[Thread Updated, October 20, 2021]
Robert Salas' claims about UFO deactivating Nuclear weapons are once again bouncing around the media. A lot of the older analysis of these claims is getting lost to Internet decay, so I've gathered here the key resources that help understand the story from a skeptic's perspective.
James Carlson's highly detailed (357 Pages) "American, Credulous - Establishing the Truth Behind the Echo Flight Incident of March 16, 1967"
The Echo Flight Incident holds a sad place of pride in Robert Hastings’ history of UFO interest in the marching forth of nuclear arms around the world, UFOs and Nukes, but as we shall see, his general disregard for anything approaching a generally accepted standard of proof ensures that his magnum opus will be forever classified as an interesting but ultimately useless example of modern folklore,
2010-03 Tim Printy, The Malmstrom AFB Missile shutdown: An examination of James Carlson’s critique, SUNlite magazine.
When examining the information presented by James Carlson, we have to seriously question the various stories told about any missile shutdown beyond the Echo flight on March 16, 1967. Only a few people have come forward to even provide testimony that might support Salas’ tale. Some of it has been subjectively interpreted by over eager UFO investigators wanting to promote their books and research. Meanwhile, there seems to be a perfectly logical explanation for what caused the missile shutdown. In my skeptical opinion, it seems that James Carlson provides a very good case for what transpired at Malmstrom that spring and there is no reason to suspect that UFOs were involved in any way
2010-08-14 Ryan Dube, The Malmstrom AFB Missile/UFO Incident, March 1967
According to Ufology researcher/writer Robert Hastings, on March 16, 1967, the appearance of UFOs at Echo-Flight nuclear missile facility allegedly shut down the missile silo. Robert Hasting’s information comes from a man named Robert Salas who claimed he witnessed the event.
The son of one of the officers who was involved in the Echo flight incident, named James Carlson, took Hastings and Salas to task for those claims. Carlson contends that both his father and retired Col. Walt Figel, the other officer involved in the incident, both reported that there were no UFOs.
2010-09-01 Ryan Dube, The Malmstrom AFB Missile/UFO Incident - Part II
In this update, James goes a step further and provides email evidence to support his direct contact with Echo Flight witness Walt Figel. As we progress in this story, RU is working to obtain final evidence to confirm the new information James now offers, which directly counters what Hastings and Salas are reporting about cho Flight.
But first, we will continue with James’ comments in our forum – comments aimed directly at Robert Hastings and Robert Salas and challenging them to provide proof for their claims about Walt Figel and Carlson’s father. Make sure to read through to the bottom of this post, where James provides evidence of his communications with witness Walt Figel.
2010-09-12 Ryan Dube interviews Eric Carlson
For those of you following along with this story (or for those of you who are just coming along now), I have the pleasure to introduce you to one of the men who has been at the epicenter of a storm within the Ufology community.
It has been a longstanding legend within Ufology that a UFO was sighted over the Silos at Echo Flight and Oscar flight, and that those UFOs were related to the electronic malfunction and shutdown of the nuclear missiles protecting the United States of America from the Communist threat.
2010-09-26 Ryan Dube- "The Echo Flight UFO Debate Continues" (Reality Uncovered)
After the last four articles published here at RU covering the witness statements obtained from primary Echo Flight witnesses Walter Figel and Eric Carlson, an already fiery online “debate” grew even more heated.
2010-10-07 Richard Dolan takes a deep dive, and is more pro-UFO. He ultimately thinks something happened, but is concerned about the discrepencies raised
I want to add that when I began looking into the allegations, I did not do so with a preconceived conclusion in mind. I tried very hard to let reason, not emotion, be my guide. I admit that the allegations about Salas disturbed me, but I was determined not to let that guide my own analysis.
At this stage, I remain of the opinion that there was indeed one or more UFO events connected with the shut-down of missiles at Malmstrom Air Force Base. The case is not the slam-dunk that many of us had assumed, but I believe it is stronger than the critics have argued. And I certainly am not persuaded that key promoters of the case are liars.
2010 James Carlson's Shorter article, originally written for SUNLite
And so, with a simple snip of all loose ends, we see that not only were no UFOs involved at Echo Flight or any other flight of missiles taken off of strategic alert at Malmstrom AFB in March 1967, it is highly probable that questions of UFO intervention would not have been raised by anybody, had it not been for the investigation conducted by Raymond Fowler, a NICAP investigator who didn’t know anywhere near as much about UFOs at Malmstrom AFB as he thought he did. In closing, it should be Page 35 of 43 stressed as well, that -- in contrast to Timothy Good’s opinion that although the UFO aspects of these events were unconfirmed, he sees “no reason to doubt” them – any claims of UFO interference with any of the four missile flights discussed in this analysis is completely unsupportable – and we see no reason to believe them.
2011 Tim Hebert's "Disproving a UFO Case"
When taking into account the above 11 assertions, Echo merely becomes a great UFO story. But that is all ...a story, nothing more and nothing less. All of the verifiable facts support a weapon system anomaly that was only magnified due to the number of sorties that had dropped off alert, thus the UFO theory is indefensible and becomes only what it's proponents wish it to be. The only support for UFO involvement is the rumors and these rumors could have came from many different sources for various agendas or purposes.
With several more articles on Tim's blog, including a Oct, 2021 overview of the latest Salas presentation
Based on what I saw and heard there was nothing new presented that advanced any of Salas' claims regarding Echo and/or Oscar Flights at Malmstrom back in 1967. Again, missing is any collaborating information from other personnel that would have been present on 24/25 March 1967.
2014-01 Robert Sheaffer on the Oscar Flight "UFO"
The claims of UFOs supposedly interfering with missiles are complicated and confusing, and I will do my best to un-confuse them. However, the incident as depicted in Close Encounters is a relatively simple one. A bright, glowing orange UFO is allegedly seen over the base by security men [likely Mars], and then the Oscar Flight missiles were said to start going off-line, one by one [Only Salas remembers this].
Comment by Tim Hebert on Sheaffer's article.
Recently, Salas had disclosed (Paul Kimball via Billy Cox?) that he had undergone hypnosis in the mid 1980s to help recall certain aspects of the incident, as well as claiming that he was abducted by aliens. I believe this further puts a stake in the heart of credibility in my opinion. Canadian viewers were not privy to that tid bit of info, were they?
From my stand point, Salas' claims stretches coherence to the nth degree and more and more moves into the realm of total confabulation or...an elaborate hoax was perpetrated on him while out in the field that day.
Brain Dunning, Skeptoid, July 26, 2022
Bob Salas was a missile officer at Malmstrom for a number of years. He remembered the Echo Flight incident of 1967. He also believes he remembers a time when the Oscar Flight also had problems, a memory which is probably incorrect as there is no record of it. And he remembers the reporting of the Belt, Montana UFO sightings. Working with Klotz, they reconstructed and rearranged some real incidents and some remembered incidents, and produced the story we now have today — that UFOs shut down nuclear missiles, a clear threat to national security.
Except, by all the records and data that exists, no such thing ever happened. Ten missiles of Echo Flight restarted normally following a commonplace commercial power failure on March 16, 1967, being down between ten and forty seconds. Eight days later, some people reported a UFO to the newspapers in a town 50km away. There is no rational reason to conclude one thing had anything to do with the other.
[Update Oct 2021] This new first post is a summary of the various resources in the original thread (which starts with the post following this one). Since many of the articles no longer exist, I have replaced them with archive links