Thursday, September 21, 2017

The Mantell Analyses

While I was talking with Fran Ridge, he of the NICAP website,, we drifted into a discussion of the Thomas Mantell UFO sighting of January 1948. Mantell was killed when his F-51 crashed in Kentucky.
Thomas Mantell
The case has been wrapped in controversy since then, mainly because a pilot died attempting to identify the UFO. Various theories have been offered over the years about what happened.

I had written a long analysis of it about a decade and a half ago. My plan had been to create an online peer review for UFO research. I had written the analysis and it was offered over the UFO Updates list when the draft was finished. I had hoped that those with expertise in various aspects of the case would be inspired to provide their analysis of my analysis. There were a few responses but most had to do with the performance capabilities of the aircraft rather than other aspects of the case. You can read that analysis here:

My secondary goal was to inspire some others to examine UFO cases with a similar eye to detail and analysis. Updates would be one of the ways that we would communicate, but no one followed the lead, much to my disappointment.

However, Fran mentioned that he had been inspired to look into the case when a local television station wanted to do a story about the crash just a few years ago. Working with several others, he produced a new analysis with a different conclusion. You can read that here:

Since we now have two detailed examinations of the Mantell crash, maybe we can move into something like a peer review of it. Take a look at both of these documents, try to put aside any personal bias about the reality of UFOs, or rather the alien visitation aspect of the case, and comment about it. I believe it will be interesting to see how this shakes out, given the research that has been done into the case, if anyone cares to comment about it.


Mr. Sweepy said...

I think your analysis is very good. Well thought out and well written.

I would add one tiny footnote on Captain Thomas Mantell personal history. As a experience WWII pilot, and even as a transport pilot, he would have seen and know about stars and planets. I would add that he likely have seen balloons before in his training. Last, he had experience seeing other airplanes in the air while flying.

Dr Tim Brigham said...

Suggestions for a general list of 'peer reviewers' who would volunteer to typically handle such?

cda said...

I have not read much of his analysis. Is he still hoping the Mantell UFO was a true unidentified and thus a likely visiting spaceship?

Curt Collins said...

At the UFO UpDates Facebook group, a UFO fanatic posted some of Brad Sparks' work on the Mantell case, documentation that shows Mantell had oxygen equipment, but shows that it was not serviced prior to his flight. In other words, the supply was probably empty. Another pilot was landing to have his oxygen refreshed, and it's likely Mantell's plane was in the same condition. In my estimate, Sparks has produced evidence to support the hypoxia conclusion.

Mr. Sweepy said...

One question. Was there every any mention of gun camera film in any of the P-51's?

Anthony Mugan said...

Great idea...
It will take me a week or two to put anything sensible together though.

Anthony Mugan said...

Good morning.

This is a preliminary comment but it might be useful to raise this now as others may have been able to find more background information on this than I have so far.

In this comment I'm focusing specifically on the question of could Mantell have been chasing a Skyhook balloon? There is much more in both reports that I haven't begun to consider at the moment.

At first sight this seems the most likely explanation given the description and behaviour of the object. There does however seem to be a lack of actual documentation of a Skyhook launch on the 6th or 7th January 1948, either from Clinton County in Ohio (as suggested by Ruppelt) or from Minnesota, near the General Mills facility, based on the claim by Professor Moore.

For Dr. Randle therefore I would ask the question as to how much confidence can we place in the Skyhook hypothesis and should this be regarded as a possible explanation rather than a firm conclusion? Has anyone actually located any documentation around the timings and location of Skyhook launches in this time period?

Conversely, for Mr Ridge, I am unclear why two reports of a sighting of a balloon near Nashville between 16:00 and 16:30 (CST) on the 7th January rules out a Skyhook being SW of Goodman airfield at 13.50 and at an intermediate location, somewhat to the south or south west of the crash site at Franklin at 15:15. At first sight that all seems to work quite well with common stratospheric wind speeds. Estimates of speeds from observers must be taken with a large pinch of salt as it is clear none of the Air Force personnel were thinking of a balloon in the stratosphere, given the attempted intercept, but rather something much lower and therefore presumably smaller and closer than it actually was, leading to probably underestimates of speed.

Against that we only have the comment from Ruppelt that the winds aloft were consistent with a flight path from Ohio. It would be ideal if the relevant documentation on all of this could be found, with launch details for the Skyhook and winds aloft data but a quick internet search hasn't come up with anything on that so far.

Overall therefore is this case not a possible Skyhook rather than a confirmed identification? (Venus may well have got into the mix as well with the evening reports etc.)