January 7, 1948: Pilot Crashes in UFO Chase Jan 7, 2019 14:36:55 GMT -5
Post by Joanna on Jan 7, 2019 14:36:55 GMT -5
January 7, 1948: Pilot Crashes in UFO Chase
On a cold afternoon in early January 1948, control tower operators at Godman Army Airfield in Fort Knox, Kentucky, became aware of the presence of a mysterious object floating in the skies above the base. Reports from nearby highway patrol officers, who also saw the unidentified flying object, were enough to convince the controllers they weren’t seeing things that weren’t there.
A number of senior officers, including the commanding officer, were called to the tower in an attempt to make sense of what was out there, but no one was able to actually clarify what they were seeing through their binoculars. Military personnel at bases in southern Ohio also reported the UFO, which hovered in a spot before descending to Earth and then rapidly rising out of sight.
Around the time of the UFO sighting, four F-51 Mustangs led by Capt. Thomas Mantell (above) of the Kentucky Air National Guard were on their way to Godman. Mantell, a decorated former Army Air Corps transport pilot with combat time logged on D-Day in 1944, was informed there was a UFO in the area and instructed to fly over and identify the peculiar floating object. Three of the four Mustangs banked toward the UFO, while one returned to base because of low fuel. Pushing their throttles forward, the three pilots, with Mantell in the lead, raced toward the object. Within a matter of minutes, the situation worsened. One pilot had to break off the pursuit because of low oxygen levels and a second was unable to continue the chase, ending his run at 22,500 feet before returning to base. Mantell doggedly carried on alone. Controllers attempted to communicate with the 25-year-old fighter pilot, but there was no response. Mantell’s Mustang was last seen in a death spiral, dropping like a rock from the clouds and shattering into pieces when it impacted Earth. The young captain was killed instantly, his wristwatch stopped at the time of his demise.
The Air Force commenced an immediate investigation. The UFO had disappeared, a fighter pilot had been killed and the public was already concerned about the possibility of an attack by malicious extraterrestrials. Initially, investigators theorized Mantell was killed “trying to reach the planet Venus.” As crazy as this sounds, a few weeks earlier, F-51 pilots had been fooled into thinking Venus – unusually bright in the night sky at that time of year – was a UFO and given chase. Though this was the official explanation for Mantell’s crash, years later, astronomers at Ohio State University disproved the hypothesis, finding the sky was still too bright and hazy for the clear observation of Venus.
There was a second, more plausible theory: Mantell was pursuing a Navy Skyhook weather balloon. At the time, the Skyhook was part of a highly-classified observation program about which neither Mantell nor the Godman airfield controllers was aware. The shape, size and general appearance of a Skyhook with sunlight glinting off its surfaces would have been similar to what the controllers and pilots reported that fateful day in 1948. Though Mantell’s inexperience with the Mustang was partially blamed for the accident, he had accumulated more than 2,000 flight hours during his service as a military pilot. His unwillingness to abort his pursuit of the UFO, even when faced with the potential for oxygen deprivation and starvation in the unpressurized cockpit could have caused him to black out after experiencing hypoxia. Only one F-51 in his flight was equipped with an oxygen system and Mantell’s lacked such gear.
Though the official explanation of Mantell’s demise was plausible, members of the general public weren’t convinced. Details of the F-51’s crash didn’t add up and the fact the UFO was visible from other military bases and surrounding locales led many to suspect a government cover-up. The official explanation for the Mantell incident has remained unchanged through the years, however, there are those who still question it today and consider the military’s mad dash to come up with answers a sign of the government is suppressing the existence of alien life forms.
Source: Ian D'Costa, We are The Mighty, September 7, 2017.