USAF Pilot was ordered to fire at a UFO in U.K. airspace! - This matter
surely had significant 'Defence Implications'?
In depth original research report compiled by DAVID CAYTON.
Featuring the detailed first-hand personal account by the pilot concerned.
One night, at the height of the ‘Cold War’ in 1957, two USAF jet fighter aircraft which were on
QRA stand-by (Quick Reaction Alert) at RAF Manston, were scrambled to intercept an
‘intruder’ which had flown into the U.K. airspace whilst being constantly monitored by ground
based radar systems. Clearly, the ‘intruder’ was recognised as NOT a Soviet aircraft of any
description, presumably by its unusual flight manoeuvres and characteristics. In fact at one
point it was actually stationary for a long period over the Ipswich area! Normally, one would
hope and expect that our defence systems would not allow an unfriendly aircraft to penetrate
that far inland before being intercepted and ‘escorted’ back across out of our territory!
I can verify that during my own past RAF experience while stationed in West Germany in the
early 1960’s, that at least once a month, one of my ‘80’ Squadron’s Canberra P.R.7 aircraft
was stripped of all the camera fits and flew at low level and at high speed, over into the Soviet
controlled, Eastern Zone of Germany. The idea was to probe and try to defeat the Soviet
defence radar systems by flying low under their radar. The Soviets did exactly the same to us.
Our Squadron aircrew, on returning, used to joke that they had again waved at ‘Ivan’ going
past in the opposite direction! This was a regular ‘war game’ acknowledged by both sides.
Nothing as serious as the subject of this report!
UPDATE: TO ARTICLE, ‘USAF PILOT ORDERED TO FIRE UPON A UFO
IN OUR U.K. AIRSPACE’.
By David Cayton.
Since I wrote the original article, more information has come my way. Basically there are three
1). Pilot Milton Torres has supplied some extra detail about his cockpit weapons system and told
me about visits he made to two of our RAF Bases which are relevant to his UFO encounter and
his subsequent authorisation to launch his weapons by the MoD!
2). I had filed a FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) Request to the MoD about this event, and
now have received an informative reply.
3). Now from information and suggestions from a number of people, including the MoD’s Air
Historical Branch, I believe we can identify the Bases involved in issuing the ‘Order to Fire’!
ITEM 1). ADDITIONAL EXPLANATORY NOTES ref. THE NORTH AMERICAN SUPER SABRE F-
86D’s COCKPIT WEAPON SYSTEM BY MAJOR MILTON TORRES.
For the aviation and technical minded reader, Milton has provided fuller explanatory notes
describing how his onboard computer instrumentation worked with his weapon system. These
details provide extra credence to the testimony of a courageous commissioned military officer.
Later in his Service career, Milton flew some 260 missions in Vietnam, flying F-100 jet fighters.
Additionally, he flew many extremely dangerous low level reconnaissance missions in a small
Cessna aircraft, often flying at only a dozen or so feet, to obtain vital intelligence of Vietcong
ground positions, thus being very vulnerable to enemy fire! He retired from the USAF in 1977.
It is patently obvious that on this occasion in 1957, the ‘intruder’ was clearly identified as
another intrusion by an ‘unknown’ (UFO) otherwise the ‘order’ to fire rockets at the object
would never have been authorised! Most certainly, we would have ‘Rules of engagement
procedures’ in place at that time; just in case the ‘Cold War’ turned into
‘A Hot’ one! (And I expect we probably still have!) Initially, at the moment of ‘scramble’, as our
pilot was being vectored towards the ‘target’ by GCI (Ground Control Intercept) he assumed it
to be a conventional unfriendly aircraft. When he was given the order to fire his weapons he
was acutely aware of the gravity of the situation! Only later into the mission did he realise that
this ‘target’ was not a terrestrial aerial craft! (The pilots own testimony will make this clear later
on). Nevertheless, he was shocked to be given this order to launch his ‘Mighty Mouse’ rockets
while flying within United Kingdom airspace. To fire, at that time, upon a Soviet aircraft
could have had grave repercussions, possibly leading to the outbreak of a Third World War!
ANY decision made to order aircrew to take offensive action by firing their weapons at an
intruder, would not have been taken lightly! Highly placed British military officials would
certainly have been involved! The U.S Air Force was NOT permitted to independently
authorise these actions over British territory.
As an example, in 1980, Deputy Base Commander at RAF Bentwaters, Lt. Colonel Charles Halt
and his men, were required to leave all their hand weapons within their Base before they
proceeded out onto our British soil, in order to carry out their investigations into the sightings
of the mysterious object which was seen to land just outside their base perimeter in
Also, just remember, by comparison, the international furore that followed the incident of the
1960’s when American pilot, Gary Powers, in his unarmed ‘spy’ plane, was ‘brought down’ by
the Soviets when flying high over Russia!
I would like to record my thanks to friend and fellow researcher, Harry Harris for his sterling
work (and good fortune!) in bringing this case to my notice, originally in 1994, and allowing me
access to his files and correspondence. We are now both especially indebted to one of the two
pilots directly involved in this ‘incident’, Professor Milton Torres (ex USAF Major retired)
for his co-operation and willingness to publicly come forward and recount in such great detail,
his alarming experiences of that night, now some 50 years on!
Milton has a Doctorate of Mechanical Engineering and lectured at The University of Florida for
many years. He is now retired, is 76 years of age and resides with his wife in Miami, Florida.
I think it is worthy and necessary to explain how Harry accidentally came to meet Milton Torres
in London in 1988, learnt about his flying ‘experience ’of 1957 and his subsequent ‘dogged’
diligence in following up with written questions to the MoD and the USAF! He, as usual,
received the typical ‘stone-walling’ answers in return!
At some unspecified date in 1988, as a practising Solicitor, Harry had to attend a Conveyance
Refresher Course. Harry was staying at a London hotel, close to the Victory Service Club
where Milton and his wife Teresa where residing. Co-incidentally, one evening they all chose to
dine at a nearby Roast Beef Restaurant. While he was queuing at the Carvery, Harry realised
that there were American ladies in front of him, got into conversation and learnt that they were
over in England with their husbands who were attending a veteran pilot’s event at their old air
base down in Kent. This transpired to be a re-union of their old Unit, the 406th Fighter
Interceptor Wing at RAF Manston, near Margate.
Harry, naturally having the opportunity to quiz a pilot (as every ufologist should do!) asked if
her husband had ever seen a UFO? Upon hearing her reply, Harry said to me later, that he
then realised, as a UFO investigator, he had ‘struck gold’! Mrs Torres turned to Harry in the
queue and said that not only had her husband chased a UFO, he was ordered to shoot
one down! This was even more startling when he got talking a short while later, joining with
Milton and Teresa at the dinner table, and he learnt that this exciting event occurred while he
was serving at RAF Manston no less!
Following on from this chance encounter, Harry and Susan Harris became good friends with
Milton and Teresa Dorothy Torres. A few years later this friendship resulted in an invitation for
the both of them to join the Torres’s at RAF Manston for another re-union event.
Milton, later in his Service career, flew some 260 missions in Vietnam, flying F-100 jet fighters.
He retired from the USAF in 1977 with the rank of Major.
THE USAF PRESENCE AT MANSTON-A BRIEF EXTRACT FROM HISTORY.
I think it would be of interest to mention a few facts and the timescale of Milton’s Squadron
operations at Manston. (Extracted from Wikipedia).
“ RAF Manston was an RAF Station in the north-east of Kent, on the Isle of Thanet from 1916
until 1996. The site is now split between a continuing military use, as FSCTE Manston, the
Central Fire Fighting School, following on from a long standing training facility for RAF fire-
fighters at the Manston base, and a commercial airport Kent International Airport (KIA).
USAF Use: During the Cold War of the 1950’s the United States Air Force used Manston as a
Strategic Air Command base for its fighter and fighter-bomber units.
In 1955, SAC shifted its rotational deployments to RAF Fairford and Manston was turned over
to the United States Air Forces in Europe.
In July 1952, the 406th Fighter-Bomber Wing was activated in place at Manston with the
following Squadrons assigned: 512th ,513th, and the 514th, Milton’s Unit in 1957. In April
1954, with the arrival of the new F86D’s, their mission role changed from fighter-bomber to
Finally, in May 1958, the406th was deactivated in place, with the three air defence squadrons
being assigned to continental Europe. Milton’s 514th squadron was transferred to Ramstein Air
Base, West Germany under the 86th Air Division (Defence).
After the transfer of the USAFE interceptors from Manston, the base was returned to RAF
THE WRITTEN TESTIMONY OF MAJOR MILTON JOHN TORRES (USAF Retired.)
I have transcribed Milton’s story and personal recollections, almost exactly as he typed them
up for Harry Harris in 1992. I have only added, in ‘brackets’, any points of clarification where
necessary. Incidentally, around that time one afternoon, I was sitting in Harry’s Office in Sale,
Manchester, listening on a phone speaker system, to Milton giving an in depth verbal account
of his experience. There’s nothing like hearing it from the lips of the witness! Milton followed up
this call to Harry, with this written account. I have only slightly modified Milton’s words here and
there, in view of his further comments to me. These address certain small personal details he
has added in emails and during recent telephone conversations. (Note: the ‘bold’
emphases, italics and notes in brackets are mine!)
Milton Torres’s Narrative:
‘‘It was a typical English night in Kent. The 406th Fighter Wing had been designated to a
particular ‘Sector’ (RAF) and to have our F-86D’s (Super Sabre jet fighter) stand alert (on
QRA) as an operational requirement. The date was May 20th, 1957, and our Squadrons
were considered combat qualified when they committed us to the operational requirement. My
recollection seems to indicate that this function was rotated about England between the
various RAF and USAF units. On this particular night, the 514th Fighter Interceptor had the
Alert duty. Two F-86D’s were on a 5 minute alert at the south end of the runway at RAF Station
Manston, awaiting the signal to scramble .We had a ‘scramble shack’ assembled on the grass
next to the ‘birds’. The hour was late as memory serves me and the weather was IFR
(Instrument Flight Rules). Looking back at the log book, a total of 30minutes of Night Weather
was logged on a 1 hour and 15 minute flight. Some details, such as exactly what hour the
scramble occurred or what we were doing just prior to scramble, totally escapes me, however
the Auxiliary Power Units (APU) were on and the power was transmitted to the aircraft. (Note:
This is normal practice for aircraft on QRA) We were ready for an immediate call to scramble
and eager for the flight time hours.
I can remember the call to scramble quite clearly and we were given a vector of 120 degrees
and a flight level of Angel 32. (32,000 ft .altitude.) We were airborne well within the 5 minutes
allotted to us and we rapidly climbed upwards and levelled at FL320. Our vector took us out
over the North Sea, just east of East Anglia. Normally my ‘wingman’, the other member of the
set of two fighters, would be the lead ship. I can only suggest that I was now leading due to an
‘in place’ turn of some sort. I remember in quite specific terms, talking as lead ship to the GCI
Site, whose call sign I cannot recall.
(I have now established that the GCI Unit location was No.144 Signals Unit. at RAF Bawdsey
Manor on the Suffolk coast, just south of RAF Bentwaters and Woodbridge. Milton knew for
sure that Bawdsey (now closed) was the GCI Site because, along with other pilots, he had
previously been on an overnight pilot familiarisation visit to Bawdsey) .DAC.
I was advised of the situation quite clearly! The initial briefing from the ground control (on
radar) had been observing for a considerable time, a blip that was orbiting the East Anglia
area. (In addition to Bawdsey, the main radar Station plotting the blip would likely be RAF
Neatishead Early Warning Radar Station, in Norfolk). Apparently there was very little
movement and from my conversation with the GCI, all the normal (identifying) procedures of
checking with all controlling agencies, revealed that this was an unidentified flying
object with very unusual flight patterns. In the initial briefing, it was suggested that the
‘bogey’ was actually motionless for long intervals! (This was over the Ipswich area!)
The instructions came to go ‘gate’ to expedite the intercept. Gate was the term used to use
maximum power, in the case of the F-86D, that meant full afterburner and proceed to an initial
point keeping at around 32,000 feet. By this time my radar was on and I was looking
prematurely for the ‘bogey’. The instruction came to report any visual observations, to
which I replied, ‘I’m in the soup and it is impossible to see anything!’ The weather was probably
high alto stratus but between over the North Sea and in the weather, no frame of reference
was available, i.e. no stars, no lights, no silhouettes, in short nothing. GCI continued the
vectoring and their dialogue describing the strange antics of the UFO!
The exact turns and manoeuvres they gave me were all predicted to reach some theoretical
point for a lead collision course type, to enable any rocket release. I can remember reaching
the level off altitude and requested to come out of afterburner, only to be told to stay in
afterburner! It wasn’t very much later that I noticed my indicated mach number was about .92.
This is about as fast as the F-86D could go straight and level. Our final vector was toward the
I THEN RECEIVED THE ORDER TO FIRE a full salvo of rockets at the UFO! I was only a
young Lieutenant at the time (Age 26.) and very much aware of the gravity of the situation. To
be candid, I almost shit my pants! At any rate, I had my hands full trying to fly, search for
‘bogeys’ and now selecting a hot load on the switches. I asked for ‘authentication’ of the
order to fire and I received it! This further complicated my difficulty, as the matrix of letters
and numbers to find the correct (matching) authentication was on a piece of printed paper
about 5 by 8 inches and with the print not much bigger than normal type. It was totally black
and the lights were down for night flying. I used my flashlight, still trying to fly and watch my
radar. To put it quite candidly, I felt much like a one legged man in an ass kicking
The authentication/verification to fire was valid. They weren’t kidding! I then selected
my 24 rockets to salvo. They further told me we were in a teardrop climb, to be positioned to
fire at a UFO at 32,000 feet! I wasn’t paying too much attention to my wingman but I clearly
remember him giving a ‘Roger’ to all the transmissions. I can only suppose he was as busy as I
was! My final turn was given and instructions were given to look 30 degrees to the Port for my
‘bogey’. I did not have a hard time at all. There it was exactly where I was told it would be at 30
degrees and at 15 miles. The ‘blip’ was burning a hole in the radar scope with its
incredible intensity. It was similar to a ‘blip’ I had received from B-52’s and seemed to be a
magnet of light. These things I remember quite very clearly. I ran the range gate marker over
the blip and the jizzle band faded as the marker superimposed over the blip. I had a ‘lock on’
that had the proportions of a flying aircraft carrier! 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 I use in
comparison other fighter aircraft and airliners. The airliner is easy to get a lock- on, while the
fighter, not being a good ‘return’, is very difficult. On that type of smaller aircraft, a lock-on was
only possible under a ten mile range. The larger the airplane, the easier the lock-on. This
‘blip’, almost locked itself! I cannot explain to the lay person exactly what I mean, save to say
that 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 at exactly 15 miles, which was the maximum range for lock on. I then
called to the GCI, ‘Judy’, which signifies that I would take all further steering information from
my own radar computer.
Now back to the Intercept of the UFO.
As I said, I had an ‘overtake’ of 800 knots and my radar was rock stable. The dot was centred
and only the slightest corrections were necessary. This was a very fast intercept and the circle
started to shrink. I called ’20 seconds’ and the GCI indicated he was standing by. The
‘overtake’ was still indicating in the 7 or 8 o’clock position. At about 10 seconds to go, (to
fire) I noticed that the overtake position was changing its position on the scope. It
moved rapidly to the 6 o’clock, then 3 o’clock, then 12 o ‘clock and finally rested about the 11
o ‘clock position. This indicated a negative overtake of 200 knots (the maximum negative
overtake displayed) There was no way of knowing of what the actual speed of the UFO was, as
he could be travelling at very high mach numbers and I could only see the 200 knot negative
overtake. The circle, which was down to about an inch and a half in diameter, started to open
up rapidly. Within seconds it was back to 3 inches in diameter and the ‘blip’ was visible in the
blackened jizzle band, moving up the scope! This meant that it was going away from me
fast! I reported this to the GCI Site and they replied by asking ‘Do you have a ‘Tally Ho?’ I
reported that I 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 ‘homeplate’ (Manston) and secured our switches. My last instructions were that they
would contact me on the ground by land line.’’
(Additional relevant notes by David Cayton. I have read of earlier reports which often
described in these situations, that the ‘targeted UFO’ craft seem to know that they are about to
be fired upon and exit rapido! Also cases have been recorded by pilots that their weapon
systems have been temporarily disabled! Sadly, as we will see later, there have also been
‘‘Back in the alert tent, I talked to Met Sector.’’ (In response to my FOIA request, The MoD’s Air
Historical Branch (RAF) confirmed this to be the RAF Sector's Operational Command Centre
(SOC) secret ‘cold war’ bunker at Kelvedon Hatch, Essex. This was responsible for the military
London Metropolitan Sector area; nowadays a privately run museum. From Manston, Milton
also paid a visit there along with fellow pilots but he could not recall the name of it or the
precise location, although he does remember access to the bunker was via just a small
bungalow building situated in an open field. (Note: planted trees now obscure this bungalow).
‘‘They advised me that blip had gone off the scope in two sweeps at the GCI site and they
had instructions to tell me that the mission was considered ‘classified.’ They also advised me
that I would be contacted by some investigator. It was the next day before anyone showed up.
I had not the foggiest idea what had actually occurred, nor would anyone explain anything to
me. In the Squadron Operations area, one of the sergeants came to me and brought me into
the hall way around the side of the pilots briefing room. He approached a civilian, who
appeared from nowhere. The civilian looked like a well dressed IBM salesman, with a dark blue
trench coat. I cannot remember his facial features, only to say he was in his 30’s or early
forties. He immediately jumped into asking questions about the previous day’s mission. I got
the impression that he operated out of the States. After my debriefing of the events, he
advised me that this would be considered highly classified and should not discuss it with
anybody, not even my Commander! He then threatened me with a national security breach,
if I breathed a word of it to anyone. He disappeared without so much as a goodbye and that
was that as far as I was concerned. I was significantly impressed by the action of the ‘cloak and
dagger’ people and I have not spoken of this to anyone until recent years.
My impression was, that whatever the aircraft or spacecraft was, it must have been
travelling in 2 digit Mach numbers, at least Mach 10, to have done what I witnessed!
My Unit had been ‘declared combat ready’ about two months preceding this intercept.
Therefore, we would have certainly been under ‘control’ of the British GCI/Met Centres for
all such actions! (This would be via the RAF’s ‘ROTOR C&R’ System, Unit rotational control
and reporting system.)
Perhaps the cloak of secrecy can be lifted in these days of enlightenment and all of us can
have all the facts? This is my account to the best of my memory.’’ Major Milton Torres, 2007.
We are indeed privileged to read of Milton’s enthralling account and he is now certain that his
‘official’ debriefing report, given the following day, was to a person whom he now believes, from
his credentials, to be an American Embassy based officer from the London branch of the NSA
(National Security Agency). This ‘report’, I am certain, even if filed today, would never pass
across the public UFO desk of Air Staff 2a at the MoD in Whitehall! I am also confident that
there are many other British military encounter report episodes which have occurred in this
Country and overseas, which are buried away never to be released by the MoD to the P.R.O.
at Kew! I know of at least two incidents dating from 1958!
It is worth noting here that there was another RAF radar report of a large UFO being tracked
by radar over the Irish Sea, during April 1957! This report, leaked to the Press shortly after,
was from RAF West Fruegh, Wigtownshire, Scotland. This incident lead to questions in the
House of Commons!
Despite a short lived top level ‘Order to shoot down UFO’s’ in the United States in 1952, it
would appear that our British military ‘brass hats’ were obviously willing, five years on in 1957,
to play fast and loose with the lives of American aircrew in our airspace! One can
imagine the Defence Chiefs in their frustration, echoing that they cannot shoot at the Soviets,
so at least we will have a go at the UFO’s penetrating our controlled regions! They may further
have generously decreed that this ‘shoot to kill policy’, would only be authorised to our U.S.
allies while based in England? It is of course, quite possible that our Defence Chiefs had never
been made aware of this short lived Presidential Order. As any who have served in the armed
forces will know; the emphasis on information ‘compartmentalisation’ and ‘The need to Know’
maxim, leads to the old problem of ‘the left hand not knowing what the right is doing!
The remaining 10 seconds for Milton, to go for rocket launch…could well have been
his last……. before oblivion?
Thankfully, we are very lucky that Milton and his wingman did not encounter any superior
retaliatory fire power and fortunately safely returned from their mission and survived to tell us
Read on for further updated detailed information about this outstanding pilot
©. David Cayton. November, 2007.
If any reader has more information about this incident, or any other Air Force scrambles and
UFO intercepts within the U.K. airspace, please contact me on 0161 483 4956, mob.
07899941291, or by email: email@example.com
|Google image of Suffolk, England.
Milton Torres with F100 at Luke AFB
President Harry Truman
Lt.Torres in F86D.1956
Nick Pope, former head of the UFO project for the Ministry of Defence in U.K. introducing Milton
Torres at the X-Conference, Washington D.C. on Saturday 19 April, 2009. Copyright: Colin Andrews
R.A.F. Manson, England
Let me explain visually what I saw on my radar screen......
Above F86D Super Sabre of 406th Fighter Wing circa 1956
The United Kingdom Government recently released secret UFO files which
surprisingly included a case in 1957, when U.S. fighter pilot Milton Torres was
instructed to open fire on a large UFO over East Anglia, U.K. This surprise release
has pulled the carpet from under the feet of the United States government who