The Mantell Incident is among the most publicised early UFO reports was the crash of 25-year-old Kentucky Air National Guard pilot, Captain Thomas F. Mantel, on January 7, 1948.
That day, the Fort Knox airfield received report from the Kentucky State Highway Patrol, of an unusual arial object near Maysville, Kentucky,
Reports of a westbound circular object, 250 to 300 feet in diameter, were made from Owensburo, Kentucky and Irvington, Kentucky.
About 1.45pm, Sgt Quinton Blackwell saw an object from his position in the fort Know airfield control tower. Two other witnessess in the tower also reported a white object in the distance. Base commander Colonel Guy Hix reported an object he described as “very white”, and “about one fourth the size of the full moon … Through binoculars it appeared to have a red border at the bottom … It remained stationary, seemingly for one and a half hours.”
Four P-51 Mustangs already in the air were told to approch the object. Sgt Blackwell was in radio communication with the pilots throughout the event.
One pilot’s Mustang was low on fuel, and he quickly abandoned his efforts. Mantel described a “metalic object or possibly reflection of sun from a metallic object, and it is of tremendous size” above him, and reported its speed at about 180 miles per hour.
The other two pilots accompanied Mantel in a steep persuit of the obect. They later reported they saw an object, but described it as so small and indistinct they could not identify it. Mantell ignored suggestions that the pilots should level their altitude and try to more clearly see the object.
Only one of Mantell’s companions, Lt. Albert Clemmons, had an oxygen mask, and his oxygen was in low supply. Clemmons and a Lt. Hammond called of their persuit at 22,500 feet.
Mantel continued, however. A witness later reported a Mantell’s Mustang in a circling descent. His plane crashed at a farm
Firemen later pulled Mantel’s body from the Mustang’s wreckage. His wristwatch was stopped at 3.18pm, the time of his crash.
At 3.50pm, the object was no longer visible to Goodman or the others in the control tower.
The Air Force ruled that Mantell had misidentified the planet Venus, and had passed out at high altitude. Other reports suggested Mantel had misidentified a weather balloon.
Unconfirmed rumors have circulated, stating that Air Force officials suspected Mantell’s Mustang had been shot or otherwise damaged by an extraterrestrial spacecraft, and that officials supressed these reports.
The Mantell Incident was reported by news outlets, and received signifigant mainstream attention.
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