top of page

North Dakota UFO Incident 1961: Claims Of UFOs, Unknown Entities & Shots Fired At Mystery Targets

Updated: Jan 31

In 1961, several witnesses who wished to remain anonymous made the claims that they came into contact with a UFO while on a hunting trip. Here are the claims made by those involved in the event.

UFO in North Dakota
The incredible claims of 4 men out hunting in North Dakota in 1961

A bizarre incident said to have taken place on the Great Plains in late November 1961 would never have come to light but for the fact that Donald E. Flickinger, an agent for the Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms Division of the U.S Treasury Department who was working in Minot, North Dakota, a few years later and learned of it through local rumours.

In January 1968 Flickinger, who had a private interest in UFOs and headed the North Dakota subcommittee of the National Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenomena (NICAP), was able to speak with S and two other participants. The fourth no longer lived in the area. S worked in a supervisory capacity at the Minot Air Force Base hospital. The others were a small-town high-school superintendent, an active-duty Air Force sergeant, and a college professor - all "extremely reliable and responsible," in Flickinger's estimation.

As the story went, S and his friends had been hunting on a Sunday in the Harvey, North Dakota, area, southeast of Minot. By the time they started home, it was cold, dark, and rainy. Two of the party, including S, were dozing in the back seat when the two men in the front noticed a descending glowing object in the sky ahead of them. The object was lost to view near the ground half a mile away and to their right. Assuming that they were witnessing a plane crash, the men rushed to the scene, where they saw - at about 150 yards' distance - a "silo-appearing type craft which was sticking in the ground with this glow around it," in S's words. S himself learned of this part of the incident only later; he remained asleep for a few more minutes.

The men in the car plugged a hand spotlight into the cigarette lighter and shined it on the object. The light revealed four human-looking individuals standing around it. Suddenly, S said, "it was just like there was an explosion, sort of, and everything went out." The "explosion" led the onlookers to believe the presumed airplane had blown up, burning the crew or passengers they had just seen. S was roused from his sleep when he discovered that the small car in which they were travelling had left the road and was trying to navigate a soggy field in search of the no-longer-visible aircraft.

Soon they returned to the road and headed back to the spot from which they had seen the aircraft initially. On the way, they spotted the craft. Using the spotlight again, they observed one of the figures. They could make out few details beyond the figure's apparel (something that "looked like white overalls") and its height, just over five feet. The witnesses were startled when the figure, who was standing near a fence, waved them away.

Why would the victim of an airplane crash decline help? The men discussed what they should do next, and presently two of them decided they would get closer, the figure's negative gesture notwithstanding. One of the group then picked up a rifle. The rest of the group thought this was a bad idea; what if the "silo" was a silo and they ended up shooting a farmer?

Eventually, the men agreed to go back to a tiny town (believed to be Martin, North Dakota) 11 miles away where they had seen a police officer in a car. He was still there when they arrived. After satisfying himself that they were not drunk, he accompanied them to the site. There was nothing to see - at first. As the five men stood outside their cars talking about the situation, they noticed what looked like taillights from a vehicle moving in the field where they had first seen the object and its accompanying figures. Both cars raced in pursuit, and as the police car, which was in the lead, pulled right behind the lights, they went out, leaving nothing behind. There were no tracks in the muddy ground. Puzzled but unable to do anything more, the police officer left, and the four hunters resumed their homeward trek. Two miles down the highway the glowing silolike aircraft reappeared, landing gently less than 150 yards away. A few moments later the men saw two of the figures watching them. They quickly plugged in the spotlight. S told Flickinger what happened then:

"Two individuals got out of the car at this point... One of these individuals from the car went to the left and one went to the right. The one to the right was carrying this .22 Hornet rifle with the scope. I don't know what we were thinking of, but the two men in the car were holding the light on the two forms from the vehicle. They were about 10 yards apart; One was a little forward of the other one. They were just standing watching, so by this time the fellow on the right knoll dropped down on his knees, then down to a prone position with the rifle. This person looked in the scope and went from the knees on up. Anyway, at this point there was a shot fired. It hit one of the forms, high in the right shoulder. When the individual was struck he spun around, down to his knees, and then he got up with the other guy's assistance, and he looked over and said, or hollered, 'Now what the hell did you do that for?'"

Even more than six years later S (who was in fact the shooter) would remark, "To this very day I still maintain that it could have been USAF or somebody from this country, because they were human beings, albeit shorter than average." It is by no means clear why gunfire entered the equation at all. ("The shot," S said, "definitely hit something... There was a thud sound, just like shooting any animal.") Though the encounter was undeniably unsettling, nothing in the figure's behaviour could have been interpreted as threatening.

S had "no recollection" of what happened to the craft and the figures. All he recalled was a heated discussion inside the car, followed by a hasty departure and a curiously belated arrival:

"Judging by the time that we started this trip, we figured it was earlier and by the time we got home, it was just daylight. The wives were all sitting and waiting for us. We all knew it took too long for us to come back. We hadn't spent that much time chasing this thing around, and all of us knew or had the feeling that there was something missing there, and to this day we don't know what it was."

A few hours later, around noon, S was at work when his supervisor notified him that he was to go downstairs to meet some callers. They proved to be three well-groomed, official-looking men. Though they introduced themselves only by name, their manner led S to assume they were Air Force intelligence officers, their civilian dress notwithstanding. They told him they had a "report" about the event of the previous night. According to S: "They wanted to know the type of clothing I was wearing. They asked a few questions about this object we had seen, and most of their questions were just like they knew what we had seen and wanted to find out how much we had seen... I just took it for granted that they had this report from this law officer down there, and they were just checking this thing out to see if we'd seen it. Of course I was still pretty shaky over the events that had happened the night before, especially the last part of it, but the law officer didn't know anything about this part of it. He'd already gone back to town by that time. So I figured this is USAF, and being as we had given this officer our names, I figured they knew just who the people were that shot the Air Force people. So they asked me the type of gear I was wearing. I told him hunting clothes. They asked me if I'd gotten out of the car in the field were the first sighting was made, and they're strictly talking about the first sighting, and I told them yes... They never asked anything about the shooting - I think they probably knew more than they said, but I don't know."

Not long afterwards the strangers drove S to his house in a car that he remembered as a 1961 Plymouth, he said that there: "They looked at my hunting gear and my boots. They never did say why they wanted to see these things. The only thing they asked was if I got out of the car in the muddy field, and I said yes, and that's when I showed them the type of boots that I had on. They asked me if I had any other type of boots. I said yeah, I had a pair of wader-type boots. Of course I told them that I hadn't been wearing them, but they still wanted to see these too, so I produced the boots. They thought on it a little more and said, 'Okay, that's enough for now'. The one guy, in fact, the only one who did all the questioning, said 'We want to thank you.' and he called me by my name, 'for your cooperation.' He said, 'We want you to keep this quiet,' that 'you'd be better not saying anything about this to anyone from now.' I assured him I wouldn't. So they got in their car. I then got pretty upset as they'd left me at home with no way back to work."

We know of this incident largely from S's testimony, inasmuch as only he permitted himself to be taped. Flickinger, an experienced lawman, felt that S's sincerity was not open to question, and several years later, New Jersey psychiatrist/ufologist Berthold E Schwarz, who interviewed S, found him still distraught over the incident.

In a letter to J Allen Hynek, Flickinger reported on the subsequent fate of the Air Force sergeant:

[W] was honorably discharged from the USAF a short while after this incident, after serving his 4 year hitch. He re-entered the AF again in 1964 after having some trouble finding jobs on the outside. He told me that he was placed back in his old job classification, photo-reconnaissance, and that before leaving the Air Force, he had a Top-Secret Clearance. His commander told him upon his return to photo-recon in 1964 that his clearance would be reinstated but to the astonishment of [W], his commander, and fellow workers, not only did he not receive the expected Top-Secret Clearance but did not receive any clearance whatsoever. He has inquired on numerous occasions as to why, but the AF has not seen fit to answer him as of yet. He did put one Congressman to work on it and the Congressman came back with the answer from the Air Force that this man was unstable and unreliable and not the type to hold down high-level clearances. I asked [W] what reason they based this opinion on and he stated that they never gave him or the Congressman any answers as to this. I talked with [W] at length and the last thing he seems to me is unreliable or unstable. Quite the opposite in my opinion."

Let us know your opinions on these claims in the comments section below. Now you have read about the Minot UFO of 1961, make sure you take a look at the The Moore UFO Case Of 1957: Flying Saucers, Project Blue Book & Government Secrecy


Thanks for subscribing!

bottom of page