Reference 1

Form: Media Transcript
Date: Thu, 01 Jun 2006 19:51:24 -0500
From: Francis Ridge <>
Subject: Mystery: Pilot Crashes While Pursuing UFO
Part 1, May 23, 2006, WFIE Interview

May 23, 2006 04:15 PM
Reporter: Drew Speier
New Media Producer: Rachel Chambliss

It's a mystery dating back to 1947. A UFO allegedly crashed in Roswell, New Mexico. That story is well documented, but equally puzzling was this mystery regarding a UFO in the skies above Kentucky just a few months after the Roswell incident.

In 1956, a government film addressed this case, a case that'll never be solved because Captain Thomas Mantell from Simpson County, Kentucky, an experienced pilot and World WarII Ace, took the answer to his grave.

It made headlines across the country.  January 7th, 1948, 1:30 pm, Kentucky State Police receive reports of a UFO near Godman Air Force Base. The unidentified object is described as a big, bright, shiny star. (Ridge: The second line is a soundbyte WFIE used that came from the Edwards Encounter tape, and does not describe the Godman sighting).

Four F-51 Mustangs, on their way to Standiford Air Force Base in Kentucky, are contacted by the tower. They're ordered to investigate a white object, some 300 feet in diameter. One plane returns for fuel and oxygen, the other three approached the object.

Pilot Thomas Mantell says he sees it ahead of him. The planes climbed to 22,000 feet, too high for WWII fighters without oxygen. Two returned to the base, leaving Captain Mantell in sole pursuit of the unknown.

Minutes later, Mantell with another transmission states, "Mantell to tower: it appears to be a metallic object, and it's of tremendous size."

Captain Mantell kept climbing, most likely past 30,000 feet. Radio contact was lost.

Minutes later, less than two hours from the initial sightings, Mantell's F-51 crashed on a farm in Franklin, Kentucky. His watch stopped at 3:16 p.m. His body, still strapped in his plane. By all accounts, he passed out from a lack of oxygen, forcing his plane to plunge to the ground.

Today, a historical marker sits near the site where Mantell's plane went down in Franklin, Kentucky. In fact, it went down on a farm nearby Joe Phillips farm. His son, a school child then, was one of the first on the scene.

William Phillips Jr. recalls, "We heard this real loud boom, you know. It actually shook the house. In fact, the best I remember it was two of them, like an explosion."

Phillips Jr. was six years old and home sick with his younger sister when the crash occurred.

He says, "We ran to the window, and just happened to pick the right window, and see it hit the ground, as it hit the ground."

The news of the incident immediately made headlines. Newspapers reported Mantell had been shot down by a magnetic ray from a flying saucer. The story took on a life of its own.

Mantell was the first person ever to die while pursuing an unidentified flying object.

The military's response - it was most likely a weather balloon.

Phillips Jr. argues, "I can't see that a balloon could move and out run a P-51. The P-51 was the fastest thing the military virtually had in '47."

It's a story that, almost 60 years later, is still talked about in Franklin, Kentucky where Mantell was born and, oddly enough, died, just a few miles from the Simpson County tourism building where he's honored.

Dan Ware, Simpson County Tourism, says, "There are many UFO buffs who stop by to ask and see what we've got, and want to know as much as they can about the story. It continues to fascinate people, even after 50 years."

To this day, people still wonder what Captain Mantell was chasing.

Second segment:

Just over 58 years ago, a Kentucky National Guard pilot crashed his plane and died while pursuing a UFO. It was a story that made headlines and one that's still talked about today. But the question remains, what was Captain Thomas Mantell chasing that day?

A 1956 documentary on UFO's detailed the Mantell case, which occurred in January of 1948. It happened just months after another celebrated incident in Roswell, New Mexico, where a UFO had reportedly crashed in the summer of 1947.

Newswatch spoke with the man who was the commander of the Kentucky Air National Guard when the Mantell case occurred and a former Chief of Staff with the Guard to get their takes on what happened. Newswatch also talked with a UFO researcher. And as you might guess, we got two different opinions.

Francis Ridge, UFO researcher, says, "It is a classic to this day."

Francis Ridge, who is with the National Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenomenon, is talking about the case of Kentucky Air National Guard pilot, Captain Thomas Mantell.

He explains, "He decided to go after this object which was, according to his description, large and metallic, tremendous in size."

Mantell, a World War II Ace, was chasing a UFO on the afternoon of January 7th, 1948, when he crashed his plane and died. The mystery died with him on a farm in Franklin, Kentucky.

Ridge and others remain convinced Mantell was chasing an object not of this world. (Ridge: Although a mystery in many ways, we do not consider the Mantell case an "unknown". There are over 1500 incidents we DO consider as "unknowns".)

Ridge says, "Several years later, when they restructured the project because Project Sign was the first one, and they were serious, and they came to the conclusion that they were dealing with something from somewhere else."

Project Sign later became Project Blue Book. Because Mantell was a well respected pilot, it gave the UFO story credibility. And the military was concerned.

Ridge defends, "If you look in the Blue Book records, which is the Air Force records, it shook a lot of military people up."

The man, who was the Commander of the Kentucky Air National Guard at the time of the incident, is retired Major General Phillip Ardery. He's now 93 and lives in Louisville. He remembers the Mantell case.

General Ardery recalls, "I'm fascinated with it, that's all I can say about it. I find it a very, very interesting part of my experience."

Ardery believes Mantell was confused and didn't realize he had reached an altitude with no oxygen. He also believes Mantell wasn't chasing a UFO at all.

General Ardery argues, "There are times, we can imagine things that really are not there."

Retired Brigadier General Edward Tonini, joined the Kentucky Air National Guard in 1969. He eventually became Chief of Staff and finished his career at the Pentagon.

General Tonini says, "It was universally accepted that this was not a UFO but a balloon."

He says officers, like Mantell, did not know of a highly classified secret program involving balloons, which is why Mantell thought he was chasing a UFO and why it was difficult for the military to explain the Skyhook Balloon Theory away. (Skyhook was not a highly classified project but a highly publicized one. What they were USED for might have been at times, but with over a hundred launches a year, they apparently didn't attract much attention.)

General Tonini says, "As a result, even it if were a balloon, that was part of a Navy secret project. Nobody was going to come out and say that's what it was because it was classified." (Ridge: Records show, actually FAIL to show, any launch responsible for this incident, which was preceded by and followed by UFO sightings.)

The military's position remains firm. So does the position of those who investigate UFO sightings, like Mantell's, for a living.

Ridge says, "It always impressed me that he was chasing something other than a balloon, even though to this day, it would be very difficult to prove it. One thing about it though, after searching all the records and after the Air Force claimed that it was a Skyhook Balloon, they have pretty good records on all the launches, but they never could establish a launch date for that day."

One footnote, there were several reported sightings of UFO's on the day of Mantell's death, including in Madisonville and Owensboro.

Newly found documents, left off of the official Blue Book records, show that some of these objects were maneuvering and could not be attributed to balloons of any kind.

For now, it all remains a mystery.

For the latest factual information on the Mantell Incident investigation, click on