|There are more than 2,000
missile sites spread across the United
States. At Malmstrom Air Force Base in Montana, there are twenty Launch
Control Facilities (LCF) housing Minuteman missiles underground. The
Minuteman sites are alphabetically coded, such as "L-l," "K-l," "E-l,"
and the like, and are distributed over a wide area. One of these sites,
K-7, which is located in the Judith Gap region just south of Lewiston,
Montana, was the scene of an event which caused a major stir for the
U.S. Air Force.
On November 7, 1975, remote electronic sensors triggered an alarm indicating that something was violating site security. Underground, in the launch control area, two officers noted the signal, but there was no television surveillance topside. The normal procedure for detecting what had violated security was to call for a missile security helicopter to check the area. At the same time, Sabotage Alert Teams (SAT), consisting of four to six men, were also alerted to the fact that a violation was taking place and were ordered to proceed to the site.
On this occasion, an SAT team drove down the highway and onto a dirt road which led to the K-7 area. About a mile away, the team could see an orange, glowing object over the area. As they closed to within half a mile, they could now see that the object was tremendous in size. They radioed to the Launch Control Facility that, from their location, they were viewing a brightly glowing, orange, football field-sized disc that illuminated the missile site. The SAT team was ordered by the launch control people to proceed into the K-7 site. However, they responded that they refused to
28 "Faded Giant"?
go any farther, clearly fearful of the intimidating appearance of the object. It began to rise, and at about 1,000 feet, NORAD picked up the UFO on radar.
Two F-106 jet interceptors were launched from Great Falls, Montana, and headed toward the K-7 area. The UFO continued to rise. At about 200,000 feet, it disappeared from NORAD's radar. The F-106s were never able to get a visual sighting of the UFO.
All members of the SAT team were directed to the base hospital, where they were psychologically tested. It was determined that no one could identify the object that was seen, but that the members of the SAT team obviously had been through a traumatic experience.
Meanwhile, targeting teams, along with computer specialists, were brought to the 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.
The Malmstrom K-7 story is excerpted from "A Strange Harvest: Thoughts Beyond the Scenes" by Linda Moulton Howe, Denver Magazine, September 1980, an article with background information about the development of "A Strange Harvest," a seventy-five minute TV documentary about the animal mutilation mystery which has haunted the United States, Canada, parts of Western Europe, Central and South America, and the Canary Islands since 1967. Linda Moulton Howe, Director of Special Projects for the Denver CBS affiliate KMGH-TV, produced, wrote, directed, and edited the film which was originally broadcast May 25, 1981, and drew the largest recorded audience for a locally produced program in Denver television history. Ms. Howe has received several state and national awards for her documentary work, including a 1981 Regional Emmy for Audio Achievement in "A Strange Harvest."
An additional bit of information surfaced later. In a National Military Command Center "Memorandum for Record" dated November 8, 1975, 6 A.M. EST, the following statement appeared in reference to Malmstrom:
At 405 EST, SAC Site L-5 observed one object accelerate, and climb rapidly to a point in altitude where it became indistinguishable from the stars. NORAD will carry this incident as a FADE remaining UNKNOWN at 320 EST since after that time only visual sightings occurred.
The reference to FADE is interesting. This would presumably refer to a target on a radar scope "fading" and disappearing from the screen. Yet both radar and visual sightings are described in the above extract.
Coincidentally, there is an Air Force term used to describe an incident in which a nuclear device is tampered with. This term is "Faded Giant," a phrase which
"Faded Giant"? 29
Could this mean that Malmstrom sites K-7 and L-5 both experienced missile-tampering activity in connection with the UFO sightings? No additional information has been forthcoming from the Air Force.
This was not the first time that such an incident had occurred at Malmstrom. In his book Casebook of a UFO Investigator (Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1981), author Raymond Fowler describes two earlier instances of "Faded Giants."
In the early spring of 1966, two officers had relieved an earlier shift in the underground launch control area for the evening. As they ran through the routine of monitoring the missile facility's instruments, alarms began to go off. It seems that all of the ten missiles at their location had simultaneously developed a problem. A quick check with each launching site indicated that none of the missiles could be launched, if indeed, due to a fault in all of their guidance and control systems. This is an unusual problem, because the guidance system is the most protected portion of a Minuteman missile. Personnel above ground had indicated that at the same time the problem developed, UFOs were seen in the area.
Another similar event, during the week of March 20, 1967, disturbed officials at Malmstrom. Again, a flight of ten missiles developed problems. A UFO was in the area and was confirmed on radar. Jet fighters were sent after the UFO, but the results of the pursuit are not known. Later inquiries to obtain additional information met with silence.
Other sightings were received at Malmstrom during November 1975. The following information is taken from the 24th NORAD Region Senior Director's log:
MALMSTROM AFB, MONTANA:
Nov. 7, 1975 (1035Z) Received a call from the 341 st Strategic Air Command Post (SAC CP) saying that the following missile locations reported seeing a large red to orange to yellow object: M-1, L-3, LIMA, and L-6. The general object location would be 10 miles south of Moore, Montana, and 20 miles east of Buffalo, Montana. Commander Deputer [sic] for Operations (DO) informed.
Nov. 7, 1975 (1203Z) SAC advised that the LCF at Harlow, Montana, observed an object which emitted a light which illuminated the site driveway.
Nov. 7, 1975 (1319Z) SAC advised K-1 saw a very bright object to their east is now southeast of them and they are looking at it with 10 x 50 binoculars. Object seems to have lights (several) on it, but no distinct pattern. The orange/gold object overhead also has small lights on it. SAC also advises female civilian reports having seen an object bearing south from her position 6 miles west of Lewiston.
Nov. 7, 1975 (1327Z) L-1 reports that the object to their northeast seems to be issuing a black object from it, tubular in shape. In all this time, surveillance has not been able to detect any sort of track except for known traffic.
Nov. 7, 1975 (1355Z) K-1 and L-1 report that as the sun rises, so do the objects they have visual.
Nov. 7, 1975 (1429Z) From SAC CP: As the sun rose, the UFOs disappeared. Commander and DO notified.
30 "Faded Giant"?
Then, yet another sighting was reported. An off-duty missile launch officer and his deputy had just retired for crew rest in the Soft Support Building (SSB). The deputy went to the window and observed the silhouette of a large aircraft hovering about ten to fifteen feet above the ground and about twenty-five feet outside the Launch Control Facility. He described two red and white lights at the front of the aircraft, a white light on the bottom, and white light on the rear. The craft hovered motionless in this position for about one minute and then departed. The missile launch officer did not personally observe the aircraft, but from its sound, he speculated that it was a helicopter. The deputy also felt that the sounds he heard were those of a helicopter. The deputy's observations were limited by the darkness of the night, which prevented any good description of the craft or its shape.
On November 7, 1975, Captain Roscoe E. Moulthrop advised the Air Force Office of Special Investigations (AFOSI) that during the evening hours of November 6 and 7, two adjacent Launch Control Facilities approximately fifty miles south of Lewiston reported moving lights as UFOs.
On November 8, the 24th NORAD Region picked up one to seven unknowns heading south-southwest at about 1,200 feet. Two F-106s were scrambled out of Great Falls at 7:45 P.M. Simultaneously, SAC reported visual sightings from SAT teams at K-l, K-3, L-l, and L-6. This time the teams were hearing jet sounds and seeing lights. At 8:35 P.M., SAT teams at sites K-3 and L-4 were reporting that they had visual sightings on the objects, with K-3 reporting targets at an altitude of 300 feet. As the F-106s arrived at the location, SAT teams reported that the UFOs turned their lights off. The F-106s, in searching for the unknowns, never gained a visual or radar contact at any time because of the low altitude of the UFOs. However, when they left the area, the UFOs would turn their lights back on! At 9:15 P.M., four different locations were reporting that they had the UFOs and fighters in sight. The UFOs seemed to be playing a cat-and-mouse game.
At 9:53 P.M., the team at L-5 reported to the Command Post that the unknowns had increased in speed, climbed rapidly, and, at that point, could not be distinguished from the stars. A while later, the team at site E-l reported at 11:05 P.M. that a bright white light was seen approximately sixty nautical miles north of Lewiston.
On November 8, at 6 A.M., the National Military Command Center in Washington, D.C., distributed a "Memorandum for the Record." The subject was "Unidentified Sightings." It read as follows (excluding the L-5 report already mentioned earlier):
1) From NORAD Command Director: At 0253 EST 8 Nov, Malmstrom AFB, Montana received seven radar cuts on the height-finder radar at altitudes between 9,500 and 15,500 feet. Simultaneous ground witnesses observed lights in the sky and the sound of jet engines similar to jet fighters.
The Memorandum was signed by Brigadier General William D. Barnes, U.S. Deputy Director for Operations, NMCC.
"Faded Giant"? 31
Cross-tell with FAA revealed no jet aircraft within 100 NM of the sighting. Radar tracked the objects over Lewiston, Montana, at a speed of 7 knots. Two F-106 interceptors from the 24th NORAD Region were scrambled at 0254 EST, and became airborne at 0257 EST. At the time of the initial voice report, personnel at Malmstrom AFB and SAC sites K-1, K-3, L-3, and L-6 were reporting lights in the sky accompanied by jet engine noise.
2) 0344 EST From NORAD Command Director. Objects could not be intercepted. Fighters had to maintain a minimum of 12,000 feet because of mountainous terrain. Sightings had turned west, increased speed to 150 knots. Two tracks were apparent on height-finder radars ID-12 NM apart. SAC site K-3 reported sightings between 300 feet and 1,000 feet, while site L-4 reported sightings 5 NM from their position. Sightings disappeared from radar at position 4650 N/10920 W at a tracked speed of three (3) knots.
3) At 0440 EST, NMCC initiated contact with the NORAD Command Director who reported the following: At 0405 EST, Malmstrom receiving intermittent tracks on both search and height-finder radars. SAC site C-1, 10NM SE of Stanford, Montana, reported visual sightings of unknown objects. 0420 EST: Personnel at 4 SAC sites reported observing intercepting F-106s arrive in area; sighted objects turned off their lights upon arrival of interceptors, and back on upon their departure. 0440 EST: SAC site C-1 still had a visual sighting on objects.
4) NORAD stated that Northern Lights will sometimes cause phenomena such as this on height-finder radars, but their check with weather services revealed no possibility of Northern Lights.
5) NMCC notified Washington FAA at 0445 EST of the incidents described above. They had not received any information prior to this time.
On November 9, at 3:05 A.M., SAC crews at sites L-l, L-6, and M-l observed a UFO. They described it as being a yellowish, bright, round light twenty miles north of Harlowton at an altitude of 2,000 to 4,000 feet. At 3:20 A.M., the SAC Command Post reported the UFO twenty miles southeast of Lewiston. The color of the object was reported as orange-white, and its appearance was round or disc-shaped.
The only response that the Air Force would give to public inquiries was: "All documentation at Malmstrom AFB has been destroyed in accordance with Air Force directives for the dates of the UFO sightings mentioned . . ."
Since when are all records of a serious incident or series of incidents of this magnitude destroyed? We must conclude that either there is gross incompetence in the military's handling of such situations, or that the UFOs, in these instances, presented so considerable a threat to the national security of the United States that the Air Force felt compelled to deliberately misinform the public, and, as a result, violated the Freedom of Information Act by stating that existing records had been destroyed.
32 "Faded Giant"?
Not only was the Air Force having trouble with UFOs and mystery helicopters over the missile silos, but also events began to happen in the air and on the ground in Cascade, Montana. The Cascade County sheriff's office was being flooded with reports of low-flying UFOs and peculiar, unmarked helicopters. They were also burdened with the task of trying to unravel another mystery: cattle mutilations.
Around 1974, strange reports had started to surface in the Western states about hundreds of beef cattle found dead across a section of the country running through Minnesota, Wisconsin, Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa, South Dakota, Colorado, Texas, Arizona, and California. By 1975, this activity had spread into Montana. Newspapers across the country carried stories of cattle mutilations and their possible connection with UFOs, which, in some cases, had been observed in close proximity to the time and place of the mutilation incidents.
Some of the cattle bore strange mutilations which could not be accounted for in the usual ways. Ears were carefully removed, tongues were cut out, udders and sex organs were gone, anuses sliced out, all with apparent surgical skill. Also, in such cases, involving mostly Black Angus and black, white-faced cattle, the carcasses were devoid of blood as if drained with a needle. No blood or footprints or vehicular tracks could be found on the ground. It almost seemed as if the bodies were mutilated elsewhere and dropped to the ground from the air.
Here are a few examples of what the Cascade County sheriff's office handled during the time of the overflights of missile silos at Malmstrom:
"A mutilated cow is found in a plowed field, but there are no tracks in
the soft earth."
"The carcass of a mutilated animal is completely void of blood."
"The cut area of a mutilated cow bears a neatly serrated edge, as though
cut by a giant cookie cutter."
"A farmer and his son watch four small UFOs darting about a larger one,
described as being 'as big as a two-story building.' "
"Strange, unidentified helicopters, some of them black, are seen but not
heard—or heard but not seen."
"An ordinarily aggressive watchdog becomes strangely quiet and refuses
to bark as a strange light flooded his owner's home."
On October 16, 1975, at 10:25 A.M., a rancher stopped at the sheriff's department to report that one of his cows might have been mutilated. A deputy was sent to the ranch, located southeast of Great Falls. The cow was found in a securely locked pasture. The deputy could not find any visible tracks in the area, a feature which has been reported time and time again in cattle mutilation incidents, even when the ground is covered with snow. The deputy found that the cow's left jaw had been skinned. Its tongue had been cut out, and its right eye removed, not from its socket, but through the bone
"Faded Giant"? 33
directly above the eye. The cow had been last seen alive at 5 P.M. on October 15, 1975.
During the morning of October 18, John Struble of Columbia Falls, Montana, was driving his truck in the area of Flesher Pass, about twenty-five miles northwest of Helena. At about 12:30 A.M., he noticed a large object, fifty feet in diameter and twenty-five to thirty feet in the air, pass over his truck from the rear and then hover and stop about one hundred yards ahead of him. As the object did this, it directed a very bright light at him, causing the truck's lights and engine to go out. The UFO stayed there for about five minutes before moving away. According to Struble, the object made a noise like a big jet, then rocketed straight up into the sky and moved away to the east at an incredible speed. When the UFO disappeared, the truck's lights and engine came back on. Struble also noticed that his nonelectric watch had stopped for five minutes, the duration of the UFO's appearance.
Another sighting occurred at 4:30 A.M. on the eighteenth. John Giaco-mino, the vice principal of Flathead Valley High School, was preparing to go hunting when he noticed out his window a "big, bright object" near the top of Columbia Mountain to the north. He observed the object for about half an hour, reporting that it "lit up the whole mountain before dimming and turning a red color." The object moved up over the mountain and disappeared to the north.
The reports were logged by the Flathead County sheriff's office. Later, a spokesman for the Air Force 716th Radar Squadron near Kalispell said that they "officially" had seen nothing out of the ordinary.
The next day, the publisher of the Shelby, Montana, Times, Lloyd Stinebaugh, was contacted by the local police department at 5:15 A.M. The officer on duty said that he had a flying object in view, and he wondered if Stinebaugh could take photographs of it.
The object was very clear in the east. Pictures were taken from the newspaper office. Then Stinebaugh drove to a ridge near town for more photos. The object was seen through field glasses and appeared as an upside-down cross or a cigar shape with a cross or wings at the bottom. It hovered for nearly an hour before disappearing. The photos were developed, and most did not come out. Some did, and they showed an egg-shaped, bright object.
Malmstrom Base Operations received reports of UFOs on the night of October 18 between 9 P.M. and 7:45 A.M. Nine of the sightings came from the Cascade Eden areas south of Great Falls. At about the same time, law enforcement officers were getting reports north of Great Falls as far as Shelby. At 4:20 A.M., the Shelby sheriff's office reported that officers had sighted a UFO, and it was moving from one place to another at a high rate of speed. Its altitude was estimated to be around 2,000 feet. Malmstrom was notified by the sheriff's office, and NORAD tracked the object on radar.
34 "Faded Giant"?
Both Malmstrom and NORAD confirmed that the object was not a conventional aircraft. The Shelby officer described the object as having a white light, with a red flame behind, and a green light on top; there were red lights on both sides. About fifteen minutes later, the object started to climb and headed west.
At 6:04 A.M. another report came in from the Power area northwest of Great Falls. An officer reported that he could see a UFO changing colors from red to white over Conrad.
On October 20, at about 4:30 P.M., a couple living on a ranch near Priest Butte, Montana, reported that they had seen a UFO about half a mile from their home, on the east slope of Priest Butte. Using binoculars, they described it as being egg-shaped, with the large end of the craft on the ground. It had one yellowish-gold light which at first gave off a dull glow and then became brighter. It had two arm-like appendages which came out of the craft, one on each side. The arms made a continual motion similar to a breaststroke. The craft remained stationary for five minutes. Then the appendages retracted into the craft, and it went straight up and out of sight.
Three men were hunting in the Ford Creek area in Augusta, Montana, on October 30. The men had gone to sleep in a horse trailer after tying the two horses to the back of the trailer. At about midnight, the men were awakened by the sound of the horses pulling back on the ropes and pawing the ground. The men looked up and noticed an object which they described as a solid, white light, shaped like a football. The object was five times as large as a star and was moving horizontally across the sky, heading north. They watched the object for only a few seconds, as it was moving at a very fast speed. After it had disappeared, the men checked the horses and found that one was missing. As they listened, they could hear it running down the road. They called out and it returned, but it was very nervous— something very unusual for this horse. After a while, both horses simmered down and there was no further trouble from them for the rest of the night.
Larry Fawcett interviewed Captain Keith Wolverton of the Cascade County Sheriff's Department. Wolverton was able to give a firsthand account as to what was occurring in Cascade County during October and November 1975. He stated, "During that period of time people were calling the Sheriff's Department from all areas of the county, reporting that strange aerial objects were flying low over the land and ranches." Wolverton and other officers responded to these complaints in an attempt to identify the objects, but all investigations conducted during the two-month period proved futile.
Wolverton told of a personal encounter with one of the flying objects on the night of November 11, 1975. He and a deputy were returning to Great Falls from Missoula. The evening sky was clear as the cruiser traveled over the highway at about 50 mph. Suddenly, out of the northern sky, a very large orange light descended, lighting up both sides of the road. This object was traveling at an incredible speed and passed directly over the cruiser
"Faded Giant"? 35
at about 200 feet. Wolverton attempted to stop the cruiser to get a better view of the light, but it was traveling so fast that "It went from horizon to horizon in four seconds. It was impossible for us to determine its size or shape in the brief time we saw it!" There was no time to use the several thousand dollars' worth of photographic equipment in the cruiser. Both officers could not hear any sound from the light as it passed over the cruiser. Wolverton reported the incident to Malmstrom AFB, but they could not help him in identifying the light.
Wolverton told of another incident which occurred the same day. Occasionally, the Air Force would practice bomb runs over the missile sites by flying low over the silos and opening the bomb bay doors. As a B-52 bomber was flying over Freeze Out Lake, a Montana Fish and Game Department employee saw a light flying directly behind the bomber. Using his rifle scope to get a better look, he noted that the strange object seemed to be pacing the aircraft. It then briefly attached itself to the bomber, detached itself, and climbed out of sight. Wolverton said that this sighting was reported to Sheriff Pete Howard of Choteau County. Howard conducted follow-up interviews with military personnel and learned that as the object attached itself to the B-52, the plane's radar equipment went out! The Air Force has denied any knowledge of this report.
The authors would like to thank Captain Wolverton for his prompt attention and assistance in making the following information available. These police file entries document some of the aerial activities in and around Malmstrom AFB at the time of the overflights.
On October 7, 1975, the sheriffs department received a report that a neighboring county police department to the east had been working on two cows that had died and were cut up. The deputy who worked on that also ascertained that on or about October 1, two choppers were seen running together between 9:15 P.M. and 12:20 A.M.
On October 8, a report was filed by a Montana Highway Patrolman. On September 27, 1975, he was off-duty and camping in the mountains south of Great Falls, when he saw a helicopter fly over his camper. The canyon is a fairly narrow area. The helicopter was low enough to vibrate his mobile home. The time was about midnight. Also, on the eighth, the sheriffs department received a report that two ranchers south of Great Falls heard a chopper in their area during the night. The chopper stayed in one area for one half hour. This happened the third week in September.
On October 11, 1975, a black helicopter with a tinted bubble windshield and no markings was spotted flying east to west. This was reported by an unidentified caller. On November 2, a Choteau County police officer in a cruiser spotted a UFO south of Fort Benton. He watched it for thirty minutes. It was a very bright light flying in irregular patterns. RAPCON (Radar Approach Control) was called at 3:24 A.M. They told the sheriffs department that they did not have anything on the radar scope.
36 "Faded Giant"?
On November 8, the sheriffs department received a call from Lieutenant Peisher of Malmstrom AFB, who was in charge of the helicopter division. He told the sheriffs department that two nights prior, people around Lewiston saw a helicopter hovering and that last night two F-106s were scrambled to pursue a light in the sky. There was negative contact. Lt. Peisher also told Wolverton that two of Malmstrom's choppers would be on standby with armed guards and that they would notify the sheriffs department prior to launch.
On December 2, Malmstrom reported that missile crews reported a low-flying helicopter in the area of Juliet (Missile site), near the town of Brady, about twenty-five miles northwest of Malmstrom. This was first reported at 8:47 P.M. At 9:31 P.M., Malmstrom notified the sheriffs department that there were two craft being reported from different missile sites. On October 10, 1975, a man, his wife, and two boys observed a helicopter hover over their cattle at 8:30 P.M. It was one-quarter of a mile away. The craft was noiseless and had red and blue lights. This was in the county north of Wolverton's county and was handled by Sheriff Pete Howard. Also, on October 10, a local veterinarian observed a white light in the sky, with a red light on the side. It would disappear and then reappear. His observation was that the cattle in the area started howling louder than he had ever heard them howl. This lasted for about five minutes.
On October 16 and 17, a rancher south of Great Falls experienced a helicopter hovering over his ranch for fifteen to thirty minutes on both days. On October 17, 1975, a deputy observed a bright light southeast of Malmstrom AFB. It was hovering and reminded him of a landing light. On October 19, at 4:20 A.M., Shelby sheriffs office (Toole County) reported a UFO moving at a high speed at the altitude of 2,000 to 5,000 feet. NORAD at Malmstrom was notified. They indicated that it was not a conventional aircraft and that they would like more information. There were nine different sightings that night around Great Falls. On October 20, a black and white helicopter was reported flying one hundred feet off the ground, fourteen miles southeast of Great Falls. On October 25, 1975, an object was spotted ten miles southwest of Chester; it had green and blue lights. At 3:20 A.M., RAPCON was called. Nothing was sighted on radar. On October 26, Fort Benton reported a helicopter twenty miles east. At 12:06 A.M., Malmstrom reported no helicopter from base. On November 5, at 4:10 A.M., a man reported seeing several UFOs east of Great Falls. There were six objects together; one dropped down nearly to the level of his truck. On November 7, at 3:38 A.M., two girls traveling on the highway west of Great Falls reported being followed by a bright light, grayish in color with intermittent blue lights. On November 7, at 4:20 A.M., Malmstrom reported that SAC people around Lewiston had two UFOs in sight (Malmstrom scrambled two jets). On November 7, a man called, stating that he observed a bright light on November 2 around 9:30 P.M. around Belt; it was visible for fifteen seconds. On November 12,
"Faded Giant"? 37
at 4:04 A.M., there was a UFO sighting east of Fairfield; RAPCON was called; negative on (radar) scope. On November 16, at 4:00 A.M., Teton County sheriffs office personnel spotted and observed an object which moved rapidly and changed colors. RAPCON was called. They stated negative on the (radar) scope.
On October 25, Captain Wolverton talked to a woman who lived fifteen miles east of Malmstrom AFB. She stated that on October 17, around 10:30 P.M., she observed a large craft fly from east to west over her house. She said it was about the size of a DC-10, but it had no wings and no noise could be heard emanating from it. It had a ring of lights around the middle and was visible for about thirty seconds. While speaking to a neighboring rancher, Wolverton was told that a member of the family also observed a green light, described as large with a white light behind it, fly between their house and the above-mentioned house between 7:30 P.M. and 8:30 P.M. It came down by a haystack and then flew away.
During a Tuesday night and Wednesday morning in mid-November, Cascade, Teton, Pondera, and Chouteau counties were reporting unidentified helicopters over a wide area, including overflights of missile installations. Some objects seen were reported as helicopters, and others simply as nocturnal lights. On November 19, 1975, Cascade, Teton, Pondera, and Chouteau counties, as on the previous nights, again experienced a helicopter/UFO wave. At least two helicopters were reported at once over a missile site. Malmstrom AFB verified that unidentified helicopters were in the area. On November 28, in Cascade County on the southeast edge of Great Falls, a law officer observed an unidentified helicopter which lifted up off the ground and flew away.
Between August 1975 and May 1976 in Cascade and surrounding counties, approximately 130 reports of unidentified helicopters and/or UFOs were logged. It should be noted that this Montana flap occurred at about the same time as similar phenomena which occurred over military bases in Michigan and Maine. The Cascade sheriffs office was swamped with so many calls on the aerial activity taking place over the county that the sheriff requested help from Malmstrom AFB. This help was granted in the form of security helicopters placed on twenty-four hour alert. The pilots would remain in the helicopter, even to sleep, in case a call came in from the sheriffs office.
We spoke to one of the pilots. He told us of an incident after a call for assistance had come in from the sheriff:
People were reporting a craft at low level that they thought was a helicopter. They were reporting that the craft had strobe lights on it, like disco lights. Well, the weather was so bad when the report came in that it would have been impossible to fly a helicopter, with the icing and so forth. This made it kind of strange. We could not fly due to very bad weather conditions, but this craft had no trouble flying in this weather.
38 "Faded Giant"?
Then, again, there was the Malmstrom activity. On November 7, 1975, at 3:45 A.M., reports were made from K, L, and M Launch Control Facilities regarding bright objects in the sky overhead. At the same time, teams at K-8 and L-6 were reporting objects with bright streamers, which appeared to hover and then descend. There were other simultaneous sightings from different locations in an area approximately 120 miles southeast of the base on a 120 radial. Two F-106s were launched from Great Falls. The lights dimmed and disappeared. All radar contact was lost. The temperature was 35°F, and visibility was 45 miles.
Sightings in Montana continued into 1976 and thereafter. Wolverton and Sheriff Pete Howard went to Fairfield on January 29, 1976, to investigate a report of a UFO sighting. They interviewed Bill Link (pseudonym) regarding an object he observed on January 21, 1976. Link stated that he, his wife, a brother, and his two sons had observed an object in a field near their house (about twelve miles west of Fairfield). It was 9:00 P.M., and they watched the object from their house until they observed red lights on the highway. Thinking the red lights were either that of a highway patrolman or the sheriff, Bill Link and his two sons, ages fifteen and thirteen, got into his truck and went toward the red lights on the highway. As they got closer, the lights ascended from the road and flew toward the larger object. Bill stopped his truck 500 yards from the large object and used his field glasses.
The following is a statement given by Bill Link on January 28, 1976, in the presence of Wolverton, Howard, and a deputy from Cascade County:
BILL LINK: We first spotted them from the house. My boy saw them first just as we turned in to go into the house. My mother was visiting, and he said, "Dad, there's a funny light down in the field." So we all turned to look at it, and I went on into the house. It didn't look strange to me. My wife, boy, and little girl stayed out, and pretty soon she said, "Come out, Bill. Look at these. They're really funny!" So I went out there, and by this time there is a row of trees down the road about three-quarters of a mile. Well, by this time, these lights were coming back and forth out from behind this row of trees. And they appeared at that time to be landing in the field and taking off and landing in the field and so forth. So we watched them for quite a while, probably twenty minutes, there with the field glasses on. About this time we saw two red blinkers down on the highway and I said, "Well, somebody has reported it to the sheriff or somebody is out there now with a patrol car watching them, so we'll go down, too?" So I took the two boys and jumped in the pickup and as we turned the corner off our approach on the main highway, why, these red things that we thought were patrol cars, they then floated off the highway over this field, still blinking or they were then. So we drove
"Faded Giant"? 39
on down there and then as we approached the field where they had went, why we saw this structure that looked like a hotel. A two-story hotel sitting out there in the field and the other lights were grouped around it. About four sets of lights grouped around it."
SHERIFF HOWARD: The big one looked like it was sitting right on the ground?
BILL LINK: It looked like it. That's what the appearance indicated.
SHERIFF HOWARD: About how far away was it?
BILL LINK: Like I said before, I would judge it to be 500 yards.
SHERIFF HOWARD:Is that as close as you got to it?
BILL LINK: That was as close as we got, maybe it was three, maybe it was five, maybe it was seven, but I would say, knowing where that field is, it wouldn't have been over five hundred yards.
SHERIFF HOWARD: What did the machine look like? Angular? Cigar-shaped?
BILL LINK: The one that looked like a hotel? Why, it had a rectangular shape, you could see the outline of it. You couldn't see the outline till you put the field glasses on. Then you could see the dark outline."
SHERIFF HOWARD: Did it have cabin lights or whatever you want to call it?
BILL LINK: Ya! Ya! There were, there were lights, windows, I'd say about . . . there were two rows of those and they appeared to be probably, oh, five to six feet high, and maybe two, three feet wide. With no ... that is standing on end like this.
WOLVERTON: Single pane windows?
BILL LINK: Single pane windows. No divisions at all in them.
WOLVERTON: Could you tell if there were windows all the way around it?
BILL LINK: Well, no, it looked like it was just . . .
WOLVERTON: One side?
BILL LINK: Face of one side of it.
SHERIFF HOWARD: But they were the full length of the machine?
BILL LINK: Ya, they were the full length of the machine. Well, they come about . . . they were . . . there was none in the exact corner of it. They started in a ways from each end of it. In the meantime, these other lights seemed to be kind of affiliated with it, cause they grouped around it. They would come up close to it and then they would leave, hover about it, and rapidly change places, and then they would appear to set down right in the stubble and then they would . . . some of them would die down to a very dim light and then we would watch them for a while and they would flare right back up very brilliant . . .
This is only a small excerpt of a much longer statement on this case. It does demonstrate, however, the high degree of strangeness characterizing the reported sightings.
40 "Faded Giant"?
Certainly what happened in Montana during this span of time must be regarded as one of the most concentrated series of bizarre encounters in the history of the UFO phenomenon. Perhaps even more interesting than what we've discussed here is the story we haven't been told by the authorities.