Friday, October 09, 2009

The Air Force Cover-Up:
"Deception, Distortion, and Lying to The Public About the Reality of the UFO Phenomenon"

Faded Giant
Back To Montana

By Robert L. Salas
© 10-6-09

Robert Salas      The following is an accounting and assessment of a unique period in the history of the UFO phenomenon with respect to the Malmstrom AFB incidents of 1967. It is based in part on Dr. Roy Craig’s own handwritten notes, and excerpts from his book, “UFOs – An Insider’s View of the Official Quest for Evidence.” In addition, actions by Lt. Col. Lewis Chase, Malmstrom AFB, Base UFO Officer, will also be reviewed. And, since I was on station and a witness to one of the incidents, I will also add my own recollection of the facts of these significant events.

I gratefully acknowledge that much of the material used in this report was obtained through the efforts of investigators James Klotz, Dr. Michael Swords, Robert Powell and Raymond Fowler. The hand-written notes of Dr. Craig and other documentation are also archived at Texas A&M University Library and we are grateful for their use. I would like to dedicate this article to the memory of Dr. James McDonald, a true scientist who, by right of his abilities and intense interest deserved to have been the principal investigator of a real scientific study of the UFO phenomenon.

Roy Craig IDOn August 9, 1967 Dr. Roy Craig made a visit to the home of Raymond Fowler to discuss some reports of sightings. Craig was part of the University of Colorado UFO Study Group i.e., The Condon Committee (chaired by Dr. Edward Condon) financed by the U.S. Air Force. Fowler had been assigned the title of an “Early Warning Coordinator” for the group by virtue of the fact that he was an investigator for National Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenomenon (NICAP). He was also on the Sylvania Minuteman Production board in support of their contract for the Minuteman Missile ground electrical systems. Fowler had received reports of missile equipment failures at missile sites in Montana and he told Craig about the reports he had received from sources on site that these failures were associated with the appearance of unidentified aerial objects around the missile sites. Craig was interested because he was assigned to look into such incidents as part of the study.

Background of Dr. Roy Craig and his position with Condon Committee

Craig received his Ph.D. in physical Chemistry. In 1966 he was an Associate Professor at the University of Colorado when the university was awarded $500,000 by the Air Force to do a scientific study on the UFO phenomenon. Craig had no experience or training in investigative procedures and only had a passing interest in UFOs. He knew little of the history of the phenomenon when he began working with the group. Yet, he was assigned as one of three principal investigators for the study.
“My assignment would be to investigate the physical aspects of current UFO reports, working with a staff psychologist, who would study the psychological aspects of the report. . . . My associate would look into the minds of the persons reporting the sightings.” So, even before looking into cases, Craig was tasked to work with a psychologist."
The clear implication here is that the group leadership had a pre-disposition to thinking that the reports of UFOs could be explained as delusions of the mind. In addition, he had stipulated to Condon that he would accept the assignment if he did not have to deal with any classified information.
“If an investigation led to a requirement for access to secret information, which seldom happened, I turned the case over to another member of the project and accepted his judgment regarding the extent of UFO pertinence to the case.”
As the group was organized, Condon deputy, "Robert Low" was the only member (presumably other than Condon) who was authorized to review classified material. That was also problematic from the beginning since prior to the start of the study Robert Low had written a now infamous memo in which he had characterized the study as being done by non-believers and to trick the public into believing it was objective. When it counted the most, Robert Low failed to push the Air Force for the release information on a classified investigation that very much involved UFOs.

A Visit to Malmstrom AFB (October 9-14, 1967)

According to his notes, [click on image(s) to enlarge] written during his visit Craig had four objectives. First, he wanted to review with Lt. Col. Lewis Chase regarding his UFO encounter in 1957 while flying a training mission as aircraft commander of an RB-47. The Missile site shutdowns and the possibility of UFO involvement was also on his list. Craig knew of the Shutdowns at missile sites from Ray Fowler. It is significant that he lists the date of the shutdowns as March 24, 1967. That significance will be discussed later. We note that the civilian agencies involved, such as Sylvania and Boeing were not allowed to talk about it. In fact Fowler has told me that he only mentioned the rumors of the Echo Flight shutdown of 10 Minuteman missiles to Craig with some trepidation of losing his job and security clearance. The report of the shutdowns was cloaked in secrecy even before Craig arrived at Malmstrom. The depth of that secrecy Craig arrived at Malmstrom. The depth of that secrecy would soon be escalated after his arrival.

In Craig’s book on his experience with the Condon Committee, he describes his encounter with Lt. Col. Chase, whose position description included the title of Base UFO Officer:
“After Colonel Chase and I had exchanged pleasantries in his office, I asked him about the Echo incident. The Colonel caught his breath, and expressed surprise that I knew of it. ‘I can’t talk about that.’ . . . If I needed to know the cause of this incident, I could arrange through official channels, to see their report after completion of the investigation. …Although local newspapers carried stories of UFO sightings which would coincide in time with Echo, Colonel Chase had assured me that the incident had not involved a UFO. . . . I accepted the information as factual and turned review of Major Schraff’s report (on the Echo Incident) over to Bob Low, who had received security clearance to read secret information related to the UFO study. Low, in turn, had to interface with his Air Force liaison in Washington, Col. Hippler."
A portion of the memo he wrote to Low is shown here. Low’s note at the bottom of this handwritten memo states:

“Roy, I called Hippler and he said he would try to get this, but he suspects it’s going to be classified too high for us to look at it. Says he thinks interference by pulses from nuclear explosions is probably involved.”

- click on image(s) to enlarge -
The tone of this note indicates that Low was simply accepting this rationale for classifying the missile shutdowns as a non-UFO event. According to records of Dr. McDonald, Robert Low never followed up on this request. If Low had followed up on his request and asked for more details, such as the possibility of nuclear explosion EMP from the Air Force, he might have discovered that the U.S. did not test any nuclear weapons in the period from March 10 through April 4, 1967; the time period of the shutdowns (source: D.O.E. Report DOE/NV-209 rev. 15, December 2000, U.S. Nuclear Tests 1945 – 1992). Even on the face of it, Low should have realized that if nuclear EMP was truly involved, it would have created widespread havoc throughout our strategic missile forces. Clearly the reasons given by Hippler were simply intended to give cover to Low and others to back away from any further investigation by the Condon Committee.


Craig’s notes [click on image(s) to enlarge] indicate that he knew the names of many individuals whom he could have interviewed with respect to rumors of UFO involvement in the missile shutdowns. There were civilian representatives from Sylvania and Boeing who knew the sources of the rumors of UFOs. Their names had been given to him by Fowler. Fowler also gave Craig the name of Dan Renualdi, a member of the Site Activation Task Force (SATAF) who was a very credible eye-witness. He reported being within a few feet of the object.

In addition, one of the NCOs on the Air Force Technical Evaluation team admitted to seeing a saucer. There is no record of Craig interviewing these men. Craig did not ask to know the names of any of the Echo Flight crew on duty at the time of the shutdowns or any maintenance or security personnel at Echo.

It is important to emphasize that, although he was charged with investigating this incident, Criag failed to conduct or document interviews with any principal witnesses. This is verified by his notes and his own book. By his own admission he simply took the word of Col. Chase that there was no UFO involvement and did not pursue an in-depth investigation as he was authorized and responsible to do.

The Secret World of Lt. Col. Lewis D. Chase, Base UFO Officer

On the evening of September 19, 1957 (or July 17, 1957 – there is some confusion on the date) Major Lewis D. Chase was piloting an RB-47 aircraft on a training mission that started out over the Gulf of Mexico near Louisiana then headed north. As the aircraft approached Jackson, Mississippi, Chase and other crew members saw a lighted object above them at 35,000 ft. They determined pretty quickly that the object was not an aircraft because it was emitting an intense electro-magnetic signature on their equipment; similar in intensity as a ground based radar. As they turned to the west toward Texas, the object followed them. When they contacted Air Defense Command ground control (GCI) at Ft. Worth they confirmed that they had radar contact with both the object and his aircraft.

As the RB 47 continued north toward Kansas, the object appeared at the 11 o’clock position of the aircraft. Suddenly the object started closing on them. As it approached it accelerated at high speed and passed directly in front of the RB 47. The object then stopped and hovered in mid-air about ten miles from the aircraft’s low 2 o’clock position. As the RB 47 passed over the stationary object, Chase watched it blink out. The object simply disappeared! The object later re-appeared in another position. These maneuvers continued for over 2 hours.

Chase wrote a detailed report of the incident at the request of AFOSI who met him and his crew on arrival at Forbes AFB, Kansas. Chase told Craig that there was a voice recording of his communications with his crew during the incident which was confiscated by AFOSI. Chase and his crew were told by AFOSI not to talk about the incident. Some of these details of this incident were told to Roy Craig during his visit to Malmstrom AFB who included them in the Condon Report and others were recorded in an interview with Chase by Dr. James McDonald on January 30, 1969; just a short time after the public release of the Condon Report.

Chase had asked Craig and Major Quintanilla, head of Blue Book in 1967 to check if there was an incident report in the Blue Book files during their meeting of June 12. Quintanilla reported that there was no file of the incident. Later, after completion of the Condon report, a “summary” report of the incident appeared in the Blue Book files. Dr. James McDonald had found that the report of this incident had been classified during Craig’s search for it. The Air Force essentially admitted to McDonald, after the termination of the study, that they indeed had some “classified” UFO incident reports that were not made available to the Condon Committee investigators for the study!

Soon after the Condon Committee began work in earnest, they convened a meeting with the Air Force at the University of Colorado on June 12, 1967. By this date, the Malmstrom UFO incidents had taken place and Lt. Col. Chase had been involved with the handling of those incidents. The Air Force had established "special contacts" for UFO matters at some of their bases. Those contacts were called Base UFO Investigators and were "requested" to attend this meeting by Major General Otto Glasser, Assistant Deputy Chief of Staff of the Air Force. Chase held the highest ranking of these investigators who were mostly junior grade officers. Chase wrote a trip report of this meeting and parts are quoted here, verbatim.
“Much effort was expended in explaining the methods that have been used to discount approximately 95% of the UFO sightings to date, i.e., optical mirage, stars, satellites, temperature inversion, etc. No time was devoted to the 5% of sightings on the Project Blue Book list that remain admittedly unexplained to date.”


In another paragraph he stated:

“It was also quite clear that, for the study to be effective, there is almost total dependency upon base UFO officers to sort the multitude of reports and to identify those cases worthy of detailed examination.”
Apparently the Air Force was going to be able to choose how they would be investigated. The last paragraph of his trip report reveals much about how the Condon Committee and the Air Force were intending to orchestrate this program.
“Although the University study has approximately 8 months to run, and barring any dramatic events, the conclusions in the initial formal report will most likely read as follows: a. There is no evidence to support a hypothesis that extraterrestrials have visited earth. b. Certain events have occurred that are difficult to explain due to lack of conclusive data and/or instrumentation and state of the art investigative procedures.”
He concluded by saying:
“. . . However, it is reemphasized that there will be no big change in the UFO program, unless it is a civilian/military sharing of charges of concealing information from the public. The program for some lengthy period will remain under Air Force control due to the dependency upon Blue Book files and individual base UFO officers.”
Since Chase was the highest ranked officer at this meeting, he was effectively representing the Air Force brass. He had been directed to attend the meeting by a Major General at the highest levels of Air Force headquarters; with his trip report, he was prepared to respond to any inquiries from headquarters about the meeting and whether or not the Condon Committee would cooperate in the manner the Air Force desired. It seems that those questions were answered for him.

By this time, Chase had already been clued in on how the Air Force wanted the UFO question handled. Chase was Chief of the Operations Division at Malmstrom AFB during the missile/UFO incidents in 1967. On March 16, 1967 Echo Flight was disabled while UFOs were observed near the missile launch sites by multiple witnesses. The Air Force considered this incident one “…of grave concern to this headquarters.”

A week later on the morning of March 24, 1967 Oscar flight was disabled as a UFO hovered by the front gate of the Launch Control Facility as verified by myself and other witnesses. On the evening of March 24, 1967 a civilian truck driver, Ken Williams, observed a large domed shaped lighted object while driving near Belt, Montana (not far from Great Falls, MT). The object was about a mile to his left and seemed to be pacing his truck at the same speed. Soon the object stopped and hovered for a moment then dropped into a ravine and landed. Williams observed it as it pulsated with a very bright white light.

Later the object was also seen by Montana Highway patrolman Bud Nader, before it finally flew off at high speed. Lt. Col. Chase was notified of this incident about an hour later because of all the UFO sighting reports coming into the base. After discussions with the base commander, Col. Klibbe, he decided to investigate the situation.

By 3:30 am, there had been numerous reports of sightings including some over Malmstrom AFB. That morning, details were put into a message sent to various Air Force offices, including the Office of the Air Force Chief of Staff and the Foreign Technology Division at Wright-Patterson AFB (TDET). Four months later word had filtered back to TDET that there had been some equipment problems during the March 24th sightings. They sent an inquiry to Chase. It stated that:
“Our office has been informed that during the sightings there were equipment malfunctions and abnormalities in the equipment. One individual stated that the USAF instructed both military and civilian personnel not to discuss what they had seen as it was a classified government experiment. Request information on the validity of such statements. If some type of experiment did occur on or about 24 March 1967, please advise.”



Within a few days, Chase replied:
“This office has no knowledge of equipment malfunctions and abnormalities in equipment during the period of reported UFO sightings. No validity can be established to the statement that a classified government experiment was in progress or that military and civilian personnel were requested not discuss what they had seen.”



These are blatantly false statements since I, and others can attest that we were ordered not to talk to anyone about our incident and that our equipment certainly did malfunction; if it had been a military experiment, we would have since had the capability of easily disabling nuclear missiles at will. This correspondence was written after the Condon Committee meeting with the Air Force Base UFO officers. Since Chase was obviously not disclosing the missile shutdown incidents even to another Air Force office, clearly the cover-up was ongoing and he was in the middle of it. By the time Roy Craig came to ask questions about the Echo Flight incident, Lt. Col. Chase would know what he was expected to do.

The Non-Scientific Study

In August 1966 Lt. Col. Robert Hippler, representing the Air Force Office of Science and Technology and serving as the study group’s contact with the Pentagon, stood before the highly educated group Edward Condon had selected to participate in the study and said, “You see, first of all, we (the Air Force) have not charged you, and you have not promised, to prove or disprove anything.” He may not have realized it, but he was telling his audience not to perform a scientific study. The scientific method is understood by anyone who has ever passed a science class in high school. A scientific method consists of the collection of data through observation and experimentation, and the formulation and testing of hypotheses (Wikipedia). By their own admission, the Air Force did not give the study group any hypothesis to prove or disprove. They did not provide the group with all the data they had in their possession or access to witnesses. As was pointed out, they had classified UFO files and reports which were not made available to the study group. Thus, the scientific method could not have been used. The Air Force did not really want a scientific study as they had promised Congress and the public. They simply wanted to divest themselves of the responsibility of responding to public inquiry on the subject of UFOs.

James McDonald who had investigated sightings throughout the U.S. and in Australia had provided the study group with a list of twenty best cases. The study group declined to look at them. As Lt. Col. Chase had pointed out, it would be up the Air Force to decide which cases ought to be investigated; while Blue Book opened up their files to the group, the classified cases were not made available for investigation.

Chase lied to Craig about UFO involvement in the Echo incident and did not mention the fact that Oscar flight was disabled on March 24. Craig was told that Echo Flight was disabled on the 24th and that was never corrected to him (the actual date was March 16) by anyone in the Air Force because then they would have had to admit that a second flight (Oscar) was disabled under similar circumstances. Roy Craig had refused to look at any cases which might involve a security classification. He simply bought into Chase’s explanation and did no further investigation of an incident that was referred to him by credible sources. Therefore, one of the most important cases, the Malmstrom AFB missile shutdowns, which could have had a major impact on the results of the study, was not even considered.

As has been stated many times before, The Condon study was a whitewash of the UFO ‘problem’ and that paint job was bought and paid for by the Air Force. This was a critical period in time on the question of public disclosure of information held by our government about the phenomenon. As a result of the ‘findings’ of the Condon Study, the Air Force took and has ever since taken the position that the phenomenon has no bearing on our national security interest and therefore no relevance to the Air Force or any other government agency. Therefore, they claim, they no longer investigate UFO reports. This policy has, of course, allowed the withholding of facts and information from the public to continue. It has allowed the making of policies and government intervention with and about these unknown objects without oversight, public discourse or approval. It has allowed an intolerable abuse of secrecy in our government.

I Accuse

On March 25, 1967 I woke up groggy from my 24 hour ‘tour in the hole’, as we referred to duty in the underground capsule. As I recall that morning, I picked up the Great Falls Tribune and read accounts of UFO reports around the area. Later that afternoon I received a call from one of the airmen who had seen the object at Oscar Flight where we had experienced the strange incident the morning before. He pleaded, no begged me to meet with him to talk about what had happened. All he wanted to do was talk about it. He had been one of the security guards who had to stand in abject terror in front of this large red pulsating ball of light by our front gate with only a rifle in his hands. He told me unashamedly that he was confused and frightened by what he had seen and he was desperate to speak with me about it. I had to tell him that I had taken an oath not to speak about the incident to anyone and could not meet with him. As much as anything that has transpired in my life, that conversation has consistently haunted me to this day. I was unaware at that time that the entire flight of ten Minuteman I missiles was also disabled while UFOs were observed over the launch facilities of Echo Flight on March 16, 1967. They too were not allowed to talk about it. James Klotz and I have documented these events in our book Faded Giant. There are multiple witness statements and documentation to support these claims. At least for the sake of that airman I spoke with, and for all the other officers and men in the Air Force who have had to keep silent about what they experienced with these objects, I, without reservation, accuse the U.S. Department of the Air Force of blatant, pervasive and a continuing cover-up of the facts, deception, distortion, and lying to the public about the reality of the UFO phenomenon.

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