7, 1948, would be a day of tragedy for Captain Thomas F.
Mantell of the Kentucky Air National Guard, and his family,
friends, and fellow Guardsmen. The Mantell case will forever
be an important part of the hotbed of UFO reports of the
late 1940's and early 1950's.
would have the unfortunate distinction of being the first
human being to give his life in the ongoing chase for
the elusive truth behind bizarre reports of flying craft
from other worlds.
his sighting a carry-over from the foo-fighters of World
War II? or were they altogether another phenomena?...
a phenomena that was just out of his reach. He gave all
he had to reach this mysterious, intelligently controlled
metallic craft, but whatever it was, and whoever controlled
it, escaped that day... the day that Thomas Mantell lost
was piloting an F-51 that fateful day, soaring to Standiford
Air Force Base, Kentucky. He was accompanied by three
other Guard planes.
approximately 1:30 PM, the Kentucky State Police began
receiving reports from worried citizens of spotting a
large circular object flying over the city of Mansville.
In a matter of minutes the area of the sightings expanded
to cover Irvington and Owensboro.
large, metallic flying craft was then clearly seen from
the tower of Godman Air Force Base. The object was described
as being an extremely large, round, whitish in color,
with a red light toward its bottom side, and seemed to
be moving slowly toward the South.
little over an hour after the first reports, Mantell's
group was asked to investigate the anomalous object.
actual transcripts read;
Tower Calling the flight of 4 ships northbound over Godman
Field. Do you read? Over.
Godman Tower Calling the flight of 4 ships northbound
over Godman Field. Do you read? Over."
Godman Tower. This is National Guard 869, Flight Leader
of the formation. Over."
Guard 869 from Godman Tower. We have an object out south
of Godman here that we are unable to identify, and we
would like to know if you have gas enough; and if so could
you take a look for us if you will."
I have the gas and I will take a look for you if you give
me the correct heading.
of his three companions in flight received permission
to continue his pre-assigned flight plan, while Mantell
and the remaining two planes headed to the coordinates
of the visual sightings.
led the way in the climb to 15,000 feet, and upon reaching
the position, he radioed the following statement back
to the control tower.
object is directly ahead of and above me now, moving at
about half my speed... It appears to be a metallic object
or possibly reflection of Sun from a metallic object,
and it is of tremendous size... I'm still climbing...
I'm trying to close in for a better look."
20,000, 22,000 feet! too high for the WWII fighters without
oxygen! The other two planes turned back, leaving Mantell
alone to pursue the giant object. By all accounts, Mantell
must have passed out from lack of oxygen at about 30,000
feet, at least his plane leveled off at that height.
plane now began to plunge back toward earth. He crashed
a few harrowing moments later on the farm of William J.
Phillips near Franklin, Kentucky. Mantell's watch stopped
at 3:16 PM, and his body was still strapped in his plane,
which become his coffin.
had spent 45 minutes in a frantic flight into the realm
of the unknown. By 3:50 PM, the giant craft was not visible
from Godman, but reports continued as the UFO continued
southward into Tennessee.
reports of the incident spread like wildfire. Theory and
speculation reached radio shows, television, and newspapers.
The New York Times' story began with this headline, "Flier
Dies Chasing A Flying Saucer," and another story
was headlined with, "Plane Exploded Over Kentucky
as That and Near States Report Strange Object."
speculation that Mantell was chasing a UFO was countered
by the Air Force, which initially concluded that Mantell
and his cohorts were chasing the planet Venus. They also
announced that his death was directly related to oxygen
almost comical conclusion was hastily put to rest by an
eyewitness, Glen Mays, who lived near Franklin. Mays stated
categorically that Mantell's plane exploded in midair."
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."
halfway down, there was a terrific explosion."
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.
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.
God, I see people in this thing!"
added that on the morning after the crash, at a briefing,
investigators had stated that Mantell died "pursuing
an intelligently controlled unidentified flying object."
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
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
more recent years, additional information has come forward.
Captain James F. Duesler, who was one of several military
officers at Godman, was retired and living in England.
In 1997, he stated that he and several other officers
actually saw the gigantic UFO hovering over Godman field
who was a pilot and crash investigator, stated, "The
UFO was a strange, gray-looking object, which looked like
a rotating inverted ice cream cone."
after the crash, Duesler visited the site, and made these
observations, "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.
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.
damage pattern was not consistent with an aircraft of
this type crashing at high speed into the ground. Because
of the large engine in the nose of the plane, it would
come down nose first and hit the ground at an angle. Even
if it had managed to glide in, it would have cut a swath
through the trees and a channel into the ground. None
of these signs were present.
indications were that it had just belly-flopped into the
clearing. I must admit, I found this very strange."
further debunk the "Venus" theory, astronomical
records indicated that the planet was only 33 degrees
above the horizon at the time of the incident, thus totally
eliminating it from the case.
Air Force, embarrassed by the "Venus" theory
falling through, now searched for another "worldly"
explanation for the object observed that day. After discovering
that Naval research was sending up the enormous "Skyhook"
balloons, the Air Force had their alternate solution.
theory was also soon aborted after discovering that no
balloon was launched, or could have been in the skies
UFO theory received even more credence after Mantell's
death. On January 8, residents of Clinton, North Carolina,
reported a cone-shaped object moving through the skies
at incredible speeds, and on February 1, a large metallic
UFO was seen emitting an orange light near the ground
at Circleville, Ohio.
happened on the day that Thomas Mantell crashed his plane,
it is certain that it was not a weather balloon, and it
was not Venus, or any other planet. Could it have been
a visitor from another planet, or another dimension?