Sunday, February 23, 2014

The Minot AFB October 1968 UFO Incident: Case Introduction Part I

Case Introduction

During the early morning hours of 24 October 1968, a fascinating series of visual observations by numerous Air Force missile security and maintenance personnel occurred in the vicinity of the Minot AFB's 742nd Strategic Missile Squadron mostly in the November Flight area.  These visual observations would result in an overflight of a B-52H in the area which it's aircrew would have both a visual observation and a recorded series of radar returns.  This incident would eventually lead to an investigation by SAC headquarters and Project Blue Book.

What makes this UFO(s) case fascinating is the extensive documentation in the form of written observations, memo for records between SAC HQ, Minot AFB and Project Blue Book, and analysis conducted by segments of Wright-Patterson AFB's Foreign Technology Division. Further, unlike other "high" profile UFO cases, the Minot incident has numerous documented eye witness and technological data in the form of radar returns.  This diverts remarkably from other UFO ICBM cases where most, if not all, of the data was purely anecdotal due to second and third hand sources which tends to be all but impossible to verify. 

There are other oddities of the case that emerged from the investigation, such as the B-52H's brief UHF radio transmission outage and the intrusion onto the topside of a Minuteman ICBM launch facility.  Based on extensive interviews conducted by UFO researchers Jim Klotz and Tom Tulien, other stories surrounding the incident come to light..."the stories within the story"...which demonstrates the bizarre nature of most UFO observations and it's psychological impact on those individuals who hear of it by unofficial means.

The Beginnings of the Investigation

Where to begin?  Perhaps one approach is to start with the initial report/phone call from Minot AFB to Project Blue Book via a Memo for Record, 1730 hrs, 24 October 1968.  This would be the notification of the UFO observation that started the investigation for Project Blue Book. 

The memo for record is titled "UFO observation, Minot AFB, ND 24 Oct 1968 and is written by PBB's Lt. Marano based on a telephone call from Minot's UFO investigation officer, LtCol Werlich.  Bellow is a narrative of it's contents courtesy from Tom Tulien's

- Crew of B-52 sighted and photographed UFO.- Base Commander and Maj. Nichols, 15 AF, interested. 
- Col Quintanilla notified. (actual rank is LtCol)- Called LtCol Werlich, UFO investigator.
-  Werlich requested no immediate help - no urgency. 
- Lt Marano asked LtCol werlich for details of the sighting:
- About 0300 hours local, B-52, 39 miles NW of MAFB sighted an unidentified plip on their radar. 
- Target traveled 2 1/2 miles in 3 seconds or 3000 mph. 
- Passed from right to left of plane- assumed position off of left wing. 
- Radar blip stayed off left wing for approximately 20 miles then broke off. 
- [Radar] scope photographs taken. 
- When target close to aircraft, both transmitters [UFH] did not work, but operated normally after/when the radar blip broke off. 
- About the same time, missile maintenance reported sighting a bright orange-red object.- Object hovered about 1000 ft - similar sounds of a jet engine. 
- observer had stopped his car, then started moving his car.  As he moved, the object followed him.  The object accelerated and stopped 6-8 miles away.  Observer shortly afterward lost sight of the object. 
- Response to maintenance man call, B-52 was vectored towards the visual, about 10 miles NW of the base. 
- The B-52 confirmed sighting a bright light of some type hovering just over or on the ground.- 14 people in separate locations reported similar object. 
-  At this time OZ/IZ alarm activated at one of the sites [launch facility].  Guards found outer door open and combo lock on inner door had been moved. 
- Weather misty, temp 28-29 F, winds 5-10 knots. 
- No info yet about if object painted by radar in control tower, control tower saw anything, azimuth and elevation from the 14 observers, physical object vs. light. 
- LtCol Werlich did not have exact sequence of events. 
- LtCol Werlich agreed to gather the above information.

During the span of 5 days, LtCol Werlich would have most of the principle observers complete AF-117, Sighting of Unidentified Phenomena Questionnaire.  Oddly, it would appear that other known observers did not complete the AF-117, but no known reason is given, nor does PBB appear to query about these other observers, ie, the B-52 co-pilot, the Camper Alert Team (CAT) positioned on the launch facility, O-06, and the security personnel on duty at Mike and Juliette Flights.  Despite the drama that was played out in the early hours of 24 October, there appears to be no known civilian reports of the observed object(s) by Air Force personnel.

Project Blue Book's Conclusion

On 13 November 1968, PBB's LtCol Hector Quintanilla issued a final conclusion to their investigation concerning the Minot incident.  Below is a summary of the key points of PBB's conclusions:

1.  Ground visual appears to be the star Sirius and the B-52.

2.  B-52 radar contact and temporary loss of UHF transmission could be attributed to plasma/ball lightning.

3.  B-52 visual observation could be the star Vega, light on the ground, plasma.

4.  O-7 break in was not related to the event.

Focus of My Analysis

Based on the above conclusions by PBB,  the subsequent series of blog post will look at each of the conclusion sets and attempt to determine if these conclusions were plausible based on the available data that was supplied by Minot AFB's LtCol Werlich.  PBB's staff analyzed the data that was given to them, as they did not do the actual investigation work themselves, thus the quality of the analysis and conclusions were dependent on the quality of the on-site investigation that was conducted by Minot AFB.

This was LtCol Werlich's first UFO investigation.  It is reasonable and prudent to ask if his investigation was adequate or did he miss important data.  PBB's numerous memo for records tend to support the probability that Werlich was doing the best that he could under the circumstances, but he had two components to investigate...the ICBM component and that of the B-52, one in his element of understanding and another that was not.

The coming series of blog articles will look at the accumulated AF-117s and attempt to determine if these visual observations support PBB's conclusions.  Further, though conducted some 30 to 40 years later,  the interviews conducted by Tom Tulien and Jim Klotz will be looked at and compared to the original AF-117s.

Part 2 of this case will look at the observations of the missile maintenance personnel and the November Flight security personnel.  

Tim Hebert


Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Minot's 1968 UFO Incident: The Issue of Bias

I had recently opened a thread on Unexplained Mysteries forum, "1968 Minot UFO:  B52H Radar Return:  Discuss the technological aspects of radar return anomalies and causation." Frankly, the radar return anomaly had somewhat stumped me and I figured to get some additional input and general ideas on causes of radar anomalies.

Overall I had good inputs on potential issues such as plasma and the Hessdalen phenomena, but nothing that I feel totally comfortable with, but potential causations none the less.  Blue Book attributes the radar return as potentially a plasma event, yet I'm not totally on board with that conclusion.  

Tom Tulien,, raised the issue, or concern(?) about potential bias on my part as we discussed comparing the case's AF-117s to oral testimony given 30 to 40 years later.   Tom raises a good point as we all have our biases when dealing with UFO phenomena.  My biases tend to filter through as all can see based on how I approach the phenomena.  I do my best to limit it's affect, but make no apologies since I take the skeptical view on the subject. Tom should read the title and header of this blog, "Did It Really Happen?"  That should explain my overall approach as I've always looked for possible alternative prosaic causes for the phenomena.

Despite my own acknowledged bias, Mr. Tulien has his own personal bias regarding the Minot case.  Mr. Tulien would have me believe that there is no question that a UFO(s) under intelligent control was the cause of the Minot sightings and radar well as the B-52's UHF transmission outage.  Though this appears to be his personal conclusion, he attempts to push me in that direction before I've yet to finish any analysis or render an opinion.  

Further, Mr. Tulien knows that I'm aware of the discrepancies, curiosities, and questions that the AF-117s and other documentation raise and he would attempt to supplant                 those idiosyncrasies with interviews that he and Mr. Klotz conducted some 30-40 years after the fact.  This has led Mr. Tulien to formulate a conclusion that some, if not all of the official documents regarding this case had been altered or omitted in the attempt to hinder or mislead those responsible for investigating the incident.  Thus, Mr. Tulien through supposition attempts to move me into the realm of conspiracy which I outright reject as there is no hard evidence to support such a view.

My format is a simple blog and I merely render opinions.  All can either accept or reject what I write.  I've an open comment section with no moderation that allows all to render an opinion of their own.  There is no peer review process to effectively eliminate bias for this is merely a blog site, but I honestly try to look at things objectively to limit bias.  Most articles that I've posted have been numerously edited to reflect a reasonable tone and demeanor.  As new information is gained past posts have been updated to reflect this new information either as an add-on or correction.

I'll post the first part of my Minot series by next week.  Other parts will be posted at various intervals. I look forward to others opinion one way or another.    

Monday, February 3, 2014

Robert Hastings Responds to Robert Sheaffer's UFO vs Mars...or something like that

It took a while, but Ufology's "emanate" researcher, Robert Hastings has decide to descend from Mount Olympus and render his judgment regarding Robert Sheaffer's Oscar Flight's UFO vs Mars.

Hastings has trouble with Sheaffer's Mars hypothesis which should come as no surprise. Ironically, I too have issues with Mars being a culprit in the story, but my objections come with a further twist of proposing Mars as a possibility, Sheaffer is being way too "kind" to Hastings and Robert Salas.   A Mars sighting lends a certain degree of credibility to the story giving it the possibility that there is/was evidence rendering support that people saw something either topside at Oscar-01 or at one of Oscar's launch facilities.

At this point in time there is no supporting documentation or statements from security personnel corroborating the claims for what, if anything, was observed out in the field. If Robert Hastings has such evidence he should present it, but after 45 years, he has nothing...nada.

Curiously, Hastings failed to mention the new side-story that Robert Salas had undergone hypnosis to recover some of his lost memories pertaining to the Oscar incident and a follow-on alien abduction encounter.  I don't recall that information listed in his 2010 affidavit.

Following are excerpt from Hastings' article pertaining to me:

Robert Sheaffer cites other “evidence” in his article to support the claim that there was no UFO activity at Oscar Flight by quoting former USAF missileer and skeptic Tim Hebert. Even though Hebert was not present for the incident, or any of the other UFO events discussed by my many ex-missileer sources, he has concluded that the UFO-Nukes Connection is non-existent and that all of his former Air Force colleagues who have publicly discussed dramatic UFO incursions at one Strategic Air Command base or another during the Cold War are, at best, misguided. 

I agree with Robert that I wasn't present at any or all of his so-called UFO events, but neither was he, so this is irrelevant; a mere slight of hand tactic with the vain hopes of distracting away from the issue.  If you listen or read Robert, one would think that he was out there pulling the alerts.  The difference between Robert and I is that I actually pulled alerts at those very same sites that the story takes place.  

True, I do discount a UFO-Nuke connection.  We have all of those Minuteman stories, but what of the Titan II stories?  I've yet to come across those.  That in itself puts a dent into that theory.

Hebert also maintains that I have “used” these witnesses for my own allegedly nefarious purposes. I won’t repeat here what those former missileers have said about Hebert to me in confidence, but I recently “used” seven of those ex-military sources again, when I interviewed them for the documentary film I am currently producing. As I have previously mentioned in various articles, all of these gentlemen have repeatedly and profusely thanked me over the years for my dogged efforts to get the facts out, despite the resistance I have encountered in some quarters 

Of course Hastings has "used" them for his needed props, book subjects and his "up and coming" documentary film.  I'm assuming that all have agreed to this type of exposure and have no problems being associated with Hastings.  That's their right to do so.  BTW, do any of the group get a portion of your book profits?  That would seem fair as without them you have no subject matter to write about...let alone produce a documentary film.

I won't repeat here what other former missileers have told me in confidence regarding Hastings' UFO/Nukes theory.  Hastings and others are free to provide comment on this blog at anytime if there are issues with what I write...none have found it necessary at this point in time.

To support his skeptical argument regarding the Oscar Flight incident, Hebert cites the 341st Missile Wing’s official history, which makes no mention of it, as if the ICBM shutdown event never happened. However, both officers on alert that night have said that they were told by an OSI agent that their event was classified Secret. Still-classified material would never appear in a wing history. Hebert knows this, or should know it, so his distorted commentary is most curious. Given that this problematic fact doesn’t mesh with his own skeptical thesis, he has apparently decided to ignore it

The unit history is the very same document which Hastings had used to prop up his Echo Flight fantasy, yet my using it as a source document shows that there is nothing in it to support an Oscar Flight incident...what's wrong with that?  Robert is free to use it, but I'm not?  That's the impression I get.  Yet, when he does cite from it, he mis-interprets what it is saying.  Most importantly, he fails to grasp what it is not saying.  Poor research methodology on his part.

If Robert(s) Hastings and Salas are correct, then has any former SAC or 15th Air Force command post controllers provided statements to Hastings (even in confidence) supporting that reports of missiles mysteriously dropping off alert at Oscar were up channeled as would have been required?  What about Malmstrom Job Control controllers?  Wing Security controllers? I've yet seen such evidence presented by anyone.

Why wouldn't classified information be mentioned in the unit history?  The document itself was classified SECRET due to the nature of it showing the day to day operational status of the wing.  It covered the Echo Flight investigation in detail.  If a situation had occurred at Oscar within a week of Echo, it is reasonable to assume that such reporting and engineering analysis would have also occurred.   

I'll grant this, Hastings tends to come up with interesting stories and I do love a good story, but the plot and characters associated with his stories falls apart when looked at up close.  That's a problem when presenting anecdotal experiences with nothing solid to back it up...they all remain interesting stories, nothing more.  

Those are some of the issues that I have with the case.  We don't need Mars as a "fall guy" for this story. The history of the ever changing story lines and narratives are well enough to cast serious doubt.  Hastings demands that we be subjugated to his views and pet theories, but I choose not to be.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

New Blog for Oscar Flight's UFO Incident

Like I did for Echo Flight, I created a separate blog for Oscar Flight, "Oscar Flight:  A Mysterious UFO Tale That Never Was..."

I've added a new link to this blog's side bar along with the Echo link.  I've provided all of my posts concerning this incident on the new blog minus any comments that were attached.  That should make it easy for any readers interested in this particular story.  The site has a "search" widget that should allow quick access to a particular item of interest/subject that pertains to Oscar Flight. 

For those interested: