NORAD National Air Defense UFO Alert, Sept. 20, 1957
Updated: May 3
Below is an updated and revised version of Brad Sparks' article NORAD National Air Defense UFO Alert, Sept. 20, 1957, originally published in the UFO Encyclopedia and posted here with Brad's permission. It was difficult to reformat his original article into this blog, so apologies in advance for formatting errors (Errors are my mistakes, not Brad's).
------------------------------------------------------------------------- On Sept. 20, 1957, a U.S. national air defense alert was called shortly after 3:05:48 p.m. (EDT). Over the next half hour U.S. radars tracked two or three high-speed supersonic/hypersonic objects, crossing two states and Canada. The UFOs were radar-tracked moving at varying speeds from about 800 to about 19,000 mph, and at varying altitudes from 50,000 to 135,000+ ft altitude – which feats still cannot be duplicated today. The first UFO initially seemed headed straight towards the Summer White House of then-President Eisenhower. The second (or same) UFO headed straight towards Strategic Air Command (SAC) HQ in Omaha, Neb., in what was perceived as a threat trajectory potentially aiming for a nuclear knockout kill against the command and control center for the entire U.S. nuclear force. Another UFO joined it on a similar trajectory about 150 miles behind the first. SAC went on high alert, apparently launching nuclear bombers toward Russia until the alert was called off when the last UFO disappeared before reaching SAC. The North American Air Defense Command (NORAD) triggered a White House alert, with high level meetings convened of the CIA, USAF Intelligence, IAC Watch Committee, and the IAC Executive Session. (Intelligence Advisory Committee, IAC, was the board of directors of the US Intelligence Community then, and now called National Intelligence Board, NIB). The director of the CIA Office of Scientific Intelligence, Dr. Herbert Scoville, Jr., suggested the UFO might have been a maneuverable Soviet cruise missile, but no such missile was in the Soviet inventory, as we now know of course. (After the end of the Cold War, internal Soviet missile and space histories emerged, telling how the very first Soviet cruise missile, the Burya, failed on its launch pad deep inside Russia on Aug. 1, 1957. The second test on Sept. 1 crashed at the launch site. The third test on March 21, 1958, lasted only 1 minute, and the remaining tests were all failures into 1960, when the program was cancelled. Obviously, nothing made it as far as the U.S., which would have been a foolish or brazen act of war in any case, and nothing had the highly maneuverable performance capabilities of the UFOs in the NORAD alert.) The White House and President Eisenhower were immediately notified and briefed multiple times. Intelligence Community executive sessions were later convened at the White House, and CIA and FBI documentation verifies this, in part because the AF cannot fully control and suppress the record-keeping of other agencies. Congressional committees were also briefed and held classified hearings, some of which facts were released to the press and reticently acknowledged by SAC officials. In Dec. 2016, researcher Brad Sparks uncovered TOP SECRET documentation by the CIA on this incident, which led to discovery of further documentation on President Eisenhower’s involvement and the extensive NORAD investigation, in various collections. Previously, a variety of incomplete, fragmentary and redacted material on the NORAD alert and high-level meetings had appeared in Project Blue Book files, physicist Dr. James McDonald’s files from 1970, CIA files via Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit releases in 1978, and elsewise. _________________________ © Brad Sparks, 2018, 2023, revised with updates & corrections, May 1, 2023 See the 1957 NORAD radar plot map, below, with annotations added in red. See also Figures 2 and 3, maps prepared in 2017–2018 by the author (not by NORAD).
Figure 1. NORAD Radar Plot Map of Sept. 20, 1957, National Air Defense Alert, with UFOs headed directly towards SAC (Strategic Air Command) HQ, Omaha, Nebraska. (Annotations added in red to copy of original NORAD map; black print heading “NORAD RADAR PLOT [etc.]” added in top right. Special thanks to R. Klinn for obtaining clear scan of map from McDonald files, Univ of Arizona.) Maps (below) prepared in 2017-18 by author (not by NORAD):
Figure 2. NORAD air defense alert radar plot map, Sept. 20, 1957. Montauk track’s speeds varied from 4,000 to 12,000 mph (peak 19,000 mph not shown, see main text). (Overlay with current regional map, projection line added, speeds added in red.)
Figure 3. NORAD radar tracks during the National Air Defense UFO alert, Sept. 20, 1957. UFO flight paths are headed first towards the Presidential Summer White House, then later SAC HQ. (Overlay on current regional map; annotations added in black and red).
Figure 4. NORAD radar tracks during the last half of the National Air Defense UFO alert, Sept. 20, 1957. UFO flight paths are headed towards SAC HQ, speeds varying between 800 and 2,100 mph. Incident Sequence At 3:05:48 p.m. (EDT) Montauk Point Air Force Station, Long Island, New York, home of the 773rd Squadron ACWRON (Aircraft Control & Warning Radar Observation Network) began tracking on NORAD-ADC radar FPS-20 (a modified FPS-3) a high-speed 4,000 to 7,000 mph radar target. The tracking started at about distance/range 242 miles (210 nautical miles) at azimuth 110° over the Atlantic, traveling on an ESE-WNW path at a low-ball estimate of 50,000 ft altitude (probably closer to 100,000 ft). Next sweep of radar at 3:06:00 p.m. painted the target UFO at range 219 miles (190 NM). Hence it was traveling at approximately 7,000 mph (23 mi in 12 secs = 1.92 mi/sec = ~7,000 mph, rounding to nearest 1,000 mph). Raw radar track data from Montauk are corrected from detailed NORAD map plot (with supplemental data). Reconstructed sweep-by-sweep data on UFO shows velocity changed from a low of about 1,800 mph average in the 12-second interval between radar sweeps, to a maximum average of about 12,000 mph (peak 19,000 mph) on this first track towards Montauk/Summer WH: 3:05:48 p.m. initial pickup 210 nmi (242 mi) from Montauk 3:06:00 p.m. 20 nmi (23 mi) from last (~7,000 mph) (3:06:36) p.m. 33 nmi (38 mi) from last (~4,000 mph) 3:07:00 p.m. 29 nmi (33 mi) from last (~5,000 mph) (3:07:24) p.m. 40 nmi (46 mi) from last (~7,000 mph) (3:07:36) p.m. 34 nmi (40 mi) from last (~12,000 mph avg., ~19,000 mph peak) 3:07:48 p.m. (7) nmi (8 mi) from last (~2,300 mph): located about 55 nmi (63 mi) from Montauk (3:08:00) p.m. (5) nmi (6 mi) from last (~1,800 mph): faded about 50 nmi (57 mi) from Montauk Radar UFO was plotted by Montauk NORAD radar at a stated speed of 3,600 knots (4,100 mph) for the initial track establishment but an average of about 5,400 knots (6,300 mph) throughout the 2.2 minutes of tracking until disappearance at 3:08:00 p.m., about 57 miles Southeast of Montauk. Variously false claims by AF asserted there was only 1 minute of tracking, or inconsistently 95 seconds (~1.6 minutes), in an apparent effort to downplay and minimize the incident. Montauk radio interrogated target with IFF (Identification, Friend or Foe) Mark X, received confirmation radio response from UFO target at same location shown on radar for several 12-sec sweeps thus verifying initial 7,000 mph track and eliminating interference and equipment malfunction explanations, and thus refuting AF debunking which omitted this fact of IFF confirmation. (See UFOs Transmitting Coded IFF Radio Signals.) UFO target was projected to head towards about 289° based on an average heading from 3:06 to 3:07:48 at 2,000 knots (2,300 mph) and Montauk alerted Benton Air Force Station, Pennsylvania (648th ACWRON). But target turned left at 3:07:24 p.m. to course about 272° no longer heading towards Montauk, covering about 40-41 nmi or 46-48 mi in two 12-sec radar sweeps or ~7,000 mph. UFO blip already covered about the same distance in the 24 seconds before the turn, thus also ~7,000 mph. But from 3:07:24 to the next radar sweep at 3:07:36 p.m. the UFO covered an extraordinary 40 miles (34 NM) in 12 seconds, was thus traveling at an average speed about 12,000 mph, but reaching a peak velocity midway of about 19,000 mph, the highest speed recorded in this entire incident. (See calculations below that assume lowest acceleration needed to cover the distance in the time between radar sweeps.) In order to cover 40 mi in 12 secs: Acceleration ~100 g's required from ~8,000 mph to ~19,000 mph peak (not to be confused with average of 12,000 mph) at about 3:07:29. Deceleration ~100 g's to ~4,000 mph at 3:07:36. All in round numbers to nearest 1,000 mph. Interception by two F-102 jets at 3:10 p.m. from Kinross AFB, Mich., roughly 600-700 miles farther to the WNW from the Montauk track or projection. Later, two more F-102’s from Truax AFB, Wisc., attempted interception about 500-700 miles to the West of the Benton UFO tracks, but by then the two UFOs had already disappeared (see below). At 3:17 (or 3:18) p.m. Benton AFS, Penn., radar-tracked a 920 knot (~1,060 mph) target, which was considered “correlated” with Montauk track BB-6 as one and the same object, for 10 to 11 minutes (depending on whether the initial plot was at 3:17 or 3:18), and given the same Montauk Track Number (BB-6) (though later could be interpreted as 1, 2 or 3 UFOs total, with Track BE-111 next). The UFO was tracked successively by Benton radar’s two overlapping separate radar beams transmitting at differing frequencies (VU Vertical-Upper and VC Vertical-Center beams) from the multi-beamed, multiple radars-in-one CPS-6B (FPS-10) search and height-finder radar (but not on the separate FPS-6 height-finder radar). Beginning at about 90 miles NNW from Benton, the UFO headed West almost transverse to Benton, hence cannot be interference which moves radially inward or outward. This first Benton UFO track ended at 3:28 p.m. at about 220 miles distance at azimuth 305° (about NW) of Benton and about 70 miles West of Buffalo, NY, in Ontario, Canada, heading at about 266° azimuth. This UFO track of 266° was thus headed straight towards SAC HQ in Omaha, Nebraska, about 800 miles farther on track if extended (miss distance about the size of the map plotting error for headings). See map Figures 1, 2, 3. Between 3:23 and 3:24 p.m., the UFO target transitioned from Benton’s VU to VC radar beams at 6° elevation at about 155 miles (135 NM) to the NW of Benton. Since the VU and VC radar beams are at different frequencies, radar interference is an impossibility. This can only be a real object at an altitude of about 100,000 feet: tan 6° x 155 miles x 5,280 ≈ 86,000 ft plus earth curvature dropoff of ~16,000 ft ≈ 102,000 ft. The UFO’s speed was about 1,200 mph at this transition between radar beams. While the 1st Benton UFO target was still being tracked, at 3:24 p.m., a 2nd Benton radar target, given a separate track number BE-111, was picked up by the Benton CPS-6B radar along a roughly parallel path shifted 10-20 miles farther North of the 1st Benton UFO track, but likewise heading West, starting about 90 miles NNE of Benton, heading 290° at 1,200 knots (1,380 mph). It was about 150 miles behind the first target. At 3:30 p.m., the 2nd Benton UFO faded out of the VU Benton radar beam about 145 nautical miles NW of Benton, then at 3:32 p.m. entered the VC Benton radar beam about 160 nautical miles to the NW (a pattern indicating the object varied altitude from about 110,000 to 125,000 feet). Benton radar site interrogated the target with IFF Mark X, received no response (unlike Montauk which had earlier). Track ended in Ontario, Canada, at 3:34 p.m. about 200 miles WNW of Benton and about 70 miles W of Buffalo, New York, heading about 265°. This was the last known radar tracking of a UFO in this incident. Again, the UFO track was headed straight towards SAC HQ in Omaha, Nebraska, about 800 miles further on the track if extended (miss distance about the size of the map plotting error for headings). Both Benton UFO tracks were on projected courses heading towards Omaha SAC HQ, which was put on alert, along with NORAD, AF Command Post, and Air Defense Command (ADC) Air Divisions. And, as mentioned previously, SAC now on high alert then apparently launched nuclear bombers towards Russia until the alert was called off after the last UFO disappeared before reaching SAC. Other radar stations that were alerted did not pick up UFO tracks, apparently because of their extreme speed and altitude (the latter 100,000 to 120,000+ feet, with NORAD analysis suggesting a 135,000 feet). The White House and the President were immediately notified and briefed multiple times. Intelligence Community executive sessions were convened at the White House and are verified by CIA and FBI documentation. Congressional committees were briefed and held classified hearings. Garbled versions got released in the press. Targeting President Eisenhower and His Summer White House? In May 2018, Brad Sparks made a disturbing discovery: The first half of the Montauk UFO track pointed directly towards the then “Summer White House” located at the Naval Base in Newport, Rhode Island. President Eisenhower had been staying there for the previous two weeks and this was the first time he had designated the location as his official vacationing residence. Eisenhower was located at this Summer White House during the UFO incident on Sept 20, 1957. It is not known whether anyone in his security detail was alerted or whether anyone in NORAD or the AF had noticed this potentially threatening flight path. Normally, FAA regulations are filed to restrict and/or prohibit flights over a Presidential residence, so the threat should have come to the attention of military flight planners and the Secret Service immediately. During the first half or full minute of the Montauk track, at 3:06-3:07 p.m. the track projected along a course of about 302° (roughly WNW). The course towards the Summer White House would have been approximately 306° azimuth, a small difference of about 4°. At the last plotted point the distance from the UFO to President Eisenhower was about 60 miles and the 4° difference in direction could represent a miss distance of just 4 miles, if the UFO did not really swerved away slightly. Without mentioning the Summer White House, NORAD itself suggested the possibility that a radar operator error in plotting could have made the UFO flight path only seem to swerve left. From the last point plotted on the NORAD map that still appears headed directly towards Newport about 140 miles away, the miss distance would have been only about 10 miles. NORAD’s analysis of radar track overlays found that even 10°-11° errors were within normal range of plotting errors, later noting that even a 20-mile miss on linkup of Montauk and Benton tracks was still a good match. NORAD commented: The [Montauk] first track segment appeared to curve slightly toward the west [or left,] just prior to its fade [disappearance]. This change in course was based on only one or two returns; however, after discussing the track with the [Montauk] station operating personnel it was concluded that this change was well within the normal variations caused by plotting errors. This [left veering] turn then, may not have actually occurred. (NORAD Evaluation p. 13) Was this merely a strange coincidence of the direction of the UFO or a potential threat to national security? This 1957 situation is reminiscent of the January 8, 2008, Stephenville, Texas, case when a high-velocity, varying-speed UFO headed towards President Bush’s “Western White House” in Crawford, Texas. (Schulze & Powell, 2008) President Eisenhower's security team and national security staff should have been especially concerned by the threat trajectory of the Montauk UFO in light of the then President-elect’s visit to the Korean war front on Dec. 3-5, 1952. Literally during the last hour of Eisenhower's visit on Dec. 5, 1952, an assassination squad of 11 Chinese or North Korean aircraft attempted to assassinate Eisenhower but failed. It was called the "largest enemy night air attack of the Korean war." (Special thanks to James Klotz for locating documents on this incident.) Aftermath and Analyses As mentioned previously, the Montauk UFO incident triggered a national alert of the White House, NORAD (which just became an operational command as NORAD 8 days before), SAC, AF Command Post, AF Air Defense Command in Colorado (main component of NORAD), and other agencies. President Eisenhower's defense liaison officer and White House staff secretary Brig. Gen. Andrew Goodpaster was briefed on the night of the incident, Sept 20, 1957. Goodpaster then briefed the President at the Summer White House, most likely in person rather than by phone. A follow-up Presidential briefing was scheduled for Monday morning, Sept. 23, 1957, evidently at the National Security Council (NSC) meeting in the main White House where Eisenhower attended from 10:02 to 11:23 a.m. The directors of the U.S. Intelligence Community met about this UFO incident in the NSC's Intelligence Advisory Committee (IAC) in Executive Session on Sept. 24 (after an IAC Watch Committee session on Sept. 21) also at the White House. NORAD conducted an investigation, appointing five officers and operations analysts to visit radar sites on-site; other agencies investigated as well but full reports are not available from any of them. A 31-page NORAD report on this 1957 national air defense alert was initially kept from Project Blue Book and parent body ATIC, but was reluctantly made available several months later due to pressure from the deputy director of AF Intelligence, Major Gen. James Walsh. We would not even know about the incident otherwise. In May 1958, Major Gen. Howell M. Estes, Jr., the AF Assistant Chief of Staff for Air Defense Systems, wrote to AF Intelligence pointing out that despite the NORAD report no one had yet found a specific malfunction or other explanation for the Sept. 20, 1957, incident. Therefore, he said, investigations must be continued. As documented in the NORAD report, the UFOs:
were tracked on multiple radars, simultaneously
varied in speed from 800 mph to 12,000 mph (10,000 knots) (peak velocity ~19,000 mph)
varied altitude from 50,000 to 125,000 - 135,000 feet (which remains unattainable by aerospace vehicles even today)
crossed boundaries between radar beams that were transmitting on different frequencies and thus proved that they were real objects—and did so at extremely high altitudes ranging from 100,000 to 125,000 feet, altitudes far beyond the capabilities of 1957 aircraft which were limited to about 80,000 feet
were headed straight toward SAC headquarters in a threatening trajectory
were initially headed straight towards President Eisenhower’s Summer White House on a similar threat trajectory (as we now know, although NORAD’s initial investigative team evidently did not).
The first UFO:
sent radio replies to IFF interrogation signals on different frequencies, which exactly confirmed the radar plots, making it impossible for the UFOs to be explained away as radar set or circuit malfunction, radar interference, or anomalous propagation of radar mirages (and there was no temperature inversion according to NORAD, which attached refractivity profiles to its report).
The NORAD report also admitted that there was no temperature inversion (attaching refractivity profiles to prove it), and that interception was futile and impossible at these speeds and altitudes. Four F-102 jet interceptors were left behind in the dust by the outperforming UFOs, which disappeared before the hopeless attempt even could be made. Nonetheless, NORAD’s report was highly disingenuous and, frankly, dishonest—see the Lockport radarfalsehood below—in attempting, without success,to dismiss its own evidenceof a real object, a real UFO, traveling at high speed and high altitudes in a threatening trajectory directlytowards SAC headquarters. The report also read likea committee-written reportin which different NORAD team members wrote different sentences that did not fully agree with each other,and thus had editorial continuity problems. NORAD's report is highly disingenuous, frankly dishonest (see the dead Lockport radar falsehood below), in attempting, unsuccessfully, to dismiss its own evidence of a real object, a real UFO, traveling at high speed and high altitudes headed in a threatening trajectory directly towards SAC HQ in Omaha. It reads like a committee report in which different members wrote different sentences that did not fully agree with each other, or had editorial continuity problems. Ironically, the UFOs demonstrated more physical continuity than the NORAD team did in its writing continuity. NORAD brazenly claimed “contradictions” in the radar data that were made up out of whole cloth. The report, for example, cites the purported failure of the Lockport radar to track the UFOs, implying possible UFO nonexistence, when in fact NORAD knew that Lockport radar was turned off for maintenance reasons (and admitted it in other parts of the same report without attempting to reconcile its own self-contradiction of fact). NORAD investigators did admit that the radar returns appeared “realistic” in shape and size on the radar scopes, behaving in a “coherent” fashion — not jumping around randomly and incoherently — and were unlike interference patterns, jamming, and weather clutter. The NORAD team considered numerous possible explanations – equipment malfunction, interference from other radars (these alleged radars were not identified and were actually nonexistent), weather phenomena, anomalous propagation reflections off inversion layers (etc.), random noise “angel” effects, radar foil chaff drops, ECM (electronic countermeasures) exercises, aurora borealis, meteors, B-58 supersonic bombers, ballistic missiles, and cruise missiles. The NORAD team concluded by saying it could not find an “unequivocal” explanation and could only grasp (desperately) at equivocal possibilities and degrees of “relative probability.” Thus they “believed” the “most probable causes” were equipment malfunction and interference – which are mutually exclusive and contradictory, one being internal the other external – despite the mass of evidence disproving those debunkings and proving real objects, coherently operating in the real world and transmitting radio responses to ground radar site IFF interrogation signals – which “weather phenomena” are incapable of doing, as are “interference” signals, aurora, meteors, non-IFF missiles, etc. ad nauseam. Only Real Objects Disappear in Radar Blind Zones After mentioning the basic facts, the NORAD report first downplayed, then finally ignored the IFF evidence for a real UFO: NORAD radar at Montauk received IFF radio signal replies from the UFO whose timing and position exactly agreed with and confirmed the direct Montauk radar paints of the 4,000 mph UFO's position. This is normally conclusive proof of the reality of a target, in this case the UFO. The IFF signals are transmitted (at 1030 MHz), replies are received (at 1090 MHz) on different frequencies, making it impossible to be “reflections” – a 1030 MHz signal if it ever reflects back is at at the same 1030 MHZ of course and cannot come back at 1090 MHZ (the IFF system is intentionally designed that way). The IFF radio frequencies are also very different from the radar beams (at 1250-1350 MHz) thus making it absolutely impossible to be “anomalous propagation” effects, or interference signals from another radar. An IFF signal sent out at 1030 MHz cannot possibly hit a “radar mirage” or inversion layer and bounce back at a different, 1090 MHz, frequency; the frequency would have to be the same 1030 MHz. The main purpose of IFF was and is to eliminate any uncertainty from radar errors in identifying aircraft. In an effort to ridicule the early 50,000 foot altitude estimated by the NORAD-ADC-CONAD 26th Air Division and the Montauk radar site, the NORAD report cavalierly dismisses it as "so unreliable" and “totally without basis” that they were somehow “forced to discard it” without even explaining how it was arrived at by 26th AD and Montauk in the first place without use of a height-finder radar (presumably because the explanation would expose the cavalier dismissal itself as baseless). Yet the NORAD team seriously considered its own estimates of 120,000 to 135,000 ft altitudes for the Benton UFO tracks as not being absurd. The 50,000 ft altitude of the UFO was easily determined by Montauk and the 26th Air Division and was obvious: The UFO disappeared (faded) when it entered the radar blind zone above the Montauk radar. Only real physical objects disappear because of physically moving into radar gaps. Interference blips and temperature inversion targets cannot, because they are not real objects reflecting radar beams at high altitudes and then reflect nothing when they enter the gaps between the radar beams. At 57-58 miles (50 NM) from Montauk the approaching UFO would appear to the radar antenna to be rising above the 11° elevation of the top of the Montauk radar beam and would then enter the blind zone if it was at an altitude of about 58,000 feet (60,000 ft if earth curvature dropoff is included), which is close enough to 50,000 feet given the rough nature of calculations done in a hurry without normal height-finder radar data. This is simple physics and geometry. Likewise, the UFOs did exactly what real objects do – not interference blips that only exist as blips within the radar circuits – when the UFOs disappeared briefly at 3:23-24 and at 3:30-32 p.m. in the gaps between the differing elevation VU and VC radar beams of the Benton radar (beams that were also transmitting at different frequencies which refutes interference). The fact there was a real object flying through the skies also is demonstrated by Montauk radar station’s successful prediction of where the UFO was headed, approximately, and how long it would take to get there. The 26th Air Division forwarded Montauk’s “dead reckoning” prediction to the Benton, Penn., radar station where the UFO showed up just as predicted. The highly classified TOP SECRET meeting of U.S. intelligence chiefs at the IAC (Intelligence Advisory Committee) Watch Committee on Sept. 21, 1957, noted that the UFO’s predicted reappearance on Benton radar was a “match” with Montauk’s “projection” using the UFO’s last known “speed.” When the first UFO disappeared at 3:08 p.m., Montauk projected forward the 2,300 mph speed towards the WNW. Then some 300 miles and 9 minutes later the UFO (or at least “a” UFO) showed up on Benton’s radar screens in about the correct predicted location at 3:17 p.m., also headed W or WNW. The average speed over this so-called gap between radar sites was about 2,000 mph – another close “match” (to the final 2,300 mph velocity from Montauk). The UFO presumably ascended from an altitude of 50,000 to 60,000 feet when it disappeared from Montauk, perhaps upward to at least 135,000 feet, and thus was lost in the blind zones of Montauk and other radars in the area, then reappeared by dropping back down again, this time within Benton’s radar beam coverage. NORAD itself admitted that the correspondence of the Montauk UFO track with the first part of the Benton UFO track was very close: The first portion [of UFO radar track No. BB-6] carried by Montauk described a course of approximately 289° while the course of the second portion carried by Benton was about 278°. A line drawn along the "average" course of the [Montauk radar’s] first segment and extended to the area where the second part of the track was established [by Benton radar] passes within about 20 miles of the point of detection of the second segment. Courses of radar tracks on bomber aircraft are seldom more consistent than this. (NORAD Evaluation, p. 13) However, a UFO course towards President Eisenhower’s Summer White House (about 306°, see above) would not be exactly the same as the “averaged” course of the Montauk track (289°) or the midpoint heading (302°), but still close to the typical 10°-11° margin of error NORAD indicated was accepted (recall the figures, above, 289° – 278° = 11°). NORAD’s Further Attempts at Debunking Aside from evading the real-object coherence and the IFF evidence that the UFO replied to our radio signals, NORAD attempted further data suppression or falsification in an effort to minimize the weight of UFO evidence. This included attempts to falsify and cut down the number of radar plots of the Montauk UFO from 12 sweeps to only 10 sweeps. (The IAC Watch Committee meeting at the White House on Sept. 21 was even falsely told by ADC or NORAD there were only 9 sweeps.) The fewer the radar sweeps that caught the target (the UFO) the less reliable the overall track that is plotted. Though NORAD admits that the Montauk UFO disappeared, when last tracked, at 57-58 miles (50 NM) from Montauk radar, its map plot does not show this last point (thus neatly chopping off 1 sweep). The last plot shown is at 1907-3/4 Z-time (actually 1907:48 rather than 45, see below) but it is at about 63 miles from Montauk, exact miles depending on the exact distance scale used. But NORAD admits in the text of its report (NORAD Evaluation, p. 1) that the last plot was in fact about 6 miles further on from a 63-mile range (63 – 6 = 57 mi), it just misstates the time as 1907:45 (which actually must have been rounded to “3/4” minute from 1907:48 since sweeps are in units of 12 seconds, not 15 seconds). The map plot suggests that the 57-58 mile distant sweep must have been at 1908:00, not 1907:45/48, and that the NORAD report must have cited the wrong time here. Hence, there was indeed 1 additional radar sweep until the UFO target disappeared into Montauk’s radar blind zone at 57-58 miles. This additional plot at 1908:00 Z (3:08:00 p.m. EDT) yields an approximately 6-mile flight in the 12 seconds until that last additional radar sweep, or about a 1,800 mph average velocity which is consistent with the NORAD report’s 2,000 knots (2,300 mph) at this terminal point in the Montauk tracking (NORAD p. 1). Obviously a data point at the reduced 2,300 mph is missing from the map plot because the map shows the last segment covering a tremendous ~40 miles in 12 seconds or about 12,000 mph avg. (“10,000 knots” NORAD p. 14) – which is not the “final 2,000 knots for the Montauk track stated in the NORAD report (p. 1). Similarly, the first UFO detection by Montauk at 1905:48 is omitted too from the map plot. But a possible reason is that it may not have been plotted accurately, since it was the surprise of a first radar blip – but no such excuse applies to omitting the last blip, of course. This mean there were indeed a total of 12 radar sweeps / blips from 1905:48 to 1908:00 Z-time, not 10 sweeps, not 9 sweeps. In a further effort to try to disparage the reality of the UFO target, in its report NORAD stressed the (alleged) failure of several alerted radar stations to pick up the UFO target until Benton, Penn., radar did so (and then tracked two separate UFOs at staggered time intervals that overlapped for 4 minutes). NORAD grossly disregarded the logical physics implications of the 50,000 foot UFO altitude and its own estimated (increase) in the UFO altitude to 135,000 feet. At these highest altitudes, radars have gigantic blind zones out as far as a 120-130 mile range that essentially account for all of the active radar site failures to detect. Regrettably, NORAD did no study of the coverage patterns and blind zones of the non-detecting radars, which is unaccountable since it should have been a routine function of its radar analysis. Needless to say, no earth aircraft in 1957 had the capability of sustained level flight at 120,000 to 135,000 feet. In a startlingly blatant deceit, NORAD repeatedly claimed as evidence of unreality of the UFOs that the (actually inactivated, dead) Lockport, Penn., radar had unaccountably “failed” to track the UFO’s – when in fact the NORAD team knew the Lockport radar was turned off for maintenance and was dead, not transmitting. Again and again, NORAD falsely claimed that "These radars" at Lockport and another site "failed to establish a contact with the targets" (NORAD, p. 2) and that "None of these stations ... detected anything that could possibly have been correlated" (NORAD, p. 5) – bald-faced falsehoods made in order to disparage the reality of the UFOs. Meanwhile, buried further down in the report (NORAD, pp. 9, 11) is confirmation of the fact that NORAD knew the Lockport radar was not even turned on at the time, but was shut down for maintenance work on the radar. (The other radar sites failed to detect the UFO due to logical reasons of extreme altitude and resulting gigantic radar blind zones, previously noted above. One wonders though if any of these radars were also offline for maintenance, like Lockport, and the fact suppressed.) Preposterous pseudoscientific nonsense was evidently presented to President Eisenhower that the radar UFO was unreal because caused by "Rapidly-moving temp inversion" at 52,000 feet “traveling East to West,” which implies “rapidly-moving” at the cited 2,000 knots (2,300 mph) – a physical impossibility. A temperature inversion is caused by a stationary vertical layering of air typically spread across dozens of miles – it does not "move" horizontally or vertically let alone "rapidly” (and winds break up inversion layers, which is why they occur more often at night when winds die down without solar heating to drive them). AF Gen. John M. Dougherty, Air R&D Command (ARDC) Intelligence, briefed President Eisenhower with this hogwash relayed through Ike’s long-time trusted aide and defense liaison officer Brig. Gen. Andrew J. Goodpaster, on orders of Army chief of staff Gen. Maxwell D. Taylor (see CIA scientist Scoville notes, IAC Watch Com., Sept. 21, 1957.) Did SAC Launch Nuclear Bombers to Russia, Fearing Attack? The NORAD national air defense alert was reported to the President on Sept. 20, 1957. As mentioned above, it involved a UFO transmitting IFF radio response signals and apparently prompted SAC (Strategic Air Command) to send nuclear-bomb loaded bombers headed towards USSR before being recalled short of the "fail safe" point. Due to the release of a number of obscured if not obfuscated accounts we must try to disentangle them. This was NORAD's first major UFO incident, just 8 days after NORAD went into operation in Colorado (continuing the operations of ConAC/ADC going back to 1946). It may also have been one of SAC's first nuclear bomber "fail safe" alerts triggered by a UFO, in which SAC launched its bombers to Russia fearing the UFOs represented a preemptive first strike, and then recalled the bombers before the fail-safe point to keep nuclear WWIII from breaking out by mistake. On April 7, 1958, a United Press (UP) story, officially cleared by the Pentagon, reported that SAC had "many times" launched its H-bomb-carrying bombers due to high-speed meteors, radar interference, and "foreign objects ... never ... explained" – UFOs. Frank Bartholomew, the President of United Press, conducted an investigation of SAC war procedures and reported on these "numerous" incidents of SAC nuclear bombers being launched towards Russia due to unidentified radar alerts caused by meteors, radar interference and UFO's. Thus the Montauk-Benton national NORAD alert may be alluded to in this UP investigation. SAC Commander, Gen. Thomas Power, seemed to garble a version of the incident (or a confusion of two different Pacific and Atlantic incidents) during a Congressional investigating committee when he said he had refrained from launching the SAC bombers that were then always on 24-hour hair-trigger alert. One version presented by Sen. Ralph Flanders then released in a hearing transcript clearly has Gen. Power describing the UFO targets as "headed west," which would mean from the Atlantic not Pacific, and thus this presumably would be the “no-SAC-bombers-launched” case to which Powers was referring. But in Flanders' version from an apparently different committee transcript released on Feb. 3, Gen. Power changed the story to say "headed into the interior of this country" in place of using the specific words “headed west” – as if heading west was an error and this was actually an unrelated case of a UFO headed east to the “interior” from the Pacific, not the Atlantic and not the Montauk case (U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee Hearing Transcript, 1958). Civilian UFO investigative group NICAP interpreted the Gen. Power story as relating to a Pacific incident not the Atlantic alert. If so, then the SAC-bombers-not-launched incident was with the Pacific UFO, and the SAC bombers that presumably were launched referred to the Atlantic UFO alert. (NICAP, July 9, 1958) In a different good news-then-bad news account from Gen. Power, related by Sen. Flanders in a classified Jan. 15, 1958, “Sputnik Surprise” hearing of the Senate Armed Services Preparedness Subcommittee, Gen. Power (via Sen. Flanders) seemed to be referring to the Montauk NORAD alert, though with errors, which we will note in bracketed [ ] comments interspersed, and trying to downplay it as a no-SAC-bombers-launched case: Senator FLANDERS. ... in the course of our investigation and in the course of our inspection trips ... there was so much ... encouraging ... [and] disturbing.... General Power, out in [SAC] Omaha, told us of an occasion in which there had been reported from the Texas tower [must mean Montauk radar overseeing the so-called "Texas Tower" radars in the Atlantic—nowhere near Texas] a flight of airplanes headed west, going at 2,000 miles an hour. [Must mean Montauk & Benton radar tracks officially considered as one merged Track BB-6 with 1 or 2 or 3 UFOs at varying speeds including 2,000 mph.] That report was verified as it passed over the inspection points on the coast [must mean Benton radar]. Now, the question was: "Should he send out his planes [SAC bombers to Russia]. He [Gen. Power] said, "Hold it, just wait a minute; hold it a minute," and those unidentified flying objects, UFO's, disappeared between the coast and Chicago and were never seen again. (Senate Preparedness Hearing Transcript, p. 2068; Jan. 15, 1958) If Gen. Power was even referring to the Montauk-Benton incident, however, then he omitted the fact that Benton NORAD radar picked up the projected path of the Montauk UFO at the exact arrival time predicted by Montauk, and omitted the fact that Montauk verified the target by sending and receiving IFF Mark X transponder signals from the UFO and verified the plotted IFF locations against the radar-plotted locations of the UFO (thus also confirming the hypersonic speed of 4,000 mph at that initial point). Power also failed to mention that the IFF and the radar were two different systems operating completely differently on at least 3 different frequencies.
Hence, the case can be made that Power thus seems to have been referring to a different incident than Montauk-Benton alert, apparently or possibly confusing the Atlantic incident with the Pacific incident. At the same time, a case can be made that Gen. Power did relate a distorted version of the Montauk-Benton UFO radar tracks, given the similarity of some of the details in Sen. Flanders’ recollection of what Power told him, as quoted in the Hearing Transcript above – first tracked over the ocean (Atlantic) headed West, (initially) at 2,000 mph, picked up by more radar(s) thus “verified” at “inspection points,” disappearing between (Atlantic) “Coast and Chicago.” Without better internal SAC and other documentation to resolve the issues these interpretations of statements by Gen Power, at second-hand in tension with each other, can be made, though not at all refuting the NORAD and other documentation we do have. Belated Blue Book Involvement Project Blue Book’s chief, and strident debunker, Capt. George Gregory scribbled a note 5 months after the fact that the case was "Not reported" to Blue Book (contrary to AF Regulation 200-2), writing "We [only] investigated this after being told about it by Gen. Walsh," on a recent visit of his to ATIC (BB Memo, Feb. 26, 1958). Major Gen James Walsh was the deputy chief of AF Intelligence at the Pentagon. Project Blue Book then belatedly obtained the extensive 31-page NORAD “Evaluation of Air Defense Incident of 20 September 1957” only after this deputy chief of AF Intelligence (Deputy ACS/Intelligence) Major Gen. Walsh insisted on ATIC's evaluation as an update about 3 months later. Gen Walsh apparently assumed ATIC / BB had been in the loop all along on the case, although they had not been and did not know about it. From fragmentary file notes in the Blue Book file it seems BB first heard something about the case on or about Jan. 3, 1958, possibly from General Walsh; the record is unclear. BB chief Capt. Gregory wrote a "short memo" on the nature of spurious radar targets the next day. (We don't have copies, but Gregory mentions it a month later.) The BB memo was apparently to be used by ATIC officials to provoke NORAD Commander-in-Chief Gen. Earle Partridge into giving more info on the case to provide more grist for ATIC's mill, in order to support ATIC's standard debunker party line that radar UFO cases are just "spurious radar returns mistaken as UFOs or as hostile missiles." When Gen. Walsh demanded some answers from ATIC Commander Gen. Harold Watson on a visit to ATIC (possibly in Jan. 1958 as what prompted the first Gregory memo of Jan. 3), ATIC had leverage to get more data from NORAD. But first, ATIC had to clarify its own confusion about exactly what case Walsh was taking about (which nonetheless had not deterred Capt. Gregory from dismissing it all as spurious radar targets). ATIC confused the Montauk-Benton NORAD alert case with an unrelated Navy sighting near Martha's Vineyard, Mass., occurring on Oct. 12, 1957, and followed up with a letter to Gen. Walsh by ATIC Chief Scientist Dr. A. Francis Arcier on Feb. 14 trying to clarify. Arcier expressed some confusion about whether it was the same case the general had mentioned that involved a "High Speed" "2000 MPH" radar target from Long Island to Buffalo, N.Y. – which we can see was obviously not the same as the Martha’s Vineyard, Mass., case (wrong State), but was clearly the Montauk case. (Other recollections indicate that Walsh recalled the UFO radar target was "potentially hostile," of "long-duration," and “Heading towards SAC” HQ in Omaha.) Dr. Arcier wrote that "we can find no sighting" case file on it. BB even misfiled Arcier’s letter in the Martha’s Vineyard file. ATIC then teletyped ADC (NORAD) on Feb. 17, 1958, and urged "expediency" in providing documentation for Gen. Walsh. Despite the obvious urgency, ADC-NORAD dragged its feet, as BB chief Gregory complained, saying that they were sending the 31-page NORAD Evaluation report by "slow mail." Gregory wrote Dr. Arcier Feb 19: "Regret to inform you that ADC 'crossed' us up again. They're sending the [NORAD] info, apparently, by slow mail.... Keeping our fingers crossed that the [NORAD] 'Ad Hoc' rpt [report] arrives within a reasonable time." (The AF Courier Service could have flown the document straight to ATIC in just a few hours, same day, had NORAD or ADC so desired – clearly they did not and were dragging their feet. Besides the easily scheduled special courier flight, no doubt there were regularly scheduled flights that day or the next that could have been used.) The NORAD report from ADC finally arrived over a week later at Project Blue Book / ATIC on the afternoon of Feb. 26 just as Dr. Arcier was "standing by" Capt Gregory's desk on his way to fly to Washington, DC, to brief Gen. Walsh on this very same NORAD UFO alert incident. Gregory did a quick summary and memo full of mistakes, and outright misrepresentations calculated to debunk, and Dr. Arcier left the next morning, Feb. 27, to brief Gen. Walsh. The results of this debriefing are unknown. Chief of BB, Capt. George Gregory, wrote a provocative note on a file copy of ATIC Chief Scientist Dr. A. Francis Arcier's letter to Gen. Walsh of Feb 14, 1958, that said regarding this " 'SAC-ADC' alert" that "SAC was practically on way to target. Gen. W. [Walsh] wants info. Contact SAC first." (Emphasis added.) Did that mean SAC bombers had almost (“practically”) been sent to the USSR “target” but orders reconsidered, or (the more likely reading) that SAC bombers were already en route (“on way”) “practically” there to the USSR fail-safe point when recalled back? The United Press investigation of SAC also indicates the latter, a UFO alert followed by recall of dispatched SAC bombers. Secret Congressional Hearings and Laconic Pentagon Statements As we have seen, by early 1958 a version of the SAC UFO bomber-dispatch incident had emerged from testimony related by Sen. Flanders of what he and his committee were told by the Commander of SAC, Gen Thomas S. Power, on a visit to SAC HQ in Dec. 1957 or Jan. 1958. This was told by Sen. Flanders at the Jan. 15, 1958, hearing of the "Sputnik Surprise" investigation (quoted earlier) of future-President, then-Sen. Lyndon Baines Johnson's Preparedness Investigating Subcommittee of the Senate Armed Services Committee (not Flanders' Appropriations Committee). A news teletype in the Blue Book file on the case concerns the UFO briefing planned by Rep. John Henderson in June 1958 (after a postponement or two), thus suggesting the Sept. 20, 1957, NORAD air defense alert was to be a part of the briefing (though we have no way of knowing for sure from the incomplete documentation in the BB Admin file). There are only a few stray indications of activity on this NORAD case over the decades, shrouded as it was in extreme secrecy. CIA documents on the incident released decades ago in 1978 pursuant to FOIA lawsuit were stamped TOP SECRET with those markings obliterated before release so that that sensational TOP SECRET classification could not even be read. The more recent CIA CREST re-release of the same documents with less redaction shows the CIA OSI chief Scoville’s memo to the Acting Director of CIA of Sept. 21, 1957, was indeed classified TOP SECRET. The CIA Top Secret Control Sheet shows that the CIA Office of Research & Development (ORD) requested this CIA memo on the NORAD case (and probably other materials) on Dec. 29, 1966, presumably for a UFO-related study of some kind. Oddly, the cover page of the 31-page NORAD report is missing in the Project Blue Book files. The cover page would record highly sensitive details of agencies and classified personnel handling the report and who was briefed, perhaps showing the White House and the President. The cover page may have been removed or destroyed by ATIC or BB in 1958 or some time later. The University of Colorado UFO Project apparently never investigated or found out about this incident even though they did investigate the RB-47 ELINT Case under the erroneous date of Sept. 19, 1957 (correct RB-47 date was July 17 but Blue Book withheld the file or did not do enough to find the extremely sensitive TOP SECRET case, which McDonald later did find). That date was close to the NORAD Alert date, Sept. 20, 1957, and should have prompted a demand for all BB cases on or near those dates, which would have unearthed the NORAD case. But, unfortunately, the Condon group never applied such pressure on BB. Leading UFO scientist, James McDonald, found this NORAD case file in the archived BB files at Maxwell AFB in May 1970 and made a few interesting notes (assuming we have all of his notes since he also kept a secret pocket diary, etc., and he often combined cases so something might be in another file). But his failure to comment on the radar refractivity profiles – highly relevant to his specialty in atmospheric physics and something he always did on radar UFO cases – is a strong sign that he was unfortunately overwhelmed with BB cases and unable to continue investigating this highly provocative NORAD case. There are many potential leads for FOIA/MDR (Freedom of Information Act and separate Mandatory Declassification Review procedures) and archival research on this case. Numerous agencies were involved and offer potential leads, including the ADC, Air Force Intelligence, Army Anti-Aircraft Artillery (AAA) units, the Eisenhower Library, IAC committee meeting records, Navy records, NORAD records, Senate and House briefing and hearing records, and White House records. The IAC minutes may be accessible through its successor, the National Intelligence Board (NIB), at the CIA. IFF UFO signals cases should be pursued at the National Security Agency (NSA); the Air Force Security Service (AFSS), now part of the Air Force Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) Agency; the Naval Security Group (NavSecGru), and so on. Sadly, this case has languished in the largely undigested Blue Book files since their massive release in 1976, and most of these leads have not been pursued. Similar National Air Defense UFO Alerts – 1950, 1952, 1962 Similar NORAD (and predecessor) national air defense alerts on UFOs, tracked on radar, have occurred on Dec. 6, 1950, April 17, 1952, and April 18, 1962: Dec. 6, 1950. NE of Limestone AFB, Maine. 10:30-11:04 a.m. (EST). National air defense alert. Search radar CPS-5 and height-finding radar TPS-10A at ADC Lashup radar site L-1, 128th AC&W Sq., Dow AFB, Bangor, Maine, and ADC Lashup radar site L-50 at Limestone AFB, tracked 40 unidentified radar targets like enemy bombers NE of Limestone on a 200° heading at 32,000 ft, which disappeared (near Dow AFB? in the radar blind zone above the site?). White House notified at 10:32 a.m. President Truman discussed reports in meeting with British Prime Minister Clement Attlee. April 17, 1952. Nunivak Island, Alaska, and Newfoundland-New Brunswick, Canada. 12:58 a.m. (EST). Four high-altitude contrails heading ESE towards Alaska and Continental U.S. were seen by defense observers at Nunivak Island. At 5:10 a.m. (EST) Presque Isle, Maine, ADC radar (Caswell AFS FPS-10) tracked 5 Unknowns headed SW into the U.S. (3 were later identified as off-course civilian airliners, 2 remained unidentified, 2 additional unknowns detected later but identified). Nationwide Air Defense Readiness Alert was declared at 5:11 a.m. and cancelled 7:40 a.m. EST. SAC notified to prepare launch of nuclear bombers. April 18, 1962. New York to Eureka, Utah, to Nellis AFB, Las Vegas, Nevada. National air defense UFO alert. High speed brilliant maneuverable object is tracked by radars and sighted visually across the continent by numerous military and civilian witnesses. Author’s Note Thank you to Bruce Maccabee, Jan Aldrich, Fran Ridge, Kevin Randle, Barry Greenwood, and the late Robert Todd and Joel Carpenter, who compiled much of the documentation for these comparable national air defense UFO alerts and/or helped in other ways. —Brad Sparks Sources Arcier, Francis. Letter to Major General James Walsh. February 14, 1958. Project Blue Book (BB) files (misfiled under Martha’s Vineyard case, Oct. 12, 1957). ATIC Teletyped message to ADC (NORAD). Feb. 17, 1958. BB files. Blue Book memos, teletypes, letters, reports, diagrams, 1957-1958. BB files. CIA OSI director Herbert Scoville Jr. notes. IAC Watch Com., Sept. 21, 1957. CIA OSI Herbert Scoville memo to DCI Dulles, (CREST release) Sept. 21, 1957. CIA OSI TOP SECRET Control Sheet, Dec. 29, 1966. Gregory, George. Letter to Dr. Francis Arcier, Feb. 19, 1958. BB files. —. Memo to Dr. Francis Arcier. Feb. 26, 1958. BB files. McDonald, James E. NORAD Case file notes. McDonald Papers. 1970. NICAP Confidential Bulletin, July 9, 1958. NORAD “Evaluation of Air Defense Incident of 20 September 1957.” Sept. 25, 1957. BB files. Schulze, Glen, and Robert Powell, “Stephenville Lights,” MUFON Special Report, July 4, 2008. UP (United Press) Dispatch, Feb. 3, 1958. BB files, etc. UP series on nuclear alerts, April 7, 1958, etc. U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee Hearing Transcript, redacted release Feb. 3, 1958