Wednesday, August 5, 2009

UFOs One Year at a Time: 1948

Louisville Kentucky Courier Journal - 4 January, 1948
Chase for Flying Disk
Blamed in Crash Death

Mantell Going Straight Into Sun, Buddies
In Air Guard Say; Believe He Blacked Out

Captain Thomas Mantell, Jr., 25, was "climbing into the sun" after what he thought was a flying disk shortly before he was killed in a plane crash near Franklin, Ky., Wednesday.

So reported two of Mantell's buddies in the Kentucky National Air Guard, who were in the air with him at the time. The Air Guard yesterday said Mantell, World War II hero, who lived at 6301 Third, died because he flew too high while chasing an aerial object.

Capt. R. L. Tyler, Louisville operations officer for the Air Guard at Standiford Field, said investigation convinced him Mantell had "blacked out" from lack of oxygen at 30,000 feet. Tyler theorized the plane went into a dive and began to disintegrate at 15,000 feet.

Quit At 23,000 Feet

Two other Air Guard officers who were flying in formation with Mantell in P-51 single-seater pursuit ships told of the high-altitude disk-chasing mission.

Both said they "peeled off" at 22,500 feet with Mantell "still climbing into the sun."

National Guard headquarters have said Mantell and his companions were asked by the Fort Knox radio to "look for" an object resembling a "flying saucer" reported sighted south west of Godman Field.

Only One Had Oxygen Gear

Only one of the trio, Lt. A. W. Clements, 2123 Ratcliffe, had oxygen equipment. Captain Tyler said oxygen had not been issued generally to the guardsman because they were training at comparitively low levels.

The three, along with Lt. Robert Hendricks, were returning from a routine flight to Atlanta. Clements and Mantell apparently picked up the Godman Field radio signal as they neared Fort Knox and changed his course. Clements and Lt. B. A. Hammond, 3117 Sonora, followed. Hendricks, however, flew on to Standiford Field.

Mantell and Clements were linked by radio, but Hammond's communications set was tuned to a different frequency.

It Looked Like a Star

Clements said Mantell informed him they were to look for something "but didn't seem to know exactly what it was." Soon, Clements related, Mantell shouted through the loud speaker, "Look, there it is at 12 o'clock." Clements said this meant it was "right over our nose."

Clements gazed straight ahead and saw a "bright shining object that looked like a star." He and Mantell started after it.

Hammond who had received no word of the flying saucer, was bewildered.

"At first I thought we were lost," he said. "Then we started climbing and I assumed we were looking for Louisville." Hammond was depending on Mantell and Clements for navigation and went on up with them to avoid losing his bearings.

"I felt a little shaky at 15,000 feet," he declared, "because I realized we were supposed to take oxygen at 12,000."

By the time I hit 22,000 I was seeing double. I pulled alongside Clements and indicated with gestures that I didn't have an oxygen mask. In fact I circled my finger around my head to show him I was getting woozy. He understood the situation and we turned back."

Neither saw Mantell crash. His plane ripped down out of the sky some 80 or 90 miles from where they changed course after learning of the disk, Clements estimated.

Tyler blamed Mantell's headlong dash after the "saucer" on the fact that Mantell's World War II experience largely was limited to low-altitude flying. From the stories of Hammond and Clements, Tyler surmised Mantell was "climbing at full force at 23,000 feet." Mantell probably lost consciousness seconds later, Tyler said.

Eyewitnesses had reported seeing Mantell's plane arc high in air and Tyler said this indicated Mantell, an expert pilot, was unconscious at the time.

1948 was a rather lean year for sightings and photos. Here are several contemporary news articles, courtesy of PROJECT 1947:

The New York Times - 1 January, 1948

No review of Important Events of the Old Year would be complete without a mention of the flying saucers. At the time they made their appearance, more or less everywhere at once, it was hot enough to melt some of the mountains of snow behind which New York is hiding (and would that it was that hot again, if only for a day or two!).

Looking back to what transpired then, Dr. C.C. Wylie, of the University of Iowa is concerned about the mass hysteria which the saucers brought in their wake. In a report to the American Association for the Advancement of Science he had this to say about the causes of the flying saucers: "In driving west in the morning hours, if an airplane crosses the road some distance ahead, the sunlight reflected from its windows may obliterate the outline of the plane, giving the appearance of a round or oval, and brilliant, spot of light moving about in the sky."

That seems a reasonable explanation. Dr. Wylie notes that a good many pranksters contributed to the saucer legend, one way or another, and that a fanciful literature was built up. He says that the first reports of saucers were not investigated, for the reason that there is no national policy of getting at the real facts behind such phenomena. That, in so many words, is how the mass hysteria came about.

To combat this state of affairs, and to recognize authentic reports of V-2 bombs, high-speed planes or bomb-carrying balloons. In the interests of national defense, Dr. Wylie suggests the formation of a "sky patrol." It is a good idea. The appropriate agencies of the military should add this function to their duties. We do not care too much for unexplained happenings in the skies, unless there is improvement in the feeling among nations.

Pendleton, Oregon East Oregonian - Jan. 27, 1948
Meteorites May
Be Discovered

EUGENE -- (AP) -- The Hart Mountain region of southern Oregon should produce meteorites showered over the area by the explosion of the "Green Dragon" meteor that flashed across the night sky on Dec. 30.

Astronomer J. Hugh Pruett, pacific coast director for the American Meteor Society, reported Monday he had completed studies of 43 detailed reports from witnesses of the spectacle and had plotted the course of the meteor.

Pruett said the meteor broke apart in two bursts at about 150,000 feet altitude, which should have showered the Hart mountain sector with small particles.

Green In Color
The astronomer and Dr. A.H. Kunz, University of Oregon faculty member and an associate director of the Meteor society, have dubbed the meteor which created excitement in southern Oregon and northern California towns a "green dragon meteor". All witnesses reported it appeared green as it swept westward and broke apart.

"There is no doubt that the Hart mountain region is now sprinkled with valuable meteorites," Pruett said. "Since only three meteorites have been found and identified in Oregon, it is to be hoped some of these fragments will be discovered."

Pendleton, Oregon East Oregonian - Jan. 31, 1948
'Flying Discs' Book
Declared Closed

WASHINGTON --Remember the flying saucers?

Last July the entire United States was talking about the bewildering phenomenon of the celestial crockery. Dozens of people in 44 states, Canada, Mexico, England, Australia and South Africa solemnly testify that they saw the discs whizzing through the sky.

Military and Government scientific authorities Sunday said that they still have no positive explanation for the flying saucers and, furthermore, had no intention of doing anything about it.

Theories Advanced
The Joint Research and Development Board, the Government's top scientific body, advanced a number of theories informally. It is satisfied that these theories are the answer to the reported phenomenon that had the nation in a stew last summer.

A spokesman said the board experts dismiss the flying saucers as a mirage induced by mass self-hypnosis.

The scientists declare that the discs were nothing more than optical illusions and say that no evidence has ever been found to show that the saucers were either man-made or products of nature.

Descriptions Vary
Theorizing further, the experts contend that it is possible the flying discs were either a form of natural electricity, the sun mirrored in the clouds, reflections of passing airplanes or flashes of light from the silver weather kites sent aloft all over the country by the Army Air Forces.

The descriptions of the flying saucers varied from the garden-variety of whirling discs to smoking rings and -- the ultimate as reported by a Nebraska farmer -- "flaming straw hats."

Army and Navy experts on such matters as guided missiles, rockets, and buzz bombs, have closed their books on the flying saucers.

Maybe They Were
'Flying Bean Poles'
LA GRANDE-- Shut the doors -- they're coming through the windows! Flying snakes, that is.

The latest addition to a mushrooming list of unlikely objects seen in Oregon skies is the property of Leo C. Bryant. Bryant says what he saw flying over La Grande yesterday looked more like a snake than anything else.

"It was a pencil-shaped object about 100 feet long and flew due east at 2,000 feet altitude," he reported. "I watched it for approximately a minute around 4:30 p.m., before it disappeared into mist east of the city."

Bryant, who operates a music studio at 103 Elm, said the so-called flying snake appeared traveling at aircraft cruising speed. "It had no wings and no visible engine or other source of power."

"When the sunlight touched it," the teacher said, "there was a metallic reflection. The whole thing seemed to be made of disc-like sections. It followed a straight course at a uniform rate of speed."

"Incidentally," Bryant added, "I'd had nothing to drink but a cup of coffee."

Tucson, Arizona Arizona STAR - July 25, 1948
Super 'Mystery' Ship Sighted
By 2 Eastern Airlines Pilots

ATLANTA, July 24. --(AP)-- A strange wingless plane shooting red flame "like a Buck Rogers rocket ship" was described today by two Eastern Airlines pilots. They called it a double-decker speedster making 500 to 700 miles per hour.

The pilot, Capt. C.S. Chiles, and Co-Pilot J.B. Whitted, said they were flying the Houston-Atlanta-Boston run when they sighted the ship southwest of Montgomery, Ala., about 2:45 a.m. (CST).

"It was in line almost with our flight," Chiles said. "We veered off to the left and this object turned to its left. When it came near to us, its fuselage appeared to be about 100 feet in length and about four times the circumference of a B-29 fuselage.

"It had two rows of windows. Out of the rear of the ship red flames were shooting 25 to 50 feet. There was a blue glow beneath the fuselage. The ship appeared to be doing between 500 to 700 miles an hour, heading toward New Orleans.

"When it got along side of us, it pulled up with a tremendous burst of flame out the rear. Then the ship disappeared into the broken clouds. The ship had no wings. It seemed to have an upper deck and a lower deck and was fully lighted inside. We saw no occupants."

At Montgomery, Maxwell and Dannelly army air fields said they knew nothing about the report. The Civil Aeronautics Administration also said it had no information about the ship. The air force in Washington also could shed no light on the craft.

At Santa Monica, Calif., Gen. George C. Kenney, chief of the Strategic Air Command, said, "The army hasn't anything like that."

"I wish we did," he told interviewers. "I would sure like to see it."

Both pilots live in Atlanta and served in the army air corps as fighter pilots during the war. Chiles, a native of Knoxville, Tenn., has been with EAL nine years and Whitted, from Durham, N.C., two years.

KENNETT SQUARE, Pa., July 24--(AP)--A mystery plane, reported sighted over Montgomery, Ala., by two eastern Airline pilots, was described by a Columbus O., man today as "a flash of cherry red fire."

Clarence L. McKelvie, assistant managing editor of the American Education Press, said he was the only passenger on the Eastern Airlines Houston-to-Boston plane not asleep when the phantom craft was sighted.

"I saw no shape or form," McKelvie said.

"I was on the right side of the plane, and suddenly saw this strange eerie streak out of my window," McKelvie explained. "It was very intense, not like lightning or anything I had ever seen."

The Columbus man said he was too startled, and the object moved too quickly for him to adjust his eyes to it.

Phoenix, Arizona Arizona Republic - July 25, 1948
Eastern Fliers Tell Of Seeing Weird
'Buck Rogers' Fire-Spitting Aircraft

ATLANTA, Ga., July 24--(AP)-- Two Western Airlines pilots who thought they'd seen everything during the war soberly recited today their encounter with a giant, wingless, flame-throwing aircraft straight out of Buck Rogers.

Capt. Clarence Shipe Chiles and his co-pilot, John B. Whitted, corroborated each other's report on the fantastic plane, or whatever it was.

THEY WERE FLYING along serenely in their DC-3 at 5,000 feet about 20 miles southwest of Montgomery, Ala., last night when the thing came at them, they said. It looked, they added, like a B-29 "blown up about four time" and stripped of its wings.

In the seconds during which the mystery craft swooshed past them and shot up into the clouds, it cast a light more vivid than lightning, they said. They reported they saw two decks of big square windows and "it was a man-made thing, all right."

(In Washington, the air force suggested that the pilots may have seen a radar weather observation balloon which has a square, tinfoil box fastened to it. The box reflects light and gives strange illusions as it twists and turns, the air force said.

(In Montgomery, the weather bureau reported that such balloons of 10-foot diameter, were sent up every six hours from Maxwell Field but an observer said he didn't think the balloon "could possibly be mistaken" for such an aircraft as described by the pilots.)

"THE PLANE PASSED us on our right," the pilots said. "A 40-foot flame shot out its rear end. A luminous glow like a giant fluorescent light, ran along the belly of the thing."

Whitted, who said he had seen the air forces's best jet planes not on the secret list, estimated its speed as much faster than he had seen before.

Airline officials said they asked authorities at Maxwell Field, Ala., big air force university, about the mystery ship. Officers there said they didn't know anything about it, the airline said. A United Press check at Maxwell brought "no comment."

Arizona Phoenix Gazette - July 26, 1948
'Flying Saucers' Back Again
In Several Sizes and Shapes

ATLANTA, July 26, (AP)--The flying saucer--or something--is back again.

Reports from widely separated sections of the country have described "it" over the weekend as:

1. A wingless craft, spurting flame "like a Buck Rogers rocket ship"

2. An aluminum covered balloon.

3. An unusually bright light.

4. A ball of fire.

5. A red and blue flame that burst in mid-air.

6. A flash of cherry red fire.

7. A meteor.

"It" first was reported by two Eastern Airlines pilots, each a fighter pilot during the war, who said they encountered a wingless mystery plane, spurting fire, near Montgomery, Ala., on the Atlanta-Houston flight Saturday.

Next up, Clarence L. McKelvie of Columbus, Ohio., lent credence to the pilots' report by declaring he had seen "a flash of cherry red fire" while a passenger on the plane.

Then an Atlanta hunter stalking game in North Georgia reported "an unusually bright light -- as a lighted room," at about the same time the Eastern Airlines pilots said they saw "it" over Alabama.

"It" was an aluminum covered balloon to observers at Yakima, Wash., where the police station switchboard was jammed with excited calls and inquiries. "It" was reported moving westerly, at a great height and against strong winds.

It was this way last year when someone said he had seen a flying saucer whizzing around. Right away dozens of persons from every which way said they had seen the same thing -- or something.

The Army, as usual, denied any responsibility and simply said in effect,"don't blame us."

Tucson, Arizona Arizona STAR - July 26, 1948
'Mystery' Plane
Is Sighted Again

ATLANTA, July 25--(AP)-- An Atlanta hunter told today of observing a strange light in the sky early Saturday at about the same time that two Eastern Airlines pilots reported seeing a wingless mystery plane.

J.V. Morris said that he and a friend, Lindsay Fall, were hunting near Covington, Ga., 30 miles southeast of Atlanta, about 8 a.m. Saturday when they saw "an unusually bright light--as bright as a lighted room."

Morris said it seemed to be speeding westward and disappeared in a few seconds.

At Indianapolis, Ind., a housewife reported she and her son and daughter saw a similar flame-spurting aircraft Thursday night, more than 24 hours before it was seen here.

The Indianapolis woman, Mrs. Thomas L. Sayer, described it as a ball of fire which shot two jets of flame downward at regular intervals. She said she watched it about three minutes after which it flared up, shot out streamers of flame and disappeared.

Mrs. Sayer said she did not mention the experience to anyone until after she read the EAL pilots' account.

Capt. C.S. Chiles, pilot of an EAL Houston-Atlanta plane, had reported that he and his co-pilot, John B. Whitted, saw a huge, wingless craft flying at a very high speed near Montgomery, Ala., about 2:45 a.m.

The pilots described it as shooting fire from the tail and having a double bank of lighted windows.

Clarence L. McKelvie of Columbus, O., a passenger on the EAL plane, confirmed the pilots' story in part. He said he saw "a flash of cherry red fire" but that it did not appear to have a definite shape.

Various military and civilian agencies have denied any knowledge of such a plane.

Chiles and Whitted, however, stuck to their story in spite of the skeptics. Preparing to leave on another round trip flight to Houston, Tex., they took along cameras in the hope of getting a chance to film the mystery craft.

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