Monday, February 03, 2014

Skeptic Robert Sheaffer Solves Famous “UFO” Sighting Case: Nuclear Missile Guards Were Terrified by the Planet Mars

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By Robert Hastings

     Or so the debunker claims. Sheaffer’s latest attempt to explain away all UFO sightings as misidentifications of man-made aircraft or astronomical objects, including bright planets, focuses on the now-well-known Oscar Flight case at Malmstrom AFB, Montana, on March 24, 1967. That incident involved the mechanical failure of several Minuteman-I nuclear missiles occurring just as a large, glowing, disc-shaped object briefly hovered above the entrance to the Oscar Flight Launch Control Facility—according to one of the U.S. Air Force launch officers on alert that night.

Capt. Robert Salas
Former U.S. Air Force Captain Robert Salas has stated that Air Force security police at the site were panicked by the UFO’s looming presence—the head guard estimated the object’s diameter at 30 to 40-feet—and one of them was physically injured during the encounter.

Decades later, in 1996, Salas finally located and telephoned the other launch officer who had been on alert during the incident, retired Colonel Frederick Meiwald, and tape recorded the conversation. An excerpt:
RS: I remember receiving a call first and the security guard said, ‘I’ve seen some UFOs up here flying around,’ and I said, ‘Ah, forget it.’ I didn’t believe him. I kinda hung up on him. And then, a little while later—I don’t know how long it was, maybe five, ten minutes, maybe longer—[he] called back and the guy sounded real scared and said there was [a UFO] just outside the front gate. And he also said, I recall, that one of the other guards had gotten injured in some way. I don’t think it was from the UFO; I think it was from trying to climb the fence or something like that. And then I hung up, or he hung up because he had to go—his guard got injured—and then I, I believe you were either getting up or I woke you up—and then some of our missiles started shutting down. Is that right?

FM: Uh huh.

RS: Is that about how you remember it?

FM: Right. We had security alarms and—

RS: Yeah.

FM: —and problems at a couple of the [missile] sites.

RS: Yeah, okay, okay. Well, I’m sure glad I found you. [Were there] any reports from the field about UFOs?

FM: I remember that two guards that we had [sent] out to one of the sites and finally got back scared to death and we had to relieve them of duty.

RS: Yeah. [Pause] Oh, you mean our guards?!

FM: Yeah.

RS: Oh, I [had forgotten] that.

FM: Yeah, a roving patrol type—

RS: Oh, I see—

FM: —and had gone out to one of the sites, the LFs, and on the way back they lost radio contact and we ended up having to send them back to the base early—I’m not sure what happened but I don’t think they ever returned to guard duty.
Colonel Fred Meiwald
On May 6, 2011, an obviously uneasy Colonel Meiwald reluctantly elaborated on his earlier remarks to Salas during a taped telephone conversation with me, excerpted here:
FM: I know that Bob [Salas] has relayed what happened at Oscar very accurately...I think it would be best if I said no more.

RH: Okay. But you will at least confirm that there were reports from the Security Alert Team of a UFO at the LF they were out at, is that correct?

FM: Yes!

RH: Okay, and it was quite clear that object was saucer-shaped—or do you recall what the description was, other than it being a UFO or a flying saucer? Do you have any sense of what they reported to you?

FM: All I remember is a bright object; a bright, flying object at low-level. Beyond that, I can’t say.

RH: But they were terribly frightened by their experience?

FM: They were upset and were directed to come back to the LCF.

RH: Okay, and I believe you said in your letter [to Salas dated October 1, 1996] that they were so frightened that they actually had to go [back to Malmstrom] early; they couldn’t complete—

FM: Well, one man I know was directed to go back to the base, at least one of them was—

RH: Okay, and—

FM: —Whether or not they flew a special helicopter out there to get him or not, I don’t recall that, but I know that he did go back to the base a very upset individual.
Meiwald readily admitted to me that he had been on a rest break when the first UFO appeared at the launch control facility and the missiles began malfunctioning. However, once Salas woke him up, he was completely aware of, and involved in, subsequent events—including being sworn to secrecy about the incident:
RH: Okay. Do you remember, well, you’re willing to confirm, as Bob has said, that your debriefing was in the presence of an [Office of Special Investigations] agent? Is that correct?

FM: That did take place.

RH: And you were required to sign non-disclosure statements about the incident?

FM: Right.
In summary, the two officers who were on alert in the underground Oscar Flight Launch Control Center have confirmed a bona fide UFO-presence during the dramatic events occurring that night, as well as the terrified reaction of a number of security guards who actually saw the objects in the sky. Of course, none of these facts will sway debunker Robert Sheaffer whose observation-of-Mars hypothesis is offered as the most likely explanation for the incident.

Sheaffer writes, “A bright, glowing orange UFO is allegedly seen over the base by security men, and then the Oscar Flight missiles were said to start going off-line, one by one. So let's examine that specific claim. Guards reported seeing a bright glowing orange object in the sky...Whenever witnesses report a bright object in the sky that is red or orange, the first thing to check is whether Mars might have been the culprit. Mars only appears conspicuously bright from earth for a period of a few months every two years. Sure enough, this was one of those times. Mars was only about 3 weeks away from its opposition of April 15, 1967, when it would be directly opposite the sun, and at its maximum brightness until the next opposition 26 months later. It would rise a few hours after sunset, and remain in the sky the rest of the night. The guards were very likely looking at Mars.”

One can recreate the sky on the night of March 24/25, 1967 at To see the rising of Mars above the SE horizon, input the latitude and longitude of the Oscar Flight Launch Control Facility, located just east of Roy, Montana (47-degrees N and 109-degrees W will be close enough) and set the Universal Time to 1967-03-25 4:38:00 (which is 1967-03-24 9:38:00 p.m. Local Time).

As the Earth rotated that night, the planet moved into the southern sky and then the southwestern sky before setting below the SW horizon around 1967-03-25 13:38:00 UT (or 6:38 a.m. Local).

In short, Mars traveled from the southeastern to the southern to the southwestern sky that night. Unfortunately for Sheaffer’s Mars-as-UFO theory, the guard who excitedly reported the large, glowing disc-shaped object to Salas on the telephone had to be looking NNW, which is where the launch control facility’s front gate was, relative to his assigned post in the Launch Control Support Building. Given that Mars was never visible in the northern sky at any time that night, it could not possibly account for the UFO sighting, despite Sheaffer’s claims to the contrary.

Oscar Flight Launch Control Facility, out side of Roy, Montana.
Oscar Flight Launch Control Facility, out side of Roy, Montana. (Click image to enlarge)

Launch Control Facility (LCF)_with security post denoted.
Launch Control Facility (LCF)_with security post denoted. (Click image to enlarge)

Once again, the frightened guard, who was screaming into the phone, had told Salas that the UFO was hovering just beyond the gate. Later, after the object left, he told Salas that it was 30 to 40-feet in diameter and that one of the guards was so terrified by its presence that he had apparently injured himself while climbing the barb-wire-topped security fence to get away.

I don’t plan to discuss at length the absurd notion that Mars, or any other planet, even at its brightest, could be mistaken for a 30 to 40-foot hovering disc-shaped object. Sheaffer and his ilk have always been able to engage in such reality-detached mental gymnastics—given their need to explain away the UFO phenomenon as misidentified prosaic objects at any cost—and nothing I can say will ever change that.

But what about the other UFO that was sighted by the frightened Security Alert Team as it hovered near one of the missile silos later that night? Could Mars have been the culprit in that instance, at least in the hopelessly biased mind of Sheaffer and those who think like him?

Given that Col. Meiwald has described the missile silo where the second UFO was observed as being “located just east of Highway 19”, only two sites qualify: Oscar-04 and Oscar-06. To travel between the launch control facility and either of these sites the two-man team would have first gone north on the LCF’s access road, then east on Route 191 until it intersected with Route 19. Oscar-04 is located just east of that junction, meaning that if the reported UFO was at that site, the panicky men would have been looking nearly due East when they were observing it.

But according to the astronomical data cited above, Mars was not in the Eastern sky at any time that night. And, even if it had been, the likelihood that the Red Planet would have thrown the security team into a panic, requiring actual hospitalization for one of the guards, is remote in the extreme. (Although Robert Sheaffer would probably argue otherwise.)

If, on the other hand, the object was above Oscar-06, the SAT team would have turned south onto Route 19 to reach it and the UFO would have appeared SSE of their position as they approached the launch facility. Hey, in this case, Mars may have actually appeared somewhere in the sky above the silo as they travelled toward it. But, again, the possibility that a bright planet was the cause of the team’s terror is highly unlikely, to say the least.

Significantly, Robert Sheaffer conveniently fails to mention is that another USAF veteran, former Captain Robert Jamison has substantiated Salas’ testimony regarding a UFO-related, full-flight shutdown at Oscar Flight. (Although Meiwald later recalled 6-8 missiles going off alert status, Salas has long said that he remembered all ten going down. In light of Jamison’s input, it appears that he was correct on this point.)

At the time of the incident, Jamison had been a Minuteman targeting officer who, along with other Combat Targeting Team members, was involved in retargeting the stricken missiles at Oscar Flight. He has said, repeatedly and on-camera, that his briefers told him and the other targeters that “UFOs had been messing with the missiles” before they left the base. Jamison provided all of this information to me during an interview in 1992, some three years before Salas went public with his own revelations.

Actually, as difficult as it will be for some people to accept, the event at Oscar Flight was not all that unusual. Thousands of declassified U.S. government documents refer to UFO activity at nuclear weapons sites—including laboratories, storage depots, test and deployment sites—extending back to December 1948. A small cross-section of those U.S. Air Force, FBI and CIA files may be reviewed at

Over the past 41 years, I have located and interviewed more than 140 U.S. military veterans who were directly or indirectly involved in one or more of those cases, including incidents at nuclear missile sites where the ICBMs mysteriously malfunctioned just as a disc-shaped aerial craft hovered near them. Affidavits issued by some of those witnesses—including former Minuteman missile launch and targeting officers—are available at the link above.

On September 27, 2010, seven of the veterans discussed a few of these cases at the UFOs and Nukes press conference in Washington D.C., which CNN streamed live. (See below). The event was also covered, mostly favorably, by mainstream media all over the globe.

UFO debunkers have for years attempted to dismiss the reality of these incidents, often claiming that my book and articles on the subject merely present my “theory” about UFO incursions at nuclear weapons sites. Actually, all I have done is to accurately present the contents of the now-publicly-available documents and the tape recorded testimony of the military witnesses who were involved, all of which demonstrate—beyond a reasonable doubt—a pattern of ongoing UFO activity at nuclear weapons sites over the past six decades.

Robert Sheaffer cites other “evidence” in his article to support the claim that there was no UFO activity at Oscar Flight by quoting former USAF missileer and skeptic Tim Hebert. Even though Hebert was not present for the incident, or any of the other UFO events discussed by my many ex-missileer sources, he has concluded that the UFO-Nukes Connection is non-existent and that all of his former Air Force colleagues who have publicly discussed dramatic UFO incursions at one Strategic Air Command base or another during the Cold War are, at best, misguided.

Hebert also maintains that I have “used” these witnesses for my own allegedly nefarious purposes. I won’t repeat here what those former missileers have said about Hebert to me in confidence, but I recently “used” seven of those ex-military sources again, when I interviewed them for the documentary film I am currently producing. As I have previously mentioned in various articles, all of these gentlemen have repeatedly and profusely thanked me over the years for my dogged efforts to get the facts out, despite the resistance I have encountered in some quarters.

To support his skeptical argument regarding the Oscar Flight incident, Hebert cites the 341st Missile Wing’s official history, which makes no mention of it, as if the ICBM shutdown event never happened. However, both officers on alert that night have said that they were told by an OSI agent that their event was classified Secret. Still-classified material would never appear in a wing history. Hebert knows this, or should know it, so his distorted commentary is most curious. Given that this problematic fact doesn’t mesh with his own skeptical thesis, he has apparently decided to ignore it.

Sheaffer also cites as evidence the demonstrably false pronouncements of James Carlson, the notorious, wild-eyed debunker who has made it a point of calling me and Bob Salas “liars and frauds” hundreds of times in his blog posts. Carlson’s father, Eric, was at another missile flight, Echo, when those missiles shut down, on March 16, 1967, eight days prior to the Oscar Flight incident. James can’t abide the fact that Salas and I have his father’s former missile commander, retired Col. Walter Figel, admitting on audio tape that there was indeed a UFO reported to him during that incident.

Although Carlson incessantly misrepresents—that is, lies about—what Figel has said regarding the Echo Flight case, one may listen to Figel’s comments to me on the matter—including the serious nature of the initial sighting report, the corroboration of the presence of “a large, round object” hovering over an Echo missile silo by security teams sent out to assess the situation, and the debriefing that occurred afterwards when Figel and James’ father were told never to discuss the incident—all of which Robert Sheaffer carefully avoids mentioning in his article. A brief excerpt follows here:
RH: What was the demeanor of the guard you were talking to?

WF: Um, you know, I wouldn’t say panicked, or anything [like that]. I was thinking he was yanking my chain more than anything else.

RH:: But he seemed to be serious to you?

WF: He seemed to be serious and I wasn’t taking him seriously.

RH: Alright. If it was a large object, did he describe the shape of the object?

WF: He just said a large round object.

RH: Directly over the LF?

WF: Directly over the site.
When I telephoned the elder Carlson in October 2008, to discuss the incident, he denied knowing about any UFO reports at Echo Flight, something that elicited this response from Col. Figel when I brought it to his attention:
RH: Uh, did you discuss the report with Mr. Carlson—that you were being told that there was a UFO at one of the sites?

WF: Um, he could hear it, uh, I mean he was sitting right there, two feet away from me—

RH: So—

WF: Whatever I said, he would have heard.
Despite Eric Carlson’s now-untenable insistence that there were no reports of UFO activity at Echo that day, when I asked him why his son James is so clearly out-of-control when attacking me and Bob Salas, Eric candidly replied, “James has some problems”. Moreover, in another telephone conversation with a colleague of mine, also in October 2008, Eric expressed concern that James might “have a nervous breakdown”.

Indeed, a great many people have responded to James Carlson’s manic online rants about Echo and Oscar with astonishment, regardless of their position on UFOs. One of his strongest supporters once called him excitable, which is putting it mildly. Carlson’s behavior may be due to his epilepsy, a brain-related syndrome associated with abnormal psychological manifestations in many of its sufferers. (Google “Epilepsy and Mental Illness” to review scores of scientific papers on the subject).

Regardless, although Robert Sheaffer cites James Carlson as a reliable source of information on the Echo and Oscar Flight incidents, a careful review of Col. Walter Figel’s recorded comments about Echo and Col. Frederick Meiwald’s recorded comments about Oscar, will expose the utterly false nature of Carlson’s many claims.

In conclusion, Robert Sheaffer’s latest article will appeal to his usual audience—persons who have already decided that UFOs don’t exist and are unwilling to take the time to investigate the facts, in an objective manner, or to listen to the
testimony of witnesses directly involved in the most important cases, such as the ICBM-related incidents. No surprise there.

Meanwhile, I am happy to report, two documentary films on the subject of UFO activity at nuclear weapons sites will be out before the end of the year, as will the German and Spanish editions of my book UFOs and Nukes (the Portuguese edition was published in Brazil last October). In short, efforts to educate people everywhere about the reality of the UFO phenomenon’s link to nuclear weapons are proceeding nicely, thank you.

See Also:

The Echo Flight ICBM Incident: Retired USAF Officer Confirms Receiving A UFO Report Just as the Missiles Failed

The Echo/Oscar Witch Hunt

My Evidence: The Account of Minute-Man Missiles Being Disabled, While UFOs Hovered Over The Launch Facilities

Telephonic Interview with Colonel Walter Figel (USAF Ret) of March 8, 2010 (Link 1)

Telephonic Interview with Colonel Walter Figel (USAF Ret) of January 8, 2009 (Link 2)

Telephonic Interview with Colonel Walter Figel (USAF Ret) of October 20, 2008 (Link 3)

VIDCAST: Former Boeing Engineer, Robert Kaminski Confirms UFO Activity at Echo Flight Missile Launch Control Facility in 1967

Malmstrom Air Force Base Picks Up UFO on Radar; "Sabotage Alert Team Located Another UFO Directly Over The Base"

UFO Lands Near Minuteman Missile Base; Affects Radio Transmissions - Defensive Measures Taken!

UFO Sightings at ICBM Sites and Nuclear Weapons Storage Areas

Air Force Staff Message: Malmstrom AFB Receives Multiple Reports of UFOs in The Great Falls, Montana Area

UFOS & NUKES | U.S. Air Force Fighters Chased UFOs at Malmstrom AFB in the 1960s and ‘70s

Whatever It Is The Air Force Must-Hunt For The Flying Saucer

UFOs & NUKES | Missile Shut Down at Malmstrom Confirmed By (Civilian) Veteran of Minuteman Program

UFOs & NUKES | UFOs Have Penetrated Restricted Air Space Over Nuclear Missile Sites; Jammed Vital Electronic Equipment & Eluded Fighter Aircraft



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  1. Hi Frank,

    I read Robert Hastings' article and I too had discounted Mars having any role in the story, however my opinions on the Oscar Flight story still stands...that should come as no shock.

    I'll respond in kind to Robert later with a posting on my sense getting into a pissing contest here.

    Kind Regards,

    Tim Hebert

  2. Hi Tim,

    Thanks for taking time to make comment.


  3. The general public is no longer buying the nonsense that the Tim Heberts, Michael Shermers, and Robert Sheaffers of the world are feeding us. Having read Sala's book and listening/watching countless hours of interviews with him, it is clear to anyone that he is incredibly intelligent, and honest to a fault. He is one of the most credible witnesses of such phenomena. His testimony coupled with that of his colleagues and others in the military make it quite clear that the UFO phenomena is "real" as in nuts and bolts and that the source of such is not any government on earth. I SO appreciate Mr. Sala's noble pursuit of the truth and we are angry, not just at our leaders, but at these so-called skeptics like the ones mentioned above who have sold out and will have to pay someday for their nefarious activity.


Dear Contributor,

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Additionally, healthy debate is invited; however, ad hominem and or vitriolic attacks will not be published, nor will "anonymous" criticisms. Please keep your arguments "to the issues" and present them with civility and proper decorum. -FW


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