Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Oscar and Echo Flights: Wikipedia's UFO Conundrum

I happened to come across Wikipedia's article on Oscar Flight a couple of weeks ago.  James Carlson and I have been discussing it on and off in the comment section of this blog.  It's rather strange that at one time Wikipedia had a separate article for Echo Flight's UFO story but it was deleted.  Currently Wikipedia appears to be on the verge of deleting the Oscar Flight entry and merging it into their existing Malmstrom AFB article.

This article was nominated for deletionThe debate was closed on 21 July 2012 with a consensus to merge the content into the article Malmstrom Air Force Base. If you find that such action has not been taken promptly, please consider assisting in the merger instead of re-nominating the article for deletion. To discuss the merger, please use the destination article's talk page(July 2012) 

As of the date of this post, the article remains separate and has not yet been merged into the Malmstrom wiki article.  

What of Echo Flight's Wiki entry?  As of last week, there was a Wiki notation that the entire article had been deleted.  It apparently was not deemed worthy to be merged in the Malmstrom article.  I vaguely recall that the reasoning was the lack of credible sources to back up the UFO claim.   Now, there is no hint that it ever existed on Wiki as a separate article.  I believe that some the references to the alleged UFO event can be called up on Wiki's UFO article under case studies.

You might be asking...so what?  This deletion episode reveals that initially anyone can present  an undocumented/poorly referenced story and have it posted on Wikipedia.  I personally believe that the wrong article is being allowed to be eventually merged into their Malmstrom article.  Echo Flight's 1967 full flight ICBM shut down was a real event that had been documented and has numerous references to substantiate the event.  To me this is worthy of mentioning either as a separate article or having a paragraph describing the event in wiki's Malmstrom article. (341st SMW Unit History, Boeing engineering investigation, Bernard C. Nalty)

What about Echo's so-called UFO story?  I have no problem with that angle of alleged  causation being listed as long as Wiki had provided a fair counter argument against the alleged UFO sighting(s).  After all, UFO rumors were rampant throughout the state of Montana during the first 3 months of 1967.  There are enough pro and con arguments that could provide balance to the story.  Yet, Wiki deletes Echo and all of its official documentations and decided to keep Salas' Oscar story and a merge it to another factual article given it credence.  And remember, there is no documentation or hard evidence that Salas' story is true (or factual).  This makes no logical sense in my mind.

Here is how poorly the Oscar article currently reads in the opening paragraph on Wiki:

Oscar Flight UFO/Missile Incident refers to a period of alleged high UFO activity at Malmstrom Air Force Base on March 24, 1967, when ten Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles became non-operational at Malmstrom AFB (Air Force Base) immediately after UFOs were reported hovering above them.[1][2][3][4]

I appreciate that Wiki uses the term "alleged high UFO activity", but wince at the description that "ten intercontinental Ballistic Missiles" became non-operational immediately after UFOs were reported hovering above them on 24 March 1967.  I find this to be rather deceptive. Hastings and Salas never made that claim regardless of the references given.  Salas stated that his FSC called him to report one object hovering over the LCF's gate, and Meiwald received a report from the FSC that the security response team had seen an object near one of Oscar's launch facilities.  There were never any claims that numerous UFOs were hovering over multiple launch facilities.

The rest of the article provides abbreviated stories from Fred Meiwald, Robert Jamison and Louis Kenneweg.  I had forgotten about Kenneweg's story and will provide a posting about his statements on a later blog post.  I find it odd that Dwynne Arneson's affidavit statement is missing in the Wiki article since Hastings and Salas had dragged him in front of the media back in September 2010's press conference because he might have seen a classified message with the words "UFO" typed in. (see my blog post on Arneson)

Two weeks ago I provided input to Wiki's editors complaining that all of the article's references were tilted to one view point supporting the UFO(s) claim with nothing written as a counter argument.  Plus, I added, there is no documentation to support a full flight shutdown and no eye witnesses to the alleged event has ever come forward to support such claims.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out.  I believe that James Carlson is planning to write an article highlighting the Wikipedia entries.  Should be an interesting read. 

Thursday, July 19, 2012

UFO over Malmstrom's Golf Flight in 1982?

I happened to come across this brief report on the NUFORC web site while researching another case.  I have to admit that this one took me by surprise.  I was assigned to Malmstrom AFB from 1981-1985, so this event would have occurred while I was on station.  Let's take a look at the case and see what can be gleamed from the NUFORC report.

Occurred : 6/1/1982 21:00 (Entered as : 06/1982 21:00)
Reported: 4/22/2008 11:38:26 AM 11:38
Posted: 6/12/2008
Location: Malmstrom AFB (Golf 01 LCC 12SMS), MT
Shape: Cigar
Duration:15 minutes
06/1982 Silver object over Golf 01

The Craft was blimp shaped silver in color and was approximitly 100ft above the site it appeared to be the size of a normal blimp except it had no undercarage or visible propolsion units on the exterior of the craft.

It hovered over the site for appoximatly 15 minutes then move of to the south east at a leisurely pace toward some of the Lf in the area.

We did not I repeat did not report the incident to the base and instructed our security police not to report the incident.

Another missile crew a year earlier had made that mistake and the spent 3 days in a cabin being told they didn't see anything. People on the personal reliability program who launched nuclear missiles were not allowed to see UFOs.

((NUFORC Note: Witness indicates that the date of the incident is approximate. PD)

Here we have a sighting that occurred around the first part of June, 1982.  Golf 01 is located southwest of Great Falls, about an hours drive from Malmstrom.  Golf just happens to be the 12th SMS's squadron command post.  What's not mentioned is who made this report.  Was it one of the missile launch crews?  One tends to think that it was, though its not mentioned precisely as coming from either the crew commander or his deputy.  Normally the 12th would have had it's own command post qualified crews assigned to Golf, but it would not have been uncommon to see other qualified command post crews from either the 10th or 490th manning Golf during an alert cycle.

Looking at the time of the incident, 2100 (9 pm), and assuming that it was one of the former launch crew filing this report to NUFORC on 4/22/2008,  how could they had seen the object, being underground in the launch control center pulling their alert?  Now it could have been possible that both crew members were topside due to the launch control facility shutdown for maintenance or a Rivet Mile upgrade, but that type of information is missing in the report. 

I thought it possible that two separate crews could have been on site for an exercise such as Global Shield, but Global Shield in 1982 was held in the later weeks of July, almost a full month after the sighting.  Wing Code change is a remote possibility, but  it's unlikely that two separate crews would have been dispatched to a launch control center to support such an operation, yet it can't be ruled out.

I believe that its more probable that one of the top side individuals (FSC, security teams, facility manager, etc) passed on this "sighting" to one of the crew members down in the LCC.  An object the size of a blimp floating (not in a hurry?) 100 feet off the ground for about 15 minutes would have been noticed by more than the site personnel.  I've not seen any other reports for that day and region that corroborates the story.  

At the time of this incident, I was a deputy missile crew commander soon to be assigned to the Lima Flight commander crew.  I do not recall this event discussed in any manner as I had numerous acquaintances in the 12th and assigned to Golf Flight.  However, with that said, I knew a 12th deputy, assigned to Golf during the time frame of this sighting, that would have been the type that the cops easily would have played a practical joke on.  But with the passage of time...who knows...maybe it was a blimp drifting over the site.  If this were a true (factual) story, I tend to think that it would have gotten out through various sources...too many people would have been in the know and people tend to talk.

As far as the Personnel Reliability Program (PRP), it was designed to ensure that those individuals (officer and enlisted) who had access to nuclear critical components were not under the influence of illicit drugs, certain prescriptive and over-the-counter drugs that would have adversely affected one mental faculties.  This also applied to stressful life events such as a death in the family, martial issues, and lastly an on-going medical condition that needed proper treatment.  

Strangely UFOs were not one of those psychological stressors.  Dealing with nuclear alerts, training, operational readiness inspections and juggling your family life was enough.  Most of us would have loved to have been sequestered in a cabin for three days getting a break from the day to day routine.  

Saturday, July 14, 2012

The Oscar Flight Mystery: A Tree Falling in a UFO Forest

If a tree falls in a forest, does it make a sound?  Let's apply a variation to this old adage, if ten ICBMs fall off alert, does anyone take notice?  If we use Echo Flight's incident occurring on 16 March 1967, the answer is a resounding yes.  What of Robert Salas' claim concerning Oscar Flight back on 24 March 1967?

Let's separate Salas' claim of UFO involvement for the moment and concentrate on the claims that all ten of his ICBMs inexplicably dropped off alert (similar to Echo).   Where is the official (or, if you prefer, the unofficial) paper trail?  Echo Flight generated message traffic that was up-channeled to SAC Headquarters at Offutt AFB as well as producing an extensive engineering analysis and investigation that lasted well over a year.  Where is Oscars' analysis and message traffic?  Odd that during the initial stages of Echo's investigation, there was no mentioning of a possible event at Oscar occurring one week later.  Surely such an incident coinciding with Echo would have been mentioned in the classified unit history and the engineering report due to the enormity of the situation.  Not only would SAC and the Air Force had been dealing with a full flight shut down at Echo, but a subsequent full flight shut down involving Oscar would have been mentioned in the on-going investigation being conducted by Boeing and others.

Official National Security Agency (NSA) Archive...Minuteman ICBM History

When writing the history of the U.S.'s ICBM program, Bernard Nalty made mention of the ten ICBMs dropping off alert in Echo Flight, but made no reference to anything happening at Oscar.    An oversight by Nalty?  Remember, Nalty's work was initially classified "SECRET" and according to Salas, Oscar's alleged incident was classified as well.  There seems to be some sort of disconnect here as Nalty goes into classified details surrounding the issues affecting all of SAC's Minuteman wings back in the 1967 time frame.  Why would an equally important situation affecting Oscar flight not be mentioned?

When reading Nalty's works, it became apparent to me that Malmstrom was different from an operational standpoint when compared to the other five Minuteman wings.  Malmstrom's wing was the first fielded Minuteman system.  It became the prototype for the new system, as any operational or design flaws that were readily discovered and improvements/enhancements were made at the other five missile wings.  Malmstrom's "prototype" oddity was the main reason that Echo's incident was investigated both in the field and at Boeing's facilities rather than exclusively at OOMA, Hill AFB.  Hill AFB had no Wing I (Malmstrom) test bed facility to conduct the investigation.  That's not to mean that the other Minuteman wing's didn't have their own issues, but those issues tended to be centered around the then Minuteman II missile versus that of structural and avionic support system issues.  This is an often overlooked part of the Echo and Oscar stories. 

The above touches on the official documented issues, or as in Oscar Flight's case, the lack of official documentation.  Per authors such as Robert Hastings and Robert Salas, the lack of official documentation and follow-up investigations for Oscar Flight could only mean that SAC, the Air Force, and DoD perpetrated a cover-up.  This alleged cover-up resulted in AFOSI agents debriefing Salas and Fred Meiwald and forcing both to sign a non-disclosure letter, thus securing their silence.   Yet I have to ask, securing their silence for what?  Both launch officers saw nothing other than "indications" on the launch control console ranging from a simple security zone violation at one launch facility to 2,3, or all 10 of Oscar Flight's ICBMs dropping off alert. (I've touched on this discrepancy in both Salas' and Meiwald's version of events in a previous blog post).

Some would argue that perhaps Salas and Meiwald were initially silenced for what they had heard via telephone reports from the top side flight security controller.   What did they actually hear?  As mentioned in my previous blog postings, up until 1996,  Salas was totally unaware of a UFO sighting over one of Oscar's launch facilities and Meiwald was totally unaware of Salas' received report that a UFO was observed hovering over Oscar's front gate.  Ironically, both were only separated by a mere 8 to 10 feet while all of this was occurring.

What of Oscar's flight security controller and the numerous security guards?  There is no evidence that they had signed any non-disclosure document.  The same could be said of the facility manager and cook.  The fact is that up until now, these individuals remain unnamed merely shadow figures in the story.  Surely if there was any credence to the story they would have come forward by now supporting Salas.

Eric Carlson's and Walter Figel's Opinion

Some two years ago, Eric Carlson gave an interview to Realityuncovered's Ryan Dube.  Per Eric Carlson there was no hiding the fact that an entire missile squadron had dropped off alert.

"The event at Echo became what could be referred to as the talk of the town.  Everyone knew about it and many crew members kidded me about it..."

Simply, even if SAC had wanted to hide the shutdown event, it would have been impossible to do so.  Too many people were already in the know. The old adage holds true:  "If one person knows something then it's a secret, once two people know then its no longer a secret."

Could the same be held as being true for Salas' claims for Oscar Flight?  Again, we need to go no further than the words of Eric Carlson.

"...There was never any talk, at any time, about a similar event at Oscar.  I can only conclude from that that it never happened."

...and the statements from Walter Figel to James Carlson.

"Bob Salas was never associated with any shutdown of any missiles at any time in any flight and you can take that to the bank. Just think about this for a split second. He is a person wrapped up in UFOs to the Nth degree. Yet he could not remember he was not at Echo. Then he thought he was at November – wrong again. Then he thought he was at Oscar – wrong again."

"There is no record about anything happening at November or Oscar except in people’s minds that are flawed beyond imagination. Salas has created events out of the thin air and can’t get the facts straight even then. My best friend to this day was the flight commander of the 10th SMS at the time. He and I have discussed this silly assertion in the past couple of years – he thinks it is all madeup nonsense for sure. I put both Salas and Hastings in touch with him and he has told them both that an incident at November or Oscar never happened. In addition he was subsequently stationed at Norton AFB where the engineers tested the possible problems. No little green men were responsible."

"There is no Air Force “cover-up” it just did not happen the way Salas and has portrayed the course of events..."

The statements from both Eric Carlson and Walter Figel are both telling and damaging to Robert Salas' claims.  Both men were in a position to know what would have transpired in the field.  And I suspect that there are others who were assigned to Malmstrom back in 1967 that would equally attest the same.  Robert Hastings has touted that he has interviewed over 130 former Air Force members supporting his UFO/Nukes connection, but if you take into consideration the total population of Air Force members (present/past) that supported nuclear missions then Hastings' 130-plus is reduced to an extreme fraction of a percent.  What does this say about the remaining 99.9 percent?  Are they lying or further propagating a cover-up due to their silence?

Let me provide a personal example while pulling missile alert duty back in the early 1980s.  If I were the crew commander out at Kilo Flight (squadron command post and alternate wing command post) and if November had four ICBMs drop off alert, I would have, by protocol, been notified by November's crew that they had four sorties off alert.  I would have to annotate this on a squadron status board and logged an entry into my crew log even though November's status did not directly affect Kilo.  BTW, the same holds true if an ICBM(s) had dropped off alert in the 12th SMS (clearly in the southwest region of the 341st SMW), the same holds true because I was obligated to keep track of all of the wing's missile status and concurrent launch status/capability.  Then we have personnel who were manning the wing command post and job control back at the base.  These base agencies would have been contacted and various reports up-channeled to 15th Air Force's and SACs' command posts.  Within a span of approximately 15 minuets, quite a few people were already in the know.  

Now supplement this with Salas' claim that an entire flight had dropped off alert.  Hopefully the reader sees my point.  The vast number of people involved in the up-channeling of reports makes a cover-up extremely unlikely.  That would have resulted in alot of people signing non-disclosure letters.  In Salas' case, where are these people to support an Oscar shutdown?

Possibility of a Prank? 

A while back on various on-line forums, the possibility of missile crews playing a prank on each other was discussed at length.  Most thought that the idea that serious minded missile launch crews would never stoop to this level, yet on occasion we did.  Most of the pranks were low grade intended to break up the monotony of being out on alert.  Ninety nine percent of my alert duties were sheer boredom with nothing exciting occurring other than routine missile maintenance on my sites or the occasional outer zone security violations set off by thunder storms or animals wandering onto a launch site.  The average crew demographics was that of the crew commander being 25-27 years of age and the deputy commander being 23-24 years of age.  If you combine the age group and boredom, its only natural that pranks will occur.  Go on-line to missileforums.com and type in "crew pranks" in the site's search window.  You'll find numerous examples of crew pranks.  Pranks were not limited to the launch crews as flight security controllers and top side security teams exhibited their own brand humor.

Could Salas' have been the victim of a "UFO" prank?  It's possible and below is an example of such a prank that was perpetrated back in the 1960s...at Malmstrom, of all places.

 It was likely late 1970 at a 490th SMS Dinning Out that I heard the story, A specific crew commander believed in UFOs. And when he went on alert, other crew members in the same squadron on alert at the same time called the the Flight Security Controller at the LCF and pretending to be a local farmer saying there was a glowing object of some significant size hovering over a specific Launch Facility. the FSC notifiers the LCC crew where the UFO believer is and he relates the phone call or patches him in to the caller, not sure of the details. as it is a multi-handed story embellished to make it sound better and the people telling it have had a few drinks any way. The information is relayed to wing command post and eventually SAC CP. I don't know if the flight security was dispatched our not to check the site out, they likely would have been and would have found nothing. So the story was likely spun the the object had left before the call was made to the FSC by the other crew member. Any way it was enough after the fact that the story was written up in one of the UFO magazines and the perpetrators had a big laugh over it.

A little Background about the the prior 490th Squadron Commander. He was a Full Col. who had been offered the Wing Commander Position and turned it down and he had date of rank on all wing staff. So he could get away with a lot and one one on base could touch him. Hi crews knew it and he did not let any one else mess with his crew member either. So the 490th SMS had a reputation as being a very undisciplined squadron where a lot of pranks were pulled. After the 490th Commander retired all of the operations branch officers were replaced and the new squadron commander was supposed to rain in the missile crews which happened to some extent after Gerald G. Falls became Wing Commander if the 341st Strategic Missile Wing.

So this is about as much as I can relay to you, the story was told by by inebriated personal at a squadron dining out and embellished to make it a better story so you can't put a great deal of credence in any of it. but knowing the reputation of the 490th under the form squadron commander it sounds highly likely that such a stunt would have been pulled as there were a number of tricks pulled on crew members even after that in the 490th while I was on crew between June 1970 and April 1974.

490 SMS June 1970 - June 1974
HQ SAC Command Control War Plans Computer Division - System Supervisors [We were the analyst of the SACCS]
DOD Contractor DRC Database Designer F-15 & F-16 Consolidated Data System and designed the F-117 initial database.  

The above story was provided by a former missile crew commander that goes by the moniker "Notlaw99".  If you look at the details of the prank, there are similarities to Salas' story.  So in Salas' case, the possibility of a prank cannot be totally ruled out.  Notlaw99 does provide a valid point when looking at any story told years after the fact in that the reader has to take into account that the story may have been embellished to make it sound better.


 I wanted the reader to have the opportunity to see the opinions of others as far as Robert Salas' claim of UFOs and missile dropping off alert at Oscar Flight back on 24 March 1967.   Robert Salas has viewed his position as being easily defended in a "court of law" based on the evidence at hand.  Do these claims constitute a good "case"?

1.  No mentioning of an incident at Oscar Flight in the 341st Unit History.
2.  No mentioning of an incident at Oscar Flight in the engineering and analysis report investigating Echo Flight.
3.  Bernard Nalty makes no reference to an incident at Oscar Flight.
4.  No statements supporting an incident at Oscar Flight from those individuals that were either topside at Oscar or in the field responding to a security violation.
5.  Eric Carlson and Walter Figel discount an incident at Oscar Flight.
6.  No one in the chain of command up-channeling reports to 15th AF and SAC HQ has come forward supporting an incident at Oscar Flight.
7.  Remote, but possible practical joke played on Meiwald and Salas can not be totally ruled out.

The above 7 points may be enough to rule out even a circumstantial case and cast reasonable doubt on any incident occurring at Oscar.  But in the end its up to the reader to decide one way or another and ask the all important question..."Did it really happen?"

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Former Air Force Member Chimes In...Jamison, UFOs and EMPs

I recently received the following as a comment to my first blog article concerning Echo Flight's alledged UFO incident.  I believe this helps support my on-going hypothesis for both Echo and Oscar Flight.

Thanks for a most interesting report. I served with (then Capt.) Bob Jamison at Chanute AFB where we were both instructors in the Minutemnan Missile Maintenance Officer's Course. And I do recall occasional office discussion about a number of missiles suddenly going off Strategic Alert at Malmstrom. Electrical and electronic glitches in the Minuteman System were not all that unique- it was an extremely complex weapons system. The UFO part was, to my recollection, never taken seriously- either a practical joke, misunderstood comment or strictly secondhand hearsay. No one in our instructor group seriously thought extraterrestrials were behind this event. But the Air Force DID take EMP seriously. I was sent TDY to Boeing in 1969 for training on a new EMP detection system to be installed in each LCF. The training message was that ALL EMPs, not just those of a nuclear nature, were cause for concern. Grant Taylor Cabot, VT on Did UFOs Disable Minuteman Missiles at Malmstrom AFB in 1967?

I wonder if Robert Hastings would be breaking the sound barrier attempting to get Mr. Taylor's statement on record?

Question for Mr. Taylor:  Did Robert Jamison believe the Malmstrom UFO stories to be practical jokes or misunderstandings?.

Thanks Grant for taking the time to post your very informative comment.  I tend to agree with you as all of the documents that I've reviewed does support your statement concerning EMPs...and yes, you are most correct in that not all EMPs were of the nuclear variety.  Lightning and solar flares would have been equally areas of concern.  Thanks again.