Jan. 7, 1948.
Central and south-central Kentucky, near Ft. Knox and other sites.
About 1-3:50 and 4:45-7:06 p.m. (CST).
At about 1:00 p.m., Kentucky State Police phoned USAF Godman Field Commanding Officer Col. Guy F. Hix’s office reporting an unidentified object near Elizabethtown, Ky., (15 mi S of Godman).
Another call to Godman’s CO came from State Police at about 1:10 p.m. of observation by civilian in Madisonville (90 mi WSW of Godman) through Finch telescope of cone-shaped object, estimated 100 ft high by 43 ft wide, height 4 miles, speed 10 mph. This was apparently the Skyhook balloon Flight B, 70 x 30 ft, height 15 miles, speed 27 mph, heading 150° about SE, which passed about 40 miles to SW-SSW of Madisonville at 12-1 p.m. thus was within visibility range.
Then still another call came from Lexington (80 mi E of Godman and far beyond visibility of the Skyhook balloon), the first of about 35 calls received by Hix’s office.
At 1:20 p.m. another report of [another UFO] a 250-300 ft unidentified “circular” object over Mansville [Maysville? 120 mi ENE of Godman?], Ky., moving W at “a pretty good clip” [300 mph??], sighted by State Police first radioed then phoned (at 1:30?) to Ft Knox Military Police and Godman Field CO Col. Hix.
Between 1:20 and 2 p.m., Army Flight Service reported to Godman Army Air Field Control Tower, Ft. Knox, Ky., (37°54’23” N, 85°58’00” W, about 725 ft elevation) that the object was over Irvington (15 mi W of Godman) then Owensboro (60 mi W of Godman), Ky. [possibly 130 mi from Maysville to Irvington in 20-30 mins = 260-390 mph or roughly 300 mph].
Godman Tower operator Tech/Sgt Quentin A. Blackwell, Capt James F. Duesler, Jr., base air inspector Lt Col. E. Garrison Wood, and other USAF personnel sighted round white or silver or ice-cream cone-shaped UFO with revolving red streamer, to the S from base [apparently the same object hovering near Elizabethtown 15 mi S of Godman] beginning at 1:50 p.m., including many others such as Ops Ofcr Capt Cary W. Carter at 2:07 p.m.. onward and Col. Hix beginning about 2:10 p.m.
Approaching flight of 4 F-51D fighters came from the SSE, led by Kentucky ANG pilot Capt Thomas F. Mantell, Jr., who was overheard by Godman Tower giving radio position report to their home base Standiford Field, Louisville, Ky., at 2:50 p.m. Godman broke in over the radio to request Mantell intercept and identify UFO at about 210° azimuth from Godman Tower (soon corrected to 205°), “slightly lower” than the sun [at about 14°] as reported by Mantell’s wingman [thus about 10-12° elevation, altitude about 15,000 ft].
UFO maintained constant angular position including elevation angle as seen from Godman Tower as it apparently receded on azimuth heading 205°, during most of Mantell’s pursuit, which required altitude of 50,000 to 60,000 ft to be reached at 60-70 miles distance at a recession velocity of about 240 mph, increasing to 300 mph when Mantell approached, but otherwise still maintaining constant position in the sky to Godman observers.
Flying at 300 mph and gradually climbing to about 22,000 to 23,000 ft, Mantell overtook the UFO from below, past Bowling Green about 70-75 miles from Godman, at about 3:10 p.m. when in one of Mantell’s last radio reports to Godman Tower he described UFO as “metallic and tremendous in size.”
Mantell went into war emergency (combat) maximum climb rate [2,000 ft/min at altitude] to reach UFO nearly overhead, but lost control at about 25,000 ft from hypoxia [?] and began fatal spiral descent at about 3:11 p.m. Mantell was killed in his F-51D fighter, which crashed at about 3:18 p.m. about 4 miles SSW of Franklin, Ky., (at about 36°40.4’ N, 86°35’ N) about 92 miles S (more exactly 202° azimuth) from Godman Tower.
UFO disappeared from view of Godman Tower behind a cloud in the distance [at about azimuth 205°] at 3:50 p.m. (CST).
From about 4:45 to 7:06 p.m., USAF 1st Lt. Paul I. Orner, Commander, 733-5 Detachment, AACS 103rd Sq, tracked unidentified white light with red coloration (or red cone with green tail) by weather theodolite from Godman Field hangar at 234° azimuth 6° elevation just after sunset [sunset at 4:40 p.m. CST thus roughly at 4:45 p.m.]. Object then at 240° azimuth 8° elevation at 5:35 p.m., (numerous measurements omitted here), 253.0° azimuth 1.2° elevation at 7:02 p.m., and disappeared over the horizon at 250° azimuth 0° elevation at 7:06 p.m. (CST). Illuminated inverted cone-shaped object looked like a sunlight Skyhook balloon except it was nighttime and 2 hours after sunset even for balloons at 80,000 ft. See later sightings at Lockbourne AFB and Clinton County AFB, Ohio (below). (Sparks; NICAP; BB files).
2 hrs 50 mins + 2 hrs 21 mins
½ to ¼ to 1/10 Full Moon
Jan. 7, 1948.
Lockbourne AFB, Columbus, Ohio, and Clinton County Air Base, Wilmington, Ohio. 7:15 p.m. (EST).
Lockbourne Tower operators, Air Traffic Controller and pilot Alex A. Boudreaux and VHF DF Operator and amateur astronomer Frank M. Eisele, 103rd AACS Sq, sighted an bright object to the SW of the airfield which appeared and disappeared intermittently. Fighter pilot USAF Capt. Charles E. McGee, Asst. Operations Ofcr., Lockbourne AFB, sighted the object on runway 23 landing approach when he was at about 1800 ft and the light seemed to be at about 3,000 ft to the SW about 4-5 miles away, later on the ground sighted it to the W about 6-7 miles away. USAF VHF Direction-Finding (DF) Operator and pilot Albert R. Pickering, Detachment 733, 103rd AACS Sq, Lockbourne AFB, was awakened by the sudden emergence of a lighted amber-color round or oval object about the size of a C-47 or larger [60+ ft] dropping out of the overcast bank 10,000 ft overhead. Lockbourne Control Tower at the same time radioed report of the object, which then maneuvered over to Commercial Point about 3-5 miles away to the WSW, then made 3 full 360° circles over one spot in 30-40 secs per turn diameter about 2 miles [about 600-700 mph at 7 g’s centripetal acceleration] over the runway, at a speed of 500+ mph, leaving a luminous amber-colored tail or exhaust about 5x its length. Then the UFO went to another location [?] and did more 360° turns estimated 2 mi turn diameter at 3-5 mi distance [roughly 30° diameter]. Disappeared into the overcast at one point for 1 min then reappeared. Just before departing UFO hovered or “appeared to touch down” on the grass extension past the end of the Lockbourne AFB runway for 10 secs then left at 120° (ESE) heading into the overcast. Also sighted by pilot of USAF 9944 a C-45 at 5,000 ft off right wing at 7:53 p.m. Some observations in the SW possibly planet Venus setting. (Sparks; APRO 1977; BB Sign Microfilm Roll 1, pp. 245-265; NICAP)
1/3 to 5? Full Moons