The first time most people heard about what happened at the Strategic Air Command’s nuclear weapons base at Minot, N.D., 43 years ago was in 2005. That’s when ABC’s Peter Jennings included a capable four-minute segment on the event in a two-hour “UFOs: Seeing Is Believing” special in 2005. The key consultant on that case was Minnesota researcher Tom Tulien, who began scoping it out more than a decade ago.
Picking up where Jennings left off
By By Billy Cox
By By Billy Cox
Last week, as part of his remarkable Sign Oral History Project, Tulien posted the results of an exhaustive 10-year investigation into a drama involving multiple UFOs, ICBM missile sites and a B-52 on Oct. 24, 1968. And clearly, Jennings’ report barely scraped the surface.
Employing primary sources, more than 30 witnesses, radar info, vintage and contemporary USGS and aeronautics maps, government documents, and a series of radarscope photos whose import is potentially seismic, Tulien obliterates the USAF’s ludicrous contention that ball lightning and stars explain away what languishes in the Project Blue Book archives as Case No. 12548.
If you’re hoping for a quick read, forget it. But if you’re serious about this subject — as apparently you are, or you wouldn’t be here — make some time. This is such an enormously complex event, De Void is reluctant to even approximate what occurred for more than three freaky hours over the Northern Plains in the autumn of ‘68. But Tulien’s meticulous reconstruction is filled with exactly what science claims it so sorely lacks to take UFOs seriously — data.
“What I really liked about this case is that nobody knows about it, it hasn’t been contaminated and destroyed by ufologists,” says Tulien from his home near Minneapolis. “The old ufology’s gone, anyway. It’s been over with for years.
“This is not interpretation. This doesn’t prove anything; the ball lightning stuff — that’s a joke that’s been around for years. But it hasn’t been proven that this isn’t a terrestrial phenomenon. In fact, I think the Air Force is more than happy for everybody to believe this is ET because it throws everybody off base.”
Literally off base. In this case, the 91st Strategic Missile Wing and the 5th Bombardment Wing. Via interviews with the bomber crew, missile security, missile maintenance and military investigators, Tulien puts the USAF response to events beyond its control under a microscope. Some developments — such as radar systems confirming eyewitness accounts — you might anticipate. Others, like a puzzling break-in at a missile silo on the tail-end of this episode, come out of left field.
The most challenging data, which ABC aired six years ago, but without extensive analysis, are 14 photos of the B-52’s radarscope. As the crew attempted to get a grip on what it was encountering in the sky and on the ground, its UHF radio transmissions were twice disabled by a glowing object described as bigger than a KC-135. And within one three-second sweep of the antenna, the thing closed from three miles away to one.
Grainy images of these pix are in the Blue Book file, but Tulien was able to acquire first-generation copies courtesy of former Bomb Wing intelligence agent Richard Clark, who reviewed the photos within hours of the event and sent his analysis to SAC headquarters, which didn’t respond.
Forty years later, French space agency astrophysicist Claude Poher studied those images and determined that if the object could sustain its acceleration rates for roughly 12 hours, it could approach the speed of light, which would place it on the verge of interstellar travel. De Void isn’t qualified to review the math. But maybe you are. His equations are sitting there like clay pigeons.
“It seems to me that the discovery of this kind of energy, and the means to track it should be the highest priority for humankind,” Poher concludes, “even if the Minot UFO observations bring only concordant clues and not absolute truths.”
Tulien quickly concedes the evidence here is incomplete, for a variety of reasons. And that goes to the heart of his research.
“I want people to tell me where I’m wrong. I want to improve the work,” he says. “The official position right now is, OK, this stuff is real, yes it can outperform our aircraft and missiles, but don’t worry, it’s not intelligently controlled. Well, this whole field can be transformed by a proper accounting of history. This is what I’m trying to do. I want people to please familiarize themselves with the material and tell me how I’m wrong.”
Let’s hope true scientists will do just that and apply their disciplines with rigor. But will the usual suspects who continue to insist there’s no legitimate UFO material to evaluate show a little intellectual integrity and please recuse themselves from the discussion?
. . . More
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