The Night NORAD Went On Top Alert
Late October 1975
Cheyenne Mountain, Colorado
By Francis L. Ridge
This updated paper was originally printed in the MUFON UFO JOURNAL, issue number 192, February 1984. The incident reportedly occurred in 1975. Several years ago when I first heard of the "mysterious helicopter overflights" of several key U. S. Air Force SAC bases, I treated the whole matter very lightly. I didn't think it was a UFO matter. In 1983 I received over 400 pages of FOIA documents from the Fund For UFO Research and read the pages concerning those overflights and found to my surprise that the word helicopter wasn't used that much. Also, the descriptions of the objects and their maneuvers sounded like the UFOs I had been investigating and researching since 1960. Later on in the documents the word helicopters becomes UFOs.
In 1983 I was the sole guest of radio station WGBF in Evansville, Indiana, for a two hour call-in type talk show program. During that show an anonymous caller reported a very interesting report, a somewhat sinister event that allegedly took place at NORAD, the North American Air Defense Command, at about the same time as those overflights. The moderator and I asked the man to contact me later to document what he had reported. According to this man, it was a full-scale Security Option 5 Alert, and UFOs and investigators from the "Air Force UFO division" were part of the picture. I also obtained some information about the codes used in the 25 pages of data I had in my personal possession on those overflights. And it is obvious that there is more that is being withheld. The pages we have on the overflights are incomplete reports, most of the follow-up data is missing. The reams of pages to the actual reports and all the subsequent comments are still withheld. The pages that we have represent only communication from computer to computer or operator to operator. In other words, the initial filing only. According to my source who served in Air Force security at NORAD, the documents merely say, "I'm making a report. It's up to you to make your report, etc."
NORAD is the National Combat Operations Center (or was at the time of the incident) and is based at Cheyenne Mountain, Colorado. The Command Post is located deep inside the mountain and supposedly can withstand a 10-megaton direct direct hit. UFOs raise quite a bit of havoc when sighted by military people and detected on radar near any sensitive military installation, but especially at Cheyenne Mountain. When bonified UFOs violate airspace over NORAD's Command Post, there should be serious concern.
In late October 1975, evidently there was enough concern to go into a Security Option 5 Alert. According to our informant, nobody was allowed to enter the base, except cleared, high-ranking officers or cleared security patrols. No one was to leave. Those personnel on base who had just completed duty were rolled out of bed. Jet interceptors were scrambled into the air. In fact, everything they put in the air during an attack on the U.S. was airborne.
The men had worked the third shift of duty at NORAD and came off about eight in the morning. Everybody in the group of approximately nine or ten men went home, got their hunting and camping gear together and met at the home of one of the guys. They then took off for one of their routine hunting trips, one of the things they liked to do together. One of the fellows who was supposed to go, wound up on radar duty, a circumstance that later proved valuable as evidence for what happened at the Mountain that day. Another man in the group later became an airline pilot for United Airlines and a couple of years later secured some information about an airline case that occurred the same evening as their alert. United had filed a UFO report with the Air Force!
To start off, my informant told me, "We weren't drunk!" He said that they had been hunting all day and they had sat down and ate a late dinner near a warm cozy fire and were getting ready to turn in. One of the guys thought he saw a shooting star. There appeared to be some unusual animal activity/noise for about 15 minutes. It was late, between 10 PM and midnight. One of the other fellows said, "Well, there's two of them!" So, they stopped, kindled the fire down and eventually put it out completely. What they then saw were three distinctly different lights (not on one object, but separate) moving to a point to where they blurred across the horizon and then they would stop, move back in the opposite direction and then move away from them to a point where they almost couldn't see them anymore. Then the lights would move again. "We were thinking our eyes were playing tricks on us until they lined up almost abreast of each other and proceeded directly toward the Mountain," continues Mr. E (as I shall call him). Right after this (approximately 6 to 8 minutes later) they heard the buzzers go and the Mountain went on alert! At this point they, themselves, scrambled, got their gear packed up quickly and headed for the Mountain and their posts. They had been on leave 10 to 12 hours but were still on call, attached to the security of the Mountain, except for the pilot. So they hustled back as their orders dictated. From the campsite to the Mountain was a drive of about 45 minutes to an hour, and they drove there in a hurry, entering the gate at 0210. They showed their passes and were admitted (only because they were part of the base's security). They were not given a chance to change clothes and were still in their hunting gear. They grabbed their weapons and went to their assigned posts and stayed on alert until 0600, when the alert was "stepped down".
Later, the fellow who had been on radar duty reported he had tracked UFOs for a good 20 minutes. Two or three days later, they were altogether again and they asked him if he had tracked anything on his radar, and he said he had. He reported that it was "weird" and proceeded to describe it to them, word for word, what they had also seen visually. At first it was very erratic (the movement of the first UFO as stated by Mr. E). Mr. E. stated to me later that there appeared to be trails behind the objects at the time. The description sounds as if it could have been "persistence of vision" where a lighted object appears to leave a fading image behind it as it moves quickly across a dark background. A couple of days later, one of the group mentioned to someone that they had seen some lighted objects right before the alert.
Some of the men in the group started checking into the records as to the reason for the scramble and security alert and found that nothing had been filed. They then started asking around to see if they could find something, anything, to explain the occurrence at the base. It was then that the AF "UFO people" showed up. Mr. E. referred to the investigators as the Air Force UFO division, "whatever they were called---came out to talk to us." They interviewed the group (and who else at NORAD?) one by one and everybody's story matched, even the radar operator's, where the UT's (Uncorrelated Targets) maneuvered for over 20 minutes. He filed a report with the AF investigators. He was told to ignore it and continue about his business, not to worry about it. The group was ordered at that time not to mention the incident. "As long as we were in uniform, we were not to discuss it with anyone other than military personnel with an official need-to-know and the fellows from the Air Force investigating team that came out to talk to us." They told the group that they had seen navigational lights or landing lights. Mr. E stated his group had all been in Viet Nam and were familiar with navigation lights. They had seen night fighters working, taking off and landing many times. They were told by the investigators that their report could not be taken seriously since they couldn't describe a shape or color, other than white, like a shooting star. It would appear that the Air Force was very glad that that is all the men could report. We knew that nocturnal lights can be important evidence, especially in conjunction with other better-quality reports and radar cases as backup evidence. It is also strange that the men were asked not to relate their stories to anyone "outside". They were told that incident fell under a document which Mr. E thought sounded like a document I was aware of, like Publication 6, Vol. 5. I am aware of it, but do not as yet have a copy. However, I am told that it is a CIRVIS document (Communications Instructions for Reporting Vital Intelligence Sightings) and therefore falls under the Communications Act of 1934 with severe penalties or fines attached to it. Also, Mr. E kept saying that "They played it off like it wasn't anything." Yet, a Security Option 5 Alert is very serious, indeed. The overflight documents (the ones we were allowed to see, that is) mention a Security Option 3 being exercised, with UFOs showing "clear intent" near a weapon storage area. When some of the group tried to check the records, they could find no evidence of an alert. "We couldn't find anything in the records that were available to us." said Mr. E. "Now, we didn't try to get into clearance areas, but the records that were available to us were primarily security records." Even the files of the radar man of the group were devoid of any mention of any alert. It appeared that all material relating to the event had been pulled! Within about sixty days, everyone in the group received a written reprimand for drinking on duty, which none of them had done. In fact, they weren't even on duty at the time of the sighting.
The men were reportedly not abused or mistreated. Nor were there any stripes pulled or were any of the men "passed over" by their superiors. They simply received a written reprimand, which came "out of nowhere", dated the same day as the sightings," a copy of which was placed in their 201 file. The radar man, who was still in the Air Force when I investigated this incident, according to my informant received the letter mentioning drinking on duty and dereliction of duty. He was the only one who lost a promotion about six months later, simply because this was on his record.
In the overflight documents there is one page that states, and I quote, "3) HQ USAF/DADF also forwarded a copy of a NORAD document for a review for possible downgrade and release. We have determined the document is properly and currently classified and is exempt from disclosure under Public Law 90-23, 5 USC 552b(1)." This was signed by Col. Terrence C. James, USAF, Director of Administration. There is another page that mentions a "security camper team at K-4 reporting a UFO with white lights" at. 0635Z (11:35 PM local). But this one was at Malmstrom AFB, Montana, on 8 Nov. Something very strange was going on in the late fall of 1975. Going on the assumption that UFOs are real and there is a reason for everything, I thought about this series of events as I watched and worried about two sons in the military during the Gulf War. What we were doing was in response to a threat we perceived. Waves of flights and a few crashes. Were WE (U.S. or Soviets) doing something that caused the overflights of 1975? It is my opinion that we were. How many years will it take before we find out? It took over 30 years to find out how close the super powers were to nuclear annihilation in the early 1950's, a period of intense UFO scrutiny. And even earlier than that, two years after we dropped two atomic bombs on mostly civilians, we were testing rockets that (to outside observers) could deliver them from afar. Within a six week period there were over 800 sightings (50% were daylight discs) and the reported crash at Roswell.