By Robert L. HastingsPersons familiar with my three decades of research on the UFO-Nukes Connection know that declassified U.S. Air Force, FBI and CIA documents, as well as eyewitness testimony from ex-U.S. military personnel, confirm an intermittent but ongoing UFO presence at America’s nuclear weapons sites. Indeed, some of the former/retired Minuteman missile launch and targeting officers I have interviewed unequivocally state that, on a few occasions, those piloting the unidentified craft actually knocked our Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs) off-line, at least temporarily. See: www.nicap.org
However, despite this persistent pattern of UFO activity at nuclear missile sites and B-52 strategic bomber bases during the Cold War era, there exists a puzzling near-absence of UFO reports during the single most terrifying episode of the decades-long stand-off between the U.S. and the former Soviet Union: The Cuban Missile Crisis.
The world as we know it almost ceased to exist in October 1962. Those Americans old enough to remember the missile crisis will undoubtedly recall the grave concern and sometimes naked fear that gripped the country during those fateful few days.
Soviet citizens may have been somewhat less concerned because their state-controlled media routinely lied to them about, well, everything, and it’s doubtful that the average Russian fully appreciated how dire the situation was as the crisis unfolded. Regardless, their leaders in the Kremlin knew the score, and were justifiably alarmed that their gamble to secretly place medium-range nuclear missiles in Cuba was about to blow up in their, and everyone else’s faces.
Of course, people all around the globe were deeply apprehensive too, however, their own governments were essentially powerless to do anything about the crisis, so they looked on helplessly as the superpowers hunkered down and prepared for the first global thermonuclear war in human history.
So, what were those who pilot the UFOs doing during the missile crisis? According to published sighting report data bases, they were decidedly conspicuous by their absence. Based on declassified U.S. government documents and the ufological literature, it appears that UFO activity during those ominous days of October 1962 was at a rather low level worldwide. This fact had always struck me as odd. Given other clusters of UFO activity at nuclear weapons laboratories and storage areas, or during periods of intense atomic testing in Nevada and the Pacific (and, later on, at U.S. Air Force ICBM sites outside various Strategic Air Command bases) one might predict that a UFO presence would be in evidence, in one form or another, during the planet’s closest brush with nuclear catastrophe.
And yet, as far as I was aware, no credible information had ever surfaced to suggest that UFOs had been observed at Homestead AFB, Florida, or other military staging bases, or near any of Malmstrom AFB, Montana’s ICBMs—which President Kennedy later called his “ace in the hole” during the crisis—or near the U.S. Naval blockade of Cuba, or at any other location where preparations for nuclear war were occurring at an intense pace.
(I was, however, aware of an alleged UFO intercept attempt by U.S. Air Force jet fighters on an unspecified date during the missile crisis, as reported by researcher Francis Ridge. However, to my knowledge, this incident was unique. Ridge’s report may be found at: http://www.nicap.org
And so, for years, I had wondered why military-related UFO sighting reports were essentially non-existent during those momentous days. The first hint I had of possible UFO activity during the missile crisis only arrived, quite unexpectedly, in 2006, when I was provided with an intriguing report first sent to the Center for UFO Studies (CUFOS). The source, a retired U.S. Air Force sergeant—who I will call “John Smith”—had been a jet engine mechanic with the 42nd Field Maintenance Squadron (FMS) at Loring AFB, Maine.
In his letter to CUFOS, Smith offered an utterly amazing, almost unbelievable account of a dramatic UFO incursion on some date in, he thought, 1961. After I read his written report, I called Smith, spoke with him at length, and concluded that he was a reliable witness—despite the fact that one element in his story pressed the limits of credibility. (Indeed, many people would undoubtedly say it goes well beyond those limits.)
In any case, when I began researching the particulars of Smith’s report, including the type of position he held in the Air Force at the time of the incident, it soon became clear that the UFO sighting had actually occurred in the fall of 1962. More to the point, based on other information I later received—relating to a unique, temporary departure from the type of B-52 missions then being flown at Loring—the UFO sighting reported by Smith had to have occurred during the period of the Cuban Missile Crisis or immediately thereafter! Once this startling fact had been established, I tackled the case with zeal—and immediately ran into several frustrating roadblocks.
Smith had mentioned in his original letter that a two-aircraft or “tandem” mission, code-named Chrome Dome, had been on final approach for landing just as the UFO appeared over the base’s flight line. When the 42nd Bomb Wing at Loring had the responsibility for launching Chrome Dome missions (it rotated among SAC bomber bases) two sorties per day were flown, each involving a single B-52 flying one of two courses, known as the Northern and Southern Routes. However, during the heightened-alert period of the missile crisis—and apparently at no other time—two aircraft flew each course. This temporary operational change is confirmed in the 42nd Bomb Wing’s unit history. Moreover, a retired colonel who flew such missions at Loring during that era later told me that the tandem Chrome Dome missions had been discontinued in, as he recalled, early November 1962, once the crisis had passed.
Consequently, if a two-aircraft Chrome Dome mission was in fact returning to base at the time of the alleged UFO sighting, as Smith contends, the incident he describes had to have occurred on some date during, or a few days after, the two-week-long Cuban Missile Crisis.
I also later located and interviewed Smith’s former jet mechanic partner at Loring (he must remain anonymous as well) who nervously confirmed the return of the “two Chrome Domes.” However, he claimed not to remember the alleged UFO sighting reported by Smith. Nevertheless, this individual did confirm Smith’s recollection of an unspecified emergency situation, which had prompted a large number of 42nd FMS personnel being ordered to the flight line in anticipation of a possible crash landing by one or both returning aircraft. He told me he had assumed there had been a mid-air collision or some other mishap involving both aircraft. He also confirmed Smith’s statement that a large number of high-ranking officers had also quickly assembled on the tarmac as well, adding, “I didn’t know we had that many colonels on base!” According to both Smith and his former team partner, despite the emergency response, there was no obvious damage to either of the bombers and they both landed safely.
However, when I began pressing Smith’s former co-worker for additional details about the incident, he suddenly said he had fallen asleep in the back of one of the maintenance trucks parked on the flight line and could not confirm what actually happened as the aircraft (and the UFO?) arrived. This seemed curious to me, given that the assembled FMS personnel would had to have performed specific mechanical tasks if either aircraft was in fact damaged and, therefore, they all would have been alert—that is, awake—when the B-52s landed. When I pointed this out to Smith’s team partner, he became evasive and attempted to end the conversation. Consequently, I remain highly dubious about his assertion that he had been asleep at the time the aircraft landed. Indeed, Smith recalls him looking skyward in amazement, along with everyone else, as the UFO came into view.
(This individual later told Smith that, after leaving his job as a jet engine mechanic, he had become a B-52 tail gunner. He admitted that, early in his new assignment, his aircraft commander had told him never to report a UFO, even if he should see one. He was essentially informed that such reports were taboo and never to be discussed with anyone.)
Now, as I mentioned earlier, Smith’s account contains a extremely unusual element which, although not unprecedented—it has also been reported in a number of other UFO sighting cases—may simply make this incident too far-out for most people to accept. Smith reports that following the appearance of the unidentified craft above the flight line, which left at a high rate of speed, he and the other witnesses standing nearby him all went about their business as if nothing had happened. Although Smith and the others had reportedly been staring skyward at the spectacle in obvious wonder, once the UFO departed there was absolutely no discussion of its presence among the witnesses—something that baffles Smith to this day.
He told me, “Even though it had been hovering there for a couple of minutes, maybe five minutes, I did not bring the UFO up with any of the other men. I knew exactly what had happened but had no desire to talk about it. I do not know how to explain that very well, as it is not what I consider to be rational human behavior or thinking. But I never forgot what happened that day. I just never gave it very much serious thought and, for many years, never wondered why no one had ever discussed the incident, either that day or the following days. But the memory of it was always with me and sometimes when alone I’d think about it all, but I never discussed it with anyone until the year 1976, when I told my wife the entire story.”
Moreover, Smith said there had been also been no discussion in his group about the announced emergency involving the two B-52s, which resulted in nearly all of the maintenance squadron personnel who were on duty being ordered to the flight line. It was as if that event never happened either, despite its apparently unique status among the Chrome Dome missions launched at Loring and potentially disastrous outcome. He said, “Even if there had been no UFO, it [should have been] big-time talk-time!” But not a word, then or later, was said—either about the UFO or the reported aircraft emergency—which Smith understandably finds to be unbelievably bizarre. He added, “But at the time, it didn’t even occur to me that it was [strange]. It was like a dream or as if it never happened, but it did.”
While one might be tempted to point to this highly improbable aspect of Smith’s account as evidence that the sighting was merely an imaginative fantasy having no basis in reality, other factors which I will not mention at the moment tend to suggest otherwise.
Now, I don’t mean to be a tease but, for now, this is about as far as I will go in describing Smith’s intriguing report. If his account has merit—and in my view it does—then it obviously must be investigated far more rigorously before any comprehensive synopsis of it can be published, especially in view of its tentative link with the Cuban Missile Crisis. I have only mentioned it at all in the hope that others will come forward and corroborate its factuality.
According to Smith, a great many Air Force personnel at the base witnessed the weird event. If that was indeed the case, I do not wish to risk influencing their memories of this sighting—assuming that it occurred, and assuming that others retain some memory of it—given its potential importance.
I also want to avoid being contacted by bogus “witnesses” whose intention is to write themselves into this story, for whatever nefarious reason they might have. If I were to present the full account, as reported to me by Smith, it would be much easier for such false leads to materialize. Therefore, I will just leave this intriguing report for now—intentionally omitting most of the details I currently possess—in the event that one or more persons reading this, who happened to be on the Loring AFB flight line that day, eventually decide to contact me.
"In summary, I am hoping to hear from former or retired U.S. military personnel who were stationed at any base during the Cuban Missile Crisis—especially those permanently or temporarily hosting squadrons armed with nuclear weapons." I am seeking reports of UFO activity, or lack thereof, during that unique period of time. Such information will be kept strictly confidential, unless I am granted permission to publish it. My current email address is below. Should that change in the future, my new address can be found at my website, www.ufohastings.com. Leads may also be sent to Frank Warren at the UFO Chronicles website, who will then forward them to me.
Robert Hastings e-mail:
UFOs and Nukes: Extraordinary Encounters at Nuclear Weapons Sites
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