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Originally published October 23, 2008 at 12:00 AM | Page modified October 23, 2008 at 12:29 AM

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Retired pilot explains 1957 UFO incident

If you believe former fighter pilot Milton Torres' story — and news organizations are running with it — the Air Force was seconds...

The Miami Herald

KENDALL, Fla. — If you believe former fighter pilot Milton Torres' story — and news organizations are running with it — the Air Force was seconds from attacking an alien aircraft over England late one cloudy night in 1957.

Possible interstellar war was averted when the unidentified flying object sped away.

"It was not made of this Earth," said Torres, 77, a retired Florida International University engineering professor. "I'd love to take a tour of that ... UFO, whatever it was."

The account was included in thousands of pages of UFO-related documents recently declassified by the British Ministry of Defense and posted online. To everyone's surprise, the truth was not just out there, but in Florida, where Torres lives with his wife, Dorothy.

By midweek, he'd done a television interview with Great Britain's Sky News and been featured on "Good Morning America." "Nightline" had panned across pictures of him as a young lieutenant. Reporters were calling hourly, and Dorothy was leaving the phone off the hook at night.

Torres' account begins with him scrambling his F-86D Sabre jet from an airfield in Kent, near the southeast coast, to intercept what he has since called a UFO circling East Anglia.

Ground control vectored him in at top speed, around 700 mph, and gave the order to "fire a full salvo of rockets at the UFO."

From 15 miles away, he locked on to a target as big as an aircraft carrier, according to his radar screen. He was on course to intercept in 10 seconds but still hadn't seen the thing when it started to move away. Within seconds, the UFO was off lock; it soon vanished.

Back at the airfield, Torres was told the mission would be considered classified. The next day, an American who looked "like a well-dressed IBM salesman, with a dark-blue trench coat," debriefed him and warned he would be breaching national security if he talked about what had happened.

Looking back, Torres said he's glad he never got a shot off that night; surely a craft capable of moving as that one did would have had weapons systems to match. "I would have been vaporized," he said.

"Just a dumb little kid going to slaughter."

He's angry, convinced that the British and U.S. governments have information they're not sharing; and wistful, because he believes he'll never know the truth. "We can't be alone out here," he said.

The phone then rang, CNN on the line.

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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