This is the story of extraordinary events that happened in 1967 to Strategic Air Command Missile Combat Officers; Missileers assigned to operate the Minuteman Intercontinental Ballistic Missile , an essential part of America’s Cold War strategic nuclear deterrent.
… by Jim Klotz and Robert Salas — 27-Nov-1996
In central Montana, Thursday morning March 16 1967, the E-Flight Missile Combat Crew was below ground in the Echo-Flight Launch Control Center (LCC) or capsule. During the early morning hours, more than one report came in from security patrols and maintenance crews that they had seen UFOs. A UFO was reported directly above one of the E-Flight Launch Facilities (LF) or silos. It turned out that at least one security policeman was so frightened by this encounter that he never again returned to security duty.
A short time later, the Deputy Crew Commander (DMCCC), a 1st Lieutenant, was briefing the Crew Commander (MCCC), a Captain, on the flight status when the alarm horn sounded. Over the next half-minute, all ten of their missiles reported a «No-Go» condition. One by one across the board, each missile had became inoperable,
From there on, as an ex-Missileer describes it: «All Hell broke loose!» Among the many calls to and from the E-Flight LCC one was to the MCCC of November-Flight which links to the equally dramatic story of what happened in another LCC that same morning.
In this case we have shutdown of strategic nuclear missiles coincident with UFO sighting over a missile silo! These were missiles lost to America’s nuclear deterrent forces.
The following section is as told by Robert Salas who was the DMCCC in N-Flight that morning. My recollection is that, while on duty as a Deputy Missile Combat Crew Commander below ground in the LCC, during the morning hours of 16 March 1967 I received a call from the Non-Commissioned Officer (NCO) in charge of Launch Control Center site security.
He said that he and other guards had observed unidentified flying objects in the vicinity which had over flown the LCC a few times. He could only distinguish them as ‘lights’ at that time.
I did not take this report seriously and directed him to keep observing and report back if anything more significant happened. I believed this first call to be a joke.
A few minutes later, the security NCO called again. He was now agitated and distraught saying that a UFO was hovering just outside the front gate. I directed him to secure the fenced area. As we were talking, he had to go because one of the guards had approached the UFO and had been injured.
I immediately woke my commander from his rest period and started to report the phone conversations. Immediately, our missiles began shutting down from ‘alert’ status to ‘No-Go’ status in rapid succession. None of the four or five missiles which faulted came back on line. Some signal had been sent to the missiles which caused them to go off alert status.
After reporting this incident to the Command Post, I phoned my security guard. He said that the man who had approached the UFO had not been injured seriously but was being evacuated by helicopter to the base. Once topside, I spoke directly with the security guard about the UFOs.
He added that the UFO had a red glow and appeared to be saucer shaped. He repeated that it had been immediately outside the front gate, hovering silently.
We sent a security patrol to check our LFs after the shutdown, and they reported sighting another UFO during that patrol. They also lost radio contact with our site immediately after reporting the UFO.
We were relieved by our scheduled replacement crew later that morning. The missiles had still not been brought on line by on-site maintenance teams.
Again, UFOs were sighted by security personnel at or about the time Minuteman Strategic missiles shutdown.
An in-depth investigation of the E-Flight incident was undertaken. Full scale on-site and laboratory tests at Boeing’s Seattle plant were conducted. Both declassified Strategic Missile Wing documents and interviews with Boeing engineers who conducted tests following the E-Flight Incident investigation confirm that no cause for the missile shutdowns was ever found.
The most that could be done was to reproduce the effects by directly introducing a 10 volt pulse onto a data line. One conclusion was that the only way this could be done from outside the shielded system was through an electromagnetic pulse from an unknown source.
During the events of that morning in 1967, UFOs were sighted by security personnel at the November Flight LCC and at one N-Flight LF, and by other security personnel at Echo-Flight LFs. These sightings were reported separately to the capsule crews at both LCCs at or about the same time Minuteman Strategic missiles shut down at both sites.
USAF has confirmed that all of Echo flights’ missiles shutdown within seconds of each other and that no cause for this could be found. For many years, the Air Force has maintained that no reported UFO incident has ever affected national security. It is established fact that a large number of Air Force personnel reported sighting UFOs at the time many of our strategic missiles became unlaunchable.
The incidents described above clearly had national security implications. In one previously classified message, SAC Headquarters described the E-Flight incident as: loss of strategic alert of all ten missiles within ten seconds of each other for no apparent reason and a «…cause for grave concern…(to SAC headquarters).» (emphasis ours)
There is a great discrepancy between the United States Air Force’s public position relative to UFOs and national security, and the established facts of this case.