UFO Hovered Near Missile Launch Control Center at Minot AFB
Retired Officer Says Several ICBMs Dropped "Off Alert"
September 19, 2012
The 1966 event mentioned in the newspaper article below was apparently not the only UFO incursion at Minot's missile sites that year. According to retired USAF Captain David D. Schindele, he was involved in an incident at another flight, during which several nuclear missiles became temporarily unavailable for launch.
On April 10, 2010, Schindele told me:
My recollection of a "UFO incident", while serving in the US Air Force, has diminished with time and it has been difficult to recall some of the specific details of what I experienced. I attribute this lack of memory to the fact that it occurred some 44 years ago and also because I was officially told to forget what I experienced and to never speak of it …
At the time, I was a First Lieutenant and Deputy Missile Combat Crew Commander in the 742nd Squadron of the 455th Strategic Missile Wing at Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota. As a Launch Control Officer, I was part of a two-man crew that monitored and controlled ten nuclear-armed Minuteman Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles. My commander and I were together for about a year and a half; from January 1966 to August 1967. In the back of my mind, it seems that the incident occurred not long after I married my wife in mid-July 1966.
My primary duty site was at a Launch Control Center called "Mike Flight", which was designated as the Squadron Command Post and one of five Launch Control Centers in the squadron that included Kilo, Lima, November, and Oscar … Each of these was located 60-feet below ground, underneath their respective Launch Control Facility, which housed the topside support and security personnel.
The following is what I remember:
I lived in town (Minot, North Dakota) and awoke early in the morning to get ready for my scheduled duty at November Flight, which was a change from my regular duty at Mike Flight. As usual, I had the TV on while having breakfast and heard on the local news that residents of Mohall, North Dakota had witnessed strange lights near their town during the night that were attributed to a UFO. This caught my attention because November Flight was only about three miles west of this town.
At the pre-departure crew briefing on base that morning, where all 15 missile crews were gathered before departing for their assigned Launch Control Centers, we were told that the crew at November Flight had experienced some unusual circumstance and a situation where some missiles came "off alert". This general statement was made without undue detail, but there was a suggestion that some unexplained, mysterious event was connected with this. I then recalled the TV news report that morning and immediately linked that with what I heard in the crew briefing. As my commander and I traveled to the Launch Control Facility, we were anxious and curious as to what we would discover upon arriving.
The normal procedure upon arriving at the Launch Control Facility was for us to first inspect the facility and to also debrief ‘topside' personnel. While inspecting the facility, I talked with the Site Manager who detailed to me his unique and bewildering experience of that evening. He indicated that a large hovering object was sighted close by, out of the windows on the west side of the facility in the dark of night, and it had bright, flashing lights.
I queried him on what this object looked like but he was unable to discern its shape (perhaps because of the flashing lights), but he knew it was not a helicopter because the object was much larger and did not have the associated noise. He also could not adequately explain to me what the flashing lights really looked like; he could not put it into words. He then said that the object proceeded to move to the front right side of the facility, but it was not completely visible then because the view was partially obstructed by the on-site garage. All of this activity transpired for quite some time; a matter of minutes.
I also talked briefly to security personnel about their experience and they essentially confirmed what the site manager told me. My crew commander was more involved with debriefing security, and I was more involved with talking with the site manager …
The first thing that caught my attention when I arrived at the capsule below ground was the launch control console. The two-man officer crew provided my commander and me a thorough briefing of the past evening's events and current status. I still recall the feeling of awe and wonder, the concern for the situation, and the feeling of helplessness that the crew had experienced. They related that lights on the missile console had illuminated—the ones you would not normally expect to see—and then missiles had gone "off alert" (monitoring of them was lost).
It concerns me that I can no longer remember much of my duty on this day in the Launch Control Center; it is like a mental block, but I do remember that our duty shift consisted of controlling communications and monitoring a missile console that showed little missile status. It was like there was nothing to do. In the back of my mind, my feeling is that a majority of the ten missiles were "off alert" (if not all of them) when we relieved the crew and that a majority of them remained "off alert" during our 24-hour duty there …
I remember that when we were relieved the next morning and arrived topside, I attempted to query the Flight Security Controller, who told me he could not speak about the incident. It was then that my commander also informed me that he had received word, during my rest break below, that we were to never speak about the incident.
My recollection of this experience is that it was unique, and that it was not shared at any other Launch Control Center at the time. From my memory of the morning crew briefing, only November Flight was mentioned and involved. After returning to base, and from that time on, no further discussion or reference to the incident was ever made, that I can remember. The incident was, however, high on our minds and we were always keeping our ears open to find out if there was ever any resolution or answers to it. I have no other recollection or knowledge of any other such events taking place at Minot Air Force Base during my time of duty there, although I've learned since then that my experience was not unique.
I recently asked Schindele if he had ever spoken with his former missile commander after retiring from the Air Force. He responded, "I did manage to contact T------- on March 24, 2011, but actually talked to his wife most of the time. She mentioned that he was 85 years old, had Alzheimer's since the mid-to-late 1990s, and had difficulty remembering much of anything. She said that he retired in his 60s as a Lieutenant Colonel. Last November 1st, I received word from his family that he had passed away on October 23rd."
Schindele's experience may or may not be related to the UFO incursion mentioned in the newspaper article above. A declassified document confirms that the August 25, 1966 event took place at Mike Flight, which is adjacent to November Flight.
Regardless, Schindele's incident is comparable to one reported by former USAF Captain Robert Salas—which took place at Malmstrom AFB's Oscar Flight, probably on March 24, 1967—and also similar to an earlier incident at Malmstrom, on March 16, 1967, at Echo Flight.
Salas' former missile commander, now-retired Col. Frederick Meiwald, has confirmed a multiple-missile shutdown at Oscar, occurring at a time when UFOs were reported at the flight's Launch Control Facility and one of the ICBM silos. Similarly, now-retired Col. Walter Figel has confirmed multiple reports of a UFO-presence at one of Echo's silos during the full-flight malfunction there.
The other launch officer at Echo, then-Captain Eric Carlson, recently denied remembering any "credible" reports of UFOs associated with the 10-missile shutdown but Col. Figel has described the incident to me in great detail. He says that Carlson was "sitting two feet away" from him when he took a radio call from a guard who reported a "large round object" hovering directly over one of Echo's silos. Figel told me that the witness "was serious but I wasn't taking him seriously." Figel also says that he and Carlson were ordered not to talk about the event. Those audio-taped conversations may be heard in my post, Telephonic Interviews with Colonel Walter Figel (USAF Ret).
Carlson's son, James, continues to support his father's version of events relating to the Echo Flight shutdown case, claiming on countless blogs that Robert Salas and I are "liars and frauds" because we insist on publicizing Col. Figel's taped statements, as well as Col. Meiwald's taped statements about UFOs at Oscar Flight, eight days later. A fuller discussion of these two cases may be found in my article, The Echo/Oscar Witch Hunt.
Other UFO incursions at ICBM sites, at various Air Force Bases during different time-frames, have been reported to me by USAF veterans. A few of those incidents are featured in articles at my website; a great many more are discussed in my book UFOs and Nukes.