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  Columnist: James Carlson

Image credit: Ctd 2005

Echo flights of fantasy - part two

Posted on Thursday, 2 December, 2010 | 0 comments
Columnist: James Carlson

[!gad]The discussion regarding the cause of the Echo Flight Incident continues in the 341st Strategic Missile Wing and Combat Support Group Command History covering April-June 1967. "During testing at Boeing, a 30 micro sec Pulse (-10 to 0 volt square wave) was placed on the Self Test Command (STC) line at the C-53P Coupler Logic Drawer interface (STC). Seven out of 10 separate applications of a single Pulse, would cause the system to shut down with a Channel 9 & 12 No-Go.

"Subsequent testing at Autonetics has resulted in the following explanation of what probably happens in the Coupler Logic Drawer. The Pulse inserted is long enough to initiate the Coupler Self test sequence within the C-53P. However, it is not of long enough duration to enable control lines to the computer to place the computer in a Coupler test loop Mode. This causes the Coupler to issue a sequence error due to lack of coincidence between G&C and Coupler Modes. This sequence error, together with the action of two other flip flop outputs (M-17 & M-20), is sufficient to initiate the Coupler and G&C No-Go shut down.

"The effort at Boeing NRA was to determine the source and most likely path of noise Pulse to the Logic Coupler. The results of the Electro Magnetic Pulse (EMP) testing at the LF and Wing IV indicated that the Sensitive Information Network (SIN) were susceptible to noise of the type that could have caused the problem.

"The SIN lines go only from the LCC to all of the LF's in the flight, which could explain the flight peculiar aspect of the problem."

Had a UFO been involved with this incident, the many months of experiment and procedure by USAF personnel, Boeing Corporation and Autonetics scientists and technical representatives would have hardly been necessary. The documents at all levels of the chain of command very plainly establish that the cause of the missile failures was an electronic noise pulse that entered the Logic Coupler within the LCC and shut down all of the LFs from that central location. In July 1967, message traffic from SAMSO, Norton AFB, in California to OOAMA, at Hill AFB, Utah updates recipients on efforts by the Malmstrom AFB Echo Flight investigators to determine the "singular cause." These messages state right up front that it could not yet be determined; it adds, however, that several follow-on actions had been identified.

When dealing with the effects of transient, random signals, this is very often the most anyone could reasonably expect, especially in 1967 when the effects of such signals on the microcircuitry in use was not fully understood. One of these follow-on actions requested of OOAMA was the "further investigation of the status of the Wing I power system to determine whether commercial power switching of the ten LF's simultaneously to diesel and subsequently returning simultaneously to commercial power could have caused a load transient creating the anomalous turn-off." Two observations should be immediately evaluated at this point: (1) investigators were certain that they were looking for a transient signal that caused a "normal, controlled shutdown” from within the LCC, and (2) would any of this discussion be taking place at all if a UFO had been involved? The same messages request further susceptibility tests be conducted on C-53P logic couplers, and that consideration be given to the incorporation of a force mod cable pulse suppression fix. The only reason a cable pulse suppression fix would even be considered would be to correct a problem caused by an internal signal traveling along the interior cable, not an external signal somehow affecting already shielded equipment, such as the UFO theorized but otherwise unsupported by Salas and Hastings.

ICBM histories maintained as TOP SECRET NOFORN documents until 2004 confirm that measures to correct the susceptibility of the Logic Coupler to electromagnetic interference of this type were already scheduled in force modernization orders for the Minuteman II systems across the entire nation. These included the installation of electromagnetic filters at the incoming junctions of the guidance and control systems of Minuteman II. The same filters were expected to work equally well with any electromagnetic pulse travelling along the same lines, so the USAF rewrote the force mod orders to include the Minuteman I systems. That solved the problem.

Salas, Hastings and a number of other researchers have repeatedly insisted that the USAF investigation of the Echo Flight Incident was unable to determine either the cause or the exact pathway and origin of the signal that shut down the missiles, suggesting that this great mystery points to an unearthly source. They fail to note, however, that the investigation did determine the cause, and upon placing that cause – an electronic noise pulse – within the LCC, the necessity to determine pathway and origin of the signal dropped off significantly. A noise pulse is a random electromagnetic event, so the origin is going to vary, and due to this characteristic, it is rarely necessary information to prevent the damage such phenomena may ultimately be responsible for in the future. The pathway of the signal was important, but it was also fairly easy to determine once they established that the noise pulse originated within the LCC. The LCC is a very limited and enclosed environment. In order to affect all ten LFs, no pathway other than the SIN lines was possible, and this is very clearly stated in the documents Salas was sent by the USAF in response to his FOIA request.

The one question that the USAF wanted answered above all others was how to prevent the incident from recurring. And that was a fairly easy question to answer once they knew what component of the system was affected, and what degree of susceptibility to noise was characteristic of that component. Determining that degree of susceptibility was the whole point behind the months of experimenting that took place at the contractor facilities. Once those questions were answered, preventing any recurrence was as simple as extending the scope of force modernization orders intended for Minuteman II that were already in effect. The investigation team determined the cause, the susceptible component, and knew how to prevent it from happening again, and that’s all that was required of them. A full investigation to figure out the exact pathway and origin of the signal would have required taking down the LCC, and in 1967, nobody was going to do that.

This solution seems prosaic enough, yet it fails to account for most of the rumors regarding UFO interference at Echo Flight. And how are we to explain the alleged events at Oscar Flight and the UFO sightings on March 24-25 without simply dismissing them as having no merit?

In Timothy Good’s Above Top Secret, his reference to NICAP investigator Raymond Fowler’s early research mentions a UFO reported by above ground personnel at Malmstrom AFB “during the week of 20 March 1967.” According to Good, Fowler asserts that radar at Malmstrom AFB confirmed the presence of this UFO, and that it was coincident to an event during which all ten missiles failed at a single flight. All command histories and the highly classified ICBM histories agree, however, that the only incident in which so many missiles were taken off of strategic alert at one time was at Echo Flight on March 16, 1967. On page 36 of the command history obtained by Salas, it states very clearly that the “801st Radar Squadron, Malmstrom AFB, gave a negative report on any radar or atmospheric interference problems related to Echo Flight.” This establishes that the event could not have been the Echo Flight Incident. But if the event Fowler refers to that took place “during the week of 20 March 1967” was not the Echo Flight incident, what incident was it? Could it have been the November-Oscar Flight incident described by Salas that so many other witnesses insist never occurred?

In 1995, one-time Condon Committee UFO investigator, Dr. Roy Craig, published his memoirs of the many months he worked with Condon in a book entitled UFOs: An Insider’s View of the Official Quest for Evidence. In this book, Craig discusses his own account of the Echo Flight Incident: “In one such instance, the integrity of a major weapon system was brought into doubt by a failure which rumor attributed to the presence of one or more UFOs in the vicinity [emphasis added]. It is easy to understand why the information that such a failure had occurred would be closely guarded, for if a potential enemy knew that a major defense system could be made inoperative, the deterrence value of that system would be lost.

"In this instance, the ability to launch a flight of ten Minuteman missiles near Malmstrom Air Force Base in Montana had been lost. Recipients of the report that a UFO had been sighted over the area were certain the UFO was responsible for destruction of the control system. Upon receipt of this secret information, I arranged a trip to Malmstrom, ostensibly to talk with the chief of the operations division, Lieutenant Colonel Lewis D. Chase, about his earlier UFO encounter. Discussion of Colonel Chase's experience was one reason for the trip, but the timing was due to the very secret Echo Flight incident." With the entire matter being highly classified, of course, Chase refused to discuss it. What’s most interesting, however, is the fact that the date Dr. Craig used when describing the incident to Chase was not March 16, 1967, as all records indicate, but March 24-25, 1967. And his source for that information was NICAP investigator Raymond Fowler.

This allows us to reach a couple of interesting conclusions contrary to those discussed by both Robert Salas and Robert Hastings in their publications. First, Raymond Fowler very obviously did not know the actual date of the Echo Flight Incident. This supports the conclusion other analysts have reached that Fowler did not have the security clearance necessary to examine the Echo Flight materials. If he did have such a clearance, it’s reasonable to assume that he would have told Craig the correct date; it’s also likely that he would not have referred to the incident in his own research as occurring “during the week of 20 March 1967”, as described in Timothy Good’s Above Top Secret, It’s far more likely that Fowler had heard rumors regarding Echo Flight’s missile failures coincident to a UFO sighting, and simply assumed that the date was the same as that of the only UFO sightings recorded in March 1967 in Montana: the March 24-25 sightings over Malmstrom AFB and at Belt, Montana, about 15 miles to the east. This is also supported by Robert Salas, who published an article in October 2009 stating, “Fowler has told me that he only mentioned the rumors of the Echo Flight shutdown of 10 Minuteman missiles to Craig with some trepidation of losing his job and security clearance.” He even refers to the Echo Flight Incident as “rumors”, an odd choice of words for someone discussing an already acknowledged historical incident. Fowler clearly knew far less than he thought he knew. Interestingly enough, Fowler’s 1996 communications with Robert Salas also prove completely that Salas was very much aware of the contents of Dr. Craig’s book very early in the evolution of his own claims. Unfortunately, he seems to have decided against discussing those claims with Craig in any attempt to reconcile their differences, and absolutely refused to discuss Craig’s assertions openly, at least not until after Dr. Roy Craig had died, at which point Salas very publically eviscerated the man’s memory and accused him of numerous “crimes” involving ill-advised investigative conduct, none of which can be supported.

Second, if Fowler didn’t have the clearance to know the date on which the incident happened, which is apparent, Salas’ assumption that Fowler’s position on the Sylvania Minuteman Board was enough to allow him an insider’s view of this UFO event is false. This is also supported by the fact that Sylvania is not mentioned anywhere in the Echo Flight documents as having any role in the investigation, contrary to Salas’ claims in October 2009. Sylvania’s only connection to Malmstrom AFB at all was due to the contract they picked up to complete the ground electrical grid for the 564th Squadron, the only Minuteman II system on Malmstrom AFB; it was located on the west side of Malmstrom AFB over two-hundred and twenty miles away from Echo Flight, which was to the east. Raymond Fowler’s position on Sylvania’s Minuteman Board was close enough to the events that took place that he was made aware of the missiles failing, probably in the context of a rumor, exactly as Salas describes it. But without having the clearance for information access, he wasn’t privy to any of the details characterizing the event. All he could say was that the incident had occurred. He didn’t know the date, he didn’t know any details, but since he did work with Minuteman missiles he picked up on the rumors of the incident itself, and the fact that an entire flight of missiles had been taken off of strategic alert. That information alone was classified, and as Salas points out, he was well aware of that little detail, but it didn’t stop him from disclosing it to Dr. Roy Craig, who had no clearance, and who should not have been made aware of anything at all regarding the incident, which was still under investigation. Fowler has since admitted to passing classified information to other individuals as well who also lacked the security clearance needed for access, including a newspaper reporter. There is no doubt at all that his discussion of this event with Dr. Craig added substantially to the UFO rumors that have been wrapped around the Echo Flight Incident since its occurrence.

We should note as well that the trip Craig made in order to discuss these matters with Colonel Chase was in October 1967, well after Kaminsky’s role in the investigation had ended, and well after Salas’ determination of “no cause” had allegedly been reached by Kaminsky’s team. Dr. Craig is very clear that the investigation into Echo Flight was still ongoing even at that late point, proving that Salas’ summary of the investigation’s findings and Kaminsky’s supposed agreement regarding those findings were overly hasty at best, as none of the conclusions reached during the investigation had yet been determined or published. This scenario is also supported by all of the FOIA documents regarding the Echo Flight Incident thus far published – over 80-pages worth, 90% of which have been ignored by Robert Salas, James Klotz, Robert Hastings, Raymond Fowler, Timothy Good, and, most recently, Leslie Kean, all of whom have discussed this case as a UFO incident, ignoring in the process the testimony of the only actual witnesses who have ever come forward: Captain (Retired) Eric D. Carlson, the commander of Echo Flight, and Colonel (Retired) Walter Figel, Jr., the deputy commander of Echo Flight. For the record, Chase refused to correct Dr. Craig’s error regarding the date, because he was not supposed to discuss it at all, not because he was trying to mislead Dr. Craig, as Salas has since inferred. He did inform Craig, however, that the incident was not related to UFOs at all. This was not a violation of classified materials protocol, because any mention of UFOs in connection with the Echo Flight Incident was UNCLASSIFIED from the very beginning, as the original documents relied upon by Salas and Klotz very clearly establish. In addition, Dr. Craig left Chase completely confident that although the Echo Flight Incident was highly classified, it had no relevance to any discussion of UFOs. “Since Colonel Chase was the last man I would doubt when he conveyed this information, I accepted the information as factual, and turned review of Major Schraff's report over to Bob Low, who had received security clearance to read secret information related to the UFO study." Captain James H. Schraff was the actual head of the Echo Flight Incident investigation team, not Bob Kaminsky, as both Salas and Hastings have repeatedly insisted. Robert Low, Craig’s colleague on the University of Colorado UFO Study headed by Condon, was also refused access to the investigation team’s report, because although he had a SECRET security clearance, like Raymond Fowler, he also lacked the necessary need-to-know, like Raymond Fowler. For Low, however, need-to-know was based on “information related to the UFO study.” As a result, if the information he requested did not concern UFOs, he was not granted access to examine it. This was very simply a matter of well-enforced security protocols alone – protocols that have been well-defined and in use since World War Two – and had nothing at all to do with the high-level cover-up of a UFO incident that Robert Salas, Robert Hastings, and Raymond Fowler have all insisted was well underway by this time.

An examination of Fowler’s original notes – the source, presumably, of Timothy Good’s information – suggests even more remarkable revelations. The original source for the information Fowler admitted to both Salas and Good was another Sylvania employee name Ivar Dahlof. Like Fowler, Dahlof would not have had the necessary clearance to examine the Echo Flight materials either. Nobody at Sylvania did. Dahlof nonetheless, according to Fowler, associated a UFO event at Malmstrom AFB, during which time the UFO was radar-visible, and jet fighters at Malmstrom AFB were scrambled in pursuit, with the Echo Flight Incident. He suggested that these two events occurred at the same time during the week of March 20, 1967. More importantly, however, an email that Robert Salas sent to Raymond Fowler in July 1996 states that, upon contacting him, Dahlof was “not very helpful.” Salas told Fowler that Dahlof "had no recollection (he said) of the radar visuals or sighting of the UFOs at Malmstrom." So, once again, a presumably reliable witness had turned out to be “not very helpful” in establishing the story that Salas wanted to tell. It should be noted that the March 24-25, 1967 UFO sightings reported were radar-visible, although there is no confirmation that fighters were scrambled to intercept them. The absence of an appropriate security clearance for access to more accurate information suggests that Dahlof, followed later by Fowler, had confused the Echo incident of March 16 with the March 24-25 UFO sightings, a conclusion supported by Fowler’s disclosure to Dr. Craig that the Echo Flight Incident occurred on March 24-25, 1967. Dahlof, and then Fowler, may have picked up on rumors of a UFO associated with Echo Flight as a result of the maintenance technician’s offhanded mention of a UFO to Figel, but since the only UFO sightings reported were on March 24-25, they associated those sightings with the E-Flight failures. Any examination, however, of either the statements released by the officers manning Echo Flight on March 16, or the actual documents related to that event insist that a UFO was not involved. The UFOs reported on March 24-25, however, seem to fit fairly well the descriptions attributed by Fowler to Ivar Dahlof.

Although this analysis establishes Dahlof’s and Fowler’s probable responsibility for the excessive rumors about UFOs at Echo Flight, there is still the question of an Oscar Flight incident occurring March 24-25, 1967. After all, the absence of UFOs at Echo Flight does not necessarily indicate that there were no UFOs at Oscar Flight, since Salas and Hastings now associate that incident with the March 24-25 time frame. Fortunately, there is more than enough evidence to show that this event as well could not have occurred as Salas and Hastings have insisted. Oddly enough, that evidence also involves the burden placed upon USAF investigators by unfounded UFO rumors.

Fortunately for the integrity of the investigative process, “operations chief” at Malmstrom AFB was only one of the responsibilities that Colonel Lewis D. Chase had been assigned; he was also the Malmstrom AFB UFO officer. As such, it was his responsibility to investigate all UFO reports made to the command in order to determine whether any further action needed to be taken. As a result of this, when numerous reports of a UFO sighted over Malmstrom AFB started coming in on March 24-25, he found himself automatically on duty, a duty in which he ultimately found himself in Belt, Montana taking statements from the town sheriff a couple of hours after a truck driver and a traffic cop reported a light descending into a nearby ravine. Surprisingly enough, the general characteristics, descriptions, and testimonies that Chase recorded during the course of his investigation are not really that important in relation to the events Salas associated with them some forty years later. Only three points really need to be mentioned: (1) all of the sightings reported were clustered around the administrative area of Malmstrom AFB and regions south and to the east of the base as far as the town of Belt, Montana; there were no reports at all between Belt and the eastern missile sites, which included Echo Flight, November Flight, and Oscar Flight, all of which were about 120 miles from the main base; (2) the sightings reported from Malmstrom AFB were confirmed on radar for a fairly extended period of time; and (3) the sheriff of Belt told Chase that the extensive radio reports discussing the UFO sightings had persuaded hundreds of listeners all over the state to go outside and actively search for UFOs; there were so many people outside hunting for UFOs that the supposed landing spot, just off of the road leading into Belt, Montana was compromised completely before Chase could even examine it. There are newspaper accounts describing how one woman removed a number of branches from the scene that she claimed were “freshly broken, and appeared to have been broken in a whirling fashion” – definitive evidence indeed, but never actually examined because she had removed them, broken them off herself and took them away for whatever forensic assessment she may have been capable of. Not one of the individuals actively searching the skies reported anything between Belt and the three eastern missile flights referred to. Chase filed his report shortly thereafter and sent it up his chain of command, which, as a result of his position as UFO officer, included Project Blue Book, the facility tasked with investigating UFOs reported to or by the USAF. As a member of NICAP, Raymond Fowler was very well aware of this. In addition, the sightings were the only area reports of UFOs detailed in local newspapers.

Over the course of the next four months, while the investigation of Echo Flight was still underway, a number of rumors regarding the UFO sightings of March 24-25, 1967 made their way to the Foreign Technology Division at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio. Because it was their responsibility to investigate such matters, they drafted a memorandum requesting further details from the onsite investigator at Malmstrom AFB, Colonel Lewis D. Chase, the command operations chief, and the UFO officer: “Our office has been informed that during the sightings there were equipment malfunctions and abnormalities in the equipment. One individual stated that the USAF instructed both military and civilian personnel not to discuss what they had seen as it was a classified government experiment. Request information on the validity of such statements. If some type of experiment did occur on or about 24 March 1967, please advise.” In other words, they had picked up on a number of rumors regarding equipment failures coincident to the UFO sightings of March 24-25, suggesting that the report they had previously received may have been incomplete. Naturally, they wanted an explanation.

Colonel Chase responded immediately: “This office has no knowledge of equipment malfunctions and abnormalities in equipment during the period of reported UFO sightings. No validity can be established to the statement that a classified government experiment was in progress or that military and civilian personnel were requested not discuss what they had seen.” Very simply put, the original report was complete, there were no equipment failures, and we don’t know anything about such an experiment being conducted. And if there were no equipment failures on March 24-25, 1967, as Chase clearly states, than there was no Oscar Flight incident on March 24-25, 1967, as Salas and Hastings insist.

Robert Salas has written that Colonel Chase simply lied to the Foreign Technology Division, and since Colonel Chase passed away some years ago, he cannot defend himself against such libel; the charge, however, is absurd. Before 1961, when the Foreign Technology Division at Wright-Patterson AFB became the “Foreign Technology Division”, it was called the Air Technical Intelligence Center (ATIC), and was considered one of the most powerful and important intelligence hubs in the U.S. Department of Defense. It would later become the National Air and Space Intelligence Center. When captured MIGs were taken apart and rebuilt so the Air Force could learn as much about them as possible, it was the Foreign Technology Division that was responsible for the job. But that was only one of its responsibilities. The Foreign Technology Division was in charge of a lot of aerospace intelligence missions. As ATIC, it was in charge of Projects Sign and Grudge, the importance of which most UFO historians will immediately recognize. As the Foreign Technology Division, it was in charge of Project Blue Book, the office tasked with investigating UFOs for the USAF. By the spring of 1967, well after the Headquarters Research and Technology Division staff was consolidated with Air Force Systems Command, all of the high technology research and development laboratories were interconnected all the way to the top of the Air Force authority structure with the Foreign Technology Division running everything having to do with UFOs. They were also in charge of investigating new technology being used against USAF weapons systems, new technology that might be used against USAF weapons systems, and new technology used against the USAF’s or other nations’ weapons systems that might in turn be adopted or modified for use by U.S. military forces. In its role as the direct superior office to Project Blue Book they represented Colonel Chase’s direct authority chain of command due to his position as the UFO officer of Malmstrom AFB, an authority that no one at either Malmstrom AFB or SAC had the authority to circumvent. The Foreign Technology Division represents the very last military authority that Chase would have knowingly lied to, and doing so would have been considered a very serious infraction.

Colonel Lewis D. Chase conducted his investigation in accordance with AFR 80-17 (Air Force Regulation), written orders which went into effect in September 1966. Any review of that regulation immediately notes: “FTD [Foreign Technology Division], Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio, will prepare a final case report on each sighting reported to it after the data have been properly evaluated. If the final report is deemed significant, FTD will send the report of its findings to AFSC (SFCA), Andrews AFB, Wash D.C. 20331, which will send a report to HQ USAF (AFRDC), Wash D.C. 20330. … All Air Force activities will cooperate with UFO investigators to insure that pertinent information relative to investigations of UFO are promptly obtained. When feasible, this will include furnishing air or ground transportation and other assistance.” These are not optional orders. Refusing to obey them is grounds for court martial, and Robert Salas is very well aware of this.

Colonel Chase did not lie to FTD, and even raising the issue is an unwarranted attack on a USAF officer whom Dr. Roy Craig described as “the last man I would doubt.” Chase’s well-established honesty puts Salas in a somewhat uncomfortable position, because no equipment failures on March 24-25, means no Oscar Flight incident on March 24-25. And that means that after fifteen years of constantly being forced to backpedal, changing the location of his story twice, changing the date to fit the biased and ill-advised commentaries from Robert Hastings, and never being in agreement with the only actual witnesses to the Echo Flight Incident, Robert Salas now has nothing believable to stand up for, and the fictional claims he has been asserting since 1995 have once again been proven false.

The UFO rumors that found their way to FTD, forcing that office to query Chase regarding his earlier report, are nonetheless interesting. They assert that “One individual stated that the USAF instructed both military and civilian personnel not to discuss what they had seen”, so the origin of those rumors should be discussed. This analysis, moreover, has already discussed “one individual” who was definitely responsible for similar rumors as a result of his disclosure of classified information to individuals who had no security clearance. This same individual was also one of the very few men who happened to possess knowledge of the Echo Flight missile failures, knowledge of the UFO sightings on March 24-25, including the added detail that those sightings were confirmed on radar, and seems to have believed very early in the investigative process that the Echo Flight Incident and the March 24-25 UFO sightings occurred at the same time: Raymond Fowler, the NICAP investigator who didn’t even know the date of an event he continued nonetheless to discuss with uncleared personnel. He certainly qualifies, and he obviously didn’t mind theorizing about an event he didn’t know half as much about as he thought he knew. And he was certainly trying to get people to take note of the UFO aspect of the Echo Flight case, even though he was unable to provide any evidence whatsoever to support such claims. And there could not have been very many people at all who were aware of the equipment failures represented by the Echo Flight Incident, but believed they had occurred on March 24-25, 1967, in connection with the UFO incident investigated by Colonel Chase. When asked outright whether or not he was responsible for the UFO rumors surrounding this case, Raymond Fowler declined to answer. But he didn’t deny it either.

What Fowler did do, however, and this is a credit to the man’s integrity as an investigator, is to forward all of his personal notes regarding his UFO investigations at Malmstrom AFB to the author of the current analysis. These documents contain handwritten notes Fowler wrote indicating that a contact of his in Seattle, named Russ Lawson, an employee of the Boeing Corporation, had told him on April 12 that a "bright round white object circling MAFB missile site in up & down motion" was seen by many USAF personnel. He told Fowler that the USAF had issued a memorandum stating that this UFO was part of a "highly secret govt. testing project" that was not to be publicized, adding that a local operator of a commercial radio station was instructed "not to elaborate on [the] sighting." On another page of these notes, Fowler has written that the sighting occurred in the afternoon. With the exception of this last detail, which fits none of the incidents that have been discussed, UFO-related or not, the overall description seems to coincide nicely with the rumors that had made their way to FTD shortly thereafter.

In FTD’s memo to Chase they report that “One individual stated that the USAF instructed both military and civilian personnel not to discuss what they had seen as it was a classified government experiment.”

Raymond Fowler’s notes state "USAF issues a memo stating it is a highly secret govt. testing project not to be publicized -- said local opr. at commercial radio station asked by USAF not to elaborate on sighting." Setting aside the complete absence of any actual witnesses supporting Lawson’s claims, his statement can probably be dismissed on the grounds that the USAF does not issue memorandums that cannot be documented, the “many USAF personnel” mentioned have never come forward, and cannot be ascertained, and the operator of a local radio station has never been tracked down, although the number of radio stations that can be called “local” cannot possibly be such a large number that such an important witness would simply disappear. As for the UFO itself, the fact that FTD was unaware of it, associating it with the only UFO sighting they had to go on, speaks volumes regarding its supposed authenticity. It has already been established that Raymond Fowler was aware of both the Russ Lawson statements of April 12, 1967 discussing “a classified government experiment” and believed as well that the March 24-25 UFO sightings were associated with the missile failures at Echo Flight. The odds that anybody else on the entire planet meets those requirements must be insurmountable, under the circumstances. Most of this information was, after all, highly classified in 1967. It’s probably safe to say, therefore, that the rumors that eventually reached FTD originated with Raymond Fowler, NICAP investigator, extraordinaire.

As a result of this, it’s also a sure bet that Colonel Lewis Chase was not conducting a high-level cover-up of a UFO-related incident and was therefore being completely truthful when he told the Foreign Technology Division that there were no equipment failures on March 24-25, 1967. And that means there was no Oscar Flight Incident as Robert Salas and Robert Hastings and a fairly large number of other UFO “investigators" and “researchers” have assumed since Salas first discussed the matter in 1995.

One loose end is left to cut away. In Timothy Good’s book Above Top Secret, he refers to a “nearly identical event” that occurred at Malmstrom AFB the previous year, insisting that while neither of these incidents were confirmed UFO reports, he sees “no reason to doubt” them. It should be possible to account for this as well, if there is any truth to it, particularly if Raymond Fowler is the original source as Good indicates. After all, Fowler has been lamentably used by Salas for many years, but he has not knowingly lied about any of the cases he has discussed. He has also shown himself completely willing to share as much information as he could possibly provide, even to someone considered by many to be skeptical of UFO claims. It is apparent, however, that he has also been unable to step back a bit from his original analysis in order to see the obvious fallacies to the arguments that have been made by Salas and Hastings. Whether this is due to his unsupported belief that UFOs were involved at Echo Flight, or because he desperately wants to affirm a “classified government experiment” is unknown; what is known, however, is that he is basically an honest man. His long-standing investment in the outcome of this particular case is simply too great to enable a more even-handed approach. In any case, as a result of Fowler’s basic honesty, it should be possible to substantiate something about the “nearly identical” case that Timothy Good, as a result of Fowler’s original research, mentions in his book.

The 80-pages of FOIA documents discussing the Echo Flight Incident are very clear in regard to this as well. On pages 39-40 of the same document used by Salas and Klotz in support of their UFO claims, pages that they neglected to publish or otherwise account for in the many years during which they have publically discussed this case, it states: “In reviewing the maintenance history of the Wing, it was discovered a similar incident occurred at Alpha Flight in December 1966. On 19 December 66, A-Flight had some of its LFs shutdown (A-6, A-7, and A-10). The similarity between the two flights was: The same capsule crew, adverse weather conditions, and commercial power failure after the facilities shutdown.

"Since weather condition and capsule crew have been eliminated as causes of the incident, investigation of electrical failure was started." In other words, this incident at Alpha Flight was “nearly identical” to the event at Echo Flight, and took place only three months before. The investigation team noted the similarity between the two events, because it was useful; it enabled them to reach their conclusion that the cause was a Wing I peculiar problem. The same combination of errors they reported had never been recorded at Wings II through V, so the comparison was an important diagnostic tool by the maintenance technicians involved in the immediate troubleshooting related to the incident. This interpretation of the event is also supported in Raymond Fowler’s original 1967 notes, referred to by Timothy Good, which record the contents of a phone call Fowler received from Jim Pompelli. Pompelli was another Sylvania employee who only worked on the Minuteman II system, and therefore lacked the necessary clearance to examine any of the actual documentation. In other words, like Fowler himself, he could only discuss the “rumors” he had picked up. Specifically, Fowler’s notes indicate that Pompelli “Phoned to tell me that he heard ‘A’ Flight had gone down as well during this same period but had no exact date.”

On another page, Fowler wrote, "'A' Flt went down / Strike Team out & saw UFO / Paper said AF had on radar / Jim Pompelli". This is the first and only time this particular event has ever been associated with UFO interference by anybody who worked anywhere near the flight itself, and it was never confirmed. These notes were sufficient, however, to be referenced as an actual UFO incident in Timothy Good’s Above Top Secret.

There was no associated newspaper report for the Alpha Flight missile failures event, as Pompelli stated. There was, however, such an article reporting on the events of 24-25 March, 1967, illustrating the sometimes confusing course that a rumor can take in its eventual evolution into an unconfirmed UFO incident that a well-respected UFO investigator might find “no reason to doubt.” And so, with a simple snip of all loose ends, we see that not only were no UFOs involved at Echo Flight or any other flight of missiles taken off of strategic alert at Malmstrom AFB in March 1967, it is highly probable that questions of UFO intervention would not have been raised by anybody, had it not been for the investigation conducted by Raymond Fowler, a NICAP investigator who didn’t know anywhere near as much about UFOs at Malmstrom AFB as he thought he did. In closing, it should be stressed as well, that -- in contrast to Timothy Good’s opinion that although the UFO aspects of these events were unconfirmed, he sees “no reason to doubt” them – any claims of UFO interference with any of the four missile flights discussed in this analysis is completely unsupportable – and we see no reason to believe them. The full article along with scanned documents can be found - here.

Article Copyright© James Carlson - reproduced with permission.

  Other articles by James Carlson

Echo flights of fantasy - part one
Columnist: James Carlson | Posted on 11-25-2010 | 11 comments
The author of this article, James Carlson, is the son of Captain (Retired) Eric D. Carlson, the commander of Echo Flight on March 16, 1967. All of the details ...

Echo Flight UFO incident, March 1967
Columnist: James Carlson | Posted on 2-23-2010 | 21 comments
In this manuscript I debunk completely the Echo Flight UFO Incident of March 16, 1967, and prove that the myth of UFO interference with the nuclear weapons syst...

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