Part 2 - 14:    The Press Reports


                     Weather Balloon Observed Here

            Source: Edwardsville (IL) Intelligencer January 7, 1948  (page 1)

                  Original Article Image:

Several residents of Edwardsville recalled last year’s news accounts of “flying saucers” early this morning when they observed what proved to be a small balloon flying at an exceedingly high altitude southeast of this city.

It was a tiny balloon released at 4 o’clock this morning at St. Louis-Lambert airfield. The balloon, it was reported this morning, is of a design to remain in the air for about three and a half hours under normal conditions. It was first observed here about 7:20 o’clock, remaining almost stationary, and was still visible at 7:50 o’clock when light clouds passed between it and the earth.

At the low elevations in Edwardsville the wind was blowing almost directly from the south. The course of the balloon indicated that the wind at the altitude at which it was flying was almost directly from the west. Presumably the wind was at a very low speed at the high altitude.

It is possible that the balloon was somewhere in the vicinity of Troy when observed here and the distance of travel in nearly four hours was less than 40 miles. The material from which the balloon is made was painted a silver color, probably aluminum and glittered brightly as the early morning rays of the sun were cast upon it.

Men in the yards of the Illinois Terminal railroad were among the first to observe the balloon. They told B. G. Ebert, relief station agent, and he became interested. Ebert decided in a few minutes that the object was not an astronomical phenomenon and was traveling very slowly.

He took a position where the balloon could be watched between wires along the railroad. Without the use of glasses he was certain the object was moving. The Intelligencer was advised and a few business men were told to see the balloon.

According to reports at the airfield the gas bag is about two and a half feet in diameter. The balloon is designed to reach altitudes of 10,000 to 15,000 feet. Wind checks and other information are obtained through use of the balloons and equipment carried.  


Balloon? Flying Saucer? Celestial Body?

Well It’s Anybody’s Guess

 Source: Clarksville (TN) Leaf-Chronicle           January 8, 1948  (Afternoon Edition)

Original Article Image:

Clarksville citizens got their first real glimpse of what may have been a “flying saucer,” based on reports that circulated through two states yesterday and today.

Most reports received by the Leaf-Chronicle indicated that an object about 15 inches in diameter appeared in the northern skies and seemed to be moving very slowly in a southern direction. Seen first at about 2 o’clock yesterday afternoon, the object was described by observers as being “silver colored and appeared to be hovering above the city.” It was egg-shaped on some occasions and later was described as appearing to be joined to another object.

Knapp Flying Service told the Leaf-Chronicle today that the object passed over the airport yesterday afternoon and the first impression of personnel there was that it might have been at an altitude of about 4,000 feet. However, it was explained that its exact altitude could not be determined since it was not known just what sized an object it was.


By the time it reached the center of Clarksville, the object seemed hovered above the courthouse for about half an hour, but appeared to be moving south by inches. It was at this time that it appeared to be the largest, and many observers expressed the opinion that it may have been a balloon of some type. Others thought it may have been a kite, although no trace could be made of any that may have been put into the air. At one point, observers said the object seemed to be swaying and that something was attached to it.

The object first appeared in the north about the size of a grapefruit, and as it traveled toward Clarksville, it appeared grew larger. After seemingly hovering about the city for about 1½ hours, it appeared to get smaller and began moving south. As it vanished, observers said it looked to about the size of the north star and had a faint glow, and the last trace of it was at about 4 o’clock, when it was said to have disappeared behind some clouds.

An epitome of various reports from Nashville, Louisville, Madisonville and Bowling Green, from where the object was seen, indicated the object must have been closer to the earth at Clarksville than at any other place.

Byron Likins, co-owner of the Bowling Green Flying Service at Bowling Green, Ky., told the Leaf-Chronicle today that the object appeared over Bowling Green yesterday afternoon about 4 o’clock. He said the object was about the size of a silver dollar and that it was moving south. He stated that no weather balloons would have lingered as long as that object did since they explode soon after reaching a high altitude. Mr. Likins said he was certain it must have been a celestial body of some kind and based his opinion on the theory that if it were not, one would have landed somewhere in the United States. He told the story of how a National Guard flying unit set out to chase the object and how they reported back that the object was “high above them and traveling too fast for them to catch it.” They were flying at 20,000 feet, he said.

Additional Story in same paper:

A “flying saucer” which puzzled many Nashvillians yesterday was reported by an astronomer today to be a balloon – but no one could say whose balloon it was.

The round object, seen by numerous persons above the sun on the western horizon, sent astronomers scurrying to their telescopes and brought many calls to the Nashville Tennessean.

Dr. Carl K. Seyfert of Vanderbilt University said observation through a telescope showed a rope dangling from the bright glass-like object. The U.S. weather bureau here agreed with him that it was a balloon but said it was not one of the bureau’s.

At Fort Knox in Kentucky National Guard planes yesterday chased an object in the sky to a height of 20,000 feet but observers said it was still above them.

Several reports of what were thought to be “flying saucers” have been received at various points in western Kentucky and Tennessee during the last 24 hours but in at least one instance the celestial object has been definitely identified as a weather observation balloon.

First report came from Fort Knox, that a disc, similar to those reported in large numbers last summer, had been seen by Col. Guy F. Hix, commander of Godman Field.

An object seen at Nashville was identified by Dr. Carl K. Seyfert of Vanderbilt University as a balloon from which a rope was dangling. The U.S. weather bureau at Nashville agreed it was a balloon but said none had been sent up there.

At Hopkinsville, flyers Jimmy Garret and Bill Crenshaw followed a flying object and reported to the Kentucky New Era newspaper office that they identified it as a weather balloon. At Madisonville, Hugh Clark and Thomas Gant observed what they believed was the same balloon from a plane.

At the Madisonville weather bureau it was reported that Northwestern University, Evanston, Ill., had sent up 21 weather observation balloons. It was surmised that those seen in Kentucky and Tennessee might have been some of those sent up by Northwestern. 


Comet Over City Is Just Balloon 

Source: Nashville (TN) Tennessean       January 8, 1948  (page unknown) 

Original Article Image:  

The brilliant object seen late yesterday afternoon in the western sky directly above the sun was a balloon, according to Nashville astronomers and weathermen.

The object, which puzzled local citizens and sent Nashville astronomers hurrying to their telescopes, was termed a balloon catching the sunlight by Dr. Carl K. Seyfert, astronomer at Vanderbilt university, after thorough examination. Weather bureau officials agreed with Seyfert’s diagnosis, but said it was not one of their balloons, while an observer from the WSM radio tower also expressed the opinion it was a balloon.

Telephone calls to The Nashville Tennessean described the phenomenon as a round object which seemed to be made of glass. One man said it looked like a gold star and a woman said she had been watching it all afternoon and thought it was a glass disc.

"Maybe another flying saucer,” she said.

Several of the witnesses were of the opinion that the object, which gave off an extremely bright light, was composed of a glass-like substance. Others believed they had sighted a daylight comet.

Seyfert said he at first believed it to be the planet Venus, which often is bright enough to be seen in daylight, and later also thought it was a comet. Observation through the telescope, however, showed a rope hanging from the object, which was bulbous at the top and narrowed to a fine point, and knots or small objects which might be weather instruments attached to the rope.

Weather bureau officials said they send only a single balloon into the sky each morning about 8:30 or 9 a.m., which rises to a height of 60,000 feet, then bursts and drops the instruments to the ground. Weather balloons are not customarily pear-shaped and do not ordinarily remain at a uniform level, they said.

L. E. Rawls, who saw the object through a telescope from the WSM  tower on Franklin road, said his telescope magnified it 100 times and there was no question as to its being a balloon.

Rawls estimated the height to be about 6000 feet, but Seyfert said he thought it to be about five miles high.

Latimer J. Wilson, local astronomer, expressed himself as undecided as to its true nature. He said it was shaped like an electric light bulb and seemed to be transparent. He said it turned yellow about 4:50 p.m., red at 5:05 p.m. and completely disappeared by 5:12 p.m.

Other observers reported it was moving toward the south and southeast when last sighted, shortly after dark last night.

Old superstitions were aroused, in addition to the revival of last summer’s talk of flying saucers, and many persons preferred to cling to metaphysical and mystical interpretations, rather than accept the “balloon” verdict.

“Strange!” exclaimed some of the older folk, and when no satisfactory explanation for the balloon’s being there could be found, they added: “I thought so!”


Strange Phenomena Seen in Sky Here

Source: Wilmington (OH) News-Journal           January 8, 1948  (page unknown)

Airman Killed Chasing Reported Flying Saucer

Original Article Image:  

Louisville, Ky., Jan 8 – (AP)

The Kentucky National Guard headquarters revealed here today that Capt. Thomas F. Mantell, Jr., 25, was killed in a plane explosion near Franklin, Ky., yesterday while chasing what was believed to be a “flying saucer.”

Mantell was one of three Kentucky National Guard officers sent yesterday to investigate a reported “flying saucer” in the air near Fort Knox. The object also was reported visible at Hopkinsville, Ky., Nashville, Tenn., and other points in the two states.

Mantell was flying a P-51 National Guard plane which witnesses said apparently exploded in the air and crashed near Franklin.


Fort Knox, Ky., Jan 8 – (AP)

A “flying saucer” reportedly was seen here yesterday and Col. Guy F. Hix, commander of Godman Field, sent three airplanes after it, but the “saucer” got away.

Colonel Hix said the saucer became visible here about 2 P.M.

“It was to the south and near the sun, very white and looked like an umbrella,” he elaborated.

Three National Guard planes were circling overheard at the time, so the colonel said he radioed the craft to give chase. But a few minutes later the pilots radioed back the saucer was too high and going too fast for them to catch.

The Army officer said he watched the saucer through binoculars and that from an observation tower it appeared motionless.

I thought it was a celestial body, but I can’t account for the fact it didn’t move. I just don’t know what it was.”

Dr. Walter L. Moore, of the University of Louisville, said the planet Venus was near the sun at the time the saucer was reported seen.

Control Tower Operators at CCAB Watch Maneuvers


A sky phenomena, described by observers at the Clinton County Air Base as having the appearance of a flaming red cone trailing a gaseous green mist, appeared in the southwest skies of Wilmington Wednesday night between 7:20 and 7:55 P.M.

S/Sgt. Gale F. Walter and Cpl. James Hudson, control tower operators at the air field, saw this phenomena at 7:20 P.M. and observed its maneuvers in the sky until 7:55 P.M. when it reportedly disappeared over the horizon. The sky phenomena hung suspended in the air at the intervals and then gained and lost altitude at what appeared to be terrific bursts of speed. The intense brightness of the sky phenomena pierced through a heavy layer of clouds passing intermittently over the area and obscuring other celestial phenomena.

M/Sgt. Irvin H. Lewis, S/Sgt. John P. Haag, Sgt. Harold E. Olvis and T/Sgt. Leroy Ziegler, four members of the alert crew, joined the control tower operators in observing the sky phenomena for approximately 35 minutes.


               Kentucky Flier Killed Chasing ‘Saucer’

                 Source: Nashville (TN) Banner January 8, 1948  (page 1 and 2)

                  Louisville, Ky., Jan 8 ­ (UP)

                  Original Article Image:   

The Kentucky Air National Guard reported today that Capt. Thomas F. Mantell, Louisville, who died yesterday when his P-51 crashed at Franklin, Ky., was one of three pilots searching for a strange object seen in the sky.

The guard said Captain Mantell and three other pilots left Atlanta, Ga., yesterday at 1:45 p.m. (CST) on a routine flight to Louisville. Their planes were checked prior to flight, and all were in perfect condition. All were flying P-51’s.

When they got near Fort Knox, they were messaged by radio that Col. Guy F. Hix, commanding officer at Godman Field, had seen a strange “thing” in the sky. One pilot landed at Louisville as scheduled, but the other three gave chase.

The guard said two of the pilots went to about 15,000 feet and were unable to get near the object, so they returned and landed. Nothing was heard from Captain Mantell and there were no radio messages before he crashed, the guards said.

The guard said it was “anybody’s guess” what happened after the other two landed.

Mrs. Joe Phillips, on whose farm the plane crashed, said she heard it roar low over her house and went to a window in time to see it fall apart in the air, at about tree-top height. It struck the ground about 300 yards from the house.

Barbara Mayes, 14, who was waiting for a bus at Spring Lake School, near the scene, said she heard the plane explode in the air.

The two pilots who landed said the “thing” was still above them and moving too fast for them when they were at 15,000 feet. Colonel Hix watched it through powerful binoculars until clouds obscured it.

Colonel Hix, who said he was not aware Captain Mantell was one of the pilots searching for the “thing” described it as being about one-half the size of a full moon. “It was absolutely white, except for a streamer of red that appeared to be revolving.

The colonel said the streamer of red appeared first at the top and then at the bottom of the object, which did not seem to be moving.

Colonel Hix and personnel at Godman Field sighted the object at 2:30 p.m., and watched it until it disappeared behind clouds at 4 p.m. (CST).

A University of Kentucky physics professor was to come to Godman Field this afternoon and use high powered equipment to trace the chart of the object, if it reappears, Colonel Hix said.

Colonel Hix said it was his guess that the object either was a celestial object, although it did not appear to be moving, or a large balloon.

Numerous telephone calls were received by Army and State Highway Patrol officials, although descriptions varied widely.

Captain Mantell, 25, flew many missions over Europe in World War II and held the Distinguished Flying Cross.

Glenn Mayes, who witnessed the plane crash said he was in his front yard, about 300 yards from the spot where the plane plunged to the ground, said he first heard the plane and then “saw a vapor trail” before he spotted the aircraft.

Mayes estimated that the plane was up 20,000 feet when it suddenly went into a dive, plunging about half-way to the earth before it began disintegrating.

He said smoke rose from the engine after the crash, but that the wreckage did not burn.

Captain Mantell’s body was at Booker Funeral Home at Franklin this morning, and was expected to be removed to Louisville this afternoon.

Among his survivors are his wife Mrs. Margaret Mantell and two children.

An airborne object at a high altitude which yesterday afternoon caused speculation about comets and “flying saucers” throughout Middle Tennessee and Central Kentucky was definitely a balloon, according to consensus of observers.

There remained a difference of opinion, however, as to the type of balloon and a mystery as to its origin.

The object, which was described as “pear shaped” and like a “suspended light bulb,” was sighted over a wide area on a line extending from Columbia, Tenn., to Louisville, Ky. Its altitude, checked twice by pursuing airplanes, was reported at 11,000 feet at Hopkinsville, Ky., and above 20,000 at Louisville.

Two Hopkinsville aviators, Jimmy Garnett and Bill Crenshaw, investigated the object by plane and identified it as a “free weather balloon” (no instruments attached to it). Telescope observers here and at Franklin, Columbia and Clarksville also identified the object as a balloon.

At Madisonville, Ky., where Hugh Clark and Thomas Gant observed what they believed was the same balloon from a plane, the Weather Bureau surmised that it might have been one of 21 weather observation balloons sent up by Northwestern University at Evanston, Ill.

Latimer J. Wilson, local astronomer, agreed that the object was a balloon but stated that it was unlike any weather balloon he had ever seen and that it appeared to be “made of glass.”

Meanwhile the local Weather Bureau reported no balloons missing.


                      Chase for Flying Disk Blamed In Crash Death


                                                                       Lt. B. A. Hammond                          Lt. A. W. Clements

                                                                   “Woozy” at 22,000 feet                        Only he had oxygen.


                           Mantell Going Straight Into Sun, Buddies In Air Guard Say; Believe He Blacked Out

                  Source: Louisville (Ky) Courier Journal   January 9, 1948  (page 1 and back page of same section)

                                 Original Article Image:  

Capt. Thomas F. Mantell, Jr., 25, was “climbing into the sun” after what he thought was a flying disk shortly before he was killed in a plane crash near Franklin, Ky., Wednesday.

So reported two of Mantell’s buddies in the Kentucky Air Guard, who were in the air with him at the time. The Air Guard yesterday said Mantell, World War II hero, who lived at 6301 Third, died because he flew too high while chasing an aerial object.

Capt. R. L. Tyler, Louisville operations officer for the Air Guard at Standiford Field, said investigation convinced him Mantell had “blacked out” from lack of oxygen at 36,000 feet. Tyler theorized the plane went into a dive and began to disintegrate at 15,000 feet.

Quit at 22,500 Feet.

Two other Air Guard officers who were flying in formation with Mantell in P-51 single-seater pursuit ships told of the high altitude disk-chasing mission.

Both said they “peeled off” at 22,500 feet with Mantell “still climbing into the sun.”

National Guard headquarters here said Mantell and his companions were asked by the Fort Knox radio to “look for” an object resembling a “flying saucer” reported sighted southwest of Godman Field.

Only One Had Oxygen Gear.

Only one of the trio, Lt. A. W. Clements, 2123 Ratcliffe, had oxygen equipment. Captain Tyler said oxygen had not been issued generally to the guardsmen because they were training at comparatively low levels.

The three, along with Lt. Robert Hendricks, were returning from a routine flight to Atlanta. Clements said Mantell apparently picked up the Godman Field radio signal as they neared Fort Knox and changed his course. Clements and Lt. B. A. Hammond, 3117 Sonora, followed. Hendricks, however, flew on to Standiford Field.

Mantell and Clements were linked by radio, but Hammond’s communications set was tuned to a different frequency.

It Looked “Like a Star.”

Clements said Mantell informed him they were to look for something “but didn’t seem to know exactly what it was.” Soon, Clements related, Mantell shouted through the loud speaker, “Look, there it is at 12 o’clock.” Clements said this meant it was “right over our nose.”

Clements gazed straight ahead and saw a “bright shining object that looked like a star.” He and Mantell started after it.

Hammond, who had received no word of the flying saucer, was bewildered.

“At first I thought we were lost,” he said. “Then we started climbing and I assumed we were looking for Louisville.” Hammond was depending on Mantell and Clements for navigation and went on up with them to avoid losing his bearings.

“I felt a little shaky at 15,000 feet,” he declared, “because I realized we were supposed to take oxygen at 12,000.

“By the time I hit 22,000 I was seeing double. I pulled alongside Clements and indicated with gestures that I didn’t have an oxygen mask. In fact I circled my finger around my head to show him I was getting woozy. He understood the situation and we turned back.”

Neither saw Mantell crash. His plane ripped down out of the sky some 80 or 90 miles from where they changed course after learning of the disk, Clements estimated.

Tyler blamed Mantell’s head-long dash after the “saucer” on the fact that Mantell’s World War II experience largely was limited to low-altitude flying. From the stories of Hammond and Clements, Tyler surmised Mantell was “climbing at full force at 23,000 feet.” Mantell probably lost consciousness seconds later, Tyler said.

Eyewitnesses had reported seeing Mantell’s plane arc high in the air and Tyler said this indicated Mantell, an expert pilot, was unconscious at the time.

Clements, 25 and Hammond, 23, both World War II veterans, landed at Standiford Field. Clements, who won the Distinguished Flying Cross in North Africa and Italy, refueled and took off in search of the “disk” again but failed to spot it.

Believed Object Was Star.

Recalling the appearance of the object, Clements remarked, “The more I think about it the more I’m convinced it was a star or some other type of celestial body.”

Some reports indicated the object may have been a weather balloon. An object seen near Nashville was identified as a balloon from which a rope was dangling. Two pilots at Hopkinsville, Ky., also said that they followed a flying object and believed it was a balloon. At the Madisonville weather station it was reported that Northwestern University, Evanston, Ill., had sent up 21 weather-observation balloons.


Spyglasses Search Through the Southwest Sky

But Great What-Was-It Keeps Out of Sight

                                        Source: Louisville (KY) Courier-Journal            January 9, 1948  (page unknown)

          One Flier Reports Something Like a Star; Colonel Hix Still Isn’t Sure It Was Venus

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COL. GUY F. HIX, commander of Godman Field, shows Sgt. Quinton A. Blackwell the line along which to focus the Binoculars to find the spot where a mysterious object was seen in the sky Wednesday afternoon.

That gleaming object seen in the southwest sky from Fort Knox Wednesday did not show up at all yesterday as Godman Field officers kept telescopes and powerful binoculars trained skyward from dawn to dusk.

Only report bearing on the celestial phenomenon came from 1st Lt. Ray J. West. He said that while flying yesterday afternoon he saw an object that “looked like a star” about where the mysterious object was seen the previous day. Lieutenant West said he was flying at 7,000 feet over Godman Field and spotted the star-like object just above the horizon.

Captain C. W. Carter, operations officer, said that no planes had been sent up to determine whether the object was still visible yesterday.

Col. Guy F. Hix, commander of Godman Field, was not convinced yesterday afternoon that it was the planet Venus that he watched for 2 hours through 8-power binoculars. “If it were a celestial body,” he reasoned, “surely it would have moved sometime during the afternoon.”

“The object we saw, which was very white and resembled an upside-down open parachute, remained in practically the same spot from 2 p.m., when it was first sighted, to sundown at 5:18 p.m.,” Colonel Hix explained.

Dr. Walter Lee Moore, University of Louisville astronomer, had said that under “very exceptional atmospheric conditions,” the planet (Venus) might now be visible to the naked eye during the day.

Colonel Hix said he received about 35 calls Wednesday afternoon and night from various persons throughout the state who reported seeing the object. The calls came all the way from near Lebanon, in Marion County, to Morganfield, in Union, he said. No calls were received yesterday, he added.

Some persons reported the object just 150 feet above ground while others estimated the distance as high as four miles, Colonel Hix said. Descriptions varied, but most of those calling said the object was cone-shaped, he added.

Sgt. Quinton A. Blackwell, on duty in the Godman Field control tower Wednesday afternoon, was the first to see the shiny object. He described it as a silver disk, about the size of a silver dollar. “It gleamed like the reflection from some shiny, metallic surface,” he said.

Reported From Ohio.

Officers of the Clinton County Army Air base near Wilmington, Ohio, also reported seeing a “flaming red cone trailing a gaseous green mist” there Wednesday night, according to an Associated Press dispatch.

The phenomenon appeared in the southwest skies at 6:20 p.m., about an hour after the strange object was seen last at Godman Field. It was visible for about 35 minutes and then disappeared over the horizon, the report stated.

Colonel Hix will make a report on the phenomenon to the air Defense Command headquarters in New York when all the information is collected.


One Touch Of Venus: Pilots Chase ‘Disk’ (Or Planet)

But They Fail To Catch ‘Saucer’ Seen At Knox

                               Source: Louisville (KY) Courier-Journal            January 9, 1948  (page unknown)

                               Original Article Image: 

A bright and shiny object lured three Kentucky Guard Reserve pilots high in the sky yesterday.

The chase started when a glistening object was sighted in the southwest sky. It was easily visible at Fort Knox. Officers at the post radioed to three planes flying overhead to see if they could catch the object which they thought might be one of the flying disks reported seen last year.

Focused On Venus.

But when Dr. Walter Lee Moore, University of Louisville astronomer, focused his telescope by measurements given him by Godman Field officers it was trained straight on the planet Venus.

Dr. Moore said Venus was near the sun at this time and added that “very exceptional atmospheric conditions” could have made it visible to the naked eye during the day.

“If they chased Venus in airplanes,” said Dr. Moore, “they certainly had a long way to go.”

The disk first was reported visible about 2 p.m. by Col. Guy F. Hix, commander of Godman Field, who said he watched it for about 2 hours from the airport’s observation tower.

Looked ‘Like Umbrella.’

“It was to the south and near the sun,” he said, “very white and looking like an umbrella.”

Colonel Hix said he radioed the three planes, which had come from Louisville and were circling overhead, to go after the object.

“About 20 minutes later they radioed back and were 20,000 feet high and the saucer was still above them. The pilots said the saucer was too high and going too fast for them to catch.”

The colonel added the pilots reported the saucer was traveling west at about 180 miles per hour. But, the colonel said, from the observation tower it appeared motionless.

Says It Didn’t Move.

Colonel Hix said he and his executive officer, Lt. Col. Garrison Wood, and other officers carefully watched the disk through 8-power binoculars, sighting along an upright.

 “I thought it was a celestial body,” he said, “but I can’t account for the fact it didn’t move. I just don’t know what it was.”

Meanwhile Fort Knox authorities were receiving telephone calls from persons in near-by towns who also reported seeing the saucer and asking what it was all about.

And State Highway patrol headquarters at Elizabethtown were receiving reports from cruisers, whose occupants told of seeing the object.

Seen At Madisonville, Too.

Sgt. John T. Worful, Elizabethtown, said a cruiser had radioed from Madisonville that a saucer had been seen there.

 “It was reported to look like an ice-cream cone with a little fire at the bottom,” Worful said. “It appeared to be about 45 feet across the top and 100 feet long through a small telescope,” he said.

“Several officers were watching for it,” said Worful. “We’ve got orders to watch out for those thing and report them to Patterson Field, Ohio, and Godman Field.”


New ‘Flying Saucers’ Excite Kentucky Neighboring States

                                   Source: Lexington (Ky) Herald             January 9, 1948  (page unknown)

                                   By Associated Press

                                   Original Article Image:

Several areas of Kentucky and adjoining states were excited yesterday over reports of a “flying saucer” which led to the death of one National Guard flier and fruitless chases by several other pilots.

The National Guard headquarters at Louisville said Capt. Thomas F. Mantell, Jr., 25, was killed late Wednesday while chasing what was reported as a “flying saucer” near Franklin, Ky.

Two other members of the Kentucky National Guard, also asked to make a flying investigation of reported “flying saucers” in the area near Fort Knox returned to their Louisville base.

Two Hopkinsville pilots, James Garret and William Crenshaw, said they chased a flying object which they believed to be a balloon.

Astronomers at Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tenn., reported they saw some object in the sky Wednesday afternoon which they believed to be a balloon but the Nashville Weather Bureau said it knew of no balloons in that vicinity.

In Southern Ohio, meanwhile, observers reported seeing a flaming red cone near the Army Air Base at Wilmington. Army spokesmen said they had no information on the object or its origin.

Col. Guy F. Hix, commanding officer at Godman Field, adjoining Fort Knox, said he observed the “flying saucer” for some time. He said three National Guard planes were contacted by radio and instructed to investigate.

“We lost contact in about 20 minutes,” Col. Hix said. “Two of the planes later called back and reported no success.”

Capt. Mantel, an air hero during the Allied invasion of Normandy, was the third pilot. His mother, Mrs. Thomas F. Mantell, Sr., said in Louisville, she was informed her son flew too high in his pursuit of the object and lost consciousness.

Glen Mayes, who lives near Franklin, said he saw the Mantell plane flying at an extremely high altitude shortly before it apparently exploded in the air.

“The plane circled three times like the pilot didn’t know where he was going,” Mayes said, “and then started into a dive from about 20,000 feet. About halfway down there was a terrific explosion.”

Parts of the plane were scattered over an area two miles wide, Mayes said. None of the craft burned.

Capt. Mantell entered the Army Air Forces shortly after his graduation from high school and participated in the Normandy invasion and many other European operations during the war.

Since leaving active duty a year ago, he has been associated with the Kentucky Air National Guard.


If You Saw 'em You Were Right
They Were Saucers

NEW YORK, (AP) -- A navy official confirmed today that "flying saucers" really existed, but actually were huge plastic balloons used in high altitude cosmic ray studies.

Dr. Urner Liddel, chief of the nuclear physics branch of the Office of Naval Research, made this disclosure in an article in the current magazine.

Liddel, in Washington, discussed the story further when newsmen queried him.

The Navy balloons, Liddel declared, were 100 feet in diameter and sometimes rose to a height of 19 miles. He added that winds might sweep them along at 200 miles an hour.

Sun did it

At dusk, the slanting rays of the sun lighted up the balloons' bottoms, giving them the saucer like appearances, Liddel said.

He added that many of the disks were sighted as the sun set. Liddel said the existence of the big balloons was kept secret because the project was connected with atomic developments.

Liddel, who was in charge of the balloons tests, said they carried instruments to record the results of collisions between cosmic rays and atoms in the earth's atmosphere.

No Longer Secret

He added that secrecy was "no longer necessary."

Liddel said he was convinced that a "saucer" photographed at 77.000 feet altitude over Minnesota was a Skyhook.

The physicist said 2,000 reports of "flying saucers" were checked, and those considered "whimsical" were eliminated. Of the "reliable" reports, he said, "there is not a single observation which is not attributable to the cosmic balloons."

These balloons, called Skyhooks by the Navy, were first used in 1947, about the time the disk were first sighted. Liddell said reports of "flying saucers" increased or decreased in proportion to the number of balloons sent aloft.


Air Force Reveals Saucer Pursuit Report

                              Source: Lima (OH) News             August 21, 1952  (page 7)

                              Source Image:

WASHINGTON (INS) ­ The Air Force has made public for the first time a P-51 fighter pilot’s graphic description of a “flying object” which he was chasing over Kentucky just before he was killed.

Hitherto secret details of a radio conversation involving Capt. Thomas F. Mantell and four airmen at Godman Air Base, Fort Knox, Ky., were released after an exhaustive inquiry by the Air Force.

On Jan 7, 1948, the 25-year old pilot, a World War II air hero, and three other P-51 pilots, sighted a mysterious object during a routine training flight. Three pilots, including Mantell, gave chase.

Mantell then radioed his description to the Godman control tower. Authorities said that no official transcript was made. However, the testimony of the men in the tower was pieced together. This is their account:

T-Sgt. Quinton A. Blackwell: “About 1445 (2:45 p.m.) the flight leader reported sighting the object ahead and above ­ still climbing. At 15,000 feet he reported the ‘object directly ahead and above and moving about half my speed. It appears metallic and of tremendous size. I’m still climbing. Object is above and ahead moving about my speed or faster. I’m trying to close in for a better look.’
“THIS WAS about 1515. Five minutes later the two other aircraft turned back. Flight leader reported ‘it appeared like the reflection of sunlight on an airplane canopy’.”

Lt. Paul I. Orner said Mantell’s closing-in message was his last. Capt. J. F. Dassler (Duessler), Jr., leader of the P-51 group, said Mantell, in answer to a request to describe the object, reported it was “bright and climbing away from me … moving at about 350 miles per hour. One of his planes asked him to level off but no reply was heard.”

Capt. Cary W. Carter, operations officer at Godman Air Force Base, said he heard Mantell say later the “object is going up and forward as fast as I am.” Mantell then declared he was climbing to 20,000 feet and if he failed to close in on the “saucer” he would abandon the chase. That was his last radio message.

A 14-year old school girl who was waiting for a bus at the time, said she heard Mantell’s plane explode in the air. The wife of a farmer said she heard it roar low over her house and went to a window in time to see it fall apart in the air, at about tree-top height.


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