A UFO buzzed a nuclear bomber close to a key missile base in a chilling encounter which saw the object reportedly moving at incredible speeds of up to 3,900mph.
US military documents and witness testimony show the mysterious object performing "phenomenal" manoeuvres at incredible speeds as it was sighted by a crew aboard a B-52.
The UFO was first sighted by crews on the ground – before then being seen by the airmen, who received orders to investigate on the specific orders of a US Air Force General,
It appeared to hit speeds which were beyond any known aircraft at the time and was detected on the aircraft's radar scope.
Some members of the nuclear bomber crew made visual sightings of the object, describing it as a like a "miniature sun" and a "huge egg shaped object" that gave off a "dull reddish colour like molten steel".
And one airmen described the UFO has being oval shaped, red and with a silver "bumper-like" appendage as he spotted the object beneath the B-52.
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It was described as being around the same size as a bomber by one of the crew at the base.
"I remember grabbing an axe, just in case there were little green men or something," Robert O'Connor, one of the first witnesses, a US Air Force maintenance technician, told researchers.
He described the object as "self luminous" and like a "big ball of white light" that appeared to change colour and shape.
The shape is reported to have hit speeds of up to 3,900mph – pace above Mach 5, meaning it was hypersonic.
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It played cat and mouse with the bomber, including at one point approaching at such a speed the crew thought it could crash into them.
But as quickly as it appeared, it then vanished – with the encounter being probed by the US's team of UFO investigators at the time, Project Blue Book.
The official investigation dismissed the case as the airmen and ground crew simply being confused by the stars.
However, the bizarre and eerie incident at Minor Air Force Base, North Dakota, occurred in the early hours of October 24, 1968, and has been meticulously probed by researcher Thomas Tulien and his colleagues.
Mr Tulien researched the historic UFO case as part of the Sign Oral History Project – designed to preserve information about the encounters for study in the future.
And the project has uncovered reems of declassified US documents as well as first hand witness interviews with 14 of the bomber's crew, servicemen on the ground, and officers from Minot Air Force Base.
Mr Tulien told The Sun Online the work took them "10 years" to complete – including building an extensive archive of all the data and research online.
"Usually a case like [this] would have been investigated by someone else over the years, but this one fell through the cracks," he said.
"Nobody had really written about it, or knew anything about, which was odd – as its remarkable."
And none of the crewmen aboard the aircraft had spoken to each other about the incident for decades, so Mr Tulien was stunned at the similarities of the testimony from that strange night in 1968.
Somebody is seeing flying saucers again
"It was unique to find a case where I could count on their memories to not having been 'tainted' by repeatedly talking about the case over the years," he told The Sun Online.
Nearly 60 years on from the incident it remains unexplained and a fascinating case as UFOs take centre stage once again in Washington.
Lawmakers, former servicemen and intelligence officials are now all speaking more openly about UFOs – including a landmark hearing last month on Capitol Hill.
US officials have acknowledged there is something in the skies they cannot explain – and the stigma around the traditionally fringe topic is finally being stripped back.
Minot Air Force Base was one of the homes of the US's Minuteman nuclear missiles and B-52 nuclear bombers during the Cold War.
It was one of the facilities which would have seen warplanes scrambled to launch attacks on the Soviet Union within 10 minutes on the dawn of World War 3.
And beneath the ground in a network were underground silos there are believed to have been around 150 nukes.
Nuclear bomber crews were on 24/7 standby – ready to strike at all times.
The crew from the 23rd Bomb Squadron involved in the strange encounter on October 24 was one of the top teams on the base – being responsible for training others.
Over the course of more than three hours, from 2.15am to 5.34am – multiple witnesses are reported to have spotted the UFO.
Robert O'Connor and Lloyd Isley, both minitence technicians, claim to have witnessed the UFO from the ground, as did security guards, flight Joseph Jablonski, James Bond and Bill Smith.
"These lights did strange things – they would go back and forth," said Smith.
The B-52 was returning from a 10-hour training mission when Radar Approach Control notified them of the object in the area.
"Somebody is seeing flying saucers again," one of ground control reportedly quipped in a radio message at around 3am.
It was then picked up aboard the aircraft on the onboard radar scope about three miles away from the bomber after around 50 minutes.
The object then appears to have closed down the aircraft at a high rate of speed, pacing the aircraft from around one mile away before vanishing from view.
Pilots then observed the large illuminated UFO near the craft at close range during the encounter before coming into land at the base.
It is claimed by witnesses the B-52s radio was not working during close approaches by the UFO.
The object was first spotted by the aircraft at around 3am.
"We have something coming towards us, and it's coming fast," the navigator said, according to Captain Brad Runyon Jr, who was the co-pilot of the B-52.
The plane then tracked the object which seemed to moving at incredible speeds – and at times the crew found their radios were not operational, according to the witnesses.
It is reported the pilots witnessed a "bright orange ball of light" in the distance – and as they came in to land they made a close pass of the UFO.
Captain Runyon said: "When I first looked up we were already beside it, and so I didn’t look straight ahead out my window, but I looked out the pilot’s window."
He described seeing a shape which was "dullish red" and with a "metallic cylinder" shape attached to a "crescent shape".
Captain Runyon estimated he viewed the object for around 10 seconds as they flew alongside and banked over the UFO.
And he estimated the shape was approximately 200 foot long, 200 foot wide and 50 feet in height.
The B-52's pilot, Major James Partin, also recalled the incident, saying the radar operator exclaimed "god almighty" when he detected the object which appeared to moving at an incredibly fast speed.
Estimations of the object's speed range from 3,000mph to 3,900mph, according to estimates calculated after the incident based on the radar data.
Major Partin said: "I remember looking off to my right probably about the 2 o'clock position as they used to say, and low and I saw a—it was sort of oblong, there were, looked like windows around it that were lit and it was just hovering there."
B-52 navigator Captain Patrick McCaslin was down in the belly of the aircraft, but recalled speaking to the other crew about the close-up visual of the UFO.
"I knew there was something going on that wasn't normal," the airman said in an interview.
He added: "The description to me was this: that it was an elliptical shape, kind of a cough drop shaped thing, glowing orange with a boomerang exhaust, or boomerang-shaped exhaust, or whatever—a fluorescence off one end the same color, and that’s all I remember of the description."
Captain McCaslin said: "I knew whatever it was that there was something there that I’d never seen on radar.
"I don’t know of anything that could go laterally in three seconds, two miles, and just stop.
"It was maintaining our descent rate, and then just laterally to one mile – perfect formation."
We had nothing that could do the kind of speed it had back then and be able to change directions
Sergeant Arlie Judd, the B-52's gunner, saw the UFO on his radar, and Lieutenant Thomas Goduto, the electronic warfare operator, attempted to identify the UFO's flight signature.
The B-52's commander Captain Don Cagle claimed to have no recollection of the UFO incident, and – according to Captain McCaslin – neither did radar navigator Major Chuck Richey.
Cagle is claimed to have excused himself from the flight deck to avoid having to provide a report at Minot the following day which would mean he would miss a job interview.
Curiously, it is reported during the UFO encounter a number of intrusion alarms sounded at the missile base – but no evidence was found of intruders.
"This would have been right at this time when things were occurring," said Lt. Goduto.
UFO experiences have long been linked to nuclear sites in the US, including the famous Malmstrom air base incident during which Captain Robert Salas claims his missiles were disabled.
And more recently, a former nuke base worker claims to have witnessed mysterious orb-like objects appearing over the base.
The last observation of the Minot UFO was just after 5am by security guards observed an "bright orange" light which changed to white and then green before fading into the dark.
US military officials launched an investigation into the incident and a number of the crew provided a debrief on the strange encounter – with the radar scope film also being submitted for analysis.
In an interview, intelligence officer Staff Sergeant Richard Clark said: " Well, it had to have been a UFO.
"We had nothing that could do the kind of speed it had back then and be able to change directions."
He added: " Even if we had something that could go that fast it’s going to go that fast this way — but it can’t go that way too.
"That’s why it was phenomenal. It had to be something other than what we were aware of, you know, I did not think our technology had anything like that as far as capability — so it’s got to be a UFO."
The crew were spoken to Colonel Ralph Holland.
And strangely, Captain Runyon and McCaslin recall the general telling them about other – even stranger – incidents.
This included a "20-ton concrete lid" being moved from a missile silo, and a base security truck being left with the "paint burned off its roof" by an encounter with a UFO.
It is unclear exactly when or where these incidents occurred and the details remain undocumented.
Mr Tulien believes he could have been speaking about "other incidents at other bases" – and the team were never able to verify what Holland told the crew.
Lieutenant Colonel Arthur Werlich investigated the B-52 incident for the Air Force – and he concluded the problems with the radar, the visual observations and the alarms at the base could not be explained.
Project Blue Book was called in – but the events were chalked up to nothing unusual, being dismissed as a misidentified star or ball lightning which may have interfered with their instruments.
Tulien told The Sun Online: "It was a typical response. PBB utilized a list of explanations, or, default explanations, to account for the majority of sightings.
"People have been mislead to believe that they actually investigated cases."
Project Blue Book's final conclusion at the folding of the investigation in 1969 was, in short, "nothing to see here".
And this is completely at odds with the new stance taken by the Pentagon, that they want to probe and explain UFOs.
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Is the phenomena previously unknown technology used by the Russians and Chinese? Secret US weapons projects? Unknown natural occurrences? Totally misidentification of easily explainable natural phenomena or known aircraft?Or perhaps something more alien?
The US' official stance now is that they do not know – and pressure is growing for more transparency on the topic which is becoming increasingly mainstream.
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