Form: Report
Date: Fri, 19 May 2000 17:03:52 GMT
From: Fran Ridge
Subject: Astronaut Deke Slayton's UFO Encounter, 5 mi. SE of Hastings, MN, Dec. 12, 1951

Cat: 11
Distribution: CE,SHG

Here's one we missed and was not listed in the 1951 chrono. Wendy Connors found this one on Project Blue Book roll no. 9, case 1025

On December 19, 1951, a report came into ATIC that at that time was considered a fairly routine sighting and in fact was quickly written off as a balloon. It had occurred seven days prior on the 12th when an experienced pilot closed his Mustang in on a "rotating disc" five miles SE of Hastings, Minnesota. No one realized it at the time but that pilot had an above average aptitude for flying. In fact, his extensive flight experience eventually led him to be handpicked as one of the first seven astronauts for America's early space program - Captain Donald K. "Deke" Slayton.

Donald "Deke" Slayton in his book gives his account of seeing a UFO. Deke was conducting a maintenance test flight in an F-51.

"I was up about the middle of one afternoon-a nice sunny day--- wringing out this particular 51. I had just come out of a spin at around ten thousand feet over the Mississippi River, near Prescott, where the Mississippi and the St. Croix meet, about twenty-five miles from the Twin Cities. I was heading back to Holman Field when all of a sudden I saw this white object at my altitude, at one o'clock. I didn't think anything about it. My first thought was that it looked like a kite. But logic said nobody's flying a kite at this altitude. So I started kind of watching it to see what it was. I was closing on it, but I still didn't think too much about it. The closer I got, the more it like a weather balloon, and I'm thinking; that's what it's gotta be. Then I flew past it a little high, about a thousand feet off. It still looked like a three-foot diameter weather balloon to me. My guess on the dimensions couldn't have been too far off. I had plenty of gas, so I figured I'd make a pass on it. Burn some gas and have a little fun. I pulled into a turn.   But when I came out of the turn and headed straight at it, all of a sudden it didn't look like a balloon anymore. It looked like a disk on edge! I thought that's strange. Then I realized I wasn't closing on the son of a bitch.

A F-51 at that time would cruise at 280 miles an hour. But this thing just kept going and climbing at the same time at about a forty-five degree climb. I kept trying to follow it, but he just left me behind and flat disappeared. I wondered what that was, but I never saw it again. I turned around, headed back and landed, and didn't tell anybody about it for two days. I was afraid they'd think I 'd lost my mind.

A couple of evenings later I was over in the Officer's club with my boss, a full colonel, and after I had a couple of beers I thought I'd better tell him, and I did. He said, "Get you ass over to Intelligence in the morning and give them a briefing." So I did.

They sat there and nodded and took notes. Then they told me: Just for your information, the day you saw this object a local company was flying-high-altitude research balloons. They had a light airplane tracking it, and a station wagon on the ground. Both observers were watching this balloon and had seen this object come up beside the balloon. The object appeared to hover, then it took off like hell. The guys on the ground tracked it with a theodolite, and they computed its speed at four thousand miles per hour. I guess they were trying to tell me I wasn't crazy.

Deke: Donald (Deke) Slayton flew 56 combat missions in Europe as a B-25 pilot with the 340th Bombardment Group. He later flew seven more over Japan in A-26s. After the war, this Wisconsin native left the Air Force briefly to complete a Bachelor of Science degree in aeronautical engineering at the University of Minnesota, and to work for Boeing Aircraft Corporation in Seattle. Recalled to active duty in 1951, Slayton served as a flight test office, technical inspector, fighter pilot and experimental test pilot until April 1959. As an Air Force pilot, he logged more than 8,000 hours flying time, including 5,000 hours in jet aircraft. In April 1959, Deke Slayton was named as one of NASA's original seven Mercury astronauts. In September 1962, he was named the first chief of the Astronaut Office, and soon after, Director of Flight Crew Operations. During the historic Apollo/Soyuz Test Project in July 1975, he served as the Apollo docking module pilot, participation in a successful meeting in space between U.S. astronauts and Soviet cosmonauts. On that mission he logged nearly 2,188 hours of space flight. As Manager of the Space Shuttle Approach and Landing Test from December 1975 through November 1977, he helped NASA verify the capability to ferry the shuttle aboard a 747 jet used as a launch vehicle. Slayton then served as Manager for orbital flight test until his NASA retirement in March 1982. In November of that year, he was elected President of Space Service, and managed the design, development and marketing of the Conestoga family of suborbital launch vehicles. He then managed the first U.S. commercial launch on March 15, 1989 Starfire I, Consort 1. Chairman of Space America Incorporated; President of International Formula One Pylon Air Racing; a member of the U.S. Department of Transportation Commercial Space Advisory Committee; and Vice President of the Mercury Seven Foundation.