Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Haunting of A-05: The Genesis of ICBM Folklore and Legends

I love a good ghost story.  It's ingrained in my Cajun culture and I suspect that hauntings and ghosts permeate all cultural folklore...and the military is no exception!.  If you have had the patience to read through most of this blog's articles, you would have noticed that I had mentioned Malmstrom's A-05 in a couple of those articles.  I had only mentioned the site in passing and had only used it's story as a contrast to the various UFO stories surrounding Malmstrom's missile wing.  Yet, A-05's story deserves more of an in-depth study.  Let's explore this interesting legend's beginnings and see where it stands as of the present.   I'll also share some of the legends surrounding other missile wings during the SAC era.  All fascinating in their on rights.

I first became aware of the A-05 legend while attending Initial Qualification Training at Vandenberg AFB, CA back in October 1980.   I remember my classroom instructor, Carl Hamlin, tell the class that Malmstrom had a haunted Launch Facility, A-05.  The Launch Facility was supposedly haunted by the spirits of Native Americans as the site was built on an old Indian burial site.  I recalled we all had a good time with the tale and left it at that.  Yet after arriving on station during February 1981, the story would crop up from time to time.  As with all ghost stories there always seem to be different variations depending on who told the story.

Back in the early 1960s, a Camper Security Team was posted on A-05 presumably for a site security issue.  Some time during the night one of the security guards reported seeing a strange glowing ball of light enter onto the premise of the LF settling on top of the security fence.  The guard woke his partner and both described the ball of light eerily morphing into that of the figure of an Indian maiden.  As this version of the story goes,  the "maiden" just stands before the security guards smiling and abruptly vanishes.  Both guards, scared senseless contact wing security control asking to be relieved immediately and refuse to ever camper the site in the future.  This is the version that was told to me while at Vandenberg AFB.

Another version of the story was relayed to me during my first year at Malmstrom, 1981.  I not certain, but it may have been told to me by my first crew commander while driving out on alert.  In this version, a Camper Team is visited by not only the Indian maiden but also by an old man dressed in the usual Native American garb and wearing a feathered head dress.  Both apparitions of the maiden and old man quickly vanish before the security guards scaring both senseless.  In this version, the old man, a chief, is supposedly the father of the maiden and appeared to give off the aura of disapproval of the security team's presence on the site.

Still another version of the legend as told to me by an EWO instructor during the 1982-1983 time frame had a slightly different twist.  In this version, yet again, A-05 was manned by a Camper Team and late at night one of the guards spots the glowing orb and quickly retreats inside of the team's camper waking up his partner.  Both guards experience heavy pounding on the outside of the camper walls and roof.  During daylight, both guards discovered that the camper's outside walls and roof had numerous heavy indentations, some piercing the camper's metal sheeting.  The indentations appear to match that of the blade of a tomahawk.  Allegedly, when the camper was brought back to the base, someone produced an actual tomahawk and the blade matched perfectly with the indentations left on the camper's sides and roof.

Throughout the rest of my tour at Malmstrom, I would hear further different versions of the legend ranging from Armed Response Team's (ART) striking A-05 due to an outer zone security alarm violation and finding a bear lying on the launcher closer door and further repetitions of the old man and maiden sightings.  If anyone is wondering, during my time at Malmstrom, 1981-1985, there were never any claims of any ghostly activities associated with A-05.  Though one person, either maintenance or security cop (difficult to recall exactly) told me that when they were out on the site the "wind blows in only one direction and no birds are heard to be chirping in the surrounding woods."  For what this person meant remained a mystery to me for some months until I would eventually pay the site a visit myself.   Of the handful of alerts that I had pulled at Alpha's Launch Control Center, A-05 was always "green" lighted indicating strategic alert.  I never had a problem with the site, mechanically or security-wise.  Her gyros kept spinning happily within its missile guidance system.

As mentioned above, my curiosity got the better of me and my wife and I planned a road trip with A-05 as one of our stops.  This trip was done either in the late spring or summer time frame of at least 1982 as I recalled no snow cover on the ground and a fairly pleasant late afternoon.  A-05 is located in the Lewis and Clark National Forest and within the confines of the Little Belt Mountains southeast of Great Falls.  My wife and I took US Hwy 87/89 past Belt to Armington Junction.  Here US Hwy 89 split off from Hwy 87 going due south to Monarch and Niehart.  A short distance out of Monarch, near A-06, we turn on the Hughesville Rd traveling due east.  Hughesville Rd winds its way through the Belt Mountains paralleling Dry Fork Belt Creek for most of its distance to Hughesville.  Approximately 10 miles distance sits A-05 with only the Hughesville Rd separating the LF from the creek bed.  As best as I can recall, I took no photos, A-05 sat in small valley surround by aspens and pine trees.  A serene setting, one of the more picturesque settings of all of the 341st SMW's LFs, barring one or two of the 564th's LFs near the foot hills of the Rockies.  True the wind did indeed appear to blow in only one direction, but that was easily attributed to the fact that the site sat in a small valley and the Hughesville Rd approach, both east and west, basically was a small canyon road in which the wind currents really had no choice but to blow in one direction.  I remember that there were indeed the sound of birds chirping combined with that of the creek's rushing water.  It was pleasant to both the eyes and ears.  If there was one draw back, it would have been that due to it being the late afternoon, the surrounding mountain ridges were blocking the sun causing heavy shadows to fall onto the LF itself.  And not so surprisingly, I saw neither an Indian maiden nor the old Indian chief.  My wife and I soon got back in our car and headed back to Monarch with the intent to look around Niehart.

How did the legend originate and is it true?  Its almost impossible to pinpoint who actually started the story, but if we look at all of the variants as told to me, most if not all of the story centers around a Camper Team that is posted on the site due to issues with the outer zone security system (reset issues).  All of the variants take place in the early 1960s, possibly right after Alpha Flight was operationally activated.
Alpha Flight was the very first operational Minuteman squadron.  The bulk of the 10 SMS was completed around 1963.  Alpha Flight was certainly operational by 1962 as John F. Kennedy hailed the flight as his "Ace in the Hole" during the 1962 Cuban Missile Crises.  What is well documented via Bernard Nalty's ICBM histories is the fact that the early LF security systems were notorious for malfunctioning and/or resetting which necessitated the need for a security camper team at numerous sites.  As far as the actual events taking place on A-05, its far easier and factual to state that during my 4 years on station, I never heard about anything unusual happening on A-05.  This would also include my wife, then a maintenance officer.  She has stated that nothing unusual was ever reported to by her maintenance troops nor did she see anything unusual when on the site itself.  I suspect that the story originated from a bored camper team that invented the tale with the hopes of pranking future teams who would have had to either perform work or provide security for the LF.  Or, maybe one of the guards actually thought he saw something and his imagination got the better of him.  Remember, all of the variants of the story happened in the dead of night (no pun intended).  Could a bear have actually climbed over the LF perimeter fence and on to the launcher closure door as told in one of the versions of the story?  This would have been very plausible as I had seen a bear running across the fields on my way to Lima-01 near Eddies Corner!

Does the legend of A-05 continue to this day?  Surprisingly it does, though not as often mentioned as it was back in the 1980s, it does come to light every now and then.  On one missile forum a year ago, the group was discussing haunted sites.  A current young 10th SMS crew member had posted that "he had heard that A-05 was supposedly haunted."  Unfortunately he never went into any details, yet this may be that all of the different story variants are now fading away only to be recalled my "old heads" such me!

Note:  In a future article, I'll post stories about other missile wing's "haunted" sites.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Interpersonal Transfer of Experiences: A Working Cognitive Theory for the Echo and Oscar Flights Folklore

As mentioned in my very first blog article, over the 4 years that I was assigned to Malmstrom AFB, in the 490th Strategic Missile Squadron, I never ran across the story of the Echo Flight shutdowns. This also included my 4 months of crew training at Vandenberg AFB prior to my arrival on station. And to a certain point, that personal observation is what drives my questioning of the UFO event as the cause of the shutdown, as well as, any event that may have occurred at Oscar. Even my wife, a maintenance officer during the same time period at Malmstrom, never heard of any UFO stories involving Echo or Oscar and she had access to senior enlisted personnel (Master Chiefs) who never hinted about the incidents.

I am curious as to what drives these stories. How is it that a story such as our "haunted" Launch Facility, A-05, has longevity (originated in early 1960s), yet the Echo and Oscar stories were either non-existent, or locked up in some one's memory? Base on this interesting phenomenon, I've coined the term "Theory of Interpersonal Transfer of Experiences." Simply, the "Crew Force Oral Tale."

My theory is loosely based on the word of mouth passing of a rumor. Over a period of time the the rumor changes in its message and context as eventually the final message has no resemblance of the original message. In my exercise a personal experience that someone has is usually passed on in a verbal means of communication to another individual. For all practical purposes, this is similar to the oral tale. The telling of a missile crews' experience is usually a verbal form of communication.  For the purpose of this thought exercise, I use the passing on of a missile crew's experience, a story based in fact or rumor, to a new generation of listeners. A generation, in this context, means a period of 4 years. Four years was the time period that most of the missile crews had to serve before being reassigned to other duties either at the same locale or a new base. Missile maintenance personnel usually where on station for 3 to 4 years, if not longer, depending on the circumstances.

Based on the 4 year generation cycle, from 1967 to 1983 there would have been four complete generations.
Since crew/maintenance/security experiences are predominantly verbal (some experiences are written down as I will show later), there are factors that naturally affect the relaying of the initial experience in a story's format:

1) The significance of the experience will determine if the story will be passed on to the next generation.

2) With each succeeding generation, the passed on oral experience is subject to numerous factors. Over a period of time, the story develops "fatigue" and it's interest and importance fades. Details of the original story become blurred with the passage of time and the passing on of the story to succeeding generations. The story may disappear due to the lack of enthusiasm, yet resurface secondary to a trigger mechanism. And most importantly, the loss of first hand knowledge of the original experience degrades the initial significance of the story.

The experience can only survive the passage of time if it has a major impact on the succeeding generations.
I had mentioned previously that the missile crew experience can be in a written format. This usually presented itself by way of the "Captain's Log." Each Launch Control Center traditionally had it's own Captain's Log  which all crew members that pulled an alert at that facility could informally write their personal thoughts and views. This was an unofficial compilation of an individuals thoughts concerning missile crew duty.  At some missile wings, the practice of having the log was heavily frown upon by the wing staff. Its uncertain which missile wing started the tradition of the Captain's Log, as well as, when the first log appeared in use. My recollection for Malmstrom was that some of the earliest existing writings dated back to roughly 1973. Of the fifteen Captain's Logs that I had read and written in, there were never anything in them that mentioned and/or referenced UFOs affecting Echo and Oscar. More to the point, Echo's and Oscar's Captain's Log was a blank slate regarding any mentioning of UFO activity.  Of equal interests is the omission of any UFO sightings/activity over the Kilo Flight in 1978 which has been mentioned by Robert Hastings and others.

1967 - 1971, The First Generation

Based on documentation, both official and unofficial, it's well known that on 16 March 1967, that all ten of Echo's ICBMs dropped off alert.  It's also well known that there were numerous rumors that UFOs had caused the missiles to drop off alert.  This was made clear in the 341st SMW's Unit History.  These rumors evidently spread through out SAC and it's various support agencies.  Based on my past experience with missile related rumors, it is not a far stretch to believe that by the end of the day, most if not all of Malmstrom would have heard of the shutdowns and eventually the UFO rumor.  The UFO story would have been talked about through out the four operations squadrons.  Yet by 1971, the story would have either been fresh or starting to fade via "fatigue."  How much of the story would have been passed on to the next generation, that is, those new crew members newly assigned to Malmstrom?  Admittedly, this is difficult to say with any certainty, but it may be assumed that some of those newly arrived on station would have been told of the Echo story and the UFO angle.

1971-1975, the Second Generation

By mid-way through the second generation what remains of the original Echo story would have started to fade away.  This can be supported by the lack of anything mentioned in the numerous Captain's Logs that had entries dating back to that time period.  Yet our "haunted" LF, A-05, still persist during this time period as evident of some of the contents that I recall from A-01's Captain's Log.

1976-1980, the Third Generation

All traces of Echo and Oscar Flight had now evaporated.  My first and second crew commanders were newly assigned to the 490th SMS during this time period.  Both of these individuals never relay the story to me, nor do I hear of it from others that were assigned to the 10 SMS.  This would have been the time-frame for the allegedly Kilo Flight sightings during 1978, again there is no talk of such an event occurring.  Despite the "loss" of the Echo and Oscar stories, A-05's haunting still flourishes!

1981-1985, the Fourth Generation

This is my time period.  I arrived on station during Jan-Feb, 1981.  Over this time period, I personally never hear of anything occurring at Echo and Oscar Flights, this includes both the actually loss of Echo's sorties and the UFO angle.  By this time Carlson, Figel, Salas and others vanish from any unit memory.  Kilo's 1978 sitings equally evaporated from the wing's combined consciousness.  But...the haunting of A-05 continues to live on, despite anything actually happening on that site for 20 plus years!


What conclusions can be drawn?  Echo's loss of alert status for its 10 sorties was important only for a year or two after the event.  The UFO angle fizzled out about that same length of time because an engineering analysis concluded what actually did, or with high probability, occurred rendering the UFO story strictly a jocular fantasy.  Of note, Oscar's story suffered anonymity due to the total lack of any solid foundation to launch it even into the myth or folklore category.   Both stories had no lasting impact on the actual participants and the follow-on crew generations, yet an old, unsupported, folklore about a LF built over an old Indian burial ground, started by a long forgotten Security Camper team in the early 1960's lives on!  Now, some 40 years after the fact....enter Hastings and Salas...

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Echo Flight: The Makings of a UFO Myth

I've added a separate companion piece, "Echo Flight:  The Makings of a UFO Myth."  This is actually a separate stand alone blog with a little bit more background and context for those who stumble across this UFO case for the first time.  But basically it has all of the content of the "Case Close" article on this blog.  Enjoy!

Friday, July 29, 2011

Case Closed! A Re-Evaluation of the Echo Flight Incident

The Makings of a UFO Myth

First, let me start off by saying that the Malmstrom AFB Echo Flight case is a great UFO story.  It's the perfect storm for UFO buffs in that there are reports, documents, and "witnesses."  Its listed in the top ten of UFO cases. People have been interviewed to the extent that every surviving individuals cerebral memory capacity has been extracted, evaluated, discarded and re-extracted for what ever purpose in the attempt to prove or disprove individual pet theories. In short, it's a ufologists dream come true...or is it.

But for all it's bells and whistles, Echo Flight proves only to be an illusion...a distant mirage in Ufology's desolate desert.  Researching this case is akin to walking into a thick and dense forest making it difficult to see ahead as you hack your way through it's thick foliage.  It lures you into a trance as you bog down into it's minutia.  Its loaded with perceived facts that take you down potentially promising paths only to wind up at a dead end.  It's a siren song.  It's proponents take the view, "If looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, then..."  Yet I find my self yelling at them, "Don't fall for it, open your eyes, it's a f****ing dog!" 

As I had stated in my very first article, UFOs over Echo were never mentioned during my four years on station at Malmstrom nor while completing Initial Qualification Training at Vandenberg AFB, CA.  We talked about the legend of A-05 being built over an old Native American burial site and it's apparitions that appeared to security camper teams, but nothing about UFOs, and this includes the 1978 UFO case around Kilo.  The A-05 legend originated in the first part of the 1960s, some four to five years before Echo.  Why is it that a ghost story about a haunted Launch Facility has longevity yet the UFO story concerning Echo has evaporated from the collective memory bank?  This cognitive memory dispersal still fascinates me to this day.

Why do I state that the Echo case is closed?  Well quite a few factors come into play.  I based my main premise on my past knowledge of the Minuteman system and trust me, I had to remember things that were long forgotten vs. what I still knew before starting to research this case.  As I discussed this case with others, I experienced memory triggers.  But through out this process, I was able to come to a series of logical conclusions based upon the following main areas:

1.  Walter Figel's interviews
2.  Eric Carlson's interview
3.  The 341st SMW Unit History
4.  The Minuteman's system design of LF connectivity isolation in a given flight.
5.  The Boeing ECP and subsequent corrective actions SAC-wide that resulted from the Echo case.

As you will soon see, no single or multiple UFOs could have been capable of causing ten of  Echo Flight's ICBMs to drop off alert.  A re-evaluation of the original documents and data provide for the plausibility of new conclusions that may well answer questions surrounding the lack of any direct eye witnesses concerning this case effectively refuting any notion of UFO sightings.

Walter Figel's Story

Walter Figel's accounting of events on 16 March 1967 remain the only seemingly solid foundation for the UFO story and has remained so up to this current time.  But, is it a consistent story?  Based on the two interviews, one given to Robert Salas in 1996 and the second given to Robert Hastings in 2008, there are numerous inconsistencies when the two interviews are compared for content.

In the Salas interview, Walter Figel tells Salas that there were maintenance teams on two of  Echo's launch facilities.  Figel was unsure as to what type of maintenance was being performed.  When his ten ICBMs dropped off alert, Figel contacted the two launch facilities in an attempt to talk to the maintenance teams.  While conversing with the security guard, the guard makes the UFO sighting and reports this to Figel.  This particular launch facility is not identified by Figel.  Figel sends out the SAT to investigate and they report seeing a UFO over one of the sites, again, this site is not identified.  In the end, no other sighting is reported or talked about.  Amazingly there is no indication that the maintenance teams, the site security guards and/or the SAT ever report the UFO leaving the vicinity.  In short, every body seems to go about their assigned tasks without interruptions as if nothing ever happened.

In the Hastings interview, twelve years has elapsed since Salas' interview, Figel states that three to four of Echo's launch facilities had maintenance teams on site.  When pressed by Hastings, Figel finally states that four launch facilities have teams on site, supposedly doing routine maintenance.  In this version, after the ten ICBMs drop off alert with VRSA channel 9 No-Go, Figel calls one of the sites to talk to the maintenance teams.  It is one of the unidentified maintenance team members that makes the UFO sighting and report.  Figel then dispatches the SAT to investigate the flight area.  As in the Salas interview, the identification of the launch facility remains a mystery and the UFO's departure is never mentioned by anyone.

What about the contention that Hastings/Figel makes referencing the flight area as being treated as "crime scene" after all ten sorties had dropped No-Go?  Just because a sortie or sorties had dropped LF No-Go,  it was not considered a security situation.  A No-Go indication was merely considered an electrical/mechanical indication in which the missile guidance system's on-board computer sensed an indication that would prohibit a successful launch, thus dropping the sortie into a No-Go condition, or possibly in a calibration mode.  The only way that a security situation would have existed for any of Echo's sites would have been the unauthorized activation of either the Outer Zone and/or Inner Zone site security system.  There is no indication either from Figel's interview or the Unit History that such a condition existed at the time of the shutdowns.  Carlson/Figel would have, and probably did, called a low priority security situation involving the entire flight area, but not a higher security situation for each individual LF since the ICBMs and warheads were secured with no OZ/IZ indications.

We now have two different versions of the same event.  Which one is correct?  If you count the number of personnel that would have been involved in any potential UFO sighting or ear witness to any radio report, you come close to 20 personnel.  Depending on whose interview is correct, you either had 4 people per sight for a total of eight per Salas, or you had 16 people covering the Hastings version for all of the 4 launch facilities.  Of the 20 some odd people, the only people that can be verified by name is Eric Carlson and Walter Figel.  The rest of the 18 individuals are never named.  Amazingly, after 44 years, these individuals have never surfaced to be identified, to give interviews, or to prove/disprove the claims of UFO activity.  For years, this case has been based on second/third party anecdotes...hearsay...rumors.

A while back I had attempted to reconstruct the alert.  I had assumed that only two launch facilities were manned by teams.  I inferred this from the 341st SMW's Unit History, where it stated that E-02 and E-08 were the only "unusual event."(pg. 33)  Based on the faults listed for both sites, I naturally assumed that these sites were directly related to the UFO report in one fashion or another.  I now believe my original assumptions to be wrong.  The Unit History goes into detail discussing the missile launch crew.  Per the Unit History, the crew was debriefed by the wing maintenance evaluation team, OOMA (Hill AFB), and Boeing.(pg. 34)  What about the maintenance teams that were out at the launch facilities?  They are never mentioned in the Unit History, neither are the security guards/SAT.  One would think that the input from those individuals who were actually on the site would have had important observations to contribute towards the investigation...more so than the launch crew.  Yet they are never mentioned and interestingly (to my chagrin) the Unit History never states that E-02 or E-08 had maintenance on site, or any other launch facility for that matter.  I can only conclude that there were never any maintenance teams on any of Echo's launch facilities on the morning of 16 March 1967.  Did Figel make everything up to both Hastings and Salas?  It appears now a high probility, or due to the passages of time he assumed that maintenance teams were on his sites because he remembered that there were known fault indications, ie, sites on diesel back up generators (actually only one, E-08 with VRSA ch. 26).  Regardless of the reasons, Figel's recollections are now highly suspect.  If it is true that no maintenance teams were present, then all of the discussions surrounding the use of VHF radio or SIN for VRSA verifications and UFO sightings are irrelevant.

Hank Barlow's statements now need to be re-evaluated in lieu of the lack of no maintenance teams in the Echo flight area.  By being at Mike-01, his team was only approximately an hour away from Echo and may indeed have been one of the first EMT teams to arrive in the flight area.  Barlow's team could have easily left Mike around 0900 and arrived at the first Echo launch facility between 1000 and 1030.  Carlson and Figel would have still been on duty.  If Barlow's team was being processed onto one of Echo's launch facilities, then Eric Carlson would have been involved and heard the radio/SIN line conversations.  This would explain why Carlson never heard of any UFO reports.  Per Barlow, his team never saw anything unusual and went about their task unhindered though dead tired at the end of the day.  In a strange twist of irony, Hastings may well be right (for the wrong reason) that Hank Barlow's team was the first to arrive in the Echo flight area.  Barlow still remains one of many who heard of rumors of UFOs from a long forgotten source, yet he admitted that he saw nothing.  During the 27 September 2010 press conference held in D.C., Barlow was absent and it now appears that he never signed an affidavit affirming his story.  Was he asked by Robert Hastings?  If so, did he refuse?  It is highly possible that Barlow knew that his team was initially the only maintenance team on any of Echo's LFs which further calls into questions Figel's interview statements recalling maintenance teams on his sites prior to and during the shutdowns.

Figel's Email to James Carlson

A lot has been said about Walter Figel's email to James Carlson.  James posted a copy of the email which was dated 11 March 2010.  Some have accused James Carlson of fabricating the email for his own gain in support of his on-going dispute with Robert Hastings.  Others have remained rather silent on the issue.  As of now, I don't know Hastings' opinion of it's content even thought he received a copy from Figel.  I recently went to a reliable source other than James Carlson to establish its authenticity.  I have been told that the email is legitimate, and based on the IP address there is no doubt that it came from Walter Figel.

Figel's email specifically states that he himself saw no UFO.  He tells James Carlson that he took the report as a joke.  Nowhere in the email does he state by who or where the report came from, nor does he states one way or the other that Eric Carlson was aware of the report.  Could Figel himself have innocently interjected the UFO theme as he would have been processing Barlow's team and eventually, until crew changeover, others that would have responded to the situation?  He makes a vague reference to the lack of  VRSA ch. 9s out at some of the LFs (Barlow's assertion), but has no opinion due to his lack of knowledge of the equipment operations directly at the LF itself.

Towards the latter part of the email, Figel tells James Carlson that at no time was he and Eric Carlson debriefed about UFO involvement, nor did he ever write and submit a report concerning UFOs concerning the incident.  Contrast this admission with that of Hastings' 2008 interview which he tells Hastings that he was debriefed by wing/squadron personnel about UFO activity.  Obviously, there is a disconnect concerning the email and the interview.   It is possible that Figel could have fabricated some, if not all, of the information provided to Hastings, and as stated in the email, believed that both versions would have been acceptable to both James Carlson and Robert Hastings?  The email clearly demonstrates Figel's weakening support for Hastings point of view, which may have contributed to Hastings' public chastising of Figel and vague threats of legal action.

Walter Figel's Absence from the D.C. Press Conference

On 27 September 2010, Hastings and Salas gave a press conference in Washington D.C. (National Press Club).   Up to seven former Air Force members provided affidavits affirming UFO activity over either Echo or Oscar flight.  Notably missing from this group was Walter Figel.  A check on Salas' Web page listed all of the signed affidavits and contents.  No where was there listed a signed affidavit from Walter Figel affirming his story.  In the past, I thought this to be a mystery, but in light of my new conclusion, it may fit perfectly well.  If the UFO story had no truth to it, and Figel was aware of the story's exaggerations, it would be reasonable to assume that he would not have been willing to produce an affidavit affirming it, nor would he be willing to advance the exaggerations before a national audience by his presence.

This could further explain Hastings' public frustrations concerning Figel's lack of group conformity.  In recent on-line postings, Hastings had chastised Figel's "back tracking" as timid and waffling since Figel's story was the corner stone to Hastings' UFO theory.  In some of Hastings' posting, he had issued veiled threats of legal action against Figel.  Why threats of legal action?  Figel never signed an affidavit so he is not legally bound to Hastings in that regard.  The only other way that Hastings could have a legal argument is if he had a personal contractual agreement with Figel.  Did Robert Hastings pay for Figel's interview back in 2008?  This would explain Hastings angst and legal threats if he indeed had such a contract with Figel.

Hebert's Email to Walter Figel

In an attempt to see if Figel would be willing to clarify my questions and assumptions, I personally sent the following email:

Col. Figel, my name is Tim Hebert.  I, like you, am a former Minuteman crew member.  I was assigned to Malmstrom AFB, 490th SMS, from 1981-1985, with a follow-on assignment to Grand Forks AFB, Wing Codes Division, from 1985 to 1988.  I'm writing you in regards to the Echo Flight case which occurred back in 1967, as I have been following the history of the case and on-going points of contention between Robert Hastings and James Carlson.  I was wondering if you would indulge a fellow Minuteman crew dog by my asking your opinion of the case.  I am aware that the Echo Flight incident occurred some 40 years ago and that you have been asked numerous times for your recollections of that event, yet will spare me some of your time.

I have read extensively both of your interviews given to Robert Salas in 1996 and Robert Hastings in 2008.  In both of the interviews you mention the actions of maintenance and security teams in the Echo flight area on 16 March 1967.  Both interviews are somewhat remarkably different as to who initially reported to you the sighting of the UFO over one of Echo's LFs.  After reviewing the contents of the declassified 341st SMW Unit History, I was struck by the total lack of any mentioning of any wing agency debriefing either a maintenance team or security response team.  Yet, the Unit History goes into detail mentioning you and Eric Carlson as being debriefed by a wing maintenance evaluation team, OOMA, and Boeing.  This would lead me to conclude that there is a high probability that no maintenance teams were located on any of Echo's LFs on 16 Mar 1967.  This would also explain why no names have ever surfaced as eye witnesses to any actual UFO sighting.  Knowing that this incident occurred some 40 years ago, is it possible that there were no maintenance activity on any of your LFs?

When Hastings and Salas gave their press conference in Washington D.C. back on 27 Sept. 2010, I noticed that you were not in attendance.  This struck me as odd as for the past few years Mr. Hastings has used your interviews as the foundation to proffer his UFO theory.  Did Mr. Hastings ever ask you to sign an affidavit similar to the other participants of that conference?  If Hastings did ask and you declined, why so?

And lastly, did Mr. Hastings offer to pay you for your interview?  Please forgive my directness, but if this was so, then this would explain Mr. Hastings on and off attitude towards you as he has recently stated in numerous articles that you were "timid" and "waffling" as far as his (Hastings) perceived weakening support for his UFO theory.

Your thoughts in these matters would be greatly appreciated.  Quite honestly this would go along way towards the clearing up of a lot of confusion concerning this case.  Personally, I'm not a big fan of Robert Hastings (he is not a fan of mine) as he tends to paint those of us that served honorably in SAC and on the crew force as pawns or dupes of the government.  It appears that he may attempt to do the same regarding the recent events at FE Warren.  Our command and government were not perfect by any means, but we all, including our leadership, attempted to do the best that was possible in the defense of the country.


Tim Hebert

As of this time, Walter Figel has not emailed back a response.  Should he provide a response in the future, I'll provide it in either an addendum or separate post.

Eric Carlson

For years Eric Carlson has been silent on the issue of UFO activity.  He has consistently denied any UFO reports or involvement in the shut down of the ten ICBMs.  In the 2008 Hastings interview, Figel is notably interested in the contents of a phone conversation which Hastings had with Carlson.  Per Hastings, Carlson said little other than to state that UFOs were not the cause of the shutdowns, but Figel's noticeably interest in the phone conversation as to what Eric Carlson specifically said is interesting.  The response from Figel gives the appearance that he was uncomfortable about Eric Carlson's reaction.  Was Figel concerned that Carlson would contradict his version of events?  It would appear so.

Carlson did provide an interview with Ryan Dube of Realityuncovered. Carlson stated that no reports were called in.  He did not receive any calls radio/SIN related to the sighting of a UFO over any of his launch facilities, this also includes any conversations with security personnel.  For all of the focus on Figel's activities on 16 March 1967, per the Unit History (pg. 36) Carlson was the first to see the faults and subsequent No-Go indications.  He told Dube that he was actively running his checklist and making the applicable reports.  One interesting bit of information is Carlson's relating to a call from SAC HQ querying the launch status of the ten ICBMs.  Contrast this to Figel's interview with Salas where he states that he (Figel) was sent to Offutt AFB to brief SAC officials on the shutdowns.  Carlson never makes that claim.  Carlson goes on to state that by the end of the day everyone (Malmstrom and Great Falls) was aware of the shutdowns, "talk of the town" and he was playfully subjected to innocent teasing from his peers.  Could this squadron camaraderie have been the initial source of playful UFO "rumors" that eventually filtrated back to maintenance teams, contractors and security personnel out in the field, or those soon to have dispatch to the flight area?


Per the Unit History, NORAD's 801st Radar Squadron showed no radar contacts on 16 March 1967.  Some have speculated that there were contacts that have been officially covered up, yet the fact that the Montana Air National Guard's 186 Fighter Interceptor Squadron flew no intercept missions due to Echo's incident well refutes that notion.  If there had been a positive radar contact, there would have been records supporting that type of intercept mission being flown against unknown targets 120 miles away in the Echo sector.  Let me be clear: No ADC intercept mission was flown over eastern Montana on the morning of 16 March 1967.

Cover Up?

Proponents of the UFO theory consistently harp on the aspects of an Air Force cover-up.  Though this case has plenty of documentation via past FOIA request, the thought is that there is always something missing that will some how break the case open, at least, that appears to be the prevailing collective opinion.  True, up to now, the missing engineering reports from the initial investigation would go along way towards answering some of the questions, yet enough documentation exist where logical conclusions can be drawn.  The most cited document is the 341st SMW's Unit History, now declassified, that gives insight into the Echo case.  Though not a perfect document, as there are minor errors and typos, it does open a 44 year old window which we can peer through.  The trick is to understand what it is saying.  It's a secondary source that is quoting and/or summarizing a primary source.  It's the only way that we can currently gaze into the engineering analysis that was conducted in response to Echo.

Did the Air Force attempt a cover-up of the cause for Echo's shut downs?  Based on a Cold War climate and sense of paranoia concerning National Security, I'm inclined to agree that there was a cover-up of sorts, but a cover-up of what?  The fact that ten missiles in a flight had abruptly dropped off alert could not have been kept a secret, as Eric Carlson elaborated on.  The shut downs were known through out the operations, maintenance, and security squadrons.  The so called cover-up would have centered around the investigation aspect of the case. Any revelation of a system defect would have been classified in an attempt to keep this information from the Soviets.  This happens quite often, even today, when keeping sensitive information from leaking out is considered to be in the best interest of the nation. That's all well and good, but did the Air Force, SAC and DoD cover-up facts that a UFO had been involved with the shutting down of a full flight of ICBMs?

During early June, 1968, there were reports of UFO activity affecting Minuteman sites at Minot AFB.  This case was thoroughly investigated by members of Project Blue Book. Blue Book did not investigate Malmstrom's Echo incident, even though there was a UFO officer, LtCol. Lewis Chase, assigned to Malmstrom.  So the Air Force spent considerable man hours investigating Minot's UFO reports, yet did nothing to investigate Echo's rumors of UFOs.  This could only have not occurred if there were no valid facts to support such assertions pertaining to Malmstrom/Echo.  Keep in mind, Minot had individuals that actually made written reports that they had saw something, where in Echo's case, no one ever made such a report.  Why cover-up Malmstom, but go all out investigating Minot?  This could only be if no evidence of UFO activity was associated with the Echo incident and a reasonable theory of causation was being pursued by Boeing and OOMA.

Minuteman Launch Facility Connectivity Isolation

Could a UFO theoretically cause the shut down of all ten of Echo's ICBMs?  I've recently provided different UFO scenarios concerning this issue.  Since the Minuteman ICBMs were remotely controlled by the LCC and the individual launch facilities had distance (miles) between them, a system was in place to guard against a nuclear strike/sabotage directed towards one or two launch facilities and disrupting command and control to the surviving launch facilities.  Each individual ICBM had Hardened Inter-site Cables (HICs) running only to the Launch Control Center.  There were no HICs cables running from one launch facility to another.  The sites were intentionally isolated from one another.  This design would rule out any possibility of an "event" at one launch facility affect the remaining sites.  Or, if two or three sites had experienced an event simultaneously, the remaining sites would be unaffected.  The only way that all ten ICBMs could have been affected was an event generated from the Launch Control Center.

Per the Unit History, the engineering investigations conducted by Boeing, Autonetics, and OOMA centered around the possibility that the EMP-like noise pulse was generated from the LCF/LCC.  What is of interest is that these concerns were raised by other missile wings within SAC, in other words, Echo's issues did not exist in a vacuum.  OOMA had discovered that noise pulses sent through the SIN lines caused virtually identical LF No-Go, VRSA ch.12s affecting the Logic Coupler drawers at Wing IV (Whiteman AFB).  Though this was ruled out in Echo's case, this did under score that events generating from the Launch Center could, in some way, cause noise-like pulses being sent out to one or all of a flights ICBMs.

Echo's incident was strictly a flight specific event.  Any major external EMP event would have affected some of the sorties in the adjoining flights, such as, Delta, Mike, Oscar and November.  Yet this never occurred as no mentioning of extracting data from any of the adjoining flights is alluded to in the Unit History.  This further cements the claim that the source of the noise pulse was, and could only have been, from Echo's LCF/LCC itself. 

If the UFO theory is to be considered valid, then the only way that it could have affected all ten of Echo's ICBMs was to be hovering over or near Echo's LCF/LCC.  Since no one ever reported this type of event (FSC and others on the LCF), this type of UFO event can be easily ruled out effectively ruling out any UFO involvement in Echo's shutdowns.  Recently when I was developing this theory, it was downplayed by some because of the "unknown nature of how a UFOs could effect the ICBMs", in other words, UFO technology is so advanced that it is beyond our comprehension to adequately describe their capabilities and limitations.  I found this argument to be seriously flawed.  Since we don't know the extent of the "technology", one way or the other, then my premise is equally sound and based on know facts concerning the LF isolation design.  This brings up the issue of Boeing's Engineering Change Proposal (ECP).  The direct results that came from the Echo investigation and other SAC Minuteman wing issues was the implementation and installation of EMP suppression fixes.  This fix was installed at all Minuteman wings and possibly accelerated Project Loggy Ebb that did the same at the Titan II wings.  Since the time of the implementation of the EMP suppression fix, no wing in SAC, Minuteman or Titan, suffered a total flight, squadron or wing-wide shut down based on EMPs or noise pulse issues.  That data refutes the issue of the "unknown UFO advance technology effect" argument that others have casually proffered.


I believe that I have shown that there is now enough evidence to strongly support that UFO/s could not have caused Echo's ICBMs to shut down.  The following strongly supports my conclusion:

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).

When taking into account the above 11 assertions, Echo merely becomes a great UFO story.  But that is all ...a story, nothing more and nothing less.  All of the verifiable facts support a weapon system anomaly that was only magnified due to the number of sorties that had dropped off alert, thus the UFO theory is indefensible and becomes only what it's proponents wish it to be.  The only support for UFO involvement is the rumors and these rumors could have came from many different sources for various agendas or purposes.  Numerous people heard something, yet they themselves saw nothing.  The actual eye witnesses may never have existed in the first place, yet they become embedded in the collective imagination.  Thus the story morphs over time.  Echo Flight has truly become one of the great UFO myths.  Top ten best case?  Unfortunately no...only a grand illusion for all to experience, and with that said...Case Closed!!


On August 7, 20011, Robert Hastings was a guest on The Paracast radio program.  Drew Hempel put some of my questions to Hastings and below is his response:

"As for Tim Hebert's comments, no, Figel was not paid for his interviews with me, nor was Meiwald. Neither want to get further involved in the controversy and certainly will not provide affidavits. Are you saying that Cols. Figel and Meiwald are lying, Tim? I'm sure that both men would like to know."

Hastings states that he did not pay for Figel's interview.  As far as the questions concerning the issue of the lack of an affidavit for Walter Figel, Robert Hastings had either been mistaken thinking that I had demanded that Figel sign an affidavit or he simply is implying that Figel never signed an affidavit.  Either way, it is somewhat clearer that Figel never signed an affidavit, but the question of why still lingers.  Judging from Hastings response, he appears defensive towards the subject. (8/8/11)

Thursday, July 14, 2011

An Important Echo Flight Factor: The SIN Line

I've mentioned it in a few of my previous posts, but the Launch Facility SIN line appears to be more of a factor in the Echo Flight case.  It also appears to be a source of confusion for those attempting to make sense of the claims that a UFO was the cause of Echo's ten missiles to shut down.  I want to describe for the reader what is the Secure Intersite Network (SIN) line, it's operational purpose and why it plays an important factor in any researcher's attempt to study this fascinating UFO case.

The Secure Intersite Network (SIN) line was a communication link between a flight's Launch Facility(LF) and it's Launch Control Center (LCC).  The SIN line allowed the missile launch crew to talk to a maintenance team either inside the missile silo or inside the Soft Support Building (SSB) that was located partially underground adjacent to the silo enclosure.  As far as I can recall, there were two SIN line connections inside the silo and one connection inside the soft support building.  For clarification the soft support building contained all of the Launch Facility environmental equipment, ie, chiller/air conditioning equipment for LF equipment cooling air, applicable supply for heating source, and the diesel motor generator as a source for back-up power in the absence of commercial power. 

In the silo itself, the SIN line was basically a headset with microphone and a tethered wire line that plugged into an audio outlet.  The maintenance team member simply blew into the microphone to activate the line and rang the LCC.  The LCC had two Telecommunication Consoles consisting of one located on the crew commanders status console and another located on the deputy's console.  There were ten push buttons labled for each LF.  When activated the buttons would flash and an audible ring would sound.  The missile crew simply pushed in the flashing button and communicated with a typical hand held phone.  By use of other push buttons, the crew could patch in a call from an outside line to the SIN line.  This was used by Wing Job Control to talk directly to the maintenance team.

Now that I've given a crash course on the SIN line, why is it important to the Echo Flight case?  The maintenance team that reported the UFO to Walter Figel had used the SIN line to make the observation.  Per Walter Figel to Rober Hastings in 2008:

WF: [When] the missiles dropped off alert, I started calling the maintenance people out there on the radio to talk to them. I had the security guard authenticate so I know I’m talking to a security guard and, you know, [I asked] “What’s going on? Is maintenance trying to get into the silo?” [The guard said,] “No, they’re still in the camper.” [So, I said,] “Get ‘em up, I want to talk to them.” Then I tried to tell them what I had was a Channel 9 No-Go.

WF: Uh, we did that with the sites that were there, that [had maintenance teams and their guards on site] and I sent Strike Teams to two other sites. There’s no sense sending them where I [already] have a guard and a gun and an authenticate.

RH: So far in this narrative, you haven’t mentioned UFOs.

WF: [Laughs] That’s correct. Um, somewhere along the way, um, one of the maintenance people—cause he didn’t know what was going on any place else either, they have no capability of talking to each other [at different launch sites], in other words, they can talk to the [launch] capsule but they can’t talk to each other—

RH: Right

WF:unless they were on the radio and no one was using the radio except the security police. And the guy says, “We got a Channel 9 No-Go. It must be a UFO hovering over the site. I think I see one here.” [I said,] “Yeah, right, whatever. What were you drinking?” And he tried to convince me of something and I said, well, I basically, you know, didn’t believe him. [Laughs] I said, you know, we have to get somebody to look at this [No-Go]. [A short time later] one of the Strike Teams that went out, one of the two, claimed that they saw something over the site.

Walter Figel went into a lot of detail describing for Robert Hastings how the maintenance team had communicated to him via the SIN line, not the VHF radio, since the only ones using the radio at that given time would have been the security personnel.  Did the maintenance team have radio capability?  Yes, each maintenance vehicle usually had a radio for communicating with Job Control and other base agencies.  Could the maintenance team have been contacting Figel via radio?  No, in order for the maintenance team to have verified the VRSA channel 9 LF No-Go, they had to have been inside of the LF's silo communicating via SIN connection with the LCC.  Could the maintenance team have any visual observation field?  No, they were inside of the LF with the launcher closure door closed.

Based on above, now the importance of the SIN line comes into to full view and why it is an important aspect of the Echo Flight case.   

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Two Alternative UFO Theories For Echo Flight

This is an area that I have ponder for some time and was briefly discussed on the Realityuncovered Forum site a few months ago. I briefly floated one of the theories during the recent debates on Billy Cox's DeVoid Blog site, admittedly drawing little interests. Yet, I believe that there is something to gain by looking closely at two potentially competing theories concerning possible UFO activity over the Echo Flight area back in March of 1967.

Let's look at the current popular theory, or at least how I see it. I'll list the pros's and con's, information that supports or does not support each proposed theory.

Theory #1: "Ten ICBMs in the Echo Flight area dropped off alert due to a single UFO sighted over a single Launch Facility."


1) Ear witness (Walter Figel receiving a verbal report from one of the LFs)
2) Possible eyewitnesses (individuals that contacted Figel)
3) Documented evidence that ten ICBMs dropped off alert.
4) Unknown source of EMP noise pulse. (Point of origination questionable?)
5) Positive rumors of UFOs


1) Official A.F. investigation and its conclusion of noise pulse causing logic coupler failure.
2) No eye witness, as of yet, have been identified or have come forward.
3) Command and control design and physical layout of the flight area. All Launch Facility (LF) were completely electrically isolated from one another.
4) Implementation of Boeing Engineering Change Proposal for EMP shielding.

Theory #1's major supportive facts are probably that of Walter Figel hearing of a UFO report concerning one of the LFs as well as the corresponding ten missile shutdowns. The major facts detracting from this theory is the lack of eye witnesses and the design of the command and control system peculiar to Minuteman, that is, the total electrical isolation of all LFs from one another.

The electrical isolation design of a flight's ten LFs greatly hampers this theory because of the difficulties that one UFO would have affecting all ten LFs by hovering over a single LF.  By design, all LF harden command and control cables ran only to the Launch Control Center (LCC) for command and control purposes. There were no cables running between one LF to another.  This was a deliberate design in case of a nuclear detonation over a single LF would not affect the remaining LFs. This was also true of any accidental or sabotage cutting of a single LF cable system.

Lastly, and just as equally important, was the Boeing Engineering Change Proposal  (ECP) and it's subsequent implementation that provided additional EMP shielding to all of SAC's Minuteman wings as a direct response to the aftermath of the Echo shutdown. It should be noted that after this fix was put in place, there were no other full flight shutdowns in any missile wing, including Malmstrom.

Theory #2: "Ten ICBMs in the Echo Flight area dropped off alert due to UFOs over each of the flight's ten Launch Facilities."


1) UFO override of the command and control system allowing access to each LF in the flight was possible. This could have by-passed the LCC's Weapon System Controller.
2) LF electrical isolation is negated.
3) Ten EMP noise pulses could have been sent to each of the ten LFs at roughly the same time.
4) There would have been no effects noted at the LCF/LCC other than what was presented on the crew commander's status console.
5) Documented rumors of UFO activity in the flight area.


1) No eye witnesses, either civilian or military confirmed multiple UFOs in the flight and surrounding area.
2) No documented effects on the commercial power grid supplying electricity to the flight and surrounding area. This would have been expected with EMPs directed at all ten LFs.
3) No documented evidence that the Outer Zone/Inner Zone security system was triggered at any of the unmanned LFs.

The strength of Theory #2 is the by-passing of the command and control system of the LCC and the capability to totally negate the LF electrical isolation design. Where this hypothesis suffers are the lack of eye witnesses to multi-UFO sightings (civilian and military) and no documentation of power outages/fluctuations effecting the commercial power grid for that portion of eastern Montana.

As a side, the issue of the OZ/IZ security system at the unmanned LFs is an interesting question. Would EMP-like pulses have effected the microwave security net installed at each of the ten LFs?

Theory #3: "Ten ICBMs in the Echo Flight area dropped off alert due to one UFO hovering over or near the LCF/LCC."


1) Direct effect on the LCCs command, control, and communications to all squadron LFs
2) This negates the electrical isolation effect of the LFs


1) No documented report or rumor that a UFO had been over or near Echo's LCF/LCC.
2) No eye witnesses.

This theory is the most plausible based on technical and engineering feasibility. The major strength is the ability to affect the LCCs Weapons System Controller and send out signals to each individual LF. This also tracks with the Air Force's investigation of the noise-pulse possibly originating from the LCC. The major facts that hurts this theory is the lack of any documentation or eye witnesses that a UFO was near or over Echo-01.


Since theory #3 is the most feasible theory from an engineering standpoint, based on the then Minuteman I command and control system in place, then what does this mean for the other two remaining theories?  The current and popular theory #1 looks good and has numerous supportive areas, but it fails dramatically based upon the lack of corroborating eye witnesses and the LF electrical isolation design.  Theory #2 is feasible, but also dramatically falls short due to the lack of eye witness corroborating multi-UFO sightings over each of the ten LFs.  Theory #3, an excellent possibility (my opinion), also fails dramatically due to the lack of supportive documentation and eye witness accounting of any sighting of a UFO over or near Echo's LCF/LCC.  Therefore, I can only conclude that since none of the three theories are possible then no UFO was the cause of Echo's ten ICBMs to unexpectedly shutdown.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

A Response to Robert Hastings

For those unaware, I've been participating in a "polite" discourse with Robert Hastings on Billy Cox's DeVoid Blog site.  Trying to get Hastings to engage in any civil discourse is equivalent to eating Jello with a fork...damn near impossible.  Below is an excerpt from one particular exchange:

"What, Mr. Hebert, no response to my comments regarding what Col. Figel *actually* said about the nature and location of the reports he got from those on-site?! Nice side-step.
As I recall, you refused to accept former Minuteman missile launch officer David Schuur’s email address directly from me and found it elsewhere on your own. Please correct me if I am wrong about that. And, after posting Schuur’s response to you at your website, you tried to explain his experience away in prosaic terms.
Moreover, you never accepted my offer to provide you with Hank Barlow’s email address. Barlow helped restart the Echo Flight missiles and reports a UFO involvement in their shutdown.
It was/is your game-playing and this kind of disingenuousness that makes me thoroughly disinterested in your alleged background and supposed insights." (bold type by Hebert)

and my response:

"...As far as Schurr’s email address, I used what you had provided me. Prove that I used another source! Let’s not forget that I requested James Carlson’s email address which you refused to give me because you stated that you had contacted Eric Carlson and he did not want the address given to me. (I have that very email). BTW, you never contacted Eric Carlson, did you? James was your smoking gun, no use in giving that wealth of information to a former ICBM crew dog that was “snooping” around. So you fabricated Eric Carlson’s “request”. You even went so far as to state to those on the missileforums site that I was a government agent, after I turned the tables on “your” silly assed snipe hunt. That precious bit of comedy can easily be had from the administrators of the missileforums site.
1. Prove to me that I received Schurrs email address from another source.
2. Prove to me that you actually contacted Eric Carlson concernin my request for James Carlson’s email address..."

and more of Robert Hastings:

"... Mr. Hebert, regarding the Schuur issue, you say you have my emails. It’s up to you, not me, to prove that you got his email address directly from me. If I did send it, which I doubt, then I will stand corrected..."

So Hastings makes a claim which I ask that he provides proof to back it up and yet he refuses to do so.  Well Robert, your wrong!  Let's take a trip down memory lane:

Subject: Re: Special request
Date: Wed, 15 Jul 2009 22:29:31 -0600

Sent: Wednesday, July 15, 2009 10:44 PM
Subject: RE: Special request

Thanks Robert, I'll contact Schuur, when he confirms to you of said contact, then perhaps we can discuss Carlson's address?  No need to reply, I know that you are a man of your word.


Subject: Re: Special request
Date: Wed, 15 Jul 2009 21:55:35 -0600

Did you email Dave Schuur yet? You won't get anymore assistance from me until you do. I have told him to expect your email because I know you are a seeker of facts.

Sent: Wednesday, July 15, 2009 11:32 PM
Subject: RE: Special request

Robert, sent message to Schuur, will await his response.  No need for the other emails, except for the elder Carlson.  The rest of the statements that matter can be gleamed from your numerous postings throughout the web.  I trust the quotes are accurate?  None the less, you wrote them so you are accountable to their authenticity.  I'd like to get your book, but $25 and shipping is extortion.  James Carlson, in reality, was a fishing expedition, his reaction to you is self explanatory.  It's your reaction to him that fascinates me.  You devote 50% of your postings bashing the poor bastard before you can get to the main point of the your article.  I had scroll down to infinity to get to where any substance could be comprehended.  BTW, has Schuur been to the forum site? I invited him to take a peek at the thread, unless you have guided him to it already.


So Robert, above is my proof.  Do you still deny it?  I would expect a written retraction via post on Cox's blog, that is if you have any sense of integrity and honor.

As far as my Minot article featuring Schuur, I treated Schuur with the utmost respect.  My actual email contact and Schuur's reply in listed in the article. Your seemingly problem with the article is that I didn't endorse your point of view, plain and simple.  If Mr. Schuur has a problem with the article then he is most welcome to comment...that is, if you'll let him.

The same goes with Henry Barlow, his comments are certainly welcomed here, again, if you'll let him.  BTW, my Barlow article was taken from your interview with him.  Was your article inaccurate?

I also would like a clarification concerning your claims that you had direct contact with Eric Carlson regarding your releasing James Carlson's email per my request.  I have direct information that you never contacted the elder Carlson and used a fabrication as an excuse in not giving me the email address.

Most of my readers will probably find the above disagreement childish, which I have to agree in part.  Even after my exchanges with Hastings, I had to shake my head and smile.  Two grown men arguing over an email address.  Yet after all of this, what did it really matter if I had received Schuur's email address from a source other than Hastings?  Rather juvenile behavior coming from such an esteem UFO researcher, at least, that's the impression.   And the same can easily be said about me.  Perhaps Hastings merely forgot about giving me the address, after all it was nearly two years ago.  But this brings up a salient point, if Hastings can forget about this one little two year old email exchange, how can he expect that Figel, Meiwald, Jamison, Barlow and others can remember the finer details of something that happened 40-plus years ago.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Robert Hastings' Swiss Cheese Factor...Henry Barlow

It was brought to my attention a few days ago from a fellow Reality Uncovered forum member that Robert Hastings had attached what appeared to be an addendum to his post, "James Carlson Just Can't Get It."  A link was provided first to UFO Digest and the following day to UFO Magazine Blog.  This secondary post was the obligatory damning of James Carlson which was to be expected in a typical Robert Hastings piece.  Its the verbiage, half way into the post, that caught my eye.

As for Tim Herbert’s, ahem, “authoritative” summary of the missile shutdown incidents, Carlson is dreaming if he thinks that Hebert—who was not present when the events occurred—can explain them away. I will provide Hebert with former missile maintenance tech Hank Barlow’s email address—if he will write to me and ask for it—so that he can learn the facts from someone who was actually involved in the Echo shutdown aftermath. Again, Barlow says he was explicitly told that UFOs had caused the malfunctions. (Just as former targeting team officer Bob Jamison was told that the Oscar missiles had met the same fate. I will forward Jamison’s email address to Hebert as well.)
As Hebert told me in an email last year, he first became aware of the events at Malmstrom while writing a post-graduate psychology paper on “delusional thinking.” (Rather ironic that he should now be supporting James Carlson’s rants, eh?) Hebert’s remarks made quite clear his own anti-UFO biases. Is it any wonder he and James Carlson are such pals?

For starters, I agree with Hastings that I was not present when the event occurred, but neither was he.  Hastings was emptying trash cans some where in a building on Malmstrom AFB proper, but he was not at Echo.  I'm really not sure if he even knew where Echo-01 was situated or how to get there being that the LCF was some 120 miles east of Malmstrom. I'm sure that Robert will provide clarification about his where abouts at the given time.

As for Hastings providing Hank Barlow's contact information, it's not needed since Mr. Barlow's statements (attached at end of article) have been provided to me by Tim Printy based on what Hastings had posted on the Bad Astronomy Forum site some time back.  I did a web search and came across the same statements that Hastings had posted on other numerous sites and verified that what Printy had provided was exactly the same with no variations.

Assuming that Barlow was indeed assigned to Malmstrom in 1967, and Hastings had properly vetted Barlow, his statements are noteworthy in two ways:  what is said and what is not said.  Per Barlow, he was a member of an EMT unit situated at Mike 01 on 16 March 1967 that responded to the Echo Flight shutdowns.  Barlow states that there were no active VRSA channels reporting at any of the ten LFs.  This contradicts Walter Figel's statements to Hastings and Robert Salas that all ten of the LFs had active reporting VRSA channel 9 LF-No Go.  Per checklist procedures, Figel would have, via the LCC VRSA panel, checked any and all sorties that had fault indications and Figel made no mention that there were no active reporting channels.  Did Barlow initiate the LF VRSA interrogations himself, or did another team member accomplished this?  Barlow states that his team only restarted 3 or 4 missiles, so how would he have known of the VRSA status of the remaining 6 or 7 sites?  What of the other EMT teams that restarted those remaining sites?  So now Hastings has a problem, who is right?...Barlow or Figel?  The 341st Unit History states that all ten sites had active VRSA 9s.  Subsequent data dumps would also discover active VRSA 12s implicating the Logic Coupler. 

Let's also remember that Barlow's team was not the first to actually respond to the shut downs.  Prior to the shutdowns, there were maintenance teams at two of Echo's LFs.  After the No-Go indications were received at the LCC, one team immediately verified the VRSA channel  9, the other team eventually did the same after penetrating the site.  Again, this totally contradicts Barlow's assertions, unless...Figel's statements to Hastings and Salas were false.  Walter Figel's statements have always been the "definitive" answer concerning Echo's shutdowns, at least that is what we are constantly lead to believe.

Barlow states that he heard from an unknown secondary source that a UFO was spotted over E-02 by a security camper team.  One of the security team members supposedly photographed the object, but the film and/or camera was confiscated by Air Force officials.  Again, Barlow states that he was told this by someone, who couldn't be named, back at the Echo LCF.  A recognizable pattern?  What about the maintenance team that had to remain on site awaiting the arrival of the camper team.  It would have taken approximately two hours if not more to generate the camper team back at Malmstrom then dispatching them to E-02.  Again this conflicts with Figel's statements and the time lines don't match up, plus depending on what version of Figel is used (Hastings vs. Salas), a maintenance team reported the UFO or one of Echo's SATs saw the UFO over an anonymous LF from a distance...a camper team was never mentioned.

Further, Barlow states that upon returning back to Echo-01, "...there was brass all over the place.  They were from Offutt AFB - SAC Headquarters..."  Walter Figel never made this claim, though by that time he and Eric Carlson would have already departed back to base, but the relief crew, Don Crawford, never made this claim either.  Walter Figel told Salas that he made a TDY to Offutt to brief SAC officials, though admittedly I have seen no proof that verifies that particular claim.  Eric Carlson states that, while still at Echo, he received a call from the SAC Command Post, a general officer, inquiring on the launch status of Echo's sorties.  Perhaps Barlow misinterpreted a large contingency of wing personnel that had showed up on site due to the nature of the event, thus believing them to be SAC HQ officials.  The Unit History makes no reference either way other than to state that Boeing and OOMA (Hill AFB, Ogden) had dispatched personnel to investigate the shutdowns and by the time that this team had arrived, all of Echo's sorties had been brought back up to alert status.  Barlow appears to have more of an accurate recollection by eventually stating:

I was so tired when we got back to Echo 1—we had worked long hours, we had been out almost a week by that time and we were just pooped. All I remember is that there were lots of people there and there was no place to lie down.
What can we really learn from Barlow's statement?  He was out in the field and responded to the shutdowns.  Though it appears that he was involved with restarting all ten missiles, he did not.  He was only involved with three or four start ups.  He was told by various unnamed individuals that UFOs had cause the shutdowns.  Barlow, himself, did not state that he personally saw UFO activity while responding to the shutdowns.  In the end Barlow joins a growing list of Hastings witnesses who saw nothing, but heard second/third hand that UFOs had been in the flight area.

I noticed that when Hastings and Salas held their press conference, 27 Sept 2010, Barlow was not in attendance.  Perhaps Hastings could provide information as to whether Barlow was invited or not.  All of the participants had signed affidavits.  Based upon Barlow's story, would he have willingly signed an affidavit?  I also noted that Barlow was on station for approximately one year.  There may be good reasons, but one year is unusually short.  Perhaps Hastings/Barlow would be willing to shed some light on that subject.  One wonders why Barlow has never been prominently featured as a strong supporting witness, but I suspect that I now know why.

In conclusion, though interesting and entertaining, Barlow's accounting is filled with numerous holes and contradictions...a marginally weak supporting witness is the best that can be said.  Hastings appears to have adopted the "Swiss Cheese" factor, "sure there are a lot of holes, but its still edible."  If Barlow is right, then Walter Figel is wrong leading to another corner that Hastings has painted himself into.

As for Robert Jamison, I'll soon be looking again at his statements, both pre-affidavit and what is now listed on his affidavit as provided by Robert Salas.  I briefly touched on his original statements in my first blog article, "Did UFOs Disable Minuteman Missiles at Malmstrom..."  In light of Jamison's affidavit, he certainly deserves thorough consideration.

Below is Robert Hastings' interview with Henry "Hank" Barlow:

I (RH) have interviewed one of the missile maintenance technicians who responded to the Echo shutdowns on March 16, 1967. N. Henry “Hank” Barlow, then a buck sergeant, told me,

“I arrived at Malmstrom in October 1966 and left in November 1967. I was on Electro-Mechanical Team 24 at the time [the Echo Flight shutdown] happened. We had to go out to Mike-1 for about four or five days. We had to stay out there and cover the sites. The day we were supposed to return [to base, one of us] called Job Control to see if we could come in because it was really starting to snow. It was really miserable out, windy and all. Job Control said, ‘Yeah, come on in, there’s nothing going on, everything seems okay.’ So we packed up and started back to the base.

Then Job Control called us on the radio and said, ‘Hey, we’ve got a problem here, part of Echo Flight has shut down, so we want you to go to the nearest site.’ I think that was Echo-6, but I’m not sure. Anyway, somewhere around that area. We checked VRSA and there was nothing on it. [That] was a unit in each launch facility, with something like 19 or 20 channels on it. [Actually, VRSA or Voice Reporting Signal Assembly had 23 channels, one for each problem area.] If the missile went down for any reason, or if there was some other problem, Job Control back at Malmstrom would know about it, know what is was, from the kind of signal it sent. But when we got to the site, there was nothing on [VRSA] to indicate the reason for the missile shutting down. That in itself was unusual. I had never seen that before.”

The declassified 341 Strategic Missile Wing history states that the missiles went down due to VRSA signals 9 and 12. When I asked Jim Klotz about this apparent discrepancy, he commented, “------‘s team ran a ‘special (diagnostic) tape’ (mentioned in the wing history) and DID get VRSA data.” For the moment, Klotz is protecting the name of this targeting team member, whom he interviewed a few months ago. That individual also responded to the Echo shutdowns and also reports hearing of UFO involvement in them from one of his superiors. Klotz says that the information provided by the source, as well as his identity, will be published in revised edition of his and Bob Salas’ coauthored book, Faded Giant.

Barlow continued, “So Job Control said, do a start-up, which takes about four hours. After you initiate the startup, you can back out of there and leave because its automatic after a certain point. Usually, if there was nothing else going on, we would stay at the site to make sure everything was working fine. But that night, Job Control said go to the next site, whatever that was. So we did that, and [restarted] three or four missiles before going back to [Echo-1]. Of all ten missiles that went down, only one wouldn’t come back up, but that was due to something that was going to [fail] anyway, like a Logic Coupler Drawer, or something like that. But none of the missiles had anything on VRSA.

[When we got back to Echo-1] we heard what happened. At Echo-2, there was a team in there earlier that afternoon that could not get the security [telemetry] to set-up, through the parabolic antenna or the soft support building or something like that. So, they put an Air Police team out there, in a camper, two guys. Anyway, one of the guys went out to take a leak, and he noticed that it wasn’t snowing over top of his head. The perimeter lights were on and he could see the snow coming down all around him so he looked up and saw a ring of lights right over top of him. He was scared stiff, so he went back to the camper and woke up his team partner.

When this other guy came out, he had a camera with him, which they weren’t suppose to have, but guys would do stuff like that. By then this thing had moved off the perimeter fence and he took pictures of it. [When the security team was debriefed back at the base,] the Air Force confiscated the camera and film. I was told all of this back at Echo-1. We had passed our ‘timelines’ because we had worked 16 hours, or something like that, and could not go back to the base so we had to go back to Echo. When we got back there, there was brass all over the place. They were from Offutt AFB—SAC Headquarters—they had brought them in. There were just a lot of high-ranking officers there.”

I asked Barlow who had told him about the incident involving the Camper Alert Team. He responded, “I don’t remember. I don’t know if it was one of the security guys or someone else. I was so tired when we got back to Echo 1—we had worked long hours, we had been out almost a week by that time and we were just pooped. All I remember is that there were lots of people there and there was no place to lie down. But we were told that it was a UFO shutdown—that UFOs had been responsible—and that’s why all those guys were there.”

I asked Barlow if he had been surprised or shocked or skeptical when he was informed that UFOs had shutdown the missiles. He replied,

“Oh no! On many other occasions, we were out at the sites when Job Control called and told us that, you know, there are reports of UFOs in the area, so keep your eyes open. That happened many, many times. And I saw them! I would see a light in the sky and it would make a right-angle turn. Or it would make two different right-angle turns, one after the other. I saw that more than once. They were much faster than a helicopter and we certainly knew that aircraft [couldn’t] do that.

I once saw a light come straight down, hover at maybe 1000-feet, and then shoot straight off [horizontally] and out of sight. It was crazy! Job Control always called us first, before we saw anything. They would call and say, you know, heads-up. Then, most of the time, we would see something a little while later. So, they were getting reports from somewhere, and maybe they had [the UFOs] on radar, but I don’t know for sure. Sometimes, when the call came in, we were down in the missile [silo] and we would talk to the guard topside about what he was seeing. I remember one time, the guard was just a nervous wreck. Job Control had called and said UFOs were sighted in the area. Then, I’m not sure, but I think he saw some lights himself. But anyway, he was just scared out of his wits. He wanted to come down in the silo with us. But the guards weren’t allowed to do that.

One time, [probably during the summer of 1967,] we were at one of the Bravo sites when we got a call from Job Control saying that there were UFO sightings in our area. Then, a short time later, we saw a green light come straight down out of the sky and land on this hill. Then two lights separated from it, straight out to each side. We were sitting in the pick up truck, eating our box lunches, when we saw this, along with another team we were training, plus the guard. We reported it to Job Control. They told us to close up the site and go check that out. We told them that we didn’t think we were qualified to do that! This was around 4 a.m. When it got light, we were amazed how far away the hill was, where this thing had landed. It was far, far away. We thought it was much closer, so the light was really bright.

I asked Barlow if he had later been debriefed about the incident at Echo Flight. He said, “No, never! It was almost kind of a joke, we would all laugh about it. Now, it wasn’t a joke [with all the missiles down] but it was a joke because nobody would believe it if you told them about it.”

I asked Barlow if he had heard about the Oscar Flight missiles shutting down around the same time as the Echo Flight shutdowns. He said “No, I never knew about that...I wasn’t qualified to work there.”

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Robert Hastings: "James Carlson Just Can't Get It"...Again?

So it goes once again that minus any legitimate attempts at debating the merits of the Malmstrom case, Robert Hastings resorts to his old habits of deflecting away from the issues, namely by using James Carlson as a shield against "the slings and arrows" hurled against his traveling ufology road show.

"By attempting to discredit these courageous men, some of whom spoke out at my September 2010 press conference in Washington D.C., Carlson only comes across as ever more delusional, except to those so negatively-biased against the UFO reality that such rants seem reasonable."

This shtick grows old as his theory continues to take on water and those of us who point out the obvious disconnects with his story are constantly, in Hastings eyes, becoming "...ever more delusional..."  Least I remind everyone that two of the principle characters of Hastings' Malmstrom UFO saga were notably missing at the D.C. press conference...Eric Carlson and Walter Figel.  Why was that...?

"Unlike the guys with backbone--the ones who participated in the press conference--Figel has been back-tracking in recent months. Fortunately, his more candid moments were caught on audio tape years ago and the world can now eavesdrop on his confessions."

Figel backtracking in recent months?  How about shape shifting the story since 1996 and eventually throwing Hastings' a UFO bone in 2008.  Which ones were Figel's most candid moments caught on audio?  The candid statements to Salas in 1996 or to Hastings in 2008?  Both "candid" moments are significantly different and Robert Hastings hasn't quite figured that one out, yet never mind, we are the ones that are considered delusional and misguided.  For a refresher on those candid moments see "A Tale of Two Figels..."

For a man whom Hastings once told me had "serious mental" issues, James Carlson appears to be causing Hastings some sleepless nights thus forcing Hastings to once again play the "delusional Carlson" card in yet another feeble attempt to throw the dogs off the scent.

Lastly, lets take a quick peek at the poster, or more accurately, who paste Hastings recent rant on UFO Magazine Blog, Alfred Lehmberg:

"You know -- it's selfish, self-interested, self-involved, self-motivated, and self-concerned cack-wits, like yourself, that the genuine truth-seeker has always had to leap over in pursuit of any real enlightened efficacy or validated self-respect... Pack sand and "die," Mr. Carlson, for all of us, including yourself. ...And Skippy? Don't make me explain the quotes around "die." I promise that it will be embarrassing."

"Much too little much too late, Mr. Carlson. Couple your paucity of legitimate rebuttal with the humiliating necessity of having to qualify the seeming cowardice of your father (?), and what was unconvincingly contrary is now just embarrassingly shrill."

Mr. Lehmberg...dude...calling a man, whom you've never met, a coward tells a lot about yourself and your lack of objectivity, and most importantly, lack of character.  Unfortunately, I'm not surprised.  Robert Hastings relies on others such as Alfred Lehmberg to be his covert and/or overt "sock puppets" parroting out what ever marching orders that filters down the way.  One would think that rather than paste someone else work, some thought provoking originality could be had to entice intelligent debate on the issues rather than childish name calling.  Skippy, make him explain "die" and keep his promise...

Monday, January 24, 2011

Walter Figel: No UFOs at Echo and Doubtful of Shutdowns at Oscar

A few months ago James Carlson provided me a copy of an email that he had received from Walter Figel.  Col Figel pretty much spells out his view on the whole Echo Flight affair as well as Salas' claims of an Oscar shutdown.

Re: telephone conversation
Thursday, March 11, 2010 9:03 AM
From Walter Figel, Jr. Thu Mar 11 14:03:27 2010
Re: telephone conversation.eml
I guess you must have posted something somewhere that got Hastings attention
He did call and we did speak for a bit, so did Salas.
You should know that both calls were very cordial as was ours.
However, I think you guys have a pissing contest going that I would rather not get in the middle of. I have no vested or financial interests in UFOs and actually not even a passing interest in them. Guess I am different from most people. But, I could really care less about the subject.
I reasserted that I personally never did see a UFO at any time.
I do not personally “believe” that UFOs had anything to do with Echo flight shutting down that year.
I repeated that I never heard about an incident at November or Oscar flight and have no knowledge that they ever happened and that I doubted they did.
That is obviously a personal opinion as I can not prove the negative.
I repeated that Colonel Dick Evans was at the alternate command post at Kilo which is in the same squadron as November and Oscar and he never mentioned anything about a shutdown at either of these two flights.
If it did happen, I personally don’t know anything about it.
One of their books said I had a personal log – I did not.
The only log I ever filled out was the official log that all flights kept and that I do not and never did have a copy of that log. Obviously I can not remember what I wrote that morning.
One of the books says that the flight shut down in “seconds” – that is not an exactly accurate statement.
It obviously took some time for your dad and I to run the appropriate checklists and make all the calls that we had to make to the command post and maintenance. We were near the end of the checklist when the second missile shut down and shortly threafter the rest of them followed suit.
That sequence of events took several minutes not seconds, but that is all a very minor point in fact and doesn’t change the facts of the overall sequence of events that morning.
I told him that when someone mentioned UFOs, I just laughed it off as a joke and assumed someone was just kidding around. I never took it seriously.
I also told them that no one from any UFO office in the Air Force ever interviewed/deriefed your dad and/or me and that I do not remember ever signing any papers about anything.
In fact, I told them that until he mentioned it, I did not even know there was an office that monitored sightings of “UFOs” in the Air Force.
When your dad and I came topside the next day – no one ever said anything about UFOs and there was no “large gathering” of people on site that morning.
There may have been later that afternoon, but I would have no knowledge of that as we were long gone back to the base as usual.
I did not know the targeting office’s name or even know that he was there.
I did say there was a VRSA recording reporting a “Channel 9 – NO GO” reported.
They said that the maintenance crews had no such report at the LF.
I told him that I did not know how the system worked at the missile site so that I do not know if that is possible or not.
I have always maintained that I do not personally believe in UFOs.
I am not convinced that November or Oscar ever happened.
But these are obviously personal opinions and I can not state them as facts or prove them – they are my personal beliefs.
I also believe these statements are accurate.
I also believe that is what I said 2 years ago, but I don’t have recordings.
So my knowledge is very slim and I have no records about anything at all.
In addition, that was 43 years ago and memories fail – especially about things that were not especially important to me at the time.
Today, I can’t remember what time my wedding was and that I assure you is more important to me then and now. And that was in 1971.
So if this is a help, so be it.
But I would rather stay out of any long standing debate about UFOs and leave that to the experts and researchers and those who know or at least truely believe that they know. After all they may be right and proven so some day.
As for me, I’ll just go my way as a skeptic until proven wrong.
As you can see, I cc’d Hastings so that you both have the same piece of paper. I don’t think that there are any inconsistencies in what I said to either of you. If there are, I’m sorry, that is not my intention at all.
Good luck in your pursuits. Stay professional and all will benefit.
Regards to your dad, I wish him well. It’s been many years.
With that said, I hope that this tug of war is over and the three of you can resolve your differences about the whole affair.  Walt.
As can be seen above, Robert Hastings was supposedly provided a copy of the above email.  As of this time, I'm not aware if Hastings has publicly acknowledge that he had received a copy of the above correspondence.  But one can suspect that he very well may have received it based on his recent labeling of Walter Figel as "waffling" and "timid."

As for James Carlson’s completely discredited claim about there being no UFO involvement in a full-flight missile shutdown at Malmstrom, on March 16, 1967, one may hear what actually happened from the lips of Carlson’s father’s deputy missile commander, retired Col. Walter Figel, by listening to the tape recorded conversations Salas and I had with Figel years ago, before he began nervously changing his story after the public spotlight fell on him. Unfortunately for the timid, now-waffling Figel, his earlier admissions are a matter of record...
If the above correspondence from Walter Figel is accurate then James Carlson may well be owed a "public" apology from Robert Hastings.  As stated in my past postings, Walter Figel, as well as Eric Carlson, have consistently denied that UFOs were involved in the Echo incident.  If Figel's statements are the lynch pin to Hastings' and Salas' UFO theory, which it has been, then the "theory" collapses like a house of cards.

Special thanks to James Carlson for allowing me to post the above information.