In Washington last September, six former Air Force officers and a former enlisted man stepped forward to say that they'd seen or had been directly involved with UFO sightings at nuclear missile sites.
These sightings began at the dawn of the Cold War and continued through the 1970s.
At this press conference, organized by UFO researcher Robert Hastings, these men told the media that they were encouraged not to speak of these sightings by their superiors, and in some cases, were required to sign secrecy oaths.
Now, Hastings is saying three more witnesses are speaking to him about a more recent UFO sighting -- and it revolves around a serious communications scare at F. E. Warren Air Force Base in Wyoming last October, when the military acknowledged that it had lost contact with 50 of its nuclear Minuteman III missiles.
"We've never had something as big as this happen," said a military officer who had been briefed on the event, according to the The Atlantic. "We can deal with maybe 5, 6 or 7 at a time, but we've never lost complete command and control and functionality of 50 ICBMs."
The Air Force said the control failure lasted just under an hour and posed no threat to the public. "The initial problem was diagnosed and isolated in about 59 minutes," said Lt. Col. John Thomas, director of public affairs for Air Force Global Strike Command headquarters at Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana.
"Within that time, we were able to communicate with all of the missiles," Thomas told AOL.
While news of the communication outage in the defense system was well covered, Hastings is the first to claim that the event coincided with the reported sighting of a large cigar-shaped object high above the missile field.
But Hastings tells AOL that the military was less than forthcoming about reports of the UFO sighting when the incident occurred.
Furthermore, Hastings says that three missile maintenance technicians -- who agreed to speak on condition of anonymity -- claim that the Air Force put pressure on two of them who were on active duty not to talk to the media about what they had seen.
These witnesses also claim the incident lasted much longer than the Air Force admits.
"I have detailed information about the events. The Air Force said this [missile] disruption lasted 59 minutes. It actually lasted the better part of 26 hours," said Hastings. "It was intermittent and involved a very specific sequence of these five missile alert facilities going on and offline. I have all of that down to the most minute detail."
Hastings' information comes from the three eyewitnesses to this event, who reportedly agreed that what they saw in the sky near F.E. Warren Air Force base in October "was not a commercial blimp," Hastings said. "It had no passenger gondola and no advertising on its hull. Further, its aspect ratio (length to width) was very similar to a WWI zeppelin: long and thin, and not at all like the squat shape of a corporate blimp."
He continued, "They said the object was seen in the sky above the field, throughout the weekend, both during the [missile] disruption and the following day."
Hastings, author of "UFOs and Nukes," has spent nearly 40 years investigating reports of UFOs that have appeared over American nuclear weapons sites.
And it's important to note that, while the eyewitnesses reported the blimp-like UFO at about the same time as the loss of communication with so many missiles, no one is claiming that the UFO actually had anything to do with the missile event.
And what about the timeline factor? While the Air Force announced the Wyoming missile problem was over in under an hour, Hastings' on site sources claim that it was a much longer incident, stretched out over 26 hours.
But according to Thomas, while it's true the main problem -- traced to a faulty circuit card -- was contained within the first hour of the incident, it took a number of days before everything was back to normal.
"The launch control center that experienced the anomaly was not brought back on line for some number of days while we, with an abundance of caution, made absolutely sure we didn't bring it back until we could be certain the problem wouldn't happen again," Thomas said.
That might account for the timeline discrepancy issue.
This isn't the first time UFOs have been reported by military personnel at F.E. Warren Air Force Base. In 1965, several people, including the base commander, informed the Air Force's Project Blue Book -- the official Air Force UFO study between 1952 and 1969 -- that their base was inundated by sightings of unknown aerial objects, including a large white oval-shaped craft.
The above account was included in the 1972 book, "The UFO Experience: A Scientific Inquiry," by the late astronomer J. Allen Hynek, who served as Project Blue Book's scientific consultant.
Two years later, in 1967, Robert Salas was stationed at Malmstrom Air Force Base in Montana. The former Air Force captain was monitoring a launch-control center equipped with 10 nuclear Minuteman missiles when UFOs appeared in the sky above them just as something unexpected occurred to the 10 defense weapons.
"As we looked at the display board in front of us, the missiles began going into an unlaunchable, or no-go, mode. They couldn't be launched -- it went from green to red," Salas told AOL, explaining how it was extraordinary that so many missiles could malfunction at the same time.
In the aftermath of that incident, Salas and his crew were told to keep quiet. He reported, "They wanted us to sign papers, saying we'd never talk about this and swear we wouldn't even talk to our wives or any of the other airmen on the base -- nobody.
"If I went public with this while still in the service, I would've been in Leavenworth [maximum security federal prison], breaking stones into little pebbles," said Salas, one of the officers Hastings presented in Washington last September.
This may explain why Hastings' unnamed sources are so reluctant to go public about the recent series of events at Wyoming's F.E. Warren base.
"I have no reason to dispute anybody's claims of anything they may seen historically, because those occurrences and reports took place decades into the past and probably will decades into the future," said Thomas. "This incident is separate from all of that. We took it very seriously and we're very confident that we understand fully what happened."
"The overarching issue is that the U.S. government will not admit the reality of UFOs and the fact that they are superior craft piloted by unknown entities [who] have a distinct and ongoing interest in this nation's nuclear weapons program," Hastings speculated.
"That's just not something that you're going to admit to the public. And that's clearly the policy they've pursued since the 1940s."
But Thomas insists there's no underlying policy of silencing eyewitnesses to unexplained things they may see at an Air Force base.
"If people see things that are unusual, they are encouraged to report them," he said. "It's better to report things that might be unexplained so that we can have the appropriate agency or people explore it. We'd rather have more information than less.
"When people join the military, they don't give up their First Amendment rights."
WATCH ROBERT HASTINGS 2010 PRESS CONFERENCE
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