Malmstrom Air Force Base, located east of Great Falls, Montana, is the command and control center for 150 Minuteman-III nuclear missiles operated by the 341st Missile Wing. The ICBMs themselves are scattered across the north-central part of the state, organized into groups of ten called "flights", and deployed in underground steel and concrete silos, known as Launch Facilities (LFs)—each one connected by an electrical cable to a central launch-control site, known as a Missile Alert Facility (MAF).
In mid-October 2012, I traveled to Montana after learning of multiple, independent UFO sightings a few weeks earlier by civilians living within the huge Malmstrom missile field. Upon arriving at the Fergus County Sheriffs’ Office, in Lewistown, I was allowed to review their "blotter", a chronological summary of law enforcement-related activity. Sure enough, I quickly discovered a number of UFO reports from around the county, beginning in mid-September.
The most dramatic sighting had been phoned in by Jennifer Styer, who lives east of the small town of Roy, which is located at the center of Oscar Flight, a mile or so northwest of the Oscar MAF. On the evening of September 19th, she reported seeing two V-shaped craft, silently flying wingtip-to-wingtip, coming from the direction of the Oscar-03 Launch Facility.
Styer told me, "They came out of nowhere, so fast! They were right on top of me before I noticed them. But they were big! Each one was a V-shape and had orange lights on each [leg]. I don't remember how many lights because it happened so quickly."
The craft flew at low altitude almost directly overhead, prompting a startled Styer to contact the sheriff, to ask whether Malmstrom was flying any military aircraft over the area. The log entry in the blotter states that Central Montana Dispatch had contacted the base but was told that no such aircraft were out by Roy that night.
After leaving Lewistown, I drove to Roy and spoke with a dozen or so townspeople, all of whom told me that UFO sightings were a common occurrence in the area. Several persons told me that military activity had picked up significantly during the previous month, with Air Force security patrols and missile maintenance vans in evidence, in far greater numbers than was normal. All of that started, I was told, around the time of Jennifer Styer’s sighting.
Before leaving Montana, I drove to the nearby town of Hilger and met with Mark Zuidema, who told me that he had seen a number of apparent UFOs over the years and had even kept a log of such incidents. I asked him to immediately contact me by phone should he have a sighting in the future.
On November 1, 2012, at 8:31 p.m., Zuidema called me at my home in Colorado and told me that, at 8:13 p.m., he had seen another UFO. He said he had been inside his house when everything suddenly started shaking, so he ran outside to see what was happening. A military helicopter flying at extremely low altitude was rapidly moving away, in an easterly direction, apparently toward Roy. However, what caught Zuidema’s eye next was intriguing: A small, white globe of light was also streaking eastward, staying just a short distance in front of the chopper, which was obviously pursuing it. He watched the spectacle until both were out of sight.
I told Zuidema to keep me updated, should anything else occur. At 9:07 p.m., he called again and said that another (or the same) helicopter had appeared just north of Hilger and was sweeping the ground with a spotlight. He watched it until it disappeared in the distance. After hanging up, I recorded the date/time and made a few notes relating to the incident for future reference.
Two days later, I spoke with Toni Keller, who lives south of Roy, who saw a lot of helicopter activity near her place that same night. She told me that three choppers had been shining spotlights toward the ground between 8 and 9 p.m. Keller said that they had been maneuvering in the vicinity of Rattlesnake Butte. The Oscar-07 Launch Facility is located one mile south of that geological feature, a fact that might be relevant in view of more recent events.
On August 6, 2013, at 10:10 p.m. Mountain Time, Mark Zuidema called and told he that he had just observed "a white, oval-shaped object" in the sky, apparently heading toward Roy, or at least in that direction.
About an hour later he called a second time and said that he had just seen a "sparkly, blue-green light" hovering low in the sky, again in the direction of Roy. Zuidema quickly acknowledged that it was impossible for him to say whether the light was much closer than the town, located some 21 miles to the east-northeast, or well beyond it. He did say, however, that the light had disappeared—gone out—after 15 seconds or so, ruling out the possibility that he was looking at a star or planet near the horizon.
After I suggested that a cloud could have passed in front of the light, creating the illusion of it going out, Zuidema said that the sky was completely clear and added, "I have been a stargazer for many years and I have never seen a star or planet that was that particular shade of blue-green. It was striking."
Hoping to find someone living in or near Roy who may have seen the blue-green light, or the white, oval-shaped object, I contacted Jolene Smith, who I had met in the fall of 2012. She told me that another local resident had recently reported seeing a strange "shooting star moving sideways" near her home south of town.
I then called the witness, who wishes to remain anonymous, who told me that she had been watching television when she saw, out of her living window, an "oblong, florescent blue object" moving near the ground, in an east-to-west direction. After a few seconds, it broke into two objects, which kept moving along the valley floor in tandem until they gained altitude and disappeared over a low mountain ridge west of her house.
I asked the witness to describe the apparent size of the object, using a standard question of mine: "If you held a dime at arm’s-length, was it larger than that?" She replied that it was much, much larger and said that, before breaking in half, it had reminded her of "a small Volkswagen" automobile.
Not surprisingly, at least not to me, the witness’ house is a quarter-mile west of the Oscar-07 missile silo and the mysterious object seemed to her to be even closer than that when it was observed.
As the conversation was winding down, I was about to ask her the approximate date of the sighting when she said, "I recorded the date and time in my diary. Would you like me to go look?" It turns out that the incident occurred on July 9, 2013, at 9:45 p.m. Mountain Time, or approximately one month prior to Mark Zuidema’s August 6th sighting.
I suspect that other residents living within the boundaries of Malmstrom AFB’s missile field, near Oscar Flight and elsewhere, have also seen bona fide UFO activity this summer. I am currently making further inquiries in the hope that I can locate additional witnesses.
In the 1960s
UFO sightings by U.S. Air Force security personnel posted at ICBM sites operated by Malmstrom AFB are an ongoing affair. The most famous cases occurred in March 1967, according to the testimony of three former or retired Minuteman missile launch officers—Capt. Robert Salas, Col. Frederick Meiwald and Col. Walter Figel.
A fourth officer, Capt. Eric Carlson, denies any knowledge of UFO activity at Malmstrom, despite tape recorded statements by his deputy missile commander, Walt Figel, who told me in 2008 that Carlson was sitting "two feet away" from him when he took a call from a missile security guard who reported seeing a "large, round object" hovering over one of Echo Flight’s Launch Facilities. Within two minutes, all ten missiles had malfunctioned. That occurred on March 16, 1967.
Figel said that two other airmen, comprising a Security Alert Team that he had dispatched to the missile site, also reported seeing the UFO, thereby confirming the initial report. Both Figel and Carlson were later debriefed about the incident and told, "Don’t talk about it," according to Figel, who kept his silence until 1996, when he mentioned it to former launch officer Bob Salas, during another taped telephone conversation.
Salas had his own UFO encounter, at Oscar Flight, on March 24, 1967, when as many as 10 ICBMs mysteriously malfunctioned moments after a disc-shaped craft was reported to be hovering over the Oscar Launch Control Facility (LCF). At the time, Salas had been sitting at the missile-readiness console in the underground launch control capsule.
Col. Frederick Meiwald substantiated most of Salas’ statements about the incident during a taped telephone conversation with me in 2011, saying that he couldn’t confirm everything because he had been on a rest break in the capsule when Salas woke him up, telling him that the flight’s missiles were dropping off alert status.
But Meiwald did acknowledge that, moments later, he had ordered a Security Alert Team to respond to an alarm at one of Oscar’s launch facilities, and that those men had briefly seen "a bright, flying object at low-level" hovering over it, before quickly fleeing back to the Oscar LCF. One guard was so badly shaken by the experience, according to Meiwald, that he had to be transported to the hospital at Malmstrom before the end of his shift.
In the 1970s
The following North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) log entries, relating to UFO sightings at Malmstrom’s Launch Control Facilities and Launch Facilities, were listed in an official U.S. Air Force letter released to researchers in 1977, via the Freedom of Information Act. The time of each report is expressed in Z or Zulu Time, the military’s version of Greenwich Mean Time. My own comments, in brackets, follow a few of the log entries:
24th NORAD Region Senior Director’s Log (Malmstrom AFB, MT)
- 7 Nov 75 (1035Z)
- Received a call from the 341st Strategic Air Command Post (SAC CP), saying that the following missile locations reported seeing a large red to orange to yellow object: M-1, L-3, LIMA, and L-6...Commander and Deputy for Operations (DO) informed.
- 7 Nov 75 (1203Z)
- SAC advised that the LCF at Harlowton, Montana, observed an object which emitted a light which illuminated the site driveway.
- 7 Nov 75 (1319Z)
- SAC advised K-1 says very bright object to their east is now southeast of them and they are looking at it with 10x50 binoculars. Object seems to have lights (several) on it, but no distinct pattern. The orange/gold object overhead also seems to have lights on it. SAC also advised female civilian reports having seen an object bearing south of her position six miles west of Lewistown. [Note that all of these reports refer to the observation of aerial "objects." Apparently, the Security Alert Teams could not identify them as either military or civilian aircraft.]
- 7 Nov 75 (1327Z)
- L-1 reports that the object to their northeast seems to be issuing a black object from it, tubular in shape. In all this time, surveillance has not been able to detect any sort of track except for known traffic. [In other words, when these sightings were first reported by SATs, radar personnel at Malmstrom AFB and Great Falls International Airport could not detect any unknown aerial objects near the missile sites. As we shall see, radar contact with the UFOs was finally established as the sightings continued to unfold.]
- 7 Nov 75 (1355Z)
- K-1 and L-1 report that as the sun rises, so do the objects they have visual.
- 7 Nov 75 (1429)
- From SAC CP: As the sun rose, the UFOs disappeared. Commander and [Director of Operations] notified.
- 8 Nov 75 (0635Z)
- A security camper team at K-4 reported UFO with white lights, one red light 50 yards behind white light. Personnel at K-1 seeing same object.
- 8 Nov 75 (0645Z)
- Height personnel picked up objects 10-13,000 feet. Track J330, EKLB 0649, 18 knots, 9,500 feet. Objects as many as seven, as few as two A/C. [Height-finding radar finally confirmed that UFOs were present, varying over time between two and seven in number.]
- 8 Nov 75 (0753Z)
- J330 unknown 0753. Stationary/seven knots/12,000...two F-106...NCOC notified. [Radar confirmed that one UFO, at an altitude of 12,000 feet, had hovered—that is, was "stationary"—before resuming flight at a leisurely 7 knots, or 9 mph. Shortly thereafter, two F-106s were scrambled to intercept it.]
- 8 Nov 75 (0905Z)
- From SAC CP: L-sites had fighters and objects; fighters did not get down to objects.
- 8 Nov 75 (0915Z)
- From SAC CP: From four different points: Observed objects and fighters; when fighters arrived in the area, the lights went out; when fighters departed, the lights came back on; To NCOC. [As SAT personnel at four different locations watched, the UFOs played cat-and-mouse with the F-106s, extinguishing their illumination as the jets approached their position and re-illuminating themselves after the fighters returned to base. The NORAD Combat Operations Center (NCOC) in Colorado Springs, Colorado was immediately informed of this incident.]
- 8 Nov 75 (1105Z)
- From SAC CP: L-5 reported object increased in speed—high velocity, raised in altitude and now cannot tell the object from stars. To NCOC.
- 9 Nov 75 (0305Z)
- SAC CP called and advised SAC crews at Sites L-1, L-6, and M-1 observing UFO. Object yellowish bright round light 20 miles north of Harlowton, 2 to 4,000 feet.
- 9 Nov 75 (0320Z)
- SAC CP reports UFO southeast of Lewistown, orange white disc object. 24th NORAD Region surveillance checking area. Surveillance unable to get height check. [Note the reference to the UFO having a "disc" or saucer shape. Two more log entries from November 9th confirm that UFOs continued to be reported by SAT teams positioned near various missile launch facilities.]
In the 1980s
Another dramatic UFO sighting only recently came to light when former USAF Security Policeman Joseph C. Pscolka, Jr. agreed to be interviewed about his intriguing experience at Malmstrom’s Alpha-1 Launch Control Facility in the fall of 1986. During that event, ten UFOs cavorted in the sky, "like crazy fireflies", witnessed by numerous security personnel posted at five different LCFs comprising the 10th Strategic Missile Squadron. Pscolka and his colleagues were subsequently debriefed and ordered to sign national security non-disclosure statements.
These cases are only the tip of the iceberg and I cover several more in my book UFOs and Nukes. I am asking anyone, whether ex-U.S. Air Force or civilian, to contact me atwith their knowledge of UFO activity at Malmstrom’s nuclear missile sites—or at those operated by any other U.S. Air Force base—regardless of the time-frame. All responses, after being vetted, will be kept strictly confidential unless I am granted permission to publish them.