Tuesday, July 9, 2013

A Preview of the Minot UFO Event: Oct 24, 1968

I've quietly been looking at the Minot AFB UFO(s) sightings occurring back on 24 October 1968.  Honestly, its been an on/off effort as other personal events and work schedule have intervened and side tracked this project.  That's not to mean that nothing has been done on my part, but simply it's been a much slower process than I originally anticipated based on my daily schedule performing the roles of husband, father, and Psychiatric Registered Nurse.  Throw in my daughter's pending marriage into the mix...the reader should be able to get my point.

With the above excuses/justifications said, the reader should review the case as presented in various reports.  Thomas Tulien has produced an impressive body of work for the Sign Oral History Project.  Tulien's in depth work can be accessed here.

UFO Casebook Files has a rudimentary description of the B-52 radio transmissions, but falls short of providing any meaningful context to the incident.  Further, missing is the missile maintenance personnel's written accounts per their AF-117s.  Yet, somewhere in the Casebook Files, I thought that more had been written about this case. 

The 90-plus pages of the official Blue Book investigation can be accessed at Fold3.  The numerous completed AF-117s provided by the eye witnesses are available.  Also included are the official message traffic generated by SAC, ADC, and FTD (Wright-Patterson AFB, OH).  Of equal, if not compelling value, are the Memo for Records generated from the numerous  phone calls between Minot, SAC HQ, and FTD.

I suggest that to save yourself the time and aggravation just go to Tulien's site as he has incorporated all of the Blue Book documents (and more) in a more friendlier format for easier reading.  I've verified that Tulien has all of the documents and pertinent maps as listed on Fold3.com. 

The focus of my work will center around the final Blue Book conclusions.  That is, does the final conclusions make logical sense.  My initial read of BBs 13 Nov 1968 conclusions leaves me with the sense that it's somewhat wanting for the most part.  When I read the entire report, I couldn't help but see the lack of follow-up by both FTD and Minot's UFO Officer, LtCol Werlich.

The reader also needs to understand that I was not a pilot or navigator.  My knowledge of radar operations is relatively poor.  I did have the opportunity to sit in the pilot's seat of a B-52D at March AFB back in the late 1970s, but that does not qualify for any meaningful knowledge base of practical experience other than to provide knowledge of the cramp confines of the flight deck.  I do have experience in using UHF radio equipment since the missile launch control centers were equipped with numerous radio systems, including UHF.

Below is the key points of BB's conclusion:

1.  Ground visuals appear to be the star Sirius and the over flying B-52.   The missile maintenance teams AF-117s show that this may indeed be possible as stellar objects tend to be misidentified and the characteristics of the phenomena observed was that of the B-52.  Yet the question remains, did they misinterpret stars and the aircraft for a UFO(s)?

2.  The B-52 radar contact and temporary loss of UHF transmission could be attributed to plasma/ball lightning.  This one bothers me due to the rarity of such a phenomena.  I get the impression (right/wrong) that this contributory theory was just thrown into the mix.

3.  The B-52 visual observation was the star Vega, ground light, or plasma.  This is an odd set of conclusions, but I believe that I have a good candidate for what was actually seen from the cockpit of the B-52.  The clues are embedded in the case files and appeared to have been glossed over during the investigation.  Plus there is a psychological component that was innocently introduced.

4.  The break in of Oscar-07 was not related to the event.  I tentatively agree with this conclusion.

So, there you have it!  A brief preview of the case and hint of methodology.  Hopefully, I'll be able to present my final product in the coming weeks barring any distractions.


  1. Scan of the original final report document: TDPT (UFO) 13 NOV 1968, UFO Observation, 24 October 1968


  2. Thanks Tom,

    Hope you don't mind that I've linked your site for any readers interested in having background info. Your scanned documents are much better quality than that of Fold3.

  3. Hi Tim:
    Of course, thank you.

    Note that the Project Index Card is inaccurate in terms of time, length of observation, and physical evidence (photos) — submitted in the form of (13) 8X10 radarscope photographs. Final Blue Book Statistical Data for the year 1968 categorizes the Minot AFB UFO case only as: Identified (Other) by Radar Analysis as plasma. It appears that he adopted this conclusion from a conversation with a Mr. Goff at FTD, and that the radar film analysis completed by SSgt. Clark for SAC/HQ was never provided to BB. [As an aside, during this same time Q was providing Klass with BB reports to determine which sightings might involve plasmas]. Quintanilla's unpublished manuscript (1974) provides PBB statistical data based on UFO reports received for the years 1953-69. SEE; "1968" at p. 117 of online PDF version available at : http://www.minotb52ufo.com/pdf/Quintanilla-afdilemma.pdf

    Regarding the O-7 break-in, Quintanilla implies that it had no apparent connection to the UFO reports. Or, that there were no reports associated with the time and location of the break-in. Therefore, it was of no concern to their investigation. However, the break-in occurred 9 minutes after the terminal landing of the B-52 and during a time when the UFO was still being reported by the November security team west of N-7, and by FSC Bond SW of his location at N-1.
    See: http://www.minotb52ufo.com/maps/ground-observation5.php

    Werlich makes it sound as if break-ins were fairly common and that it was not a serious offense.

    "This is a sensitive subject. Anybody that could unlock the padlock wouldn’t be a prankster from the farm areas. There are keys for these padlocks and it’s hard to judge how many keys have been made. It looks like a navy hatch and underneath is the combination lock. Pranksters just couldn’t go and open it. The person, if it was a person, would have to know how to open it. We have had about three occurrences of this in the last two or three years doing this. All three of these cases were traced back to AP’s. Guys who had been in the service on these areas. It is not a serious offense."

    Did similar incidents occur at Malmstrom during your tenure? Were the keys for the facilities uncontrolled?

    i'm not convinced that the break-in was a mere coincidence with all that was going on. Given the lack of information I am perfectly comfortable allowing it to exist as an unresolved issue that may or may not be related to the events.

    Kind regards, Tom

  4. Tom, thanks for your reply,

    I view the O-7 incident as "tentatively" unrelated...for now. The entry gate for the LF would have been pad locked. Was it key operated or combination variant? This I really don't know, but it would have required numerous individuals (Maintenance and Security Police) to have a similar key or know the combination of the pad lock. I know that this might sound strange, but it would not have been a security concern since the true security mechanism was the Outer Zone and Inner Zone intrusion detection system. Anybody could have easily cut the lock on the gate and have access, but once the intrusion zone was broken, this would have set off an Outer Zone alarm back at the LCC necessitating the crew to notify the FSC and dispatching the security response team to investigate.

    Now having access to the silo itself was a little different. The personnel access hatch when opened exposed the A-Pit. The A-Pit had a combination dial that only the security cops had knowledge of it's combination. Once the security cops with the maintenance team "spun" the combination dial and started inputting the combination this would have set off the Inner Zone. The cops would have authenticated with the the FSC and the maintenance team would have authenticated with the LCC crew prior to this all happening.

    Once the A-pit was unlocked, then it had to be manually lifted out (weight was/is 167 lbs) by two people, exposing the B-plug. The maintenance team would either lower the B-plug by hand crank or by electric motor depending on the what year being discussed. The time taken to lower the B-plug corresponded to the approximate arrival time of the LCF's security response team responding to an unauthorized Inner Zone alarm received by the launch crew.

    With the above procedures to actually get to the missile itself, I would think that control of pad lock keys not that big of a deal in the broader scope of things.

    While on crew at Malmstrom, I cannot recall an incident where a situation like O-7 occurred, that is, while I was personally out on alert. Outer Zone security alarms were very common due to numerous factors: weather, animals, malfunctions, etc. Inner Zones were common during thunderstorms as the thunder vibrations would set of the alarms, as well as any seismic event.

    The above mentioned is why I'm not too impressed with O-7s situation, but agree that it should be looked at closely in total relationship of the incidents.

    BTW, I have yet to run across any comments from the missile crews on alert at both November and Oscar. I'm wondering if you might have seen anything in that area.

    Best regards,


  5. I assume that this untitled/undated document was produced by the on-duty 91st SMW, Command Post, or Missile Support Base, Wing Security Controller as a result of conversations received over the communications network for the 740th, 741st and 742nd Strategic Missile Squadrons.


    Both November FSC Bond, and Oscar FSC Williams were in regular and at times constant contact with their missile crews, who were monitoring their own networks for information and asking the FSC's about what they were seeing on the ground. Apparently, RAPCON patched-in its communications to the crews network so they could listen in during the B-52 radar encounter. The Oscar crew allowed Williams to listen in on their network during the encounter. If you read Bond's interview from page 14 on he talks about communication with WSC and his combat crew. FSC Williams from page 11-13; 17-20.
    For example:

    SMITH: Matter of fact, we had an officer I think on the phone with the capsule crew, and of course I was patched in, they were asking me questions, and they said, “Well OK, we’ll have a diversion of this B-52 crew coming in,” and they gave a time when it would be coming. . . . They described it, said, “We’re breaking off” and then it followed them back for a certain time, and my understanding was that they lost them on radar, and we were able to hear that, they said, “We don’t have them on radar right now.” And so the conversation was, “My gosh what may have happened?” Then when it got within so many miles of the base they were able to pick them up on radar again, and the traffic came. Matter of fact, I remember they kept calling them trying to get them on radio and there was no radio transmission either and everybody was concerned at that time because they hoped they didn’t crash.[89]

    FSC SSgt. Bond recalls the November-capsule crew informing him of the B-52 encounter:

    BOND: The combat crew did tell me that there was a B-52 being rerouted to the area and they were going to check on it. They also told me that they had been talking to the B-52 crew by radio from the capsule and about seeing the thing, it following them, also about losing all communications in their airplane when it got close to them, and for how many minutes they had no contact with the support base or anything else. Yeah, that was real strange. . . . Not much more than that they were pretty tight lipped about it. They wanted to know what I was seeing.[90]

    Kind regards, Tom

    1. For the record (according to the 117's): Oscar FSC Smith reported his observation to TSgt. Bowles at Wing Security Control sometime between 2:15-2:30 a.m., whereas, November FSC James Bond (and let me get this out of the way... who was shaken but not stirred by the events) reported to SSgt. Underhill and SSgt. Neal at WSC at 3:08 a.m. It appears that the SSgt's were responsible for the document "Wing Security Control summary" since it states that the initial sighting report was from a maintenance team at 3:08, which is actually the time that the N-1 personnel first sighted the object.

  6. Tom, this makes sense due to the missile crew conversing with the B-52 via UHF radio as base ops or wing command post would have provided the aircraft's frequency channel for monitoring. If what Bond states is accurate, then the missile crew further confirms UHF communications issues with the air craft.

    I'm assuming that both November and Oscar LCC crews had no problems with either transmitting or receiving on their respective UHF equipment. If so, this isolates the UHF transmission outage strictly to the B-52.

    I'll look at the interview with Bond tonight.

    Thanks kindly,


  7. From Claude Poher's report...

    1.5. The Two VHF Transmission Failures

    During the two occasions when the B-52 was in close proximity to the UFO, the B-52 VHF radio transmission with Radar Approach Control (RAPCON) was interrupted, while the reception of incoming communications was unaffected. These communications took place on a stated UHF military frequency, although they were actually in the VHF band at 270 Mhz.[4]

    The first loss of radio transmission occurred near the WT fix, at the time when the UFO closed on the B-52’s left wing, reducing its distance from 3 to 1 nautical mile (nm). The loss of transmission continued for more than 16 nm, or about 4 minutes, if the airspeed of the B-52 during the descent to the runway was 250 knots (460 km / h, or 285 mph). This speed is plausible because the B-52 was descending from 20,000 to 3200 feet. As soon as the UFO disappeared from the radarscope, VHF communications returned to normal.

    The second instance occurred when the B-52 was at its closest proximity to the UFO during the flyover at 4:35 (CDT), at an altitude that was less than 1 nm.[5] In both instances, neither the onboard instrumentation, nor the radio reception appeared to have been affected. Taken together, these two VHF transmission failures pose an interesting physical effect that will be examined in more detail later in this study.
    Even though we have witness accounts and post-event interviews of the UFO observation, we should note that these accounts are not always concomitant with the physical data. Because the UFO observation provides us with exceptional physical evidence, specifically 14 radarscope photographs, as well as transcriptions of radio communications between the RAPCON ground controllers and the B-52 co-pilot, we shall rely primarily on this physical evidence in our following analyses.


  8. from Claude Poher's report...

    5.9. The Loss of VHF Transmission

    The dimensions of the radar echo (280 x 140 meters) are not the actual dimensions of the UFO. The radar dimensions represent a volume of air in which the electronic density was sufficient to deviate the 9000 MHz radar waves. However, the presence of free electrons did not limit itself to the region surrounding the UFO, which is approximately 15 % of the distance separating the B-52 and the UFO during the sequence of radar photographs.

    It is probable that the electronic density diminished progressively at some distance from the UFO in a way proportional to the square or cube of distance. Since the B-52 was situated about seven times farther away from the UFO than the zone of ionization, it is probable that the electronic density near the B-52 was equal to at least 1/50 or 1/350 of the electronic density of the cloud of ion s that produced the radar echo. Evidently there was a considerable density of electrons around the B-52, probably in the order of at least 1015 electrons per cubic meter, (which is the previous value of Nc divided by 350). Consequently, the VHF communications antenna of the B-52 operating at 270 MHz was immersed in a relatively conducting gas. This did not hinder reception of the VHF communications from RAPCON, because the corresponding electrical field was insufficient to perturb the atmospheric ions at only a few millivolt VHF voltage at the receiving antenna.

    However, when the B-52 copilot pressed the button on his microphone, the transmitter onboard the B-52 was sending its entire power to the quarter wave antenna. In this instance, the amplitude of the antenna’s local electrical field was increased, which immediately attracted the ions and the electrons encircling the antenna. With a thick layer of ions encircling the transmission antenna, all of the transmitting power was absorbed in the agitation of ions and the heating of air. Therefore, the radiated power was very weak. In other words, the radiating impedance of the antenna was bypassed by the bath of ions as if it had been plunged into a conducting fluid driver such as water. Another way to understand this phenomenon is to consider the critical frequency of ionized air by applying N = Nc /350 to equation (49):

    Fc2 = 80.7 N = 80.7 . 2.9 . 1015 ==> Fc = 484 MHz (49 bis)

    In this case the critical frequency (484 MHz) is superior to the frequency of communications (270 MHz) and the wave is returned and absorbed rather than being transmitted. In addition, the transponder transmitted without a problem because it operated above the critical frequency over 1 GHz. It is remarkable that these considerations of plasma physics are completely consistent with many described facts in this case.

  9. On the same night, separate group of observers are spooked by a single star, low on the horizon, right under Orion ? Just plain ludicrous. Project Blue Book was a sham.
    Superb work by Thomas Tulien.

  10. Yes, Tom has produced a fine piece of work.

    I don't necessarily view the stellar theory as ludicrous. Since you, I, and Tom Tulien were not there that night, the question has to be asked if BB's proposed mis-identification of Sirius or another high magnitude star is a plausible explanation.

    If the night in question was heavily overcast, then this would be a mute point, but it wasn't, so it has to be looked into. Then we "might" be able to say that it's ludicrous...or possible.

    BB a sham? Three person office having to farm out their work to other segments of Wright-Patterson AFB and a wavering Hynek...seems to me that they did the best under the conditions. True, some of their work was hurried analysis bordering on shoddy conclusions.

    BTW, the performance of the UFO Officer plays a vital role. It's apparent that BB's analysis and conclusions were only as good as the crucial data fed to them.

    Anyhow, I do appreciate your comment, Kolyma.

  11. I have no problem calling BB's conclusions ludicrous when the explanation offered, a star, or an airborne plane of a type regularly present at that location, aren't anywhere near what the onduty observers reported seeing. A single, very small, immobile point of light, that could be seen on every clear night like every other star, would baffle all these men ? Naaw.
    I have an amateur interest in astronomy and, looking at the sky this summer, have easily spotted Vega, Arcturus and others. It makes no sense to me that all of Sirius and Vega's characteristics - size, brightest and immobility - would inexplicably appear otherwise on that night, but I'll be curious to see what conclusions you draw.

    Much has been written about BB, and the opinions of many that it was essentially a front, a PR desk, meant to manage the public perception of UFOs while the serious work was being done elsewhere and I agree with that.

    I would personally add, to the not-so-great moments of ufology, the portraits of P. Klass & E.Condon, whose scientific contribution to the study of UFOs I put on par with the work of the Catholic Church in its dealings with Galileo.

    Very interesting sites by Bernard Haisch and the Society for Scientific Exploration. Glad to have found those links.

    Yvan D.

  12. Kolyma (Yvan),

    I tend to totally deconstruct cases such as Minot and put them back together, and that takes time and effort since I'm not thinking UFOs on a twenty four hour a day basis. The Malmstrom incidents took probably a year and a half to come up with my conclusions (some saw my logic and agreed, yet others were pissed off, ironically like being in politics). Minot is no different of an approach, because there are a lot of pieces to fit back together and those individual pieces need to be evaluated.

    With my approach, I consider that nothing is outright ludicrous, because all of the components need to be thoroughly looked at and assessed accordingly. Was BBs final conclusions correct? Maybe we could put it another way, was BBs conclusions plausible based on the confines of the case and the data being sent to them.

    Lets not forget about data that may have been omitted or glossed over. With that said, we may well be dealing with strict possibilities versus that of high probability and nothing more.

    Perhaps this case is one that is truly lost in time with no manner of coming to a logical conclusion, but I certainly won't know unless all areas of this case are addressed to the best of my abilities. That's why nothing is considered ludicrous at this point in time.

    Being Catholic, I'm reminded that poor Galileo would have had an easier sell if he hadn't of painted the Pope as a dumb ass in his book...great theories and discoveries...bad literary form...bad timing with the Inquisition.

    I like Bernard Haisch's work. Thoroughly enjoyed reading his book, "The God Theory" and also enjoyed his interview some years back on Coast to Coast.

    Best Regards,

    Tim H.

  13. A most interesting endeavour. I'm in the process of reading all available documents on the Minot incident.
    Nobody expects the inquisition.

  14. I heartily encourage you to do so. It's a very interesting case and I surprised that Paul Kimball did not list it in his top 10 listing. Perhaps with the Malmstrom case losing it's luster (Paul gives the impression), then the Minot 1968 case should advance into the top 10?

    No, this should not be an inquisition, just an exercise in rational reasoning.

  15. Minot 1968 isn't mentioned in any of the books I've read, including recently published ones. The USAF, through Pj. BB, had done a good job but the Sign interviews are indeed something else.
    Not all relevant information was collected and/or sent to Pr. BB, where the tiny staff, with little resources and time, was expected to provide prosaic explanations.
    Project Blue Book was closed a year later.

  16. Jim Klotz : Now in the Blue Book documents, there are a number of scope photographs... however, it's copied onto microfilm, copied onto paper, and you can't see anything on the scope.

    Patrick McCaslin : Boy, you could sure see it that night! It was shining like a diamond in a goat's ass. It was big, and bright, and it was clear on the film.