Monday, March 11, 2013

Wikipedia Lists Echo and Oscar Flight as Hoaxes

Just when I thought that I was taking a breather along comes James Carlson posting on alerting to a Wikipedia article listing known UFO hoaxes.  Sure enough, there's Echo and Oscar Flight's story.  I suspect James had a good hand in flavoring the article, at least regarding the two Malmstrom 1967 claims.

Can both incidents be labeled as hoaxes?  If we take into account of Col Walter Figel statements then it is entirely possible.  Remember, Figel always viewed the report as a joke.  Who actually had perpetrated the story remains unknown to me.  I recall James telling me, during a past phone conversation, that he felt strongly that possibly Raymond Fowler was responsible for spreading the rumor portion of the claim.  That may, or may not be, but that still does not answer the question as to who made the call to Figel.  I still have not discounted the possibility that Figel may have made the story up himself.  I still postulate that the evidence shows that is was highly possible, if not probable, that no maintenance teams were actually present on the day in question making the phone call on the SIN line impossible...I still tend to lean that way.

The entire story of Oscar reeks with the probability of a hoax regardless of Robert Salas' or Fred Meiwald's statements.  Both individuals tell a different story with each omitting the other one's version.  I'll not rehash the Oscar incident since the reader can simply archive my numerous posts.  It is possible that the hoax was targeted towards Salas since all of the top side phone calls were passed on to him...not Meiwald until later in the story.  If Oscar's top side personnel had wished to prank Salas, then there had to be someone in on it down in the LCC...Fred Meiwald.  Perhaps that is why Meiwald wrote to Salas some years later that Salas' version of events was not quite how Meiwald had remembered it.  Yet despite my speculations, I have no proof of the matter, so it remains purely speculation. 

One wonders if Robert Hastings will reference the Wiki entries in future editions of his book...doubtful.

Back to my break!


  1. Hi, Tim -- many thanks for the commentary above. I just wanted to make one minor point. In regard to Raymond Fowler, while it's true that I personally have no doubts whatsoever that he is primarily responsible for the UFO rumors surrounding the Echo Flight Incident, I'm also firmly convinced that he didn't purposely initiate a hoax. In my opinion, someone has to be very much aware that their claims are untrue in order to be considered the author of a hoax. There's little doubt that Fowler was mislead in 1967 by Russ Lawson, an employee of the Boeing Corporation, who told him on April 12 that a "bright round white object circling MAFB missile site in up & down motion" was seen by many USAF personnel. He told Fowler that the USAF had issued a memorandum stating that this UFO was part of a "highly secret govt. testing project" that was not to be publicized, adding that a local operator of a commercial radio station was instructed "not to elaborate on [the] sighting." Fowler was also told by this individual that the sighting occurred in the afternoon. With the exception of this last point, which fits none of the incidents that have been discussed, these details represent a remarkably accurate description of the UFO rumors that made their way to FTD shortly thereafter. FTD asked Lt.Col. Lewis Chase to amend his report of the UFO investigation he conducted on March 24-25, 1967 if it was warranted in light of these rumors. The FTD memo addressing this request states, “One individual stated that the USAF instructed both military and civilian personnel not to discuss what they had seen as it was a classified government experiment.” Fowler’s notes, based on Lawson's alleged revelations, state, "USAF issues a memo stating it is a highly secret govt. testing project not to be publicized -- said local opr. at commercial radio station asked by USAF not to elaborate on sighting."


    1. In light of any actual witnesses supporting Lawson’s claims, his statement can probably be dismissed on the following grounds: (1) the USAF does not issue memorandums that cannot be documented, (2) the “many USAF personnel” mentioned by Lawson have never come forward, and cannot be confirmed, (3) the local operator of a commercial radio station has never been tracked down, and has also not come forward, and (4) the fact that FTD was unaware of Larson's claims, even though it was FTD's responsibility to investigate all UFOs reported. FTD knew nothing about this UFO, because it was never properly reported in accordance with active directives; this indicates that the claims were most likely baseless, leading FTD to associate them with the only UFO sighting they had to go on (that of March 24-25). This speaks volumes regarding its authenticity. It has already been established that Raymond Fowler was aware of Russ Lawson's statements of April 12, 1967 discussing “a classified government experiment”, and believed that the Echo Flight Incident took place on March 24-25 -- the date that he communicated to Dr. Roy Craig, a Condon Committee UFO investigator. The odds that anybody else would meet those two requirements must be astronomical. Most of this information was, after all, highly classified in 1967, limiting the scope of those familiar with the case in the first place. It’s probably safe to say, therefore, that the rumors reaching FTD originated with Raymond Fowler, a NICAP investigator. That in turn indicates that Russ Lawson was the original source of the hoax. I think he did so as a lark. The fact that so many elements of his claims can be easily disproven suggests he was just screwing around with Fowler, having fun at his expense. It should be noted, however, that Lawson never associated his tale of a UFO with Echo Flight -- only Fowler did that, albeit innocently and without the intent to create a hoax. He's an honest man, although a bit gullible in my opinion. In any case, UFO rumors were well-substantiated and thoroughly documented by FTD and in the command history, both of which were UNCLASSIFIED since their inception.

  2. James, good to hear from you and thanks much for your comments. My apologies, I thought that I had made it clear in the post that Fowler was instrumental in the spreading of the rumor but not involved in the perpetrated of a hoax. I can only surmise that the hoax was a product from another source...who ever that was.

    I thoroughly enjoyed the Wiki entry. How you were able to get them to publish the entry is a source of wonder. Please keep in touch!


    1. Well of course I'll keep in touch! I've been told by my wife Ruth that I have way too much time on my hands these days.

      I think the UFO rumors that were around at the time were probably the fault of a few people -- including Fowler. Lawson and Dahlof (a Sylvania employee) discussed it with him, he told Craig who necessarily told everyone in the Condon group, including their military liaison, and Figel's source certainly has to be in there if he existed. I think we can reasonably account for the UFO rumors without insisting upon deceit (or an actual UFO for that matter).

      What exactly makes a hoax a hoax is certainly an interesting question though, especially if part of our definition includes that element of willing deceit. Was a hoax initiated in 1967, or did it start with Klotz and Salas in 1995?

      I've got to admit, though, that part of the reason I refer to all of this as a "hoax", is because I'm very much aware that Robert Hastings tends to go ballistic every time I associate his name with any kind of a UFO "hoax". I doubt anybody else has ever noticed it, but Hastings' angry insistence that I've referred to him in public as a fraud and a "hoaxer" was made before I ever used the actual term "hoax" in relation to this case anywhere! At that time, all I had ever accused him of was being a liar. He really went nuts over the "hoax" thing, though, so now I use the word all the time (well, I've never claimed to be the most mature guy in the world -- it's a fact that my thrills are very often cheap ones).

      I don't think there's any doubt that the word "hoax" applies well to Oscar Flight, much of which Hastings is responsible for, but Echo Flight is a different case entirely. Klotz and Salas definitely make it a hoax (in my opinion), but Hastings may just be stupid in regard to E-flight, a conclusion easy to reach in light of all the evidence he's decided to ignore. He can be a lot of fun sometimes. It will be interesting to see how he responds to this!