The Minot Air Force Base UFO Incidents – A Case Study

First Published: June 16, 2019 Written by: Marcus Lowth Estimated Reading Time: 18 minutes Posted in: Editorials

Like many other military installations around the United States, Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota has its own share of UFO encounters to its name. As does the state within which it resides. While we will examine other events shortly, one particular incident in the fall of 1968 would see multiple military personnel witness a bizarre and most definitely unconventional aircraft for over three hours.

Furthermore, radar operators would also read the strange anomaly, as it maintained its pace with a B-52 plane no less, while the crew of the B-52 would also witness the craft for themselves visually, and seemingly hovering on or near the ground below them. Perhaps of even more concern were the outer and inner-zone alarm systems of Launch Facility Oscar-7, which indicated a breach or override – either of which could have disastrous consequences.

The case would come under Project Blue Book before it would cease its operations the following year. Perhaps, then, this is the reason the incident has remained on the backburner of the collective memory instead of the fascinating and potentially earth-shattering event that it very much appears to have been.

Just what were the strange objects carrying out maneuvers unthinkable even today over the North Dakota air base? And for what purpose were they here? Was the incident intentionally and discreetly played down by the relevant authorities of the time? And if so, why? And might there be a connection to the many other UFO sightings in the area, and indeed across the United States and around the planet?

The Minot Air Force Base incidents lead us ultimately to the same question as other similar incidents. Just what is the intelligence behind these otherworldly crafts and how much do the appropriate governments know about it?

An “Unusual Light” In the Early Hours

In the early hours of 24th October 1968, around 1 am, while residents of the state of North Dakota were most likely asleep in their beds, a camper team at the Oscar-6 launch facility at Minot Air Force Base would notice a “large glowing object” overhead.

The unit, who were the above ground security for an underground operation being carried out by the Target Alignment Team, would report the sighting immediately to their on-duty superior, Security Controller Staff Sergeant, William Smith. According to the unit, the object “went down by some trees” near to the base.

A little while later, at around 2:30 am, another unit – missile maintenance crew, Robert O’Connor and Lloyd Isley – would issue a similar report to Smith. This time of an “unusual light” east of the base. The pair were driving at the time of the sighting, on their way to the N-7 launch facility. They would state the light, whatever it was, was “pacing their vehicle”. They would arrive at the launch facility and note that the craft was now south of their position.

Sensing that something truly extraordinary was afoot, the dispatcher connected O’Connor and Isley’s communications to those of Radar Approach Control (RAPCON). As the early hours gave way to the dawn, this open line would record multiple reports from Minot Air Force Base personnel.

Of most concern to the base were the remaining Launch Control Facilities (LCF), who steadily but surely, would begin reporting their own sightings of the strange, glowing object overhead their destinations, and the deadly payloads they housed.

Reports From All Around The Base And Launch Facilities

As events continued to unfold, so did the reports and varying details of this most bizarre encounter. One report claimed they could see an object that “looked like the sun” but which approached the security fencing of his location, hovered for a second, and then zoomed away again. The officer in question would send two of his team to follow the glowing object.

They would do so for around half a mile. Then, it appeared to land in a clearing. The lower it got to the ground the dimmer the light became until it disappeared completely.

Perhaps an even stranger report speaks of the “object separating in two parts and going in opposite directions”. They would then return and “pass under each other” very purposely. Several other reports would speak of a “large, brightly illuminated object” overhead that would “accelerate and change direction rapidly”. Furthermore, several colors would emanate from the object, from “brilliant white, to amber, and green”.

The reports were in abundance, and despite the differing details of the lights, the descriptions of the orange glow and the round or saucer-shaped craft is testament to the very real nature of the events of 14th October 1968.

While the military personnel on the ground would witness the objects – both on radar and visually – a returning B-52 plane to Minot Air Force Base would also experience one of the objects. And, it would appear, at close range, to boot.

“Somebody Is Seeing Flying Saucers Again!”

Shortly after 3 am, the B-52 plane in question, returning to the base following a 10-hour, high-altitude training exercise, would receive orders from RAPCON ground control. And those orders were loud and clear:

…look out toward your 1:00 position for the next 15 or 16 miles and see if you see any orange glows out there. Somebody is seeing flying saucers again!

Initially, none of the crew of the B-52 plane could see anything out of the ordinary. By the time they were making a direct approach to the runway at just after 3:50 am, they would receive further information from the RAPCON ground control. According to this latest report, the object in question was clear on their radar. Furthermore, the crew should be able to see it in their 1:00 position within the next 3 miles.

Is this information was coming through, the radar system on the B-52 began to also pick up the anomaly. Within three seconds, the object had seemingly covered two miles, causing palpable concerns among the crew of an imminent mid-air crash.  One of the crew members and navigator on the night in question, Captain Patrick McCaslin would recall:

I knew whatever it was that there was something there that I’d never seen on radar. I don’t know of anything that could go laterally in three seconds, two miles, and just stop. It was maintaining our descent rate, and then just laterally to one mile…perfect formation!

As the B-52 continued its descend with the UFO maintaining the 1-mile cushion to the left of the plane, the UHF radio transmission systems to RAPCON went dead. This would continue for around 20 miles.

Like A “Miniature Sun Placed On The Ground!”

Even more intriguing, just before the object vanished and the transmission systems came back online, the radarscope camera of the plane managed to capture several seconds of footage of the object as it “spiraled around”.

With the object gone, despite the obvious unsettled feeling among the crew, instead of coming straight into land they would run a practiced missed landing and so take back to the air. The plan was to circle around once more before bringing the plane into land for real.

However, before they could begin another approach, a high-ranking officer (a General at the base) would issue an order to abandon their landing and to take to the skies once more and attempt to locate and photograph the object. According to RAPCON, they had an unusual, stationary object around 16 miles north-northwest of the Minot facility. Furthermore, not only was the object stationary, it appeared to be on the ground.

The plane changed course and headed towards the radar anomaly. However, from 10 miles away, both pilots could see a huge “illuminated object” ahead of them. One of the crew, Major James Partin would recall how the object looked like a “miniature sun placed on the ground below”.

The plane would eventually be directly overhead of the glowing craft and would turn around, unintentionally using the objects circular edge as a guide to bring the craft back 180 degrees and in the direction, it had approached. As it did so, co-pilot, Captain Bradford Runyon would compare the craft’s exterior to “molten steel” due to the strange “dull reddish” glow it gave off.

The Apparent Breach Of Landing Facility Oscar-7

The crew would estimate the object was approximately 100 feet wide, by 200 feet long, and around 50 feet high. Also visible was a tube-like section on one side which would extend to what looked very similar to a car bumper. The back of this “bumper” was lit in a strange green-yellow glow which, in turn, lit the connecting tube. You can see some of the sketches of this part of the craft below.

Much like when the object had approached the B-52 during its descent, the communication systems again went dead as they passed directly over the top of the craft at an altitude of around 1,500 feet.

The B-52 would continue on its current course towards Minot Air Force Base, leaving the stationary object behind them. They would land at the base, almost two hours later than planned, at 4:40 am. Then, nine minutes later at 4:49 am, the alarms system from Launch Facility Oscar-7 – both the outer and inner-zone systems – would sound an alert of a breach of the facilities boundaries.

A Security Alert Team received orders to investigate immediately. When they arrived shortly after, they would find the main gate unlocked. The side access gate was also open. The team would investigate the area surrounding the interior and exterior of the facility, but no intruders were found, human, alien, or otherwise.

While the security team was conducting the search of Oscar-7, sightings continued to come in of the glowing object over the N-7 facility. By 5:30 am, the object appeared to have “diminished” and disappeared out of sight. As we have noted in previous articles, it is an interesting observation that the object appeared to glow less and less brightly as opposed to vanishing with breakneck speed. As if it ran out of power.

Shattered Faith In Procedure And Disclosure

Almost immediately following the events, and certainly, in retrospect and with the benefit of hindsight, it was obvious there was no desire on the military’s and their UFO investigatory arm Project Blue Book, to seriously establish just what had happened in the hours before dawn on 24th October 1968. And even less so of having a genuine explanation enter the public domain.

For example, while six of the ground staff were asked to complete the standard AF-117 form (Air Force Form 117 Sighting of Unidentified Phenomena Questionnaire) there were no attempts to speak with any of the B-52 pilots. In fact, only the efforts of private UFO investigators have managed to bring their version of events to the wider public.

Also worth noting, and again certainly indicative of the times with the backdrop of Vietnam and the Cold War, is the unquestioning nature of military officers and personnel. Despite their knowledge that the official story was not the “real” story, many (and understandably) would have faith that the military would make their findings public once complete.

Many of these “findings” were not ever arrived at much less declared to the public – at least officially. It is off the back of such blatant “brushing off” of these reports that many officers, with that faith now shattered, would turn to UFO investigators. Once such witness was the previously mentioned Captain Bradford Runyan. And we know from the many reports of other such incidents spanning several decades, that is far from alone in his perspective.

In 1998, three decades following the incident, Runyon would contact the Center For UFO Studies (CUFOS) in Chicago to not only report what he knew but to try and fill in the bits he didn’t.

A Connection To The 1966 Minot Nuclear Incident?

Although there is some discrepancy among UFO researchers and enthusiasts as to the authenticity of the incident, according to one report, a similar encounter took place at Minot Air Force Base two years previously in the fall of 1966.

The account comes to the public arena via one-time United States’ military member turned whistleblower, Captain David Schindele. He would claim in his recent book It Never Happened, Volume 1 that the nuclear facilities at the base were essentially “switched off”. And, according to Schindele, it was the UFOs or the intelligence behind them that was responsible for it.

This, of course, meant that such weapons could not be launched. Should such an alien force be hostile, we would essentially be defenseless to an attack.

In truth, stories did appear in state and local newspapers of UFO sightings at the time. In particular, a front-page story in the 6th December 1966 edition of the Minot Daily News who would claim that Minot Air Force Base appeared to be the focus of such sightings.

Whether Schindele is merely opportunistic in using the newspaper article or not is perhaps open to debate. However, he would claim that following the article’s appearance, the United States Air Force would “order” a ban on such coverage.

While this does, to many people, sound a little outlandish – not to mention difficult to police – it is not the first claim of its kind.

A “Realization” Of Unworldly Incidents?

Schindele had been speaking of his experiences in 2010 before he finally released the aforementioned book. He would claim that orders to “remain silent” or to never speak of one incident or another were relatively commonplace for those who spent any considerable time at Minot Air Force Base.

Many personnel would experience “unworldly incidents” while stationed there – in particular, while on duty at the surrounding facilities. In many ways, it is a knock-on effect of one whistleblower coming forward – not necessarily from the same air force base – that has led to several others doing so. Schindele explains that:

We never realized at the time that others among us were also experiencing incidents. But now, the truth is becoming known!

Following increasingly more revelations for former servicemen, combined with the declassification of military and government files, a momentum for “the truth” among such people is seemingly gathering pace, although we should note that many ex-servicemen refuse to speak of such incidents. Does this validate Schindele’s claims that “something” regularly occurred at the North Dakota military base? Or does it have the opposite effect?

We, like many other UFO researchers, have examined previously the apparent connection between nuclear facilities and places that store nuclear weaponry and UFO activity. Including that of Schindele and an extremely similar incident at Malmstrom Air Force Base in Montana. Even the famous Rendlesham incident, at least according to some has the storage of nuclear weapons at its heart.

The Gwinner Incident – The Randy Rotenberger Case

Around three months previously on the morning of 13th September 1966 at around 7:30 am in the town of Gwinner, North Dakota, schoolboy, Randy Rotenberger was stood outside his family home waiting for the school bus to arrive. As he stood there, however, instead of the bus arriving, “some flashing lights” appeared.

As the young boy stared in disbelief at the lights he could clearly see that they were part of a solid, nuts-and-bolts craft. He would recall to the press in the days following the incident that:

It looked like two bowls put together!

He would continue that there were “three pegs” on the underside of the craft and what appeared to be an antennae on the top. The exterior was a shining silver color with red and green lights flashing.

After bringing his thoughts back together, Randy ran back inside the home calling out to his mother as he did so.

She would later recall that, while she was finishing the phone call she was making when her son burst back into the house, she could hear a “whirring sound” coming from outside. At the same time, Randy was calling that “the UFO was taking off”.

His mother hadn’t arrived in time to see the strange craft for herself. The following day, however, Randy and two of his friends would discover apparent proof of its landing.

Twists, Rejections, And More Twists

The trio had made their way to where Randy had seen the object. Amazingly, and much to their disbelief, they discovered “some burnt marks” on the ground.

They were around a foot across and five inches deep. The positioning was very much in a triangular formation. It didn’t take Randy long to realize that these markings were likely the “pegs” he had witnessed on the underside of the craft the previous morning.

They would show their findings to Randy’s parents. They, in turn, would contact Cliff Melroe, who was the president of the Melroe Manufacturing Company. He would inspect the indentions and claim that after having spent his life around such heavy-duty equipment it was obvious whatever made the holes was an extremely heavy piece of equipment. And most definitely not the result of some kind of hoax.

However, General Homer Goebel from the Air National Guard in nearby Fargo would claim that the three holes were the result of “ball lightning”. Following this, the case would take another strange twist. The US Air Force would voice their own opinion on the matter. One that steadfastly disagreed with Goebel’s assessment.

Major Hames Aikman would state in a letter to NICAP that it was clear the depressions were “compacted solidly” in the ground. They would reject the “ball lightning” theory because of this and ultimately treat the incident as “unidentified”.

A Long, Rich History Of UFO Sightings And Encounters

There have been many such sightings in and around Minot Air Force Base and North Dakota in general. Although there is very little details, one of the first sightings on 3rd November 1958 has very similar details to the encounter that would unfold ten years later.

On that particular afternoon, at a little after 2 pm, Sergeant William Butler would witness a “bright green object” in the shape of a “dime coin”. Just behind this green object was a “silver round” craft, seemingly following. Then, without any warning, the green object exploded. The silver craft would make its way from the location at high speed.

Just under a year earlier at 4 am on 30th November 1957, although there was no visual sighting, radar operators at Minot Air Force Base would spot a “blip” on the radar screens. It would climb from 5,000 feet to 25,000 feet in only 20 seconds before it disappeared.

However, we will look first at an encounter that occurred in the neighboring state of South Dakota.

The Cactus Flat Incident, June 1976

Although the following incident occurred at Ellsworth Air Force Base in South Dakota, its (relative) close proximity to the Minot Air Force Base and the very similar details make it appropriate to include here.

At a little after 1 am on the 30th June 1976, at a ballistic missile launch facility under the ownership and responsibility of the Ellsworth base, a missile combat crew would report alarms suggesting a compromising of the facilities security.

A two-man security unit would make their way to the location. When they were around a quarter of a mile from the facility, they could clearly see a “fiery orange-red object” directly overhead of their target.

One of the men would exit the vehicle and follow it on foot. They would provide cover for the driver as they approached the facility from the access road. As they were almost at the perimeter, they could clearly see a “classic gray alien” standing near the fence. In the hand of the creature was a strange rod-like device. Interestingly, this is a bizarre detail that surfaces often in gray alien sightings.

The soldier behind the vehicle raised his rifle and shouted a warning to the creature. In response, the gray alien raised its hand and pointed the rod-like device at him. The next thing he knew, he was lying on the ground after being hit by some type of energy discharge.

Immediately following this, the creature and the glowing craft disappeared into the night sky. Perhaps of more concern, though, was the discovery that the nuclear warhead at the facility in question was no longer operational due to purposeful alterations.

Even more intriguing, were the sightings from the public of “UFO flyovers”. These would seemingly coincide with similar sightings over Minot Air Force Base.

Private Plane And Military Radar Spot Same Object, April 1964

At just before 9 pm on the evening of 28th April 1964 a civilian pilot traveling approximately 50 miles to the south of Minot Air Force Base would witness a strange object. It was moving across the sky around 4,000 feet below his altitude of 7,000 feet. At the same time, ground radar at the air base would also pick up an anomaly. And they would notice that it was following the private plane.

This pursuit would continue for around 25 miles before the strange craft seemingly disappeared into thin air. Whether there is a connection or not, and the distance is certainly considerable, this particular sighting occurred only days before the landing case on Socorro, New Mexico, otherwise known as the Zamora Incident.

The Summer Of 1967 Incidents

Several incidents and sightings occurred in and around the Minot Air Force Base region in the summer of 1967.

On the evening of 25th July 1967, for example, at around 10:30 pm a family would witness a “luminous object” moving erratically over their farm in the town of Garrison. The object was moving both “horizontally and vertically”. According to the witnesses, at one stage the glowing craft almost reached the ground. This would make the family think it was about to crash.

Interestingly, the family would note that when the object moved (relatively) slowly it would glow a blue-white color. However, when it moved faster the color would change to a bright red. This is a seemingly trivial detail that comes up a lot on UFO sighting reports. So much so, that it would appear there is a genuine correlation between speed and the color of these strange crafts.

Interestingly, an object of an almost identical description was reported near one of the missile facilities of Minot Air Force Base in late-October 1966.

Just over a week later, at around 11:30 pm on the evening of 3rd August in the town of Sawyer another sighting occurred. This time, two men would report a “light bulb” type object glowing white and moving across the sky before disappearing behind hills at the roadside.

Then, the object would rise once more into the sky to an altitude of 100 feet before moving to a wheat field where it hovered before landing. As the two men watched, the light of the craft suddenly went out for several moments. When it came back on, the craft was around 50 feet from the ground before speeding away.

The October 1967 Sightings – Two Incidents Within 30 Minutes!

Beginning at 3 am in the early hours of 27th October 1967 in the Parshall region of North Dakota, a waitress would witness a “large, round, revolving object” while driving home. The exterior of the craft also featured “alternating triangular areas of coloration”.

It was moving through the air relatively close to the ground. It would keep pace with her car while maintaining a distance equivalent to “two blocks”. Suddenly, as she continued to watch the strange craft several “white streaks of light” came from its underside and toward the ground. As soon as this happened, a strange feeling hit her car. As though she had four flat tires. Or as if the road had suddenly turned to loose rocks underneath her.

Although she didn’t know it at the time, a police officer would corroborate the sighting. He would report a low-altitude, round object that appeared like an aerial welding torch. In fact, so bright was this object that it would illuminate the ground below as it moved. It would change color from blue to a bright green white. Then, it would vanish directly upward in a matter of seconds.

Only thirty minutes later in Max, a milk truck driver beginning his rounds would witness a “spinning red object”. Even more, concerning for the witness, the object very much appeared to be actively following his truck. It would eventually catch up and proceed to “hover” over the top of his truck.

After several moments it would move towards a field that ran along the side of the road. It would accelerate in a moment, changing color to a bright blue as it disappeared.

Visual And Radar Confirmed Sightings Of The Seventies

Another sighting would take place a little over 8 years later on the morning of 10th November 1975 just after 10 am. It would appear in a NORAD Region Senior Director’s log. And once more, it would play out over the skies of Minot Air Force Base.

The object’s description was of a “bright star-like object” coming out of the west and moving to the east. Witnesses would estimate the object to be the size of a small car. Around an hour after the object was first seen at around 11:20 am it would pass over the radar station.

Despite the altitude of around 1,000 to 2,000 feet none of the witnesses would report hearing any sounds. Certainly not what people would normally associate with flight. The object would move away into the distance without incident and vanish from sight.

The incident was another event that had both visual and radar confirmation.

Almost exactly three years later on the evening of 2nd November 1978, a “large red light” circled with blue lights was witnessed over Watford City in North Dakota. Barb Ohnsrud, along with her son, Kent, would witness the object fly over their family home.

What was particularly strange about the sightings was the craft, after descending rapidly from above to a height of only 60 feet, it moved at a (relatively) slowly 25 miles per hour. The object would disappear into the night sky without a sound. Despite making a report, the incident remains unexplained. It is, though, in great sympathy with many of the other sightings of the area.

The Bizarre Encounter Of Antonio McCoy, April 1998

Perhaps one of the most intriguing and more contemporary sightings is that of 39-year-old Antonio McCoy from Minot. On the 13th April 1998, McCoy would awake suddenly inside a “round, whitish-blue room”. He was lying on “something”, although he wasn’t sure what it was.

Before he could contemplate what the surface might be under his back, he noticed a strange figure in a shining blue futuristic suit approaching him. In the creature’s hand was a device that looked like a “tiny tuning fork”. The creature, now next to McCoy, placed the device on his torso. McCoy would attempt to fight back against the strange device. However, he could feel something like an “invisible force” holding him down.

The next thing he knew, he was back inside his normal environment. He would suffer with “severe headaches” for a considerable amount of time following the incidents. Perhaps even stranger was the “strange black helicopters” that suddenly appeared over the neighborhood in the days after his encounter.

Whether there is a connection between these ominous and mysterious helicopters and the equally ominous encounter of Antonio McCoy is perhaps open to debate. However, as we have examined previously, their appearances continue across the United States, and further afield, still today.

The Recently Revealed 1972 Incident

In early 2017 a video appeared online featuring a missile security guard who claimed to have witnessed a “huge, blinding UFO” in the summer of 1972 near Minot Air Force Base. He would recall how he and another guard who he was on duty with witnessed the bright object before also seeing jets scrambled from Minot Air Force Base. Furthermore, the base itself went on instant full alert.

Just when the two security guards thought events had settled down, they would witness a formation of the bright objects appear overhead. They would appear to fly over the launch facilities. Furthermore, they would take a particular interest in this part of the military base.

Of even more concern, the security guard would claim that the United States Air Force hypnotized him in an attempt to stop him from speaking of the incident. Furthermore, he would sign secrecy documents stating his agreement to not speak of the events.

Even stranger, although no less concerning, are the claims that personnel at the base regularly took part in “UFO retrieval operations”. This, if true, might explain just why this particular military facility has such a rich history with UFO activity. We will examine this a little further in a moment.

Check out the videos below. A two-part interview which features an interview with the security guard in question.

 

A Hive Of Recovered Alien Technology Hidden In Plain Sight?

The events of October 1968 are undoubtedly – barring any events that remain untold – the most fascinating of all the UFO encounters to take place in the skies over Minot Air Force Base. Just what was the reason for those glowing saucer-shaped crafts to appear and maintain a presence over the military facility for several hours?

Perhaps of even more interest, what was the purpose of the landing that the B-52 witnessed? And was this connected to the alleged disarming of nuclear weapons?

And what should we make of the claims of the security guard above? That regular UFO retrieval missions have taken place out of the grounds of Minot Air Force Base? Might the facility still house such recovered alien technology today?

Might this explain the regular and persistent UFO activity in North Dakota? And, with the recovered alien technology aspect in mind, how many of the recent sightings have been extraterrestrial visitors? And how many might be black budget projects carried out by shadowy US government departments?

We know that such sightings continue today in the region. Might it be that Minot Air Force Base deserves more attention than it perhaps currently receives from most UFO researchers? Might it be that one of the locations to house alien technology – recovered from crashes or otherwise – has long been hidden in plain sight? With the focus of many looking at bases further south and to the west?

Check out the short video below. It is part of an ABC two-hour special Peter Jennings Reporting: UFOs – Seeing Is Believing from February 2005. It looks at the UFO and alien question as a whole. And also features almost five minutes dedicated to the 1968 incident above.

Disclaimer

The stories, accounts, and discussion in this article are not always based on proven facts and may go against currently accepted science and common beliefs. The details included in the article are based on the reports and accounts available to us as provided by witnesses and documentation.

By publishing these accounts, UFO Insight does not take responsibility for the integrity of them.  You should read this article with an open mind and come to a conclusion yourself.

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About Marcus Lowth

Marcus Lowth is a writer with a love for UFOs, aliens, and the Ancient Astronaut Theory, to the paranormal, general conspiracies and unsolved mysteries. He has been writing and researching with over 20 years experience. Marcus has been Editor-in-Chief for several years due to his excellent knowledge in these fields. Marcus also regularly appears as an expert on radio talk shows including Troubled Minds and Unexplained Radio discussing these topics.

You can contact Marcus via email.

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