The Mantell Incident
Anatomy of a Re-Investigation
By Francis Ridge
Jean Waskiewicz and Dan Wilson
In the 1960's, all I had with my NICAP rapid deployment investigation team was a crude home office with an old Underwood typewriter, a file cabinet (mostly empty), a small collection of UFO books, and access to the local library. I had three other field investigators and three technical advisers in my 7-man NICAP Subcommittee. My contact with a few outside researchers and NICAP headquarters in Washington, DC, was by the relatively slow U.S. mail and expensive long distance telephone.
Twenty-five to thirty years later, the scene changed drastically. Field investigators and researchers all over the globe had a computer that was online. The internet, with instantaneous email messaging, along with the ability to scan and attach important documents, and text from books and UFO reports from all over the world, created a system that rivaled the FBI. In December of 1997, I set up the NICAP web site to house archived data and later set up the NICAP A-Team to peer review that data. While my team compiled UFO data for over ten years from the earliest days to, by now, the 1990's, a tremendous amount of information and expertise was in place. But without Rebecca Wise and the Project Blue Book Archive, most of this would have been only historically important. The real breakthroughs came about when we brought the BB files into the picture. If we wanted to provide information to a media source, or another researcher, we either already had it or knew where to get it and had the people who knew the most about it.
None of this would have been possible without the help from the NICAP A-Team and others. Those who assisted in this re-investigation were: Jean Waskiewicz - researcher and NICAP site materials archivist; Dan Wilson, Project Blue Book researcher, member Nuclear Connection Project; Brad Sparks, independent researcher & analyst; Richard Hall - Primary NICAP Consultant & Former Acting Director of NICAP, former Chairman of the Fund for UFO Research; Mark Rodeghier - Scientific Director and President of the J. Allen Hynek Center for UFO Studies; John Schuessler - Associate for the Center for UFO Study, Director, Mutual UFO Network (2000-2006); Don Berliner - Chairman of the Fund for UFO Research; Tom Deuley - Co-Founder, Fund for UFO Research & Corporate Secretary, Mutual UFO Network; Steven Kaeser - Executive Board Member, Fund for UFO Research; Rob Swiatek, Secretary & Treasurer, Fund for UFO Research; Bruce Maccabee, former Chairman of the Fund for UFO Research, US Navy optical physicist and expert in analysis of UFO photographs; Rebecca Wise, Project Blue Book Archives; Jan Aldrich, Project-1947 consultant; Joel Carpenter, pilot, Consultant of early UFOs and "foo-fighters"; Don Ledger, pilot & television producer; Peter Davenport - Director, National UFO Reporting Center, Seattle, WA.; also Kevin Randle, Wendy Connors, Terry Mantell, Drew Speier (Channel 14, Evansville), Jerry Clark, Tom DeMary, Michael Swords, Mary Castner, Barry Greenwood, Rod Dyke, Loren Gross, and William Jones.
One of it's members is a workhorse, a magnificently skilled person by the name of Jean Waskiewicz. Jean is a retired Computer Systems Analyst and retired Michigan Mufon Webmaster. She is a member of Mufon International and served with Michigan MUFON for many years. UFO history is her passion and she loves the search for new data. She has been working feverishly on the NICAP effort since 2004. In 2006 her work on the Mantell case re-investigation for the NICAP team was absolutely essential. Her work in that regard illustrates that she will do whatever it takes to help decipher old documents and make them readable again. She is also a member of the Nuclear Connection Project Team.
Another extremely gifted and determined member of our A-Team is Dan Wilson. Dan lives in Painesville, Ohio. He began studying nuclear weapons, the entire nuclear weapons complex, nuclear weapons testing, and nuclear power production in 1988. He has read extensively on the UFO phenomena and has interviewed various witnesses from the Air Force, Navy, and the Atomic Energy Commission. He contributed very interesting information to the newly released book, UFOs and Nukes, by Robert Hastings. Since 1998 he has extracted vital documents from the Project Blue Book Archives for the NICAP site, and in 2006 he discovered documents proving a cover-up in the Mantell case. Since 2003 he has provided valuable researched information regarding UFOs and the nuclear connection and is now an official member of the Nuclear Connection Project.
Armed with these great colleagues, and some years preparation with document and database work, we couldn't have been more prepared. But what we found was a lot more than we had imagined. This time it involved a case almost everyone had written off.
The first part of this report is a blow-by-blow, day-by-day, chronicle of the investigation. It describes who found what, and when, and what others had to say about it. The Mantell Incident: An Anatomy of an Investigation, is more than a diary of what happened each day. It includes transcripts of discovered documents and "lost" press releases, as well as actual copies of important documents. The report includes analyses by numerous researchers of specific issues. The Report would not be complete without the analytical expertise of independent researcher, Brad Sparks, who wrote the very detailed analysis based on all the evidence collected. We welcome others to conduct their own analyses and/or rebuttals to this report.
There are at least 1500 good reports in the Blue Book files where the witnesses actually lived to tell about their encounters with UFOs, many of which would make any sensible person sit up and take notice. And those reports come directly from the Air Force files. In April of 2006, at WFIE reporter Drew Speier's request, I reluctantly agreed to do an interview on the Mantell case, one that even many pro-UFO researchers had thrown out. WFIE wanted to do it because it was somewhat a "local" incident, and it was both sensational and controversial. I finally agreed to do it in the hope that WFIE would do something better in the near future with any of our many better UFO reports or something new that might develop. Since I wanted to do this interview right, for the record, I set out to show the media and the public the importance of what we DID have on the case.
First of all, there were at least seven reasons why I have always felt that the Mantell incident was important and that a cover-up was probably involved:
1) In I960, I was a NICAP Subcommittee Chairman in SW Indiana. A scientific consultant to our team at Vincennes, Indiana, who had worked for Project SIGN, told me that the Mantell case was NOT explained and that the incident had shaken a lot of people up. I was "small potatoes" back then, a field investigator and head of a rapid response team for local and regional reports, with other things in my area of responsibility besides events 12-years in the past and in another state..
2) The Air Force-inspired, 1952 LIFE Magazine article by Robert Ginna, five years after the incident took place, stated that the case was unsolved.
3) In 1956 a former head of Project Blue Book (Capt. Ed Ruppelt) stated in his book, "The Report on Unidentified Flying Objects" (page 41): "According to the old timers at ATIC, this report (Chiles-Whitted case) shook them worse than the Mantell Incident. This (C-W) was the first time two reliable sources had been really close enough to anything resembling a UFO to get a good look and live to tell about it."
4) I had known about this but Dan Wilson, our NICAP team's archive researcher found documents confirming that in the 1948 Mantell case the State Police had gotten reports of an object described as "circular, about 250' to 300' in diameter," and moving westward at a "pretty good clip." In my opinion no one would describe a balloon of any kind in this way. In another document we found the object was described as "1/10th the size of the full moon". Yet another, "Tremendous" size was used to describe the object at Godman Field at 1:45 PM.
5) Besides the State Police reports there had been evidence of at least two other UFO sightings, one at Lockbourne AFB, another at Clinton County AFB, both in Ohio. UFO sightings in the region! We found those documents, too.
6) Maj. Donald E. Keyhoe: "Many ranking officers who had laughed at the saucer scare stopped scoffing. One of these was General Sory Smith, now Deputy Director of Air Force Public Relations. Later in my investigation, General Smith told me: 'It was the Mantell case that got me. I knew Tommy Mantell very well - also Colonel Hix, the C.O. at Godman. I knew they were both intelligent men -not the kind to be imagining things."
7) The planes flown by Mantell and his wing men were F-51 Mustangs. In 1948, the designation P-51 (P for pursuit) was changed to F-51 (F for fighter) and the existing F designator for photographic reconnaissance aircraft was dropped because of a new designation scheme throughout the USAF. This 400-mph fighter could overtake a non-powered balloon...... in no time.
With that much already a given, I did the interview. The internet version of the show was viewed by many that weekend. That Monday morning , a well-meaning UFOlogist sent me and the Current Encounters email list a note, asking just what I had that made me think that Mantell was chasing anything other than a balloon. Before I could respond to that email, our team's number one analyst, Brad Sparks, responded. We really started digging that day and haven't stopped yet.
Getting ready for the "flak" and what looked like a second interview in July, for the best defense possible for the incident, my team did a complete case work-up. The report went from a 1/2" thick hard copy printout to a document compilation over 4" thick. I can't speak for everyone, but I don't know any person that wasn't surprised in some way by what we found.
The lighter-than-air balloon theory was blown away. Cover-ups and lies jumped right off the pages of the Air Forces' own documents. An accident report and newspaper clippings proved that even the wing men had lied. By July we were able to tell the public the truth about the balloon theory, and that Captain Thomas Mantell had not lost his life chasing a weather balloon. But the rest had to be held back, until now.
The end result is the report you are reading right now. For that, we have to thank the persistence of WFIE and reporter Drew Speier. And we couldn't have done it at all without the help of Brad Sparks (researcher, consultant, analyst), Rebecca Wise (Project Blue Book Archive), Dan Wilson (document archive researcher), and Jean Waskiewicz (NICAP Database, news clipping search, transcripts)..
NICAP Researcher & Archivist
To Part 1_1
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