Air Force Base Sightings
JANUARY 7, 1948 >> FORT KNOX, KENTUCKY
After noon on January 7, 1948 a strange object racing through the sky at high speed was spotted by a number of people in western Kentucky. The size of the object was believed to be between 250 to 300 feet across. Witnesses to the event included the tower operators and base commander at Godman Air Force Base near Fort Knox. When the object was sighted near the base four P-51 Mustangs were approaching to land. They were ordered to take a closer look at the object.
One of the planes fuel state was low and continued to land but the pilots of the other three Mustangs, led by Captain Thomas Mantell, climbed towards the object. One of the pilots said it appeared metallic and was of extreme size. His wingman described it as round and almost fluid. Two Mustangs disengaged from the chase but Mantell radioed that he would attempt an even closer inspection. At 3:15 Mantell radioed the tower "I'm going to 20,000 feet and if I'm no closer then, I'll abandon chase." Those were the last words of Captain Mantell. His body and the wreckage of his plane were found near Fort Knox and few hours latter.
The air force investigated and concluded that Mantell blacked out around 20,000 feet from a lack of oxygen and crashed to earth. The air force reported that none of the planes had had oxygen on the training mission and Mantell had simply flown too high. The air force claimed that the pilot had been chasing the planet Venus. The official explanation was not accepted by everyone. Private calculations of Venus's elevation and azimuth in relation to Mantell's course when last seen showed that the explanation was impossible. Theories of Mantell being shot down by an alien craft abounded. Later investigations suggested that Mantell had been chasing a stratospheric balloon belonging to the US Navy's Project Skyhook, which the air force was unaware of.