January 7, 1948: U.S. Pilot
Shot Down by UFO!
A blink of an eye
On January 7, 1948, a Kentucky Air National Guard pilot met his death trying to intercept a UFO!
Dang, who did that?
Digging deeper, we find another well documented close encounter, this time of the deadly kind.
Captain Tom Mantell flying his P-51 Mustang was a World War II veteran, not a civilian or some rookie. Mantell and 3 other Mustang pilots were directed to intercept a huge round white object, perhaps a football field across! Multiple witnesses had reported the sighting to military air control from spots in Ohio and Kentucky, including a sergeant at the Fort Knox control tower and members of the Kentucky Highway Patrol.
When the others fighter planes turned away from the pursuit due to low fuel or low oxygen (needed for altitudes over 20,000 feet), Mantell continued to climb after the object, and possibly describing it as of tremendous size. (Air traffic controllers present are in disagreement about Mantell’s actual wording.)
Mantell’s fighter began an uncontrolled spin all the way back to the ground where it crashed, killing the pilot. The most likely reason for the crash is Mantell passing out from lack of oxygen, but nobody knows for sure.
With an incident witnessed by so many credible witnesses, including military pilots, military personnel on the ground, and Highway Patrol personnel, and ultimately resulting in the loss of a fighter plane and its pilot, this encounter changed the public’s perception of UFO reports. Far from an isolated report by a shady source, the shocked public had to take this incident seriously, and has been spurred to closely monitor every report of a UFO or seemingly alien encounter since.
Numerous associations, clubs, and individuals catalog and report about every incident they come across, from what allegedly occurred at Rendlesham Forest in 1980 to the alleged UFOs sighted inNew York City in 2010. Collectively, these incidents continue to provide a rich source for enthusiasts to research, largely because of this early incident, which also happened to occur around the same time as the inception of the forerunners to Project Blue Book, but that was of course the subject of another day in Cracked History!