Pilot Thomas Mantell UFO Encounter & Crash
January 7, 1948
Newsclip provided by Lee Trail & Lou Farish of UFO Newsclipping Service
A P-51 Army fighter plane exploded in mid-air and crashed on the farm of Joe Phillips about 5 miles south of Franklin yesterday (i.e. January 7, 1948--J.T.) afternoon about 3:30 p.m., killing the pilot wearing identification tag of Thomas F. Mantell (Jr.), 3533 River Park Drive, Louisville. The wrecked plane bore the (tail) No. Ky. NG 869.
Mrs. Joe Phillips said she was sitting by her fire when she heard the plane, with the engine apparently in trouble, flying near her house. Almost immediately there was a large explosion. Startled, she glanced out the window and saw the disintegrating plane hit the ground in a woodslot about 200 yards away from the house. Pieces of wreckage were seen a quarter of a mile from the point of the crash.
Several people in Franklin reported they heard the explosion. A vapor trail still floated in the sky an hour after the crash.
Another eyewitness, Barbara Mayes, a student in the Franklin Grade School said she saw the plane explode while high in mid-air. She was waiting at the Lake Springs School for her bus to take her home when she witnessed the explosion.
The plane crash marked the second in the past few months. The point of the explosion was perhaps three miles as the crow flies from the spot of the crash which took the lives of Ed Snow and Richard M. Thomason on April 29, 1947.
Mrs. Joe Phillips said she called the telephone operator and asked that an ambulance and aid be called to the scene. The remains of the dead flyer were removed from the scene by ambulance and carried to the Booker Funeral Home to await instructions from the next of kin, who were to be notified of the tragedy by Fort Knox officials.
A veteran of World War II, Captain Mantell participated in the (June 6, 1944) Normandy invasion, winning the Distinguished Flying Cross among other decorations. He was discharged from the Army a year ago (1946). His wife and two children survive. He left Louisville yesterday morning for Atlanta and was enroute to Louisville on the return portion of the training flight when the accident occurred. Authorities at Fort Knox reported he left Atlanta at 2 p.m. yesterday.
Reed Shoulders, assistant chief of police, said Bill Horn, local constable, was standing guard last night over the wreckage, pending arrival of proper authorities to assume custody of the wrecked plane. The plane was operated by the Kentucky National Guards.