William Smith's AF-117 and later 2001 interview provides a description of a light source low above the horizon seen SSW of his location at Oscar Flight. Based on the physical orientation of the LCF, FSC's office facing due south, Smith would have had a clear view from his office windows.
William Smith's AF-117
Smith states that his observation occurred between 0230 and 0415 on 24 Oct 1968. He drew a positional map were the object was seen south of O-01. Both his initial sighting and last observed location (A and B) show a light source SSW and 15 degrees above the horizon. Smith drew a zig-zag pattern of the object's movements. He observed the object off and on for 1 hour and 15 minutes. The movement was steady and smooth rising slight. It would disappear completely at times, fade or dim.
The night was completely overcast, no stars, clouds, no moon. The only lighting source was the security lighting on Oscar's LCF.
The phenomenon appeared to be reddish burnt orange. Smith saw it fade and change as a star might twinkle. He also noticed a slight hint of green, but burnt orange was the dominant color. The object appeared as a star would appear on a clear night. No edges were visible from his position.
What drew his attention to the light source/object was his being notified that it [object] had been seen in an adjacent area. He then alerted his sentry and directed his gaze south of his position and saw the object. About 15 minutes after my sentry had sighted it. I was visible one moment and just vanished.
It appeared star-like with an unknown angular size. Smith drew a diagram showing the object moving east and west. Speed estimated at 75 knots and at a distance of 10 miles.
The object resembled the planet Mars as it is while rising on the horizon. It was similar in color and size. It would fade from view.
Smith had never seen a phenomena like this.
Smith had his security response team with him.
Reported his observation to Wing Security Control (WSC) 24 Oct 1968.
He completed his AF-117 on 26 Oct 1968.
End of AF-117.
Items of Interests
Smith states that the object/light was seen SSW of his location which would have been in the direction covering a portion of both November and Oscar Flight, but he gives the impression that his security team first spotted something due south. This gives the impression that two separate objects at separate locations were observed, but Smith never states that he saw two objects. Was his sighted object south or SSW of his location?
If it was solely SSW, then this would have been in the general direction towards N-07. If the sighting was actually due south then this would have been in the direction towards O-6. Confusion or two separate objects?
Smith lists his first observation at 0230, but WSC's log shows that Oscar reported at 0320. This is almost a difference of an hour. It's possible that Smith was observing something and it came into his view about the 0230 time and made the call to WSC later at 0320. Despite this possibility, November Flight made the initial call to WSC at 0308 and Smith wrote that he became aware of the object due to being notified it was "seen in an adjacent area."
What is meant by "adjacent area?" Smith never clarified, but the area adjacent to Oscar Flight was November Flight. There was a Camper Alert Team (CAT) posted on O-06 at this time and some have speculated that this initial report might have originated with this security team.
"I was notified it had been seen in an adjacent area. I alerted my sentry. I directed my gaze south of my position and saw the object about 15 minutes after my sentry sighted it."
Per Smith's AF-117, his security response team was with him on site at Oscar for the entire duration of the sighting. Smith makes no mentioning of the CAT on O-06. Did Smith receive a call from November and had his on-site security scan the sky in the direction of November Flight and they spotted something and reported this to Smith?
Or, did Smith receive the report from the CAT posted on O-06? The WSC log lists the CAT on O-6, but did not list an observation time. This can be interpreted that the CAT did not report any observations to WSC or Smith leading to the plausible conclusion that Smith's security response team reported the sighting to him. Of note, LtCol Werlich never had the CAT members fill out a AF-117 meaning they had nothing to report, or they were simply forgotten about.
In an interview with Tom Tulien conducted in 2001, Smith made a vague statement about the possibility that a Combat Targeting Team was on either on O-6 or O-7 and that they had seen a large glowing light. The problem with this statement is that there is no documentation available to support this possibility. The WSC log shows no additional security personnel posted on O-7 nor is any reference made confirming a Combat Targeting Team on any site within both November and Oscar flights.
Smith makes no mentioning of the B-52. In a interview with Tom Tulien, Smith states that he did not see the B-52, but he was notified by Oscar's launch crew that the aircraft "was going to the area." This is reasonable since the wing command post would have notified all of the launch crews whose flight areas the aircraft would have overflown. Further, the crews would have been directed to what UHF channel to monitor for radio traffic.
Correlations with other observers
Smith's SSW point of observation would have been in the general location of N-07. For a stellar possibility, none seem to fit. Rigel would have been somewhat SSW of Smith's location, but only at around 0500 and much higher in elevation above the horizon. At a point in time, one wonders if he may well have seen the B-52 and not realizing it.
This brings the issue of the physical intrusion onto O-7 into the picture. Who or what was responsible? Smith makes no reference to this incident in his AF-117, but the incident is up channeled and provided to PBB. Was 0-7, along with the B-52 radar contact, the driving force behind SAC HQ's push for answers? I will post a separate blog article, because this segment of the Minot story intrigues.