Lecture #2: Military/UFO encounters, part one

The story of UFOs today has been revived through the recent exposure of apparently largely unaddressed, by our government, dramatic and puzzling encounters with UFOs by military personnel.  In particular, there are 2 incidents, one in 2004 and the other in 2015, that currently are the main focus of attention.

This lecture will focus on the known history of American military encounters with UFOs and since there are so many cases, there will be additional lectures with small number of representative cases illustrating common patterns. From that, students can begin to analyze what Coral Lorenzen used to refer to as the “pattern and meanings” of military/ufo events.

Documented Cases 

~~~April 14 1953, Sea of Japan, Korean War theater

A P2V Neptune Navy ferret spy plane for over an hour was paced and buzzed by varying numbers of 10 present multi-colored-lit-up craft that first made their presence known when 2 of the craft flashed their lights in a sequence matching the morse code sign for the letter D.  Exhibiting extreme speeds and awesome movements, different numbers of craft made 70 passes altogether on the Navy spy plane. When the Navy plane dove to an altitude of 400 feet, 4 of the objects “made at least 10 passes through that 0-400 foot altitude”.

[Brad Sparks, page 53, volume 1, 3rd edition of The UFO Encyclopedia by Jerome Clark]

Besides the initial flashing of lights, the on plane electronic intelligence systems (ELINT) detected 5 seperate radar beams from the UFOs penetrating the plane.  The data on that indicated a radio frequency of 2790 MHz, a pulse repetition frequency of 500-550 Hz (pulses per second) and pulse width or duration (PW) at 1 to 1.5 microseconds.

Military followup analysis ruled out Russian craft from their closest base 400 miles away.

The passes made by these lit up craft were as close as only a few hundred feet!

This case was unearthed by Brad Sparks in 2016 when he saw it in a Project Blue Book file that in 1970 was in the hands of the late scientist James McDonald. Dr. McDonald’s 22,000 pages of files were made available to Sparks by Mary Castner of the J Allen Hynek Center for UFO Studies and Paul Dean, an Australian researcher adept at using the FOIA.

The file was 14 pages and actually examined an event exactly 1 month before, in March, that occured in the same area.  On March 14 1953 90 to 100 UFOs were observed passing a Navy plane!

The April event is covered on the 14th page of that report and Sparks suggests that “this case got into the Blue Books files by accident” as it was likely Top Secret whereas the March event was only stamped Secret.

Reference sources:



~~~October 24 1968, Minot Air Force Base Radar/Visual Case, North Dakota

“During the early morning hours of October 24 1968, sixteen military personnel stationed throughout the Minuteman ICBM missle complex surrounding Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota, reported a very large, brightly illuminated aerial object, alternating colors from brilliant white to orangish-red-green, with an ability to hover, accelerate rapidly, and abruptly change direction.”


[Thomas Tulien, page 748, volume one, 3rd edition The UFO Encyclopedia by Jerome Clark]

The phases of this incident are identified as follows:

-ground observations (2:15–4:02am)

-B-52 Air-radar Encounter (3:52–4:02am)

-B-52 Air-visual Encounter (4:24–4:28am)

-Oscar-7 launch facility intrusion (4:49am)

Everything started at 0215, when two men guarding the remote Oscar-6 missle launch facility from the security camper there reported to Staff Sergeant William Smith (a flight security officer stationed at the Oscar-1 launch control facility 10 miles north of them) that “a large glowing object went down by some trees not far away”.

A missle alignment team was working on the now exposed missles at Oscar 6 as the craft descended nearby, so work was ordered stopped and site resecured.

Over the next couple of hours multiple ground and air witnesswa describe a massive craft with bright lights, making it hard for most to see the precise shape.  But, Captain Bradford Runyon from a B52 at 1500 feet offered a good drawing of it as it was on or near the ground.


Radar returns from returning B-52s revealed a massive craft that on one  occasion moved from a spot 3 miles away to 1 mile distance in an instant.  (Go to reference link below to see radarscope photo of radar return.)

Alarms also went on at one of the missle launch sites and responding teams found the door mysteriously opened by movement of the combination lock at the inner door.

The Strategic Air Command immediately began an extensive investigation and then referred the case to Project Blue Book…which fulfilled its (partial) job to calm public fears with the conclusion that observers were seeing the star Sirius and returning B-52s and the B-52 radar readings were of plasma.


The UFO Encyclopedia, 3rd edition, article by Thomas Tulien, vol 1 pgs 748-764 and….


The documentation, including graphics, collected by SAC at above link!

~~~May 14 1978, area near Pinecastle Electronic Warfare Range Tracking Station, restricted Navy facility  (32 miles from Ocala, Florida…multiple civilian and witnesses and strong radar reading

A little after 10 pm on this Sunday evening, the duty officer (SK-1 Robert J. Clark) received first one, then a second, call from nearby citizens.  First, a woman from nearby Silver Glen Springs asking if flares had been set off from the facility, which was easily answered (“no”).

Then a man (later identified) traveling on the road with several others (near Silver Glen Springs) called to report “that [they] had just seen an oblong-shaped flying object, some 50 to 60 feet in diameter and ‘almost the color of the moon’, pass over the top of his car [and] that it had a flashing light which was intensely bright at its center.”

[Jerome Clark, volume 2, 3rd edition, The UFO Encyclopedia, pg 829]

The duty officer contacted the nearby air traffic control center and after learning that no traffic was in the area, he and the base air controller (Gary Collins) went outside to the van where the radar equipment was kept.  Security was alerted and they called in the radar technician (TD-2 Timothy Collins).

“Collins rushed to the tower.  The personnel already there were watching a cluster of glowing lights off to the west-northwest.  They were at eye-level and seemed to be just above an old Civil Defense tower three miles away.  Even though it was a clear, quiet night, the witnesses heard no noise emanating from the lights, which apparently were attached to a single object”.

[Same source as for 1st quote]

When the radar had turned on and locked onto the target at 11:20 pm, it revealed the object to be only 50 to 100 feet above ground, about the size of a jetliner, and showing a stronger return signal than the nearby tower.

About 10 minutes or so later it suddenly disappeared visually and from the radar, but then shortly after reappeared north of them.  To only go out until “around midnight it or another object was seen 3 miles to the northwest.  For five seconds it moved at more than 500 knots on a course, then accelerated for 2 seconds, and executed a hairpin turn in 1 second.  When it made that turn, it was 15 miles south of the base—which means it had covered 15 miles in 7 seconds; most of distance covered in the last 2 seconds…”

This last turn had brought the craft back to the base where the witnesses continued watching with radar locked on it.  It finally vanished in an instant, a minute later.

[Ok…here is where the lecturer drops the mic, lol]

The Navy in a subsequent investigation failed to arrive at a conclusion.  Long-time skeptics/debunkers Robert Shaeffer thought the personnel misidentified Venus, Jupiter and the star Capella and Phil Klass thought the radar returns were “ambigious”.  The J Allen Hynek Center for UFO Studies via Allan Hendry interviewed the several witnesses and gathered relevent data (including the radar).

References used for The UFO Encyclopedia article by Jerome Clark:


~~~NORAD, September 20 1957, radar trackings and major alert

The North American Aerospace Defense Command, aka NORAD, was formed and in operation on September 12 1957 and 8 days later they were addressing a very significant event.

Throughout its history, as shown in the basic figures they release, they detect quite a high number of uncorrelated targets (UCTs), tracks of interest (TOI), and Unknown Tracks, but when addressing for example a 2016 foia request for details of that data, NORAD responded that “the release of any details regarding Unknown Track Reports and TOIs would affect the National Defense of the US and Canada”.

[Pg 801, 3rd edition The UFO Encyclopedia, volume 2, article by Brad Sparks…above quote from NORAD internal memo “for Viggiani request  2016”]

The relevant categories used by NORAD when reporting its numbers are “uncorrelated targets”, “tracks of interest”, “remaining unknowns”, and “unidentified REMs” (remaining unidentified by followup intel and data).

In 1967 NORAD and Air Force people briefed the University of Colorado UFO Project, which would eventually release the dismissive-of-ufos Condon Report in 1969 that enabled the government to drop a public show of interest on the UFO matter.  Those briefed were made to believe that NORAD had no capacity to track UFOs and thus had no data to show and share.

But, a year later after that 1967 meeting, the Project Coordinator (Ronert Low) was correctly briefed (by the AF chief recon scientist and later NRO director) on the fact that “NORAD radars could track UFOs ‘coming from outer space'”.

[pg. 804, 3rd edition The UFO Encyclopedia, volume 2, entry by Brad Sparks…his introductory article on NORAD is pgs 801-814]

Prior to 1957 and the formation of NORAD as a joint American and Canadian entity (but largely under control of 2 US Air Force agencies), we had alerts due to UFO activity.  For example, on December 6 1950 an Air Force facility in Maine tracked 40 unidentified targets, which caused such concern that the White House was notified within minutes.

A lot of details have emerged in recent years on an extraordinary tracking event (dated September 20 1957) 8 days after NORAD went operational.   This exposure of data is thanks in due to a still ongoing examination of Project Blue Book files obtained by scientist James McDonald in 1970 and subsequently FOIA released info.  McDonald’s files are 22,000 pages and therein we can see some of his notes on this NORAD case, but given the extent of the material overall in his hands, it seems he was unable to go in depth.  See reference sources below for this story.

A little past 3pm on September 20 1957 the Montauk Point Air Force Station in Long Island, NY began tracking “a high speed 4,000 to 7,000 mph target” over 242 miles off-shore.  The next radar sweep  12 seconds later had the target at 219 miles out in the Atlantic, indicating a speed for that stretch at 7,000 mph.

Subsequent tracks for the whole episode showed speeds ranging from 1800 mph to 12,000 mph and altitudes as high as 135,000 feet.

Over a half-hour period, 2 or 3 objects were tracked before suddenly disappearing on approach to the SAC headquarters in Omaha, Nebraska.  At an earlier point, the tracks indicated a brief and sudden beering towards the Navy base at Newport, Rhode Island where Ike was (and had been for 2 weeks, using as a summer White House).

References for The UFO Encyclopedia article by Brad Sparks:


In a 2nd lecture on this subject, we will look at more case examples that go back to the “battle of LA” in 1941 and the “foo fighters” of World War 2 and up through today where we find the Navy reporting a dramatic increase in encounters by their personnel with UFOs.

There will be also a noting of some past analysis of these events.  And, we will make our own attempt to discern what Coral Lorenzen back in the mid 60s called, in her own attempt to analyze, the “patterns and meanings”.

All the while, we need to be mindful of personal and cultural conditioning that impact our regard for these events and how we determine what they mean.