I have said it before and I’ll say it again. Ed Ruppelt did us no favors. And as you all know, I have been reexamining the Mantell case and found a few problems in the way it has been reported in the past. I don’t think there is anything nefarious in those mistakes, it’s just that I have access to information that they might not have had. Donald Keyhoe didn’t have the case file or the accident report, but I do. Ed Ruppelt didn’t have access to information about the Skyhooks, and I don’t know how good his weather data were, but I have information for both of those.
Ruppelt thought that the Navy Skyhook might solve the mystery of what Thomas Mantell had chased back in January 1948. He thought that a balloon launched from the Clinton County Air Force Base (Wilmington, Ohio) on the morning of January 7 might have drifted far enough south to be the culprit. He wrote:
The group who supervise the contracts for all the skyhook research flights for the Air Force are located at Wright Field, so I called them. They had no records on flights in 1948 but they did think that the big balloons were being launched from Clinton County AFB in southern Ohio at that time. They offered to get the records of the winds on January 7 and see what flight path a balloon launched in southwestern Ohio would have taken…
He also admitted that he couldn’t prove it, but thought it was a good explanation for the Mantell case. He also wrote:
Somewhere in the archives of the Air Force or the Navy there are records that will show whether or not a balloon was launched from Clinton County AFB, on January 7, 1948. I never could find those records. People who were working with the early skyhook projects “remember” operating out of Clinton County AFB in 1947 but refuse to be pinned down to a January 7 flight. Maybe they said.
|Sightings reported on January 7, 1948 through the center|
of Kentucky. None of these sightings were made or
verified by the Godman AAF tower crew.
When you line up the sightings in central Kentucky with the launch site in south central Ohio, it certainly does suggest a Skyhook launched from there could have easily been over central Kentucky at the right time. Sure, the times are a little problematic, but there are reasonable explanations for that. It seems to work out and a large number of people bought the solution, even if the precise evidence wasn’t there.
The trouble is that we now know that the Skyhooks weren’t being launched from Clinton County AFB until a couple of years later. And we have the winds data from that location as well. Though Ruppelt seemed to believe that the wind was blowing from the northeast, the weather data shows that it was coming from the west. Ruppelt’s explanation fails on those two points. Besides, the tower crew at Godman Army Air Field all reported the object was to the southwest of them. Although alerted to a possible object to the east, over Lexington, Kentucky, they never saw anything in that direction. Other law enforcement agencies told them of the object to the southwest of them, the one they tracked.
|Weather data in Lexington, Kentucky on January 7, 1948 showing that the winds were from the southwest|
and the west southwest, suggesting a balloon in that area would have been moving in a direction opposite of what
Ruppelt had predicted.
For those paying attention, this simply means that Mantell did not chase a Skyhook launched from Clinton County. The source of the balloon was actually in Minnesota, but we’ll deal with that in another post.