Monday, July 16, 2018

Ed Ruppelt and Thomas Mantell

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.


Bryan Sentes said...

Wow! Thanks for the investigative work. I'm surprised this snafu on Ruppelt's part is not more widely known. Have you or anyone else to your knowledge published these findings? At any rate, NOW it's in the public domain (or whatever small part of the public is ufologically engaged!).

purrlgurrl said...

That it WAS a balloon is what really matters. Nevertheless, thanks for chipping away at the calculus that has formed on this case. Maybe this one can finally be put to bed as "solved" - at least among Ufology's non-zealots.

cda said...

Barry Greenwood published all this back in c. 1997 in his bi-monthly magazine JUST CAUSE. The SKYHOOK balloon release was from a place called Camp Ripley, near Minneapolis, by General Mills Corp. I think it was released the previous day, January 6, but am not sure.

The oddity is that General Mills are best known as the makers of breakfast foods! So what they were doing playing about with cosmic ray balloons is beyond me. Perhaps they had a secret 'other job' of doing cosmic ray research while doing it under the guise of producing boxes of Corn Flakes, Rice Krispies and such. Or was it porridge?

KRandle said...

Yes, CDA, we all know that. The balloon was not launched from Camp Ripley, but about 45 miles away and was tracked to a point near Clear Lake, Iowa (the place the music died). Winds aloft data suggest that it passed east of St. Louis, and then southward until it was in the position reported by those in southwestern Kentucky.

Ruppelt's information in his book was inaccurate. I believe, as I noted, that he lined up the sightings from northern and central Kentucky, how it was an almost straight line from Clinton County, and thought this might be the solution. My point was he was wrong about the launch point and the winds aloft data. The rest, as they say, will be coming later.

Bob Koford said...

Good Morning.

Yet, there is still this:

In the official BB files, it says that, "Later...", Air Defense Command reported, through Olmsted Flight Service Center, that they were tracking an Unidentified Object, flying WSW, at 250 MPH.

No balloon, including one from another state, was flying WSW, at 250 mph. Mantell reported 180 mph and 360 mph for the object he was "chasing." The only, other, seemingly confirmed balloon was at 25,000 ft., moving at 10 mph.

The 250 mph object wasn't some hearsay, it came directly from ADC. They were tracking it, and were concerned enough to send out a "heads up".

Have a nice day,

couldbebetter said...

CDA, General Mills was involved with a number of high-tech (at the time) defense projects
starting during WW2. They made products for the skies as well as the seas (where they
had a submersible craft involved in the recovery of a hydrogen bomb.) If my memory is correct
they also had a fuze manufacturing operation for explosives which was sold off. A retired
AF general was General Mills president in 1961. Now I can understand why it may be dificult
for you to grasp information (especially if dealing with areas that are classified or of
a complex technical or military nature.) Sometimes one can research certain subjects to
learn something about their history and that of the individuals involved instead of just
stating a simplistic opinion. Research can be revealing!

purrlgurrl said...

couldbebetter - When the Pentagon is throwing around big money and soliciting contractors, it's easy to see why General Mills (or even a Bigelow) would be in the game, even though defense isn't what they're widely known for.

There's still a lot of money to be made on defense contracts, and CDA might be shocked to learn the variety of widely-believed to be non-defense related companies and organizations that have them.