Case 9

North Central

Summer 1966

Investigators: Hynek, Low

BACK to Chapter 1


Two guards on post about 10:00 p.m. reported that a glowing saucer-shaped object at 45O altitude in the NE descended toward them, then receded. Radar was alerted, and reported an unidentified target at 95 ml. due north, very near the horizon; a fighter was unable to locate it. A strike team sent out to the site of the first observation reported unexplained white lights near the southeast horizon. These may have been aircraft, and the original object Capella.


The investigators went to the AFB and talked with several persons involved in the reported UFO sightings. Their principal findings follow.

About 10:00 p.m. a guard walking his post at missile site Mike 6 reported a luminous shape at about 45° altitude in the northern sky. It exhibited limited lateral motion, but always came back to its original direction. It appeared about the width of a thumb, presumably at arm's length and continually changed color from green, to red, to blue in turn. It seemed dim relating to stars. When it was apparently nearest, it appeared like a luminous inverted dinner plate.

The guard was frightened and woke his partner, who was due to relieve him at 11:00 p.m. Both watched the object. Meanwhile, their captain sent out a strike team to Mike 6 and alerted the south base radar crew.

The latter reported about 11:30 p.m. that they had an unidentified target on search radar at 95 ml., azimuth 357°. A little later,


presumably the same target was picked up on the height finder radar at 95 mi., azimuth 360°, altitude 2,400 ft. Later it was reported at 4,400 ft. and changing altitude "every so often;" it was observed from 2,400 to 8,200 ft. altitude and varied a degree or two in azimuth, but the range of 95 mi. did not vary. The target remained continuously on the radar until the operator was relieved at 3:00 a.m. Except when a fighter was sent out, it was an isolated target; no other aircraft, ground clutter, or noise pips were seen within 20 mi. of it.

The pilot of the fighter sent to intercept the radar target reported that, guided by the radar crew, he had flown over the target location at 1,000, 2,000, 3,000, 4,000, and 5,000 ft. The radar verified that the plane passed through or very near the target, but the pilot saw nothing, nor did he detect anything on his radar or on his infrared detector.

By the time a strike team reached Mike 6, about 11:20 p.m. the original object was gone. However, they and several other men noticed one or more yellow-white lights very low on the southeastern horizon, in the direction of the airstrip at the base 50 mi. distant. These moved irregularly over a range of about 35° in azimuth.

At the request of the Colorado investigators, an officer sometime later went with one of the Mike 6 guards and the two members of the strike team to the Mike 6 site at night. There they pointed out as accurately as possible the locations of the objects they had seen. The guard, relying on a nearby fence as reference, indicated that the object he and his partner had first seen had ranged in azimuth from about 0° to 55° but had been at about 40° most of the time. It had been "very high." Soon after the strike team had arrived, he had been trying to watch the yellow-white light on the southeastern horizon, and when he looked again to the NE the original object was gone.

The leader of the strike team indicated that the original object had been pointed out to him by the guard at about 20° azimuth; it was "unusually bright and very high." His partner did not see it.


The officer stated also that it was possible from Mike 6 to see the lights of aircraft in their landing approaches at the AFB; they would have been very near the horizon because of the local topography. One large airplane had landed at the base at midnight, and two others at 12:29 a.m. The officer thought it highly probable that the white light reported in that sector had been the landing lights of one or more of these aircraft.


A situation of this kind is difficult to evaluate, because of the number of people and objects involved and vagueness or inconsistencies as to various details. As to the original object seen by the guards, the fact that it continually changed color and oscillated about a fixed position suggests a star. The sky was clear, and the bright star Capella was a few degrees above the north-northeast horizon. If the guards' estimate of 45° altitude was accurate, the object could not have been Capella; but a sleepy man on a lone guard post might quite possibly have a distorted impression, especially if he is not used to making such judgments. One officer commented that most guards did not report UFOs, but the guard who reported this one was new and had not seen one before. However, he was supported by the leader of the strike team, who remembered the object was "very high."

Whatever the original object was, it appears unlikely that the unidentified radar target was the same object. Apparently the visual object disappeared at about the time the radar target was acquired. The latter was very near the horizon, and remained at a fixed range and very near 0° azimuth, a location and behavior entirely different from that reported for the visual object.

The radar target was practically stationary except in altitude; it was very near the horizon; and no object was detectable by an aircraft pilot searching the target location. All of these factors suggest strongly that the target was generated by anomalous atmospheric propagation from a stationary object at a quite different location.


Thus, what was ostensibly a single sighting was probably three; and there is much in the situation to suggest that the later two--radar target and white lights--were commonplace phenomena that were endowed with significance by the excitement generated by the first report. The weight of evidence suggests that the original object was Capella, dancing and twinkling near the horizon; however, the evidence is not sufficient to justify any definite conclusion.