Thursday, September 10, 2020

Chasing Footnotes - Howard Lake, Minnesota (UFO Occupant) Edition


It has been a long time since I was able to chase a footnote or two but I have finally had a chance to do it again. I was working on another project and came to a case that fit into that framework. In UFO Reports Involving Vehicle Interference written by Mark Rodeghier and published by CUFOS, he cited the following:

January 25, 1967: 0430 –

U.S., near Winstad, Minnesota: The engine of a car stalled and the driver got out and saw a bright light coming nearer. It landed on the road on a tripod: it was 25 meters (75 feet, more or less) in diameter, longer than it was wide. A man-like figure got out of the object, checked the exterior of it, then got back in. The object then departed and the car could be restarted.

According to the notation at the end of this short entry, Rodeghier cited a report by Jacques Vallee in his Passport to Magonia. That reference said:

812 [Numerical sequence in the listing of cases]

January 25, 1967: 0430 –

Winsted (Minnesota). A civilian man, 32, driving to work in his 1964 Chevy truck, had to stop and inspect the vehicle when its engine stalled. Only then did he observe an intense light to his right, coming closer. He saw it land on the road, and locked himself inside the cabin. The craft settled on a tripod landing gear; it measured 25 m in diameter and was 10 m high. Something similar to an elevator came down from it, and a man dressed in blue coveralls “with something like a glass fishbowl on his head,” of medium height, seemed to check something and left.

This was attributed to Atic, which seems to mean ATIC, which in turn suggests the case is part of the Project Blue Book files. There is no listing in the files for a case in Winsted, Minnesota, on that date. There is, however, a case from Howard Lake, Minnesota, on that date with a time of 1100Z (which translates to 0500 local time in Minnesota, if I have calculated the time zone differences correctly). For those with a map, you will find that Howard Lake and Winsted are not all that far apart in the southcentral part of Minnesota. I’m not sure if that information is overly relevant.

The Howard Lake Project Card

The Project Card provides enough information so that we can see that this is the correct sighting. The Air Force listed the case as “Insufficient data for evaluation.” This means that I have found another case in which an occupant was seen that wasn’t immediately written off as some sort of psychological problem with the witness.

The case, as reported in the Blue Book Project Card, said:

Observer was working on his truck when he noticed a very bright light to his right. It came closer and landed on the highway. The object was approximately 75 feet long and 30 feet wide. It made a loud whistling noise and the witness could hear it from within his truck. A man left the craft dressed in a silver blue tight fitting suit with a fish bowl on his head. This man walked around the craft then walked back inside. The craft then took off.

Contact was not made with the individual because of no such address. Also personnel at AF Reserve Unit were unable to locate the individual at the Gleason Construction Company for additional information.

There is another document in the Blue Book files which seems to be a narrative as reported by the witness. His name is redacted but the report was made by Howard Lenz of Howard Lake, Minnesota.

This is the one-page narrative in the Blue Book file. It is clear that the document is the result of Lenz calling in on the morning of the sighting. Lenz reportedly said:

SUBJECT: REPORT OF A UFO                                    25 January 1967

A Mr. [name redacted but is Howard Lenz], Howard Lake, Minnesota [handwritten zip code 55349 written about the town name] age 32 years, called to report the following incident [hand written telephone number and a note that said Winsted, Minn].

He was on his way to work this morning (works for the J. B. Gleason Construction Company) [handwritten telephone number noted] and between 4:30 and 5:00 AM, south of Howard Lake near highways 101, 5 and 212, his pickup truck quit. He drives a 1964 Chevrolet pickup. He went out and looked under the hood and he noticed a very bright light to his right “like a light from a welder’s torch”. It came closer and landed on the highway. He became freightened [sic] and ran into his car and locked the doors. This light was approximately 75 feet long and 30 feet wide. While he was watching it three legs came out of the bottom like they were on springs. It made a loud whirring noise and he could hear it through the windows of the car. Then an elevator like object came out of the bottom and a man walked out. He was dressed in a silver blue tight fitting suit with a “fish bowl” on his head. He was of average height and build. He walked over to the side of the “thing” to check on something then walked back in. It then took off. It all took about three or four minutes.

Mr. Lenz sounded quite upset. He asked what he should do. I asked if he had called the newspapers. He said no, and wondered if I had had any other calls reporting this incident. I said no. He said he was going to call his wife and then decide further what should be done. I told him I would contact him if we hear anything further concerning this UFO. He said he wasn’t drunk and doesn’t read science fiction and is of sound health. He does wear glasses but his eyes…

That is where the narrative ends. There is no additional information in the file, other that an envelope that shows the letter had been returned because “Addressee unknown.” More disturbing than the letter being returned was that an inquiry made to the Gleason Construction Company failed to find an employee named Howard Lenz.

According to a letter in the file, signed by Colonel James C. Manatt, they had sent Lenz a copy of their UFO report form, FTD Form 164, along with a return envelope but as seen, that letter was returned. There seemed to be no follow up.

This is where the trail ends. Just the report written by an unidentified member of the Air Force, an attempt to communicate with Lenz, the returned envelop showing that the man apparently didn’t live in Howard Lake and his alleged employer who didn’t know who he was.

I have to admit here that I don’t find this report credible if only because it seems that Lenz is a fake name. I also noticed that in the descriptions of the sighting published later, there seemed to be facts added that were not in evidence. Rodeghier, for example, reported that once the object departed the car, truck actually, could be restarted. This is a logical assumption, but I’m not sure that it is a relevant conclusion. Clearly, the truck was restarted, but I don’t have any idea if the departure of the craft was a factor. This could be because we don’t have the second page of the narrative.

In fact, I’m just not sure that the alleged arrival of the craft is the reason the truck stalled in the first place. There is a great deal of information that needed to be gathered. The missing, second sheet of the narrative might have answered the question. I searched not only my digital copy of the Blue Book files, but went back to the microfilm copy to see if that page had been left out. I believe, based on this, I have seen the entire Blue Book file.

Although it seems to have been reported only to the Air Force, I did check both the APRO Bulletin and the NICAP UFO Investigator to see if there was additional information. I found nothing relating to this sighting but did learn that a major flap was in progress at that time. APRO printed several photographs taken in late 1966 and early 1967. NICAP announced “Major Sighting Wave.” This suggests that the Lenz tale didn’t appear out of nowhere. UFOs were in the news, as was the beginning of the Condon Committee and its investigation. In fact, according to NICAP, “Two more U.S. newspapers in December joined the growing ranks of publications endorsing the need for scientific study of UFOs.”

There are no other sources of information on it that I can find, and I have traced it to its origination. If Lenz is still alive, a real possibility, he would be nearly 90 and probably wouldn’t be able to add anything, if Lenz was his real name. There seems to be nowhere else to go.


Bob Koford said...

First of all, I am glad that your OK.

Secondly, your point about them reporting this seriously goes to the heart of where I am at in my crashed saucer investigations. After going through the Blue Book Files for quite some time now, I can say that there are several crashed or landed disc investigations located within.

The question that comes to me over and over is: why were they wasting their time on these crashed or landed saucer stories in the first place?

According to many, including then Colonel Harold Watson, there were no such things as flying saucers. Yet, even if you cite the cancellation of the many directives pertaining to them, why were there directives in the first place?

Ok, Im just thankful your OK.

Regards, Bob

Paul Young said...

"Chasing footnotes".... My favourite feature on your blog, Kevin.