Part 2-11:  "...Was Not The Planet Venus"


June 4, 2006

Tom DeMary:
Venus was not simply in the sky; it set at 19:58 EST in the WSW as seen from Wilmington on 7 Jan 1948, about as close in time and space to the disappearance of the UFO over the horizon as might ever be reported.

Loren Gross:
You may put my version of the Mantell case on the web site. It may help sort things out. Include all footnotes.

One of our most esteemed colleagues is one we mentioned earlier in this report, and he is Michael Swords. Mike is a very busy person who chooses not to get involved with, what we consider almost necessary, email. I communicate with him by phone or normal U. S. mail. Eight years ago (2000) Michael Swords put out his paper that was printed in the Journal of UFO Studies, entitled, Project SIGN & the Estimate in the Situation.  In this report he mentioned something that we were late in discovering:

After the crash and investigation, the USAF (not Project Sign) said that Mantell had been chasing the planet Venus. No one involved with the investigation at Sign believed that, and in November 1948 they were still puzzling over this. Deyarmond wrote that this clearly was not Venus, and the case was unexplained."

Our investigation and chronology continues.

Brad Sparks:
The more I look into the Mantell case and the allegations of a Skyhook balloon or Venus as causes, the more problematic it gets.  First though, I find it strange that the AF's official position for many years was that Mantell was killed chasing Venus, yet the AF (and Ruppelt) concealed the fact that its files contained analyses by top intelligence officers at AMC Project Sign flatly denying the Venus explanation in unusually strong language, based on Godman Field Commander, Col. Guy F. Hix's azimuth data, and a THEODOLITE TRACKING from Godman Field of the same or similar object two hours after Mantell's crash.  I have never seen these documents or statements or THEODOLITE TRACKING ever pointed out by anyone before (Ruppelt concealed them), so here we are finding out about a coverup of the Mantell case, now in 2006, 58 years after the fact:

(See USAF-SIGN7-28 posted by Dan Wilson on June 3rd):

An AMC memo of 8 Nov 48 by C. A. Griffith, Chief of Operations Section, AMC Intell Dept (written by Sign's Project Officer Capt Robert R. Sneider) states sharply:

"4. The evidence obtained from MCREXE44 conclusively proves that this object was not the planet Venus."

Conclusively.  Have you ever seen an AF document make such a strong statement in a pro-UFO direction???  And this was AFTER the Project Sign TOP SECRET Estimate of the Situation had already been rejected by the Air Staff in August and Oct 1948, when the Project Sign staff was demoralized as a result.

Then Albert Deyarmond, Asst Deputy for Technical Analysis in the AMC Intell Dept, comments on this analysis, based again on the (covered up) THEODOLITE TRACKING and azimuth data, two days later with his own conclusion that the Mantell case was "UNEXPLAINED":

MAXW-PBB3-704 (*)

"10 Nov 48

"It is apparent from the data given above, that the object sighted at Godman Air Force Base on 7 January 1948 was not the planet Venus. Therefore, this sighting must be considered as unexplained."

I don't know about you but I feel this document is something of a bombshell, virtually the EQUIVALENT of the TS Estimate of the Situation, it is just short of stating "extraterrestrial."  And as we ought to know, in the Navy document I found that quotes the suppressed Project Sign Interim Status Report of 30 Nov 1948 (the actual Ghost of the Estimate, not the AIR 203 study which said nothing about ETH), they were still asserting in that Interim Report the ETH or "inter-planetary" as a possible explanation for flying discs. 

I also want to convey how amazed I am to find so many AF brass inside the Control Tower at Godman Field during the Mantell incident.  I have never heard this before.  This was not some case of a bunch of dumbcluck hillbilly enlisted men and low-ranking green officers.  The base CO was there, Col. Hix, along with Lt Col. E. G. Wood probably his deputy, Base Operations Officer Capt Cary Carter, Capt James Duesler, and more, this is just off the top of my head.  Also there was a Control Tower shift change at 3 PM in the middle of the Mantell chase, so an entirely new set of Tower personnel were then exposed to the whole incident, effectively doubling the number of personnel involved. 

This reminds me that back in 1975 I interviewed Gen. Garland and was surprised to hear him say "I knew Tommy Mantell" and he said he thought highly of him (if I can find my notes I can check the exact quotes I think I made)  Clearly Mantell was not a hick barnyard pilot in some hillbilly Kentucky ANG but was known to important AF brass as having a high reputation long before his death. 

And although Ruppelt lies and covers up a lot in this case, as he does in so many others, he does let slip (as he sometimes does in other cases) one intriguing comment of special human interest (p. 37):

"A long-time friend of Mantell's went on record as saying that he'd flown with him several years and knew him personally. He couldn't conceive of Mantell's even thinking about disregarding his lack of oxygen. Mantell was one of the most cautious pilots he knew.

"The only thing I can think," he commented, "was that he was after something that he believed to be more important than his life or his family."

Keep that ultimate sacrifice in mind before you dismiss this case as just a stupid IFO and dumb pilot error in flying too high without oxygen.  There are many troublesome aspects of this case that call for a fair hearing at last be given to Mantell.  Maybe it will turn out that it was an IFO and was hypoxia/pilot error.  But let's finally review ALL of the available FACTS and DOCUMENTS FIRST before doing so shall we?

Yes Venus set as would be seen from Clinton County AFB, Wilmington, Ohio, the time I get by US Naval Observatory online calculations at 7:56 PM EST (19:56 rather than 19:58) or 6:56 PM CST the time zone used for most of the Godman Field reporting.  The Clinton County AFB Control Tower was about 3 miles southeast of Wilmington so a more pinpoint calculation based on its exact coordinates might account for the couple minutes' difference:

Clinton County AFB, Wilmington, Ohio
Control Tower 39 25 47 N, 83 47 32 W elev about 1055 ft

However, at about the same time as the 6-7 PM (CST) sightings from Clinton County AFB, the same or similar sighting was made from Lockbourne AFB, Columbus, Ohio, where a key witness in the Control Tower was an AMATEUR ASTRONOMER with 6 years' affiliation with the Hayden Planetarium/American Museum of Natural History.

True, witnesses can see Venus or stars on the horizon changing colors, twinkling, seeming to move up-down, side-to-side, back-and-forth, without actually going anywhere, due to autokinesis effects of involuntary eyeball movements viewing largely featureless backgrounds like the sky where the eye cannot hold its focus perfectly still.

But the amateur astronomer witness in the Lockbourne Control Tower states that he saw the light in the WSW at about 15 degs elevation, a very specific figure, at roughly 6:45 PM (CST), TWO HOURS AFTER SUNSET, and that it was red, changing to amber-yellow for 1-2 secs at a time, and INTENSELY BRIGHT "greater than that of any star" and comparable to a RUNWAY LANDING LIGHT AT "FULL INTENSITY" at 500 feet away.  Assuming a runway light is 2 feet in diameter (someone could check on that) the angular size would be over 1/3 Full Moon, much much larger than a star or planet or pinpoint. 

It appeared to be circular with "a thin wisp of tail extending towards the horizon" and its length about 5 object diameters.  Obviously very specific and hard to imagine anyone with astronomy background can extrapolate 5 times a pinpoint, it had to have an extended angular diameter.  Presumably this "tail" was about 2 Full Moons in length.

Then at the very specific time of 6:50 PM this object suddenly dropped to the horizon in about 4 seconds, hovered there for 3 seconds, then climbed back to its previous position (about 15 degs elevation) in 3 seconds, but not in a straight line, but in an elliptical course counterclockwise.  That does not sound like autokinesis of a star or planet Venus.  He estimated its speed in this rapid maneuver as about 500 mph and that it appeared to be about 5 miles away from Lockbourne.  Allowing for human error in estimating the 15 deg elevation (witnesses usually overestimate) so that it was say 5-10 degs elevation, in fact, that is roughly correct for a 5-mile distance moving 5-10 degs in 4 secs (400-800 mph). 

Then it lowered to the horizon and faded out of sight at 6:55 PM.  Yes this was the setting time of Venus to within a minute or so, and it was in the same direction (WSW).  Extraordinary coincidence. 

This just screams out "astronomical"!!!!  But before you decide to dismiss this as Venus just consider a few more troubling observations by the amateur astronomer in the Lockbourne Control Tower (and the sightings by the 6 Tower and base personnel at Clinton Co. AFB at the same time).  And keep in mind this is a PARTIAL analysis based on only a small part of the scattered files on this case in the BB files (it is very time-consuming pulling this all together, a detailed Chronology minute by minute is desperately needed and it needs to watch for numerous typos and other errors in the AF files and not just blindly accept what they read in black and white):

He reported that there was "a high overcast and not one heavenly body was visible."  How then could Venus have been visible?  He concluded "The object apparently being under the overcast, and its erratic movement proves that it was not an astronomical phenomenon." 

So then we have to postulate that the overcast was not overcast but a haze that Venus could shine through.  But that does not explain the Clinton Co. AFB observations which in fair agreement with Lockbourne describe a vertically elongated lighted object, specifically in a triangular or ice-cream cone shape and colored red in parts.  The Clinton Co. AFB witnesses say the object was so bright that when a cloud drifted in front of it the light shined right through, even though the cloud blotted out the stars (from there the weather was not overcast but scattered clouds).  They made several drawings of this Skyhook-balloon shape, which Ruppelt redrew again to show how they were so similar to a Skyhook which he drew right next to them.  Yet it was 2 HOURS AFTER SUNSET and a Skyhook could not possibly be seen. 

The covered-up THEODOLITE TRACKING from Godman Field raises potentially insuperable problems for a Skyhook theory and of course it totally excludes Venus (which was 40-50 degs away), which could hardly be seen in daylight anyway. 

The THEODOLITE TRACKING was made by 1st Lt Paul I. Orner, Airways and Air Communications Service, ATC (Air Transport Command), Detachment 733-5, Air Force Base Unit (103rd MCS Sq), Godman Field, he was the Detachment Commander. 

Lt Orner was in the Control Tower during the Mantell chase and he records a number of key facts, including the fact that Mantell's wingman Lt Clements refueled and went back up to search for the UFO and for Mantell, but with oxygen, went 100 miles out, (up to 33,000 ft) which would be over past Franklin where Mantell had crashed (but no one had heard the report yet) and just over the Kentucky/Tenn border.  Yet he saw absolutely nothing, he saw no object, as he reported to the Tower at about 4:45 PM.  If it was a Skyhook balloon why didn't Clements see it? 

Why didn't Mantell and his 3 wingmen see the Skyhook on their way in to the Louisville/Godman area?  In fact the Mantell flight was SPECIFICALLY ASKED by Godman Tower when they approached Godman if they had seen the object on their way in!!!  This isn't just assumption based on a hope, but a specific query put to them while they were still in flight! 

Godman base Commander Col. Hix was phoned about the object sighted by the Tower at about 2:15 PM and he arrived at the Tower at about 2:20 PM to see for himself.  Sure enough he saw the stationary white object at about azimuth 215 degs (bet. SW and SSW) about 1/4 Full Moon in angular size.  When viewed through the 8x binoculars Col Hix could sometimes see RED COLOR bordering the top or the bottom.  Skyhooks in mid-afternoon sunlight are WHITE NOT RED.  Only sunset lighting gives them a fiery red coloration.  Col Hix and the Tower personnel lost sight of the object at 3:50 PM when it went behind a cloud, and it had remained "stationary for 1-1/2 hours" according to Hix's statement.  They did not know yet that Capt Mantell had already crashed at about 3:18 PM.  About this time (maybe 3:45), Lt Clements had refueled and went up in his F-51D to look for Mantell and the UFO and he was told by the Tower that the object had disappeared behind a cloud but gave him the last known heading, apparently 220 degs (I'm still trying to verify and correct the bad typos in AF's poorly retyped copies of key witness statements like Clements' and many others).  Then they told him the adjust heading by 5 degs to the left, apparently to the 215 azimuth at which the Tower had watched the UFO for 1-1/2 hours.  (Mantell had reportedly followed a 210 heading but all these figures need to be carefully checked.) 

Lt Orner also saw the small white object stationary object in the SW sky from the Tower with Col Hix and the many other AF officers and personnel.  Orner said that through binoculars it looked like a white parachute with bright sunlight reflecting off the top.  Sounds like a SKYHOOK balloon!!!  EXCEPT that he too saw "RED LIGHT" on the lower part of it. 

This is Lt. Orner's report of his THEODOLITE TRACKING of the UFO from Godman Field which began at about 5:35 PM (CST), or 1/2 HOUR AFTER SUNSET for a high-altitude Skyhook balloon (almost an hour after sunset on the ground):

"At about 1735 CST I returned to the Control Tower and [saw] a bright light different than a star at a position of about 240° azimuth and 8° elevation from the Control Tower.  This was a round object.  It seemed to have a dark spot in the center and the object moved north and disappeared from the horizon at a point 250° from the Tower.  The unusual fact about this object was the fact that it remained visible and glowed through the haze near the Earth when no other stars were visible and did not disappear until it went below the level of the Earth in a manner similar to the sun or moon setting.  This object was viewed and tracked with the Weather Station theodolite from the hangar roof."

We now know that the 1-6-48 Skyhook launch from Milaca, Minn., (NOT Camp Ripley 43 miles away, that was g.d. lie) reached its MAXIMUM HEIGHT of 80,000 ft in 3 hours of launch, or presumably at about 11 AM on the 6th.  It could therefore not go any higher.  Thus the nonsense about 100,000 ft is sheer falsehood.  It had gone almost DUE SOUTH from Minnesota, slightly to the W, at about 190 degs.  It did not get tracked heading SE towards Kentucky so it is anyone's guess where it actually went, unless there are lots of news reports charting its course along the way.  There are no upper winds data in 1948 from 80,000 ft so no way to check using meteorological records. 

That means that when Lt Orner tracked the object by Godman's theodolite at 5:35 PM CST at 240° azimuth and 8° elevation, if it was a Skyhook balloon at 80,000 ft it had to be about 100 miles away to the WSW, which would be the vicinity of HOPKINSVILLE, Kentucky.  YES THAT HOPKINSVILLE from the 1955 incident.  It would NOT be anywhere near Nashville, Tenn., where famed astronomer Carl Seyfert sighted from 4:30 to 4:45 PM CST what he called a balloon with cable to a suspended basket (the Skyhook pictures of 1-6-48 do not show a "basket" or any other large object hanging beneath, only relatively tiny payloads). 

Even worse, when Lt Orner lost track of the UFO in the theodolite it was at the horizon (0 degs elevation) still farther north at 250 degs azimuth.  An 80,000 ft balloon would have to be at about 350 MILES away at that point over southern Missouri!!!  Even more discrepant with Seyfert's sighting in Nashville, which would also be about 350 miles away.  AND IT IS IN PITCH DARKNESS!!!!!  The Skyhook could not have been seen!!!

Finally there is a question about the SIZE of the Skyhook launched on 1-6-48, which affects whether Godman or Mantell could even have seen the balloon.  Claims of 100 ft size are belied by the tracking report which states that the dozen or so balloons launched there from late 1947 to early 1949 were 70 ft and 72.8 ft balloons, not 100 ft.  Also unclear and being checked is whether this 70-72.8 ft size applies to the entire package or just the gas bag that is lit up by reflected sunlight.  Photos of the 1-6-48 launch show that about half its length was the essentially invisible cabling to the relatively tiny payloads and half the gas bag, which might mean the envelope was only about 35 ft in size. 

Simple physics and human physiological optics shows that the Minimum Angle of Resolution of about 1 arcminute (for normal 20/20 vision) would limit the maximum distance a 35 ft Skyhook balloon gas bag could be seen is only about 23 MILES!!!  One could not see ANY details, it would be a mere PINPOINT at that maximum possible distance for Skyhook visibility.  That would raise the question of how on earth Mantell could see a Skyhook from 90 miles away in order to chase it 90 miles to his death.

Dan Wilson:
After the fantastic ball made a high speed, six mile circle of the entire airbase, it returned to its original position over the runway where it drifted around awhile and then dipped down touching a grass strip that was a cleared extension of the runway. Pickering was warned not to discuss the UFO incident with anyone. USAF-SIGN8-217 & 218 were represented earlier in THIS chapter, Part 2_11 (and provided as evidence at the end of this chapter/part) in the redacted one-page version of those two docs in document  MAXW-PBB3-704 (*)
Frame 217 is the questionnaire for Incident 30a, Albert R. Pickering. Frame 218 is a more detailed statement presented below. .

Frame 218 transcription:

When first sighted around 1925 Eastern Standard Time, the object appeared to hover in one position for quite some time, moving very little. It disappeared once for about a minute (presumably entering overcast). After emerging below the overcast it circled one place for the duration of three 360° turns, then moved to another position and circled some more. Turns required approximately 30 to 40 seconds each ­ diameter estimated about 2 miles.

In moving from one place to another a tail (approximately the same color ­ amber ­ as the object) appeared which seemed to be about 5 times the length of the object. The shape of the object was either round or oval and appeared about the size of a C-47 plane. Just before disappearing it came very near the ground, stayed about 10”, then climbed back to its original position at a very fast rate of speed, leveled off, and disappeared into the overcast (10,000 ft) heading 120” (120°). Its speed was greater than 500 MPH in level flight. Visible for some 30 minutes. No noise or sound could be heard. The color of the object itself was an amber light but the intensity was not sufficient to obscure the outline of the configuration which was approximately round. During the up and down movement no maneuvering took place. Motions like that of an elevator ­ climbing and descending vertically. The exhaust trail was noticeable only during forward speed. At one time the object appeared to touch the ground.

NOTE:             Appeared approximately 3 to 5 miles away from Lockbourne in immediate vicinity of Commercial Point (Reports from Clinton Cy Airport, Godman Fld & from pilot of plane in vicinity of Columbus indicate the distance to be much greater)

NOTE ON RELIABILITY:            See incidents 30, 30b and 30c ­ corroborating accounts



SUBJECT:       Report of Unusual Circumstance.
TO:                  Commanding Officer
                        332d Fighter Wing
                        Lockbourne Army Air Base
                        Columbus 17, Ohio

On Wednesday January 7, 1948 at about 1925 Eastern time I observed in the sky an object which I could not identify. It appeared to hover in one position for quite some time, moving very little. It disappeared once for about a minute and I assumed it entered the overcast, which was about 10,000 feet. After descending again below the overcast it circled one place for the duration of three 360 degree turns, then moved to another position to circle some more. Turns required approximately 30 to 40 seconds each, diameter estimated about two miles.

In moving from one place to another a tail was visible or approximate five times the length of the object. Not knowing how close or far the object was from me at the time, I could not estimate the size very accurately, but it appeared as large or larger than one of our C 47 planes, and of a different shape. Either round or oval shaped. Just before leaving it came to very near the ground, staying down for about ten seconds, then climbed at a very fast rate back to its original altitude, 10,000 feet, leveling off and disappearing into the overcast heading 120°. Its speed was greater than 500 mph in level flight. It was visible to me for a period of twenty minutes. No noise or sound could be detected. The color was amber light but not sufficiently bright to cover or obscure the outline of the configuration which was approximately round. During up and down movement no maneuvering took place. Motions was same as an elevator, climbing and descending vertically. Exhaust trail was noticeable only during forward speed. It appeared as a thin mist approximately same color (amber) as the object. Length about 5 times length of object.

During descent it appeared to touch the ground or was very close to touching it. It was approximately 3 to 5 miles away from Lockbourne Air Base in immediate vicinity of COMMERCIAL POINT. It positively was not a star, comet or any astronomical body to the best of my knowledge of such things. I also rule out the possibility of it being a balloon, flare, dirigible, military or private aircraft.

Ltr, Subj:            Report of Unusual Circumstance, 14 Jan 48 (Cont’d)

I am 26 years old and in good health and have excellent vision. I have been actively engaged in aviation for 6 years. I have a private pilot license and spent 3 years 10 months in the U.S. Army Air Corps as a Sergeant link trainer instructor, instrument flight observer.

The statements made herein are true and accurate to the best of my knowledge and may be used for any official purpose as deemed necessary.

VHF/DF Operator


Brad Sparks:
I can't even digest all of this!!!  Wow wow WOWWWW!!!  Where is the part about how the UFO "dipped down touching a grass strip that was a cleared extension of the runway"???  And Pickering being warned not to talk?  I am on overload and can't find things. Too much data. Three turns of 360 degs each 30-40 secs in a diameter of about 2 miles is 600-700 mph at 7 g's centripetal acceleration!!!!  (Pickering had estimated 500+ mph.)  And almost landed at one point!  If more distant than the 3-5 miles estimated then all these velocity and acceleration figures scale up accordingly.

Fran Ridge:
See Loedding "issued instructions that no report...would be made until further instructions were given." (Our findings May 28, 2006)
Comments: Stated on page 2 Part 2: Mr. Loedding a civilian investigator from Wright Field, arrived at Godman Field on January 9, 1948 and made a thorough investigation. Part 3. After obtaining statements and full information on the matter, he (Loedding) issued instructions that no report on the subject would be made until further instructions were given.

To Part 2_12


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