Telephonic Interviews with Colonel Walter Figel (USAF Ret)

Also posted at UFO Chronicles

Interview with Colonel Walter Figel, Oct. 20, 2008

This is my first taped interview with Col. Walt Figel, occurring on October 20, 2008. Figel confirms that he had received a report from a security guard about a "large, round" UFO hovering over one of Echo Flight's missile silos, seconds after that missile failed. Figel further says that he and the other officer on duty that day, Captain Eric Carlson, where told not to talk about the incident and that Carlson's son, James Carlson, has misrepresented Figel's remarks to Hastings and others—regarding the reality of a UFO-presence during the Echo Flight shutdown incident—in his many blog posts on the topic.

Hastings/Figel interview, 2008
Robert Hastings interview with Col. Walter Figel, October 20, 2008
duration: 7:29

Highlights

8:35–13:48:

Figel describes the sequence of events leading up his getting a report of a "large, round object" hovering "directly over" one of the Echo Flight missile silos from a security guard at that site.

James Carlson always misrepresents this admission by Figel when blogging about it. For example, here at ATS, Carlson wrote: "Walt Figel and my father were the only people in the room, and Figel has repeatedly stated that he had the impression the guys who said 'This UFO must have brought the missiles down' were joking around. In every single interview with him, he has said the same thing: 'I thought it was a joke, that these guys were yanking my chain.'"

However, what Col. Walt Figel actually told me during this interview was quite different—something James already knew when he wrote the passage above, because I had earlier posted large excerpts from the interview on the same blog. As one will hear, Figel explicitly says that the guard was "serious and I wasn't taking him seriously."

Here is a verbatim excerpt from this conversation with Figel:

RH: What was the demeanor of the guard you were talking to?

WF: Um, you know, I wouldn't say panicked, or anything [like that]. I was thinking he was yanking my chain more than anything else.

RH: But he seemed to be serious to you?

WF: He seemed to be serious and I wasn't taking him seriously.

RH: Alright. If it was a large object, did he describe the shape of the object?

WF: He just said a large, round object.

RH: Directly over the LF (Launch Facility)?

WF: Directly over the site.

In short, James Carlson's misrepresentation of Figel's words—regarding the report Figel got from the security guard of a UFO hovering directly over one of Echo's missile silos—is intended to alter their meaning, to create the spin Carlson requires to make his factually-inaccurate debunking of the Echo Flight UFO incident hold together.

13:46–15:27:

Figel describes being debriefed back at Malmstrom, together with Eric Carlson.

16:04–16:18

In response to a poorly-phrased question by Hastings, Figel mistakenly says that he had no inkling of a UFO involvement in the missile shutdowns until he got a report from one of the two Security Alert Teams that he had sent out to one of the silos to investigate. Earlier he had said that the first report came from a guard who was already at the silo. In every other instance, on every tape, Figel says that the initial UFO report he received came from the guard already onsite.

(Moreover, in his taped 1996 telephone conversation with Bob Salas, some 12 years before this conversation with Hastings, Figel said that both of the SAT teams he dispatched to the field had reported seeing the UFO. So, perhaps Figel misspoke on this point as well. Linked audio excerpts from the Salas/Figel conversation appear in my Witch Hunt article.)

16:19–17:38

Figel confirms that he discussed the reports of the UFO with Eric Carlson, who was "sitting two feet away".

17:04–17:45

Figel confirms that he discussed the UFO reports back at Malmstrom, during the debriefing, as Eric Carlson sat next to him.

20:53–End of Part I:

Figel asks Hastings about his conversation with the Eric Carlson. Hastings says that Carlson claimed to have no memory of the UFO reports during the Echo Flight incident. A discussion of Bob Salas' investigation of the incidents at Malmstrom follows, including Salas' initial belief that he had been at Echo, which proved not to be the case. Ultimately, after locating his former missile commander, Col. Fred Meiwald, Salas discovered that he had been at Oscar, for the second shutdown event.

At one point, Figel says, "I don't think [Salas] did anything with malice or whatever. Just faulty memory." Hastings describes his interview with former missile targeting officer Robert Jamison, who confirmed re-targeting some of the disrupted missiles at Oscar and admitted being told of a UFO-involvement in the incident.

Part II:
0:00–2:27

Hastings continues to relate his research findings to Figel.

11:16–13:38

Hastings tells Figel about what other former/retired Air Force personnel involved in UFO-related incidents at missile sites have told him about being sworn to secrecy, or not, depending on the circumstances. Figel responds by saying, "All I was told [was], 'Thank you very much, don't talk about it, and go home.' I didn't sign anything, I can tell you that."

18:59–21:11

Figel asks Hastings whether Eric Carlson had said anything else that contradicted his own statements about the events at Echo. Hastings responds by reiterating that Carlson denied remembering any UFO-involvement. Figel responds by saying, "I'm sure we had a long conversation [about the reports I received from the guards]. I mean I reported everything to him I heard or was told."

Comments:

At one point, Hastings asks Figel to comment on Salas' written summary of the Echo Flight incident. But Hastings misspeaks and mistakenly includes part of Salas' own narrative at Oscar—about having received an initial report from a security guard regarding strange lights flying around the sky at some distance—and inadvertently associates it with the incident at Echo. Figel, quite rightly, says that nothing like that happened at Echo. Hastings discovered his error upon listening to the tape of the conversation.

When discussing a taped conversation between Salas and his former missile commander, now-retired Col. Fredrick Meiwald, Hastings misspeaks and says that Meiwald has confirmed "all" of Salas' statements about the incident at Oscar Flight. Actually, Meiwald confirms most of Salas' testimony, specifically the part following Meiwald being woken up from his rest period and being briefed about the situation by Salas.

Toward the end of the conversation Hastings mentions that Bob Salas had spoken with Eric Carlson in the fall of 2008, shortly after Hastings spoke to Carlson. Figel then asks about Carlson's comments to Salas. Hastings pauses, saying that he was going to have to censor his response because Salas asked him not to repeat certain of Carlson's remarks to him. He then summarizes the conversation Salas had with Eric Carlson, as reported to Hastings by Salas.

Interview with Colonel Walter Figel, Jan. 8, 2009

This is my second taped interview with Col. Walt Figel, occurring on January 8, 2009. Figel confirms, as he had in the first interview with Hastings in October 2008, that he did indeed receive a report from a security guard about a UFO hovering over one of Echo Flight's missile silos, seconds after that missile failed. Figel further says that debunker James Carlson has misrepresented his remarks, to Hastings and others, regarding the reality of a UFO-presence during the Echo Flight shutdown incident.

Hastings/Figel interview, 2009
Robert Hastings interview with Col. Walter Figel, January 8, 2009
duration: 28:27

Highlights

0:06–0:56:

Hastings misspeaks and asks Figel about the initial UFO sighting report Figel had received from the "Strike Team Leader." In reality, the report came from a security guard already on-site, whereupon Figel sent out two Strike Teams to investigate. In any case, Figel confirms receiving a report from the missile guard about a "large, round object" hovering over one of Echo's silos, shortly after that missile failed, and says that while he didn't take the report seriously, the guard was indeed serious about the sighting. James Carlson, in hundreds of his blog posts, has incorrectly/deceptively claimed that the guard was joking about the UFO.

6:03–19:47:

Figel remarks that Salas' credibility has suffered because he changed his story—about being one of the officers at Echo when the missiles failed, to being at November and finally Oscar, for a second missile shutdown incident—and says he doesn't think that a second shutdown even happened. Hastings explains to Figel the reasons for the scenario evolving over time, as new evidence became available to Salas.

Despite this, Figel remains skeptical about another shutdown event occurring later on at Oscar Flight. Nevertheless, he admits that the taped testimony of Salas' former missile commander at Oscar, now-retired Colonel Fredrick Meiwald—in which Meiwald supports most of Salas' statements—as well as Boeing engineer Robert Kaminski's admission that he got reports of a UFO-involvement in the Echo Flight incident "raises a lot of questions for anybody who wants to legitimately, objectively look at [these incidents]."

19:32–21:04:

Figel says James Carlson "has an ax to grind".

27:11–27:54:

Figel again says that Carlson "has an ax to grind, or he's off-base" and that he didn't understand Carlson's "motivation" for what he has written about Echo Flight.

Comment:

The conversation from 27:02 to 30:77 has been skipped. It concerns unrelated information including a confidential report Hastings received from a former USAF missile security guard stationed at Ellsworth AFB, South Dakota, in 1966, relating to another UFO incident at a nuclear missile silo.

Interview with Colonel Walter Figel, Mar. 8, 2010

This is my last taped interview with Col. Walt Figel, occurring on March 8, 2010. Figel confirms, yet again, that he did indeed receive a serious report from a security guard about a UFO hovering over one of Echo Flight's missile silos, seconds after that missile failed. He further confirms that other security teams sent out to investigate, together with missile maintenance personnel, confirmed a UFO presence.

Hastings/Figel interview, 2010
Robert Hastings interview with Col. Walter Figel, March 8, 2010
duration: 49:48

Highlights

1:57–13:08:

Figel confirms that he's read Bob Salas' book Faded Giant and Robert Hastings' book UFOs and Nukes and, while he found what he considered to be errors in each, none of those related to what the authors had written about the Echo Flight missile shutdown incident. James Carlson has repeatedly misrepresented this point in his own writings and continues to claim that Figel has said both books contained fundamental errors relating to the events at Echo.

Figel says that he listened to Bob Salas' presentation at the 2004 MUFON convention in Denver and confirms that he did not find any inaccuracies relating to Salas' comments about Echo Flight.

To make certain that Figel knows what Bob Salas has written about Echo, Hastings reads excerpts from Faded Giant and asks Figel to comment on them. Figel then corrects his earlier comment about finding no errors relating to Echo in the book and objects to two minor passages: 1) The time it took for all ten missiles to drop offline. Salas had written "within seconds" but Figel said it was actually "three or four minutes" and 2) The question of logs. Salas had written that Figel kept a personal log of the events but Figel says he only used the official Air Force log utilized by deputy missile launch officers. Other than these two minor discrepancies, Figel says that everything Salas had written about Echo, based on Figel's own taped comments to him, is accurate.

Figel further confirms to Hastings that the Security Alert Teams he dispatched reported seeing the hovering UFO, even though he had not told them what to look for when he sent them into the field. He again confirms that Salas had accurately written about these events in his book Faded Giant.

17:37–18:33:

Figel agrees with Hastings that the UFO reported to Figel by the guard posted at the Echo missile silo, and Figel's skeptical response to that report, are two entirely different things and must not be perceived as identical. That is, the guard had indeed seriously reported seeing a "large, round object" hovering over the stricken missile, even though a skeptical Figel could not bring himself to believe that such a thing could be true.

24:20–24:43:

Relates to a personal comment and has been censored with white noise.

39:43–41:48:

Hastings tells Figel that former USAF missile technician Hank Barlow has said that he helped restart some of the offline missiles at Echo and was later told that UFOs had been involved in the malfunctions. Hastings also tells Figel that Barlow says that there was no "VRSA" error-code visible at the stricken silos—to indicate the nature of the problem—thus seemingly contradicting Figel, who recalls seeing a Channel 9 No-Go error displayed on his consol in the launch capsule. James Carlson has made much of this discrepancy, in an effort to undercut Barlow's credibility.

However, Figel admits to Hastings that he did not know the trouble-shooting system all that well and concedes that Barlow's statement about no VRSA indication being displayed at the silos themselves may have indeed been possible—despite the Channel 9 reading that Figel himself saw in the capsule.

44:00–50:18:

Figel says that Hastings has not done anything to make Figel doubt his veracity. Hastings tells Figel that Carlson has misrepresented what Figel has said about Echo Flight. Figel again confirms that Salas only made two minor errors when writing about the incident and says that he has never accused Salas or Hastings of "malfeasance or anything else".

Comments:

Hastings' comment about Project Blue Book not being an investigative group was a misstatement; he meant to say that, as a rule, Blue Book did not investigate national security-related UFO incidents—something confirmed after the project's closure, in the declassified "Bollender memo" which says that national security-related UFO cases were "not part of the Blue Book system."

Hastings mistakenly said that he first met Salas in 2003 or so; actually it was 1998.

The conversation has been skipped for 51 seconds in the middle of the last highlight when Hastings discusses Eric Carlson's comments to Hastings and two other individuals regarding his son James. I have already posted information about this subject at a couple of blogs. If James wishes to pursue the issue in court, with everyone involved presenting sworn testimony, I am willing to oblige him. In fact, placing Eric Carlson under oath is an excellent idea on many levels.