Francis Ridge wrote:
At 01:01 PM 5/31/2006 -0300, Don wrote:
That's one I'd never heard before. As you say, hearsay, however.
That portion of dialogue between the controllers and Mantell has never
been mentioned, either to support that Mantell had the oxygen or that
he did not. Frankly it has always bothered me that an experienced
fighter pilot would ever climb past 12,000 feet [daytime flight]
without oxygen. Excited he may have been about chasing the "object" but
it would not compare with the various and heightened emotions that
fighter pilots would experience when engaging an enemy.
That part has always bothered me, and you expressed it very
well. I had said that Mantell had been in stressful situations in
aerial combat, yet going after an unidentified object in broad daylight
shouldn't have affected his mind enough to do something life
And while it was true that Mantell would have trouble reaching
the balloon height (his 30,000 verses 50-100,000 ' for the balloon),
the speed of the then one of the fastest airplanes we had of almost 450
mph would have overshot the higher object very quickly, not traveling
faster or even "at half my speed".
Though the F-51 was capable of speeds in excess of 425 mph in
straight and level flight under optimal conditions, it would have been
a very rare day for it to reach 450 mph. Easy downhill mind you. In a
climb it would have been struggling at its maximum climb angle of 17
degrees [the wing would stall over that angle even with engine laboring
and blower at high readings in inches of manifold pressure] to get up
to or over 200 mph. Even then it would have been probably mushing. The
greater the altitude the less the rate-of-climb [ROC] versus forward
This being January and the air cold, thick and stable he would
have had some small advantage over Summer climb rates. If the "object"
was above 31,0000 feet or below 28,500 [stretching the parameters of
the JS] then it would have been out of any Jet Stream influence but
"it" would have needed only a couple of dozen mph to outdistance him if
it was already at altitude and traversing across the sky.
During the days of 1947 and 1948 the Air Forces were only just
beginning to understand that there really was a jetstream up there.
Bombers [B-29s and Lancasters] complained about it during the war and
the Japanese suspected it [Fogo ballons] at least from their position
to the west coast of North America.
But yes, the real puzzler was Mantell's disregard for anoxia. He
knew better. I can't understand why he would have gotten so excited
about this object, more excited than if he had been in combat, to
ignore this obvious danger.