On March 16, 1967, ten Minuteman-I nuclear missiles operated by Malmstrom Air Force Base, Montana, suddenly malfunctioned one after the other, just as a “large round object” was reported to be hovering “directly over” one of them—according to retired USAF Col. Walter Figel, one of two launch officers on duty at Echo Flight during the incident.
Figel received the startling news while in the flight's underground launch control center, via a two-way radio call from an Air Force security guard posted at the missile silo in question. Although skeptical, then-Lt. Figel dispatched a couple of two-man Security Alert Teams to the field to investigate. They subsequently confirmed the presence of the UFO.
These astounding admissions were audio-taped, with Col. Figel's permission, during three of our telephone conversations—in 2008, 2009 and 2010—in which he discussed the incident in great detail. One may listen to those here.
On the 2008 tape, Figel said that he and his missile commander, then-Capt. Eric Carlson, were debriefed about the UFO encounter back at the base and ordered not to talk about it. In an earlier conversation with me, Carlson himself claimed to have no recollection of a UFO report during the full-flight missile shutdown and further claimed that he recalled no mention of UFOs during the debriefing.
When told of this, Col. Figel was quite incredulous about his former missile commander's supposed memory lapse, as one may hear on tape. He said that Carlson "was sitting two feet away" from him when Figel took the frantic call from the guard about the hovering UFO. Figel also said that Carlson—as the senior officer in the two-man Missile Combat Crew—actively participated in the debriefing, again while sitting next to him.
Col. Figel had first gone on-the-record about the incident during a 1996 audio-taped conversation with former USAF Capt. Robert Salas, the Minuteman missile launch officer who co-sponsored my September 27, 2010 "UFOs and Nukes" press conference in Washington D.C. That event was streamed live by CNN and the full-length video is at the bottom of this page.
In spite of these very important, tape-recorded admissions by Col. Figel to Salas and me, Eric Carlson's son, James, has spent the past several years posting comments at countless blogs, claiming that his father is being truthful when he says that no UFOs were present at Echo Flight during the shutdown incident. However, James further claims—falsely—that Col. Figel insists the on-site guard was only joking when he reported a UFO hovering above the silo. In reality, Figel clearly told me on tape that the individual in question "was serious but I wasn't taking him seriously."
Over time, the younger Carlson has told a great many other falsehoods about the incident. During Figel's 2009 taped conversation with me, the obviously frustrated colonel said that James' claims are "off-base" and that "he has an axe to grind." True to form, James ignores these documented statements and alleges that I have misrepresented Figel's remarks, going so far as to charge that I have doctored the tapes.
In response, I have repeatedly stated online that if James will pay the costs involved, I will have the tapes scientifically analyzed, to prove that they are unaltered. Not surprisingly, Carlson has ignored this offer. Instead, he continues to claim that I am "a liar and a fraud" because I persist in publicizing Col. Figel's important revelations, which contradict his father's own claims.
Importantly, other persons have substantiated Col. Figel's account of a UFO-presence during the Echo Flight incident. The late Robert J. Kaminski, who headed the Boeing Company missile engineering team that investigated the case, says he was told by a Boeing–Air Force liaison that UFOs had indeed been sighted in the vicinity of the flight's launch silos at the time of the missile malfunctions. Kaminski unequivocally states that his team could find no prosaic cause for the failures.
Kaminski further says that the Air Force interrupted his investigation in mid-stream and ordered him not to file a report on the full-flight shutdown—an unprecedented and still-unexplained development. One may read Kaminski discussing all of this in a 1997 letter to researcher Jim Klotz, which can be found in the article titled The Echo/Oscar Witch Hunt.
Additionally, a former Minuteman Electro-Mechanical Technician, Henry Barlow, has stated during two interviews with me—one audiotaped, the other videotaped—that while bringing some of the Echo Flight missiles back online he had been informed that UFOs caused the malfunctions.
Barlow further said that he and other members of the 341st Missile Maintenance Squadron had observed UFOs on several occasions, both prior to and following the Echo incident, while working in Malmstrom's missile field during 1966–67. Excerpts from the audio interview appear in my 2008 book UFOs and Nukes; portions of the video interview will be included in a documentary film I am currently producing, due to be released in 2014.
The Oscar Flight Incident
Shortly after the Echo event, a second large-scale, UFO-related ICBM shutdown incident occurred at another of Malmstrom's missile flights, Oscar, according to former Capt. Robert Salas and now-retired Col. Frederick Meiwald, who were the launch officers on duty when it happened.
A third former officer, Capt. Robert Jamison, says he was involved in re-targeting those missiles after they had malfunctioned and had been briefed beforehand, together with several other targeting team members, that "UFOs had been messing things up." He also provides information which strongly suggests that the incident occurred eight days after Echo, on the evening of March 24, 1967. Jamison participated in my CNN-streamed press conference and his testimony may be viewed in the video referenced above.
With the passage of time, Bob Salas had forgotten the alphabetical designation of the missile flight where his experience occurred. After reading about the ICBM-shutdown incident at Echo Flight in Timothy Good's 1989 book Above Top Secret: The Worldwide UFO Cover-Up, Salas assumed that the event described was the one he had personally witnessed. However, a subsequent investigation by researcher Jim Klotz revealed the actual identities of the launch officers who had been at Echo—Walter Figel and Eric Carlson—thereby ruling out that possibility.
Then, after Klotz secured an Air Force document via the Freedom of Information Act which stated that "rumors" of UFO sightings at November Flight had subsequently proved to be untrue, Salas wondered if he had been at that flight instead. This seemed reasonable because Klotz also interviewed the author of the document, former USAF historian David Gamble, who revealed that his superiors had later altered his own comments about the sightings, inserting the written claim that they had been "disproved", something Gamble implied amounted to censorship; that is, a suppression of the facts.
In any case, in the summer of 1996, Salas finally located his former missile commander, Frederick Meiwald, who told him that the pair had actually been at Oscar Flight when their missiles went down. A fuller discussion of the UFO-related events at Oscar may be found at my website, in the "Witch Hunt" article referenced above, but the basic facts follow here:
Then-Lt. Salas was at his missile-status console in the underground launch capsule when he received a call from a guard at ground level, saying that a strange, rapidly-moving light had been sighted in the sky. Salas told the guard to monitor the situation and to report back if there were any noteworthy developments. A short time later, the guard called again and screamed into the phone that a large, glowing, orange-colored, oval-shaped object had suddenly appeared and was silently hovering over the Oscar Launch Control Facility.
Salas quickly woke then-Capt. Meiwald, who was on his rest break, but before he could tell him about the phone calls with the topside guard, they were both shocked to see multiple warning lights indicating the missiles were dropping off alert status—they were malfunctioning.
During a tape-recorded telephone conversation in August 1996, Meiwald, by then a retired colonel, told Salas that shortly after the missiles failed—he remembered six-to-eight, whereas Salas recalls all ten going offline—a two-man security team had been ordered into the field in response to an intrusion alarm at one of the silos.
Salas had forgotten that development over the years so Meiwald provided the details, saying that when the team approached the missile site, they saw a UFO hovering above it. Badly frightened, the two men raced back to the launch control facility. Apparently, one of the guards was so shaken by the experience that he couldn't continue his shift and had to be taken directly to the Malmstrom AFB hospital.
Col. Meiwald subsequently elaborated on the events at Oscar in a letter to Salas. That item, as well as the taped 1996 conversation referenced above, may be accessed via my "Witch Hunt" article. The recording of my own May 6, 2011 phone conversation with Meiwald is presented in another article, Echo Flight UFO Incident Not Unique.
In response to James Carlson's many unfounded charges against Salas—he continues to call the former captain "a liar and a fraud" in hundreds of blog posts—Col. Meiwald unequivocally told me that Salas had presented the events at Oscar "very accurately" during his public statements about the incident in recent years. Meiwald said that the UFO sighted by the security team had been described as a "bright, flying object at low level" and also confirmed, just as Salas has said, that the two launch officers were debriefed by an agent from the Air Force Office of Special Investigations (OSI) and required to sign national security non-disclosure statements.
While Bob Salas has been quite open regarding his belief that the American people should be told, at long last, the truth about UFO activity at nuclear missile sites—a philosophic position I obviously share—both Col. Meiwald and Col. Figel have been far less proactive in their public discussion of the two ICBM-shutdown events.
Indeed, if one listens to the tapes of my conversations with them, it's apparent that I had to press them repeatedly to provide the details, which they did only reluctantly. Nevertheless, their taped admissions are now part of the public record and provide important anecdotal evidence for the reality of the UFO-Nukes Connection.
As I was writing this article, I received an email from Bob Salas, dated September 7, 2012, saying, "I just spoke with Eric Carlson. He told me that he did not recall having been told about 'credible' UFO reports during the Echo shutdown. I asked him how he could be sure they were credible or not and he could not answer that."
This comment by the elder Carlson is only the latest example of his disingenuous statements regarding the incident and completely ignores the fact that—according to Col. Figel—both officers were thoroughly, seriously questioned about the UFO sighting by their squadron commander, thereby confirming that he considered it to be credible. Moreover, Figel told me he was later flown to Strategic Air Command Headquarters at Offutt AFB, where he was further questioned about it.
(Declassified USAF documents reveal that UFO activity at ICBM sites operated by Minot AFB, North Dakota, had occurred on August 25, 1966, or nearly seven months prior to the two missile-shutdown incidents at Malmstrom. That case involved a radar tracking of the unknown aerial craft, in addition to sighting reports by Air Force security police. Therefore, command-level staff at Offutt would have already been aware of the reality of such incursions and would, of course, take Carlson's and Figel's statements seriously. Other declassified documents confirm that an even earlier incident occurred at F.E. Warren AFB, Wyoming, in 1965.)
As far as I am aware, the most recent example of a reported UFO presence during a large-scale ICBM-malfunction incident occurred at F.E. Warren AFB, Wyoming, on October 23, 2010. See my article on that event, Huge UFO Sighted Near Nuclear Missiles During October 2010 Launch System Disruption.