By Gordon Duff STAFF WRITER/Senior Editor

In October 1973, I was visiting friends at Wurtsmith AFB in Northern Michigan, ok, not the real Upper Peninsula but “Northern Southern Michigan.”  Wurtsmith, now closed for many years, was a key SAC (Strategic Air Command) B-52 base, continually primed to bomb Russia at the “drop of a hat.”  Oscoda, home of Wurtsmith, was, at the time, a “military town” sitting between the picturesque lakefront tourist burgs, East Tawas and Harrisville with their perfect sand beaches and 1950s look.  Oscoda was “government housing,” bars and pawn shops.  It is still a nice place mind you.

I have always had a fascination with the B-52.  The idea of the 8 engine behemoth lumbering into the sky, spewing kerosene trails for miles, a cargo of nuclear death, enough to make a Christian cry with joy.

That day in 1973 was like most others with some exceptions. Wurtsmith’s couple of square miles of runways, hangers and rows of B-52s received a mysterious visitor that Saturday.  It was nearing dusk.  I was getting a tour of repair facilities and walked out onto a concrete apron when the all of us stopped.  You couldn’t miss it, even through a dense overcast, a streak of orange and green came in from the west, illuminating the sky, brighter than the sun at noon.


How do you guess speed?  As it popped through the clouds, it might have been doing Mach I or better.  Dozens, maybe hundreds saw it.  If you live on a SAC base, the idea of something popping through the clouds and sending you into the “promised land” is an everyday part of life, but the expectation is a nuclear missile.  This, it was said jokingly, was like they were shooting submarines at us.  The “thing” that came through the clouds was easily 300 feet long or more.  It was clearly aflame with plumes of green coming off the “nose” and an orange trail behind.  As it passed through the clouds, the sky flashed green and then orange across the entire horizon.

Those who saw it became ill, nausea.  Witnesses were beyond speechless, they were in shock.   

It passed over the base, “streaked silently” is a better word, in an arc heading toward, and one would think, inexorably, into Lake Huron.  

Over the years we have heard the stories, even from the British Defense Ministry, UFO “fly overs” and even landings at SAC bases around the world.  I saw this one.  There was no sign of a landing or that anyone or anything was at the controls or that it was even an aircraft of some kind, identified or not.  It was huge, fast and burning, orange and green.  It was the brightest thing I have ever seen.

The next morning, nobody said anything about it until I suggested, jokingly, that it be reported to some unnamed “authority.”  We chose the Michigan State Police, office of the Fire Marshal.  The United States Air Force wasn’t responding in any way even though a 300 foot long oval overflew one of their highest security facilities at less than 3000 feet. 

Ah, the newspapers had stories about it.  Funny thing, you can’t pull up those stories now, telling of it first being spotted in Idaho.  The “thing” flew across the United States, from the Pacific Coast to Lake Huron, over 2000 miles and was seen in every state along the way.  The massive object, supersonic speed, burning like the sun, was reported many times.


Radio talked about little else.

Then the Air Force responded.

It was a “weather balloon.”  That was in the papers also.  Morning radio loved the “weather balloon” ploy.  We had heard that one before, it was the classic “denial” used by government officials in television shows, hoping to protect the public from “panic” and the immediate dissolution of the Christian religion.  Christianity always needed protecting from something, facts, science or the “unknown.”  Were all of us really going to turn Druid at the first sight of lights in the sky?  I wonder.

A weather balloon, Dupont mylar ™ would be my guess.  I had no idea it could be such a durable material.

I wanted one.  I had to have one.  Imagine a balloon you could get 800 miles per hour out of, maybe more.  Imagine one that could burn like the Hindenburg for over 2000 miles.  It sure wasn’t a meteor as they don’t tend to fly but rather plummet.  

A “secret investigation” was commissioned to study such phenomena.  At an unspecified time, a few years later, I requested the findings.  UFO files are the “holy grail” of America’s secret world.  You were “dirt” unless you could get the real story on the Roswell, New Mexico UFO landings or the truth about the Majestic 12 treaty between President Truman and the “Nordic” alien race.

Was there really a secret “Men in Black” organization that threatened witnesses and covered up things like abductions, cattle mutilation and all that anal probing?

The Air Force report was typical of American efforts at putting together facts.  Their facts and my personal recollections were exactly the same with minor exceptions.  Their “UFO” landed on the runway, was a tad smaller, had people, ok, “aliens” come out of it and walk around and, oh yes, was considered an “unreliable” report.

Their “incident” happened, not in October, actually not in 1973 but rather in 1975.  When “ufologists” were unable to confirm other sightings or news reports, I began to think that the 2 year “error’ might not have been so accidental.

When “9/11” came along, I couldn’t wait to see what the Pentagon would come up with.  I wasn’t disappointed.  The only thing they couldn’t fake was the date.


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Gordon Duff posted articles on VT from 2008 to 2022. He is a Marine combat veteran of the Vietnam War. A disabled veteran, he worked on veterans and POW issues for decades. Gordon is an accredited diplomat and is generally accepted as one of the top global intelligence specialists. He manages the world's largest private intelligence organization and regularly consults with governments challenged by security issues. Duff has traveled extensively, is published around the world, and is a regular guest on TV and radio in more than "several" countries. He is also a trained chef, wine enthusiast, avid motorcyclist, and gunsmith specializing in historical weapons and restoration. Business experience and interests are in energy and defense technology.