The UFO Files
|From ATS Thread: The
Mantell UFO Incident
The Mantell UFO Incident
Posted by jkrog08, on May 16, 2009
“The Mantell UFO Incident”, this is what is referred to by many as the first death caused by a UFO. This is not the only case of military and UFO engagements, but it is the case with the most evidence. This case was investigated by Project Sign, the predecessor to Project Bluebook. The official explanation from the United States Air Force is still listed as “undetermined”, however the USAF has stated other times in other documents that Mantell died while chasing a balloon. Many speculations fly as to exactly what Captain Mantell was chasing and what caused him to crash, was it Venus? Was it a Skyhook Balloon? Or was it something more, something otherworldly? Maybe the more important question is if it was an extraterrestrial craft did “they” cause Mantell to crash, or was it incidental and simply the outcome of a primitive aircraft trying to perform with a super-advanced interstellar spacecraft? I know this has been discussed on here before, but it has not been discussed or presented in any great comprehensive detail. With this being one of the best UFO-aircraft encounter incidents I feel it deserves this much more comprehensive presentation.
1. Overview of Captain Thomas F. Mantell
An experienced pilot in the Air National Guard with 2,167 flight hours and a veteran of World War Two who took part of the Battle of Normandy, Mantell was not one who was ignorant of simple sky phenomina and the dangers involved in air travel. He also was not one that would chase Venus or a balloon and risk his life doing so. With those many flight hours and battle experience it is hard to believe that he would take great care to knowingly push is plane to the limit to observe something nominal and average. In any event we must remember that on this day in 1948 a fellow human and soldier lost his life, a very tragic event for his family and friends.
2.The Encounter and Crash
The UFO Is Spotted
On the day of January 7th, 1948 at approximately 1:20 PM due to several witnesses on the ground in Owensboro,Irvington, and Maysville (which was only 80 miles East) Kentucky making calls to the Kentucky State Police of a “large, circular, metallic object of 250-300 feet (91 meters) in diameter following a westbound path” and the crafts near proximity to the Gold Reserve at Fort Knox the state police notified Godman Airfield, which was the airfield serving Fort Knox. Godman asked Wright Field in Ohio if they had any aircraft in the air, which they didn’t. At around 1:45 PM Sgt. Quinton Blackwell and two other witnesses saw an object from where he was at inside the Fort Knox Airfield Control Tower. They also stated the object was changing from reddish color to white in some pattern. Base Commander Colonel Guy Hix reported a “very large, white, umbrella shaped object about one fourth the size of the Moon (from his perspective, not literally!).” He also stated that “through the binoculars it appeared to have a red or pink border at the bottom and remained stationary for seemingly one and one half hours.”
Four P-51 Mustangs, already in the air on their way to Standiford Air Field in northern Kentucky were called to investigate. They were lead by Captain Thomas Mantell.
The Chase Begins
The Three Persons involved in the chase:
In constant radio contact the whole time, Sgt. Blackwell ordered the Mustangs’ to intercept the unknown craft. One pilot had to quickly turn back as he was low on fuel. The three remaining planes continued on the intercept course. The two other pilots (other than Mantell) reported making visual contact with the object but said it was so small and far away they couldn’t identify it, this is possibly because the crafts altitude at the time was likely around 30,000 feet, which at the time before pressurized cabins was a unreachable altitude, at least a very dangerous and ill advised altitude to try to attain. The craft were in a steep climb and the other pilots suggested they level altitude and try to get a better visual of the craft, Mantell ignored his comrades advice; this was his first mistake.
Only one of Mantells’ companions, Lt. Albert Clemmons, had an oxygen mask available, which was nessicary to war in the low oxygen environment of 20,000 feet and above. Lt. Clemmons and Lt. Hammons called off their pursuit at 22,500 feet and returned to base. Mantell however, continued climbing to 30,000 feet. Anyone who knows anything about air flight and the atmosphere will tell you that without an oxygen mask or pressurized cabin (which wasn’t available at the time) you will black out from Hypoxia because the oxygen concentration levels are less at higher altitudes. This was Mantells’ second and fatal mistake. As best we know he blacked out from Hypoixa at around 30,000 feet, his plane then proceeded to plummet back down to Earth and crash at approximately 3:18 PM, at least that is the time his watched stopped. Before this though there was some very interesting observations made by Mantell as he briefly did catch up to the craft. The following is the reported actual radio communication transcript from the incident. All of the communications were not transcripted, or at least made public as an officer listening in Illinois made some stunning revelations, as we will see.
The following is quoted from the available transcripts I found:
"Godman Tower Calling the flight of 4 ships northbound over Godman Field. Do you read? Over.Now here is the interesting part that I mentioned above, this is a statement from USAF officer Richard Miller:
Richard T. Miller, who was in the Operations Room of Scott Air Force Base in Belleville, Illinois also made several profound statements regarding the crash. He was monitoring the radio talk between Mantell and Godman tower, and heard this statement very clearly. "My God, I see people in this thing!" Miller added that on the morning after the crash, at a briefing, investigators had stated that Mantell died "pursuing an intelligently controlled unidentified flying object." In conclusion, Miller made this statement, "that evening, Air Technical Intelligence Center officers from Wright-Patterson AFB arrived and ordered all personnel to turn over any materials relating to the crash. "Then, after we had turned it over to them, they said they had already completed the investigation." "I was no longer a skeptic. I had been up to that time. Now I wondered why the Government had gone to all of the trouble of covering it up, to keep it away from the press and the public."
Very interesting indeed, I see no reason for an officer of the USAF to lie about something like that. Is it true that Mantell actually saw “people in there”, he was the only one at that altitude as his other companions turned back at 22,500 feet. We all know what happened next.
Now this from Captain James F. Duesler:
"The wings and tail section had broken off on impact with the ground and were a short distance from the plane," he recalled. "There was no damage to the surrounding trees and it was obvious that there had been no forward or sideways motion when the plane had come down. It just appeared to have "belly flopped" into the clearing. There was very little damaged to the fuselage, which was in one piece, and no signs of blood whatsoever in the cockpit. There was no scratching on the body of the fuselage to indicate any forward movement and the propeller blade bore no telltale scratch marks to show it had been rotating at the time of impact, and one blade had been embedded into the ground. The damage pattern was not consistent with an aircraft of this type crashing at high speed into the ground.
3. The Ensuing Investigation
Okay, here is where we are at so far, I know this is a lot of information to digest in the first read.
The Initial Investigation
45 minutes after engaging in the pursuit Captain Mantell was dead, still strapped in his aircraft but dead from the extreme forces involved from crashing 30,000 feet back down to Earth near a farm south of Franklin, Kentucky just near the Tennessee-Kentucky border . His watch stopped at 3:18 PM so we can assume that was his time of death as well. The plane was heavily damaged as one would expect. Here are some pictures of the crash….
Now let us look at the final USAF conclusion and some of the witness testimony of the UFO and the crash of Mantells’ plane.
Official Air Force Conclusion: Captain Thomas Mantell lost consciousness and therefore lost control of his aircraft while pursuing an unknown flying object at high altitude.
Some witness statements surrounding the event:
Glen Mays, who lived near Franklin, KY stated categorically that Mantell's plane exploded in mid-air." The plane circled three times, like the pilot didn’t know where he was going," reported Mays, "and then started down into a dive from about 20,000 feet. About halfway down there was a terrific explosion." Then again, there is the testimony of Godman Base Commander Guy F. Hix, who stated to reporters that he observed the craft for almost an hour through binoculars. He would not have confused what he saw with the planet Venus.
4. Alternate Explanations
Inexperience with P-51?
This explanation could be used as a secondary explanation to the crash but not as the primary. This does not account for the visual confirmation of the actual object.
This is more possible but still not likely as the astronomical
reports state that Venus would not have been observable at this time. Not
to mention the fact that it is highly unlikely that multiple trained military
personal would confuse the planet Venus with a UFO.
Again possible, but not likely. It is note worthy to say that this was a top secret Navy project and no one at the airbase would have known of it. It also can somewhat fit the description of the craft. The Skyhook balloon was about 100 feet in diameter and metallic in color. This however does not account for the remaining size discrepancy nor the color changing of the craft. Also it does not account for the people observed in the craft or the large umbrella shape of the craft. Although it is true that Skyhook balloons were launched on January 7th in Clinton County, Ohio the fact is they were 150 miles northeast of the base. This has been disputed as other investigations show that no balloon was launched on that day. Also I highly doubt that even without knowledge of the balloons experienced military officers and pilots would have mistaken any form of balloon for a unknown craft. As you saw in the picture above it obviously looks like a balloon. This is however the most likely alternate explanation. Even though the USAF could not (lol) locate any records of any balloons being launched on that day they still maintain this as true.
New Information comes to light…
Updated: 24 August 2007:
Link to Skyhook launch charts
5. USAF Conclusions and My Research
To re-hash what I stated earlier the first official explanation from the USAF by Captain Edward J. Ruppelt was that Mantell lost consciousness while pursuing an unknown object, and thus crashed. This was later changed to a more conventional “balloon theory” (sound familiar?)Here are some interesting contradictions.
But yet he reverses his statement later and becomes one of the prime proponents of the balloon theory? Again doesn't this sound familiar(Roswell in case you haven’t figured out already)?
Air Force Captain Edward J. Ruppelt (the first head of Project Blue Book) notes that there was some disagreement amongst the air traffic controllers as to Mantell's words as he communicated with the tower: some sources reported that Mantell had described an object "which looks metallic and of tremendous size," but others disputed whether or not Mantell actually said this.
1:20PM CST: Godman tower informed, other sightings continue west of Fort Knox near Irvington and Owensboro.
1:45PM CST: Multiple ground witnesses at Godman base report object, visuals range from a “ice cream cone shaped object topped with red” to “like an umbrella with red changing from top to bottom.”
2:45PM CST: Mantell told to intercept, makes visual with object. Godman says the object “dwarfs the size of the planes”. Mantell continues persuit while other planes abandon. States object matches or exceeds his speed.
3:18PM CST: Mantell crashes and dies.
3:20PM CST: Third shift takes over at base and is told they are pursuing a “disc, balloon, or strange object”.
4:05PM CST: Mantells comrades re take flight after refueling not knowing he had crashed.
4:30PM CST: Vanderbilt University astronomer sees an object near Nashville, Tennessee, south-southeast of city.
After this the sightings stopped in the regions. It is interesting to note once again however, that the Skyhook was spotted in Columbia ,Tennessee(at 4:05PM) BEFORE it was spotted in Nashville(at 4:30PM). I live in Columbia, we are about 50 miles south of Nashville. How is this possible? Is it indeed that there was a Skyhook in the area BUT there was also something else? Although other reports from Ohio came later that night they are thought to be unrelated and likely from the planet Venus. Rather or not this is true remains to be proven, although it is likely the explanation for the later Ohio sightings. The problem I have with the Skyhook(one of many problems actually) is that if the UFO was indeed the Skyhook than why was this story allowed to spread and be investigated by Bluebook? One explanation is that the Navy (who owned the project) did not want to be held accountable for Mantells death and thus stayed out of it. But then why do we have some officials saying the balloon was launched from Ohio and others saying Minnesota? The theory, regardless if true or not, is as always with the military a complete mess and puzzle.
6. Final Conclusions
That map was a detailed overlay of the flight path of the P-51s with respect to sightings from first observation in Kentucky to last sighting in Nashville(?).
We have here one of the most researched, debated, and publicized UFO-aircraft encounter cases there is. There is a plethora of information but still no final absolute. In fact this is in general terms one of the best UFO cases. But as usual there is serious conflicting reports from both sides (debunkers and believers), with that said there is still enough evidence to make a good judgement on what happened. It all comes down to your core beliefs for most; d you believe or not? It shouldn’t, it should come down to the facts but it is what it is. There are equally good and bad arguments from both sides of this; one side has much documentation,professional opinions, and the status quo. But it has conflicting stories and things that just don’t add up with logic. Like do you really think all these military officials would act like this over a balloon? Why are there so many conflictions of “facts” and change of testimony? Why did this craft seemingly cause a “time warp”(just a metaphor!) by being seen 50 miles south of Nashville BEFORE it was seen I Nashville? Talk about a paradox!
On the other side of the argument you have the expertise of war hardened military officials who were convinced this was something “unknown”, and remember the Skyhook projects weren’t classified, only their launch dates. Why did a two time World War Two medal winner and commander risk his life knowingly for just a balloon or Venus? Logic says he would know the difference. A lot of unusual weather conditions would have had to occur to cause this “balloon” to make some of the flight paths and speed changes it made as well. Why did the head of Bluebook state this was one of the “classic” cases that changed UFOs perception by the military and then recant that later?
What about the “missing” transcripts? On the flip side of this however, you have the documentation and later statements from official and trusted sources offering compelling evidence in favor of a balloon. You have observations from astronomers on the ground in Tennessee describing a Skyhook almost to detail. Then you have the “War Nerves” that are expected immediately after a world war. The biggest thing like always is of course the total lack of a “smoking gun”, the only thing is the transmissions (which are debated) of a dead pilot, witness reports, and circumstantial evidence. All in all this one is pretty even in my opinion, one must look heavily at the facts and decide based not on bias, but logic as to what really happened.
We also must not forget while getting caught up in this research that what ever the cause, rather it be the first UFO caused death or a tragic misunderstanding; that a young human life was lost on that January 7th day in 1948. A family lost their son and brother,friends lost their friends, and the United States lost a soldier. I do pray for him or anyone that I found has died as it is only respectful. Well that’s all I have right now so I hope someone finds this interesting and everybody have a great weekend!
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