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By Dave Olson
A routine bomber flight in the pre-dawn hours of Oct. 24, 1968, turned unforgettable for navigator Patrick McCaslin.
McCaslin and his B-52 crewmates were practicing maneuvers in the skies above Minot, N.D., when officials at the nearby Air Force base radioed a request.
“The tower called and said, ‘Could you guys keep your eyes open for anything unusual?’ ’’ said McCaslin, recalling that flight four decades ago.
“We asked, ‘What are we looking for?’
“They said, ‘You’ll know it if you see it,’ ’’ McCaslin said.
“This is a dim memory,” he added, “but I think one of the pilots said, ‘Are the missile crews seeing things again?’ ’’
McCaslin’s first move was to focus the plane’s radar into a narrow, high-intensity beam.
“I saw a (radar) return off to our right; it was faint on the first sweep and then it was very strong on the next sweep,” he said.
When McCaslin informed the pilots about the contact, they replied they couldn’t see anything because of cloud cover, but asked him to keep them apprised of what the object did.
What it did, McCaslin said, was move faster than anything he had ever clocked on radar.
“From one sweep (of the radar) to the next, it came from three miles to one mile,” he said. “Later, we computed the closure speed at 3,000 miles an hour.”
From there, it only got stranger. . . .
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