Colorado Springs Gazette Telegraph Thursday, January 14, 1972 P1 and P4
“Red Alert’ Claim Remains Puzzle
By MOLLY PARRISH
Gazette Telegraph Staff Writer
“I’m not a crack-pot or anything and it could have been a hoax but it sure scared the hell out of me.”
That was the response of an Oklahoma City man who reported Thursday that he heard a telephone conversation Wednesday night which appeared to him to be a high level communications between the NORAD headquarters in Colorado Springs, several military installations across the country and the President of the United States.
Bill Eckhardt told the Gazette Telegraph in a telephone interview Thursday that the telephone conversations were heard by himself, his wife, Sherry, and his wife’s mother for approximately 45 minutes.
Eckhardt said the strange phone conversations began when his mother-in-law, who lives on the other side of Oklahoma City from the Eckhardts, called his wife at 8:45 p.m.
He said his wife called him to an extension phone and they heard the voices of men who said they were at Air Force bases in Texas, Florida, New Mexico and California. The clearest voice identified itself as “NORAD Central” and kept repeating, “This is NORAD Central, - this is not a test – this is a red alert.”
He said the voices were discussing “unknowns on the radar” which were approaching Los Angeles and Houston.
At this point, Eckhardt said he thought he was involved in some kind of hoax. He and his wife hung up after asking his wife’s mother to call back, hoping this time to get a better telephone connection.
When his mother-in-law returned the call, he said the strange military conversations continued. A voice purportedly from NORAD reported that two planes or “unknowns” were down in a desert in New Mexico. Another voice said that two teams of specialists were being sent to investigate the objects.
Another voice, which he said identified itself as coming from Houston, kept repeating “This is not a test – we are on red alert.”
Then, close to 9:30 p.m. (CST), the Houston voice said, “We have the President on the phone. Go ahead, Mr. President.”
At this point, Eckhardt told the GT, he felt sure it was some kind of practical joke, but when he heard the President’s voice identified as the President’s that he “really became scared.”
“The voice sounded just like President Nixon’s,” he said. He said the President said, “This is probably the most historic phone call I will ever have to make.: At that point, the voices became garbled and faded away.
Eckhardt said that during the conversation, his mother-in-law kept notes on what was said.
He said that the most distinct voice was that identified as “NORAD Central.: He said the other voices were distinct but not as cleat as NORAD. He said the other voices “sounded as if they were coming through a transmitter.”
A NORAD spokesman said Thursday that “somebody must have been pulling his (Eckhardt’s) leg. He said that NORAD did not issue any alert Wednesday and that NORAD does not use the term “red alert.”<> Eckhardt said he didn’t know anyone he suspected of playing a practical joke. “It must have been a hoax,” he said, “but it sure was an elaborate one. And is someone was playing a joke I wish I knew who it was.”>