Mantell UFO Incident Anniversary Special:
Edward J. Ruppelt was the first head of Project Blue Book, an official U.S. Air Force investigation of UFOs. In his 1956 book The Report on Unidentified Flying Objects, Ruppelt identified three UFO encounters of 1948 as the “classic” encounters that convinced Air Force personnel “that UFOs were real” and energized the UFO phenomenon in the mainstream public consciousness.
As Ruppelt wrote:
“With the Soviets practically eliminated as a UFO source, the idea of interplanetary spaceships was becoming more popular. During 1948 the people in the Air Technical Intelligence Center (ATIC) were openly discussing the possibility of interplanetary visitors without others tapping their heads and looking smug. … ‘The Classics’ were three historic reports that were the highlights of 1948. They are called ‘The Classics,’ a name given them by the Project Blue Book staff, because: (1) they are classic examples of how the true facts of a UFO report can be twisted and warped by some writers to prove their point, (2) they are the most highly publicized reports of this early era of the UFO’s, and (3) they ‘proved’ to ATIC’s intelligence specialists that UFO’s were real.”
The three “classic” encounters were: the Mantell UFO incident of January 7 near Franklin, Kentucky; the Chiles-Whitted UFO encounter of July 24 near Montgomery, Alabama; and the Gorman UFO dogfight of October 1 in the skies over Fargo, North Dakota.
⁓The Voice before the Void
“Mantell UFO incident”
The Mantell UFO incident was among the most publicized early UFO reports. The incident resulted in the crash and death of 25-year-old Kentucky Air National Guard pilot, Captain Thomas F. Mantell, on January 7, 1948 while in pursuit of a UFO.
Historian David M. Jacobs argues the Mantell case marked a sharp shift in both public and governmental perceptions of UFOs. Previously, the news media often treated UFO reports with a whimsical or glib attitude reserved for silly season news. Following Mantell’s death, however, Jacobs notes “the fact that a person had died in an encounter with an alleged flying saucer dramatically increased public concern about the phenomenon. Now a dramatic new prospect entered thought about UFOs: they might be not only extraterrestrial but potentially hostile as well.” Continue reading