating both VRSA 9 and 12, if an external generated signal is present. (pg 37)  Finally weather was ruled out as a factor.

On page 38, an interesting notation is made that UFO proponents, such as Hastings, Salas, Klotz, and others, have deemed as a "smoking gun" and the possible beginnings of a cover-up. A2C Gamble writes, "Rumors of UFOs at the time of incident disproven." (I will show that UFO "sightings" were numerous leading up to 16 March and lasting until the Belt "sighting" on 24 March. These interesting reports set the stage for a "viral" rumor mill and possibly set up a potential practical joke that may have gotten out of hand.)Again, the unit history states that UFO rumors were disproven, yet, in keeping with then Air Force protocol (Project Blue Book was still in effect), a query was made into any unusual sightings out in the flight areas east of Malmstrom (10th SMS and 490th SMS). A Mobile Strike Team was in the November Flight area and reported that they saw no unusual activities or sightings. The 801st Radar Squadron, back at Malmstrom, saw nothing on radar for the Echo Flight area - no atmospheric interference problems. (pg 38)

Was It Rare For 3 or more Missiles to Drop Off Alert?

Referencing the 341st SMW Unit History, 1 Jan - 30 Mar 1967, (pg 38-39), a review of the wing's maintenance history showed that a similar incident occurred at the 10th SMS's Alpha Flight. On 19 December 1966, A-6, A-7, and A-10 experienced shutdowns. As in the Echo incident, there were similarities:

1. Carlson and Figel were the alert crew.
2. Weather was not a factor.
3. There were commercial power failures at the LCC after the LFs had shutdown.

This is probably why Carlson and Figel were questioned by the Wing Maintenance Evaluation Team. I find it interesting that Hastings, Salas, and Klotz, failed to mention this in their respective articles. In fact, Salas and Klotz only provided pages 32 -38 of the Unit History as references/links in their article, "The Malmstrom AFB UFO/Missile Incident", omitted 20-25 pages of the Unit History that showed that SAC and other agencies had indeed conducted extensive test and evaluations in response to the incident. These evaluations would continue for almost a full year. They appeared to pick only those pages that would boister a UFO/cover up hypothesis.

The on-going investigation started to center around the HICS lines to and from the LCC and ten LF. These are hardened cable lines that are internally pressurized (pneumatically) and allow commands and status interrogations to be elicited back and forth from the LCC and LF. If a drop in pressure occurred in the lines, then this would mean that a cable was accidentally cut, or in the extremes, "someone" was intentionally "tapping" into the system. This would trigger an alarm in the LCC and a security situation would be called requiring security personnel to search the flight for any "unusual" activity. (In Minuteman II, my system in the 1980s, the commands were encrypted. Any HICS line issues would result in a security situation and the entire flight, and if need be, the entire squadron to go into Anti-Jam Mode. The makings of a crappy alert.)

Referencing the 341st SMW Wing History, 1 Apr - 30 June 1967:

At Boeing, engineers established that a 30 micro second pulse (-10 to 0 volt square wave) Self Test Command at Coupler Logic Drawer Interface resulted in a shutdown with VRSA channel 9 and 12 No-Go 70 percent of the time. Autonetics' tests showed the a pulse generated long enough resulted in a Initiate Coupler Self Test. This caused a sequencing error between the Guidance and Control and Coupler modes. The sequencing error was deemed capable of initiating a Guidance and Control and Logic Coupler No-Go shutdown (VRSA 9 and 12). Boeing decided that they needed to determine the source and path of the noise pulse to the Logic Computer. (This was James Carlson's contention and his research alerted me to look at this issue closely.)

As Boeing was conducting their pulse pathway evaluations, they found that EMP issues via the Secure Intersite Network (SIN) lines were susceptible to noise-type pulses at Minuteman II wings. Since the SIN lines go only to and from the LCC and its ten LFs, this could explain a flight peculiar problem. Possible sources of the noise pulse at Echo Flight:

1. Transformer failure at the LCF.

2. Ground current flow via the HICS cables, easily providing a pathway inducing voltage pulses on SIN lines to all of the flight's LFs.

Subsequent field tests showed that there were no significant problems with Echo's SIN lines. This lead Boeing to believe that the cause was more than likely not a power issue but more in line with an EMP nature. SAC would eventually ask Air Force Systems Command - Ballistic System Division to test Malmstrom"s units for EMP vulnerability.

341st SMW History, 1 July - 30 Sept 1967:

As noted in the previously mentioned history, Boeing's testing of noise pulses via the SIN lines to the Logic Coupler was disproven as the cause of the problem. With that said, Boeing did prove that the Logic Coupler was capable of receiving noise pulse irregularities. Boeing's lab test showed the following:

1. When tested in a lab environment, 60 percent of the time, the same shutdown response occurred as did Echo Flight.

2. 85 percent of the time this resulted in a missile sortie downgraded to "non-EWO" status. Basically, the missile sortie would drop off of strategic alert status. (EWO = Emergency War Orders, the ability to accept and recognize a valid launch command from one or more LCCs in a given flight)

Subsequent testing of Minuteman II wings showed that the logic couplers were susceptible to "noise" impulses which resulted in a sortie dropping off of alert. These noise impulses were later to be identified as EMPs. As concerns for EMP vulnerability became the prime culprit, SAC via Boeing, Ogden, and AF Systems Command would institute a Minuteman force-wide implementation of EMP filters.

A review of comments from current and former missile crews on the web site reveals that as of this date, no crew member has ever experience an unknown abrupt loss of all ten ICBMs in a flight. I, author of this post, count myself among those former crew members and concur with the general consensus.

The "Infamous" SAC letter!

SAC Message to OOMA, Hill AFB, originally SECRET

Upon review of the letter, it appears to be similar to the type of messages sent back and forth between AF commands, wings, and support agencies. I can make a "strong" assumption that the SAC message to Hill AFB is authentic. Based upon the content of the message, I can clearly understand why the message was classified SECRET but not for the reasons that UFO/cover-up theorist may believe.

The 341st SMW had already started an "in-house" evaluation and reported their preliminary results to SAC prior to this letter being generated. As of now those initial messages appear to either remain classified or lost. But what makes this particular letter classified SECRET?

SAC uses the following language:

"The fact that no apparent reason for the loss of ten missiles can be readily identified is cause for great concern to this headquarters."

SAC should have and did have "great concerns", because ten of it's ICBMs had abruptly dropped off of alert. This meant that SAC had 10 targets that were not covered under the then version of the Single Integrated Operational Plan, known as the SIOP.  SAC planners would have been scrambling to look for other assets to cover those targets or would have had to do without coverage. So yes, SAC had GRAVE CONCERNS. This in itself justified that the information in the message be classified SECRET.

The letter in its basic meaning, set in motion for OOMA, Boeing, Autonetics and 15th AF to provide support to evaluate the situation and find a cause and correction as detailed in the 341st SMS Wing's history.

"We must have an in-depth analysis to determine cause and corrective action....."

The UFO theory backers have used the Malmstrom Incident to foster the notion that a portion of the U.S. nuclear arsenal was neutralized by a UFO. True, ten ICBMs were off alert for one to two days, but no damage was done to the ICBMs themselves. And most importantly, the RVs remained under positive control! There was no "Broken Arrow" called either by the 341st SMW or by SAC!
 So far, I've shown that of the 10 Echo Flight ICBMs in question:

1. Shutdowns occurred due to a then never seen electrical anomaly.

2. This anomaly was thoroughly evaluated by SAC, 15th Air Force, 341st SMW, Boeing, Autonetics, OOMA (Hill AFB), and AF Systems Command.

3. Due to the on-going investigation a serious weapon system vulnerability was discovered (EMP susceptibility)

4. A fix was implemented force-wide.

5. After 16 Mar 1967, this type of anomaly would never again occur in any Minuteman wing/system.

6. The early Minuteman I system was in a constant state of evolution through upgrades and modifications. What started out to be a "simple" system became extremely complicated effecting command and control functions. As newer Minuteman II and III missiles came on line, the command and control structure changed to adapt to newer capabilities.

7. Information and any documentation describing a nuclear weapon system vulnerability would have been classified because the U.S. was heavily involved in the Cold War, hence, SAC would not have wanted to publicize to the USSR that we discovered a "weakness" in our own ICBM system.

Rumor of UFOs at time of incident disproven."

So stated in the 341st SMW's Unit History, 1 Jan - 30 Mar 1967.

When one reads of the accounts of various UFO sightings as rendered by Robert Hastings, the facts are plain. There were a number of sightings of unexplained "objects" over Montana as recorded via,

Jan 9, 1967: Malta, MT at 9pm, on family farm. Family alerted by dog, family saw a large rectangular object with glowing red light along the bottom and large amber light on top moving at high speed. The object landed in a field for approximately one hour. Object suddenly disappeared as if it took off at at a high rate of speed. The next day, family went to the field were the object had landed. There were no tracks in the snow and no sign that anything had been there. (Billings Gazette, 1-20-67)

Jan 26, 1967: Havre, MT at 8:15pm. A man saw a yellow sphere with blinking yellow body lights which circled a mountain and flew off (

Feb 9, 1967: Chester, MT, 6:30am, Railroad foreman saw a saucer (disk) with bright body of light hovering over the railroad depot. The depot was engulfed in light, the object departed straight up. (Spokane Spokesman-Review, 2/12/67)

Feb 23, 1967 Glasgow AFB, MT, reported sighting by NICAP (no details listed)

Mar 22, 1967: Newspaper article (UPI), "UFOs Seen In Great Falls Vicinity", The Daily Inter Lake
Tuesday night, 7:45pm - 8:30pm, several persons reported seeing unidentified flying objects over the Great Falls, Vaughn, Fort Benton, and Manchester. White lights, big with a little one on top. The object was moving east to west then north to south.

Mar 23, 1967: Great Falls, MT, 9pm: Sheriffs deputies saw a yellow object with a red glow coming from top to bottom. Object hovered then flew away. Many sightings throughout the state. (Great Falls Leader, 3/24/67)

Mar 24, 1967: Belt, MT, 9pm, Truck driver outside of Belt, MT sees a dome shaped object showing bright lights and landing in a nearby ravine. ( Investigated by Project Blue Book)

Further reviewing of NICAP's reported sightings revealed that after the Mar 24th sighting near Belt, no other reports would come in for Montana for the rest of 1967. That's approximately 9 full months of "nothing" observed nor reported by anyone!

Back in 1967, there were no laptop computers, Internet, cell phones, or 24 hour news coverage on television. The military rank and file then as in the extended past was a virtual "factory" manufacturing rumors absent factual information. This was the obligatory rumor mill. It would be the same for my experience 14 years later as a young SAC missile launch officer! Based upon the numerous sightings being reported in the local newspapers, it is certainly possible, if not probable, that the idea of UFOs roaming uncontested over the Montana skies and the remote parts of the ICBM flights areas (100 to 150 miles away from Great Falls/Malmstrom AFB) could have been construed as real. This psychological environment could have also induced practical joking. Remember, the maintenance team member, in the missile silo, stating, "It must be a UFO hovering over the site." Lt Figel took this in a jokingly manner because it was presented as so!

But rumors must have persisted as well as the unsupported sightings of UFOs through out that region of Montana. Everyone heard of the rumors of UFOs, yet, no one has testified that they actually saw a UFO, just rumors. Thus the beginnings of a non-descript electrical/EMP anomaly morphing into this great Orson Wells-like UFO "invasion."


As I conclude, I have attempted to show that there is overwhelming evidence that UFOs did not cause the shutdown of 10 Minuteman I ICBMs. The information that I have provided hinges on two points:

1. No one has ever provided any accounting that they had physically seen a UFO.

2. An extensive investigation provided plausible evidence that a noise pulse EMP-like phenomena had likely caused the shut downs.

It's not my intention to either prove or disprove whether UFOs exist. That subject is beyond my capacity to tackle. All that I've attempted to do was to show that there are rational explanations that must be taken into account before going the route of UFO involvement.

Most people may feel that the Malmstrom AFB UFO Incident is not worth the effort to bother with. To a degree, I concur. But if you read the articles published by Hastings, Salas and others, they leave the impression that we that served in SAC were used as pawns or worse yet as stooges. This could not have been farther from the truth. We had a job to do and in my opinion did that job in an outstanding manner...and we continue to do so. 

So now I ask you, "Did it really happen?"

Update:  5/23/2013

This particular post has been the most popular.  I recently did a re-read of the article to see if it still passes muster.  The basic premise in the article still holds true to what I believe happened at Echo Flight on 16 Mar 1967.

What's not part of this article is my re-evaluation of the case based on re-looking at the 341st Unit History and other information.  This has been discussed in a few of my blogs posts.

Here are my 11 points of contention that, in my opinion, that rules out UFO involvement during Echo's ten ICBM shutdown back on 16 March 1967:

1. High probability that no maintenance teams were out on any of Echo's sites during shutdowns.
2. No maintenance or security teams mentioned in the Unit History.
3. After 44 years, none of the supposed eye witnesses have ever been identified, nor have these people ever came forward, concluding that they may never have existed in the first place.
4. Walter Figel's inconsistency from both Hastings and Salas' interviews.
5. Walter Figel's perceived reluctance to publicly support Hastings' UFO theory, as evidence by, his absence from the D.C press conference, lack of an affidavit affirming his statements.
6. Eric Carlson's strong denial of receiving any UFO reports from security personnel.
7. No intercept missions flown by the Montana National Guard against any unknown radar contacts.
8. Minuteman LF design of connectivity isolation precludes any one event (UFO included) from affecting the remaining ICBMs in a given flight.
9. Echo was a flight specific event with no other adjoining flight effected
10. The only plausible UFO scenario would have been a UFO over/near Echo's LCF/LCC. This never occurred and no reports or rumors ever comes close to supporting this scenario.
11. The Boeing ECP and final installation of EMP suppression fixes resulting in no Echo-like situation from ever happening again for all SAC missile wings (Minuteman and Titan).

To understand how I derived at the above, please read "Echo Flight:  The Makings of a UFO Myth."

Best Regards,

Tim Hebert