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The Mysterious Cold War Case of Unidentified Aircraft Descending on Loring Air Force Base – The War Zone

Despite the newfound attention the topic of unexplained incursions into airspace over sensitive locales across the United States is receiving, these types of bizarre incidents are not necessarily new. One of the most puzzling accounts of such an event, or series of events, occurred during the depths of the Cold War. 

Over a series of nights in 1975, Loring Air Force Base in Maine was invaded by mysterious craft originating from Canadian airspace. At the time, the base was home to B-52 bombers and KC-135 tankers and was tasked with the nuclear alert mission. The Loring AFB incidents are extremely well documented, both in terms of personal testimonials and declassified CIA and National Military Command Center (NMCC) documents. What also made the events so interesting was just how many people were involved or knew about the potential threat and the reaction to it. It was truly a community-scale ordeal that even made its way into the national press. Considering we are talking about a base that housed nuclear weapons and a delivery system for those weapons, the bombers and tankers they rely on, the concern regarding the strange incursions was extreme, to say the least. 

What is also interesting about the bizarre events at Loring Air Force Base in the fall of 1975 was what was going on elsewhere, as well. Based on additional official documentation and reports, similar occurrences were remarkably widespread during this time period, albeit few, if any, were as widely experienced or as public in nature.

Unidentified ‘Helicopters’ Appear Over Loring Air Force Base

It was October of 1975. At the time, Loring Air Force Base was a Strategic Air Command (SAC) base that housed two KC-135 tanker squadrons and a B-52 bomber squadron, which had the alert nuclear weapons delivery mission. It was SAC’s easternmost base in the continental United States, putting it in a unique position to quickly respond to a crisis.

The strange affair began on the evening on October 27 when security personnel at the base observed what was described officially as “an unidentified helicopter” that appeared near the northern perimeter of the installation. The aircraft was said to be flying at a low altitude, estimated to be around 150 feet, and appeared to feature a red navigational light and a white strobe. The helicopter seemed to be particularly interested in the highly-secure nuclear weapons storage area at Loring. Army National Guard helicopters were dispatched in an attempt to contact and identify the aircraft, but those attempts proved unsuccessful. The base was immediately put on high alert.

Wikimedia Commons

Loring AFB in 1970.

Shortly after the craft appeared, radar operators in the control tower at Loring observed another unknown aircraft circling between 10 and 13 miles northeast of the base. Once again, that aircraft could not be identified despite numerous attempts to make contact by radio on both civilian and military channels. The first unknown aircraft eventually turned north and flew into Canada near Grand Falls, New Brunswick, and the second unknown craft vanished from radar, possibly landing or descending below radar coverage.

Library of Congress

Loring’s nuclear weapons storage area, also known as Caribou Air Force Station. 

The next night, on October 28, another unknown aircraft appeared over Loring, this time without lights. Once again, National Guard helicopters were sent to investigate, but were unable to establish visual confirmation of the aircraft. In an Operation Report (OPREP) issued after the incident, officials wrote that “It is our opinion that the unknown helicopter has demonstrated a clear intent in the weapons storage area, is smart and a most capable aviator.” The incidents continued through at least October 30th. 


In response to the incursion, Loring increased its local security presence and coordinated with Canadian authorities to allow U.S. aircraft to pursue the offending aircraft into Canadian airspace should the unknown aircraft return.

The New York Times
reported on the incursions in the 1979 article “U.F.O. Files: The Untold Story,” adding that despite the fact the Joint Chiefs of Staff received multiple briefings on the incursions, “Subsequent investigations by the Air Force into the sightings at Loring Air Force Base, Maine, where the remarkable series of events began, did not reveal a cause for the sightings.”


Eyewitness Accounts Complicate The Helicopter Narrative

One account of the aerial intrusions at Loring comes from Arthur Beers, who served at the base from 1970 to 1976. In an account posted to, a site dedicated to chronicling the experiences of the many men and women who served at Loring, Beers described his “most memorable experience” at Loring:

Other personal testimony complicates the claims that the intruder was actually helicopter. Michael Wallace, a former KC-135 tanker pilot who was stationed at Loring in 1975, shared his own bizarre Loring incursion experience on YouTube:

Wallace states that he was briefed on an incursion over the nuclear-armed B-52s and weapons storage facilities at Loring. Wallace and a few hundred other personnel were informed of a silent, luminous object hovering over the base which could move “very quickly” and “unconventionally” in “rapid, straight-line movements, with straight vertical movements, can turn without any apparent radius in the turn. It’s pretty incredible technology.” The object was openly referred to as a UFO by base personnel.

Wallace goes on to claim that Loring personnel were briefed only to speak to SAC officers about the incursion, not to speak to the press, and that they were “going to tell the press that there was a Canadian helicopter crossing the border and harassing us.” He also notes that interceptors were going to be brought in to assist in the efforts to protect the base and investigate what was going on. 

Wallace was eventually sent on a refueling mission in his KC-135 to support F-4 Phantoms for unrelated training when his flight was notified by the base’s command post to switch radio frequencies. The lead KC-135 in the flight was instructed to depart the formation, turn off its lights, go radio silent, and proceed to Loring under its own discretion, something Wallace describes as a highly unusual order. 

Wallace remembers hearing “stressed voices” over the radio as the pilots and tower personnel attempted to track the object as it seemed to fly back and forth over the base at incredible speeds. As quickly as the transmissions began, they ended as tower personnel stated simply “We’ve lost it.” When Wallace later saw the pilot of the lead aircraft who was sent to intercept the object, he told Wallace “I can’t talk about it, and you wouldn’t believe me if I could talk about it.”

Nick Redfern via FOIA

A NORAD document states “Information indicates that the A/C [aircraft] is a helicopter. However, the A/C remains unidentified. Descriptions of the observed A/C lighting have varied somewhat but not in such a way that there is any indication there is more than one A/C involved.” contains numerous other references to the 1975 incursions, with many former Loring personnel calling the incident their most memorable experience. One former Field Maintenance Squadron member remembers “the activity on the flight-line was a frenzy” the night of the incursion.

John E. Morkavich, who served at Loring from 1972 to 1975, recounted the following to even contains a section called “the official UFO story” which states simply “In 1975, a ‘UFO’ buzzed the WSA over a few nights. Internet lore has stamped this as a true UFO conspiracy involving numerous other bases. The DOD released a declassified report on the incident.”


A 1975 CIA memo noting the Loring AFB incursion.

One of the most thorough investigations of the Loring incidents was conducted by Barry Greenwood and Lawrence Fawcett and included in their 1984 book
Clear Intent: The Government Coverup of the UFO Experience. An excerpt from that book containing sections on Loring can be found online here. It goes into great detail as to what the narrative of events was, at least according to their research. We will pick it up on the second night, but we encourage you to read the whole excerpt. 

The writers interviewed Chief Warrant Officer Bernard Poulin of the Maine Army National Guard’s 112th Medical Company (Air Ambulance), who was tasked with tracking down and identifying the unknown aircraft in a UH-1 as the nightly occurrences wore on in late October. Poulin told Fawcett that despite numerous witnesses seeing and hearing the intruder, his helicopter crew could not get visual confirmation on the aircraft, but gives additional details of his experiencing of walking into the SAC base on high alert for a mysterious intruder:

Greenwood and Fawcett continue: 

Strangely enough, the Lewiston Daily Sun newspaper in Maine reported two eyewitnesses encountering a curiously lit aircraft on the morning of October 27, 1975 near the town of Poland. Poland is in the southwest corner of Maine, while Loring was in the northeast, so the two events may be unrelated. Still, it’s curious that two eyewitnesses far from the Air Force Base would describe seeing such a similar aircraft on the same night that the Loring encounters began. Greenwood and Fawcett’s book also claims a rash of civilian sighting occurred around the same time throughout the area.

Lewiston Daily Sun

Similar Incursions Continued At Other Military Installations

Eerily similar events occurred at other U.S. Air Force Bases in the months following the incident at Loring AFB, although there is no definitive evidence that any of them were linked. On October 30, just days after the Loring incursion, the now-decommissioned Wurtsmith AFB in eastern Michigan had its own encounter detailed in the missive below.


In November 1975, personnel at Malmstrom AFB in Montana, another Strategic Air Command site, encountered bright lights that seemed to be accompanied by jet engine noises. NORAD scrambled two interceptors in an attempt to locate and identify the aircraft, but was unsuccessful in their attempts to do so.


In January of 1976, Cannon AFB in eastern New Mexico reported two unidentified flying objects described as “25 yards in diameter, gold or silver in color with blue light on top, hole in the middle and red light on bottom.”


On January 31, 1976, security personnel at Eglin AFB in Florida spotted lights near one of their radar sites, and later issued a press release announcing the incident.


Later that year, on July 30, 1976, security patrols at Fort Richie in Maryland spotted “3 oblong objects with a reddish tint” near ammunition storage areas, although a National Military Command Center memo issued after the incident cites temperature inversions in the area as a possible cause for the unexplained sightings.


Reporters Ward Sinclair and Art Harris referenced several of these events in a 1979 article in The Washington Post, and wrote that “a Nov. 11, 1975, directive from the office of the secretary of the Air Force instructed public information staffers to avoid linking the scattered sightings unless specifically asked.”

Numerous documents have been declassified via the Freedom of Information Act which shed light on the Department of Defense’s response to the mysterious incidents at Loring and at other bases, some of which are mentioned above. You can read these documents for yourself at the PDF link below.

Loring And Other Base Incursion Incident Files From The Mid 1970s.

An Unsolved Mystery

The 1975 incident at Loring Air Force Base shows that even nearly 50 years ago, some of America’s most strategically sensitive sites were vulnerable to intrusion from mysterious craft. While some reports cite the objects as “helicopters,” multiple eyewitness accounts complicate this characterization by describing jet engine noises, incredible feats of speed and maneuverability, bizarre descriptions of physical craft, and a seeming inability for pilots to get visual confirmation of them.

Whether the multi-day string of aerial intrusion incidents over Loring AFB was perpetrated by a wily helicopter pilot with still unknown motivations, some type of bizarre Cold War strategic gamesmanship, or something even more exotic, remains unclear. The reality is that any of those possibilities are fascinating in their own right. 

What is clear is that something extremely strange did happen over the span of at least four nights at Loring in the fall of 1975, incidents that had hundreds of witnesses, some of which have provided direct testimonial as to their experiences. Although personal observations can vary in accuracy greatly, the core aspects of these events are backed up by numerous official documents that reach up to the highest levels of the U.S. military’s command structure. According to other documents from the time period, Loring wasn’t alone in enduring bizarre visits by unidentified aircraft, although in terms of the scope and detail of such incidents, the Loring AFB case seems to have few parallels. 

For more information and documentation about the Loring incident and other incursions throughout the 1970s, check out researcher Paul Dean’s extensive nine-part series, at his site, Documenting the Evidence.

If you served at Loring AFB between 1975 and 1976 and witnessed these unexplained incursions, The War Zone wants to hear your story.

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