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USAF pilot chases UFO and dies in crash:

The Mantell case:

Thomas Mantell

Captain Thomas Mantell of the US Air Force, hero of the second world war, has piloted with great success, until his death while trying to catch up with an unidentified flying object he was trying to intercept.

Table of content:

Click! Summary of the events.
Click! Detailed report.
Click! Reinvestigation of the case by Ed. Ruppelt, head of project Blue Book.
Click! August 21st, 1952 newspaper article.
Click! January 8th, 1948 Franklin Newspaper article.
Click! Update of the Mantell case, article by Jerry Washington & Annie Macfie.
Click! Timeline.
Click! Discussion.
Click! References.

Events summary:

On January 7, 1948 at the beginning of the afternoon, an enormous round and brilliant object is seen above Madisonville in Kentucky by tens of witnesses. The authorities worry about this presence in the proximity of Fort Knox, the gold reserve of the United States, and give alarm at 01:30pm.

At 01:45pm, the object is announced to be above of the Godman Air Force base. Once above the field, it stops: the soldiers of the base see it oscillating slowly while changing regularly from a red to a white colour. Immediately, colonel Hix, commander in operations of the, orders a flotilla of 3 Mustangs F-51, in training patrol at this time, to contact the object.

The 3 fighters divert their route and fly towards the base, behind their leader, Captain Thomas Mantell. At 02:45pm, Mantell radios the control tower:

"The object is directly ahead of me and above me now, moving at about half my speed."

On the ground, colonel Hix follows the flight of the UFO with binoculars. It has the shape of an umbrella and its apparent size reaches that of half of the Moon. It is completely white, except a coloured band which seems pink. At the control tower, the radio is still busy: allegedly one of the pilots announces that the object has just disappeared in the clouds after a frightening acceleration. The pilots have to stop the chase, except Mantell who has not reached 6000 meters yet, and calls disappointedly:

"Impossible to close in on it. I give up immediately."

The complete silence which follows, is first intriguing, then worrying. A few hours later, 145 km off Godman, his body is found among the remains of his aircraft, allegedly "pulverized on a surface of several square kilometers." The strange death will raise a considerable agitation in all the United States.

Thomas Mantell

For the USAF, officially, two possibilities only are be considered: Mantell was killed pursuing either a balloon, or planet Venus.

Detailed event:

January 7, 1948, would be a day of tragedy for Captain Thomas F. Mantell of the Kentucky Air National Guard, and his family, friends, and fellow Guardsmen. The Mantell case would forever be a part of the hotbed of UFO reports of the late 1940s and early 1950s. He would have the unfortunate distinction of being the first human being to give his life in the ongoing chase for the elusive truth behind bizarre reports of flying craft from other worlds. Was his sighting a carry-over from the Foo-Fighters of World War II? or were they altogether another phenomena?..a phenomena that was just out of his reach. He gave all he had to reach this mysterious, intelligently controlled metallic craft, but whatever it was, and whoever controlled it, escaped that day.. the day that Thomas Mantell lost his life.

Mantell was piloting an F-51 that fateful day, soaring to Standiford Air Force Base, Kentucky. He was accompanied by three other Guard planes. At approximately 1:30 P.M. the Kentucky State Police began receiving reports from worried citizens of spotting a large circular object flying over the city of Mansville. In a matter of minutes the area of the sightings expanded to cover Irvington and Owensboro. This large, metallic flying craft was then clearly seen from the tower of Godman Air Force Base. The object was described as being an extremely large, round, whitish in color, with a red light toward it's bottom side, and seemed to be moving slowly toward the South. A little over an hour after the first reports, Mantell and his crew were asked to investigate these strange reports. The actual transcripts read," Godman Tower Calling the flight of 4 ships northbound over Godman Field. Do you read? Over. [Pause] Godman Tower Calling the flight of 4 ships northbound over Godman Field. Do you read? Over." "Roger, Godman Tower. This is National Guard 869, Flight Leader of the formation. Over." "National Guard 869 from Godman Tower. We have an object out south of Godman here that we are unable to identify, and we would like to know if you have gas enough; and if so could you take a look for us if you will." "Roger, I have the gas and I will take a look for you if you give me the correct heading. One of his three companions in flight received permission to continue his pre-assigned flight plan, while Mantell and the remaining two planes headed to the coordinates of the visual sightings.

Mantell led the way in the climb to 15,000 feet, and upon reaching the position, he radioed the following statement back to the control tower. "The object is directly ahead of and above me now, moving at about half my speed...It appears to be a metallic object or possibly reflection of Sun from a metallic object, and it is of tremendous size. . . . Iím still climbing. . . . Iím trying to close in for a better look." 18,000, 20,000, 22,000 feet! too high for the WWII fighters without oxygen! The other two planes turned back, leaving Mantell alone to pursue the giant object. By all accounts Mantell must have passed out from lack of oxygen at about 30,000; at least his plane leveled off at that height. His plane now began to plunge back toward earth. He crashed a few harrowing moments later on the farm of William J. Phillips near Franklin, Kentucky. Mantell's watch stopped at 3:16, and his body was still strapped in his plane, which become his coffin. He had spent 45 minutes in a frantic flight into the realm of the unknown. By 3:50, the giant craft was not visible from Godman, but other reports continued southward into Tennessee.

The reports of the incident spread like wildfire. Theory and speculation reached radio shows, television, and newspapers. The New York Times' story began with this headline, "Flier Dies Chasing A `Flying Saucer'," and another story was headlined with, "Plane Exploded Over Kentucky as That and Near States Report Strange Object." Common speculation that Mantell was chasing a UFO was countered by the Air Force, which initially concluded that Mantell and his co-hearts were chasing the planet Venus. They also announced that his death was directly related to oxygen deprivation. This almost comical conclusion was hastily put to rest by an eye witness, Glen Mays, who lived near Franklin. Mays stated categorically that Mantell's plane exploded in mid-air." The plane circled three times, like the pilot didnít know where he was going," reported Mays, "and then started down into a dive from about 20,000 feet. About halfway down there was a terrific explosion." Then again, there is the testimony of Godman Base Commander Guy F. Hix, who stated to reporters that he observed the craft for almost an hour through binoculars. He would not have confused what he saw with the planet Venus.

Richard T. Miller, who was in the Operations Room of Scott Air Force Base in Belleville, Illinois also made several profound statements regarding the crash. He was monitoring the radio talk between Mantell and Godman tower, and heard this statement very clearly. "My God, I see people in this thing!" Miller added that on the morning after the crash, at a briefing, investigators had stated that Mantell died "pursuing an intelligently controlled unidentified flying object." In conclusion, Miller made this statement, "that evening, Air Technical Intelligence Center officers from Wright-Patterson AFB arrived and ordered all personnel to turn over any materials relating to the crash. "Then, after we had turned it over to them, they said they had already completed the investigation." "I was no longer a skeptic. I had been up to that time. Now I wondered why the Government had gone to all of the trouble of covering it up, to keep it away from the press and the public."

In more recent years, additional information has come forward. Captain James F. Duesler, who was one of several military officers at Godman, was retired and living in England. In 1997, he stated that he and several other officers actually saw the gigantic UFO hovering over Godman field that day. Duesler, who was a pilot and crash investigator, stated, "the UFO was a strange gray-looking object, which looked like a rotating inverted ice cream cone." Shortly after the crash, Duesler visited the site, and made these observations, "The wings and tail section had broken off on impact with the ground and were a short distance from the plane," he recalled. "There was no damage to the surrounding trees and it was obvious that there had been no forward or sideways motion when the plane had come down. It just appeared to have "belly flopped" into the clearing. There was very little damaged to the fuselage, which was in one piece, and no signs of blood whatsoever in the cockpit. There was no scratching on the body of the fuselage to indicate any forward movement and the propeller blade bore no telltale scratch marks to show it had been rotating at the time of impact, and one blade had been embedded into the ground. The damage pattern was not consistent with an aircraft of this type crashing at high speed into the ground. Because of the large engine in the nose of the plane, it would come down nose first and hit the ground at an angle. Even if it had managed to glide in, it would have cut a swath through the trees and a channel into the ground. None of these signs were present. All indications were that it had just belly flopped into the clearing. I must admit, I found this very strange." To further debunk the "Venus" theory, astronomical records indicated that the planet was only 33 degrees above the horizon at the time of the incident, thus totally eliminating it from the case.

The Air Force, embarrassed by the "Venus" theory falling through, now searched for another "wordly" explanation for the object observed that day. After discovering that Naval research was sending up the enormous "Skyhook" balloons, the Air Force had their alternate solution. This theory was also soon aborted after discovering that no balloon was launched, or could have been in the skies that day. The UFO theory received even more foundation after Mantell's death. On January 8, residents of Clinton, North Carolina, reported a cone-shaped object moving through the skies at incredible speeds, and on February 1, a large metallic UFO was seen emitting an orange light near the ground at Circleville, Ohio. Whatever happened on the day that Thomas Mantell crashed his plane, it is quite certain that it was not a weather balloon, and it was not Venus, or any other planet.

In the newspapers:

Source: a newspaper, August 21 1952.

Last message of a US Pilot chasing an unidentified flying object:

Washington, 21 (AP) - US Air Force has revealed the details, yesterday, of the conversation held by a fighter pilot with the control tower of an airport a few minutes before he crashed while pursuing an unidentified object.

This incident occurred on January 7, 1948, near the air base of Godman, Fort-Knox, Kentucky.

The Air Force reveals that Captain Thomas Mantell, 25, "lost consciousness because of a lack of oxygen and that his plane crashed as he was attempting to chase an unknown flying object at a high altitude".

The report adds that no official transcription of the conversation has been recorded. However, later, the airmen present in the control tower at the time of the incident were interrogated.

Their declarations put together generated this version of the flight that cost the Captain's life. At approximately 02:45pm, Mantell stated that he saw the unidentified object "directly ahead and above me and flying at a speed twice less than mine". He continued: "It seems made out of metal and terribly large... it makes me think of the reflection of the sun on the transparent canopy of an airplane."

A few minutes later, Mantell announced that the object flies at the same speed than his aircraft... approximately 360 mph... and that "it is shining and going up above me" up to 15,000 feet.

Mantell said he was then going to reach 20,000 feet and that he would abandon the pursuit if he still does not succeed in closing in on the object. It was his last message.

The pilot has not announced that he had identified the object...

Source: Franklin Newspaper of January 8, 1948.

An aircraft explodes in flight, crashes on the grounds of Joe Phillips and kills the pilot.

A P-51 fighter aircraft of the Army exploded in full sky and crashed on Joe Phillips's farm at approximately 5 miles in the south of Franklin yesterday afternoon towards 03:30 pm, killing the pilot, identified as being Thomas F. Mantell, 3533 River Park Drive, Louisville. The plane's identification was Ky. NG 869.

Mrs. Joe Phillips said she was sitting at the fireplace when she heard the plane, with its engine seemingly at difficulty, flying close to the house. Almost at once there was a great explosion. Surprised, she looked though the window and saw the disintegrated aircraft strike the ground in a wooden area at approximately 200 yards of her house.

Pieces of the aircraft were found within a quarter of mile of the point of impact. Several Franklin people declared they have heard the explosion.

A vapor column still floated in the sky one hour after the crash.

Another eyewitness, Barbara Mayes, a student in Franklin said she saw the aircraft exploding as it was high in the sky. She waited for the bus that would bring her back home from the Lake Springs college when she saw the explosion.

This airplane crash is the second this month. The location of the explosion is at approximately three miles straight off the location where Ed Snow and Richard Mr. Thomason lost their lives on April 29, 1947.

Mrs. Joe Phillips said she called the telephone operator and asked for an ambulance and for help to be sent to the crash site.

The body of the deceased pilot has been removed from the scene by ambulance men and were transported to the Booker Funeral Home, waiting for the family's instructions, which was to be informed of the tragedy by the authorities at Fort Knox.

Second World War Veteran, Captain Mantell had taken part in the invasion of Normandy (June 6, 1944), and received the Distinguished Flying Cross inter alia decoration. One year ago, he received his leave of the army (1946). He leaves a wife and two children.

He took off from Louisville yesterday morning, for a training flight to Atlanta and was on the way back when the accident happened. Fort Knox personal in charge stated he had left Atlanta at 2 pm yesterday.

The deputy to the Chief of the Police, Reed Shoulders, said that police officer Bill Horn had mounted guard on the debris, waiting for the arrival of the concerned authorities.

The aircraft was operated by the National Air Guard of Kentucky.

Source: Dayton Journal-Herald.

Extracted from the article:

"... based on unpublished reports assembled at the Wright-Patterson Air Force base. The Air Force investigation has proved that the flying saucers "are not a joke." Neither are they a cause for alarm to the population."

"a report on new files at Wright-Patterson Airforce Base lists 240 domestic and 30 foreign accounts of flying discs as having been investigated. Of these 30 per cent seem to have been weather balloons and the like and 30 per cent more are perhaps explainable conventionally-leaving 40 per cent unexplained."

"The Air Force recently said there was no evidence that the discs were guided missiles fired from some other country, but that on the other hand it was not impossible that they were. Later the Air Force announced it was not making any further comments on the discs: "We can't prove pr disprove the existence of some of the remaining unidentified objects as real aircraft of unconventional design. The possibility that the saucers (the rest is illegible)."


Newspaper scan


Newspaper scan

Articles:

Update on the Mantell case.

Authors: Jerry Washington & Annie Macfie, source NICAP.

Franklin member Jodie Turner, Sr., has sent us some relevant new material published in Great Britain's UFO Magazine. Someone who was there when it happened has been found in England, and in his article, "The Fatal Flight of Thomas Mantell," Tony Dodd brings to light some important information.

James F. Duesler, a former Captain in the U.S. Army Air Corps, married an Englishwoman and emigrated to the United Kingdom many years ago. He told Dodd that in 1948 he had been stationed at Godman Field (Ft. Knox) and served as an investigator of air crashes. An official statement issued by the Dept. of Defense bears his name, but Duesler insisted that the document is a falsehood because he never made any statement concerning the Mantell Crash to any authority.

The elderly gentleman's story begins on the afternoon of January 7, 1948. He was called to the control tower at the airfield to observe "a strange, grey-looking object which was hovering some distance away." He described what he witnessed as shaped like an inverted ice cream cone and rotating, as evidenced by a vertical black line which seemed to be moving around it. The bottom of it looked red.

Duesler then told of some Air National Guard planes in the vicinity that the controller radioed to investigate. These were the four P-51D Mustangs under the command of Capt. Mantell. One of the four continued on to their destination (Louisville) because of low fuel. Soon, a second of the Mustangs left the formation, its pilot being unsure of his location and worried about becoming lost. He was given permission to return, and one of the other pilots was ordered to guide him to their base.

This explains why Mantell was left to pursue the unknown alone. At 15,000 feet he radioed Godman "that he had it in sight" and was closing in for a better look. This was to be the pilot's last transmission. To those in the control tower, the unidentified object was obscured by clouds. Apparently, concern for the Mustang in pursuit of it had not yet developed, for Duesler recalled, ".our interest in the object was lost, and I returned to my quarters."

Although Mantell was dead in the wreckage of his aircraft within 45 minutes of beginning his chase, Duesler was unaware of any further developments until 1:00 AM when he was awakened to return to the tower. A glowing, orange, cigar-shaped UFO was being observed as it circled in the distance. Reports of a similarly described object were coming in from St. Louis and Wright-Patterson Air Base in Ohio.

Duesler eventually went back to bed, but he would not rest for long. At 3:00 AM he was summoned to investigate a plane crash. When he and two other accident investigators arrived on the scene, 130 miles away, near Franklin, they were puzzled by what they found.

Because of the weight of the engine, he maintained, the Mustang should have nose-dived straight into the ground; however, it appeared to have "belly-flopped" into a small clearing, doing no damage to the surrounding woods. Although the wings and tail had broken off, the fuselage sustained little damage, and no blood was evident in the cockpit. The pilot's body had already been taken away, but Duesler was informed by others at the scene that ".nowhere on the body had the skin been punctured or penetrated, yet all the bones had been crushed and pulverized."

Duesler admitted he found the circumstances of the accident strange. "The damage pattern was not consistent with an aircraft of this type crashing into the ground," he was quoted as saying. "The official report said that Mantell had blacked out due to lack of oxygen. This may well have been the case, but the aircraft came down in a strange way."

A reader, Graham Conway of British Columbia, wrote to the magazine to ask the obvious question: "Why such a lengthy delay [in sending Duesler to investigate twelve hours after the crash]? Were the `backroom boys' already at work fabricating a web of lies? It seems the truth will come out. It's only taken fifty years for this balloon story to deflate. I wonder how many more are yet to come?"

Timeline:

Time: Place: Event:
January 7, 1948 1:15pm CST Fort Knox, Kentucky Several hundred people observed an unusual aircraft or object over Kentucky that was circular and 250 to 300 feet in diameter. The State Police reported it to The Fort Knox Military Police. The MPs, in turn, reported the object to nearby Godman Air Force Base. The object was then sighted over Irvington and then Owensboro, Kentucky, as it slowly moved south.
1:45 p.m. CST Godman AFB control tower T/Sgt. Quinton A. Blackwell, chief operator at the Godman AFB control tower, saw the object and pointed it out to PFC Stanley Oliver. Oliver said: "...to me it had the resemblance of an ice cream cone topped with red."
2:07 p.m. CST Godman AFB control tower Tower personnel call the operations officer, Captain Gary W. Carter, who wrote later: "Lt. Orner pointed out the object to the southwest, which was easily discernable with the naked eye. The object appeared round and white and could be seen through cirrus clouds." Carter watched the object for a few minutes through field glasses.
2:20 p.m. CST Godman AFB control tower Captain Carter called commanding officer Colonel Guy F. Hix, who came to the control tower.
2:40 p.m. CST Godman AFB control tower Four F-51D aircraft belonging to the 165th Fighter Squadron of the Kentucky Air National Guard and en route from Marietta AFB at Marietta, Georgia to Standiford AFB, Kentucky, approached from the south. The leader of the low-altitude navigational training flight was Captain Thomas F. Mantell, a pilot with 2867 hours of flight time. Godman tower asked Captain Mantell if he would investigate the object. Mantell said he would, and began a spiraling climb to 15,000 feet. He was joined by Lt. Clements and Lt. Hammond. The fourth pilot, Lt. Hendricks, continued on to Standiford AFB.
2:45 p.m. CST Mantell's P-51 At about 14,000 feet, Mantell radioed that he had the object in sight. At 15,000 feet, Mantell reported: "The object is directly ahead of me and above me now, moving at about half my speed."
3:15 p.m. CST Mantell's P-51 Mantell radioed: "It appears to be a metallic object or possible reflections of sun from a metallic object, and it is of tremendous size. I'm still climbing, the object is above and ahead of me moving at my speed or faster. I'm trying to close in for a better look." As the three planes reached 22,000 feet, Clements and Hammond broke off pursuit due to lack of oxygen. The planes had not been serviced with oxygen at Marietta AFB. Mantell kept going, saying he would continue to 25,000 feet for 10 minutes. Subsequent transmissions were garbled and Mantell failed to respond to attempts to contact him. Colonel Hix sent two other pursuit planes after him, but they did not locate him.
3:40pm P-51s The two other pilots, Clements and Hammond, had gone on to Standiford AFB, refueled and gotten their oxygen tanks filled, and taken off again. As they neared Godman AFB, Lieutenant Clements said the object: "...appears like the reflection of sunlight on an airplane canopy."
3:50 p.m. CST Godman AFB control tower Godman Tower lost sight of the object and reports began coming in from southern Kentucky and northern Tennessee.
4:00 p.m. CST Madisonville, Elizabethtown, Lexington The object was seen at Madisonville, Elizabethtown, and Lexington, Kentucky.
4:30 p.m. CST Nashville, Tennessee An astronomer at Vanderbilt University watched an object in the sky south-southeast of Nashville.
5:00 p.m. CST Franklin, Kentucky The debris of Mantell's plane was found on a farm near Franklin. The seatbelt that held his shattered body was shredded. His watch had stopped at 3:18 p.m. The positions of the controls indicated that he had probably passed out from lack of oxygen at about 25,000 feet, the plane had continued to climb to 30,000 feet, then leveled out before going into a high-speed dive. The throttle position indicated that Mantell had regained consciousness when the plane reached a lower altitude and had unsuccessfully tried to slow the plane down and pull out of the dive.
Hours later, around sunset Midwest airfields A flaming object was seen just above the southwest horizon by towers at a dozen airfields in the Midwest.

Discussion:

"Star Trek" fans will remember the original-series episode "Tomorrow is Yesterday." Here, the starship "Enterprise" is accidentally catapulted back in time to the mid-1960s. In the opening sequence, a U.S. Air Force jet is sent to intercept a UFO over the American Midwest, which turns out to be the "Enterprise." Fearful of the planeís air-to-air missiles, "Captain Kirk" orders that an energy-beam be used to hold the plane off until the starship can climb back into outer space. However, the plane proves too flimsy to withstand the beamís energy and starts to break apart. As its pilot is "beamed" aboard the "Enterprise" the planeís wreckage crashes to earth. UFO savants will easily recognize that this episode has been inspired by the tragic "Mantell Incident" of 1947.

The press picked up on the story immediately, and wild stories began circulating: Mantell had been shot down by Russians; the plane had been riddled with bullet holes; Mantell had been shot down by a spacecraft; the cockpit had been empty when the plane was found; the wreckage was highly radioactive. No evidence of anything like this has ever surfaced.

Serious UFO debunkers maintained that the accident was caused by a non-functioning oxygen mask, which does not rule out that the plane was maybe chasing a UFO, while ufologists cited the hundreds of mysterious small holes allegedly found in the wreckage of Mantellís plane.

The Air Force came out with several "theories" in succession. They first said Mantell had been chasing the planet Venus, in the Air Intelligence Report of 1952 you can read these lines, no mention of the tragic issue of the chase been made:

b. On 19 August 1948, at approximately 1050 hours an unidentified object was visible from the ground at Godman Air Force Base, Kentucky. This object was estimated to be at about 30,000 to 40,000 feet altitude, spherical in shape, bright silver color and gave a bright reflection from the sun. An F-51 was dispatched from Standiford Air Force Base, Kentucky, to observe the object. During observation from the ground, there was no change in the elevation of the object and it seemed to be moving southwest from Godman Air Force Base. The F-51 which was flying over Godman AFB at an altitude of 30,000 to 35,000 feet reported that it was unable to locate the object although it was still visible from the ground to the naked eye. Azimuth and elevation readings were taken by theodolite every minute and the path of the object was charted.

The object was determined to be the planet Venus by Mr. Moore, the head astronomer at the University of Louisville, Louisville, Kentucky. It is believed that earlier Incidents at Godman Field (reference paragraph 2k, page 12, Appendix "C") may also have been observations of the planet Venus.

However, although Venus was in the right part of the sky for some of the sightings, it was not at maximum brightness, and, at most, would have been a tiny pinpoint of light, certainly not "huge" or "tremendous", as the object was described.

Interestingly enough, the theodolite measurements made at the time have certainly established that it is not a celestial body but a moving body whose path has been charted, otherwise that would have been no need to fly an aircraft in pursuit of it. The report acknowledges that there were other observations earlier at Godman. Planet Venus was certainly busy that day!

The next explanation proffered by the Air Force was the old standby of weather balloon. The apparent size of the object, and the fact that it was seen simultaneously by people in towns hundreds of miles apart makes this explanation quite impossible.

The next "explanation" offered was that of "sundog" or "parhelion", by Professor Donald Menzel, a noted skeptic. A sundog is a phenomena whereby light is reflected off ice crystals high in the atmosphere to create an illusion of a large, bright object. The problem with this explanation is that, to see a sundog, you must be in a precise position, much like seeing a rainbow. Since the viewer and the ice crystals and the sun must be in the correct relationship to each other, it would be impossible for people in three different towns, miles apart, to see a sundog simultaneously, when viewing it from different directions relative to the sun.

The final attempt at an explanation was that it was a Navy Skyhook balloon released from Clinton AFB, Ohio. These balloons were very large, and very high-altitude balloons used for measuring cosmic rays. They were top-secret in 1948. This explanation was never proven, though. No one could find any documentation that a balloon of any kind had been launched at the proper time and/or place for it to have traveled the path that the object had traveled.

However years later some sources determined that a secret balloon experiment was indeed performed in the area, having been launched from Minnesota the day before, and was certainly responsible for the sightings over Kentucky that day. The government was covering up, but not a flying saucer. This is very similar to the UFO events in my 2001 news page, when a huge MIR balloon was confused for a UFO by ground observers, and chased by jet fighters who could not reach it because it was too high. Three days later, a local ufologist found that it was a MIR balloon. The difference is that there were no accident.

A genuine UFO event cannot be completely ruled out, as I have not found the "proof" that it was indeed a huge secret balloon. But in that event, the most probable explanation was that a secret giant balloon was conducted in the area by Army or Navy personal, while the Air Force was not informed. It resulted in a tragic accident, probably related to an oxygen problem, in which the death of a top pilot raised nationwide attention. It is quite understandable that the Military did prefer to let the UFO rumour grow rather than to aknowledge that a pilot died because of a lack of communication in the army. Also, understandably, they would not like the idea to let the public know about large secret balloons.

To accept this seemingly consistent explanation, one must ignore a certain number of testimonies, such as the one from Capitaine Duesler, indicating that the crashed aircraft was in a condition too good to be explained by a direct hit to the ground: the aircraft, according to Duesler, was simply laying in a forest clearing, separated from its wing but without any indication of violent hit to the ground, with an intact propeller for example. Other accounts also needs to be ignored whatever the explanation one prefers, such as the farmer who witnessed an alleged explosion of the aircraft in the middle of the air. If the aircraft has exploded before touching the ground, it cannot be as intact as Capitain Druessler said it was.

But on the other end it must not be forgotten that many UFO events took place in the same area and the same period of time, in which the secret baloon explanation cannot be maintained. This is why the UFO explanation cannot completely be excluded from this story of a tragic incident. In any case it must be noted that there is no evidence that the flying object itself, UFO or baloon, would be the direct cause of the plane's crash. There is also little chance that the alleged strangeness of the crash site's characteristic mentioned by some will ever be confirmed or denied by evidence.

Conclusion:

The real interesting lesson from the event is that UFO skeptics ridiculed themselves in trying various "explanations" to rule out the UFO. In particular, the traditional explanation by the "planet Venus" has been the first ridicule proposition by skeptics. The totally abstract proposition of a parhelion phenomenon, in disrespect of the facts, by Professor Donald Menzel is very telling of the attitude of UFO debunking scientists. Anything, really anything, can be put forth as explanation, even when there is no fact to corroborate it. Some skeptics rather build up a new physical phenomenon that admit that even one case of UFO observation cannot be explained in terms of natural phenomenon. Such constructions are often provided by known debunkers such as Philip Klass. On the contrary, serious scientists who became convinced of the reality of the phenomenon, as well as most respectable ufologists, do not feel any need to explain every incident or sighting by extra-terrestrial craft.

References:

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