Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Resetting the stage for Minot 1968

November 01 Launch Control Facility - Minot AFB

Since it has been some time that I've posted about the 1968 Minot UFO case, I thought that it would be helpful to re-establish some of the key segments of last posts.  This provides a sense of where my thoughts were at that given time.

It is interesting for the reader to note that there where errors discovered in my star locations at certain points of the the night in question...this brought out by Tim Printy: 

"Your elevation angles for Sirius at 0300 is wrong. It should be about 19 degrees. I also think your azimuth for Sirius is wrong for 0100. It is way to far East.It should be ESE or SE (azimuth of about 123 degrees). Not that these values are that big a deal but I know how certain individuals like to harp on small details like this to make it appear the larger work is flawed. I am sure it was an honest mistake in the way you ran the astronomy program."

I have to admit that I was slightly taken aback by Printy's comment especially at the possibility that I may have intentionally manipulated data to fit my theory.  This was my reply to Printy:

"Tim, thanks for the info and input. The elevations for 0300 and 0400 for Sirius and Rigel were obtained from PBB data. Who ever computed the elevations at Wright-Patterson listed Sirius at 28 degrees above the horizon at 0300 L.

If you ran a program that shows differently, then you discovered a flaw in PBB's analysis, which eventually goes to one of my hypothesis that the entire investigation from Minot and W-P AFB was less than pristine.

As far as my 0100 azimuth for Sirius, your probably right as I had used a star chart for 24 October that was not as accurate as I had liked. You'll notice that in the post I listed some of my locations as "approximately" because of the lack of precision. I had believed that it was within the ball park. It was my intent to show that Sirius was in the general vicinity regarding Isley's and O'Connors initial observation times. Simply, I got to cute with the chart that I had at hand.

I'll take your figures and supply another chart in an addendum post as I value your expertise in the matters of astronomy.

Thanks for the constructive critique!"

The initial data that I had used was the very data that PBB had used.  How PBB obtained their data is unknown at this time.  With the data supplied by Printy, I re-calculated the positioning of the known stellar objects for the night/morning of 24 Oct 1968.  This information was provided in an addendum post.


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.

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.

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.

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.


  1. Tim:

    A couple comments, FYI…

    The inaccuracies in the Blue Book data for various stellar locations was originally discovered in our initial research and was documented in the original case study.

    Partin’s observation of the stationary UFO occurs at roughly 4:30 am, about 20 minutes after the B-52 radar encounter. At this time the ground observers are not observing the UFO and have returned to their respective duties, The N-7 site has been vacated. The B-52 terminally landed at 4:40 and Bond, Jablonski, and Adams continue to report the UFO to the west-southwest of N-7 until at least 5:18.

    Kind regards, Tom

  2. Hi Tom, nice to hear from you. You're correct about the PBB values. I believe that I gave you credit as well as Printy. Admittedly, my credit to you was luke warm at best and I should have listed your data first. For that I owe you an apology.

    As far as Partin's observation of a stationary light source, I'll review data and get back to you.

    Thanks for the comment and's nice to hear from you.

  3. Tom,

    After looking at my data, I show that Partin saw something at 0335L, this being from the RAPCON transcripts. This would have been the stationary siting. At 0402L, after regaining UHF transmission Partin relays about the radar contact.

    Your stating that Partin saw the stationary light source on the ground after the radar contact, but the transcripts give the impression otherwise...I'm perplexed with your line of thought. Could you please direct me to a source that your using?

    If the transcripts are correct then the B-52 would be over or very near N-07 which would have been brightly lit up due to the site having both maintenance and security teams on site. Jablonski's AF-117 specifically states that the site lights were on. The timing corresponds quite well in my opinion.

    True Partin's AF-117 states that he saw the stationary object between 0430 and 0435, but even BB question this. I assumed this was based on the RAPCON transcripts.

    Again, if you have data that states otherwise please let me know. If you are interpreting the transcripts differently then please provide your rationale. If I remember correctly, did you have doubts about the accuracy of the times listed in the transcripts?


  4. Tim:

    FYI the copilot, Capt. Runyon is operating the B-52 radio, not Partin.
    According to the transcript, at 3:35 the B-52 is just clearing the runway after the initial low approach when they are asked to be on the look out for an orange glow. Nothing is reportedly observed at this time by any of the B-52 crew according to their testimonies or by Werlich in his investigation report. In fact the B-52 would have flown into the cloud cover on its way to FL200. Following this there is a 17-18 minute break in communications. Regarding discrepancies in the transcription times, see: (directly available from the SITEMAP/MISC).
    if BB could be 200 miles off in its calculations for star positions I would imagine that they could also be confused regarding local time and I don't see how the hand-penned note on the transcription constitutes anything more than their confusion. Werlich's overlay map indicates the location of the "first visual sighting" during the second go-around of the traffic pattern. The crew did not see anything on the first go-around according to the transcription.


  5. Tom,

    Thanks for your comment. I'll reply fully tomorrow as I'm at work.

    But quickly, whether Runyon or Partin is operating the radio is in material at this point as the transcripts clearly indicate something being sighted at 0335L. I'm aware that the transcripts state 0835 which is in Zulu or GMT. I lived with zulu for 8 years so I know it by heart.

    Yes BB screwed up on the star positions, but it is clear that they had access to the transcripts and questioned the timing on Partin's AF-117 based on the RAPCON transcripts. Seems reasonable to me to do so. And thus the rationale for the "hand penned" note.

    Despite my above, I'll look at your link fully and reply in kind.

    Have a good night,


  6. RE; weather conditions. In response to the possibility that the ground observers could have been observing celestial objects I have been working on a reconstruction of the weather conditions for the region with the help of Martin Shough. The work is not yet completed and we want to attempt to refine it further when time allows.


  7. I am a bit confused since the transcription does not actually state that they are observing anything at this time.

  8. Tom, I don't have the transcripts infront of me at this time, but the transmission at approximately 0835Z infers the sighting of someting(s). Again, I'll take a look at the transcripts when I get home later tonight.

    Appreciate the heads up about the weather data research. Looking forward to your conclusions.


  9. Well, any inference is unsupported by any other information. You can fill in the blank anyway you like, however, in my interpretation any claim that rises to fact requires more than a single reference.

  10. Tom, seriously? Again, look at the RAPCON transcript:

    0835 - ct: And JAG 31 on your way out to the WT fix request you look out toward your 1:00 position for the next 15 or 16 miles and see if you see any orange glows out there.

    ac: Roger roger...glows 31.

    ct: Somebody is seeing flying saucers again.

    ac: Roger I see a...(garbled)

    What did they see? Could it had been the "stationary" light source on the ground? There is nothing in the transcripts that support a later sighting in the flight other than the radar contact.

    I still need to review the link provided in one of your comments.


  11. Tom,

    I had the opportunity to review your link. So the "gap" between 0335 and 0352 appears suspicious to you? At this point in time I've no serious opinion other than that you may be correct in your suspicions or the gap in transmission was normal.

    When you have the time, could you please tell me why you think portions of the transmission were intentionally omitted?

  12. This comment has been removed by the author.

  13. I do not consider the discrepancy to be suspicious. In fact, it is quite simply impossible. This is explained in the document at SITEMAP/MISC:

    RE: omissions:

    Kind regards, Tom