Over a period of about three weeks in October and November of 1975, several Strategic Air Command (SAC) bases in the northern tier states were placed on a high priority (Security Option 3) alert because of repeated intrusions of unidentified aircraft flying at low altitude over atomic weapons storage areas.
The Commander-in-Chief of North American Air Defense Command (NORAD) sent a four-part message to NORAD units on November 11, 1975 summarizing the events. See excerpts follow:
“Since 28 Oct 75 numerous reports of suspicious objects have been received at the NORAD CU; reliable military personnel at Loring AFB, Maine, Wurtsmith AFB, Michigan, Malmstrom AFB, Mt, Minot AFB, ND, and Canadian Forces Station, Falconbridge, Ontario, Canada have visually sighted suspicious objects.”
On October 27-28, 1975, Staff Sgt. Danny K. Lewis, 42nd Security Police Squadron, while on duty at the munitions storage area of Loring AFB, Maine, at 7:45 p.m. saw an apparent aircraft at low altitude along the northern perimeter of the base.
Other witnesses were Sgt. Clifton W. Blakeslee and Staff Sgt. William J. Long. The craft had a red light and a pulsating white light.
A teletype message to the National Military Command Center in Washington, D.C., said: “The A/C [aircraft] definitely penetrated the LAFB [Loring Air Force Base] northern perimeter and on one occasion was within 300 yards of the munitions storage area perimeter.”
Staff Sgt. James P. Sampley, 2192nd Communications Squadron, was on duty in the control tower when he picked up the craft on radar nearing the base. He tried to make radio contact to warn the presumed aircraft that it was entering a restricted area.
The craft began to circle in the vicinity of the nuclear weapons storage area at about 150 feet altitude. When it penetrated the nuclear weapons storage area at an estimated 300 feet altitude, Lewis reported it to the command post.
The Commander of the 42nd Bomb Wing, Col. Richard E. Chapman, arrived at the weapons storage area shortly before 8:00 a.m. and security police units were ordered into the area. Security vehicles with flashing lights converged on the scene. Col. Chapman implemented a Security Option 3 alert.
At 8:45 p.m. Sgt. Grover K. Eggleston was on duty in the control tower when a call came from the command post requesting a radar track on the mysterious craft. For 40 minutes he observed the object on radar circling around, then it abruptly vanished from the screen as if it had either landed or dropped below the minimum level of radar coverage.
Witnesses observed the craft flying away toward New Brunswick. Radar tracked it again as it receded from the base until contact was lost in the vicinity of Grand Falls, 12 miles from Loring AFB.
Priority messages on the incident were sent to the National Military Command Center in Washington, D.C., the Air Force Chief of Staff, SAC headquarters, and other major commands. Loring remained on a high state of alert into the following morning.
Efforts to identify the “aircraft” through the Maine State Police, local police departments, and the Federal Aviation Administration office in Houlton, Maine, were not successful.
The next night at 7:45 p.m. a similar craft with body lights again approached the base, tracked on radar, and maneuvered around in the vicinity for more than 30 minutes.
Its speed and motions were similar to those of a helicopter. The craft would appear and disappear from view. Its lights went off and the craft reappeared over the weapons storage area at 150 feet (45 meters).
At about this time Sgt. Steven Eichner, a B-52 crew chief, Sgt. R. Jones, and other crew members spotted an unidentified red and orange object over the flight line. It looked like a “stretched out football” (cigar-shaped) and was hovering in mid-air.
As the B-52 crew watched, the lights on the object went out and it disappeared, but soon reappeared over the north end of the runway, moving in a jerky, erratic fashion.
When it stopped and hovered, Eichner and the others jumped into a truck and drove toward the object. As they turned onto the road that led to the weapons storage area, they encountered the object about 300 feet ahead hovering about five feet off the ground. Its length appeared to be equivalent to about four car lengths.
Sgt. Eichner said that it was like looking at a desert scene. “You see waves of heat rising off the desert floor. This is what I saw. There were these waves in front of the object and all the colors were blending together. The object was solid and we could not hear any noise coming from it.”
The object again was tracked on radar as it departed towards New Brunswick. And once again priority messages about the intrusion were sent to higher commands. No explanation was ever found.
On October 30, 1975, at Wurtsmith AFB, Michigan, about 10:10 p.m., base personnel saw the running lights of a low-flying craft thought to be a helicopter, except that it hovered and moved up and down erratically near the base perimeter.
One white light was pointed downward and two red lights were visible near the trailing edge.
Airman Michael J. Myers, an air policeman on duty near the main gate, saw several unidentified lights near the western edge of the base. The object turned north and appeared to lose altitude.
Between 10:15 and 10:25 p.m., base security police at the back gate of Wurtsmith reported to the command post that an unidentified “helicopter” with no lights had come over the back gate and hovered at low altitude over the weapons storage area.
Radar was also tracking low-flying objects intruding into the base, and an incoming KC-135 confirmed seeing two unidentified craft that sped away each time they attempted to close in for identification.
A teletype message November 2nd from Loring Air Force Base, Maine, Office of Special Investigations (OSI) detachment to the National Military Command Center and OSI headquarters in Washington, D.C., reported another “unidentified helicopter sighted at low level over Loring AFB” over the past two nights (October 31-November 1).
It also referred to the intruder as an “unknown entity.”
Capt. Richard R. Fuhs, Operations Officer, 42nd Security Police Squadron (SPS), ” …advised that there had been three verified sightings of an unidentified A/C [aircraft] flying at low level over and in the vicinity of LAFB [Loring Air Force Base]” during this period. The initial sighting was made by Staff Sgt. Michael D. Scott, 42nd SPS, on duty at 11:14 p.m. Tech. Sgt. David E. Mott, Flight Chief, 42nd SPS, spotted the object from a position near the East Gate just past midnight, flying from east to west.
At Malmstrom AFB, Montana, November 7, 1975, electronic sensors at the Minuteman missile sites triggered an alarm indicating a breach of the K-7 site security at about 3:00 p.m.
A Sabotage Alert Team headed toward the site, and from a distance of about a mile saw a glowing orange object over the area. As they came closer they could see that it was an enormous disc, the size of a football field, whose light was illuminating the missile site.
They reported this to the launch control facility, and were ordered to proceed into the site. But they refused to do so because they were fearful of the consequences.
The object then began to rise and was picked up on NORAD radar at about 1,000 feet. Two F-106 interceptors were scrambled from Great Falls and sped toward the area, but the object continued to rise and disappeared off the radar screen at about 200,000 feet.
As noted in the NORAD Commander-in-Chief’s report cited above, the pilots were unable to obtain a visual sighting.
Later investigation established that computer codes in the missile warhead had been altered. Several other UFO sightings at the missile sites later that evening and next day were documented in military records.
During the same time period as the SAC base intrusions, civilians, police officers, military officers, and NORAD radar saw and tracked UFOs that alternately hovered and darted around at high speed at Falconbridge Air Force Station, a radar site near North Bay, Ontario, Canada.
The sightings occurred between 3:00 a.m. and 11:00 a.m. local time, November 11, 1975.
NORAD regional director logs obtained by Larry Fawcett and Barry Greenwood gave some indication of the events, with times expressed in Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) or “Zebra” (Z) time.
1205 GMT. “Unusual sighting report” made.
1840 GMT. Jet interceptors were scrambled, airborne at 1750Z “due to unusual object sighting …UFO report from Falconbridge.”
At 0202Z on November 15, 1975, “Report sent to NCOC Surveillance, referred to Assistant Command Director Space Defense Center, and intelligence. These 3 individuals considered the report a UFO report and not an unknown track report.”
A detailed NORAD report on the incidents and a subsequent press release based on it both have been made public. Raymond E. Fowler quotes the NORAD report:
“Falconbridge reported [at 4:05 a.m.] search and height finder paints [radar targets] on an object 25 to 30 nautical miles south of the site ranging in altitude from 26,000 feet to 72,000 feet [appearing visually as like a bright star]. With binoculars, the object appeared as a 100-ft. diameter sphere and appeared to have craters [sic] around the outside…
To date, efforts by Air Guard helicopters, SAC helicopters and NORAD F-106s have failed to provide positive identification.”
On November 13, NORAD issued a press release in Sudbury, Ontario, containing essentially the same information. The press release added that, “Two F-106 aircraft of the U.S. Air Force Air National Guard’s 171st Fighter Interceptor Squadron at Selfridge ANGB [Air National Guard Base], Michigan, were scrambled; but the pilots reported no contact with the object.”
Seven Ontario police officers were among the witnesses to the UFOs that were also tracked on NORAD radar alternately hovering and darting around at high speed.
Capt. Gordon Hilchie, director of public affairs for the 22nd NORAD Region Control Center at North Bay, Ontario, acknowledged: “Yes, we saw this so-called UFO at the same time people outside were seeing it too.”
Lt. Col. Brian Wooding, Control Center Director, said: “We get quite a few UFO reports, but to my knowledge this is about the only one we’ve actually seen on radar, and the only time we’ve gone to the point of scrambling interceptors.
The jets were scrambled because the indications were there was something very evident to a large number of people, and because we did manage to get some sort of radar sighting.”
Del Kindschi, spokesman for NORAD headquarters in Colorado Springs, said the UFO was tracked on radar intermittently for six hours, first spotted 25-30 miles south of the radar site.
The object zoomed from 26,000 feet to 45,000 feet, ” … stopped a while, and then moved up very quickly to 72,000 feet.” The first visual sightings were at 3:00 a.m. from Sudbury, Ontario, as brilliant lights that hovered low in the sky, then suddenly shot straight up at tremendous speed.
Addendum: On September 27, 2014, the UFO Casebook received information from an eyewitness of the events described above. Here is his account:
My name is Garel W. White, Retired USAF and now living in the Seattle Area. I don’t know if you will get this response, but over the years it has become more clear than confusing about the nature of the Wurtsmith UFO incident in October 1975.
Reading about the incident in the early years suggested I was not telling the truth until I now read that 2 UFOs were in the area and split up while being chased by a KC 135 Tanker. One shot toward Saginaw and the other found its way over to our Capehart Gate Housing Area and Motor pool and Munitions Storage.
This is where I became clear on the incident because even in your current story you key on the Capehart Housing Gate Flyover. Here is my story.
Garel W. White, Sgt, stationed at the Main Gate, Wurtsmith AFB approx. 1020 hrs.; almost ½ hour of initially being posted there for the Midnight Shift. I never really noticed the extra activity over the radio because I was busy controlling the small rush of vehicles entering the installation and was normal for that time.
I got a call on the Hot Phone from the Command Post and answered it. The Command Post asked me if I saw anything over the Lake (Lake Huron) just like that! I looked and saw a bright white light that looked similar to the Planet Venus low in the sky.
I reported that to the Command Post and they told me to keep an eye on it and they could give me no more information when I asked what was up? I thought nothing of that and continued to my duty with on-coming vehicle traffic entering the base.
Approx. 10 minutes later the Hot Phone rang again. This time I glanced up and noticed it was not the Planet Venus low in the sky. It was larger and appeared to be coming toward landfall of the Michigan shoreline. I watched it for about a few more minutes as the traffic coming on base died down and I could pay more attention to it.
I noticed another Security Police Vehicle approach with my Squadron Commander Major? I can’t remember his name but I can get it. The white light was approx. 5 miles away when the Major and I watched it approach. I noticed some red lights and a slight swooshing sound as it closed in and stopped almost centered over the Main Gate (Less than 100 feet to the right of the Main Gate) about 150 feet in the air.
It was a piercing white light; so bright you could not see behind it, around it, over it, etc. I felt it was low enough I could pick up a rock and hit it. At this time no traffic entered the base. I stepped off the platform of the Entry Control area, walked about 100 feet from the Main Gate directly under the blinding white light.
It stayed there for more than 5 minutes; whoosh, whoosh, whoosh in 3 second intervals was the only sound I heard. The Major walked over and we were both perplexed to what it was. We were both directly under it. This was for a little less than 5 minutes.
I walked back to the gate and it began to move slowly approx. 2 to 3 mph down the roadway direct line toward the flight line, about 2 miles away from the Christmas Tree Alert B-52s and Alert KC-135 Tankers, illuminating the roadway as it went until approx. 3 blocks away the light went out, then lots of radio traffic.
I don’t know where Michael Meyers was, but he did stop by and compared notes with me. The Major departed after the lights went out to the Command Post. I was told not to speak of the incident, and I didn’t until I was going to retire at Grissom AFB, INDIANA in 1990.
I told a batch of new 1st year troops of the encounter with a UFO when I was in my first 4 years of service.
They said I was pulling their leg until one of them went to his room and came back with a “TIME LIFE” Book on UFOs and listed under Malstrom AFB UFO was word for word of the UFO account except it only said Capehart Housing and not the Main Gate encounter.
I’ve sort of kept my mouth shut until 2003 when I noticed the KC-135 was chasing 2 UFOs in a story starting from Loring AFB and wound up at Malstrom AFB. (I saw the 2nd one!). Now I feel better about the whole incident.