Wurtsmith Air Force Base Sighting

(From the book titled "Clear Intent" by Lawrence Fawcett and Barry Greenwood)

Wurtsmith is a Strategic Air Command base located three miles north-west of Oscoda, Michigan.  It serves as the home base for the 40th Air Division and the 379th Bomb Wing.

At approx. 10:10 pm, personnel in the vicinity of the family housing area located in the southeastern portion of Wurtsmith reported seeing what appeared to be running lights of a low flying craft which was thought to be a helicopter.  The craft hovered and moved up and down in an erratic manner.

Airman Martin E. Tackabury, assigned to the Capehart housing area gate, said that he saw the object for about five seconds near the perimeter of Wurtsmith, due south of his location.  Tackabury reported that the object had one white light pointing directly downward and two red lights near the rear.  The object seemed to be heading in a west southwest direction.  Tackabury could not hear any sound coming from the aerial craft because a B-52 was in the air nearby to the north.

Near the main gate at Wurtsmith, Airman Michael J. Myers, assigned to Police Unit Seven, was on duty at the Wurtsmith motor pool.  As Myers looked toward the west, he could see several lights near the western edge of the base.  The lights turned north and appeared to lose altitude.  He did not hear any sound.

Sergeant Robert J. Anderson, also at the motor pool, reported that he observed an airborne KC-135 tanker and another craft with a steady red light.  The craft appeared to be flying slower, ahead and below the KC-135.  Anderson believed the heard a sound similar to a helicopter.  After 30 - 35 seconds, the object passed out of view.

Airman Roger Skipper, at the Wurtsmith main gate, said that when he responded to the activity at the motor pool, he heard sounds that diminished quickly.

At 10:14, 10:20, and 10:25 pm, at the back gate of Wurtsmith, security police reported to the command post that an unidentified helicopter with no lights came up over the back gate and hovered over the weapons storage area at a low altitude.  Security police of the 379th security police squadron in the weapons storage area could not make out the type of craft.  The craft started to move towards the northern perimeter where its lights were again turned on.

Sergeant James A. Miller of the Wurtsmith security police reported his observations of the unknown craft while on duty in the weapons storage area.  He stated that he heard the sound of a possible  helicopter coming from an area off the base toward the north.  He thought he had heard the sound of a flying helicopter fifteen minutes earlier, but he didn't report it.

As he listened, the noise became drowned out by a military jet, and when the jet passed out of range, the original noise had stopped.  No other similar sounds were heard.

The local police were notified; however, no evidence was found to corroborate a landing.  Wurtsmith Control Tower personnel did not make visual contact with the craft, and no efforts were made to challenge the craft by radio.

Security police at the weapon storage area notified Colonel John J. Doran, Vice Commander, 379th Bomb Wing, that the guard posted at the back gate had reported what he thought was a helicopter overhead.  The command post notified Col. Boardman (wing commander) and Col. Doran, and they proceeded to the flight line.  It was at this time that Radar Approach tracked the craft for approx. 35 miles on a southeastern bearing from Wurtsmith.  Simultaneously, a KC-135 tanker was returning from a refueling mission.  It entered Wurtsmith's traffic pattern and received permission to fly transition approaches.  Col. Boardman ordered the KC-135 to attempt to identify the object.  Wurtsmith air traffic control vectored the tanker in the object's direction.

Aboard the KC-135 was Major Frederick Pappas, the plane's commander; Captain K.E. May, co-pilot; Captain Rick Meier, the navigator; Captain Myron Taylor, instructor navigator; Captain Randy Higginbotham, instructor pilot; and Sergeant Steve Smith.

The following statement on the KC-135 encounter with the UFO was given to the 379th Bomb Wing Historian, Staff Sergeant Paul J. Cahill, by Captain Taylor in a "Memo for the Record" dated January 18, 1979.

"We were returning from a refueling mission and during our first approach into the traffic pattern, RAPCON vectored us to check out a reported UFO in the area of the Wurtsmith Weapons Storage Area.  As I recall, this activity occurred between 10:30 and 11:00 in the evening around the 1st of November.  I remember seeing lights similar to strobe lights which were flashing irregularly.  We followed the lights north out over Lake Huron and then Michigan.  At first it was difficult to determine whether there were two different objects because of the irregular flashing of the lights.  But, after observing the lights we determined that there were in fact two objects and the irregular flashing appeared to be some sort of signal being passed from one to the other in an effort to maintain the same position.  We were able to paint an object on the radar scope for about 10 seconds.  I would estimate that our altitude was about 2,000 ft.  and our speed approximately 200 knots.  Shortly after turning south in pursuit of the UFO, we called Approach Control and received blanket clearance to follow the UFO at all altitudes and at all vectors.  Occasionally, RAPCON would pick up the UFO and help us by giving us vectors to the UFO's position.  I would guess that we stayed close to the UFO  most of the time, approx. one mile away, and each time we attempted to close on the object it would speed away from us.  We followed the UFO down to Saginaw Bay and started across the Bay when we lost it because of all the fishing boat lights.  At first we thought it had landed on one of the large oil tankers but later decided that we had been wrong.  We continued to search the Bay area but didn't see it so we changed our heading for Wurtsmith.  On the way back, we picked the UFO up again at our eight o'clock position.  We turned away, and it proceeded to follow us.  Finally, we turned back in the direction of the UFO and it really took off back in the direction of the Bay area.  I know this might sound crazy, but I would estimate that the UFO sped away from us doing approx. 1,000 knots.  We continued in the direction of the Bay until RAPCON called us again and said they were painting a UFO four to five miles over the coast traveling in a westerly direction.  They vectored us to the position of the UFO and we proceeded but at that point we were low on fuel and were forced to return to Wurtsmith.  I remember that while on final approach we saw the lights again near the Weapons Storage Area.  Following the mission we discussed the incident and about a week later, Captain Higginbotham was questioned by the OSI and cautioned not to discuss the incident."

No positive visual identification was ever given by any of the personnel involved in the Wurtsmith sightings.  Only lights and sounds were reported.

The FBI field office in Saginaw, Michigan was contacted by the Air Force and advised of the activity at Wurtsmith.  The special agent in charge said that his office was "unaware of hostile threats against Wurtsmith Air Force Base."

(For research records made by Staff Sergeant Paul J. Cahill, and more information concerning this case see the book "Clear Intent")

Click Here to view Wurtsmith FOIA Document #1
Click Here to view Wurtsmith FOIA Document #2
Click Here to view Wurtsmith FOIA Document #3
Click Here to view Wurtsmith FOIA Document #4