Milton Torres 1957 UFO Encounter is a case
reported by a former jet pilot in the United States Air Force, Milton John
Torres, of Miami,
On May 20, 1957, the 25-year-old Torres was
ordered on a mission to intercept and shoot down a large UFO that
had been picked up by radar in the skies over East Anglia, United
Kingdom. Torres, flying a North
American Aviation F-86D Sabre
approached the object and prepared to fire upon it. As he locked on
his weapons, the UFO suddenly zoomed away at a high rate of speed.
The details of this case were first made public in a release of
UFO-related case files by the British government in October
F-86D Sabre fighter jet similar to
that flown by Milton Torres in 1957.
This case shares some similarities with the Del Rio, Texas UFO Crash
which also involved an aerial encounter between an F-86 Sabre and a
Events Prior to Sighting
On May 20,
1957, Milton Torres was a 25-year-old lieutenant with the 514th
Fighter Interceptor Squadron in the 406th Air Expeditionary Wing
based at RAF
Manston in Kent.
Map of England highlighting location
of 1957 UFO encounter.
Torres was the pilot of one of two
North American Aviation F-86D jets that were on five-minute alert
at the end of the runway at RAF Manston airfield, awaiting the
signal to scramble. The two American pilots were on standby and
their jets were fully powered for immediate take-off. The exact
time of the incident is not known, but it occurred late in the
evening on May 20.
Ordered to Intercept
Torres and his fellow pilot were in the "alert shack" at RAF
Manston when they received instructions to take to the air. The two
pilots raced to their respective F-86Ds and took off well within
the allotted five minutes.
"The initial briefing indicated that the ground was observing for a
considerable time a blip that was orbiting the East Anglia area."
Torres was then told that the object of his pursuit "was an
unidentified flying object with very unusual flight patterns" and
that "the bogey [UFO] actually was motionless for long
Having difficulty believing that he had been ordered to open fire
on the unknown object, Torres requested authentication. "I was only
a lieutenant and very much aware of the gravity of the situation."
When the authentication code response came back, Torres struggled
to match the numbers with those in his daily code sheet. "It was
totally black, and the lights were down for night flying. I used my
flashlight, still trying to fly and watch my radar." The
authentication code matched.
Torres, who was in the lead position, received orders to push his
jet to maximum power by using full afterburner
and to proceed to an altitude of
32,000 feet on a heading that would intercept the UFO. The F-86D
moved to Mach
.92, which is 92 percent of the
speed of sound, or more than 700 miles per hour. The maximum speed
of the F-86D is 761 miles per hour.
his wingman were vectored by Met Sector to a position over the
Sea, just east of East Anglia.
Asked to report
any visual observations about the UFO, Torres told ground control,
"I'm in the soup, and it is impossible to see anything." High
altostratus clouds and night flying conditions prevented him from
making any visual contact.
Below is an external link to a Wikimapia map of the approximate
location where Milton Torres approached the UFO:
Approaching the UFO
Aware that he was reaching the upper limit of his jet's
capabilities, Torres requested to come out of afterburner, but
ground control denied his request. At that time, he prepared to
execute the order to "fire a full salvo of rockets at the UFO." The
F-86D carried 24 rockets. The National Museum
of the U.S. Air
Force describes the aircraft as having a "retractable
tray of 24 rockets" and adds that "the effect of these weapons
would have been devastating to an enemy bomber" because each
2.75-inch Mighty Mouse Mk 4/Mk 40 Folding-Fin
Aerial Rocket (FFAR) contained the power of a 75mm artillery
Folding-Fin Aerial Rocket.
As Torres prepped all 24 of his rockets for firing, he could hear
the other F-86D pilot also responding to orders from ground
control. "I wasn't paying too much attention ... but I clearly
remember him giving a 'Roger' to all the transmissions. I can only
suppose he was as busy as I was."
Torres was given a final turning maneuver to execute and was told
to look 30 degrees to port. His radar screen displayed the UFO at
30 degrees and about 15 miles distant. "The blip was burning a hole
in the radar with its incredible intensity. It was similar to a
blip I had received from B-52s and seemed to be a magnet of
According to Torres, the radar return "had the proportions of a
flying aircraft carrier." He added, "By that I mean the return on
the radar was so strong that it could not be overlooked by the fire
control system on the F-86D... The larger the airplane the easier
the lock on. This blip almost locked itself... it was the best
target I could ever remember locking on to. I had locked on in just
a few seconds, and I locked on exactly 15 miles, which was the
maximum range for lock on."
Cockpit of F-86D Sabre fighter
Suddenly, he noticed that the object on the radar screen was
moving. "Do you have a Tally Ho?" Ground control radioed, wanting
to know if he had made visual contact with the UFO. Torres replied
that he was still "in the soup" and could see nothing.
"By this time, the UFO had broke lock, and I saw him leaving my 30
mile range. Again I reported that he was gone, only to be told that
he was now off their scope as well. With the loss of the blip off
their scope, the mission was over. We were vectored back to home
plate (Manston) and secured our switches. My last instructions were
that they would contact me on the ground by land line."
Torres was left with the impression that the UFO was moving at no
less than Mach 10 (over 7,000 miles per hour) when it disappeared.
"This thing had to be going double-digit mach making turns that I
didn't think were possible, breaking all the rules of physics,"
Torres said. According to Torres, the UFO "didn’t follow classic
Newtonian mechanics. It made a right turn almost on a dime. The
(Royal Air Force radar) scope had a range of 250 miles. And after
two sweeps, which took two seconds, it was gone. And I was flying
almost at Mach 1, at .92."
After the mission, Torres was advised that the mission he had just
completed was classified and that he would receive further
information about it from an "investigator." Torres later wrote, "I
had not the foggiest idea what had actually occurred, nor would
anyone explain anything to me."
On the day after the incident, Torres was ushered into a room of
the squadron operations area, where a well-dressed American
civilian in a dark blue trenchcoat was waiting for him. The
civilian, who looked to Torres like an "IBM salesman" and was in
his late 30s or early 40s, had come from London to interview
waved a National
Security Agency (NSA) ID at Torres and immediately began asking
questions about the UFO sighting.
"He advised me that this
would be considered highly classified and that I should not discuss
it with anybody, not even my commander. He threatened me with a
national security breach if I breathed a word about it to anyone.
He disappeared without so much as a goodbye, and that was that, as
far as I was concerned." The interview took only about 30 minutes,
but Torres was "significantly impressed" by it that he did not
speak to anyone about the UFO incident until recent years.
Torres told the Air Force
that the NSA agent threatened to revoke his flying
privileges and end his Air Force career if he talked about the
mission. "He told me I would lose my pilot's license and it would
be the end of my flying days...."
Since Torres never saw the UFO with his own eyes, some have
suggested that what he and the ground radar observers saw was only
a radar anomaly. According to inquiries by the British Ministry of
Defence (MoD) in 1988, a possible explanation for the blip on
Torres' radar screen is that "an experiment in 'electronic warfare'
was taking place by means of a bogus radar pulse being transmitted
to create an illusion on the Pilot's radar of a solid moving target
and that at the last minute before the Pilot was due to release his
salvo of rockets the target was very swiftly removed off his radar
screen by some technical means creating the further illusion that
the target had outrun the Pilot."
According to the online edition of the British newspaper
, the experiment may
have been part of a secret Central Intelligence Agency
(CIA) program codenamed Palladium
program used advanced electronic equipment to create simulated
radar blips close to Soviet airspace. However, recently-released
CIA documents show that the Palladium program did not actually
begin until the early 1960s.
Case Files Released
The MoD began releasing declassified UFO-related files in 2005 as
requests were made under Britain's Freedom of Information Act
(FOIA). According to the British National Archives Web site, "In
2008 MoD announced their intention to transfer all their remaining
records on UFOs to The National Archives before 2010. This transfer
has now begun with 27 UFO files dating from 1979 to 1991 opened to
the public via The National Archives UFO website during
Documents released in October 2008 included a 1988 letter from
Torres to the MoD relating his UFO experience and expressing his
desire to know more about what really happened on that day.
About Milton John Torres
Torres was born on July 28, 1931 in New York City but moved to Miami, Florida at age 15.
He joined the U.S. Air Force in
1951 and was commissioned as a lieutenant in 1954, serving in
Britain as a fighter pilot. In 1961, he earned a
bachelor of science degree in engineering and became a range
control officer at Cape Canaveral AFS for the Gemini and Apollo space programs.
Later, he flew 276 combat missions in the Vietnam War
and earned 13 air medals, including
the Distinguished Flying
. He attained the rank of major before retiring from
military service in 1971. After leaving the military, he earned a
doctorate degree in mechanical engineering and became an
engineering professor at Florida
He retired from the university in 2004.
wrote a novel in 2005 titled The Good Guys Wear Blue Hats
[ISBN 978-1420846522] based partly on his own experiences in the
military and working with NASA.
Recent Comments by Torres
In an interview with the Miami
published October 23, 2008, the 77-year-old Torres
stated that the UFO he saw on radar in 1957 "was not made of this
Earth" and that his mission to fire upon the UFO was "just a dumb
little kid going to slaughter." He expressed gratitude at not
having fired because he surely "would have been vaporized."
Speaking to Miles O'Brien of Cable
(CNN), Torres said he is convinced the UFO he
encountered was designed by an "alien" intelligence and was not
manufactured on Earth. He also said,"It was some kind of space
alien craft. It was so fast, it was so incredible ... it was
absolutely death defying.""To this day, when he [Torres] goes
outside, he always looks up, half expecting to catch a glimpse of
the prey that escaped him that night," according to an article in
the Toronto Star
-  Daily Mail: U.S. fighter pilot: 'I
was ordered to fire 24 rockets at UFO flying over East