Thursday, July 7, 2011

The 1967 Wave

The Sighting Wave of 1967 - Indiana
A NICAP Subcommittee Investigation
By Francis Ridge

Francis Ridge


The Indiana-based NICAP Subcommittee, Indiana Unit No.1, headquartered at Vincennes, was authorized in November of 1960. The unit had investigated many cases on a local and regional level, and had been involved in the "concentration" in S. Illinois in 1963, but the wave of 1967 was one of the largest in history. The 7-man NICAP rapid deployment team, one of four in the state, was very busy that year. Since the news media was not covering the UFO subject very well, and communication with NICAP HQ in Washington was by newsletter distributed only four times a year, very few knew what was going on until long after the wave had subsided.

The report on the local wave was published privately in the spring of 1967. This paper is a major update of that report. Here, in chrono order, is what investigators were able to piece together 36 years later. To view a Regional Sighting Information Database printout of over 200 incidents investigated by the Indiana group, click on the link below:

RSID printout for six-state region in 1967

The event on or around January 3, 1967, at Richmond, Indiana, marked the first of many sightings for Indiana. At 2:00 AM an inverted mushroom-shaped object hovered over a car for 10-15 minutes. The area ahead was brightly lighted. Forward motion of the vehicle slowed, it was unable to accelerate, and there was a loss of steering control. (1)

The region was also experiencing strange objects in the sky. On an unknown day in January 1967, city, county, and state police were dispatched to an area west of Galesburg, Illinois after reports of sightings of a large UFO, "bigger than a trailer", with blue lights and a funnel on top were received. One Knoxville farmer and several motorists reported that the UFO "was round, big as a house, had no flying lights, but let off a greenish-blue light." Vibrations from the craft could be felt in the farmer's truck as it followed him along the Victoria blacktop about 7:00 PM. ( 34) And on January 7th, things were happening near St. Louis, Missouri. There was a sighting of a domed disc with lights on the dome, which hovered, tilted and sped away. (31)

The first sighting that the Vincennes, Indiana, NICAP Subcommittee investigated, occurred on January 10th.

January 10, 8:30 PM; Bruceville, Indiana
Mrs. Pam Ridgley and her son, Joe, were driving down the lane leading from their cabin when they observed an unusual object. It was dull gray, elliptical in shape, and glowing a sort of bluish color around the rim. It was low enough over the car and utility pole to get a good estimate of size. It appeared to be about 30 feet in diameter and about eight feet thick. It hovered for a few seconds, then accelerated slowly at first, then moved fast toward the east (east-southeast). It vanished in 6-8 seconds. The object exhibited a disc-shape as it banked slightly and several dim lights were seen on the rim. (2)

January 16, 6:00 AM; Vincennes, Indiana
On this date there were numerous reports of a glowing, bluish-green object which we were able to identify as a barium cloud launched from a rocket fired from Wallops island. The question that arose was, why are there, many times, barium clouds and radar chaff tests conducted during real sighting periods? Is this just a coincidence or does someone have these tests ready to deploy when people start seeing real UFOs? As you will see, something WAS going in in 1967, and all over the world. (3)

Jan 17, evening; Freetown, Indiana
Francis Bedel, Jr., (23) of Portland, Indiana, was driving on State Highway 135, a two-lane blacktop road, north of Freetown, he later reported to State Police, when a brilliant glowing white light darted into his field of vision. It apparently hovered over the road for a few seconds, then slowly reversed its course. Bedel was so busy staring at the spectacle that he lost control of his car, which left the road and was badly damaged. State Police who investigated said that Bedel was not drinking and was not injured in the crash.. (4)

Same evening; Freetown, Indiana
On the same stretch of highway on the same night, Mr. & Mrs. Phil Patton of Freetown, reported to State Police that a brightly lighted disc-shaped craft, about 30 feet in diameter, came down alongside their car. Mr. Patton told State Trooper Conrad that the object moved along the highway right in front of their car and about one hundred feet distant from it. They estimated that it was about 100 feet above the road and they described it as a circular in shape and about the size of a small house. The Pattons reported to police that they heard no sound from the object but that its outstanding characteristic was the extreme brilliance of its lights, predominately red but with flashing yellow and white along the side or bottom of the thing. After a half a minute, it flashed up and away. According to state police who investigated, the description given by the Pattons was identical to that given by Francis Bedel, the young man who wrecked his car while watching a similar spectacle, about a mile from the scene of the Pattons' experience. (5)

Controversial photo

Jan 19, 3:00 PM; Milan, Indiana
A photograph was reportedly taken of a UFO by Reed Thompson, a 15-year-old boy from Milan. The town constable stated that the boy was reliable and said that he had seen the photo himself. However, the boy refused to submit copies of the print or negative (35) mm to this unit after correspondence and long-distance telephone interviews. His report to us stated he watched the object for 5-7 minutes before it sped off. Later, one of our Indiana field investigators, Don Worley, obtained further information and a black & white copy of the original color photo, along with a report and drawings. (6)

The incident occurred about 3:00 PM. The sound of a "train" passing and a very bright light outside the window attracted his attention. The object had a silvery quilted surfaced and was about 6' by 8' in size, and was shaped like a "jar" with a top opening. It moved slowly by the witness' home, moving about 10' above the ground, keeping the ground contour and making angled turns around trees. Thompson said he grabbed a small camera and got one good photo of the object out the bedroom window. The object disappeared instantly when it got near a pine tree. The original photo, according to FI Worley, shows tree limb reflections on the sides of the object. He also stated that in the top of the object is a faint shadow of a figure's head and shoulder!!!! We never got to see a better version of the picture. Also of interest, the tree limbs where the UFO hovered finally died.

The Indiana State Police also investigated the incident and Reed was questioned. The initial report was taken by trooper Jim Harris who came back later after the film was developed and spent considerable time with Reed and his parents. The Air Force sent investigators from Dayton, and Robert Lowe from the University of Colorado analyzed Reed's negative. Reed was later visited by Frank Edwards and Don Worley.

According to a press report, on the same day (no details) two girls from Dillsboro reported seeing the same object or a similar one. (33)

January 29, 7:00 PM; Eckerty, Indiana
Mr. John Sturm, a linotype operator for the SPRINGS-VALLEY-HERALD at French Lick, and his neighbor, observed a bright red object descending from the northwest. It was traveling approximately three times the speed of a jet and had a tail or trail extending about 10-15 feet to the rear of tie object. The object descended at a 45-degree angle, leveled off at low altitude and turned a bright green. Observation time: 15-20 seconds. Final bearing: southwest. Range: 3-4 miles. The object appeared to be controlled. Meteors don't "level out at low altitude" (7)


February 2, 10:30 PM; Sumner, Illinois
To the west of Vincennes, and just across the Wabash River in Illinois, is a little town called Sumner. A well-known craftsman, who requested anonymity, reported to the Lawrenceville-Vincennes Airport that he observed an object for one and a half hours that was doing some pretty good stunts. It hovered, accelerated, changed shape and color, was observed with the naked eye, 7- power binoculars, and a 20x spotting scope. It was described as a very bright red object, flashing like a red neon sign. The upper portion was a very bright white and red and green lights were observed around the object. The object was seen in the east northeast and noticed because of its brightness arid erratic movement. It seemed to have a very thick rim. In a letter dated 13 April, the observer mentioned that the LAWRENCEVILLE DAILEY - RECORD had an article on UFOs seen farther south about the same time. The airport stated during a telephone conversation that no conventional aircraft were in the area at the time. This one sounds suspiciously like a star or planet, but there were no candidates unless he had his bearings completely wrong. (8)

At the time, we had no idea what was going on elsewhere in the six-state region, or the United States, or even further away. But the record shows that something truly unusual was happening.

On that same day, but at Lima, Peru, at 12:30 AM a cone-shaped object approached and paced a Fawcett Airlines airplane. The cabin lights dimmed, there was radio interference, and the radio compass oscillated. (25)

Before the year was out there would be at least 28 pilot chase reports.

Back home in Indiana......

February 4, 1967, 7:30 PM; Norman, Indiana (68 miles NE of Vincennes)
State Trooper Hollace Chastain was checking his rural mailbox right after patrol when he noticed an unusual and very bright object in the western sky. It was elliptical in shape, about the size of a dime at arm's length and self luminous. Chastain, after observing a few minutes radioed Trooper James Blevins. The object then ceased to move and hovered for a while, then sped up suddenly, changed colors in the process from white to orange to greenish-blue back to white. It appeared to pulsate at times during the observation. No sound was detected during the 30-minute observation and the object finally disappeared behind a tree-line in the southwest. The object appeared solid and seemed to change shape. Estimated range: 5 miles. Estimated speed: (at acceleration) 1,000 mph. (9)

That same evening, 7:30 PM; 10 miles SE of Norman, Indiana
Trooper Blevins, also of the Seymour Post, followed the object for fifteen minutes to Lawrence County. The object was reported as "soft ball-sized" and changing colors from blue to green to white. "It was stationary when I first saw it, " he said, "but it was too big to be a star. Suddenly it started to move." The interrogation form completed by Trooper Blevins stated that the object had flickered & wobbled during observation and finally dropped straight down behind a tree-line. The object appeared solid and was observed at least once through binoculars. It moved from southwest of his position (8 miles west of Brownstown) to due south above the tree line. Estimated range: 2-10 miles. Estimated speed: 1,000 mph at acceleration. (10)

Within hours of the previous sightings & 65 miles southwest of Brownstown, something unusual was being observed.

"Boomerang" observed near Oakland City, Indiana

February 5th, 1:45 AM; 10 miles east of Oakland City, Indiana
Seven members of a band were returning home from a performance in Huntingburg when they observed an object described as "pale green with a bluish tinge" with a cluster of white lights, It was observed for 5-6 minutes from the side of highway 64. The object changed brightness and shape and appeared at first as "boomerang-shaped", then somewhat "teardrop-shaped" as it moved from east to northwest. The object was first observed as they drove up over a hill and was last seen fading in the northwest. Another car with 5-6 occupants also observed the object. The original group requested anonymity and the latter observers were unidentified. (11)

2:30 AM; Crothersville, Indiana (75 miles to the north east)
Richard D. Barker of the Seymour State Police post reported he followed a huge ball of greenish-blue and white lights for some 10 miles about 2:30 AM before the light moved west towards Bedford. "It had a flat bottom, just under basketball size, and had a brilliant blue-green light rotating around it counterclockwise. Barker said he was in the vicinity of Crothersville in Jackson County when he first spotted the changing lights, "It was maybe 300-500 feet high and had three red flashing lights under it," he said. "I got within what seemed like about a mile of it and it started moving south. Barker said he never did lose sight of it and it didn't leave any trail. He said when it got to Littleyork it hovered for a while and then took off fast, "It wasn't like any airplane I've ever seen, " he said. "I know it wasn't a plane." (12)

6:00 AM; Bedford, Indiana (35 miles northwest)
The woman reporting requested anonymity. The report she gave to the DAILEY HERALD-TELEPHONE provided the most vivid description of an unidentified flying object observed as far southwest as Oakland City and as far east as Crothersville......35 miles away. At this time she arose because of noises on the roof roof. She thought it was raining. That's when she saw what looked like a quarter moon that was moving toward her. "I watched it for a half hour," she said. "It would more, then hover, getting closer all the time. It had a bright light on the bottom. The light kept going around and back and forth an the ground like it was looking for some place to land. As it got closer I could see a bright band around the middle of it," she continued. "It was oval-shaped, sort of like a cigar. The top was shiny, like metal, and the bottom was kind of orange. There was a crater on the bottom of it--and bumps, like legs." It hovered near a utility pole behind her house for ten minutes. She said when she started to dial her telephone to call someone about it the object "turned real bright orange and then blue and took off." (13)

That very evening there was a humanoid sighting at Hilliard, Ohio. An object that was described as an ellipse, landed, humanoid beings emerged and placed small spheres on the ground around the craft. Witnesses observed them interacting with humans. Further, up-to-date research, would show many more HR cases for the year, but at least 14 were found without much effort. (32)

February 7th, 8:00 PM; Owen County, Indiana
An egg-shaped object was reported by Paul Poorman on a farm near some strip mines. Poorman was a 33-year-old specialized police officer and qualified pilot. The object was white and well-defined, turned to a blood-red color, then a pale blue. It arose from the White River bottoms and strip mine area, hovered, "yo-yo'd", then zipped south then back, etc., then went down below a tree line. (14)

February 9th, 7:50 PM; Eight miles south of Seymour, Indiana (35 miles east of Bedford)
Another State Trooper to see and report a UFO in the Seymour area was D. E. Swider at Crothersville, This ended a sighting group for that area and appeared to be somewhat similar to the reports of the 4th and
5th of February. At about 7:50 PM when trooper Swidar was patrolling Interstate 65, 8 miles south of the Seymour State Police HQ, they advised him of a UFO reported to the post. He, himself, saw the object in the west for about 10 minutes before it finally went out of sight further west. It was described as a huge, round object, moving left to right (slowly) changing colors from white to red to orange. This sequence corresponded with a decrease in speed, followed by an increase in speed of the object, typical of a UFO. (15)

The direction and elevation of the UFO put it near the position of Venus. The Seymour Post stated during a long-distance telephone conversation (with this unit) that some people were reporting Venus. However, the description of the object, its lateral movement and short period at visibility, rules out this possibility.

February 14th, 7:00 AM; Jefferson City, Missouri. A CE-III
Going from a local to a regional sampling of UFO activity, a disc-shaped object was seen resting on a shaft in a field at Jefferson City, Missouri. Small beings were reportedly moving around rapidly beneath it. They disappeared behind the shaft, the object rocked back and forth, took off, and sped away. (26)

On February 19th, registered letters were sent simultaneously to Bakalar Air Force Base at Columbus, Indiana and the Nike Missile Station at Dillsboro, requesting possible information on these reports; either visual or radar. On the 24th we received the following letter from the Department of the Air Force, dated 23rd Feb 1967:

Dept. of the AF
HQ, 434th Troop Carrier Wing
Bakalar AFB, Columbus AFB, Indiana

1. In accordance with AFR 200-2, paragraph 7, this base must submit the following:

"The Office at Information, Office of the Secretary at the Air Force, will release to the public or unofficial persons or organizations, any information or releases concerning UFO's, regardless of origin or nature. This includes replies to correspondence submitted direct to the AFSC (FTD) and other Air Force activities by private individuals requesting comments or results of analysis and investigations of sightings."

2. Your report dated 19 February 1967, is noted and will be passed to the appropriate personnel.

Elbert E. Wade, Major, AFRes
Deputy Director of Operations
Plans and Training Branch

Checking our copy of AFR 200-2 revealed the following:

1) AFR 200-2 makes no mention of the AFSC Foreign Technology Division in its text. On September 19, 1966, the Air Force Systems Command took over the UFO Project. Thus, we have a change from 20 years of investigation by Air Force intelligence through ATIC (Aerospace Technical Intelligence Center) to an Air Force research & development program. The order that produced that change was AFR 80-17. Major Wade was quoting from an outdated directive.

2) We were requesting information, not reporting.

3) We did not get the requested information, either to confirm or deny knowledge of the events.

4) The mention of the "report" (our request) being passed to the "appropriate personnel" indicated a possible statement from, or authorized by, the Secretary of the Air Force. This is according to instructions provided in AFR 200-2, Section B, paragraph 8, dated 14 September '59. No such answer has been received to date.

On February 20th, we sent a letter to the NICAP Indiana Unit # 4 at Anderson to check to see if they were investigating any of the reports. Instead of a letter, on March 2nd we received a long-distance call from the unit's director, Dennis Simpson. He stated that they had no knowledge of the reports, which indicated that the press had not "stimulated" any other reports. Quite to the contrary, only the Bloomington DAILEY HERALD-TELEPHONE covered the sightings. Even then, only a few were mentioned. The Oakland City case was known only to us and about a week before we received word of the Staten Police reports.

The reports continued.

February 22, 6:30 AM; Milton, Indiana - Dogs React
As Mrs. Jarnes A Clevenger, stood by her kitchen sink, she saw her collie dog jump against the kitchen window, then race around the yard, "barking and jumping."(16) Then she saw the UFO. "It appeared as [the) headlights of a car except there was only a solid light in an oval shape," the housewife told NICAP. She also saw a white row of lights along the object. Mrs. Clevenger let her dog into the house. The frightened animal raced into the living room and hid. The witness, clad in only her night clothes and with no shoes, ran to the end of her walk in front of the house in the near-zero weather. She saw the object moving slowly at approximately 100 to 200 feet altitude, which followed the course of a creek. Returning to her house, Mrs. Clevenger called a neighbor one quarter of a mile to the south, Mrs. Judd Alford. "I could see a circle of white lights some 200 or 50 feet in the air," Mrs. Alford said. "The object appeared like a saucer to me." Several minutes later, she added, the UFO disappeared behind some trees. Mrs. Alford also said her fox terrier ran into the house "at full speed" and hid under a chair. (16)

On that same evening, Rev. and Mrs. Leonard Lutz and their son, David, saw an oblong UFO that looked like "two headlight-looking affairs" with colored lights near Hagerstown, Indiana. (17)

On the 29th we received the answer to the letter to the Dillsboro Nike Missile Station (40 miles east of Seymour). Instead of the typical professional looking government letterhead, the letter was typed on plain paper and was addressed from the Department of the Army:

Original copy of letter, dated February 24, 1967

Department of the Army
HQ, 88th Artillery Group (Air Defense)
Wilmington, Ohio

24 February 1967

Dear Sir,

This organization cannot confirm any of the UFO reports mentioned in your letter of 19 Feb 1967, addressed to Btry C, 5th Msl Bn (HERC), 56th Arty, Dillsboro, Indiana.

John D. Penrod

Radar at the NIKE Hercules base did not operate all the time, but it was/is in the Air Defense system. When we wrote to this base we assumed that the radar must have been on. This was an error. The type of radar used would pick up any high altitude aircraft, but probably not any low flying objects. At this base the equipment used for detection is continuous wave acquisition radar. Tracking is accomplished by pulse acquisition radar which guides the missile to the target. The tracking denial was probably legitimate, but there was a directive that covered that situation, too.

Issued by the Secretary of the Army, AR 30-13, dated 31 January 1957 states:

Sightings Of Unconventional Aircraft (UFOB)

"Persona involved in sightings will not discuss or disseminate such information to persons or agencies other than their superior officers and other personnel authorized by the Acting Chief Of Staff, G-2, this headquarters.

Colonel Charles L. Olin

Previous correspondence with the missile base on November 25th, 1960, requesting data on a sighting covered by the press, also died a quick death, when after the base stated that they HAD tracked an object to Indianapolis, denied it on December 1st. That letter was signed by Lt. Charles A. Millick, Exec Officer. State police units had been rushed out to look for evidence of a a plane crash, but could find none. This made it a UFO, not an airplane...which changed the circumstances and rules regarding release of information.


March 1st, 10:06 PM; Poland, Indiana
A dark-colored disc with a dome, performing slow and low flights in Owen County, was reported to have followed persons in an auto for miles until they reached their home at Poland, in Clay County.. The dome was either reflecting or emitting dim red light, and the object had two white lights on the ends and two larger red lights together in the middle. The flight was reported as as low as 40' and two automobiles had their hoods up, indicating possible E-M effects. (18)

While we were checking out "routine" UFO reports on a local level, and not aware of anything going on elsewhere, the situation was getting more serious. On March 2nd there was a radar/visual sighting of three or four silvery objects at White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico. At 10:30 AM that morning those objects were tracked at 2,000 mph). There were at least nine radar cases in 1967 that were memorable. (27)

That same day we had sent a letter in rebuttal to the February 23rd, Bakalar Air Force letter, stating that we wanted a simple yes or no regarding their official knowledge of UFO activity in the area. Air Force regulations state that only the names and identifying information, classified equipment procedures & frequencies, be deleted in order to declassify a UFO report. A report stripped of this data (which is of no interest to us, anyway) should be readily available to serious researchers and the public. We also mentioned that AFR 80-17 had replaced AFR 200-2 in September. The answer to our letter (which came later and was dated March 21) was very interesting, but somewhat confusing:

Gif of original letter dated March 21, 1967

"1. This headquarters submits a negative radar capability and negative report of positively identified sighting.
2. Suggest you recheck section B, Paragraph 5C, AFR 80-17, dated 19 Sep 1966. Quote 'In response to local inquiries regarding UFO's reported in the vicinity of an Air Force Base, the base commander may release information to the news media or the public AFTER THE SIGHTING HAS BEEN POSITIVELY IDENTIFIED. If......thru the entire paragraph..
3. Suggest contact with SAFOI for desired information."

Albert E. Wade, Major, AFRes

This much we can gather from the sightings reported beginning on Feb 4th. The witnesses were reliable and the testimony provides information that suggests that something truly unusual was going on in Indiana. At that time we were totally unaware that this was part of a major sighting wave that extended across the Country and into other parts of the world. In the cases we investigated, the acceleration of the object produced the same effects, a brighter spectral color. Upon deceleration, the reverse was noted. The greatest change occurred during a relatively swift velocity change. The basic colors reported were orange and greenish-blue from or TO white. In some instances one object could have caused all the reports for that period. No aircraft, balloon, cloud, or astronomical phenomena could, in the opinion of these investigators, be responsible for the physical or flight characteristics reported by the witnesses involved in these sightings.

Continuing to escalate, on March 5th there was a major broad daylight encounter at Minot AFB, North Dakota. Radar had tracked a metallic disc with a ring of bright flashing lights that descended over a Minuteman missile site and hovered. This was seen by security guards. When jets were ordered to scramble, the object climbed straight up and streaked away. (28)

UFO filmed at Moline, Illinois, on March 9th, a sample of
incidents outside Indiana during the wave of 1967.

March 9th, afternoon; Moline, Illinois.
A regional report, and one showing very graphically what was going on around the country, is the Moline, Illinois incident where a policeman spotted two UFOs in the afternoon. Police officer William Fisher said he was riding his motorcycle on patrol when he spotted a boxcar-sized object hovering at about 3,000 feet. He said a second UFO materialized as he watched, and both sped from sight. Fisher took color motion pictures of the objects, one frame of which is displayed at the top of this page. (29)

A major event in March was a glowing red saucer-shaped object which hovered over another Minuteman missile silo on March 16th. This time it was Malmstrom AFB, Montana. The object was seen by security guards and the missiles inexplicably shut down. Missiles later resumed functioning on their own, and no explanation was ever found. There was a similar experience the very next day at another missile site 20 miles away). (30)

March 23rd, 11:30 AM; Lawrenceville, Illinois
Another man requesting his name be kept confidential reported that he observed an object, near the airport, in the west that appeared to be an aircraft fuselage (DC-3) without wings. It was white in color, and after a minute of observation, took off fast towards the northwest into a cloud. The observer is a well-respected individual who has been employed for years at Lawrenceville-Vincennes Airport (formerly George Field). He expressed the fact that he could recognize and identify most aircraft. This one was different. It looked like it was coming in to land (sideways), then sped off, always exhibiting the elliptical shape. (19)


April 1st, 5:45 AM; Wayne County, Indiana
A farm wife was putting milkers on cows in a barn when she observed a round, red-yellow object the size of the full moon for about a minute. It hovered about 200 yards away, then climbed and disappeared in about three seconds. (20)

April 10th, 3:00 PM; Fayette County, Indiana.
A bright white oval object with lights in a row were observed for 30-minutes by two witnesses. The object performed "falling leaf" maneuvers, slowly, many times, rising into clouds and coming out of them. Witness finally got a camera and took 12 photos. By then the objects were too distant to capture. (21)

Same day, 9:45 PM; same county.
A glowing orange-yellow ball that swung in a large arc was observed by two witnesses for 20 minutes. It moved closer and became a huge dark object which reminded the witnesses of a passenger coach of a train with seven tall windows emitting light. (22)


May 15th, 11:15 PM; NE of Indianapolis, Indiana
A commercial airline pilot, who prefers to remain anonymous, had just concluded a tour of duty and was driving to his home in an exclusive residential community a few miles northeast of Indianapolis. As he turned into the lane that led to his home, he noticed a strangely lighted craft in the sky. It was moving slowly toward the south, crossing some fields behind his house at an altitude of about one thousand feet, he estimated. The thing that attracted his attention was the lighting arrangement of the object; a brilliant white light in front, a rapidly blinking red light on the rear, and pulsating red lights from front to back underneath what seemed to be a cigar-shaped craft. The pilot phoned the airport control tower. Did they have anything on their scope in his area? The radar man assured him that they did indeed have an unidentified object on the scope - had been watching it for several minutes. The pilot inquired if either of the Goodyear "blimps" was up? Neither. The radar man said he could clearly see both blimps tied down on the airport, only a couple of hundred yards from his position. And he added that there were no planes in that area, and no weather balloons.

The pilot reported the incident to the Marion County Sheriff's office and that office broadcast an alert The dispatcher in the sheriff's office contacted the radar room at the Municipal Airport and was told that they were watching an unidentified return on the scope from an object moving about at very low altitude in the area indicated. Two deputies who answered from the general area of the pilot's home were dispatched to the scene to check the report. The first to reach the scene was Deputy Kenneth Toler, who told Frank Edwards: "It was a sight--- a very strange sight. The light on the front end was brilliant. We (the pilot and the deputy) could see the shape of the thing - like a fat cigar about forty to fifty feet long, we estimated. It was moving slowly against the wind. The row of lights along the bottom was unusual ---I never saw a craft with lights like that. We watched the thing for about 25 minutes, altogether. It was somewhere beyond a mile from us. When it got ready to leave it just took off at a steep angle. It went fast - very fast was out of sight in a few seconds, still rising." (23)

This sighting is noteworthy because of the caliber of the witnesses: a commercial pilot, a deputy sheriff and the radar operator who confirmed the visual sighting with his instrument.

May 21, 3:00 AM; Union County.
A dark object with a circle of red pulsating lights which lit up the area was observed for two minutes by two witnesses. The object moved slowly along a highway below tree-top level. It made two passes. Witnesses experienced retinal afterimage, and a rooster reduced its crowing to a shrill screaming sound. The location: 5 miles west of the NIKE missile base near Oxford, Ohio! (24)

Five hours later, 8:00 AM; same county.
A farmer out hunting looked up when he heard a brief swishing sound. Six or eight light gray watermelon shaped objects in semicircle formation at undetermined height were moving rapidly to the east. The witness was very shook up, rushed home and called the newspaper. (35)

Sometime in the summer, about 4:00 PM in the afternoon; Booneville, Indiana
The date of this sighting is unknown. At Booneville, just a few miles from Evansville, Indiana, a Close Encounter of the First Kind occurred. The witness, who was 29 years old when she filed this report, said: "I was approximately ten years old when I saw the object. I was playing with my brother, about 6, and a neighbor boy, about 12, in the back yard of my house. I had no idea what it was. When I asked him, he said, 'It's a UFO'. The object was hovering about five feet above the trees that lined the back yard. We had watched it for several minutes when we noticed a second object over the empty field behind our house. It
was hovering slightly higher than the first one. There was also a third object, farther behind the second one and a little higher up. We watched the objects for some time, then I went in the house to try to get my mother to look. She wouldn't. I went back outside and the three of us watched the objects for perhaps twenty minutes. Then, my mother called us into the house, we ate dinner, took a bath, and went into my bedroom at the end of the house and watched the first object until bedtime. Perhaps another hour. At no point could we get my mother to look out the window." The Form 1 indicates the first object was as close as thirty to forty feet at one point. (38)

August 23, time unknown; Hamilton County, Indiana
No details on this one, except that it was a computer entry for a landing report, one of 70 such reports for 1967. (36)

November 9, 1:45 PM; Near Erin, Tennessee
Two nurses driving home from a Waverly, Tennessee hospital stopped for a traffic light in Erin, Tennessee. While stopped they saw a large UFO approach and land on the highway in front of them. Without the driver "feeding gas or anything" the car began to move of its own accord until it stopped a mere thirty feet or so away from the semi-transparent craft. Inside the craft there were at least five small figures looking at them. The women felt completely unafraid and transfixed. The craft rose up and moved away and the women began eagerly to follow it. It "led" them to a rural road where they saw it land. The lights on their car went out. The next recollection was of the object high in the sky leaving them, but they perceived no time lapse nor did they ever check the time. (39)

November 27, 9:00 PM; Fayette County, Indiana
The object was first seen at 9:00 PM by four witnesses at a rural home. The object dropped down near three other witnesses in a car on a rural road northwest of the Philco-Ford Manufacturing Plant. The object was larger than a house. It was a silver, domed disc with masses of red lights pulsating in an erratic fashion underneath it. The witnesses in the automobile stopped and observed windows inside the dome with computer lights behind these. The witnesses fled the scene, tearing down the gravel road at high speed. The duration of this sighting was ten minutes. (37)


In 1967 NICAP received 3340 UFO reports. Ted Bloecher and David Webb reported that there were more than 100 humanoid reports. This paper presents the Indiana cases and briefly mentions incidents in the region from and including Missouri, Illinois, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee. The Regional Sighting Information Database now lists over 200 cases in the region alone and this represents only the more substantial ones. Laced in with the "localized" incidents are brief accounts of key U.S. and global cases, to illustrate the size and seriousness of this major sighting wave. As Dick Hall reported in Volume II, The UFO Evidence, 55% of the incidents occurred in January through April. The same trend was evident here in Indiana. My father passed away on April 7th of that year and I was writing a report on the wave that very week. Little did we know that the wave was a global one and that even more interesting and serious events were taking place elsewhere.

I wish to thank my team members who helped with this investigation back in 1967: James Catt, Phillip Studler, Jerry Sievers, and Alan Sievers. Also, we all wish to thank police, sheriff, state police and news media who cooperated so well with the effort. Last, but not least, I wish to dedicate this report to my father, Roland Lee Ridge. There were times when he had some serious doubts about his son who was a "ufo chaser", at a time when it wasn't fashionable to believe in UFOs. Not long before his passing he expressed his belief that UFOs were real and they "weren't ours", but remarked, "but what can you do about it?". What we DID do was make it possible for the large percentage of people today to take the subject more seriously than they did 35 years ago. We've come a long way.

Francis Ridge
NICAP Site Coordinator
Former NICAP Subcom Chairman, Indiana Unit No. 1

1967 Sighting Wave - Comments by Richard Hall

During the one full year of operation of the University of Colorado UFO Project, a major sighting wave-one of the largest of all time occurred. The irony of the situation is that, despite assistance in screening reports provided to a Colorado University "Early Warning Net" by NICAP personnel, the project was totally unable to cope with the wave. The Condon Report addresses only 59 cases from 1967 (and most of them inadequately) out of the many hundreds reported directly to the project. Furthermore, 15 of the 59 were left unexplained (see section XV, Colorado UFO Project).

In 1967 NICAP received 3,340 UFO reports. Ted Bloecher and David Webb have established that there were more than 100 human UFO occupant reports during the year, with a peak of 18 cases in August. Among many other oddities of the Condon Report, it is noteworthy that the 1967 cases selected for study did not include any of the 17 Air Force "unidentified" cases for that year.

According to NICAP data the wave started strong in January, peaked in March, and tapered off in May. However, sightings continued at a steady pace throughout the rest of the year, and the sightings in October were comparable in number and quality to those in January through April.

A NICAP rating of 'substanual cases' (containing detailed information and remaining unexplained after preliminary screening) indicates that 55 percent of the 1967 cases occurred in January through April, averaging about 38 cases per month. There were 30 cases in October. Sightings in the remaining months (May-September, November-December) averaged 13 a month.

A special study of 179 solid object cases indicates that the 1967 wave was concentrated east of the Mississippi River; about 51 percent of the sightings occurred between 6:00 P.M. and midnight; there were two or more witnesses in 58 percent of the cases. These reports occurred on the average of 15 per month for the year, conservatively indicating what sort of information was readily available to the Colorado investigators. Of the 179 solid object cases, the Condon Report discusses only seven.

Regularly occurring features of the 1967 wave included vehicle encounters (an average of three per month), landings or near-landings (an average of four per month), and audible sound (an average of four per month). About once or twice a month, on average, witnesses reported humanoid beings, light beams, electromagnetic effects on vehicles, physical traces, and physiological effects on witnesses. The performance features included hovering and rapid acceleration, rapid departure upwards, sharp (noninertial) turns, zigzag and other erratic flight (see section X, Motions and Flight Patterns). (42)


1. Vol. II, The UFO Evidence (Hall), page 325
2. Unit (Indiana Unit No. 1) & NICAP HQ files
3. Unit & NICAP files
4. NICAP files
5. NICAP files
6. APRO & NICAP files
7. Unit & NICAP files
8. Unit & NICAP files
9. Unit & NICAP files
10. Unit & NICAP files
11. Unit & NICAP files
12. Unit & NICAP files
13. Dailey Herald Telephone, Bedford, Indiana
14. Don Worley files
15. Unit & NICAP files
16. NICAP SE-34
17. NICAP SE-34
18. Worley files
19. Unit & NICAP files
20. Worley files
21. Worley files
22. Worley files
23. Flying Saucers: Here & Now, Edwards, pages 152, 153
24. Worley files
25. Vol. II, The UFO Evidence (Hall), page 326
26. Vol. II, The UFO Evidence (Hall), page 327
27. Vol. II, The UFO Evidence (Hall), page 330
28. Vol. II, The UFO Evidence (Hall), page 331
29. NICAP & MUFON files
30. Vol. II, The UFO Evidence (Hall), page 333
31. Vol. II, The UFO Evidence (Hall), page 325
32. Vol. II, The UFO Evidence (Hall), page 326
33. Dearborn County Register, March 19, 1992
34. Skylook No. 41, page 13
35. Worley files
36. UFO magazine, issue and date unknown.
37. Worley files
38. UFO Filter Center files, Francis Ridge, MUFON
39. MUFON Symposium Proceedings, 1981
40. UFO Filter Center files, Francis Ridge, MUFON
41. Volume II, The UFO Evidence (Hall), page 323
42. Volume II, The UFO Evidence (Hall), page 323,324

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Soviet Nukes and UFOs

By J. Antonio Huneeus,
Jan 26, 2010

It sounds like a tabloid headline, but the question is a valid one: Did UFOs almost trigger an accidental nuclear war in 1982? The incident in question occurred in south-central Ukraine on the evening of October 4th, according to official depositions from Soviet military units and interviews with one of the officers in charge of the investigation. There were multiple witnesses to the event, which took place between 7:30 and 9:37 pm, and many of them were Soviet military officers and personnel stationed at a long-range nuclear missile base in Usovo, near Byelokovoriche.

The depositions describe nighttime unidentified lights performing acrobatics in the sky over several villages around the missile base. That, in itself, is not particularly worrisome, as the reports don’t indicate any sign of hostility from the lights. But what happened at an underground bunker of Military Unit (MU) 52035, one which contained nuclear missiles launch control panels, is another matter entirely.

Retired Colonel Boris Sokolov (image credit: George Knapp).

Retired Colonel Boris Sokolov (image credit: George Knapp).

“For a short time,” retired Air Force Colonel Boris Sokolov told ABC TV News Moscow correspondent David Ensor, “signal lights on both the control panels suddenly turned on, the lights showing that missiles were preparing for launching. This could normally only happen if an order was transmitted from Moscow.” As director of the Ministry of Defense’s effort for “research into the field of anomalous phenomena in the atmosphere and in outer space,” Sokolov became a member of the four-man commission set up to investigate the so-called Usovo case.

That was back in the early ‘80s when the missile targets were located in America, former KGB Director Yuri Andropov was General Secretary, and Ronald Reagan was denouncing the USSR as “the evil empire.” Today, of course, it’s a different story. The missile base was closed in the early 90s with the end of the cold war, the Ukraine is an independent country, and military witnesses are free to talk, sometimes. So we are lucky to have the official deposition of Major M. Davidovich Kataman, senior assistant of the commander of the Military Unit 52035’s communication service, in charge of the computerized control panels for the long-range nuclear missiles at the Usovo base. Major Kataman did not see the UFOs flying above because he was, at the time, on shift in the underground bunker. But what he did see was, militarily speaking, the stuff of nightmares in his line of work.

Major Kataman wrote in his deposition that, “on the 4th of October 1982 at 21:37, I observed spontaneous illumination of all displays: BR, P, Sh, DR, GP, SR, PR, CZ, BT, NBT, GP, message, GB message, PP, PS, OR, PNS, Z, PZG, PZNS, figure indicators as in the regime ‘light marks’ at first push on the information board.” Confusing as this sounds—and the difficulties of translation notwithstanding (1)—the Major is implying that someone or something was apparently manipulating the series of precise control codes, four spaces and control code combination, which regulate the computerized missile control launch panel. His deposition added that, “testing of apparatus and measurement of parameters according to technical map 1-30 showed no defects. The apparatus was functioning normally,” that is, before and after the strange “illumination of all displays.”

Major Kataman's deposition.

Major Kataman's deposition.

The officer then added: “I suppose that this effect can take place as a result of the influence of a powerful impulse on the apparatus’ power system, especially on block BP-263 (U-10) then on VTG-127 (U5, U3, U2) and then on blocks U14, U12 and U11 [missile silos], bearing the main load in processing data in the apparatus. No abnormal effects were observed in other communications means… No such cases had been observed before.” The equipment was later taken apart piece by piece but no anomalies or malfunctions were found.


Museum of Strategic Missile Troops, near Pobuzke, Ukraine,

According to the ABC-TV News Prime Time Live segment “KGB UFO Files,” which was broadcast on October 6, 1994, “for 15 agonizing seconds, the base lost control of its nuclear weapons; what happened here on this day has never been explained.” ABC also interviewed two witnesses to the 1982 sighting: a civilian from Byelokovoriche and Lt. Col. Vladimir Platunov. Lt. Col. Platunov described the object as “… just like a flying saucer, the way they show them in the movies, no portholes, no nothing. The surface was absolutely even, the disc made a beautiful turn…on the edge, just like a plane. It [made] no sound. I had never seen anything like that before.”

In comparison, the language in the nine other depositions—in addition to Major Kataman’s—is quite sober. They are by witnesses from MU 52035 and MU 32157, and include one soldier, one Lieutenant, three Captains, two Majors and three Lt. Colonels. It’s quite an impressive list. The witnesses were in various locations, mostly on roads linking Byelokovoriche and the villages of Usovo, Topyilnja, Zhovtnevo, Perebrody and Korosten. These small villages probably will not appear in a general atlas, but the area is located in central Ukraine, south of the capital Kiev.

The Testimony

Captain Valery Polykhaev was on a bus, returning home from his post at the Usovo base at 7:30 pm on October 4, 1982. “After the bus stopped at the cross roads to Usovo,” he stated in his deposition, “I saw in the clear space above the road, at 5-6 km of altitude, two brightly shining objects resembling very much a New Year’s tree garland in it’s shape.” (I believe “New Year’s tree garland” is a politically correct, Communist term for a common Christmas tree decoration.) “They were shining with bright-golden light and those lights were twinkling,” continued Capt. Polykhaev. “There were 6-8 brightly shining spots making a circle in every object. The distance between objects was about 2-3 km. Then a shining small ball separated from the left object and moved to the right one.” The lights continued their acrobatics for another 5 to 7 minutes, according to the Captain, who added that, “while moving the object changed its shape, the twinkling lights reformed from an ellipsis to a straight line.”

Hand written deposition with small sketch by one of the military witnesses of the Usovo case.

Hand written deposition with small sketch by one of the military witnesses of the Usovo case.

Lt. Colonel Balanev was returning home on the same military bus when, together with the rest of the passengers, he “observed a luminescence in the sky unknown to me from 19:20 to 19:40 hours. It was in the shape of many twinkling stars from pale-yellow to dark-cherry in color.” Other passengers in the bus who also witnessed the phenomenon and wrote depositions for the Ministry of Defense were Captains Duman and Tukmachev, and Lt. Colonels Povar and Kuzmin. Lt. Colonel Zinkovsky at first thought that it was a helicopter, but “on coming to the place where I observed the object, I saw that there was nothing there.”

Capt. Polykhaev saw the object again later in the evening. By 8 pm, he was driving his car with his wife, two children and some friends. They were near the railway crossing between Topyilnja station and Zhovtnevo street when they noticed once again an unusual light show in the skies over Usovo at an altitude of 5-7 km. “A bright light flashed and went out, then it flashed again and after that, 6-8 bright-golden lights flashed around it in the shape of an ellipsis,” continued Capt. Polykhaev’s deposition. “A small brightly shining ball separated from them and flew to the earth and on approaching it, went out. In 10 minutes the phenomenon repeated… the shining object began to move quickly in our side, with high speed and rising in size. Then the object suddenly stopped. Our distance to it was about 1-2 km. The children were scared that the object would fall down on us. After it stopped, the light went out slowly as if melted away. In ten minutes, another garland ‘flourished’ at a large distance and went out again.” Captain Kovalenko was in the same car with Capt. Polykhaev and basically described a similar event.

UFO photo taken in the Caucasus region, published in the Soviet Military Review.

UFO photo taken in the Caucasus region, published in the Soviet Military Review.

Most of the depositions are shorter and less detailed than Capt. Polykhaev’s. Major Lipezki was driving along the Perebrody-Usovo road with Capt. Ryabinin. His deposition states that, “I paid attention to the luminescence of some object straight in front of me somewhere above Usovo. The luminescence came from a group of shining spots forming 5 groups. The lights were disposed on the area approximately equal to the area of the setting sun. It was situated at an altitude of about 30 meters above the edge of a distant forest. The color of the lights was from pale-yellow to red. It was about 19:10-19:15 hours.” The two officers saw the lights again twice as they continued on the road towards Byelokovoriche, which they reached without further excitement.

Senior Lieutenant Kobulyansky, the Battery vice-commander, and Major Drobakhin, also saw unidentified lights on and off from another car along the road to Byelokovoriche between 19:30 and 21 hours. At one point, they reported an apparent electromagnetic effect on the car radio, such as if “we were coming under high-voltage lines, but there were no high-voltage lines there,” states Lt. Kobulyansky’s deposition.

One of the military UFO documents from the dossier obtained by George Knapp.

One of the military UFO documents from the dossier obtained by George Knapp.

No Conclusion

What could have triggered the multiple-witness UFO by several Soviet military officers in the Ukraine on October 4, 1982? The ABC broadcast added that “there were military exercises going on at the time of the incident involving explosives in the air, but they were over 200 miles away from here. The weather conditions were normal.” Unlike other Soviet military reports from Col. Sokolov’s collection we have obtained, the dossier on the Usovo affair is quite slim: nine pages with the typed depositions quoted above, but no evaluations, no technical appraisals on the control panel malfunction; no mention of other possible factors or data on military maneuvers, radar, additional witnesses, etc.; and perhaps most significantly, no conclusions by the investigating commission.

Presumably all or some of the additional data exists in a Russian Ministry or intelligence archive somewhere, but it’s still secret. Yet even if the incident’s visual component could be explained by flares and explosives from nearby military maneuvers—something Col. Sokolov has apparently discounted in his interviews—these could not account for the “spontaneous illumination” of the control panels reported by Major Kataman M. Davidovich, which makes this case unique.

The Soviet UFO Dossier

The report on the Usovo incident and other cases of “anomalous atmospheric phenomena” in the former Soviet Union would have remained secret under normal circumstances. However, the fall of communism and the demise of the USSR produced something that 15 or 20 years ago would have seemed unthinkable: the declassification and literal “sale” of government documents of all kinds—from nuclear disasters and sunken submarines to UFO reports and psychotronic research. George Knapp, the well-known reporter from KLAS-TV in Las Vegas, visited Moscow for the first time in 1993. With the assistance of Dr. Nikolai Kapranov, a national security advisor for the Russian Parliament, Knapp and his associate Bryan Gresh were able to meet and interview Boris Sokolov, the retired Soviet Air Force Colonel who directed the UFO collection effort for the Ministry of Defense between 1978 and 1988.

George Knapp in front of the old KGB headquarters during his trip to Moscow in the early 1990's (image credit: George Knapp)..

George Knapp in front of the old KGB headquarters during his trip to Moscow in the early 1990's (image credit: George Knapp)..

Col. Sokolov had kept copies of approximately 386 UFO sightings reported simultaneously to both the Ministry and the KGB and, after some delicate negotiations, the whole dossier was sold to George Knapp. “In essence,” says Knapp, “an order went off from the Ministry of Defense to every unit in the Soviet military empire to fully investigate, report on, and file any UFO sightings, so in essence the entire Soviet military was like a giant UFO listening post.” (2) The whole effort was undoubtedly cold war-oriented, as Col. Sokolov himself acknowledged in his interview with ABC: “It was presumed that if we obtained the knowledge of such technologies we would achieve a considerable advantage in the competition that we were unfortunately engaged at the time.”

The UFO documents obtained by Knapp can be divided in three broad categories. The first is a short Summary of 357 cases logged between 1978 and 1991. They give the date, time and location for each incident; a brief summary of the report; a notation on whether any space launches or other technical experiments took place on the same time; and finally what the investigators call “Influences,” such as radar detection, electromagnetic effect on equipment, or physiological effects on the witnesses. While these Summaries are basically raw or unevaluated data, some of them provide interesting and provocative reading.

The second part of Col. Sokolov’s dossier is a more detailed discussion of individual cases. These consist of full depositions written by the military witnesses, such as those reviewed in the Usovo case, as well as a complete Questionnaire. This questionnaire includes not just the obvious questions about time, shape, direction followed by the object, meteorological conditions, and so on, but also “Influence on technical means” (electric equipment, radar, etc.) and “Influence on people and other living beings and environment.” Drawings and sketches of the observation are also included in the Questionnaire.

The last category of documents obtained by Knapp are not part of the old Soviet Ministry archives kept by Col. Sokolov, but part of the “Thread-3” project undertaken since 1991 by the current Russian Ministry of Defense. These documents were actually smuggled out of Russia by Knapp, and their style and contents are quite different from the previous project. They consist of a number of reports not so much on individual UFO cases, but on a variety of topics such as: the history of UFO research in the USSR and Russia; propulsion and “non-traditional engines” and “the possible application for the creation of military and industrial technical devices”; a brief review of American UFO documents and popular Western ufological research; analysis of the messages and philosophical outlook of some Russian UFO contactees; reports and rumors of UFO sightings by Russian cosmonauts; and so on.

The head of “Thread-3” agreed to meet Knapp but only off-the-record; his name was not disclosed and his face hidden from the TV camera. But in 1992, a man described as “Lt. Colonel Alexander Platskin, a CIS-United Armed Forces consultant on the problem of anomalous phenomena,” was interviewed on camera on the record for the Russian documentary film, UFO: Top Secret, produced and directed by the Samara ufologist Dr. Vladimir Avinsky. Lt. Col. Platskin stated candidly that, “there were cases of unauthorized firing at UFOs from automatic weapons. For instance, in the Djerzhinsky region of the Gorky province, fighter planes rose to intercept UFOs and buried a glimpse more than once, but it was all in vain. The singularity of the phenomenon startled and terrified sentries who opened fire at the strange objects. Pilots often saw them on their radar screens.”

Col. Sokolov, in an interview with George Knapp, seemed to confirm Plastskin statement. “Pilots recognized UFOs as a threat to them,” he said. “There were 40 episodes in which they shot at UFOs. An order was given to pilots to chase UFOs and shoot at them, but when the pilots tried, the UFOs sped away… In three cases, the pilots lost control and crashed. Two of the pilots died. After that, pilots received a new order. When they see a UFO, change course and get out.”

Col. Sokolov’s Flip-Flop

Museum of Strategic Missile Troops, near Pobuzke, Ukraine,

Museum of Strategic Missile Troops, near Pobuzke, Ukraine,

In 2000, Col. Sokolov and Yuli Platov, a well known Russian scientist and UFO skeptic, published a comprehensive article in Vestnik Rossiiskoi Akademii Nauk, the official proceedings of the Russian Academy, titled “History of UFO State Research in the USSR.” It described the history of the secret military studies of UFOs between 1977 and 1990, only to dismiss the bulk of them as mostly space-related IFOs (Identified Flying Objects). “Practically all the mass night observations of ‘UFO’ were unambiguously identified as the effects accompanying the launches of the rockets or the tests of aerospace equipment,” stated the report. After discussing and debunking a few cases, Sokolov and Platov concluded that there were no genuine UFO landings, contact cases or abductions. “This means that either the territory of the USSR was, due to any reasons, closed for alien visitations during, at least, 13 years or that the hypothesis of an extraterrestrial origin of ‘UFO’ is inconsistent,” wrote Sokolov and Platov. You can access the entire Platov & Sokolov paper translated by James Oberg here [].

Needless to say, the Usovo case is also discussed in some length in the Russian Academy journal and debunked as well. The first strange item is that the authors give its date as October 5, 1983, while all the official depositions in our possession clearly state that the year was 1982. Could this be a typo either in the original or in the English translation supplied by the well known American space expert and UFO skeptic, James Oberg? Sokolov and Platov then explain the visual sightings in the Usovo area by bomb dropping exercises conducted at “an air polygon of the 26 army located in the belorussian Polesje approximately 400 kms from a place of observation.” Finally, the two authors deal with the nagging problem of the malfunction of the nuclear missile control panel described by Major Kataman. Nothing to worry about. Almost as an afterthought, they finished the section on the Usovo case with this statement: “It should be added, that the fault in the operation of the command post equipment had nothing to do with the observed phenomena, it just completely accidentally coincided in time. However, just this time coincidence was the main reason for an urgent investigation of the event.”

The main question we are left with is what happened to Col. Boris Sokolov. His article with Yuli Platov in 2000 sounds totally different to the man who was interviewed by George Knapp and ABC Prime Time Live in the early 1990s. What caused his reversal? One possibility is that he got some flack for giving Knapp the Soviet military UFO dossier. There is some murkiness on how this transaction took place and it’s almost certain that, given the dire economic situation in Russia at the time, Sokolov was paid for it.

Other UFO Incidents at Missile Bases

Another important point is that the Usovo case is not in a vacuum. There is at least a handful of incidents involving UFOs at sensitive installations with nuclear bases the in both the U.S. and the old USSR that are documented and there might be more in still secret military files. One fascinating case Soviet military case which ironically is not even mentioned in the Sokolov and Platov article, occurred at an army missile base in the district of Kapustin Yar, Astrakhan Region, on the night of July 28-29, 1989. A partial file of this incident was declassified by the KGB in 1991 to the late cosmonaut and general Pavel Popovich, as part of a so-called “blue folder” of 124 pages of “Cases of Observations of Anomalous Occurrences in the Territory of the USSR, 1982-1990.”


(image credit: UFO Briefing Document)

The Kapustin Yar dossier consists of the depositions of seven military witnesses (two junior officers, a corporal and four privates) plus illustrations of the object by the observers, and a brief case summary by an unnamed KGB officer. The KGB file is obviously incomplete, since there is no data on the jet scramble mission (which is mentioned) and no final conclusions. However, the documents we do have provide fascinating reading. The most detailed observation comes from the Officer-on-Duty, Ensign Valery N. Voloshin:

“One could clearly see a powerful blinking signal which resembled a camera flash in the night sky. The object flew over the unit’s logistics yard and moved in the direction of the rocket weapons depot, 300 meters [1,000 ft.] away. It hovered over the depot at a height of 20 meters [65 ft.]. The UFO’s hull shone with a dim green light which looked like phosphorous. It was a disc, 4 or 5 m. [13-17 ft.] in diameter, with a semispherical top.

“While the object was hovering over the depot, a bright beam appeared from the bottom of the disc, where the flash had been before, and made two or three circles, lighting the corner of one of the buildings… The movement of the beam lasted for several seconds, then the beam disappeared and the object, still flashing, moved in the direction of the railway station. After that, I observed the object hovering over the logistics yard, railway station and cement factory. Then it returned to the rocket weapons depot, and hovered over it at an altitude of 60-70 m. [200-240 ft.]. The object was observed from that time on, by the first guard-shift and its commander. At 1:30 hrs., the object flew in the direction of the city of Akhtubinsk and disappeared from sight. The flashes on the object were not periodical, I observed all this for exactly two hours: from 23:30 to 1:30.”

Ensign Voloshin also provided a sketch of the disc-shaped object emitting the beam (see picture). The multiple witness incident at Kapustin Yar was selected as one of the cases in the Laurance Rockefeller-funded UFO Briefing Document – The Best Available Evidence, which I coauthored with Don Berliner and Marie Galbraith in 1995. You can read our entire treatment of this episode here [].

Faded Giant book cover

Faded Giant book cover

On the American side, there are at least two other similar examples of missile launch code manipulation coinciding with a UFO incident. The testimony of USAF Capt. (Ret.) Robert Salas, who was on duty at Oscar Flight as part of the 490th strategic missile squad in Malmstrom Air Force Base in Montana on the morning of March 16, 1967, is well known. Salas was one of the military witnesses at the famous Disclosure Project event in the National Press Club (NPC) in Washington, DC in May 2001; he later published in 2005, with James Klotz, the book Faded Giant – The 1967 Missile/UFO Incidents. Basically, Salas’ story is that on that fateful morning, while on duty inside the underground bunker, he received a call from the one of the guards, who sounded quite disturbed. “Sir, there’s a glowing red object hovering right outside the front gate – I’m looking at it right now. I’ve got all the men out here with their weapons drawn.” As Capt. Salas went to notify his superior of the situation, “our missiles starting shutting down one by one,” he testified at the NPC event. “By shutting down, I mean they went into a ‘no-go’ condition meaning they could not be launched.” You can read the full details in Faded Giant, which includes a large number of declassified documents.

Fast forward to the fall of 1975. This time the target was the K-7 Minuteman nuclear missile area at the Malmstrom Strategic Air Command (SAC) base in Montana, on November 7, 1975. It occurred during a famous two-week UFO flap at several SAC bases along the USA-Canada border. According to The UFO Cover-Up, the authoritative book by Lawrence Fawcett and Barry Greenwood on the declassified American UFO documents, “targeting teams, along with computer specialists, were brought to the [K-7] missile site to check out the missile, and specifically, the computer in the warhead that targets the missile. Amazingly, when the computer was checked, they found that the tape had mysteriously changed target numbers! The re-entry vehicle was then taken from the silo and brought back to the base. Eventually, the entire missile was changed.”

Although there are no specific declassified documents for this warhead computer tampering, the overall UFO flap over five SAC bases (Loring AFB, Maine, Wurtsmith AFB, Michigan, Malmstrom AFB, Montana, Minot AFB, North Dakota, and Canadian Forces Station Falconbridge, Ontario, Canada) during a two-week period in late October and early November 1975, is well known and fully documented by declassified USAF and NORAD documents. A couple of sample quotes provide the alert status of these incidents:

“Several recent sightings of unidentified aircraft/helicopters flying/hovering over Priority A restricted areas during the hours of darkness have prompted the implementation of security Option 3 at our northern tier bases. Since 27 Oct. 75, sightings have occurred at Loring AFB, Wurtsmith AFB, and most recently, at Malmstrom AFB. All attempts to identify these aircraft have met with negative results.” (CINCSAC Offutt AFB message, “Subject: Defense Against Helicopter Assault,” November 10, 1975.)

“November 7, Malmstrom AFB, Montana. A Sabotage Alert Team described seeing a brightly glowing orange, football field-sized disc that illuminated the Minuteman ICBM missile site. As F-106 jet interceptors approached, the UFO took off straight up, NORAD radar tracking it to an altitude of 200,000 feet [38 miles or 60 km.]. An object… emitted a light which illuminated the site driveway. The orange-gold object overhead also has small lights on it.” (24 NORAD Region Senior Director Log November 1975.)

Malmstrom Air Force Base

Malmstrom Air Force Base

With all these facts in mind, it’s not unreasonable to think that the nuclear superpowers set in motion a policy to deal with these situations and avoid a risk of nuclear war. A curious clause about “unidentified objects” within an Agreement on Measures to Reduce the Risk of Nuclear War between the United States of America and the Union of Soviet Socialists Republics, points in that direction. The Agreement was part of the policy of detente during the Nixon and early Brezhnev administrations. It was signed on September 30, 1971 by Secretary of State, William Rogers, and Foreign Minister, Andrei Gromyko.

The Agreement has nine articles on issues such as informing each other “against the accidental or unauthorized use of nuclear weapons under its control,” notification in advance of missile launches that go beyond the national territory of each country, and other measures of cooperation in order to avert “the risk of outbreak of nuclear war.” Article 3 reads: “The Parties undertake to notify each other immediately in the event of detection by missile warning systems of unidentified objects [emphasis added], or in the event of signs of interference with these systems or with related communications facilities, if such occurrences could create a risk of outbreak of nuclear war between the two countries.”

The interpretation of Article 3 as including the possibility of UFO incursions seems inescapable. It is indeed reassuring in view of the cases where UFOs hovered over military facilities with nuclear weapons (SAC bases in USA, NATO bases in England, missile bases in Russia). On the other hand, attorney Robert Bletchman pointed out that “unidentified objects” (UOs) include non-UFO situations as well (such as an accidental overflight by a civilian aircraft or a terrorist attack), but in the final analysis, UOs do include UFOs. What degree of cooperation about UOs/UFOs existed between the USA and USSR (and currently with Russia), is hard to say, but Article 9 stated: “This Agreement shall be of unlimited duration.”


1. The depositions’ English translations were done in Russia and so the wording can be rough. I’ve edited the text slightly to make it more readable, but otherwise not changed the descriptions.

2. Knapp gave me copies of his entire Soviet and Russian military dossier in the fall of 1996, for publication originally in Japan (I was then a columnist for the now-defunct Tokyo paranormal magazine Borderland). An English version was also published in the journal The Anomalist NÂș 7, Winter 1998/99.