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Mantell UFO incident

Mantell UFO incident

On January 7, 1948, Kentucky Air National Guard pilot, Captain Thomas F. Mantell died in pursuit of a UFO in an incident that helped convince Air Force intelligence, specialists that aliens exist. On January 7, 1948, Kentucky Air National Guard pilot, Captain Thomas F. Mantell died in pursuit of a UFO in an incident that helped convince Air Force intelligence, specialists that aliens exist

It's been 74 years to the day since one man's death changed the way the world viewed UFOs forever.

January 7, 1948, initially seemed like an average day for staff at the Godman Army Airfield at Fort Knox, Kentucky but by early afternoon, their pilots descended into chaos.

At about 1:45 p.m., Sergeant Quinton Blackwell reported a "very white" flying object with a red border at the bottom in the distance.

Base commander, Colonel Guy Hix described the object as being "about one fourth the size of the full moon" as he observed the mysterious aircraft with other members of staff for around 35 minutes.

Unsure of what the object was that was reportedly travelling 500mph at 10,000 feet in the air, the airforce decided to send in their pilots to investigate.

The UFO was described as being "very white" (Image: Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Four F-51D Mustangs of C Flight, 165th Fighter Squadron of the Kentucky Air National Guard began their approach as Blackwell communicated them through the radio.

The pilots were sent to investigate in a North American P-51D Mustang (Image: Alamy Stock Photo)

One pilot's Mustang was low on fuel and he quickly returned to base but three others stayed in pursuit - including one piloted by Captain Thomas F. Mantell.

The three pilots reported that they couldn't identify the object but despite being warned to not level his altitude due to risks with oxygen, but Mantell just had to get closer.

Only one of Mantell's wingmen, Lt. Albert Clements, had an oxygen mask, and his oxygen was in low supply.

Clements and the third pilot, Lt. Hammond, called off their pursuit at 22,500 feet.

However, Mantell continued to get closer and some reports claim he described the object as "metallic and of tremendous size" shortly before being blacked out from lack of oxygen after reaching 25,000 feet.

A plaque that memorialises Captain Mantell who died in pursuit of the UFO (Image: Mark S. Hilton/ Wikipedia)

His plane began to spiral towards the ground before it crashed on a farm on the state's border with Tennessee at around 3.18pm.

The UFO had completely disappeared by the time his body was recovered from the wreckage.

Reports say the tragedy made some Airforce Intelligence specialists begin to take notice of UFO sightings as several rumours circulated about what the object was.

Three P-51 Mustangs pursued the UFO (Image: Public Domain)

According to UFO historian Curtis Peebles, among the rumours were claims that "the flying saucer was a Soviet missile; it was a spacecraft that shot down the plane when it got too close; Captain Mantell's body was found riddled with bullets; the body was missing; the plane had completely disintegrated in the air; or that the wreckage was radioactive."

However, no evidence has ever surfaced to substantiate any of these claims and it has never been confirmed what it was.

But the incident went down in history for changing the way we view UFOs.

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