Wednesday, July 04, 2018

Donald Keyhoe and Thomas Mantell

For reasons that will become clear later, meaning in the future and not in this post, I have been reviewing some of the Mantell case. I won’t bother telling you that it involved Thomas Mantell who died while chasing an unidentified object. What I want to mention are two things, both relevant to understanding the case, but that have gotten buried in the minutia of the sighting.

Donald Keyhoe
Donald Keyhoe, when he was writing about the case in his book, The Flying Saucers Are Real, thought the balloon explanation was wrong. He wrote, “To fly the 90 miles from Madisonville to Fort Knox in 30 minutes, a balloon would have required a wind of 180 m.p.h. After traveling at this hurricane speed, it would have to come to a dead stop above Godman Field.”

Keyhoe, who didn’t have access to the official file on the case as I do now, made two assumptions that were incorrect. The first was that the object would have had to travel 90 miles in 30 minutes. That was assuming that the object wasn’t seen to the northeast of Madisonville and to the southwest of Godman. This is actually the case. The time calculation is flawed based on his assumptions.

The other problem is that the object was never over Godman Field. Looking at the case file, those at Godman who reported the object were looking to the southwest. Since the object was never over the field, his calculation of the distances are equally flawed.

The record shows that none of those with Mantell saw the object when first asked to intercept it. They had to be directed toward it by those in the Godman Tower until Mantell spotted it in front of him and at a higher altitude.

The point here, which is sort of about chasing footnotes, is that many have used Keyhoe as a primary source. The flaw there is that Keyhoe’s information came, not from the documentation and the investigation, but from his sources inside the Pentagon. While he did get many facts correct about UFOs and the investigation of them, he did not have access to the documents in the Mantell case. Had he had those, he would have known the truth about the distances. This is why I chase footnotes and try to get to the original source. There will be a part two on this, because it is clear that the official file is in error as well.


starman said...

So what was the correct distance the ballon traveled at that time, and its speed?

cda said...

The USAF spokesman (J.Allen Hynek) is partly to blame for the Mantell cock-up. He put out an official statement about the object being the planet Venus, without due care and diligence. The other piece of confusion was that a bright object was also seen that evening 'skipping' near the horizon. This WAS Venus, but naturally Keyhoe told his readers it was the same object chased by Mantell. I think it was Ruppelt who put things right, but it was a few years before his book came out.

Bob Koford said...

Good evening, Kevin.

I will present this in the spirit of putting forth, what I feel, is important information, on this subject. If it strays too far from this article's topic, then please take this as a private message, instead of a comment.

For me, Keyhoe's take doesn't really matter so much, any more.

Recently I revisited this case. I needed to cover the basics, one last time, since it was mentioned in Scully's book. We had some discussion on this topic a year-or-so ago, on your blog. Since that time, I have read through Press accounts, of the 7th, 8th and a few days after. I had never done that before. What I found shocked me.

In the "official" files, the time of death was recorded as 15:18 in one document and approx. 15:20 in the other. Although the 15:18 time comes with the explaination being that since that was the time his watch had been damaged and stopped, it was assumed to be the time of impact and death. To my knowledge, to this day, no one has seen the autopsy data on this case, including Dr. Fitts.

In the Press, the actual explosion and impact, which makes up the actual "air accident", occurred at or around 16:00 hours, not 15:18 OR 15:20.

In perspective, based on the BB files:

15:15 Last radio transmission from Captain Mantell, "going up for a better look"
15:18 Wingman reports a bright flash, like the sun reflecting off of an airplane cockpit canopy. He and others turn back to base.
16:00 Mantell's plane explodes, and crashes

So, according to the official files, Mantell must have perished when his wing man saw that flash, at 15:18. That would seem to imply that, yes, Mantell was unconscious, but it might not have been from lack of oxygen. He didn't crash for almost another forty-five minutes after his last transmission, at 15:15. The abrupt ending of his transmissions, unfortunately, matches the theory for sudden death at 15:18, from unknown causes. He would have then flown, unconscious (or already dead) for 40 plus more minutes.

The people there, at the time, gave 4 P.M. as the time the incident occurred. This means that the impact of the P-51 with the earth had nothing to do with the time his watch stopped, for it had already stopped working, and was obviously damaged in the process, at 15:18.

So, my big question is: What caused the damage to his watch, at 15:18, when the actual impact wasn't for another 40 or more minutes?

OK...thats it. Have a great evening.


KRandle said...

Bob -

And here is a statement made by an eyewitness within hours of the crash -

I, William C. Mayes of Route #3, Lake Springs Road, Franklin, Kentucky, Simpson County do state that on 7 January 1948 at approximately three-fifteen P.M. I heard an airplane overhead making a funny noise as if he were diving down, and pulling up, but it was just circling. After about three circles, the airplane started into a power dive slowly rotating. This place was so high I could hardly see it when it started down. It started to make a terrific noise, ever increasing, as it descended. It exploded half way between where it started the dive and the ground. No fire was seen. It hit or crashed at three-twenty P.M., Central. It didn’t explode when it hit the ground and did not burn.

In witness whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and seal at my home on Route #3, Lake Spring Road, Franklin, Kentucky this 7th day of January 1948.

William C. Mayes

This, I believe, is better evidence than a newspaper report.

Bob Koford said...

Thank you for the reply, Kevin.

From the Cincinnati Enquirer, Kentucky Edition, Thursday, January 8, 1948, Page 1:

"Franklin, Ky. Jan 7--(AP)--Capt. Thomas F. Mantell, Jr. of the Kentucky Air National Guard was killed about 4 p. m. today when a P-51 plane apparently exploded while air borne and crashed near hear."

The two witnesses cited are Mrs. Joe Phillips (owner of farm and land the plane crashed on) and Barbara Maves, 14, who was standing at a bus stop near by. These were same day interviews, published the following day.

Since we know from the record that Mantell's last transmission was at 15:15, the testimony you cited could not possibly be (completely) correct. The plane-in-trouble information could not have taken place at 15:15, it had to have been a little bit later. We know that Captain Mantell had just reported, via radio contact with Godman Tower, that he was "going up for a better look" at that time. Also, 15:15 or even 15:20 for that matter, could be called "close to three o'clock", but I wouldn't think someone would say it was "close to" or "at 4 p. m." That is a little too much elapsed time.

As for the official accident investigation, it has information which seems to imply Mantell made other radio reports, about altitude, etc., yet his wingman had already confirmed that Mantell seemed to have channel "b" off, so that couldn't be so.

Also, I miss-wrote "Dr. Fitts" in my comment, when it should have read, "Snyder".

Have a great day,

starman said...

Thanks for the information, Bob Koford. Very interesting. :)

starman said...

Btw Bob at 3:18 PM did the wingmen see a bright flash out of nowhere or from Mantell's plane? I once read somewhere that witnesses saw the plane "enveloped in bright light" or something to that effect. Also did any witnesses see it coming down, or appearing in trouble, right after the flash?

Bob Koford said...

Hey, Starman.

The information about the flash was in answer to whether or not he saw the object. He said no, but he saw the flash, resembling glint off of a cockpit, which it might have been. We don't know.

The witnesses I mentioned both said they saw Mantell's plane explode and then fall. They both claimed he was at a fairly low altitude when his plane exploded.

Take care.