January 7, 1948: U.S. Pilot Shot Down by UFO!

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A Brief History

On January 7, 1948, a Kentucky Air National Guard pilot met his death trying to intercept a UFO!

Digging Deeper

Digging deeper, we find another well documented close encounter, this time of the deadly kind.

Captain Tom Mantell flying his P-51 Mustang was a World War II veteran, not a civilian or some rookie.  Mantell and 3 other Mustang pilots were directed to intercept a huge round white object, perhaps a football field across!  Multiple witnesses from spots in Ohio and Kentucky, including a sergeant at the Fort Knox control tower and members of the Kentucky Highway Patrol, had reported the sighting to military air control.

When the others fighter planes turned away from the pursuit due to low fuel or low oxygen (needed for altitudes over 20,000 feet), Mantell continued to climb after the object, describing it as of tremendous size.  (Air traffic controllers who heard him are in disagreement about his actual wording.)

Mantell’s fighter then began an uncontrolled spin all the way back to the ground where it crashed, killing the pilot.  The most likely reason for the crash is that Mantell passed out from lack of oxygen, but nobody knows for sure.

Since this incident was witnessed by so many credible people, including military pilots, military personnel on the ground and Highway Patrol personnel and since it ultimately resulted in the loss of a fighter plane and its pilot, this encounter changed the public’s perception of UFO reports.  It was far from being an isolated report from a shady source, and the shocked public was forced to take it seriously as a result.  From that point on, the public has keenly followed every report of a UFO or other alien encounter.

Numerous associations, clubs and individuals catalog and report on every incident they come across, from what allegedly occurred at Rendlesham Forest in 1980 to the alleged UFO sightings in New York City in 2010.  Collectively, these incidents continue to provide a rich source of stories for enthusiasts.  This is all largely possibly due to this early incident with the P-51 Mustang.  Even the forerunners to Project Blue Book were incepted around this same time.

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Historical Evidence

For more information on this incident and others, please see…

Carter, Chase.  Brief Encounters in the Sky: 15 Chilling True Stories of the Unexplained.  CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2013.

Dembeck, Chet and Edward J. Ruppelt.  The Uncensored Truth About UFOs: Plus Bonus Chapters on Hostile UFOs! CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2012.

Matthews, Rupert.  UFO’s.  Chartwell Books, 2009.


About Author

Major Dan

Major Dan is a retired veteran of the United States Marine Corps. He served during the Cold War and has traveled to many countries around the world. Prior to his military service, he graduated from Cleveland State University, having majored in sociology. Following his military service, he worked as a police officer eventually earning the rank of captain prior to his retirement.