Here are some more links to notable witness accounts:
• Mantell Incident Statements
• Statement by Captain Carter
• Statement by Lt. Paul Orner
• Statement by Col. Guy Hix
• Direct link to Mantell directory
4. Alternate Explanations
Inexperience with P-51?
This explanation could be used as a secondary explanation to the crash but not as the primary. This does not account for the visual confirmation of
the actual object.
Courtesy of professor-astronomy.com
This is more possible but still not likely as the astronomical reports state that Venus would not have been observable at this time. Not to mention
the fact that it is highly unlikely that multiple trained military personal would confuse the planet Venus with a UFO.
A Skyhook Balloon?
Courtesy of Wikipedia.org
The Mantell Crash was quickly investigated by Project Sign, the Air Force's new research group which had been created to study UFO incidents.
Though Project Sign's staff never came to a conclusion, other Air Force investigators ruled that Mantell had misidentified the planet Venus, and,
wrongly believing that he could close in to get a better look, had passed out from the lack of oxygen at high altitude.
However, this conclusion was later changed, because although Venus was roughly in the same position as the UFO, astronomers working for Project Sign
ruled that Venus would have been nearly invisible to observers at that time of day. The cause of Mantell's crash remains officially listed as
undetermined by the Air Force.
Again possible, but not likely. It is note worthy to say that this was a top secret Navy project and no one at the airbase would have known of it. It
also can somewhat fit the description of the craft. The Skyhook balloon was about 100 feet in diameter and metallic in color. This however does not
account for the remaining size discrepancy nor the color changing of the craft. Also it does not account for the people observed in the craft or the
large umbrella shape of the craft. Although it is true that Skyhook balloons were launched on January 7th in Clinton County, Ohio the fact is they
were 150 miles northeast of the base. This has been disputed as other investigations show that no balloon was launched on that day. Also I highly
doubt that even without knowledge of the balloons experienced military officers and pilots would have mistaken any form of balloon for a unknown
craft. As you saw in the picture above it obviously looks like a balloon. This is however the most likely alternate explanation. Even though the USAF
could not (lol) locate any records of any balloons being launched on that day they still maintain this as true.
New Information comes to light…
Link to Skyhook launch charts
5.USAF Conclusions and My Research
Updated: 24 August 2007:
In March of 2006, Drew Speier* of WFIE TV in Evansville, Indiana, asked me to help them produce a segment on the Mantell incident for Channel 14. I
advised him that there were much better UFO cases and that there was considerable controversy surrounding the case. In hopes of doing other, much
better segments in the future, I consented to do the show for the May showing. The show aired on May 23 (transcript). Our thanks to Mr. Speier and
WFIE, as we re-opened the case and found some surprising new information. An update by WFIE was "filmed" on June 28th and shown on the 26th of July
Several official documents indicate that the Skyhook balloon theory does not work.
1) Skyhook balloons were NOT classified; their missions were. A Popular Science article released only a few months later in May of 1948 proves this.
But three years later the Navy made the ridiculous debunking claim in 1951 that secret Skyhooks explained all the "reliable" reports.
2) A "restricted" document shows that Kentucky State Police and callers described an object as "250-300 feet in diameter and moving at a pretty
good clip" which later evidence proved was definitely not a Skyhook. The location of the Skyhook south of Nashville was confirmed in another
restricted document mentioning world renowned astronomer, Dr. Carl Seyfert, discoverer of the "Seyfert galaxies," among other observers and is in
both AF files and news reports. Columbia, Tennessee observers saw it to the north at about the same time as Seyfert and Nashville witnesses, and this
brackets the Skyhook's location in the middle about 150 miles from Godman Field and impossible as a stimulus for the primary cases. Incidentally, the
Popular Science article even shows the Skyhook launched on January 6th!!! Three other sets of restricted or confidential documents describe an object
250-300' in diameter and much closer. For details see USAF-SIGN1 280, USAF-SIGN1-376, and MAXW-PBB3 680-681.
Accident report documents (and others) are also allowing us to construct an accurate flight timetable for the Mantell chase and it apparently proves
that all the previous scenarios of what happened are wrong, simply because Mantell's wingmen lied about it afterward to cover up their complicity in
flying too high without oxygen.
To re-hash what I stated earlier the first official explanation from the USAF by Captain Edward J. Ruppelt was that Mantell lost consciousness while
pursuing an unknown object, and thus crashed. This was later changed to a more conventional “balloon theory” (sound familiar?)Here are some
• The first team to investigate were from the USAF Project Sign(which later became Bluebook), they stated that Mantell mistook Venus for a UFO. We
now know that is not true as Venus could not have been seen at that time.
• After the embarrassment of the Venus explanation the USAF found another explanation, that was the Skyhook Balloon. Although there were conflicting
accounts of any balloons being launched that day. A lot of researchers believe this was simply a convenient cover story, like Project Mogul was for
• It is interesting to note that the final official report from the USAF was that Mantell was mistakenly chasing a balloon and blacked out due to
Hypoxia. The Project Bluebook report was that the object and cause of the crash was unknown. But it was speculated that the crash was caused from
pilot Hypoxia, the object still remains unknown.
In 1956, USAF Captain Edward J. Ruppelt, the supervisor of the Air Force's Project Blue Book study into the UFO mystery, would write that the
Mantell Crash was one of three "classic" UFO cases in 1948 that would help to define the UFO phenomenon in the public mind, and would help to
convince Air Force intelligence specialists that UFOs were a "real", physical phenomenon.
But yet he reverses his statement later and becomes one of the prime proponents of the balloon theory? Again doesn’t this sound familiar(Roswell in
case you haven’t figured out already)?
• We have a source who worked with the Skyhook project say that no balloons were launched from Clinton County, Ohio until July 9th, 1952.
• We are left with the fact that the nearest point of origin for a Skyhook was Camp Ripley, Minnesota.
• At an average drift speed of 18-25 MPH it is possible that a balloon could travel the 750 miles to Fort Knox with an 8 AM launch on the day prior
to the sightings.
• It is possible if you plot a course from Camp Ripley to Fort Knox to believe that indeed it could have been a simple balloon,however one must take
into account the fact that the craft was seen moving westward at times, this is in the wrong direction
if the southeastern path is to be taken
into account. This could be due to witness mistakes or changes in local wind direction. What about the stationary path reported at 1:45 PM by ground
personal? This could be due to localized drift variations, although those are more common in the Summer months. Another aspect to take into account is
that Mantell stated the object moving at around 180 MPH, that is not acceptable for a balloon theory.
• Also what is not acceptable is the “time warp” as I call it (copyrighted,lol) where the object was spotted in Columbia, Tennessee(which is 50
miles south of Nashville) BEFORE it was spotted in Nashville! That is not possible if you believe the southeast track of Skyhook to be true. Was there
TWO CRAFT, one Skyhook and the other something else?
Timeline of Events
1:20PM CST: Godman tower informed, other sightings continue west of Fort Knox near Irvington and Owensboro.
Air Force Captain Edward J. Ruppelt (the first head of Project Blue Book) notes that there was some disagreement amongst the air traffic
controllers as to Mantell's words as he communicated with the tower: some sources reported that Mantell had described an object "which looks
metallic and of tremendous size," but others disputed whether or not Mantell actually said this.
1:45PM CST: Multiple ground witnesses at Godman base report object, visuals range from a “ice cream cone shaped object topped with red” to
“like an umbrella with red changing from top to bottom.”
2:45PM CST: Mantell told to intercept, makes visual with object. Godman says the object “dwarfs the size of the planes”. Mantell continues
persuit while other planes abandon. States object matches or exceeds his speed.
3:18PM CST: Mantell crashes and dies.
3:20PM CST: Third shift takes over at base and is told they are pursuing a “disc, balloon, or strange object”.
4:05PM CST: Mantells comrades re take flight after refueling not knowing he had crashed.
4:30PM CST: Vanderbilt University astronomer sees an object near Nashville, Tennessee, south-southeast of city.
After this the sightings stopped in the regions. It is interesting to note once again however, that the Skyhook was spotted in Columbia
,Tennessee(at 4:05PM) BEFORE it was spotted in Nashville(at 4:30PM). I live in Columbia, we are about 50 miles south of Nashville. How is this
possible? Is it indeed that there was a Skyhook in the area BUT there was also something else?
Although other reports from Ohio came later that
night they are thought to be unrelated and likely from the planet Venus. Rather or not this is true remains to be proven, although it is likely the
explanation for the later Ohio sightings. The problem I have with the Skyhook(one of many problems actually) is that if the UFO was indeed the Skyhook
than why was this story allowed to spread and be investigated by Bluebook? One explanation is that the Navy (who owned the project) did not want to be
held accountable for Mantells death and thus stayed out of it. But then why do we have some officials saying the balloon was launched from Ohio and
others saying Minnesota? The theory, regardless if true or not, is as always with the military a complete mess and puzzle.
• Fort Ripley Skyhook launch overlay
• Direct link to Mantell directory
6. Final Conclusions
Courtesy of ufocentral.org
(Click link for full
That map was a detailed overlay of the flight path of the P-51s with respect to sightings from first observation in Kentucky to last sighting in
We have here one of the most researched, debated, and publicized UFO-aircraft encounter cases there is. There is a plethora of information but still
no final absolute. In fact this is in general terms one of the best UFO cases. But as usual there is serious conflicting reports from both sides
(debunkers and believers), with that said there is still enough evidence to make a good judgement on what happened. It all comes down to your core
beliefs for most; d you believe or not? It shouldn’t, it should come down to the facts but it is what it is. There are equally good and bad
arguments from both sides of this; one side has much documentation,professional opinions, and the status quo. But it has conflicting stories and
things that just don’t add up with logic. Like do you really think all these military officials would act like this over a balloon? Why are there so
many conflictions of “facts” and change of testimony? Why did this craft seemingly cause a “time warp”(just a metaphor!) by being seen 50
miles south of Nashville BEFORE it was seen I Nashville? Talk about a paradox!
On the other side of the argument you have the expertise of war hardened military officials who were convinced this was something “unknown”, and
remember the Skyhook projects weren’t classified, only their launch dates. Why did a two time World War Two medal winner and commander risk his life
knowingly for just a balloon or Venus? Logic says he would know the difference. A lot of unusual weather conditions would have had to occur to cause
this “balloon” to make some of the flight paths and speed changes it made as well. Why did the head of Bluebook state this was one of the
“classic” cases that changed UFOs perception by the military and then recant that later? What about the “missing” transcripts? On the flip
side of this however, you have the documentation and later statements from official and trusted sources offering compelling evidence in favor of a
balloon. You have observations from astronomers on the ground in Tennessee describing a Skyhook almost to detail. Then you have the “War Nerves”
that are expected immediately after a world war. The biggest thing like always is of course the total lack of a “smoking gun”, the only thing is
the transmissions (which are debated) of a dead pilot, witness reports, and circumstantial evidence. All in all this one is pretty even in my opinion,
one must look heavily at the facts and decide based not on bias, but logic as to what really happened. We also must not forget while getting caught up
in this research that what ever the cause, rather it be the first UFO caused death or a tragic misunderstanding; that a young human life was lost on
that January 7th day in 1948. A family lost their son and brother,friends lost their friends, and the United States lost a soldier. I do pray for him
or anyone that I found has died as it is only respectful. Well that’s all I have right now so I hope someone finds this interesting and everybody
have a great weekend!
Mod-Note: Typo Corrected.
[edit on 16-5-2009 by Skyfloating]