Monday, September 29, 2014

Minot's Visual Observations: A Question of Possibilities

My last post led to quite a few comments from my friend, Tom Tulien.  Tom raised good questions.  As I had stated in my reply to Tom, I'm merely looking at possibilities.  I was not present at or near Minot back in 1968.  I've had no contact with the principles involved with this case.  I, like others, am left with looking at, and deciphering reports in the form of AF-117s, memo for records and other various documents that are currently available.  And much gratitude to Tom and Jim Klotz for providing subsequent interviews that both had provided on Tom's excellent site,


When looking at the key principle's AF-117s, I have to take into account three possibilities:

1.  The ground observers, primarily O'Connor/Isley, Jablonski/Adams and Bond/Williams, saw lights and/or an object in their respective flight areas.  The possibility exists that this could have been a mis-identified star...possible, but not certain.

2.  At a given point in time, the B-52 visually supplants the initial object and the observers focus solely on the B-52.  I believe that this is possible, but not certain.

3.  The object is neither a star, nor the B-52, but of an unknown origin.  A UFO, if you will. This is possible, but not definitive nor is it certain.

Are the AF-117s accurate concerning the plotted directions and elevations of the object/light?  I tend to think not.  The observation reports were completed either the next day or a few days after the incident.  Werlich, per memo for record, had told the staff of PBB that he had to show most how to annotate the directions and elevations on the AF-117s.  If this is true, then the diagrams were best guesses based on memory recall.  Each observer perceived the event in a different way.

There is another AF-117, that of the B-52's pilot, Maj James Partin, that provides possible clues to his sighting that possibly discounts a UFO on or near the ground.  In my opinion, Partin's AF-117 does not corroborate the observations from the ground teams.  I'm not talking about the radar data, but of Partin's visual observations, what he saw with his own eyes. The radar data will be discussed in a separate post. 

Is a stellar observation possible?

This is what Blue Book proposed.  Unfortunately in today's UFO research climate, the mere mentioning of Blue Book tends to be toxic, but was a stellar component possible?  In order to answer this question we have to compare the ground observers' estimated plotted positions while on site at N-07 and the potential candidates for a proposed stellar observation.

As can be seen in the above diagram.  We have a combination of initial and final observed points based on the estimated elevations above the horizon as provided by the ground teams.  Information from Blue Book list four stars as the possible observed object/light:

Regulus  10 degrees above horizon at 0300 hr, and 20 degrees at 0400 hr.

Procyon  30 degrees above horizon at 0300 hr, and 37 degrees at 0400 hr.

Sirius  28 degrees above  horizon at 0300 hr, and 24 degrees at 0400.

Rigel  35 degrees above horizon at 0300 hr, and 35 degrees at 0400.

Based on the estimated positions plotted by Jablonski/Adams and O'Connor/Isley, it appears to me that Procyon, Sirius, and Rigel would be good candidates to have been observed by the ground teams.  

Tom Tulien provided a comment in my last post that Sirius would have been too low above the horizon to have any observational value.  To see if this was possible, I set up my telescope in my backyard and aligned it to 28 degrees and tracked this elevation via line of sight.  It was readily obvious that Sirius could have been easily seen even taking in to account tree lines in the distant area.  I further found that at 15 degrees above the horizon the same held true.  It was only at 10 degrees and below that I found that it would have been difficult to observe, based on probable tree lines and ground elevations, but in some respects not impossible.

What was the actual conditions during the night? This depends on the perception of each observer.  O'Connor listed the conditions as partly cloudy with nimbus clouds, a few stars, no moon. Isley wrote that the night was clear, few stars, no moon light.  Jablonski wrote that it was a clear night, few stars, no moon light.  The same for Adams.  Bond, at N-01, stated the night was clear with a few stars.  William Smith, O-01, wrote that it was completely overcast, clouds, no stars, and no moon.  James Partin, the B-52 pilot, wrote that there were many stars and no moon light, but Partin was at altitude in his aircraft.

Based on the above descriptions, it appears that the ground teams in the November Flight area, particular to N-07, had a fairly non-obscured sky during the observations.  Oscar Flight, NE of November Flight, was the only exception as it appeared to had been overcast, per William Smith, yet he saw a light/object SSW, 15 degrees above the horizon.

The above diagram shows the plotted "compass" points of the teams initial (A) and last (B) observations.  I've listed the approximately locations of Sirius and Rigel at important times during the early morning hours of 24 October 1968.

What is of interest is that at the time listed on O'Connor's AF-117, Sirius is almost directly due east.  Sirius' position changes through the next few hours, East, ESE, SE, SSE, and finally at 0500 hr, approximately due south. Rigel's position changes from SE,SSE and finally SSW at 0500 hr. Sirius tracks well with the descriptions given by Isley and O'Connor and the initial observation plotted by Jablonski/Adams.  Jablonski's last observed point B shows WSW, but Rigel's location of SSW is in the general vicinity.  Is it possible that Rigel was the object last seen by Jablonski?

James Partin's View from the B-52

James Partin was the pilot of the B-52 that over-flew the November flight area.  His aircraft was 10 miles northeast of Minot AFB at an altitude of 3200 ft MSL per his AF-117.  He saw a bright orange ball of light at his one o'clock.  It appeared to be 15 miles away either on the ground or slightly above the ground.  The light remained stationary as he flew towards it. During his 5 minute visual observation, the object never moved, even when he was directly above it. To Partin, "It looked like a miniature sun placed on the ground below the aircraft.

Nowhere in Partin's AF-117 does he describe a light/object moving about the flight area, as compared to the descriptions provided by the ground observers. Partin only saw a bright object or source of light on or near the ground...and it was stationary...not moving.

What was the bright light that Partin observed?  Project Blue Book offered the possibility of ball lightning or the star Vega.  Both of these options are very poor choices as Vega was barely above the horizon in the north, if at all, and ball lightning being a very rare event and hardly a stationary phenomena.

If we rule out Vega and ball lightning, then what is the source?  The answer may well be annotated by the ground observers AF-117s and the flight path of the B-52.

The PBB staff and LtCol Werlich either missed or glossed over a key passage in Jablonski's AF-117, in particular, section 11 e, Major Source of Illumination."  Jablonski had wrote in section 11 e, "Head lights and site lights".  While on N-07, the site's top-side lights were on and the team's vehicle head lights were on.

I asked two former missile maintenance officers about the arrangement of the site lights on a launch facility.  Both stated that there were 2 light posts with 3 lights mounted on each pole.  When asked how bright these lights were, one stated that all were very bright, lighting up the entire area of the launch facility.  I assume that all six lights were positioned in different angles on their respective poles to provide the illumination coverage.

If we look at the flight path of the B-52,  N-07 would have been in the direction of Partin's one o'clock.  The flight path takes the aircraft near N-07. I believe that what Partin had described as a stationary source of bright light was actually N-07 with it's site lights activated.  In his AF-117, Partin draws what he believes to have seen either on the ground or hovering above the ground.

Tom Tulien site, shows several map overlays of the aircraft's flight path viewed here.

Taken from Tom Tulien's

The above is the diagram drawn by Maj. Partin in his AF-117.

The above is an overlay of what Maj. Partin saw and transposed over N-07.  The site lights would have brightly lit the entire topside of the LF and a portion of the outside perimeter. The graveled topside and concrete components could have been seen as a bright reflection being observed by Partin.  In an interview with Tulien/Klotz, Jablonski gave the impression that he and Adams had parked their vehicle on the access road.

I cannot say the above is exactly what Partin saw, but I believe that it is possible...plausible. It is "possible" that the ground observers saw a star, or a series of stars that appeared to move slowly over time.  It is "possible" that at a given point in time, the overflying B-52 takes over and is now the focus of the ground observers as the UFO.  Add in the light pollution by the bright site lights from N-07, it is "possible" that the ground observers lost frequent eye contact with the initial object (star?).  It is "possible" that Maj. Partin was actually observing a "stationary" brightly lit N-07.

If the above is true....where is the UFO?

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Minot AFB 1968 UFO Incident: The November Flight Security Response Team, Part 4

The last Minot posting looked at the observation given by the November Flight Security Controller, SSgt James Bond.  At some given time of the observations by the missile maintenance team enroute to N-07, Bond would have dispatched his security response team, A1C Joseph Jablonski and Gregory Adams.

When reviewing SSgt Bond's AF-117 and later 2005 interview by Tom Tulien, there is a matter of confusion regarding the actual physical location of the Adams and Jablonski. Bond's AF-117 gives the impression that both men were physically located on N-01, the Launch Control Facility.  Bond's interview with Tulien states that both men were off site.

If we are to go by A1C Jablonski's AF-117, he makes it clear that he and Adams are on N-01 which confoms to Bond's AF-117.  In a 2005 interview, Jablonski states that he and others (Adams, and off duty SAT) where outside looking at the lights.  Based on this information, it can be assumed that both Adams and Jablonski were physically on N-01 prior to being dispatched to N-07.

Adam's AF-117

I've chosen not to delve into Adams AF-117 content due to it being almost identical to that of Joseph Jablonski's observation.  My initial comparison of the two led me to believe that Adams merely copied Jablonski's AF-117.  Tom Tulien and I have discussed this in the past and I believe there is agreement that this was more than likely probable.  Adams' AF-117 can be viewed here

Jablonski's AF-117

His AF-117 annotates that he first saw the object at 0308 and his visual observation ended at 0518.  Per a diagram which he drew the object/light was first observed some 9 miles S/E of N-01 [N-07 would have been seen somewhat in the S/E, 10 miles away from N-01].  A second diagram shows the object/light 2-3 miles S/E when he and Adams either arrived at, or where on site at N-07.

Per Jablonski, the first observation showed the object/light to be 30 degrees above the horizon in a SSE direction.  His last observation showed the object/light to have descended 15 degrees above the horizon in a WSW direction [assuming this vantage point from N-07?].

Jablonski, dispatched to N-07, is the passenger in the vehicle moving at 30 mph.  He and Adams apparently stopped along the way and object/light not affected by the actually movement of the vehicle. [This assumes that Adams is driving and both agree to make a quick stop for visual observations]

Annotated is the fact that he is aware that a B-52 has been diverted to the general area. The aircraft is first seen and heard approximately 35 minutes after the first sighting of the object. [approximately 0343?].  The object stayed basically to the SE, while the B-52 was in the direction of S/W.

Duration of the sighting lasted approximately 2 hours off and on.  Jablonski based this time line on the length of time while out on dispatch.  The object appeared as orange-red, seemingly switching to almost completely white with some green also seen.  This pattern was not always the same.

The object first appeared to hover then move slowly.  It would speed up alternating in color. The light would vanish but return some 5 minutes later.

When first dispatched to N-07, another object exactly the same appeared out of the east and had picked up speed in a path moving towards the other.  Jablonski never saw the tow objects join or meet as the second object disappeared and no longer could be seen. [the B-52?]

The night was clear with a few stars visible.  There was no moon light.  Major sources of illumination was the vehicle head lights and the site lights on N-07.  The object was self luminous with glowing orange-red, white and green which alternated at times.  The object appeared solid although not very wide and slender is shape.  The edges were fuzzy.  The lights were much too bright to determine an exact shape.  This object appeared much too bright to be a star.

What drew Jablonski's attention to the object/light was other people had brought it to his attention.  Although he had not seen it immediately, others gave a good estimate of location. It reappeared 3 or 4 minutes later and was quite bright and gradually weakened.

Prior to returning to N-01, it caught our attention again.  This time WSW in location.  It appeared as before starting bright orange-red to white and finally to green.  The object was stationary at times appearing 1000 feet above ground.  Green light started to diminish slowly till no longer seen.

Just prior to his sighting, the diverted B-52 in the WSW, the object had descended gradually and for 1 to 2 minutes had appeared to be obstructed by trees.  [The B-52 is seen WSW. Jablonski is the first witness to describe that something on the ground blocked the view of the object:  trees.]

The object appeared to be solid matter.  The illumination rendered no logical shape to be determined.  It appeared quiet slim and not very wide. [Description of B-52?]  Object appeared to move more the westerly direction until the last and final illuminations at 0510. Lasting until approximately 0518 when it could no longer be seen.  Estimated speed of the object was 70 knots with a distance of 3-5 miles.  The object made no noise and left no physical trace.

As to the alternating illumination, particularly the white, it appeared as two or three automobile headlights.  When the B-52 had flown its search, it had been using its landing lights which were quite similar in nature.  As to avoid confusion between the plane and the object, Base Ops had pointed out where and when we saw the B-52.  Must add that the B-52's engines could be easily heard while the UFO made  no sounds to be heard at the same distance.

The object had various maneuvers which occurred basically in one general area.  It stayed pretty well SSE of the launch facility, but had several times started northwards and westwards always returning to its previous SSE position.  For some reason it appeared to be traveling (trying to), but never did see it take the direct path. 

When the B-52 flew in the vicinity (SSE) it was no longer seen in that location. [Assuming he meant the object]  When he started leaving back to N-01, B-52 already left the area.  Object approximately west.  Object remained until it finally disappeared about 15 minutes later. 

Jablonski lists on AF-117 that A1C Adams, SSgt Bond, A1C O'Connor where with him. [Bond while at the LCF]

Report made to SSgt Bond on 24 Oct 1968.  AF-117 completed 25 Oct 1968 

End of AF-117 content.

Notes of interest

1.  Sighting duration lasted about 2 hours, 0308-0518.

2.  Object seen from the LCF and LF in a S/E direction.

3.  May have been seen SSE, then last seen WSW.  Isley's AF-117 states that object seen due East then S/E.  Isley states that object last seen from N-07 SE of site.  Why the difference, as both Jablonski and Isley were on N-07 together and would have been observing the same object(s)?  Different object versus that of confusing the B-52 as the object?  The object stayed in the S/E while the B-52 was primarily in the S/W.

4.  Object changed colors, orange-red, white then green.  Jablonski could not discern any shape.

5.  Object appeared to stop/hover.

6.  Jablonski says the night is clear.  What happened to the hazy conditions as previously reported?

7.  N-07 had its site lights on with head lights from vehicle.  Did these sources of light pollution hamper the observation of the object in question?

8.  Object disappeared in WSW location.  Noted to be the same general area as that of the B-52.

9.  When comparing AF-117s of those who where on or near N-07, there is apparent confusion of the object versus that of the B-52.  Jablonski's AF-117 does not match up with the maintenance team's observation, yet all were eventually on N-07 observing something in the sky.

10.  Jablonski's entry in section 15 appears to describe the profile of the B-52 with its landing lights illuminated.  The B-52 made noise, as well it would, but no noise came from the object/light.  Is it reasonable to infer a stellar source or something else?

Jablonski's AF-117 provides good details of what he saw that night.  Granted, its different from O'Connor and Isley's observation in many ways.  It's unfortunate that A1C Adams did not render an independent description of his own observation as this could have provided other details that either corroborated or differed based on his perception of the event.

Its interesting that there is some disagreements with the direction of the observations.  I'm not overly concerned whether someone observed something S/E of their location while another saw the same phenomena SSE.  Both directions tend to be basically the same to the casual observer, plus I'm sure that Jablonski/Adams and O'Connor/Isley did not have a compass on hand obtaining precise coordinates.  

The same could be said of the elevations listed above the horizon.  These figures were more than likely established through best estimation and/or using a possible landmark as a frame of reference.  Not to mention that these figures were derived some days after the incident relying then on memory recall.  In a memo for record, LtCol Werlich provides some details as explaining to the ground observers how to estimate elevation and direction.

What did strike me was that four individuals differed as to the final location of the sighted object.  Jablonski/Adams state the object is last seen WSW of N-07, while O'Connor/Isley saw the object last S/E.  The two directions are significantly different and to add to the mix that the B-52 was either S/W or WSW of N-07 leads to the possibility that the aircraft may have visually supplanted the initial observed object.

After another review of Jablonski's and Isley's AF-117s and plotting the initial and last observations on a map the observations may actually be fairly similar respective to both observers.  It becomes readily apparent that both are describing an initial observed object (East or S/E of N-07) and then go on to describe an object flying south of N-07 in a westerly direction.  The only difference is the final observation point listed by both individuals.

Comparing Lloyd Isley's and Joeseph Jablonski's Sightings.

Above is the estimated point of initial observation of the object/light that O'Connor and Isley observed approximately midway between N-01 and N-07 (5 miles).  The object/light was seen due east of their location apparently moving south at slow speed.

Above is the initial observation by Jablonski and others while on the LCF, N-01.  Object/light observed to be SE of the LCF.

The above is the initial observation (A) SE, and last observation (B) WSW of Jablonski and Adams while both on N-07.

The above is a overlay of both initial and last observations by O'Connor/Isley and Jablonski/Adams.  Note that I've included the due east initial observation that O'Connor/Isley stated in their AF-117, but the reader should know that this initial observation point was actually 5 miles north of N-07.

Yellow:  Joseph Jablonski's observational area.  A= first sighting, B= last sighting.
Red:  Lloyd Isley's observational area.  A= first sighting, B= last sighting.
Red Oval:  Isley's description of object in a circular orbit south of N-07.  Actual area size is questionable (could be larger) based on Isley's diagram on his AF-117.

Lloyd Isley states in his AF-117 that object first sighted due east while he and O'Connor where enroute to N-07.  While on N-07, he describes the object south of the launch facility in a circular pattern which I dubbed a "racetrack" or orbit.  Isley is very much aware that a B-52 is in the area.  It is possible that Isley is describing the flight of the B-52 which may have visually supplanted the object which he first observed.  Notice that the potential flight path of the object closely corresponds to the flight path of the aircraft which accomplished two passes near the launch facility, moving  SE towards the West then returning to the SE. Could this possibly have been the aircraft returning back to base?

From lloyd Isley's AF-117:

"We first saw the object to the east of us while we were traveling toward the site.  It started moving south.  We arrived at the site and then started observing the object from outside the truck.  It was moving in a large circular area to the south."

"The object had lights on the front like head lights or landing lights.  It had green flashing light toward the middle or rear.  I could not tell any shape or size."

"It came within hearing distance twice.  The sound was that of jet engines.  It was in this same area for two or three hours."

"When we last saw it, the object was in the SE and went low and out of sight."

Jablonski initially saw the object 2-3 miles SE or SSE of N-07.  He last observed the object WSW of N-07.

"The object had various maneuvers which occurred basically in one general area.  It stayed pretty well SSE of the launch facility, but had several times started northwards and westwards, always returning to its previous SSE position.  For some reason it appeared to be traveling but never did see it take the direct path."

"When the B-52 flew in the vacinity (SSE) it was no longer seen in that location."

What was being observed?

When taking into account the above information, we are left with three options:

1.  Stellar component which was proposed by Project Blue Book, yet later to be discarded by  Jablonski, Isley and O'Connor.  Sirius was prominent in the East and Rigel in the SE at 1 AM.  By 0300, Sirius would have been seen in the S/E and Rigel approximately due South. By 0500, Sirius would have been seen in the SSE and Rigel in the SSW. Both teams differ as to the elevation above the horizon for their respective reports. 

2.  The possibility that the first observed object eventually is visually merged with the presence of the B-52 which would account for the SE to W movement of the object. This could easily explain the observations that the initial object split into two separate objects seen south of N-07. 

3.  The object/light was neither a misidentified star nor the B-52.  This would correspond to what was perceived by all of the ground observers.  All readily acknowledged the presence of the B-52.  All stated that they would be able to discern a bright light to that of a star.

Another question arises from the combined observations.  All described the speed of the object/light as being slow or moving at 70 knots.  Later on in this blog series the B-52's radar would show that the UFO was maneuvering at a speed exceeding 3000 mph.  How does this conform to the ground personnel that did not describe an object moving at such high speeds?

Friday, September 12, 2014

Next Minot Installment

Just to let those interested in the 1968 Minot story know that I've soon to complete the next installment, or part 4.  This segment covers Joseph Jablonski's observations.

Then A1C Josep Jablonski was the SAT team leader that was dispatched to N-07 following the missile maintenance team's report.  Covered is his AF-117 contents.

I've also included a portion of the post comparing his observations with that of Lloyd Isley. At first glance, there appears to be a disconnect when comparing both individuals observation.  After plotting observational data on a map, I've determined that both may be describing the same their own way based on visual perception. 

Despite this, there remains some disconnects with comparison.  Jablonski actually clears up some questions that may not be of interest to the casual reader, but satisfy a professional curiosity that I had.

I'm cleaning up the post and should have it posted within a few days.