'The Disappearance of Flight 412'
They saw something that they only thought they saw.
The Disappearance of Flight 412 is a made-for-TV movie first broadcasted on NBC during 1974. The film is about the crew of a U.S. Air Force radar test craft sighting a UFO and then undergoing an intense interrogation. The pilot is instructed by an authority higher than his commanding officer to land his aircraft at a remote airstrip then await orders. This command was given after one of the crewmen reports mysterious objects on the radar screen. Once the pilot lands the aircraft as instructed, he is met with some unknown government officials who question the entire crew about what they saw. The movie stars David Soul as Captain Bishop, Glen Ford as Col. Moore, and Guy Stockwell as Lt. Col Trottman. The production was filmed at both Oxnard and Edwards Air Force bases. The running time is 72 minutes and was shot in color with some Black and White stock footage.
The purpose of Flight 412 was to investigate electrical problems that base radar installations were experiencing at the time. Col. Moore instructs Capt. Bishop and his crew to analyze the radar signals coming from the base and report any findings to him. While they are in flight and conducting a test, one of the radar operators noticed three unknown contacts on the screen. The operator reports it to Capt. Bishop and he informs the base air traffic control. Afterward, two jet interceptors are sent to investigate the sightings. The crew sees the jets fly into the clouds just when the radar contacts disperse on the radar screen. However, there is no sign of the aircraft sent to investigate. It was as though they disappeared off the face of the Earth. Capt. Bishop radios back to the control tower the crew had seen and continued the flight. While Capt. Bishop is trying to finish up their assignment, he is given new orders to fly and land his plane at a different location.
The plane lands in the middle of nowhere.
Once Capt. Bishop receives the new coordinates, he directs his plane to follow the course without any hesitation. He simply follows orders as he has been trained to do even though it is from some other authority. The aircraft lands on what seems to be an unused airstrip in a remote location. In fact, the crew discovers after consulting their navigational map, they are indeed on deactivated Air Force base far from any roads or towns. The base has not been used in many years and is in a state of disrepair.
The men are questioned.
Once the aircraft comes to a stop, the crew disembarks from the plane and is met by a man in civilian clothes. The man identifies himself as Trottman and instructs them to follow him. The crew is transported to a building on the base and are separated into two groups while the plane is stored away in a hanger. Each of the two groups is questioned by an official in civilian attire who only identifies himself by a single name. The integrators start by asking to recount what they saw and experienced. Everything seems very routine at first but as the questions continue, they start making comments that you can't be certain what you saw. The crew dislikes the whole questioning process from start to finish. They become stressed out and frustrated after being questioned for a long period of time. The crew is made to feel as though they are unreliable and untrustworthy in their duties. It even gets to the point where one of the crewmen attacks one of the interrogators.
The integrators are composed of members of a special intelligence unit for the U.S. Air Force. Their code name is Digger Control and it's this unit that gave the order for Capt. Bishop to land at the abandoned airstrip. Digger control arrives at the airstrip via helicopter and immediately sets out to set up shop. They have at their disposal an electrical generator, hidden cameras, and tape recorders. There is also a gate guard and a roving guard for security.
The CO becomes concerned.
While the crew of Flight 412 is being integrated by Digger Control, the CO starts to become concerned. He is first told that Flight 412 has been diverted to another air base and that the jet interceptors were also sent to a different location as well. Then he is informed that neither the flight nor interceptors arrived on time and there has been no contact from either. When Col. Moore makes inquiries from person to person, he receives conflicting information; thus he becomes frustrated. With the assistance of his XO and another radar operator, he finds the location of the airstrip. Col. Moore decides to drive out to the airstrip and find his missing aircrew. When he arrives, he is met by the gate guard from Digger Control. Col. Moore demands to see his men or to speak to someone in charge, and the guard contacts Trottman and the guard is instructed to escort him to a waiting area. Col. Morre and the XO follows the guard to an empty office where they wait to speak to Trottman.
The men are released.
Col. Moore meets with Trottman and demands the release of his men. At that point, Trottman says he is not finished with the debriefing as the integration is called. This doesn't sit too well with Col. Moore who is forced to wait. In the meantime, the questioning of the crew continues with Capt. Bishop. Bishop is escorted back to one of the interrogation rooms after an unsuccessful escape attempt. He is given more intense questioning and reluctantly agreed to sign papers stating that they did not see a UFO, while the rest of the crew decided to sign the same agreement and be allowed to return home. At this point, Trottman is satisfied the men are in compliance with the Air Force's wishes. Therefore, he releases the crew to Col. Moore. The crew's aircraft is taken out of the hanger where it was stored and is flown back the base along with Col. Moore.
What Did Happen
After the crew and Col. Moore land at the base, Col. Moore takes Capt. Bishop and two of the Flight crew members to see the Base Commander Gen. Enright. A third one declines to see the General for fear of retribution. At this point Col. Moore is still furious about the crew's detention and intends to protest their treatment. Instead, he finds the General reading over the report prepared by Digger Control. As it turns out, General Enright knew of the crew's detention and integration all along. Although he didn't order it, it is suggested that the order came from a higher authority than him; however, he ensured that it was carried out. While Col. Moore is debating the need for transparency vs. National Security for the study of UFOs, Trottman enters the room. He is dressed in Air Force uniform with the rank of Colonel. He finalizes the report with the debriefing of the crew and ensures that the men were in no way mistreated. The General agrees with the findings of the report that the men were mistaken due to error and did not see a UFO nor saw the jet interceptors disappear. The men and Col. Trottman are asked to leave by the General in order to have a private conversation with Col. Morre. The General explains that the wreckages of the two jet interceptors were found some distance away from the base. However, there was no sign of the crew, no bodies, and no parachutes, etc. General Enright stresses the need for secrecy because of this incident to Col. Moore. Col Moore understands but is still reluctant about the report.
Fact or Fiction?
This movie is a work of fiction and is stated as such at the end of the movie. I believe the producers of this movie were inspired by alleged mistreatment of personnel who have reported UFOs. I recall hearing about such incidents while watching TV documentaries on UFOs although nothing was ever proven. There have been documented cases of U.S. military personal witnessing and reporting UFO sightings; however, they were never secretly questioned or mistreated. At the most, the service members have faced ridicule from their fellow members. Moreover, service persons can make mistakes and get confused in stressful situations. Two cases in point can be read about here on the Rendlesham Forrest incident and on a case similar to the movie plot.
Where to Find the Movie.
This movie can be watched on YouTube here. In fact, I found it all over YouTube uploaded to various accounts. It can still be purchased in DVD format, I had a copy of the movie in a box set once.
My Thoughts on the Movie.
I first watched this movie when I was a kid growing up in the 70s. I thought it was a very spooky kind of movie since it was about UFOs which was in the public eye at the time. There had been UFO sightings during the early 70s so movie producers were cashing in on the interest. I also watched the movie on TV over the years as I grew older and I just rewatched it on YouTube recently. The movie is well acted and well written. It gives a docudrama style of story with elements of mystery thrown in. However, it does make use of stock footage and uses excerpts from UFO documentaries at the beginning of the movie. It was intended to be a good movie of the week type of show during its run. If you are interested in UFO cover-up movies, you should give it a watch.
Learn more about the movie here at these two links. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Disappearance_of_Flight_412