Friday, November 26, 2021

The Passing of Eric Carlson

I received news from James Carlson that his father Eric Carlson passed on Aug 8, 2021 at the age of 84. Most of the readers that frequent this site are aware that Capt Carlson was the crew commander at Echo Flight during the all-flight missile shutdown event on 16 March 1967.  I'll not rehash the details, but those interested can use the blog's search system to find the various posts listing Eric Carlson.

James was kind enough to provide a summary of his father's career. "As his military career went, he started out enlisted and worked his way up to officer eventually CAPT. as a missileer. During the latter part of his military career, he served in Okinawa with the 498 TMG, then Thailand and S. Korea. I'm not positive what commands he served at in Thailand and S. Korea, as we were living in Louisiana at the time -- they were unaccompanied tours..."

Of historical note, Capt Carlson was a crew member assigned to the 10th Strategic Missile Squadron, the first operational Minuteman ICBM missile squadron.  The 10th's Alpha Flight was JFK's "Ace in the Hole" during the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, thus earning the squadron moniker, "The First Ace in the Hole."

James further added, "Upon retiring, he went back to school to get his degree, and became a psychologist.  He eventually worked as a counselor for violent men, later retiring from his second career."

I want to again, extend my heartfelt condolences to James and his family.

Note to reader:  James Carlson provided photo of his father.

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Cold Cases!

 I've been thinking this over for the past week, re-looking at certain cases.  I know that the old UFO case seem rather...old, but they are still interesting none the less.  The Navy, Tic-tac's and the Pentagon's past and current UFO...excuse me...UAP interest dominates the current discussions, but I'm not interested in that area.  What is it?  Oh, yes, Back to the Future.  We had Project Blue Book in the past only for it to "succumb" to the government's desire to get out of the UFO business.  Now we all are finding out that the UFO/UAP business was doing well all along...this time business being done under the table.  Oh well, c'est la vie!   

So on with the show.  Projects upcoming when ever that is or promises made, promises broken.

1.  Re-looking at Robert Salas Oscar Flight claims.  Yes, I heard a collective groan from what's left of my readership.  I watched the last National Press Club presentation this past Tuesday and was taken back at the sparse participation as compared to 2010.  As Salas stated in his opening remarks some could not make it this time around and some have passed on.  I have a soft spot for old crew dogs regardless of what I written in this blog.

I'm attempting to reach out to Mr. Salas and will see how that goes.  This will allow me to bring in the 1967 Belt, Mt UFO sighting which I've been woefully negligent by not giving this particular case it's due consideration as it happened on the same day that Mr. Salas says that his flight (Oscar) lost strategic alert status due to UFOs or something else.  Project Blue Book investigated this incident, or at a minimum information was sent to them via the base UFO officer, LtCol Lewis Chase.  I'm going to see if this old crew dog can drag this case across the finish line.  Well, I'll try to advance it as far as I can. Certainly nothing to lose. Who knows, I might get a participation trophy for my efforts.  

2.  David Schindele has an interesting observation/story circa September of 1966 while on the crew force at Minot AFB, ND.  This is very similar to that of the late David Schuur's observation roughly about the same time while on alert at Minot, AFB.  There is a PBB investigation that occurred roughly during the same timeframe.  This should be interesting.

3.  This one is no big deal, but it was a bone that I attempted to provide to Robert Hastings some years back, but as is/was his custom he became a self righteous ass hole so I kept it from him.  As to his last comment about me via an article of his and I paraphrase, "Tim, I have 150 former military members that say differently than you and they are brave enough to..."  Well, I kept two observations from two highly respected former Ellsworth AFB missile wing FSCs that I was well acquainted with...Robert could have had 152... 

These two guys were with me back at Vandenberg AFB in the same missile crew training class, ILCS-26 back in the latter end of 1980.  Both were assigned to Malmstrom with me but in different squadrons.  They might corroborate some of the Minuteman Ellsworth AFB, SD UFO sightings around 1974. 

4.  And finally, I will redo the 1968 Minot case.  I'm starting from scratch as the last effort was a piss poor effort for my part.  My work will be done in silence and will only be posted when completely done to my satisfaction...let me satisfaction.  I will provide no updates.  No more distractions this time.  I had a sound methodology last time but I deviated, no, worse, I took a detour and wound up way off the beaten path slowly drifting with a blown gasket up to some off the road version of a dilapidated Stuckeys selling crappy trinkets.  Not this time.

And when I'm done:

a.  One third of you will praise my brilliance and temerity.  Tim Hebert is the "bringer of clarity!"

b.  One third of you will say, "meh, he gave it a shot."

c. One third of you will clutch your fake pearls aghast at my efforts.  "My God, Tim Hebert is stating that witness lied and that they were dopers taking hits from bongs while watching UFOs in the nights sky.  And worse he alluded that they beat their dogs when they returned to base."  Yet it will all be self pleasuring rubbish.  No one will be branded as liars.  All will be taken at face value and treated with respect. They all witnessed something.  That is a fact.  Yet the Greek chorus will sing on and on as they are the keepers of truth.

Until next time...

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

A quick review of Robert Salas presentation at the National Press Club, 19 Oct 2021

 Last night I reviewed the contents of Robert Salas' press conference.  I was taken back by the lack of participation as compared to the 2010 presser. Salas did state that some of those individuals had passed on.  Notably missing was Robert Hastings, but I do recall that this was solely put together by Salas.  Awhile back he had alluded to that he would have four new witnesses regarding the Oscar Flight incident...there were none mentioned in the presentation.

Based on what I saw and heard there was nothing new presented that advanced any of Salas' claims regarding Echo and/or Oscar Flights at Malmstrom back in 1967.  Again, missing is any collaborating information from other personnel that would have been present on 24/25 March 1967. 

Mr. Schindele provided his experience, but unfortunately he has nothing personally to back up his claim as far as documentation, ie maintenance reports and up channeled reports to various HQ units.  Most importantly, Schindele was not on alert when the alleged incident happened.  He, like most of the launch officers, heard about UFOs from others, yet saw nothing themselves.     But with that said, Mr. Schindele has a Blue Book report that documents a UFO report in the Mohall and Velva vicinity on 2 March 1967.  Schindele's time line for his incident, as he stated in the press conference, was Sept of 1966 which was six months earlier than the Blue Book reported case.  As of this time, I am not aware that anyone who was manning Schindele's Launch Control Facility has come forward to strengthen his claim.  On the other hand, the late David Schuur's story may correspond to Schindele's timeline.

Mr Jamison and Mr Jacobs provided nothing new in their respective presentations.  Tim Printy had provided an article on the Big Sur story in his SunLite webzine regarding Jacobs' claims.  I've provided my opinion on Jamison's claims on this blog.

Note to reader:  I'll provide more information should the need arise.

Thursday, October 14, 2021

Looks like a sequel...Nukes and UFOs ...Another National Press Club Reunion

 I came across this info a few days ago via .  Robert Salas and gang will be holding a panel discussion at the National Press Club on October 19, 2021.  There appears to be a You Tube link to view the event.

Will have to see if anything new is presented or if this will be a rehash of the same stories.  Regardless, I will post an update later next week after watching the event.

It's good to be back!

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Echo Flight: The Makings of a UFO Myth...Revisited

This post was probably the next important article.  After re-reading the unit history, I stumbled across an important revelation.  This came about from not what was written, but what was not discussed in the history. This led to a re-evaluation of the Malmstrom UFO story involving Echo Flight.

A trip down memory lane...

Disproving a UFO Case


First, let me start off by saying that the Malmstrom AFB Echo Flight case is a great UFO story.  It's the perfect storm for UFO buffs in that there are reports, documents, and "witnesses."  Its listed in the top ten of UFO cases. People have been interviewed to the extent that every surviving individuals cerebral memory capacity has been extracted, evaluated, discarded and re-extracted for what ever purpose in the attempt to prove or disprove individual pet theories. In short, it's a ufologists dream come true...or is it.

But for all it's bells and whistles, Echo Flight proves only to be an illusion...a distant mirage in Ufology's desolate desert.  Researching this case is akin to walking into a thick and dense forest making it difficult to see ahead as you hack your way through it's thick foliage.  It lures you into a trance as you bog down into it's minutia.  Its loaded with perceived facts that take you down potentially promising paths only to wind up at a dead end.  It's a siren song.  It's proponents take the view, "If looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, then..."  Yet I find my self yelling at them, "Don't fall for it, open your eyes, it's a f****ing dog!" 

As I had stated in my very first article, UFOs over Echo were never mentioned during my four years on station at Malmstrom nor while completing Initial Qualification Training at Vandenberg AFB, CA.  We talked about the legend of A-05 being built over an old Native American burial site and it's apparitions that appeared to security camper teams, but nothing about UFOs, and this includes the 1978 UFO case around Kilo.  The A-05 legend originated in the first part of the 1960s, some four to five years before Echo.  Why is it that a ghost story about a haunted Launch Facility has longevity yet the UFO story concerning Echo has evaporated from the collective memory bank?  This cognitive memory dispersal still fascinates me to this day.

Read more

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

This is what started it all...

This is the blog article that started it all.  It's still original...fresh.  No one has disproven the premise and conclusions stated in the blog post after 9 years and counting. 

I don't write much about the UFO topic any more.  It bores me.  People that believe in the UFO fiction bore me.  But Malmstrom's story enchanted me even though the premise of UFO visitations basked in absurdity.  Malmstrom was my home in the early 1980s.  I drove the roads to every site save the 564th's for well over 4 years.  It allowed me to revisit an important time in my life as a young officer, so the story provided a time machine, a form of needed therapy.

So here it is...once more.

Did UFOs Disable Minuteman Missiles at Malmstrom AFB in 1967?
When it comes to the existence of UFOs, I have to admit that I'm rather agnostic about the subject.  Its simple for me, over the past 53 years, I've never seen a UFO.  I don't rule the phenomenon out completely, but I'm of the mind frame that you have to "show me the saucer" or better yet, I need to see one with my own eyes.  The case of the Malmstrom AFB UFO incident that allegedly happened in 1967 caught my attention about a year ago.  Malmstrom was my first Air Force assignment, stationed there from 1981 to 1985.  I was assigned to the 490th Strategic Missile Squadron as a Minuteman II launch officer.  My primary alert facilities where November-01, Lima-01 and Kilo-01.  During my time on station, I never saw a UFO, nor did I hear from other alert crew members that they had seen one.  Curiously, I had never heard of any stories about UFOs disabling ICBM.  We would talk about the myths and legends surrounding our "haunted" Launch Facility, A-05, but UFOs weren't in our lexicon.

A UFO Mysteriously Causes 10 Minuteman ICBMs to Drop Off Alert

On the morning of March 16, 1967, Capt Eric Carlson and Lt Walter Figel were finishing up their alert cycle at the 10th Strategic Missile Squadron's Echo-01 Launch Control Center located near Winifred, MT. At approximately 0845, an alarm sounded indicating a missile fault. One of Echo's Launch Facilities (LF) had dropped from "Strategic Alert" to off alert. The crew, following tech order procedures initiated a Voice Reporting Signal Assembly (VRSA) channel check that revealed a reporting channel 9, LF No-Go, effecting the Minuteman I's guidance and control system. In rapid succession, the rest of Echo's remaining 9 sorties drop off alert status. All with the same VRSA channel 9 LF No-Go report.

Fast forward three decades. UFO researcher, Robert Hastings, tells an interesting tale of UFOs and a subsequent Air Force cover-up involving the Echo Flight shutdown. In an article on the web site, "Did UFOs Cause the Shutdown of ICBMs at Malmstrom AFB in March 1967?" dated 12-26-2008, Hastings provides the contents of a telephone interview with Col Walter Figel (USAF Ret).

Figel basically tells Hastings that during the morning of 16 March 1967 all ten missile did drop off alert with VRSA ch 9 No-Go reports. At least two of the LFs had maintenance teams on site. Two LFs were on diesel generators as backup power sources. When asked what was causing the faults, the maintenance team member stated, "Must be a UFO hovering over the site." Figel thought that the individual was joking. A subsequent call from a security guard stated that he could see an object over the LF. Figel thought that the man seemed serious but not panicked.

Figel recalls being relieved by the new on-coming crew and returning to base where he and Carlson were questioned by squadron personnel. When asked if Carlson heard all of the radio communications from the maintenance and security teams, Figel said that Carlson heard everything as he was sitting no more than two feet away.

When asked if Carlson had said anything to Hastings in a 10-6-08 interview, Hastings stated that Carlson seemed reluctant to talk about it. Carlson did not recall any UFO involvement nor did he recall ever talking to Figel about UFOs causing the shutdown incident. Thus ended the interview.

In another on-line article on the site, Robert Salas and Jim Klotz, "The Malmstrom AFB UFO/Missile Incident" originally dated 27 Nov 1996, updated 15 May 2000, provides a brief accounting of the Echo Flight incident basically identical to the Hastings/Figel account. The thrust of the article promotes Salas experience at Oscar Flight on 24 March 1967. Salas states that on alert as a Deputy Missile Combat Crew Commander at the 490th SMS Oscar Flight (near Roy, MT), security personnel top-side reported that they saw two star-like objects zig-zagging around in the night sky. Moments later, Oscar's Flight Security Controller (FSC) reported a UFO hovering outside of the facility's gate. The object was glowing red. Salas states that he then reported the information to the command post. (Kilo-01, the squadron's command post or the Wing Command Post back at the base?) The FSC calls back Salas that one man has been injured and is in the process of being evacuated by helicopter back to the base. At this point Salas awakens his crew commander, Fred Meiwald, and briefs him on the events. About this time, alarms sound and 6 to 8 LFs drop off of alert and all registering No-Go indications.

What is interesting about the Salas and Klotz article is that Salas thought that he was on alert at November-01 LCC during the night of 24 March 1967, hence the update to the original article now depicting Salas at Oscar-01.  There is no documentation showing that anyone was injured at Oscar-01 and helicoptered back to base.

So, as can be seen, Hastings, Salas and Klotz present testimony that UFOs caused, not just Echo Flight to shutdown, but 6 to 8 missile shut downs in Oscar Flight. Since the Echo Flight incident is referenced in detail in declassified Air Force documents with no mentioning of the Oscar Flight incident, Hastings, Salas and Klotz have declared that SAC and the Air Force intentionally covered-up the fact that UFOs disabled numerous ICBMs.

Robert Jamison

On 1-12-2009, Robert Hastings posted another article on, "UFOs DID Shutdown Minuteman Missiles at Echo and Oscar Flight at Malmstrom AFB in March 1967." The focus of Hastings article was to show that Figel's account was echoed in a interview given to Robert Salas and Jim Klotz. By this time Salas and Klotz were in the process of writing their co-authored book, Faded Giant. Hastings provides another interview which he uses as confirmation that both Echo and Oscar Flights were brought down by a UFO. Thus in Hastings' opinion this proves that SAC and the Air Force engaged in a cover-up.

Robert C. Jamison provided Hastings with his experience during the March 1967 incident. Jamison was a 1stLt assigned to a Combat Targeting Team (CTT). As the CTT commander, Jamison assisted in the restart of an entire flight of ten Minueman I ICBMs. He was "certain" that the restart occurred in a flight near Lewistown, MT believing that in may have been Oscar Flight. (Oscar is near Roy, MT; November is near Grassrange, MT) Jamison recalled that the start ups occurred around the 24/25 March time-frame.

Prior to being dispatched to the field, Jamison's team is kept on the base as a precaution to UFO reports coming from the field. He and his team received a special briefing concerning UFO reporting procedures. While awaiting to be dispatched to the field, Jamison overhears radio traffic concerning a UFO sighting near Belt, MT. (Belt is approx. 15 miles east of Great Falls/Malmstrom) Jamison's team is eventually dispatched and performs restarts at 3 to 4 LFs. While performing his tasks, Jamison stated that he saw nothing unusual. Two weeks later Jamison responded to a partial flight shutdown southwest of Great Falls. Hastings believes that this may have been India Flight.

In Hastings' conclusion, he believes that Jamison responded to the Oscar Flight shutdowns. This is interesting as Jamison stated that he responded to a full flight shutdown not a partial shutdown as stated in Salas' and Klotz's article. No where in the article does Jamison actually state what flight/flights that the restarts occurred in. After conferring with Hastings, Salas would then change his story that he was at Oscar rather than November Flight.

Who Saw the UFOs?

Let's look at some of the particular claims that supposedly supports UFOs as the cause of the Echo Flight shutdowns.

1. Lt. Walter Figel receives a report from one of the maintenance personnel at one of Echo's LFs that a UFO is seen hovering over the site. The maintenance team member would have either been in the Soft Support Building (partially underground, housing the diesel generator and other equipment, totally separate from the silo itself) or from inside the LF/silo. In either case, there would have been no way that the maintenance personnel could have had visual sighting of any object. Figel stated to Hastings that he contacted the maintenance team by radio.  In order to verify the LF No-Go and its corresponding VRSA channel, the maintenance team would have had to have been in the LF itself and communicating back to Figel by use of the Secure Intersite Network (SIN) lines.  Both team members would have had to have been together in the LF since the inside of the LF was a "NO LONE ZONE" and the enforcement of the SAC Two Man Policy would have been in effect.  Only the security guard would have been topside providing site security.

2. There are no names associated with the maintenance/security personnel. Simply, we do not know who these individuals were. Of all of the individuals that Hastings had interviewed, the people that supposedly saw the UFO remain unknown to this day.

3. Lt. Figel thought that the maintenance team chief was joking. He initially did not take this seriously. And most importantly neither Figel or his commander, Eric Carlson, ever make the claim that they had seen a UFO. After they were relieved from their alert duties, Carlson and Figel would have had at least a two hour drive back to Malmstrom. Surely they would have observed something unusual and would have told Hastings during the interviews.

4. Lt. Jamison tells a story of UFO briefings prior to dispatching to the field, yet he does not report seeing a UFO while performing his tasks for the missile restarts. Jamison states that he was dispatched with his CTT to perform a full flight missile restart, yet he cannot recall what flight that he responded to.

5. Salas has had difficulty in deciding which site that he was on alert. Initially he thought that he was at November but later changed to being at Oscar only after conferring with Hastings. Regardless, the 341st SMW Wing History, 1 Jan -30 March 1967 (pg 32) only describes the Echo Flight shutdowns. There is no mentioning of any issues occurring in either Oscar or November Flights. There is no mentioning of airlifting an injured man back to the base via helicopter. Salas never states that he actually saw a UFO. Salas, like Hastings, is unable to name the individuals at Oscar that supposedly saw a UFO.

UFOs are talked about or alluded to, but none of the principle characters of Hastings' story sees or reports any strange objects flying in the sky or hovering over an ICBM launch site. The UFO hypothesis remains seriously in doubt. I propose a different set of hypothesis based upon the Minuteman I's complexity and the reporting of UFO sightings starting in January of 1967.

1.The ten missiles in Echo Flight shut down due to a power system anomaly, though unusual in the number of involved LFs, a similar incident had occurred in 1966, on a smaller scale, at another 10th Strategic Missile Squadron Flight.

2. The involvement of UFOs started out as a practical joke due to the past reports of sighting by the local population and subsequently published reports in the local newspapers and talked about for three months prior to the 16 March 1967 Echo Flight incident.

Echo Flight's ten Launch Facilities (LFs) shutdown due to a power system/supply anomaly.

The concept, design and development of the Minuteman ICBM weapon system started as mobile rail based system. But due to logistical and local political problems, the system eventually evolved into a underground silo based missile system. The basing concept was one that had one Launch Control Center (LCC) being able to remotely monitor 10 distant LFs. Initially, each LF housed the Minuteman IA ICBM and over the coming decades the missile and its corresponding command and control system would be modified to eventually support the current Minuteman III system. The initial growth in the system's complexity was mainly due to the ongoing enhancement of positive control and the fear of an unauthorized launch.

Yet, as the system matured, problems arose due to the remoteness of the LFs from the support base. An LF could be as close to it's support base as 20 miles and as far as 150 miles. Security for the LF was remotely monitored from its LCC. The LF needed power which was supplied commercially and in the case of interruptions, a back up diesel generator supplied standby power until commercial powere returned. Should the backup diesel generator fail, then the site would go on battery power. USAF Ballistic Missile Program, 1964-1966, Bernard Nalty.

As early as 1964, the LF diesel generators were a growing problem. Due to the initial system design, the missile launch crew could not monitor the backup diesel generators. The original diesel generators were used more than what SAC had anticipated causing an increase in fuel consumption and decreasing the oil levels leading to infield failures. This required the LF to switch to its last redundant backup system ....batteries. USAF Ballistic Missile Program, 1967-1968, Bernard Nalty.

During the 1965-1966, SAC's Minuteman wings faced numerous operational disruptions due to storms which downed commercial power lines. Diesel generator failures out in the field was of great concern. (pg. 13) In some cases, diesel generators continued running well after returning to commercial power. In 1966, SAC started a program to refurbish/replace the standby diesel generators and components. The program resulted in:

1. Mechanism to switch automatically to internal power supply.
2. Found out that the new switching mechanism was overly sensitive to fluctuations in commercial current.
3. This sensitivity was fixed by installing a 2 second delay after sensing a change in voltage and the shutting off of commercial power. Then the system would allow a switch to diesel generators.

 Bernard Nalty's History and James Carlson's Research

After the Echo Flight shutdown, SAC and other agencies began a comprehensive investigation. Bernard Nalty briefly gives a short accounting of the incident, USAF Ballistic Missile Program, 1967-1968 (pgs 16-17).

March 1967- entire flight of Minuteman I missiles at Malmstrom AFB abruptly drop off alert. Tests at Malmstrom, Ogden, and Boeing revealed the following:

1. Possible electronic noise pulse as probable causation.

2. Surge pulse was similar to an Electro-Magnetic Pulse (EMP) event.

3. Follow on test and evaluations showed that the Minuteman I was most vulnerable to electronic noise pulses that interfered with the LF's Logic Coupler, located in the missile's MGS.

4. Further testing showed that the Minuteman II missile guidance system was equally vulnerable to noise pulses.

5. The recommended fixes via Engineering Change Proposals (ECPs) was a system-wide installation of EMP filters for the suppression of EMP and other related "noise" pulses.

As I stated above, Nalty gives the incident a brief notation in his history, but he confirms that the event actually occurred, but was there a cover-up? Nalty does not mention any other flights dropping off alert, ie, November or Oscar flights. This is where I have to give James Carlson credit for his research. James Carlson is the son of Eric Carlson.  James has been persistent that no UFO had caused the Echo Flight shutdowns.  Eric Carlson has always claimed that no UFOs were involved.  James' debate with Hastings showed that he had "dug" into the "noise" pulse theory in a rather thorough manner. In fact, James was doing what Hastings and others should have been doing: ruling out other possible factors that could have caused the flight to drop off alert.

The 341st Strategic Missile Wing Unit History

Via the Black site's FOIA documents, UFO Case: Malmstrom AFB UFO/Missile Incident March 16, 1967 excerpts from the declassified 341st SMW Unit History.

"The 341st SMW and 341st Combat Support Group 1 Jan-30 Mar 1967" Prepared by A2C David B. Gamble.

The unit's history was initially classified SECRET to comply with SACR 210-1 and AFR 205-1. The reason for the unit's classified history was due to the revealing of the unit's current military capabilities and operational status.

Page 32, titled "Investigation of Echo Flight Incident" documents the actual shutdown and the wing's, SAC, AF, and other agencies response.

16 Mar 1967, 0845, all ten sorties of Echo Flight shutdown with No-Go VRSA channels 9 and 12 indications. All of the sorties dropped off alert nearly simultaneously. Not other units were effected. A Guidance and Control channel 50 data dump was collected from LFs E-7 and E-08. All ten of the LFs were returned to strategic alert without the need for equipment replacement. All sorties showed that they were subjected to a "normal" controlled shutdown.

E-8 was previously experiencing intermittent operation of diesel generator, that is, on stand-by power and not on commercial power.  Inspection of the LCC cables, communication cable lines from LCC to all 10 LFs, showed not discrepancies. The LCF/LCC had commercial power problems in the afternoon of 16 March. This resulted in the burnout of the 10HP ECS chiller compressor motor.  The chiller provides cooling air for the LCC and its equipment racks.  Based upon the non-alert status of an entire missile flight, SAC HQ directed analysis by OOAMA (Ogeden/Hill AFB). A task force was set up involving OOMA, Boeing, Autonetics, and 15th AF. (Pg. 33)

Fault Isolator Test Tapes were extracted from both E-07 and E-08. (pg 34) The LCC crew was questioned about the days events by the Wing Maintenance Evaluation Team, OOMA and Boeing on 16 March. (Figel had told Hastings that they were questioned only by squadron personnel. He omitted be questioned by members of the task force.) The crew reported that all ten sorties dropped off of alert within 10-40 seconds. On the commander's console stand-by lights or fault lights were illuminated. (I am assuming what was meant is that prior to the sorties dropping off alert there were no fault indication lights illuminated. Once the sorties dropped off alert, there would have been a fault light illuminated, then the crew would have interrogated for any active VRSA channels via the VRSA panel located on the deputy's console.) E-8 had previously had an active VRSA channel 26 which showed the the site was operating on back-up diesel generator. (pg 35)

The deputy commander (Figel) had awaken the commander (Carlson). The commander was first to see the faults on his console, the deputy commander had his back turned from the console. (pg 36) (Again, assuming that Figel received the radio reports from the maintenance teams and Carlson awoke just in time to see the fault indications on his console.) The Channel 50 data dump for E-7 and E-8 showed that both sites had shut down due to external influences to the Guidance and Control.

19 March, channel 50 data dump was obtained for E-02 and E-09. By then, both missiles had been returned to strategic alert. Both missile's Guidance and Control showed no previous No-Go loop. If a true No-Go situation had occurred, both Guidance and Controls would have showed LFNA (not authenticating due to loss of codes) and only VRSA channel 9. Due to the lack of these indications and data, the No-Go theory was eliminated. All ten sorties had reported VRSA channels 9 and 12 (effecting the guidance and control and the logic coupler respectively). Only the logic coupler is capable of generating both VRSA 9 and 12, if an external generated signal is present. (pg 37)  Finally weather was ruled out as a factor.

On page 38, an interesting notation is made that UFO proponents, such as Hastings, Salas, Klotz, and others, have deemed as a "smoking gun" and the possible beginnings of a cover-up. A2C Gamble writes, "Rumors of UFOs at the time of incident disproven." (I will show that UFO "sightings" were numerous leading up to 16 March and lasting until the Belt "sighting" on 24 March. These interesting reports set the stage for a "viral" rumor mill and possibly set up a potential practical joke that may have gotten out of hand.)Again, the unit history states that UFO rumors were disproven, yet, in keeping with then Air Force protocol (Project Blue Book was still in effect), a query was made into any unusual sightings out in the flight areas east of Malmstrom (10th SMS and 490th SMS). A Mobile Strike Team was in the November Flight area and reported that they saw no unusual activities or sightings. The 801st Radar Squadron, back at Malmstrom, saw nothing on radar for the Echo Flight area - no atmospheric interference problems. (pg 38)

Was It Rare For 3 or more Missiles to Drop Off Alert?

Referencing the 341st SMW Unit History, 1 Jan - 30 Mar 1967, (pg 38-39), a review of the wing's maintenance history showed that a similar incident occurred at the 10th SMS's Alpha Flight. On 19 December 1966, A-6, A-7, and A-10 experienced shutdowns. As in the Echo incident, there were similarities:

1. Carlson and Figel were the alert crew.
2. Weather was not a factor.
3. There were commercial power failures at the LCC after the LFs had shutdown.

This is probably why Carlson and Figel were questioned by the Wing Maintenance Evaluation Team. I find it interesting that Hastings, Salas, and Klotz, failed to mention this in their respective articles. In fact, Salas and Klotz only provided pages 32 -38 of the Unit History as references/links in their article, "The Malmstrom AFB UFO/Missile Incident", omitted 20-25 pages of the Unit History that showed that SAC and other agencies had indeed conducted extensive test and evaluations in response to the incident. These evaluations would continue for almost a full year. They appeared to pick only those pages that would boister a UFO/cover up hypothesis.

The on-going investigation started to center around the HICS lines to and from the LCC and ten LF. These are hardened cable lines that are internally pressurized (pneumatically) and allow commands and status interrogations to be elicited back and forth from the LCC and LF. If a drop in pressure occurred in the lines, then this would mean that a cable was accidentally cut, or in the extremes, "someone" was intentionally "tapping" into the system. This would trigger an alarm in the LCC and a security situation would be called requiring security personnel to search the flight for any "unusual" activity. (In Minuteman II, my system in the 1980s, the commands were encrypted. Any HICS line issues would result in a security situation and the entire flight, and if need be, the entire squadron to go into Anti-Jam Mode. The makings of a crappy alert.)

Referencing the 341st SMW Wing History, 1 Apr - 30 June 1967:

At Boeing, engineers established that a 30 micro second pulse (-10 to 0 volt square wave) Self Test Command at Coupler Logic Drawer Interface resulted in a shutdown with VRSA channel 9 and 12 No-Go 70 percent of the time. Autonetics' tests showed the a pulse generated long enough resulted in a Initiate Coupler Self Test. This caused a sequencing error between the Guidance and Control and Coupler modes. The sequencing error was deemed capable of initiating a Guidance and Control and Logic Coupler No-Go shutdown (VRSA 9 and 12). Boeing decided that they needed to determine the source and path of the noise pulse to the Logic Computer. (This was James Carlson's contention and his research alerted me to look at this issue closely.)

As Boeing was conducting their pulse pathway evaluations, they found that EMP issues via the Secure Intersite Network (SIN) lines were susceptible to noise-type pulses at Minuteman II wings. Since the SIN lines go only to and from the LCC and its ten LFs, this could explain a flight peculiar problem. Possible sources of the noise pulse at Echo Flight:

1. Transformer failure at the LCF.

2. Ground current flow via the HICS cables, easily providing a pathway inducing voltage pulses on SIN lines to all of the flight's LFs.

Subsequent field tests showed that there were no significant problems with Echo's SIN lines. This lead Boeing to believe that the cause was more than likely not a power issue but more in line with an EMP nature. SAC would eventually ask Air Force Systems Command - Ballistic System Division to test Malmstrom"s units for EMP vulnerability.

341st SMW History, 1 July - 30 Sept 1967:

As noted in the previously mentioned history, Boeing's testing of noise pulses via the SIN lines to the Logic Coupler was disproven as the cause of the problem. With that said, Boeing did prove that the Logic Coupler was capable of receiving noise pulse irregularities. Boeing's lab test showed the following:

1. When tested in a lab environment, 60 percent of the time, the same shutdown response occurred as did Echo Flight.

2. 85 percent of the time this resulted in a missile sortie downgraded to "non-EWO" status. Basically, the missile sortie would drop off of strategic alert status. (EWO = Emergency War Orders, the ability to accept and recognize a valid launch command from one or more LCCs in a given flight)

Subsequent testing of Minuteman II wings showed that the logic couplers were susceptible to "noise" impulses which resulted in a sortie dropping off of alert. These noise impulses were later to be identified as EMPs. As concerns for EMP vulnerability became the prime culprit, SAC via Boeing, Ogden, and AF Systems Command would institute a Minuteman force-wide implementation of EMP filters.

A review of comments from current and former missile crews on the web site reveals that as of this date, no crew member has ever experience an unknown abrupt loss of all ten ICBMs in a flight. I, author of this post, count myself among those former crew members and concur with the general consensus.

The "Infamous" SAC letter!

SAC Message to OOMA, Hill AFB, originally SECRET

Upon review of the letter, it appears to be similar to the type of messages sent back and forth between AF commands, wings, and support agencies. I can make a "strong" assumption that the SAC message to Hill AFB is authentic. Based upon the content of the message, I can clearly understand why the message was classified SECRET but not for the reasons that UFO/cover-up theorist may believe.

The 341st SMW had already started an "in-house" evaluation and reported their preliminary results to SAC prior to this letter being generated. As of now those initial messages appear to either remain classified or lost. But what makes this particular letter classified SECRET?

SAC uses the following language:

"The fact that no apparent reason for the loss of ten missiles can be readily identified is cause for great concern to this headquarters."

SAC should have and did have "great concerns", because ten of it's ICBMs had abruptly dropped off of alert. This meant that SAC had 10 targets that were not covered under the then version of the Single Integrated Operational Plan, known as the SIOP.  SAC planners would have been scrambling to look for other assets to cover those targets or would have had to do without coverage. So yes, SAC had GRAVE CONCERNS. This in itself justified that the information in the message be classified SECRET.

The letter in its basic meaning, set in motion for OOMA, Boeing, Autonetics and 15th AF to provide support to evaluate the situation and find a cause and correction as detailed in the 341st SMS Wing's history.

"We must have an in-depth analysis to determine cause and corrective action....."

The UFO theory backers have used the Malmstrom Incident to foster the notion that a portion of the U.S. nuclear arsenal was neutralized by a UFO. True, ten ICBMs were off alert for one to two days, but no damage was done to the ICBMs themselves. And most importantly, the RVs remained under positive control! There was no "Broken Arrow" called either by the 341st SMW or by SAC!
 So far, I've shown that of the 10 Echo Flight ICBMs in question:

1. Shutdowns occurred due to a then never seen electrical anomaly.

2. This anomaly was thoroughly evaluated by SAC, 15th Air Force, 341st SMW, Boeing, Autonetics, OOMA (Hill AFB), and AF Systems Command.

3. Due to the on-going investigation a serious weapon system vulnerability was discovered (EMP susceptibility)

4. A fix was implemented force-wide.

5. After 16 Mar 1967, this type of anomaly would never again occur in any Minuteman wing/system.

6. The early Minuteman I system was in a constant state of evolution through upgrades and modifications. What started out to be a "simple" system became extremely complicated effecting command and control functions. As newer Minuteman II and III missiles came on line, the command and control structure changed to adapt to newer capabilities.

7. Information and any documentation describing a nuclear weapon system vulnerability would have been classified because the U.S. was heavily involved in the Cold War, hence, SAC would not have wanted to publicize to the USSR that we discovered a "weakness" in our own ICBM system.

Rumor of UFOs at time of incident disproven."

So stated in the 341st SMW's Unit History, 1 Jan - 30 Mar 1967.

When one reads of the accounts of various UFO sightings as rendered by Robert Hastings, the facts are plain. There were a number of sightings of unexplained "objects" over Montana as recorded via,

Jan 9, 1967: Malta, MT at 9pm, on family farm. Family alerted by dog, family saw a large rectangular object with glowing red light along the bottom and large amber light on top moving at high speed. The object landed in a field for approximately one hour. Object suddenly disappeared as if it took off at at a high rate of speed. The next day, family went to the field were the object had landed. There were no tracks in the snow and no sign that anything had been there. (Billings Gazette, 1-20-67)

Jan 26, 1967: Havre, MT at 8:15pm. A man saw a yellow sphere with blinking yellow body lights which circled a mountain and flew off (

Feb 9, 1967: Chester, MT, 6:30am, Railroad foreman saw a saucer (disk) with bright body of light hovering over the railroad depot. The depot was engulfed in light, the object departed straight up. (Spokane Spokesman-Review, 2/12/67)

Feb 23, 1967 Glasgow AFB, MT, reported sighting by NICAP (no details listed)

Mar 22, 1967: Newspaper article (UPI), "UFOs Seen In Great Falls Vicinity", The Daily Inter Lake
Tuesday night, 7:45pm - 8:30pm, several persons reported seeing unidentified flying objects over the Great Falls, Vaughn, Fort Benton, and Manchester. White lights, big with a little one on top. The object was moving east to west then north to south.

Mar 23, 1967: Great Falls, MT, 9pm: Sheriffs deputies saw a yellow object with a red glow coming from top to bottom. Object hovered then flew away. Many sightings throughout the state. (Great Falls Leader, 3/24/67)

Mar 24, 1967: Belt, MT, 9pm, Truck driver outside of Belt, MT sees a dome shaped object showing bright lights and landing in a nearby ravine. ( Investigated by Project Blue Book)

Further reviewing of NICAP's reported sightings revealed that after the Mar 24th sighting near Belt, no other reports would come in for Montana for the rest of 1967. That's approximately 9 full months of "nothing" observed nor reported by anyone!

Back in 1967, there were no laptop computers, Internet, cell phones, or 24 hour news coverage on television. The military rank and file then as in the extended past was a virtual "factory" manufacturing rumors absent factual information. This was the obligatory rumor mill. It would be the same for my experience 14 years later as a young SAC missile launch officer! Based upon the numerous sightings being reported in the local newspapers, it is certainly possible, if not probable, that the idea of UFOs roaming uncontested over the Montana skies and the remote parts of the ICBM flights areas (100 to 150 miles away from Great Falls/Malmstrom AFB) could have been construed as real. This psychological environment could have also induced practical joking. Remember, the maintenance team member, in the missile silo, stating, "It must be a UFO hovering over the site." Lt Figel took this in a jokingly manner because it was presented as so!

But rumors must have persisted as well as the unsupported sightings of UFOs through out that region of Montana. Everyone heard of the rumors of UFOs, yet, no one has testified that they actually saw a UFO, just rumors. Thus the beginnings of a non-descript electrical/EMP anomaly morphing into this great Orson Wells-like UFO "invasion."


As I conclude, I have attempted to show that there is overwhelming evidence that UFOs did not cause the shutdown of 10 Minuteman I ICBMs. The information that I have provided hinges on two points:

1. No one has ever provided any accounting that they had physically seen a UFO.

2. An extensive investigation provided plausible evidence that a noise pulse EMP-like phenomena had likely caused the shut downs.

It's not my intention to either prove or disprove whether UFOs exist. That subject is beyond my capacity to tackle. All that I've attempted to do was to show that there are rational explanations that must be taken into account before going the route of UFO involvement.

Most people may feel that the Malmstrom AFB UFO Incident is not worth the effort to bother with. To a degree, I concur. But if you read the articles published by Hastings, Salas and others, they leave the impression that we that served in SAC were used as pawns or worse yet as stooges. This could not have been farther from the truth. We had a job to do and in my opinion did that job in an outstanding manner...and we continue to do so. 

So now I ask you, "Did it really happen?"

Update:  5/23/2013

This particular post has been the most popular.  I recently did a re-read of the article to see if it still passes muster.  The basic premise in the article still holds true to what I believe happened at Echo Flight on 16 Mar 1967.

What's not part of this article is my re-evaluation of the case based on re-looking at the 341st Unit History and other information.  This has been discussed in a few of my blogs posts.

Here are my 11 points of contention that, in my opinion, that rules out UFO involvement during Echo's ten ICBM shutdown back on 16 March 1967:

1. High probability that no maintenance teams were out on any of Echo's sites during shutdowns.
2. No maintenance or security teams mentioned in the Unit History.
3. After 44 years, none of the supposed eye witnesses have ever been identified, nor have these people ever came forward, concluding that they may never have existed in the first place.
4. Walter Figel's inconsistency from both Hastings and Salas' interviews.
5. Walter Figel's perceived reluctance to publicly support Hastings' UFO theory, as evidence by, his absence from the D.C press conference, lack of an affidavit affirming his statements.
6. Eric Carlson's strong denial of receiving any UFO reports from security personnel.
7. No intercept missions flown by the Montana National Guard against any unknown radar contacts.
8. Minuteman LF design of connectivity isolation precludes any one event (UFO included) from affecting the remaining ICBMs in a given flight.
9. Echo was a flight specific event with no other adjoining flight effected
10. The only plausible UFO scenario would have been a UFO over/near Echo's LCF/LCC. This never occurred and no reports or rumors ever comes close to supporting this scenario.
11. The Boeing ECP and final installation of EMP suppression fixes resulting in no Echo-like situation from ever happening again for all SAC missile wings (Minuteman and Titan).

To understand how I derived at the above, please read "Echo Flight:  The Makings of a UFO Myth."

Best Regards,

Tim Hebert

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Montana's mini-UFO wave of 1967

Back in 2010, my first blog posting regarding the Echo Flight incident, listed a few UFO sightings that occurred in Montana 1967.  This demonstrated that UFOs were on the minds of the general public.  I suspected that this may have been the catalyst for the UFO rumors that emanated around Malmstrom on 16 March 1967.

Jan 9, 1967: Malta, MT at 9pm, on family farm. Family alerted by dog, family saw a large rectangular object with glowing red light along the bottom and large amber light on top moving at high speed. The object landed in a field for approximately one hour. Object suddenly disappeared as if it took off at at a high rate of speed. The next day, family went to the field were the object had landed. There were no tracks in the snow and no sign that anything had been there. (Billings Gazette, 1-20-67)

Jan 26, 1967: Havre, MT at 8:15pm. A man saw a yellow sphere with blinking yellow body lights which circled a mountain and flew off (

Feb 9, 1967: Chester, MT, 6:30am, Railroad foreman saw a saucer (disk) with bright body of light hovering over the railroad depot. The depot was engulfed in light, the object departed straight up. (Spokane Spokesman-Review, 2/12/67)

Feb 23, 1967 Glasgow AFB, MT, reported sighting by NICAP (no details listed)

Mar 22, 1967: Newspaper article (UPI), "UFOs Seen In Great Falls Vicinity", The Daily Inter Lake
Tuesday night, 7:45pm - 8:30pm, several persons reported seeing unidentified flying objects over the Great Falls, Vaughn, Fort Benton, and Manchester. White lights, big with a little one on top. The object was moving east to west then north to south.

Mar 23, 1967: Great Falls, MT, 9pm: Sheriffs deputies saw a yellow object with a red glow coming from top to bottom. Object hovered then flew away. Many sightings throughout the state. (Great Falls Leader, 3/24/67)

Mar 24, 1967: Belt, MT, 9pm, Truck driver outside of Belt, MT sees a dome shaped object showing bright lights and landing in a nearby ravine. ( Investigated by Project Blue Book)

What's interesting is that most of these sightings occurred between 8pm and 9pm.  The Malta UFO supposedly landed in snow covered field, but on investigation no evidence that the snow had been disturbed or melted.

Four sightings occurred in a fairly straight line in the north/central portion of the state (Glasgow, Malta, Havre and Chester).

Glasgow AFB was a major SAC base which consisted of "super" Bomb Wing consisting of B-52s and KC-135 tankers.  Traffic in and out of the based would have been constant with ORI alert launches, training exercises and transient air traffic.

The UFO sightings, March 22 and 23, could have had some psychological impact leading to the Oscar Flight story as told by Robert Salas.

The March 24 Belt sighting was covered by Blue Book.  Despite "around the clock" observation by local and military personnel there was no evidence that anything had actually landed.  The object was observed to have landed, but nothing was observed to have left the ravine.  I hope to put together a blog post on this incident in the future.