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Minot’s age of UFOs

Reported sightings of unidentified flying objects, UFOs, seldom fail to capture attention. Some believe. Some don’t. Others are not so sure, but the possibility that UFO’s exist triggers thoughts ranging from military secrets to inquisitive aliens from elsewhere in the known universe or beyond.

There were several reports of UFOs  in the Minot area in the 1960s and ’70s. Many of the sightings were dismissed as impossible or spawned from people with over-vivid imaginations and fears. Still, as improbable as some of the reports were, they served to ignite conversation as to the source of the UFOs and what they could possibly be doing in the region.

Reported sightings usually included statements as to the reliability of the viewer, as if to confirm the credibility of the report. Generally the UFO reports contained similarities such as lights passing through the night sky at fantastic speeds, sometimes stopping abruptly as if hovering before moving off quickly. Other reports included the presence of mysterious burn marks in a triangular formation in a field or lights of various hues moving slowly and low over the landscape.

That Minot was in close proximity to Minot Air Force Base often led to suspicions that UFO activity in the region was really the product of “top secret” military testing programs. However, when UFO reports originated from military sources it opened an entirely different avenue of thinking. For UFO believers, it was a fascinating and exciting time.

Two UFO incidents that occurred in the late ’60’s remain in the annals of UFO sightings today. While many UFO incidents have been debunked, others remain in the “unexplained” category and perpetuate UFO stories.

One of the most notable UFO sightings in the Minot area happened March 5, 1967, when, according to a group called the Nuclear Connection Project, Minot AFB radar tracked an unidentified target descending over a Minuteman missile silo. NCP says Minot AFB security teams converged on the area and saw a “metallic, disc-shaped craft ringed with bright, flashing lights moving slowly.” The security strike teams “had orders to capture it undamaged if it should land.”

The report says the UFO hovered directly over a launch control facility before it “climbed straight up and streaked away at an incredible speed.” A sergeant reported the locks to the gates of the facility were off and the gates were open. Furthermore, says the NCP report, officers in the missile silo were very upset that the “missile had been armed and unlocked in launch mode and that the warhead was armed.”

Another reported UFO incident involving Minot AFB occurred a few months later on Oct. 24, 1968. This time it involved a UFO observed on a radarscope by a B-52 bomber navigator. Radar Approach Control, or RAPCON, alerted the pilots to the location of the UFO and requested the B-52 “overfly a stationary UFO on or near the ground.”

According to the report, radio communication was lost when the B-52 was in close proximity to the UFO. Also, says the report, the UFO shadowed the B-52 for nearly 20 miles. On the ground a Camper Team at a missile launch facility “observed a large glowing object that went down by some trees not far away.”

The latter sighting was reported to Project Blue Book, the Air Force’s official investigative agency for UFOs. Neither of the sightings were proven to be true, but continue to be a source of intrigue for UFO believers.

In what many would consider impossible to believe, Publications International adds fuel to the UFO fire with their recount of a 1975 UFO sighting in eastern North Dakota. The incident reportedly occurred on Interstate 94 about 45 miles west of Fargo on Aug. 26, 1975, at 4 a.m.

“First they saw a flash and heard a rumbling sound. Then, in the southern sky, heading east, they saw eight to ten glowing objects with smoke around them…witnesses had the impression that in some fashion the other objects had come out of it.”

The witnesses were three people in a vehicle traveling from Fargo to Bismarck. The report says one of the trio, Jackie Larson, remembered being outside the car in a state of paralysis. Her mother, Sandy Larson, told of being brought aboard a UFO and being medically examined. Somehow they were returned to their vehicle, seated differently than before with no idea as to how and “all conscious memory of the incident vanished immediately.”

Many reported UFO sightings contain references of descriptions of “flying saucers.” The term is credited to one-time Minot resident Kenneth Arnold, a 1933 graduate of Minot High School. An avid pilot, Arnold was living in Idaho when he told of seeing flying saucers in 1947. Arnold said he was flying his private airplane over Mount Ranier in the state of Washington when he observed a formation of nine strange aircraft moving at an estimated 1,650 miles per hour.

When asked for a description of the mysterious aircraft Arnold replied “flying saucers,” a phrase which instantly became common jargon throughout the world. Arnold wrote two books inspired by the incident, “The Coming of the Saucers” and “The Flying Saucer As I Saw It.” Arnold was well respected throughout his life. He made an unsuccessful run for lieutenant governor of Idaho in 1962 and passed away in 1984.

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