UFO chase by American fighters in 1948

The UFO chase by an American F-51 fighter that killed a pilot has never had a satisfactory explanation.

On an afternoon in early January 1948, air traffic controllers at Godman Air Force Base, Kentucky, USA discovered a mysterious object floating in the sky. Police officers patrolling a nearby highway also reported seeing unidentified flying objects (UFOs) hovering near the ground.


At the same time the UFO was discovered, a team of four F-51 Mustang fighters led by Captain Thomas Mantell of the US National Guard was on the way to Godman Airport. After receiving orders to close in to identify the UFO, Mantell and his teammates pursued it without knowing that something bad was about to happen, according to WATM.

Three F-51 fighters commanded by Mantell began to turn and accelerate toward the UFO, while the remaining one returned to base due to running out of fuel. However, within just a few minutes, the situation quickly worsened with the US aircraft fleet.

An F-51 had to abandon due to high altitude and inability to maintain oxygen levels for the pilot. The second fighter could not continue the pursuit when it stopped at an altitude of 6,800 m and returned to Godman base. The plane controlled by Mantell continued to penetrate the clouds to chase the target.


Air traffic controllers tried to contact Captain Mantell but to no avail. The F-51 was last seen spinning out of control, then crashing to the ground and breaking into pieces. Mantell died, his watch stopped at the exact moment the plane collided with the ground.

The US Air Force immediately opened an investigation into the incident. The disappearance of the UFO while the American pilot died made public opinion in this country fear the prospect of being attacked by aliens. Initially, investigators hypothesized that Mantell died due to the phenomenon of “trying to reach Venus”.

In early January, this planet was especially bright in the sky, causing F-51 pilots to think it was a UFO and began to chase it. Many such incidents were reported just weeks before Mantell’s accident. This is the official explanation for the incident, but astronomers at Ohio State University rejected this theory, saying that the sky was so clear that Venus could be clearly observed with the naked eye.


The second theory is considered more reliable, claiming that Captain Mantell chased a US Navy Skyhook weather balloon. In early 1948, Skyhook was in a top secret surveillance program, Mantell and his teammates and air traffic controllers at Godman could not know about the existence of this airship. The size and shape of Skyhook when reflecting sunlight is quite similar to what air traffic controllers and pilots saw on the day of the accident.

Mantell’s death is believed to have stemmed from his lack of experience on the F-51 fighter, even though he had accumulated more than 2,000 flight hours. Mantell decided to chase after the strange object, despite having to fly to high altitudes without a pressurization system and oxygen supply to the cockpit. Prolonged lack of oxygen will cause the pilot to lose consciousness, leading to loss of control of the aircraft.

Although the official investigation results have not changed for many years, there are still many questions that have not yet been answered. Details about the incident were not disclosed, while many witnesses claimed to have seen UFOs, making the American public believe that the US Air Force hid information about aliens.

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