Dakota Datebook

Flying Saucers

Wednesday, December 6, 2006

The date was August 25, 1966. Minot was soon to become the scene of an unexplainable UFO sighting. The event, however, wouldn’t be reported until this day in 1966. Then, the Minot Daily News reported the events as they were discussed in a Saturday Evening Post article about UFO’s by Dr. J. Allen Hynek. Hynek was the chairman of Northwestern University’s astronomy department and a consultant on UFOs for the Air Force. Although Hynek was generally skeptic of UFOs, he found that some occurrences, such as this Minot sighting, could possibly be visitors from extraterrestrials.

According to Hynek, a Minot police officer saw what he called “an object on its edge floating down the side of a hill, wobbling from side to side about 10 feet from the ground.” The officer watched as the craft moved about the valley floor, then hovered about 250 feet from the officer and his car. Then, it tilted up and disappeared in the clouds. Hynek admitted the story seemed unbelievable, but he trusted his sources. “A fantastic story,” he said, “Yet I interviewed the witness in this case and am personally satisfied that he is above reproach.”

Just a few days later, officers at a Minot Air Force Base missile site would witness similar events. An officer sat in an underground capsule at the missile site, when suddenly, static began interfering with his radio transmission. At the same time, the radar crew picked up a mysterious object at 100,000 feet and other personnel reported a UFO with red lights in the sky. The craft climbed higher and the static stopped. Everyone watched as the craft dived and swooped before landing some distance away.

Control sent a strike team after the mysterious craft, but when the team came within ten miles of the object, static interfered with radio contact between the pilots and the control center. Minutes later, the glow from the object diminished and the object took off. Radar picked up a second UFO as the first passed it and climbed to a higher altitude. The second UFO then disappeared in the red glow.

These sightings, however, were not the first in the state. In 1953, a UFO sighting was reported at Ellsworth Air Force Base in South Dakota. A jet was sent to after the UFO, but the pilot soon found the object moved twice as fast as his jet, and he abandoned the chase. Another jet was sent to give chase and the pilot reported seeing an object “with a light of varying intensity that alternated from white to green.” He, too, was forced to give up chase. The UFO was traveling north and Ellsworth radioed ahead to the spotters’ control center in Bismarck to keep an eye out for the UFO. The sergeant at Bismarck went out on the roof, where he spotted the UFO. The sergeant was helpless to investigate, however, since Bismarck had no planes to send after the object.

These were just a few of the unexplainable sightings studied by Hynek. In most cases, Hynek can find a reasonable explanation, but the North Dakota cases were puzzling. Was North Dakota visited by visitors from outer space? Hynek did not know, and the Air Force Base would not release information to the Minot Daily News. All Hynek could conclude was that “The entire incident…has too much of an Alice in Wonderland flavor for comfort.”

By Tessa Sandstrom

“Minot launch control center ‘saucer’ cited as one indication of outer space visitors,” Minot Daily News. Dec. 6, 1966: 1.
Hynek, J. Allen. “Are flying saucers real?” Saturday Evening Post. Dec. 17, 1966. Posted at http://www.cohenufo.org/sepost_66_hynek.1.html

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Dakota Datebook is a project of Prairie Public, in partnership with the State Historical Society of North Dakota, with funding from the North Dakota Humanities Council.

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