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.

Project Loggy Ebb: EMP or UFO Supression?

I was skimming through Bernard C. Nalty's USAF Ballistic Missile Programs, March 1967, and came across this interesting information concerning the Titan II system.  The entire volume of work can be viewed here and also via the NSA Archives site. (Bold faced emphasis by post writer.)

In light of the forthcoming retirement of Titan II, the Air Force was reluctant to spend large amounts to protect the system's Mk-6 reentry vehicle against nuclear detonation effects. Although a $50 to $60 million hardening program of this type was disapproved, the Air Force did proceed with two projects to protect the Titan launch complexes. They were Yard Fence and Loggy Ebb, originally called Low Ebb. Begun in 1965, Yard Fence was aimed at improving the reliability of equipment installed at Titan II sites. Work done under this program included adding. neutron shielding and acoustical lining and fitting new seals around blast doors. The project was to have been completed in the spring of 1966, but a silo fire near Searcy, Ark., in 1965 killed 53 civilian workers and compelled the Air Force to suspend work.
Loggy Ebb, the other major project, was designed to provide protection against electromagnetic pulse, an effect of nuclear explosions that could damage vital electrical equipment. During the summer of 1967 workers at Little Rock began installing surge arrestors to protect Titan II circuits, generators, and buried cables. USAF plans called for completion of Loggy Ebb in October 1968 at Davis-Monthan AFB.
Of interest is the fact that work on the Titan II sites, for Loggy Ebb, started during the summer of 1967 possibly in conjunction with SAC's directives to install EMP filters/suppressors in the Minuteman I and II weapon systems.  Loggy Ebb was more than likely already in the engineering and planning phase the year prior to Echo Flight's shutdown, but could the project have been expedited due to Echo's ten missile shutdown?  At a minimum, programs such as Loggy Ebb, demonstrates that the Air Force, SAC and DOD were cognizant of the growing vulnerabilities of the entire ICBM force to the effects of EMP.

I have provided the link to the Engineering Change Proposal (ECP) , HIC EM Pulse Suppressor, for fixing the EMP issues effecting the Minuteman system.  Note that the ECP is marked "routine" at the top, line 2, for Boeing's recommended priority.  Boeing appeared not to be in "panic" mode to rush out a quick fix.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

A Tale of Two Figels: Robert Hastings' and Robert Salas' "Hard Problem"

David Chalmers, philosopher of the mind, states that the issue of deciphering the mystery of qualia is the "hard problem" concerning the understanding of consciousness.  So it is with Salas and Hastings, both conjoined together, having their own version of "the hard problem", that being phenomena-wise, either as co-existing together, or as separate entities.  Can the one exist without the other, or does Salas' claims survive solely on an "incident" involving Echo Flight?

Robert Hastings recently posted an article on The UFO Chronicles web site, "UK UFO Debunker Strikes Again:  Will Dr. David Clarke Ever Get Anything Right?"  In the midst of the article, Hastings makes the following statement:

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...
Hastings now believes that Figel is "timid and now-waffling", yet his "earlier admissions are a matter of record," ergo the truth.  So was he telling the truth back in 1996 and 2008, but now he is lying in 2010?  Perhaps James Carlson is not so "discredited " after all when the main witness is now being treated as a hostile witness.  Hastings and Salas have been using Figel's statements for years in an attempt to shore up their UFO claims, yet when you read both interviews they are filled with contradictions.  Both versions of the Echo incident can't be reconciled with one or the other.  One version may be fabricated based upon the confabulations of the interviewee and the wishful thinking of authors leaving the other as the "correct" version.  But, which one is which?  Figel's statements are fundamentally different when each interview is viewed separately.  With this revelation, one begs to ask the question...Who is the real Figel in any of the versions of the story?  Contradictions abound and one has to wonder if both Hastings and Salas were totally oblivious to the differences in Figel's statements or were both willing to "throw caution to the wind " with the hopes that no one would notice the discrepancies.   If both authors knew of the contradictions in Figel's interviews then one is led to believe that this was an attempt at deception, but who is deceiving who?  The answer lies in Figel's statements made separately to Hastings and Salas, twelve years spaced between the two interviews.

Walter Figel's Version According to Salas

In 1996, Salas interviewed Walter Figel, presumably, for the purpose of providing information on Echo Flight that would soon go into the book, Faded Giant.  In this setting, Salas needs the Echo incident, UFOs and all, to form the foundation of an initial erroneous November flight shutdown and eventually the final settlement of an Oscar flight shutdown.  Figel tells Salas that on 16 March 1967, all ten of Echo's sorties dropped off of alert. Figel tells Salas that two of his ten LFs had maintenance teams on site performing maintenance on the "cans" (slang for missile guidance system).  One of the LFs, site not specified, dropped off alert and Figel contacts the security team via VHF radio.  Figel has the security guard authenticate and asks for one of the maintenance team members.  The security guard tells Figel that there is a UFO hovering over the site.  Figel dispatches the SAT strike teams to both manned LFs.  By then, the remaining LFs would have already dropped off of alert status.  The strike teams report back to Figel that they were able to observe that each manned LF had a maintenance team and security guards on site. (Figel does not mention any observations of a UFO at this point in the interview.)  Figel states that after the incident he made a special trip to Offutt AFB for the purpose of briefing CINCSAC:

WF: I remember I got a trip to Omaha to discuss [the Echo Flight shutdown] with CINCSAC (the office of the Commander-in-Chief, Strategic Air Command, Offutt AFB, Omaha , Nebraska ).

RS: Oh, you did?!

WF: Oh yeah. Someplace, if I look deep enough, I could probably find the TDY (Temporary Duty) orders to do that.

Towards the end of the interview, Figel alludes to the strike teams actually observing a UFO over one of the sites, but is unable to provide a specific LF, manned or not, nor is he able to recall names of the individuals involved:

WF: ...having a dozen [sic] missiles go down in one flight is significant. [Laughs] Let’s face it, the [average] failure rate was nowheres near—was miniscule compared to that.

RS: That’s right, and then UFO sightings at the same time.

WF: Well, I [reportedly] had them hovering over the sites, you know, and I said, “Right, I’m not a believer in that crap!” And that was reported over the secure line, and I told those guys to make no transmissions and, when the Strike Team got out there—they were on VHF back to me—and they had no idea in the world what I even told them to look for, and they reported them [too].

Walter Figel's Version According to Hastings

Per Robert Hastings, "On October 20, 2008, I called Col. Figel and asked him to elaborate on his earlier statements to Bob Salas."

In Walter Figel's statements to Hastings, Echo had three to four sites with maintenance teams performing routine maintenance.  When pressed by Hastings, Figel narrows in on four LFs being manned.  At least two of the sites were running on diesel generators.  Figel was unable to recall what type of maintenance was actually being performed but reiterated that it was "routine."  Figel then tells of the incident:

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.

Based upon the above narrative, Figel tells Hastings that it was the maintenance team that reports the UFO and the strike teams are sent out only to two unmanned sites.  Most importantly, the maintenance team that makes the UFO claim is completely underground in the LF/silo reporting to Figel on the SIN line (Secure Intersite Network) and as discussed in a previous article, the top side security guards do not make any reports via radio that they have seen anything unusual.  One of the strike teams report that they see an object over one of the sites, but no site location is specified as to whether it is one of the two manned LFs or one of the remaining eight unmanned LFs. (Tim Hebert's "Off Alert, Echo...Parts 1 and 2.)

Contradictions, Deceptions, or Lies

As can be seen, we now have two versions of the same incident for consideration.  Both are filled with contradictions and cannot be reconciled with one another:

1.  The number of manned LFs and the actual maintenance that was being performed.  Was it two LFs or three to four LFs?  Were the maintenance teams working on the Missile Guidance Systems, the "cans", or were they doing normal routine work?

2.  Who made the first report of a UFO over one of the sites...the maintenance team or the topside security guard?

3.  The manner in which the SAT strike teams were two unmanned LFs or to the manned LFs.

4.  Figel states to Salas that he made a TDY trip to Offutt to brief CINSAC, but this information is omitted in Hastings' interview.   Eric Carlson, the Echo crew commander, states that he did receive a call from a general officer from SAC HQ, presumably from the SAC Command Post, asking about the launch capabilities of Echo ten missile sorties.  He makes no mentioning of having to personally go to Offutt AFB to brief anyone.

Only one of the two versions can be considered "correct" with the other being either a fabrication or the confabulations of the interviewee.  Both cannot exist together.  Hastings and Salas have spent a decade researching the Echo incident and both have relied heavily on Walter Figel's statements.  Both authors were in contact with each other and would have compared notes.  It seems illogical that both could not have seen the remarkable differences in content and context with both interviews.  Perhaps Figel only told them what they wanted to hear and both ran with the story regardless of the facts.  Figel always believed the UFO report to be a joke and maybe led both interviewers on a "wild goose chase" as a continuation of the original joke.  But one issue stands out, both versions contradict each other, either Hastings and Salas were blinded by their "quest", or they and/or Figel deceptively misled the public, or they foolishly and unknowingly propagated the continuation of a confabulation.  There lies Hastings' and Salas' "hard problem."