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Monday, March 5, 2012

The UFO Events at Minot AFB (the Queen of cases) -part 8

 The UFO Events at Minot AFB (one of the best cases ever)

A Narrative of UFO Events at Minot AFB

PART 8

    Thomas Tulien

Investigation of UFO Events at Minot AFB
on 24 October 1968

Thomas Tulien

6. Project Blue Book Evaluation

On Friday, 1 November, Quintanilla consulted with a Mr. Goff at FTD. The previous day, Werlich had informed Marano he was sending additional information, including the RAPCON tapes, radarscope photos, and overlay map, however, at this time the only information available to Quintanilla was the Basic Reporting Data.
Talked to Mr. Goff, TDPA, who is quite familiar with air-borne radars. Mr. Goff said that from the evidence at this time it would appear to him that the sightings may have been precipitated by some type of ionized air plasma similar to ball lightning. He felt that a plasma could account for the radar blip, loss of transmission and some of the visual sightings. The entry of the missile site is being investigated by local authorities and with the information at our disposal at this time no explanation is offered.[160]
Later that day, Col. Quintanilla responded to Col. Pullen’s earlier request to submit a preliminary report for Deputy Chief of Staff/Intelligence Gen. Stewart “to get this thing simmered down.” He had previously told Pullen,  “I’m (Col Quintanilla) pretty sure it was either caused by an internal radar malfunction that also caused the blip or because of the inversion he might have also picked up an anomalous blip,” however, he apparently reconsidered due to his conversation with Mr. Goff.
TO COL PULLEN SSO SAC. FROM LT COL QUINTANILLA. REFERENCE OUR TELECON WITH REGARDS TO MINOT AFB UFO’S. IT IS MY FEELINGS, AFTER REVIEWING PRELIMINARY INFORMATION SUBMITTED BY M[I]NOT THAT UFO PAINTED BY B-52 ON RADAR AND ALSO OBSERVED VISUALLY BY IP AND PERSONNEL ON GROUND IS MOST PROBABLY A PLASMA OF THE BALL-LIGHTNING CLASS. PLASMAS OF THIS TYPE WILL PAINT ON RADAR AND ALSO AFFECT SOME ELECTRONIC EQUIPMENT AT CERTAIN FREQUENCIES. PLASMAS ARE NOT UNCOMMON, HOWEVER, THEY ARE UNIQUE AND EXTREMELY DIFFICULT TO DUPLICATE IN THE LABORATORY. ALSO BECAUSE OF THE TIME DURATIONS, FEEL STRONGLY THAT SOME SECURITY GUARDS AND MAINTENANCE CREW WERE OBSERVING SOME FIRST MAGNITUDE CELESTIAL BODIES WHICH WERE GREATLY MAGNIFIED BY THE INVERSION LAYER AND HAZE WHICH WAS PRESENT AT MINOT DURING THE TIME OF THE UFO OBSERVATIONS. DO NOT CONSIDER THE PHYSICAL VIOLATION OF THE LOCK AS BEING RELATED IN ANY WAY WITH UFO’S. I CONSIDER THE UFO REPORTS AS FAIRLY ROUTINE, EXCEPT FOR THE PLASMA OBSERVATION WHICH IS INTERESTING FROM A SCIENTIFIC POINT OF VIEW. WE WILL STUDY THIS REPORT IN MORE DETAIL WHEN WE RECEIVE THE RAW DATA FROM MINOT.[161]
This is the first indication in the documents of a mechanism to explain both the air-radar and air-visual observations by the B-52 crew, which could also account for the loss of UHF transmission. Since “plasma of the ball lightning class” will be Blue Book’s final identification of the cause for the UFO reports, this would be an appropriate place to consider the basis for their conclusion.

“Plasma, Similar to Ball Lightning”

Plasma is the most abundant state of matter in the universe, which is visible as the electrically charged gaseous state of our sun and the stars. It is a distinct phase of matter separate from solids, liquids, and normal gases, which occurs at high temperatures when atoms are stripped of negatively charged electrons to form positively charged ions.
Most importantly, ionized gas can conduct an electrical current. The field of plasma physics is the science of ionized gases interacting with electric and magnetic fields that profoundly influence the state, either generated by current flows within the plasma (such as lightning), or applied externally. For example, the aurora borealis and australis is an affect of plasma accelerated from the sun's atmosphere into interplanetary space in the form of solar wind, compressing the earth’s magnetic field.
Illustration of Earth interacting with the solar wind
Massive explosions in the sun emit streams of electrically charged particles 3 million miles to Earth causing the northern and southern polar auroras. When the solar wind smashes into Earth’s magnetic field, some plasma is swept towards the poles at the polar cusps. Collisions between these ions and atmospheric atoms and molecules result in energy (photon) releases in the form of auroras appearing in large circles around the poles. (Click image for alternate depiction.)
Furthermore, lightning is a result of electrical discharges in the atmosphere breaking down into plasma, creating a conductive channel to earth for current in the form of a superheated lightning bolt to flash back up to the thundercloud. In all cases, a tremendously powerful source of energy is required to produce and sustain the state; otherwise, the plasma quickly dissipates and recombines as a neutral gas.
Ball lightning is an ephemeral phenomenon most often associated with thunderstorms. Witnesses typically describe a luminous ball one to 25 centimeters in diameter with the brightness of a domestic light bulb. It nearly always moves at speeds of about three meters per second, while floating about one meter above the ground; and may last up to 10 seconds or more, whereupon the ball extinguishes noiselessly or sometimes with a bang.[162]
It is a well-documented phenomenon in the sense that it has been observed for centuries, and in many cases by well-qualified observers. However, anecdotal descriptions vary widely making it difficult to distinguish its specific and defining characteristics.[163] Whatever it is, its appearance and behavior are unlike anything else we routinely come across in nature, however, without fully established properties, it cannot be argued to be an explanation for any strange report of a variety of glowing atmospheric phenomena.
Modern Mechanics and Invention, November 1931
Modern Mechanics and Invention, November 1931.
Still, scientists endeavor to formulate an explanation for the existence of ball lightning. For example, a popular explanation proposed by Nicola Tesla (1904), is that ball lightning is highly ionized plasma (plasmoid) contained by self-generated magnetic fields. However, on closer examination this hypothesis appears untenable, since the ionized gas would be extremely hot and rise like a hot-air balloon. Adding magnetic fields might solve the problem of the coherence of the plasma but would make it even lighter. Most importantly, what source of energy could sustain a stable plasma ball preventing it from rapidly dissipating?
Plasmas are notoriously unstable and by nature evanescent, except when suitably contained and provided a sustaining energy source. Any valid theory for ball lightning must incorporate the energy source. For example, John Lowke (1996) proposed an interesting mechanism to explain the occurrence of ball lightning occasionally reported to enter houses through screens or chimneys, and even through glass windowpanes. To account for this, he proposes that after a lightning strike to ground, a moving electrical field pulse following filamentary paths in the ground continually breaks down atmospheric gases above the ground, thereby producing a moving corona ball. The reforming of the ball as the field moves through the windowpane gives the observer the impression that the ball has passed through the windowpane.[164] While many theories have been advanced, none account for all reported characteristics; furthermore, it has not been created under laboratory conditions.
Though ball lightning has long been a scientific curiosity, renewed interest in the 1960s followed the publication of statistical investigations by J. R. McNally (1960) in the Proceedings of the Second Annual Meeting of the Division of Plasma Physics of the American Physical Society. Interest increased as scientific journals published on the subject and research opportunities became available. For example, in 1968, the Air Force Office of Scientific Research provided a grant to physicists at Westinghouse Research Laboratories to study ball lightning; and a popular book written by an editor for Aviation Week & Space Review theorized ball lightning might be the cause of many unusual UFO reports (Klass 1968).
Picture of ball lightning
Ball Lightning (bolbliksem) photographed by Mirjam Ruyter on 10 September 2005 in Rijswijk, Netherlands. The round, bright-white ball appeared near the power line of a tram where it remained for 3 minutes before vanishing. Photo source: Association for Meteorology and Climatology in the Netherlands. See: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sOYcGiNCBQ0.
In October 1967, under the auspices of an Air Force UFO study contract with the University of Colorado, a group of physicists expert in plasma and atmospheric electricity convened to consider the theory. They examined a report of a large glowing object that paced an RB-47 aircraft over a distance of more than 700 miles, which was observed as an intensely luminous light by the pilots, confirmed by ground-radar, and detected on sophisticated ELINT (Electronic Intelligence) monitoring gear onboard the RB-47. After review, the unanimous conclusion was that the object was not plasma or an electrical luminosity produced by the atmosphere.[165]
While the plasma-UFO theory found no support in the scientific community, it was occasionally useful to Blue Book in identifying some unique UFO reports, despite the fact it postulated one unknown phenomenon to explain another. Even so, the reported characteristics of the Minot UFO scarcely suggest a correlation to “plasma of the ball lightning class.”
For example:
  • Most commonly, ball lightning observations occur during thunderstorms and are associated with lightning. Aside from the fact that late October is not when seasonal thunderstorms occur in northern climates, the weather was moderate and cool, with a high overcast, and visibility reported as 25 miles.
  • Whereas a typical ball lightning is about the size of an orange or a grapefruit; in nearly all instances, the size of the UFO was described as very large — compared to the size of an aircraft.
  • Whereas, ball lightning has a lifetime of 10 seconds to one minute, the UFO echo painted on the B-52 radar paced the aircraft for about 10 minutes. Later, the pilots visually observed the UFO in a stationary position on or near the ground for at least 4 minutes.
  • Whereas, ball lightning typically moves horizontally about a meter above the ground at a velocity of a few meters per second, the UFO paced the B-52 from 20,000-9,000 feet altitude at speeds up to 280 knots (322 mph).
The only characteristics that correlate to some degree are color — typically red to yellow (though ball lightning is not particularly bright, or reported to change color); and the correlation to electromagnetism, which provided Blue Book with a justification for explaining the B-52’s radar echo and concurrent loss of UHF transmission.

Project Blue Book Final Report

On Thursday, 7 November, the Special Security Office at SAC Headquarters responded to Col. Quintanilla’s message of 1 November, prompting him to complete his analysis and forward a final case report.
REFERENCE YOUR TDPT MESSAGE REGARDING MINOT AFB UFO. SAC COMMANDER AND STAFF ARE EXTREMELY INTERESTED IN THIS ITEM. REQUEST A COPY OF YOUR REPORT OF THIS INCIDENT BE FORWARDED THIS HEADQUARTERS AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. IF ANY DIFFICULTY IS ENCOUNTERED SECURING RAW DATA OR ASSISTANCE FROM MINOT PLEASE ADVISE. YOUR EXPEDITIOUS HANDLING OF THIS INCIDENT IS APPRECIATED.[166]
Nearly one week later, on 13 November, Quintanilla completed his evaluation and forwarded the Minot UFO case report to SAC. The final report consists of a one-page letter providing his conclusions in the form of multiple-choice possibilities, and eleven pages of attachments cobbled together supporting the conclusions.
TDPT (UFO) 13 NOV 1968
UFO Observation, 24 October 1968

Special Security Office (SAC)
Final Project Blue Book report
Scan of the original document.
1. Reference SSO message 071540Z, with regards to evaluations of UFO reports from Minot AFB. The following conclusions have been reached after a thorough study of the data submitted to the Foreign Technology Division. The ground visual sightings appear to be of the star Sirius and the B-52 which was flying in the area. The B-52 radar contact and the temporary loss of UHF transmission could be attributed to a plasma similar to ball lightning. The air visual from the B-52 could be the star Vega which was on the horizon at the time, or it could be a light on the ground, or possibly a plasma. The physical violation of the lock of OSCAR 7 does not seem to be related to UFOs in any way.
2. No further investigation by the Foreign Technology Division is contemplated. For your information we are attaching a copy of the sequence of events, a resume of the sightings and a discussion of the background information.
FOR THE COMMANDER
HECTOR QUINTANILLA, Jr., Lt Colonel, USAF Chief,
Aerial Phenomena Branch,
Aerospace Technologies Division,
Production Directorate.
[167]
Quintanilla explains the ground-based observations as appearing to be “the star Sirius and the B-52 which was flying in the area.” Misidentification of aircraft and celestial objects were useful default explanations, particularly when there was insufficient information available to rule out the possibility. In fact, an accurate reconstruction of the entire flight track of the B-52 was possible, since RAPCON controlled all movements and conversations were recorded with time references.[168] In any case, the notion that military personnel, whose work required them to remain at remote stations for days in the countryside surrounding Minot AFB, would not be familiar with routine movements, patterns, and sounds of jet-powered aircraft is disingenuous.
Quintanilla suggests that the haze and layered cloud conditions could have diffused the light sources making identification difficult. However, the overcast conditions only existed above 9,000 feet, while the B-52 would have been below these altitudes when it was in vicinity of the base, which is also when the landing lights would be turned on. In addition, such an explanation requires believing that more than 16 ground observers in various locations all misidentified the aircraft — an unlikely occurrence. It also requires that both the B-52 and the star Sirius account for the entire range of ground observations, implying that observers could not differentiate between a scintillating fixed star and a B-52 in flight.
Project Blue Book description of the case
Project Blue Book index card providing a brief description of the case. Note that time, length of observation, and physical evidence — submitted in the form of the radarscope photos — are inaccurate. Final Blue Book Statistical Data for the year 1968 categorizes the Minot AFB UFO case as Identified (Other) by Radar Analysis as plasma.[169]
For an extended period, the personnel at N-7 were observing a UFO in the south-southeast sky, though their descriptions scarcely suggest the misidentification of a fixed star.[170] Sirius is one of the brightest celestial objects in the sky and easily seen during the winter months due to its blue-white brilliance. At the time of the sightings, it was in the south-southeast to south sky at 159-175 degrees azimuth, ascending at elevations above the horizon from 22 to 24 degrees.[171] To account for the confusion of the observers, Quintanilla introduces contributing factors, including a moderate temperature inversion during the period.
Normally, rising air will cool at a uniform rate as it ascends in the atmosphere, creating a gradient in which temperature decreases by an amount known as the adiabatic lapse rate. Due to weather conditions, in certain situations a warmer layer of air above prevents the cooler air from rising, creating irregularities in normal lapse rates, while increasing the scintillation of celestial objects viewed through the atmosphere.[172]
Blue Book typically appealed to any evidence of a temperature inversion, especially when explaining anomalous radar echoes, since atmospheric inversion layers can refract and reflect radar waves, producing spurious returns on the radarscope. But recent evaluations by Martin Shough of Blue Book’s radiosonde data, including a more comprehensive data set provided by the U.S National Climatic Data Center, indicate gradients generally close to the mean, and do not support the conditions inferred by Blue Book.[173]


The view of the southeast horizon from N-7. During the times of the UFO observations on 24 October 1968, the star Sirius was ascending to the right. Bear in mind, if the reported overcast from 9,000 to 25,000 feet also extended to the south; it is unlikely these stars would be visible. For example, Smith at O-1 noted in his AF-117 that it was “completely overcast” and no stars were visible (4).
As previously discussed, the possibility that “plasma similar to ball lightning” could be the cause for the B-52 radarscope return is untenable, and without scientific foundation. On the other hand, Claude Poher has proposed that the loss of radio transmission could conceivably be the result of a zone of highly ionized air encompassing the UFO. For example, when the B-52 co-pilot pressed the button to transmit, the amplitude of the antenna's local electrical field would increase, immediately attracting the ions and electrons. With a thick layer of ions encircling the transmission antenna the transmitting energy would be absorbed in the agitation of ions and the heating of air. In this instance, the critical frequency (484 MHz) is superior to the frequency of communications (270 MHz), and the wave is absorbed rather than transmitted. In addition, the B-52’s IFF/SIF transponder transmitted without a problem since it operated above the critical frequency at 1 GHz.[174]
Quintanilla further suggests that ”possibly a plasma” could account for the large object visually observed by the B-52 pilots on or near the ground. Ball lightning is such a rare and ephemeral phenomenon that the probability of a huge ball of plasma maneuvering at various speeds near a B-52 for 10 minutes, and later appearing to hover near the ground for at least 4 minutes without any evident source of energy to sustain it, in actually fact constitutes a UFO in all but name. Nevertheless, Quintanilla provides two additional possibilities: “The air-visual from the B-52 could be the star Vega which was on the horizon at the time, or it could be a light on the ground.” Based on information supplied by Quintanilla in his report (Attachment #3-1), at the time of the observations the star Vega was about 345 degrees azimuth, and two degrees below the horizon. The B-52 heading was 290 degrees placing Vega to their right. In other words, for the pilots to observe Vega they would have had to view it out of the right side cockpit window — below the horizon line. In fact, they flew directly toward the object that was on or near the ground beneath them.


The view of the northwest horizon from N-7, during the times of the UFO observations on 24 October 1968. The star Vega was descending below the horizon to the right.
Finally, the suggestion that it “could be a light on the ground” fails to identify any source for the “unusually bright light never seen [before] in this area,” which “looked like a miniature sun placed on the ground.”[175]
The 24 October 1968 Minot AFB case provides a unique opportunity to examine official attitudes and Air Force policy regarding the UFO phenomenon. In this case, Quintanilla’s conclusions were typical of the methods, and faux science the Air Force employed to eliminate unidentified reports, and reassure the public of the lack of evidence behind UFOs. For over two decades the policy was successful, and continues to reinforce a prohibition on taking UFOs seriously. This is particularly true in authoritative public sectors where the publication of erroneous and more often misleading scientific data, sustained by the repetition of false narratives, has effectively established a culturally induced ignorance or doubt.  What has always been lacking and remains so after more than 60 years is an objective, systematic scientific study of the UFO phenomenon — in a search for the truth.
----------------------------------------

Investigation of UFO Events at Minot AFB
on 24 October 1968

Thomas Tulien

Endnotes

[1] From 1946-1992, Strategic Air Command was the operational establishment of the United States Air Force, responsible for the bomber-based, and ballistic missile-based strategic nuclear arsenal. Minot AFB, in northwestern North Dakota, was a principal SAC dual-wing base, consisting of the 5th Bombardment Wing, with 15 B-52H Stratofortress strategic bombers capable of delivering nuclear and conventional ordinance worldwide; and the 91st Strategic Missile Wing, responsible for 150 Minuteman, Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs) housed in underground Launch Facilities scattered across an area of 8,500 square miles. In addition, the 862nd Combat Support Group provided base security and material support to the wings. At the time, the wings were subordinate to the 810th Strategic Aerospace Division at Minot AFB, which was responsible for mission support at Minot AFB, Glasgow AFB, MT, and Malmstrom AFB, MT. The 810th SAD was subordinate to the Fifteenth Air Force, March AFB, CA, and Strategic Air Command, Offutt AFB, NE. Today both wings continue operations under the major command of the Air Force Global Strike Command. For a better understanding of the military environment surrounding the UFO events, see: Background section.
[2] Schulgen, George F., Intelligence Requirements on Flying Saucer Type Aircraft (Draft of Collection Memorandum), 30 Oct. 1947. Available from: http://www.roswellfiles.com/FOIA/Schulgen.htm.
[3] Reflecting on the incredible events, Harry G. Barnes wrote in a widely distributed newspaper account that the UFOs seemed to “become most active around the planes we saw on the scope…. They acted like a bunch of small kids out playing. It was helter-skelter as if directed by some innate curiosity. At times they moved as a group or cluster, at other times as individuals over widely-scattered areas…. There is no other conclusion I can reach but that for six hours on the morning of the 20th of July there were at least 10 unidentifiable objects moving above Washington. They were not ordinary aircraft. I could tell that by their movement on the scope. I can safely deduce that they performed gyrations which no known aircraft could perform. By this I mean that our scope showed that they could make right angle turns and complete reversals of flight. Nor in my opinion could any natural phenomena account for these spots on our radar. Neither shooting stars, electrical disturbances nor clouds could either. Exactly what they are, I don’t know.” Quoted from: Harry G. Barnes, “How Radar Spotted Whatzits That Air Force Couldn’t Find,” Washington Daily News (July 30, 1952). Reprint available online (p. 16 of PDF) from: http://www.nicap.org/articles/newsarticlesJuly1952.pdf.
[4] The Background summary is abridged from: Sign Oral History Project,  “History of the United States Air Force UFO Programs” (1947-1969). Source references are in the original work. In addition, the “Durant Report on the Robertson Panel Proceedings” is available from: http://www.cufon.org/cufon/robert.htm.
[5] United States. Department of the Air Force. Air Force Regulation No. 200-2, Unidentified Flying Objects (UFO), Washington D. C.: 20 July 1962.
[6] In July 1968, a research assistant to the University of Colorado UFO study, Herbert Strentz, queried Blue Book chief Lt. Col. Hector Quintanilla regarding the nature of the investigations: “We don’t investigate too much… .We collect data. It’s a misnomer to think we investigate.” Because this was contrary to Air Force chief of staff Gen. Thomas D. White’s statement that “all unidentified flying object sightings are investigated in meticulous detail by Air Force personnel and qualified scientific consultants,” Quintanilla was asked to clarify his statement: “We are more or less a collection agency… . We contact everybody we can with regards to trying to identify the stimulus which caused the observer to report a UFO sighting, however, this is not really investigating, this is checking details. We do use scientific disciplines to evaluate the information, however, this is an after the fact evaluation. We have only subjective statements made by the witnesses to work with … but we are not empowered to check the individuals background…Collection is part of the investigative process and we accept the data as fact, however, we seldom really complete the cycle… . You don’t really do much investigating when you check out satellite observations, astronomical observations, moving lights, weather balloons, etc.” Moreover: “We have certain characteristics for sightings…characteristics for astronomical reports, aircraft, balloons. If any of these (UFO reports) have characteristics that fall into such categories, the plausible answer is that it (the UFO) was that… . Sometimes there is a thin line in classifying a UFO, but if it falls in the category, it’s in the category. You can quibble… . But I cut them off when I think we’ve got the answer.” Herbert J. Strentz, “A Survey of Press Coverage of Unidentified Flying Objects, 1947- 1966” (Ph.D. diss., Northwestern University, 1970), 216-217; 224. In addition, Col. Quintanilla's unpublished manuscript entitled, "UFO’s: An Air Force Dilemma" is available from: http://www.minotb52ufo.com/pdf/Quintanilla-afdilemma.pdf.
[7] Abridged from: Sign Oral History Project, “History of the United States Air Force UFO Programs” (1947-1969), esp.: http://sohp.us/sign_oral_history_project/usaf/the_cia_robertson_panel.php. In addition: Jacobs, David M. The UFO Controversy in America (Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 1975), 134-135.
[8] Werlich refers to a “Gen. Hollingsworth” twice (Memo, 1 Nov. 1968a, 4, 6). We have been unable to locate any information whatsoever on a General by this name in USAF records and SAC rosters for the period.
[9] Transcription of Recorded Conversations, Transcript of tape for 24 Oct 68, 0921+. The precise time of the request is unknown, since the time code references are omitted in the transcription after 4:21. “JAG 31” is the call sign for the B-52. The transcription is time-coded to GMT (minus 5 hours CDT).
[10] Later that day, when Werlich first reported the UFO observations to Blue Book he affirmed, “the Base Commander and Major General Nichols of the 15th Air Force were both interested” (Memo, 24 Oct., 1). It is likely that during the UFO events the Base Operations Dispatcher alerted Base Commander Col. Kirchoff, who subsequently notified his superior, Maj. Gen. Edward M. Nichols Jr., Vice Commander of the Fifteenth Air Force, March AFB, CA. In this scenario, Col. Kirchoff and Gen. Nichols may have been monitoring the situation with RAPCON; relayed the order to the B-52 pilots to overfly the stationary UFO; and requested the debriefing following the landing.
[11] Partin was not a regular member of this crew, but onboard during this mission being evaluated by Aircraft Commander Capt. Don Cagle to maintain ratings. “Since Major Partin was a little bit more senior than I was, he went in to tell what he had seen and so I have no idea what he said. We never discussed it afterwards” (Runyon 2000, 14). In addition: Goduto describes the routine post-flight procedures at: Goduto, Thomas, 2001. Transcript of interview by Thomas Tulien, 20 February (Sign Oral History Project), 23-24.
[14] Clark 2003, 19, 24. The original film was 35mm negative stock that analysts displayed on a viewer similar to a Microfilm reader.
[15] After leaving the AF, Clark passed on the first-generation radarscope photos to his brother-in-law, William McNeff, who preserved them and made them available to our research.
[16] Clark 2003, 23. In addition: “Basically, the big question was, ‘how fast is this puppy going?’ Nothing about how big it is, they wanted to know how fast it was going and what we felt it was.  Hey, it’s going over 3000 mi. an hour, it’s a UFO guys; there’s nothing else that could do it.  I don’t care what anybody says, there is no other explanation for that [indicating scope photos].  I mean, I don’t believe that we have the technology today to do what that — ” (Clark 2003, 24). Clark’s report is not included with the case documents, and it appears that Werlich and Blue Book staff were unaware of this analysis.
[17] Clark 2003, 22. A few days after the events, B-52 Navigator McCaslin recalls being at squadron headquarters when target studies officers invited him in to view the original radarscope film along with “a team from Washington looking at the incident” (2001, 36-37; 46-47). Also: McCaslin, Patrick, 2000. Transcript of interview with James Klotz (Sign Oral History Project), 15. In addition, Brad Runyon recalls that around 1995, while taking a civil services test he ran into a former high school classmate. During the conversation, he mentioned that he had been stationed at Minot AFB. In response, the former classmate said that the CIA had sent him to Minot to investigate an incident between a B-52 and a UFO. Runyon explained that he was piloting the B-52, and the AF concluded that what they observed was not a UFO, to which his classmate responded, “They lied. It was a UFO” (2000, 25). Unfortunately, we have been unable to identify and locate the former classmate.
[18] Holland 2005, 5-7. See U.S. Air Force Biography for Major General Ralph T. Holland available from: http://www.af.mil/information/bios/bio.asp?bioID=5835. USAF Fact Sheet for the 810th SAD available from: http://www.afhra.af.mil/factsheets/factsheet.asp?id=10152.
[19] Don Cagle planned to be in Atlanta for a job interview with Delta Airlines later that morning. When it became apparent they were being asked to search for a UFO he excused himself from the flight deck, leaving Maj. Partin and Runyon in charge. Cagle had missed an appointment with Delta one month earlier, due to an unannounced Operational Readiness Inspection (ORI). His concern was any direct involvement with the UFO events would require him to remain at Minot and miss another opportunity for a new career. Early that morning, he flew to Atlanta for the interview and was hired by Delta, resigning his commission in Jan. 1969. During recent interviews (7 Nov. 2000; 18 March 2001; and 27 Feb 2005), he claims to have no recollection of the UFO events. See: Runyon 2000, 9, 26; and McCaslin 2001, 27-28.
[20] Runyon, Bradford, Jr., 2005. Transcript of interview by Thomas Tulien, 25 February (Sign Oral History Project), 20-22. Also: Runyon, Bradford, Jr., 2000. Transcript of interview by Thomas Tulien and Jan Aldrich, 5 May (Sign Oral History Project), 15-17.  In addition, Runyon, Bradford, Jr. 2000. UFO Sighting Questionnaire-General Form, 11 February (Center for UFO Studies, Chicago, IL). Standardization and Evaluation Board (STANBOARD, or STANEVAL) is an instructor certification given to the most proficient crews in order that they may administer the standardization program, including flight and ground evaluations to other squadron members. All of the B-52 crew were certified as instructors in their respective positions.
[21] McCaslin 2001, 29-33. Also: McCaslin, Patrick, 2000. Interview by Jim Klotz, 11 November (Sign Oral History Project), 10-11; 18-19. Holland’s story of the Air Police as recalled by Runyon and McCaslin, may be corroborated by 5th BMW intelligence officer SSgt. Richard Clark: “I don’t know how accurate it is, and I can’t remember who I heard it from, but it had to be somebody in the wing. I heard that they sent a crew out to one of the missile silos after the alarms went off and something happened to the crew, the motor stopped, the lights went off — I can’t remember. I don’t even remember which three silos went off. [Three silos?] Three separate silos went off and they ended up, what I did hear was that they couldn’t find anything” (2003, 14). B-52 EWO Capt. Goduto also recalled hearing about security intrusions at three missile sites. “What I understood, was that the intrusion alarms went off and security reaction teams responded but they found no locks, or no entries there.” Goduto, Thomas, 2000. Transcript of interview by Jim Klotz, 22 November (Sign Oral History Project), 5.
[22] Jablonski recalls: “You could hear them on the radio yelling that this thing was hovering above them or whatever. And we all went outside. Naturally, me and the other guy had to respond. On our way to the pickup, you know, everyone else was outside and you could see it (gestures to sky) — [Do you recall what they told you they were seeing?]. No, they were hysterical (laughs) like I said. Oh yeah, you could see it. And me and the other guy got in the pickup and started going down there…” Jablonski, Joseph, 2005. Transcript of interview by Thomas Tulien, 22 February (Sign Oral History Project), 10. Also, Bond recalled: “I remember the combat crew said something about the maintenance team was getting a little flaky out there and they might need some help from security, because they were getting a little scared” (2005, 21). O’Connor explained, “[Were you excited at all during — ?] Apprehensive, I wanted to know what it was I was seeing — didn’t understand what was going on and just knew that it wasn’t normal. I just wanted to report to the base that something was happening that I didn’t know what it was” (2005, 23).
[23] McCaslin 2001, 29.
An independent report by Minot AFB missile launch commander Larry Manross, is strikingly similar to what Runyon and McCaslin recall being told by Holland in the debriefing. The first part of the following email between Manross and researcher Robert Hastings refers to an incident described in Hastings’ book, UFOs and Nukes: Extraordinary Encounters at Nuclear Weapons Sites (More UFOs at Minot AFB in 1967-68). Later in the email exchange (See: 8.B.), Manross recounts a story heard from other officers concerning a security team stationed at a missile site, in which a UFO hovered over the site and scared them to death.

----- Original Message -----
From: Larry Manross
To: Robert Hastings
Sent: Saturday, March 27, 2010 12:17 PM
Subject: RE: UFOs at Minot

Robert,

Let me clarify my experience for you...it is some 40 years ago.
1. I was in the 742 squadron. The capsules we manned were K,L,M N,O. I was primarily assigned to K or L.
2. I do not remember the name of the senior officer that assignment...he was not the usual commander I was assigned with. He was several years older than I and was a career officer I believe. I was never assigned with him again and don't remember much about him. He may have been in a different squadron. Sometimes they mixed and matched us when they were having scheduling problems. 3. The year was 67 or 68 before I moved up to the commander role.
4. As I stated, I was attempting to sleep while the commander was dealing with security upstairs and the base headquarters regarding some unidentified object. He called for backup when the board lit up on him and then went blank, back to normal.
5. That was when I became engaged. The commander was rattled and so was the security team upstairs. The security team reported that something had buzzed the LCC and that they had gone into a defensive posture, turning out the lights and drawing their weapons. They indicated it was very bright and traveling at a high rate of speed. They did not describe any shape etc...other than it was bright. 6. Base headquarters reported that the unidentified object was no longer on radar and that was the last we heard of it.
7. There was no debriefing...nada. Just another day pulling an alert in Minot. I do remember the senior officer saying something about how I should not talk about the incident without getting authorization. It was the first thing I told my wife when I walked in the door after returning to the base.
8. All the officers talked about ufos and what was going on. As you can imagine there was quite a range of opinions. The stories were rampant including:
A. The security teams sitting on the roof watching for ufos in the evening. This was a common occurrence.
B. The story of a security team stationed at one of the missile launchers because the radar surveillance was out. If the surveillance went down they always stationed a team 24/7 on the site. As the story goes there was an object that scared them to death, as it hovered over the launch pad. They discharged their weapons and claim they heard plinks as the bullets hit the object. As you know, discharging a weapon in the military is considered serious and requires reports etc....Every security team I worked with said it was a true story and had taken place at Minot AFB. They even named the missile launcher where it took place and those who took part in it.
C. The common assumption among many was that the objects were somehow drawing power from the missile warheads.
I hope that this point by point description is helpful for you.
Larry
[25] Goduto, Thomas, 2000. Transcript of interview by Jim Klotz, 22 November (Sign Oral History Project), 5. In addition: Goduto, Thomas, 2001. Transcript of interview by Thomas Tulien. 20 February (Sign Oral History Project), 27.
[26] Goduto 2001, 24-27. Judd recalled: “It was to me, and what the crew always called stuff like that was cover your ass type stuff, you know, in case somebody happened to ask them.” Judd, Arlie, Jr., 2001. Interview by Thomas Tulien, 27 February (Sign Oral History Project), 20-21.
[27] Basic Reporting Data and Format [Teletype], 290428Z OCT 68, SUBJ: UFO REPORT, 7-8. The actual date and time of the document is Monday, 28 Oct. 10:28 p.m. CST. Daylight Savings ended on 27 Oct and CST offset from GMT is minus 6 hours.
[28] Smith, William E., Jr., 2001a. Interview by Jim Klotz, 11 July (Sign Oral History Project), 8-10. Also: Smith 2001b, 13; 22-23.
[29] Smith recalls that at the time of the events his capsule crew contacted ADC at Minot AFS: “From what he was saying they were able to use some radar manipulations, and see something operating 50 miles above where we were in the general vicinity — they couldn’t pinpoint it, but they said 50 miles above” (2001b, 13).
[30] “The UFO is being picked up by the weathers [sic] radar also, should be your 1:00 [o’clock] position three miles” (Transcription, 0852).
[31] Memo for the Record, 1 November 1968a, Subj: Telephone conversation of 31 Oct 68, Col Werlich - Lt Marano, 4. In addition, Col. Weyant in Operations at SAC/HQ told Lt. Marano “he was trying to determine whether ADC had any known phenomena on radar” (Memo, 28 Oct. 1968b).
[32] Memo for the Record, 8 November 1968. Subj: Minot AFB Sightings; and Memo, 14 Nov. 1968, Telephone call of 13 Nov 68 to Minot AFB.
[33] Regarding ADC’s non-confirmatory posture: In the late 1960s, Grover Austad worked as an FAA controller in the SAGE building at Malmstrom AFB, MT. [Semi-automatic Ground Environment was a computer-based network of defense radars]. In a telephone interview conducted by Robert Hastings in December 2003, he recalled his involvement in the radar tracking of a UFO: “One night this object came on the radar and it was moving at tremendous speed. We estimated that it was flying about 2,400 mph. Now, the controllers who worked at SAGE knew about the SR-71 — even though it was still secret. But this thing, whatever it was, was even faster than that.” Austad continued, “So I called ADC — that’s Air Defense Command — to see if they had it too. The controller I talked to [affirmed], ‘Yeah, I see it, but UFOs don’t exist, do they?’ Then he laughed. The object played around for a few minutes. It zigzagged back-and-forth, covering hundreds of miles. Then it disappeared off the scope.” Austad said that this tracking — and similar ones that he heard about involving other FAA controllers at Malmstrom — were formally logged, and reported to the ADC radar unit at SAGE. “We always told them about what we saw [on radar], but they never gave us any feedback.” (This account was personally provided to this author by Robert Hastings).
[34] Blue Book was a low-priority project with minimal staff headed by a relatively low-ranking officer. Generally, sighting reports were not classified higher than Restricted.  Information on security classification levels from: http://www.fas.org/sgp/library/quist2/chap_7.html.
[35] On 26 October 1962, at Malmstrom AFB, MT, the first operational-ready Minuteman I missile went on "strategic alert" after it was discovered the Soviet Union had placed nuclear missiles in Cuba. Over the next four days, the 10th Strategic Missile Squadron placed four more missiles on alert, with the last missile from Alpha-flight achieving alert status 10 November. The Soviets eventually removed their missiles from Cuba. Later, President Kennedy said the Soviets backed down because they knew he had an “Ace in the Hole,” referring directly to the Minuteman missiles of the l0th SMS. In November 1960, the USS George Washington (SSBN-598) became the first ballistic missile submarine to enter service with 16 Polaris A-1 missiles. Between 1960-1966, forty more submarines entered service.
[36] When President Dwight D. Eisenhower received his first report on the SIOP 62 (for fiscal year 1962), he commented that it “frighten[ed] the devil out of me.” An excellent history of the creation and evolution of the SIOP, including many declassified documents, is available from the National Security Archive website:  http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB130/index.htm#1. In the documents section, see Document 28: Headquarters, Strategic Air Command, History & Research Division, History of the Joint Strategic Target Planning Staff: Background and Preparation of SIOP-62, n.d., available from: http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB130/SIOP-28.pdf.
[37] Gen. Stewart was assigned to Headquarters Strategic Air Command, Offutt AFB, NE, as Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence in June 1966. See USAF Biographies from: http://www.af.mil/information/bios/bio.asp?bioID=7265.
[38] Memo for the Record, 30 October 1968a, Subj: Telephone conversation [on 29 October] with Col. Pullen, Hq SAC. SSO-SAC is the acronym for the Special Security Office at Strategic Air Command headquarters. Originally, the SSO was under the authority of the United States Air Force Security Service (a subsidiary to the National Security Agency), responsible for devising encrypted communications capabilities and providing security support to military commands and other organizations receiving intelligence and communications. In 1965, the SSO functions transferred to the major user commands (MAJCOM). Within the commands, the primary function of the SSO officer is the management of Special Access Programs (SAP), and Sensitive Compartmented Information (SCI), in which even the extra protection measures applied to Top Secret information are not sufficient. The term refers to a method of handling certain types of classified information that relate to specific national security topics or programs whose existence is not publicly acknowledged, or of a sensitive nature requiring special handling. These “need-to-know” classifications necessitate a special “SCI access,” or SAP approval, before anyone can gain access to this information. For additional information see: http://en.citizendium.org/wiki/Compartmented_control_system.
[40] “Col Wyatt [Weyant] said he gave Col Werlich the guidance and he guessed that Col Werlich got our telephone number out of the regulation” (Memo, 28 Oct. 1968b).
[41] Memo, 1 Nov. 68a, 4, 6. We have been unable to locate any information whatsoever on a General by the name “Hollingsworth” in USAF records and SAC rosters for the period.  It is possible that Werlich is referring to SAC Commander in Chief, Gen. Bruce K. Holloway, however it seems unlikely that the Commander in Chief would brief the Vice Commander. See USAF Biographies for Lt. Gen. Keith Compton from: http://www.af.mil/information/bios/bio.asp?bioID=5051. Gen. Bruce K. Holloway became Commander in Chief of SAC (CINCSAC) on 1 Aug. 1968. See: http://www.af.mil/information/bios/bio.asp?bioID=5837.
[42] Teletype, AFSSO FTD to SSO SAC, 012014Z (1 Nov. 1968c), TO COL PULLEN SSO SAC, FROM LT COL QUINTANILLA REFERENCE OUR TELECON. Perhaps Quintanilla was motivated to respond to Pullen’s request after learning of the SAC commander’s debriefing the previous day.
[43] Teletype, SSO SAC  to AFSSO FTD, 071540Z (7 Nov. 1968), REFERENCE YOUR TDPT MESSAGE REGARDING MINOT AFB UFO. Quintanilla completed the report on 13 November, and forwarded a copy to the Special Security Office at SAC headquarters.
[45] Transcription, 0904-0921. Runyon recalled: “We proceeded on to the base and then we had a General officer came on the radio and told us to go back and — but, I mean, he could have been patched in from anyplace — he told us to go back and fly over the object. I really don’t remember whether we had film in our Bombay cameras, but we were supposed to take over and fly — over fly the thing and observe it and take pictures if we could”  (2000, 11). In addition Runyon recalls: “Before we could tell the ground people we wanted to land someone came over the radios, and said, he didn’t say ‘This is General such-and-such,’ he just said, they said, ‘General such-and-such wants you to go back around and over fly the object’” (2005, 14). Furthermore: Runyon 2000, 23-24; McCaslin 2000, 7-8; and Goduto 2001, 18-19.
[51] Transcription, 0921+. Runyon also questioned the transcription: “They have changed some things, added and deleted and I’m pretty sure some headings were wrong there” (2005, 17).The final time entry of  “0928 [4:28]: JAG 31 on final for landing” is erroneous. In our reconstruction of the flight track, the B-52 has turned onto the base leg at about 4:28, and on final approach at about 4:30:40-4:33:40 for a “full stop” (engines off) at 4:40.
[52] For comparison see the communications transcripts contained in the “B-52H Aircraft Mishap Report, 4 October 1968” (Headquarters, Air Force Safety Center, Judge Advocate Mishap Records Division [AFSC/JAR], Kirtland AFB, NM). The Transcription of Recorded Conversations begins when the B-52 (FOG 31) is approximately 600 miles east of Minot, under control of Minneapolis, and subsequently Great Falls Air Route Traffic Control Centers (ARTCC). It covers a period of time from 0256-0852Z before passing to Minot approach control. The Aircraft Accident Transcription-Minot Approach Control covers the period from 0842-0907Z. The communications span a period of 6 hours, the jargon is accurate, and time references are precise to increments of seconds.
[53] Background summary abridged from: Sign Oral History Project,  “History of the United States Air Force UFO Programs (1947-1969),” In particular: http://sohp.us/sign_oral_history_project/usaf/a_turning_point_in_the_controversy.php. Condon’s conclusion was “That nothing has come from the study of UFOs in the past 21 years that has added to scientific knowledge. Careful consideration of the record as it is available to us leads us to conclude that further extensive study of UFOs probably cannot be justified in the expectation that science will be advanced thereby.” On 17 December 1969, Secretary of the Air Force, Robert C. Seamans, Jr. announced the closure of Project Blue Book, echoing Condon that its continuation “cannot be justified either on the ground of national security or in the interest of science.” See: Air Force to Terminate Project “Blue Book”.
[54] United States. Department of the Air Force. Research and Development. Air Force Regulation No. 80-17, “Unidentified Flying Objects (UFO). Washington D. C.: 19 September 1966. (Courtesy of Jim Klotz). Also, AFR 80-17 with changes and attachment at: http://www.project1947.com/shg/condon/appndx-b.html. AFR 80-17 superseded AFR 200-2, 20 July 1962, which had been revised since 26 August 1953.
[55] In this instance, Werlich’s “comments and conclusions” comprise the last four pages of the Basic Reporting Data (8-page Teletype).
[56] Memo for the Record, 24 October 1968, Subject: UFO Observation, 1. Major General Edward M. Nichols Jr. was vice commander of the Fifteenth Air Force, one of the Strategic Air Command’s three numbered Air Force command units with jurisdiction over SAC bases in the Midwest region. See U.S. Air Force Biographies at: http://www.af.mil/information/bios/bio.asp?bioID=6604. Regarding the Fifteenth Air Force, see Archives section: www.minotb52ufo.com/archives.php#15thaf.
[58] Jablonski, Joseph P., Air Force Form 117 (AF-117), Sighting of Unidentified Phenomena Questionnaire, 25 October 1968, 8. In addition: Jablonski 2005, 16.
[60] According to Smith: “I was debriefed by somebody within our command structure on base, and talked to somebody from Operation [Project] Blue Book that came out. I’m not sure when we got back, but we were told that we were not to talk to anybody, not to talk to any of the press especially about this incident — that people would be coming and checking with us. The only people we could talk to were people within our chain of command. So, when the person, I think he was a Lieutenant Colonel [Werlich], that’s what I remembered. For some reason I thought he had come from some other — because I didn’t know him. He interviewed me and from what I understood some people — I was briefed on this — were going to be coming out and setting up campers. Some of our camper crews had told us, and some of our officers had told us, that they had seen lights up at Oscar-2. A lot. So, when I briefed him on that he literally took a camper and went out there for a while. I think he spent some time on some of our sites. We were told that he would be out near our sites, to be aware that he’s there and don’t bother him. We could identify him if we wanted to, but as long as he was not on the property, he was OK. And I think he spent some time up near Oscar-2, because we’d had some sightings up there.” Smith, William E., Jr., 2001b. Interview by Thomas Tulien and Jim Klotz, 25 August (Sign Oral History Project), 22.
[61] O’Connor recalls being awoken early on 24 October by the desk clerk in his barracks, and instructed to go to Base Operations for a debriefing. However, both AF-117’s specify they were completed on Monday, 28 October. O’Connor, Robert M. 2005. Transcript of interview by Thomas Tulien (Sign Oral History Project), 15-17. Isley, Lloyd M. 2001. Transcript of interview by Thomas Tulien and Jim Klotz (Sign Oral History Project), 15-16.
[62] Partin, James A., Air Force Form 117 (AF-117), Sighting of Unidentified Phenomena Questionnaire, 30 October 1968, 8. It is unknown how Werlich received the information concerning Partin’s air-visual observation in the Basic Reporting Data (7). His account contains several discrepancies compared to the information submitted by Partin in his AF-117.
[64] Wing Security Controller summary, On 24 Oct 68 the following personnel, n.d.  In addition, the O-6 Camper Team of R. McDowell and W. Johnson are listed as personnel who observed the UFO. No time is given. Werlich appears to be unaware that reporting began with the Camper Team (and Target Alignment Team) at 2:15 a.m. (Smith, AF-117, 5). Note: under “Additional Ground Observers” in the Basic Reporting Data he includes a location “7 miles south of Renville,” which is the location of O-6 (2-3). Also, both Smith and the maintenance team first reported the UFO at 2:30; however, Werlich notes the time of the initial observation (only by the maintenance team) incorrectly as 0800Z (3:00 CDT) (2).
[65] During their initial phone conversation on 24 October, Quintanilla requested that Werlich compute the “azimuth and elevation from the fourteen witnesses to determine if they were looking at the same object.” This request was never specifically followed through.
[66] Memo for the Record, 28 October 1968a, SUBJECT: 24 Oct 68 UFO Sighting from Minot AFB, N.D. 
[68] Basic Reporting Data, 1. The TWX date is 29 October 1968 at 0428Z. Daylight Saving Time ended on Sunday 27 October, and CST offset from GMT for Minot is now minus 6 hours. He transmits the Basic Reporting Data to Air Defense Command, Ent AFB, Colorado; Air Division (Defense) at Malmstrom, AFB, Montana; Foreign Technology Division (FTD) at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio; and Chief of Staff, USAF (CSAF) for Air Force Research and Development Command (AFRDC), and Secretary of the Air Force, Office of Information (SAF-OI).
[69] Memo for the Record, 29 October 1968, Subject: UFO Sighting, 24 Oct 68, Minot AFB
[70] These are two of Blue Book’s standard default explanations, (also referred to by Blue Book scientific consultant Dr. J. Allen Hynek, as a “poverty of hypotheses”). Firstly, if only one radar system paints a UFO, it is always possible that it was a result of a malfunction. The second requires some basic understanding of atmospheric physics. In the lower atmosphere, air (gas) temperature cools as it rises and the pressure decreases. This is referred to as an adiabatic lapse rate. Under certain conditions, a warmer (less dense) air mass moves over a cooler (denser) air mass, inverting the normal adiabatic lapse rate. In some instances, electromagnetic waves propagating from radar can be refracted off the temperature inversion boundary layer to the ground, (then back to the original source) resulting in anomalous radar returns. Thus, if radar paints a UFO, and an inversion was present at the time, it is always possible that it was a result of anomalous propagation.
[71] Memo, 30 Oct. 1968a. Quintanilla responded to Pullen through the Special Security Office on Friday 1 November, but did not provide examples of comparable UFO incidents involving other aircraft. Presumably, the attachment #3-2 (Eielson AFB, Alaska, 11 July 1968) to his final report on 13 November was intended to be a comparable radar-visual UFO sighting, even though no aircraft were involved. Blue Book concluded that the Eielson AFB RAPCON radar detection was probably caused by anomalous propagation, and visual sightings by the tower personnel located 35 miles west of Eielson at Murphy’s Dome were probably astronomical (the full moon).
[72] Memo for the Record, 30 October 1968b, Subj: Need for Additional Info on Minot Sighting, 1-2. 
[76] “The object was first seen in the southern part of my area by a posted sentry. I directed my gaze south of my position and saw the object about 15 minutes after my sentry sighted it” (Smith, AF-117, 5). The (security) camper team would report to Smith, while the targeting team would report to the capsule crew in the Oscar-LCC.
[79] Wing Security Controller summary; and Bond, AF-117, 8. The 91st Strategic Missile Wing maintains a distinct, control communications network linking all 15 underground Launch Control Centers (each manned by two Missile Combat Crew Commanders, or capsule crew) with Wing Security Control, and by extension, SAC/HQ, Offutt AFB, NE. The network provided a secure communications channel and means to monitor the real-time status and security of all 150 missiles. The MCCCs would communicate directly with the Flight Security Controller, aboveground in the Launch Control Facility, who provided the security requirements for the 10 Launch Facilities (missile silos) encircling the LCF. The Launch Support Building was separate from the silo and housed electrical distribution equipment, a back-up generator, and brine chiller to maintain temperature and humidity-controlled air for the launch equipment in the silo. Bruce Ecker’s spherical panoramic image of a 1963 Launch Support Building at Ellsworth, AFB is available from: http://nonplused.org/panos/minuteman/html/delta09_support.html.
[80]  In his AF-117, Bond notes his initial observation at 3:08 (1), and that he is certain the length of time was 2 hours 26 minutes (3), for a total period (2:15-5:34) of 3 hours 19 minutes.
[83] “My memory is about 3:00 in the morning we showed up at Minot, and the reason I think we were coming from Grand Forks, my memory is that we were coming from the east to the west and flew an approach of some kind to the runway, did a low approach as I remember it” (McCaslin 2001, 11).
[84] Runyon 2005, 8. In order to avoid flying over the base and missile complex, within a 50-mile radius surrounding Minot AFB the only open country is to the east and northeast.
[85] Basic Reporting Data, 3-4. In addition, “THE B-52 AIRCRAFT, OPERATING IN THE LOCAL AREA, REPORTED A HEAVY HAZE CONDITION AT FL200 DOWN TO 10,000 FEET” (4). Later, during the time of the B-52 air-radar encounter, Werlich notes, “WHATEVER CAUSED THE ECHO WAS NOT VISUALLY SIGHTED BY THE AIRCRAFT CREW MEMBERS NOR WAS IT SEEN BY THE TOWER OPERATOR WHO WAS FOLLOWING THE AIRCRAFT PROGRESS THROUGH BINOCULARS. DUE TO HEAVY HAZE AND SEVERAL CLOUD LAYERS, THE AIRCRAFT WAS NOT VISIBLE THROUGHOUT THE APPROACH” (7).
[90] Basic Reporting Data, 4.  “(B) 0355 CDT — RADAR 9,000 FEET OVERCAST, VISIBILITY 25 STATUE MILES, TEMPERATURE 32, DEW POINT 29, WIND 160 DEGREES 4 KNOTS ALTIMETER SETTING 20.12 INCHES, RADAR CLOUD TOPS, OVERCAST 24,700 FEET.” Roughly, half of the B-52 approach would be below 9,000 feet.
[91] Base Operations Dispatcher log, 24 October 1968, 0800. Object S/E of N-7, 0830-0844.
[92] Maj. Partin’s description in his AF-117 varies somewhat compared to Werlich’s. He noted, “It looked like a miniature sun placed on the ground below the aircraft” (7); and “As I turned on to the downwind leg in the traffic pattern I saw a bright orange ball of light at my one o’clock position” (4). In his drawing, he noted an “orange ball of light” and “a very dim ring of soft white light” projecting from the object to the right side (6). He did not describe the object having “AN ORANGE SPOT” or the body appearing “TO BE A BRIGHT WHITE LIGHT.”
[96] Basic Reporting Data, 5-6. Werlich refers to the procedure as a “VOR penetration.” VOR is the acronym for VHF Omni-directional Radio Range, which in combination with Distance Measuring Equipment (DME) provides range and bearing information for civil aviation, comparable to, though less accurate than, the military’s Tactical Air Navigation system (TACAN). “Penetration” is a colloquial term that refers to departing FL200 and “penetrating” the airspace under the control of Minot AFB radar approach control (RAPCON).
[97] Transcription, 0834-0835.
[100] Basic Reporting Data, 3.  Also, Werlich Overlay Map. When RAPCON notified the B-52 of the weather radar detection at 3:52, they would have been about 34 nmi northwest (at an average speed of 255 knots).
[103] Memo, 24 Oct. 1968, 1. Note: Werlich’s 3000 mph estimate is an average minimal speed. For example, prior to the closure, the UFO was pacing the B-52 at three miles while matching the forward speed at about 300 mph. It then altered course (about 45 degrees per Werlich’s map) and would have accelerated to 6000 mph, before decelerating back to 300 mph while altering its course to resume pacing the B-52 at one mile. The change of position occurred within one 3-second sweep of the radar.
[104] Basic Reporting Data, 6. In response to Werlich’s account, McCaslin stated, “Okay, that’s at variance with what I say because I saw it on the way out” (2001, 48).
[106] Whether Werlich actually sent the RAPCON TAPES, or the transcription included in the Blue Book file is unknown. VFR rules govern flight during periods of good visibility and limited cloud cover (i.e., a pilot’s ability to fly and navigate by looking out the windows of the airplane). Aircraft flying under the VFR system are not required to be in contact with air traffic controllers. In this instance, Werlich’s statement is unclear. Perhaps he is referring to the point where the pilot takes over visually during landing.
[107] Memo, 1 Nov. 68a, 4. SIF/IFF [Selective Identification Feature/Identification Friend or Foe] is an electronic radio-based identification system using transponders, which can also determine bearing and range from the interrogator. SAGE (Semi-Automatic Ground Environment) was a nation-wide network of advanced computer-based, automated control centers for air defense. Developed and implemented in the 1950s and 1960s, by the time SAGE was operational the Soviet bomber threat was replaced by the Soviet missile threat, for which SAGE was entirely inadequate. In 1958, Air Defense Command established a SAGE Sector Direction Center at Minot AFB, including a site at Minot AFS, which were only active from June 1961-May 1963. Regarding the B-52 ECM capabilities see: Goduto 2001, 9-10.  Actually, ECM was powered up during the UFO encounter, see: Goduto 2001, 12-14.
[112] Transcription, 0900-0902.
[113] Regarding the B-52’s radio systems: “I want to explain the UHF antennas — there was radio 1 and radio 2 UHF. The antennas for those were located on different parts of the airplane. One was low and forward, and the other was up in the back. The reason for that was a lot of times the UHF radio reception and transmission quality was [better] using one, depending on where you were relative to one site or the other” (Goduto 2001, 11-12).
[114] Memo, 1 Nov. 68a, 4-5. “Mayday Squawk” refers to the activation of the SIF/IFF transponder’s "ident" button, which results in the aircraft's blip "blossoming" on the controller’s radarscope. In this instance, the ident feature was used to determine if the radio failure was only one way, and whether the pilot could still receive. The accident Werlich refers to occurred on 4 Oct. involving a B-52H that had lost radio contact during approach.  Due to engine failure, the aircraft spun out of control and crashed killing four crewmembers. The “USAF Accident Report” is included in the Archive section.
[116] According to Runyon: “Okay, well it went off again, because the controllers were asking me if we had it and so forth. I’m talking to them. Then, after we went by it and turned towards the runway again then the radios came back in. Of course, they had me change and trying different frequencies, but there wasn’t anything wrong with the radios (2000, 14).”
[117] Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales (CNES) French space agency scientist and astronomer, Dr. Claude Poher recently considered this problem in terms of plasma physics. See: Claude Poher, “5-9. The Loss of VHF Transmissions,” in Analysis of Radar and Air-Visual UFO Observations on 24 October 1968 at Minot Air Force Base, ND (2005).
[121] O’Connor, AF-117, 3. Isley: “A B-52 was in the same area as the object, just before the object left our view” (AF-117, 3). Adams: “B-52 bomber heard approximately 45 minutes after seeing UFO. B-52 west and much higher than UFO” (AF-117, 3). Also: O’Connor 2005, 11-13.
[122] Jablonski, AF-117, 7. At N-7, Jablonski’s impression of the distance to the UFO was 3-5 miles to the south-southeast ( 2, 7). The shortest distance to the B-52’s flight track was about 5 miles to the southwest. In addition, Claude Poher’s analysis of the radarscope photos locates the B-52 west-southwest of N-7 about 6.5 miles, at an altitude of 8865 feet.
[123] Jablonski: Just prior to our sighting the diverted B-52 in the WSW the object had descended gradually and for 1 minute or 2 had appeared to be obstructed by trees… . When the B-52 flew in the vicinity (SSE) it was no longer seen in that location. (AF-117, 5, 9). Adams: “Right before the B-52 was seen. The UFO descended gradually behind what could have been trees. Hard to say about trees it was so dark” (AF-117, 5); and “B-52 west and much higher than UFO” (3). Isley: “It [UFO] went low and out of sight in the southeast” (AF-117, 5).
[125] Jablonski, AF-117, 5; and Adams, AF-117, 5. Bond: “Appeared to land and slowly changed to a dim green, after about 15 minutes it disappeared (gradually)” (AF-117, 5). In addition, see the map Ground Observations: until 5:18 (or 5:34). Note that at 4:26 the B-52 was on the downwind leg of the traffic pattern observing the stationary UFO ahead, on or near the ground, and at 4:40 has come to a full stop with engines off.
[126] Transcription, 0904-0913. There are no entries in the Base Operations dispatcher’s log after 3:58 until 4:26.
[128] Transcription, 0921. “Terminal landing” and “full stop” refer to the B-52 being parked with the engines turned off. In a personal communication with this author, Runyon explained his request to RAPCON: “ I'm asking for headings and altitudes under instrument flight rules [IFR] for a surveillance approach, in which the radar controller will tell me if I am left or right of the proper course for landing, but does not give glide slope info. I am asking him to adjust my pattern based upon my speed so I can land at 40 minutes past the hour.”
[130] Transcription, 0921-end [0928].
[131] Runyon also questioned the credibility of the Transcription: “I know, it confuses me too. They have changed some things, added, and deleted, and I’m pretty sure some headings were wrong there” (2005, 17).
[132] Partin, AF-117, 1, 4. Our reconstruction of the flight path indicates the air-visual observations occurred at roughly 4:24-4:28. Again, suggesting the B-52 onboard time was ahead by 6-7 minutes. Also, the location of the “first visual sighting” is actually north of Minot AFB.
[134] Basic Reporting Data, 3. Werlich did not plot the second go-around, possibly because the time references and vector for the downwind leg are absent from the communications transcript. Our reconstruction of the second traffic pattern reveals an additional 1-3 minutes of flight time compared to the first, allowing for the extension of the second pattern further out to the north and/or west.
[135] Basic Reporting Data, 7. Werlich also noted the location of the B-52: “VISUAL SIGHTING DATA: 3200 FEET MSL, 335 DEGREES MH [Magnetic Heading], APPROXIMATELY 180 IAS” (2). In a personal communication with this author, Runyon explained: GCA is a ground-controlled approach including precision and surveillance approaches. The precision approach provides corrections right and left and above and below a predetermined glide path to the runway. During surveillance approach, the ground controller only gives heading corrections and it is up to the aircrew to determine their own rate of descent.
[137] Partin 2001, 2-4. Werlich also states in the Basic Reporting Data that Partin was “SITTING IN THE RIGHT SEAT” (7). In fact, Partin was piloting the B-52 from the left seat, and it would be highly unusual if not prohibitive for him to unstrap and change seats with the co-pilot — particularly while piloting the B-52 at low altitude. He reiterates this memory later in the interview: “Thinking back, I could have unstrapped and raised up and looked over the right side, but it seems like I was sitting on the right in the co-pilot’s seat” (4).
[139] “The pilots talked about seeing something down there, and my impression was that we overflew it” (McCaslin 2001, 24). Also, “I heard the pilots say something like ‘holy shit look at this,’ or something like that. They indicated there was something on the ground, they were talking back and forth about it, apparently we flew right over the thing” (McCaslin 2000, 8).
[140] McCaslin 2000, 12-13. In addition: “At that briefing it was described as an orangish, elliptically-shaped object — not perfectly circular, but elliptically-shaped, with kind of a halo — a boomerang-shaped exhaust, if you will, of the same color, slightly separated from the elliptical shape.  I didn’t see it, so I just go with what the pilot said, but that’s what I was told. And that’s my memory of what General Holland was told” (McCaslin 2001, 30). Goduto recalls, “Brad’s description that came over intercom was it was kind of a reddish, orangish football shape” (2001, 19-22).
[141] Basic Reporting Data, 8. PARA. A(6) reads: “WHEN VIEWED FROM ABOVE BY A B-52 CREW, THE OBJECT [HAD A] FAINTLY WHITE OBLONG HALO ON ONE SIDE WITH AN ORANGE SPOT ON THE OTHER SIDE AND THE BODY APPEARED TO BE A BRIGHT WHITE LIGHT. ONE SOURCE DESCRIBED THE OBJECT, AS SEEN FROM THE GROUND ALMOST OVERHEAD, TO BE SIMILAR IN GENERAL OUTLINE TO A STING RAY FISH” (2).
[142] Partin also provides the curious recollection that at about the same time as the B-52 overflight of the UFO, “the Air Police [missile security personnel] saw something in the same vicinity and then they heard this I believe they phrased it as a 60-cycle per second hum I guess, like electric motors or something. Of course, we could hear nothing where we were. And then all of a sudden it was gone” (2001, 3).
[144] At the time the B-52 pilots were on the downwind leg observing the stationary UFO ahead of the aircraft, the dispatcher notes an observation ostensibly by Bond: “4:26. Object direct S/W of N 1 moving north then lights went out.” Following this, he notes the B-52 radar encounter and first go-around of the traffic pattern, but appears to be completely unaware of the second go-around and air-visual observation.  “A B-52 went out to location of sighting and saw object and had on radar 20,000 feet. Object followed B-52 to fifteen miles from base. During this time B-52 lost radio contact on all frequencies. At this time N-7 lost sight of object. B-52 went around again and negative contact. 4:40. B-52 landed. 4:40.  N-7 picked up object again 3 miles west of site … ” (0926-0940).
[146] Missile security was monitored by the Missile Combat Crew Commanders (capsule crew) in the underground Launch Control Center, and by extension to the 91st SMW, Security Control, and SAC/HQ. The MCCCs would communicate directly with the Flight Security Controller, who was in charge of the aboveground Launch Control Facility, while providing physical security requirements for the 10 remote missile Launch Facilities encircling the LCF.
[147] Smith 2001b, 6, 14; and Jablonski 2005, 8-9. In our initial interview with Smith he explains that he accompanied his crew to O-6: “We went through that whole process, and I was with my crew when they did that — as supervisor I decided that I needed to go out there and find out what's going on. I stayed with the crew, which I didn't have to being in charge of security. Anyway, that is how I knew what went on (2001a, 8-10).
[150] The 91st The 91st Strategic Missile Wing, Command Post, or Missile Support Base (MSB), provides logistics support and control communications for the 740th, 741st and 742nd Strategic Missile Squadrons, consisting of 15 Launch Control Centers (LCCs) at Minot AFB. Three Squadron Command Post (SCP) LCCs, serve as command units for their respective squadron within the wing, and report directly to the Wing Command Post. One SCP serves as the Alternate Command Post (ACP) for the Wing Command Post. The other 12 LCCs are designated as primary LCCs. The four primary LCCs within each squadron report to their respective command post (SCP). View the 91st Strategic Missile Wing, Hardened Intersite Cable System Connectivity Map.
[151] Available in the Archives section: Department of the Air Force. History of 91st Strategic Missile Wing, 1 October - 31 December 1968, Minot AFB, ND, 32-33.
[152] Memo, 1 Nov. 68a, 1-2. Earlier in the conversation Werlich made the off-hand remark: “This weekend I would like to go down with a Geiger counter and go down to the OSCAR-7 break in” (1). Apparently, he was aware that investigators detected abnormal radiation readings on the site, but apparently he did not inform Blue Book of this detail. His daughters recall that he did go to O-7 and detected abnormal readings. See: Oral History Conversation with Kim Werlich-Flippo and Melody Werlich-Gibson.
[155] O’Connor, Isley, Jablonski, Adams, and Bond, AF-117, 4.
[157] Jablonski, Adams, O’Connor, and Isley, AF-117, 7.
[159] In July 1968, a research assistant to the University of Colorado UFO study, Herbert Strentz, queried Quintanilla regarding the nature of the Blue Book investigations: “We collect data. It’s a misnomer to think we investigate.” Because this was contrary to Air Force chief of staff, Gen. Thomas D. White’s statement that “all unidentified flying object sightings are investigated in meticulous detail by Air Force personnel and qualified scientific consultants,” Quintanilla was asked to clarify his statement: “We are more or less a collection agency… . We contact everybody we can with regards to trying to identify the stimulus which caused the observer to report a UFO sighting, however, this is not really investigating, this is checking details. We do use scientific disciplines to evaluate the information, however, this is an after the fact evaluation. We have only subjective statements made by the witnesses to work with … but we are not empowered to check the individuals background…Collection is part of the investigative process and we accept the data as fact, however, we seldom really complete the cycle… . You don’t really do much investigating when you check out satellite observations, astronomical observations, moving lights, weather balloons, etc.”  In addition: “We have certain characteristics for sightings…characteristics for astronomical reports, aircraft, balloons. If any of these (UFO reports) have characteristics that fall into such categories, the plausible answer is that it (the UFO) was that. … Sometimes there is a thin line in classifying a UFO, but if it falls in the category, it’s in the category. You can quibble… . But I cut them off when I think we’ve got the answer.” Herbert J. Strentz, “A Survey of Press Coverage of Unidentified Flying Objects, 1947- 1966” (Ph.D. diss., Northwestern University, 1970), 216-217; 224. In addition, see: Quintanilla's unpublished manuscript entitled, “UFO's: An Air Force Dilemma.”
[160] Memo for the Record, 1 November 1968b, Talked to Mr. Goff, TDPA.
[161] Teletype, 012014Z (1 November 1968), TO COLONEL PULLEN SSO SAC. FROM LT COL QUINTANILLA (AFSSO FTD).
[162] See: Martin D. Altschuler, “Atmospheric Electricity and Plasma Interpretations of UFOs,” in Daniel S.  Gilmore, ed., Scientific Study of Unidentified Flying Objects (New York; Bantam Books, 1969), 1164-1172. Available from: http://www.ncas.org/condon/text/s6chap07.htm#s7. Additional information regarding ball lightning and its various properties from: http://amasci.com/tesla/ballgtn.htm.
[163] For a compilation of anecdotal reports of ball lightning see: http://amasci.com/weird/unusual/bl.html. See also: http://www.daviddarling.info/encyclopedia/B/ball_lightning.html.
[164] J. J. Lowke, “A Theory of Ball Lightning as an Electrical Discharge,” Journal of Physics D: Applied Physics, 29 (1996), 1237-1244. Available from: http://www.australiasevereweather.com/storm_news/2000/docs/0006-02.htm. More BL theories from: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=periodically-i-hear-stori
[165] “Plasma UFO Conference” in Scientific Study of Unidentified Flying Objects, from:  http://www.ncas.org/condon/text/s6chap07.htm#s18. This case is referred to as the RB-47 Radar/Visual case, which occurred over the southern U.S. in July 1957. See: http://www.project1947.com/shg/condon/case05.html; and http://www.ufoevidence.org/cases/case665.htm. Brad Sparks’ seminal work on the case is included in: Jerome Clark, The UFO Encyclopedia: The Phenomenon From The Beginning (Vol. 2) (Detroit: Omnigraphics Books, 1998), 761-790. In addition, atmospheric physicist, Dr. James McDonald, refutes Klass’ plasma-UFO theory in a presentation to the Canadian Aeronautics and Space Institute, Astronautics Symposium, Montreal, Canada, March 12, 1968. Available from: http://web.archive.org/web/20080907132128/http://ufologie.net/htm/mcdonaldca.htm.
[166] Teletype, SSO SAC  to AFSSO FTD, 071540Z (7 Nov. 1968), REFERENCE YOUR TDPT MESSAGE REGARDING MINOT AFB UFO.
[168] For an example of the precision that was possible see: “B-52H Aircraft Mishap Report, 4 October 1968” (Headquarters, Air Force Safety Center, Judge Advocate Mishap Records Division [AFSC/JAR], Kirtland AFB, NM). The TRANSCRIPTION OF RECORDED CONVERSATIONS begins when the B-52 (FOG 31) is approximately 600 miles east of Minot, under control of Minneapolis, and subsequently Great Falls Air Route Traffic Control Centers (ARTCC). It covers a period of time from 0256-0852Z before passing to Minot approach control. [Note: this document is in two parts in reverse order.] The AIRCRAFT ACCIDENT TRANSCRIPTION-MINOT APPROACH CONTROL covers the period from 0842-0907Z. The communications span a period of 6 hours, the jargon is accurate, and time references are precise to increments of seconds.
[169] Project Blue Book chief Lt. Col. Hector Quintanilla wrote an unpublished manuscript concerning his Blue Book experiences, entitled, UFOs: An Air Force Dilemma (1974). The final chapter provides Blue Book statistical data based on UFO reports received for the years 1953-69 (1968 at p. 117 of online PDF version).
[170] See for examples the AF-117 Questionnaires for: Isley, O’Connor, Jablonski, Adams, and Bond (located north of N-7 at N-1). Smith (located northeast of N-7 at O-1) viewed the object in the south-southwest (2) and indicated that he did not observe any stars (4). In Attachment #3 to the final case report, “Discussion of Background Information,” Quintanilla incorrectly states, “Stars could be seen and this was indicated in all the AF Forms 117.”
[171] Attachment #3-1 in the final case report indicates from 3:00-4:00: Sirius is 138-152 azimuth at 24-28 degrees elevation.
[172] Quintanilla informs Pullen that “BECAUSE OF THE TIME DURATIONS, FEEL STRONGLY THAT SOME SECURITY AND MAINTENANCE CREW WERE OBSERVING FIRST MAGNITUDE CELESTIAL BODIES WHICH WERE GREATLY MAGNIFIED BY THE INVERSION LAYER AND HAZE WHICH WAS PRESENT AT MINOT DURING THE TIME OF THE UFO OBSERVATIONS.” (Teletype, 1 Nov. 1968).
[173] See: Martin Shough, “6-11. Anomalous propagation,” in Anomalous Echoes Captured by a B-52 Airborne Radarscope Camera: A Preliminary Report. A complete National Climatic Data Center rawinsonde dataset for 0000 hrs. and 1200 hrs., 24 Oct 1968, Bismarck, ND, is included as Endnote #10.
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