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Mantell UFO incident
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Historian David M. Jacobs argues the Mantell case marked a sharp shift in both public and governmental perceptions of UFOs. Previously, the news media often treated UFO reports with a whimsical or glib attitude reserved for silly season news. Following Mantell's death, however, Jacobs notes "the fact that a person had died in an encounter with an alleged flying saucer dramatically increased public concern about the phenomenon. Now a dramatic new prospect entered thought about UFOs: they might be not only extraterrestrial but potentially hostile as well." However, later investigation by the US Air Force's Project Blue Book indicated that Mantell may have died chasing a Skyhook balloon, which in 1948 was a top-secret project that Mantell would not have known about.
OverviewMantell was an experienced pilot; his flight history consisted of 2,167 hours in the air, and he had been honored for his part in the Battle of Normandy during World War II.
On 7 January 1948, Godman Field at Fort Knox, Kentucky, received a report from the Kentucky Highway Patrol of an unusual aerial object near Madisonville, Kentucky. Reports of a westbound circular object, 250–300 feet (80–90 m) in diameter, were received from Owensboro and Irvington.
At about 1:45 p.m., Sergeant Quinton Blackwell saw an object from his position in the control tower at Fort Knox. Two other witnesses in the tower also reported a white object in the distance. Colonel Guy Hix, the base commander, 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." Observers at Clinton County Army Air Field in Ohio described the object "as having the appearance of a flaming red cone trailing a gaseous green mist" and observed the object for around 35 minutes. Another observer at Lockbourne Army Air Field in Ohio noted, "Just before leaving it came to very near the ground, staying down for about ten seconds, then climbed at a very fast rate back to its original altitude, 10,000 feet, leveling off and disappearing into the overcast heading 120 degrees. Its speed was greater than 500 mph (800 km/h) in level flight."
Four F-51D Mustangs of C Flight, 165th Fighter Squadron Kentucky Air National Guard, already in the air—one piloted by Mantell—were told to approach the object. Blackwell was in radio communication with the pilots throughout the event.
One pilot's Mustang was low on fuel, and he quickly returned to base. 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 according to Ruppelt, others disputed whether or not Mantell actually said this.
The other two pilots accompanied Mantell in steep pursuit of the object. They later reported they saw an object, but described it as so small and indistinct that 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 wingmen, Lt. Albert Clements, had an oxygen mask, and his oxygen was in low supply. Clements and the third pilot, Lt. Hammond, called off their pursuit at 22,500 feet (6,900 m). Mantell continued to climb, however. According to the Air Force, once Mantell passed 25,000 feet (7,600 m) he blacked out from the lack of oxygen (hypoxia), and his plane began spiraling back towards the ground. A witness later reported Mantell's Mustang in a circling descent. His plane crashed on a farm south of Franklin, Kentucky, on the Kentucky–Tennessee state line.
Firemen later pulled Mantell's body from the Mustang's wreckage. His seat belt was shredded, and his wristwatch had stopped at 3:18 p.m., the time of his crash. Meanwhile, by 3:50 p.m. the UFO was no longer visible to observers at Godman Field. The Mantell incident was reported by newspapers around the nation, and received significant news media attention. A number of sensational rumors were also circulated about Mantell's crash. According to UFO historian Curtis Peebles, among the rumors were claims that "the flying saucer was a Soviet missile; it was [an alien] spacecraft that shot down [Mantell's fighter] when it got too close; Captain Mantell's body was found riddled with bullets; the body was missing; the plane had completely disintegrated in the air; [and] the wreckage was radioactive." However, no evidence has ever surfaced to substantiate any of these claims, and Air Force investigation specifically refuted some claims, such as the supposedly radioactive wreckage. Captain Ruppelt wrote that "I had always heard a lot of wild speculation about the condition of Mantell's crashed F-51, so I wired for a copy of the accident report. [It] said that...Mantell's body had not burned, not disintegrated, and was not full of holes; the wreck was not radioactive, nor was it magnetized." Mantell was the first member of the Kentucky Air National Guard to die in flight. According to John Trowbridge, historian of the Kentucky National Guard, "There is a real X-Files twist to this, too. Mantell lived almost his entire life in Louisville. But he was born in a hospital in Franklin, only a few miles from where he was killed."
In 1956, Ruppelt wrote 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 convince some Air Force intelligence specialists that UFOs were a "real", physical phenomenon. The other two "classic" sightings in 1948 were the Chiles-Whitted UFO encounter and the Gorman dogfight.
Venus explanation and rejectionThe Mantell crash was investigated by Project Sign, the first Air Force research group assigned to investigate UFO reports. One writer noted that "The people on Project Sign worked fast on the Mantell Incident. Contemplating a flood of queries from the press as soon as they heard about the crash, they realized that they had to get a quick answer. Venus had been the target of a chase by an Air Force F-51 several weeks before and there were similarities between this sighting and the Mantell Incident. So...the word 'Venus' went out. Mantell had unfortunately been killed trying to reach the planet Venus." An Air Force major who was interviewed by several reporters following Mantell's crash "flatly stated that it was Venus."
In 1952 USAF Captain Edward Ruppelt, the supervisor of Project Blue Blook, Project Sign's successor, was ordered to reinvestigate the Mantell Incident. Ruppelt spoke with Dr. J. Allen Hynek, an astronomer at Ohio State University and scientific consultant to Project Sign and Project Blue Book. Hynek had supplied Project Sign with the Venus explanation in 1948, mainly because Venus had been in the same place in the sky that Mantell's UFO was observed. However, by 1952 Dr. Hynek had concluded that the Venus explanation was incorrect, because "Venus wasn't bright enough to be seen" by Mantell and the other witnesses, and because a considerable haze was present that would have further obscured the planet in the sky. Ruppelt also noted Dr. Hynek's statement that Venus, even if visible, would have been a "pinpoint of light", but that eyewitness "descriptions plainly indicated a large object. None of the descriptions could even vaguely be called a pinpoint of light."
Skyhook balloon explanationHaving rejected the Venus explanation, Captain Ruppelt began to research other explanations for the incident. He was particularly interested in a suggestion by Dr. Hynek that Mantell could have misidentified a US Navy Skyhook weather balloon. Others disputed this idea, noting that no particular Skyhook balloon could be conclusively identified as being in the area in question during Mantell's pursuit. Despite this objection, Ruppelt thought the Skyhook explanation was plausible: the balloons were a secret Navy project at the time of Mantell's crash, were made of reflective aluminum, and were about 100 feet (30 m) in diameter, consistent with Mantell's description of a large metallic object. Since the Skyhook balloons were secret at the time, neither Mantell nor the other observers in the air control tower would have been able to identify the UFO as a Skyhook. Furthermore, later research by Project Blue Book and UFO skeptics revealed that multiple Skyhook balloons had been launched on 7 January 1948 in Clinton County, Ohio, approximately 150 miles (240 km) northeast of Fort Knox. UFO skeptic Philip Klass argued that wind currents at the time would have blown the balloons close to the area of the Mantell Incident. Additionally, when Captain Ruppelt investigated the case in 1952, he found that at least two observers in separate locations had reported viewing an object through a telescope close to the time and location of the incident, and both observers stated that it was a large balloon.
Project Skyhook was legally linked with General Mills, the cereal company, Jean Piccard, the French Balloonist, and Otto C. Winzen of Winzen Research.
Inexperience with the P-51Researchers have also noted that while Mantell was an experienced pilot, he was rather new to the P-51, and that this relative inexperience could have been a factor in the crash. This does not, of course, account for the identity of the UFO itself.
Thomas Mantell biography
|Born||30 June 1922
Franklin, Kentucky, U.S.
|Died||7 January 1948 (aged 25)
near Franklin, Kentucky, U.S.
|Allegiance||United States of America|
|Service/branch|| United States Air Force
|Years of service||1942–1948|
|Unit||440th Troop Carrier Group|
|Battles/wars||World War II (Operation Overlord)|
|Awards||Distinguished Flying Cross
CareerMantell graduated from Male High School in Louisville. On 16 June 1942, Mantell joined the U.S. Army Air Corps, finishing Flight School on 30 June 1943. During World War II, he was assigned to the 440th Troop Carrier Group, which air dropped the 101st Airborne Division into Normandy, France on 6 June 1944.
After the war, Mantell returned to Louisville, joining the newly formed Kentucky Air National Guard on 16 February 1947. He became a F-51D Mustang pilot in the 165th Fighter Squadron.
Following his death in January 1948, Mantell's remains were returned to Louisville for burial in the Zachary Taylor National Cemetery.
On 29 September 2001, the Simpson County Historical Society unveiled a historical marker in honor of Thomas Mantell in his hometown of Franklin. The marker is located at the exit off Interstate 65.
- Distinguished Flying Cross
- Air Medal with three oak leaf clusters
- Distinguished Unit Citation
- American Campaign Medal
- European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with two campaign stars
- World War II Victory Medal
- Jerome Clark. (1998). The UFO Book: Encyclopedia of the Extraterrestrial, Visible Ink, ISBN 1-57859-029-9
- David Michael Jacobs. (1975). The UFO Controversy In America, Indiana University Press, ISBN 0-253-19006-1
- Philip J. Klass. (1974). UFOs Explained, Random House, hardback ISBN 0-394-49215-3; Vintage Books, paperback ISBN 0-394-72106-3
- Curtis Peebles. (1994). Watch the Skies! A Chronicle of the Flying Saucer Myth, Smithsonian Institution, ISBN 1-56098-343-4
- Edward J. Ruppelt. (1956). The Report on Unidentified Flying Objects, Doubleday Books
- This page was last edited on 15 July 2017, at 08:48.
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On Saturday, 29 September 2001, the Simpson County Historical Society unveiled a historical marker in honor of Thomas F. Mantell, Jr.
The blue and gold plaque stands outside the Simpson County tourist office.
Thursday, 17 August 2017
Saturday, 12 August 2017
Wreck of General Grant
|Owner:||Boyes, Richardson & Co|
|Builder:||Built in Maine|
|Fate:||Wrecked 13 May 1866, Auckland Island|
|Class and type:||Barque|
|Tons burthen:||1,005 tons|
|Length:||179 ft 6 in (54.71 m)|
|Beam:||34 ft 6 in (10.52 m)|
|Draft:||21 ft 6 in (6.55 m)|
WreckShe departed Melbourne on 4 May 1866 bound for London via Cape Horn, under the command of Captain William H. Loughlin. She was carrying 58 passengers and 25 crew, along with a cargo of wool, skins, 2,576 ounces of gold, and 9 tons of zinc spelter ballast. Included in the passenger list were a number of successful miners from the Australian gold fields.
At 11pm on 13 May 1866, the Auckland Islands were sighted dead ahead. With only light winds the crew were unable to change course, and she collided against the cliffs and drifted into a large cave on Auckland Island's western shore. The rising tide and increasing swell caused the main mast to hit the cave roof repeatedly until the mast forced a hole through the hull; the ship sank on 14 May 1866. Although the weather remained calm, the boats were not launched immediately on the ship entering the cave as it was very dark, there was no obvious landing place, and pieces of spars and rock were falling down continually.
Once daylight arrived the three boats on board were prepared for launch. The boats consisted of two quarter boats (each 22 feet long) and a long boat of 30 feet. One of the quarter boats was launched first and sent outside to see if landing could be made. The boat was expected to return for more people but instead waited outside the cave as no landing could be found. By this time the swell was increasing. The second quarter boat took a number of passengers and crew, including Mrs Jewell, to the first boat for transfer. The long boat was lying on the quarter deck and was filled with passengers. The ship was sinking fast and the long boat floated off General Grant's decks. Unfortunately, the long boat was swamped with water just after getting clear of the ship. The second quarter boat stayed out of the danger area, but three people (David Ashworth, Aaron Hayman, and William Sanguily) were able to swim through the surf to the quarter boat. A total of fifteen people, including 9 crew and 6 passengers, survived the wreck. The captain did not leave the ship.
Passengers and crewThe list of those on General Grant includes:
- William H. Loughlin of New York - Captain - Drowned at time of wreck
- Bartholmew Brown of Boston - First officer - Lost at sea attempting to reach New Zealand
- B. F. Jones of Massachusetts - Second officer - Drowned at time of wreck
- Magnes Anderson of Sweden - Carpenter - Drowned at time of wreck
- Keding - Steward - Drowned at time of wreck
- William Newton Scott of Shields (also reported as W Newton Smith) - Able bodied seaman - Lost at sea attempting to reach New Zealand
- William Ferguson - Able bodied seaman - Survived
- Cornelius Drew - Able bodied seaman - Survived
- Peter McNevin of Isaly - Able bodied seaman - Lost at sea attempting to reach New Zealand
- Andrew Morrison of Glasgow - Able bodied seaman - Lost at sea attempting to reach New Zealand
- David McLelland of Ayre, Scotland - Able bodied seaman - Died on the Island
- Joseph Harvey Jewell - Able bodied seaman - Survived
- William Murdoch Sanguilly - Able bodied seaman - Survived
- Aaron Hayman (also reported as A. Harpman)- Ordinary seaman - Survived
- Corn - Drowned at time of wreck
- Purser - Drowned at time of wreck
- Cook - Drowned at time of wreck
- Assistant Cook - Drowned at time of wreck
- Mrs Brown - Passenger (wife of First Officer, Bartholmew Brown)- Drowned at time of wreck
- Mrs Mary Ann Jewell - Passenger (wife of Able bodied Seaman Joseph Jewell) - Survived. She is often reported as a stewardess but this is disputed. She did pay for her passage but had to sign articles of employment as a stewardess to accompany her husband - a member of the crew - but she did not act as stewardess.
- James Teer - Passenger - Survived
- Frederick Patrick Caughey - Passenger - Survived
- David Ashworth - Passenger - Survived
- Nicholas Allen - Passenger - Survived
- Mrs Oat and four children - Passengers - Drowned at time of wreck
- Mrs Allen and three children - Passengers - Drowned at time of wreck
- Mr & Mrs Oldfield and two children - Passengers - Drowned at time of wreck
- Mr Laing - Passenger - Drowned at time of wreck
- Mr Mitchell - Passenger - Drowned at time of wreck
CastawayAfter the sinking of the ship and the capsizing of the long boat, the remaining two quarter boats pulled up outside the cave and decided to row for Disappointment Island. They reached there at dark and then the next day made for the Auckland Island and Port Ross. They arrived there after three days and two nights. After exploring, the group found two huts at Port Ross and, on 13 July 1866 Musgrave's hut. The group split in two in order to keep watch for passing ships. After nine months ashore, four of the crew decided to attempt to sail to New Zealand in one of the quarter boats. They set sail on 22 January 1867 without a compass, chart, or nautical instrument of any kind and were never seen again. Another survivor, David McLelland, died of illness on 3 September 1867. He was 62.
The ten remaining survivors moved to Enderby Island, where they lived on seals and pigs. On 19 November, they sighted the cutter Fanny, but she did not see their signals. The brig Amherst noticed their signals on 21 November 1867 and rescued the group.
As a result of this shipwreck and two previous wrecks (Grafton and Invercauld), the New Zealand government established a network of castaway depots and regular visits by government vessels to the subantarctic islands to relieve further shipwreck victims.
From as soon as 1868, General Grant's cargo of gold attracted numerous recovery attempts, several of which proved deadly for the wreck seekers, but the exact location of the wreck has yet to be confirmed.
This isn't the General Grant but bought the General Grant to mind
- "Joseph Jewell's Letter". 16 July 1868. Retrieved 31 March 2010.
- Eunson, Keith (1974). The Wreck of the General Grant. Reed. ISBN 9780854221196.
- Allen, Madelene; Scadden, Ken (2010-03-15). The General Grants Gold: Shipwreck and Greed in the Southern Ocean. Exisle Publishing. ISBN 9780908988372.
- An Encyclopedia of New Zealand 1966: General Grant at Te Ara: The Encyclopedia of New Zealand
- The Wreck of the General Grant at Maritime Archaeology Association of New Zealand
- Images and objects relating to the General Grant shipwreck in the collection of the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa
- Images of the survivors
- This page was last edited on 28 May 2017, at 21:07.
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