Part 2 - 4:  Project SIGN


There is a large amount of ground to cover with the Mantell incident, but for a moment let's discuss the UFO project which had just "officially" began in January of 1948, a few weeks after the tragic incident. Project SIGN, the forerunner of Projects Grudge and Blue Book, was actually started a month before, if not years before and was referred to as "Project Saucer".

Project Sign was instigated following a recommendation from Lt. General Nathan F. Twining, then the head of Air Materiel Command. Just before this, Brig. Gen. George Schulgen, of the Army Air Forces air intelligence division, had completed a preliminary review of the many UFO reports, then called "flying discs" by military authorities, which had received considerable publicity following the Kenneth Arnold sighting of June 24, 1947. Schulgen's study, completed in late July 1947, concluded that the flying discs were real craft. Schulgen then asked Twining and his command, which included the intelligence and engineering divisions located at Wright Patterson Air Force Base, (then referred to as Wright Field), to carry out a more exhaustive review of the data. In his formal SECRET letter to Gen. Schulgen (*) on September 23, 1947, in part, General Nathan Twining wrote:

"2. It is the opinion that:

"(a) The phenomenon reported is something real and not visionary or fictitious.

"(b) There are objects probably approximately the shape of a disc, of such appreciable size as to appear to be as large as a man-made aircraft.

"(c) There is the possibility that some of the incidents may be caused by natural phenomena, such as meteors.

"(d) The reported operating characteristics such as extreme rates of climb, maneuverability (particularly in roll), and action which must be considered evasive when sighted or contacted by friendly aircraft and radar, lend belief to the possibility that some of the objects are controlled either manually, automatically or remotely."

He recommended that " ...Army Air Forces issue a directive assigning a priority, security classification and code name for detailed study of this matter." Though conducted by the Army Air Force, the study's information and conclusions would be made available to all the armed services, and to scientific agencies with formal government ties.

Twining's suggestion was approved on December 30 by Major General Laurence C. Craigie, Director of Research and Development under the Deputy Chief of Staff for Materiel at Headquarters U.S. Air Force. According to Craigie's directive, it would be the role of Sign to: "...collect, collate, evaluate and distribute to interested government agencies and contractors all information concerning sightings and phenomena in the atmosphere which can be construed to be of concern to the national security."

On January 22, 1948, Project Sign formally began its work as a branch of Air Technical Intelligence Center (ATIC) at Wright Patterson Air Force Base, under the direction of Captain Robert R. Sneider.

Sign was seen as a very important undertaking: Ruppelt wrote that Sign "was given a 2A priority, 1A being the highest priority an Air Force project could have." Though it was classified "restricted", the study's existence was eventually known to the general public, and was often called "Project Saucer". However, UFO historian Wendy Connors established, through an interview with a surviving Sign secretary, that "Project Saucer" was the project's original informal name and had actually begun in late 1946. If this was the case, then the Army Air Force had already begun investigation of UFOs well before the Kenneth Arnold sighting that launched the first flood of UFO reports of June-July 1947 in the United States.

May 28, 2006, continued:

Michael D. Swords is a Professor of Natural Science at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, Michigan. His major professional and involvements are teaching and writing in the areas of general sciences and anomalous phenomena. His teaching centers about human biology, the history and philosophy of science, scientific methodology, and the "parasciences" of which UFOlogy is a member. His writings have concentrated mainly on topics in UFOlogy, parapsychology, and cryptozoology, and several have been published in the "MUFON UFO Journal". A very relevant paper is:
Project SIGN & the Estimate of the Situation (2000).

Dr. Michael D. Swords writes:
"The core personnel for the project were probably the most talented group to work on UFOs until the Air Force ended its investigation in 1969. Aiding chief officer, Capt. Robert R Sneider, were two outstanding aeronautical engineers, Alfred Loedding and Alfred B. Deyarmond. Completing the group was nuclear and missile expert Lawrence Truettner. The quality of these people indicates the seriousness (and the comparative difference in later years) with which the Air Force considered the flying disk problem."

Wendy Connors:
In 1947, Wright-Field's  T-2's job (Dayton, Ohio) was to acquire, collect, analyze and produce foreign aerospace technical intelligence for the Army Air Forces. Loedding was an expert in such areas as Vertical Takeoff aircraft, the hydro bomb, rockets/fuel and low aspect ratio aircraft. Documents show Colonel Howard McCoy sent Loedding to the Pentagon as the first liaison between T-2 Intelligence and the AF Office of Intelligence (AFOIN). This was done in July 1947 because General McDonald wanted someone to work with Dr. Charles Carroll in setting up the preliminary outline for a formal and parallel project to investigate the "flying disc" phenomenon that was rapidly developing. Loedding's expertise was necessary because at the time the "boys at the Pentagon" were of the opinion that the discs were advanced technology from Russia and invading US airspace.

Dan Wilson's reports to the A-Team:
MAXW-PBB3 713-722
The cover-up of the Mantell case begins with the timely discovery of a document (MAXW-PBB3-714) signed by base commanding officer, Colonel Guy F. Hix. In the document below it clearly states that the civilian investigator (Alfred Loedding) from Wright Field, arrived at Godman Field on January 9, 1948 and made a thorough investigation. 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.

Fran Ridge:
is a better version of MAXW-PBB3-714, transcript below (Frame 377, see Part 2-2) .                                


HQ 315th AF BASE UNIT (RES TNG), Godman Field, Ft. Knox, Ky. 9 Jam 48

TO:      Commanding General Eleventh Air Force, 1612 South Cameron Street Harrisburg, Pennsylvania

ATTENTION:  Lt. Col. Chandler, PIO Section

             1.         Forwarded in accordance with telephone instructions, your office this date.

             2.         A Mr. Loedding, civilian investigator for the intelligence Division, Department of the Air Force, assigned to Wright Field, Ohio, arrived at this headquarters, this date, and made a through investigation of the matters listed in basic letter.

             3.         After obtaining statements and full information on the matter, he issued instructions that no reports on the subject would be made until further notice was given.

             4.         This report, however, is forwarded in compliance with your instructions.


            6 Incls                                                              GUY F. HIX   

                 N/C                                                             Colonel, USAF


The next day, May 29, Brad Sparks sent the group an email: He had gotten the records on the balloon flight.

Brad Sparks:
I read over the posted June 1994 CAUS article on Mantell expecting to find a RECORD of a Skyhook launch on Jan 6, 1948.  I was hoping to find a THEODOLITE tracking on a MAP, since "theodolite" tracking was made much of in the article.  I was bitterly disappointed to find neither.  In fact there is an eerie deja vu here with the infamous C B Moore again involved in peddling questionable stories about balloon antics that are not documented and are flagrantly contradicted by the facts -- just like with his wholesale falsification of the Roswell MOGUL balloon fiction which Dave Rudiak and I thoroughly exploded as a tissue of lies, deceit and fabrication from start to finish.  (more on Moore's lies below).

If it was a UFO it was very poorly documented.  If it was a Skyhook balloon it was very poorly documented.

How do we _know_ the alleged Skyhook balloon was lost after passing the Georgia/South Carolina coastline?  That kind of assertion in the article makes it seem like there was a TRACKING of the balloon over a distance of 1,000+ miles out to the Georgia/South Carolina coast, a seemingly solid documentary record.

Or is this just a bald assertion based simply on drawing a straight line from Camp Ripley, Minn., to Mantell's crash site near Franklin, Ky., and then continuing the line out to the Georgia/South Carolina?  That is not a RECORD, that is a hypothetical extrapolation dressed up to LOOK like a documentary record made at the time, in 1948, which is not quite kosher, it's misleading. That would be pretty amazing given all the cross-winds at altitude that are hypothesized just to get a Camp Ripley -- Believe it or Not! -- balloon over central Kentucky at the time of the Mantell and other sightings, and to stop and start at the right time, etc.

Interestingly the AF claimed to have had actual "wind plots" (Ruppelt book) to show that a Clinton County AFB Skyhook launch would have traveled SW to the sighting area in Kentucky -- about 90 degrees off of C B Moore's alleged SE heading claimed for the purported Camp Ripley balloon.  How is that possible?  Where are the WEATHER RECORDS to prove the Camp Ripley theory???  Moore is a meteorologist for crying out loud so where are the meteorological records to support his baseless theory???  At least the Clinton County Skyhook theory has WEATHER RECORDS, but these would seem to contradict any Camp Ripley balloon path.

The article claims that "Complete weather and tracking data for the Camp Ripley launch are not available for the entire path."  Well that implies there ARE such "weather and tracking data" available for SOME of the balloon flight path so WHERE IS IT????

Speaking of amazing coincidences, isn't it a pretty extraordinary "coincidence" that just a few hours after an alleged Skyhook balloon supposedly passes over the general region that at 7:20-8:00 PM (EST) on Jan 7, 1948, or almost 2 HOURS AFTER SUNSET AT BALLOON ALTITUDE AND WHEN THE BALLOON COULD NOT POSSIBLY BE SEEN there were Skyhook-balloon-like sightings from Lockbourne AFB and Clinton County AFB in southern Ohio???  How is that possible???  Pretty amazing when one considers a Skyhook could not possibly have been seen as a classic "ice cream cone" shape in PITCH DARKNESS of night.  Even if the instrument package underneath the balloon carried a tiny light the light could not possibly have illuminated the 100-foot cone-shaped gas bag above it.  These are just physical impossibilities you can take to the bank.

Here is what I found in the AF file on the Mantell case about these impossible NIGHTTIME Skyhook-like sightings of a "flaming red cone" with "intense brightness" seen by the Clinton County Air Field Control Tower operators and flight crew members, an object so bright that when a cloud drifted in front of it the object's light could still be seen even though stars were completely blotted out (Maxwell Roll 3, p. 737;  see also Sign Roll 1, p. 513-4, 518, 526-7, 531, etc.):

"Description of object seen at Clinton AFB.

"A. 6 observers at Wilmington, site of Clinton AFB, stated that a cone shaped object ... similar to what a partially inflated Skyhook balloon would look like.  It was in sight for approx. 30 [mins].  All stated it disappeared in general SW direction.

"B.  2 observers described it as an inverted triangle or a cone -- it climbed and descended.  Wind was from NE to SW, which is in the exact direction of GODMAN.

[drawings] partially inflated balloon"

I noticed in the article that famed astronomer Carl Seyfert's sighting of a balloon from Vanderbilt Observatory near Nashville, Tenn., is seriously MISQUOTED leaving out the crucial observation that the balloon seen in the SSE was "moving first SE" (which would fit the Camp Ripley Skyhook theory) but then it WENT WEST "then W" which would contradict the Ripley "Believe It or Not" Skyhook balloon theory.  The part saying "then W" was left out and no ellipses indicated any deletion, and so was the word "first" left out of "moving first SE, then W" so as to further cover up the direction change.  There were several other distortions in the mangled quotation or misquotation.  (Maxwell Roll 3, p. 711)

If the Camp Ripley Skyhook was held stationary for 1-1/2 hours from 1:45 to 3:15 PM (CST) as the article and Moore apparently both claim, because of ascending into a "turnaround altitude" from 60,000 to 75,000 ft then how is it that astronomer Seyfert just over an hour later at 4:30 PM CST estimated the balloon was at just 25,000 ft moving at 10 mph, a speed which Moore seemed to agree with.  But you can't have both because if Seyfert was able to accurately estimate a 10 mph speed then he must have had a reasonable estimate of distance and height in order to calculate the speed.  If the Skyhook was rapidly descending 35,000+ ft in perhaps another 1 hour then it should have impacted the ground in south-central Tennessee at about 5:30 PM CST.  It could not possibly then have traveled to the Atlantic Ocean over the Georgia/South Carolina border as Moore claims.

The article claims, based on what Moore was alleging, that the Navy did the Skyhook launch from Camp Ripley but did not disclose this at the time to the AF investigation of the Mantell crash because the Navy did not want to get blamed for Mantell's death.  We also get the usual bullshit about how Skyhook was "highly classified" at the time, too, which it WAS NOT.  It was HIGHLY PUBLICIZED at the time. Certain projects using Skyhooks were classified but not the Skyhook launches or the Skyhook balloons.  This is a cute new "reasonable cover-up" theory similar to the Roswell MOGUL fraud but it's missing any proof that the NAVY launched the Skyhook from Camp Ripley on Jan 6, 1948.  Moore's finding photos of the alleged Camp Ripley launch in his files implies that he personally was there and that he launched the Skyhook (why not say so?  why conceal his personal involvement?).  But Moore was under AIR FORCE CONTRACT at the time and he is able to cite chapter and verse by AF Contract Number "AF 19(122)-633" to prove that Clinton County, Ohio, was not launching Skyhooks until 1951, but doesn't do the same for Camp Ripley in 1948.  Where is the NAVY CONTRACT NUMBER and PROJECT IDENTIFICATION for the Camp Ripley Skyhooks in 1948????

Where is the actual RECORD of the alleged Skyhook balloon launch from Camp Ripley, Minn., on Jan 6, 1948????  It was launched at "about" 8 AM?  Why is there no exact recorded time?  Is that because this "record" is actually all dependent on the confabulated convenient memory of one person, C B Moore, one of the most notorious liars in the history of UFOlogy who has been caught red-handed in numerous outright proven lies and falsifications of data and preposterous math?  Moore makes George Adamski look like an honest Boy Scout in comparison.


The Mantell crash itself seems to suffer from outright doubletalk.  In the same Accident Report it first says Mantell's fighter crashed because "as nose depressed, [Mantell] finally began a spiraling dive which resulted in excessive speeds causing gradual disintegration."  So Mantell's aircraft was in a crash dive nose down going so fast it broke apart, yet then the report admits the plane did not hit ground nose first but came down pancaking flat on its belly, while still trying to maintain the fiction of coming "straight down," but IN A "HORIZONTAL POSITION"!!!  Huh????  Note the slick weasel-wording:

"The aircraft came straight down in a horizontal position and landed on the left side." (Maxwell Roll 3 p. 750)

Fran Ridge:
I then discovered two restricted documents, one which tells more about what Mantell had said than any previous document found. MAXW-PBB3-681 reads in part:

"About 1445 flight leader (NG 869) reported sighting object 'ahead and above still climbing'. At 15,000 ft he reported: 'Object directly ahead and above and moving about half my speed ' Again 'it appears metallic and of tremendous size.' Still later 'I'm still climbing - object is above and ahead moving about my speed or faster - I'm trying to close in for better look'. This was about 3:15 PM.  Five minutes later the other two ships turned back. Both documents appear on the web page I created,,
but the actual documents are located at the end of this chapter.

Interest in the case re-investigation was mounting, but some were questioning why re-investigate in the first place?

Mary Castner of CUFOS wrote:
"Please tell me what makes you think this Skyhook couldn't be what Mantell saw and why a Skyhook had to be launched on 1/7 to qualify for what Mantell saw?"

Fran Ridge:
As I told the list members, first of all, I was approached in March by Drew Speier of WFIE to help on a story they wanted to do on the Mantell incident. To set the record straight, I told him that there were MUCH better reports and that the Mantell incident was not even an "unknown". He insisted that it was a "local" story and told me that it would possibly lead to other stories if it went well. May was ratings month and that was the release period.

There are a LOT of problems with the Mantell incident. It was NOT an open and shut case of a balloon. I didn't go into them at this time because when Drew asked me to do the story I re-opened the investigation. I told her (and the list) that, when Dan and I get all the documents posted, the case will be presented for comment. The case was not listed as an unknown at this point.

I have worked with people, one which served on on Project SAUCER (Code-named SIGN), and there is reasonable doubt about many factors in this case. There WERE UFO reports that day. One report of an object 250' in diameter moving at a good clip does not square with a Skyhook balloon, reported BEFORE Mantell and the tower saw anything. And some pilot friends of mine cannot accept the idea of a pilot who, during the stress of aerial combat in WWII, while chasing a balloon OR flying saucer would forget his oxygen. Whether we like it or not, we still have a mystery. We may not end up with an unknown, but mystery we do have.

Later that day I found this document, showing the Project SIGN first quarter sightings, early on lists the case as solved, yet doesn't do an across the board balloon explanation to explain the rash of sightings in the region. Venus is the explanation for ALL of them, except the Mantell incident. The Jan-Feb-March sighting listings lists the sighting at Godman as a "balloon"!!!
NARA-PBB1-15 (*)

The Air Force publicly blamed the planet Venus as the cause for all of the series of sightings, including the daylight incident in Kentucky (not Mantell). In actuality, however, many of the intelligence officers in TID's Sign project were slowly becoming convinced UFOs were extraterrestrial in origin during the course of the long accident investigation that continued through April. Loedding and Sneider got the Venus idea from Dr. Hynek who had only offhandedly suggested the planet as one possible explanation. They, however, used it as a cover or a quick fix to explain away what, at the time, became a very widely publicized incident in the midst of what was obviously going to be a long investigation. Sign team members thought they might have to suggest a far more shocking conclusion, but not before they had the time to develop the theory.

To Part 2_5

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