Balloon? Flying Saucer? Celestial Body? Well It’s Anybody’s Guess

 Source: Clarksville (TN) Leaf-Chronicle           January 8, 1948  (Afternoon Edition)

Original Article Image:

            Clarksville citizens got their first real glimpse of what may have been a “flying saucer,” based on reports that circulated through two states yesterday and today.

            Most reports received by the Leaf-Chronicle indicated that an object about 15 inches in diameter appeared in the northern skies and seemed to be moving very slowly in a southern direction. Seen first at about 2 o’clock yesterday afternoon, the object was described by observers as being “silver colored and appeared to be hovering above the city.” It was egg-shaped on some occasions and later was described as appearing to be joined to another object.

            Knapp Flying Service told the Leaf-Chronicle today that the object passed over the airport yesterday afternoon and the first impression of personnel there was that it might have been at an altitude of about 4,000 feet. However, it was explained that its exact altitude could not be determined since it was not known just what sized an object it was.


             By the time it reached the center of Clarksville, the object seemed hovered above the courthouse for about half an hour, but appeared to be moving south by inches. It was at this time that it appeared to be the largest, and many observers expressed the opinion that it may have been a balloon of some type. Others thought it may have been a kite, although no trace could be made of any that may have been put into the air. At one point, observers said the object seemed to be swaying and that something was attached to it.

            The object first appeared in the north about the size of a grapefruit, and as it traveled toward Clarksville, it appeared grew larger. After seemingly hovering about the city for about 1½ hours, it appeared to get smaller and began moving south. As it vanished, observers said it looked to about the size of the north star and had a faint glow, and the last trace of it was at about 4 o’clock, when it was said to have disappeared behind some clouds.

            An epitome of various reports from Nashville, Louisville, Madisonville and Bowling Green, from where the object was seen, indicated the object must have been closer to the earth at Clarksville than at any other place.

            Byron Likins, co-owner of the Bowling Green Flying Service at Bowling Green, Ky., told the Leaf-Chronicle today that the object appeared over Bowling Green yesterday afternoon about 4 o’clock. He said the object was about the size of a silver dollar and that it was moving south. He stated that no weather balloons would have lingered as long as that object did since they explode soon after reaching a high altitude. Mr. Likins said he was certain it must have been a celestial body of some kind and based his opinion on the theory that if it were not, one would have landed somewhere in the United States. He told the story of how a National Guard flying unit set out to chase the object and how they reported back that the object was “high above them and traveling too fast for them to catch it.” They were flying at 20,000 feet, he said.

 Additional Story in same paper:


             A “flying saucer” which puzzled many Nashvillians yesterday was reported by an astronomer today to be a balloon – but no one could say whose balloon it was.

            The round object, seen by numerous persons above the sun on the western horizon, sent astronomers scurrying to their telescopes and brought many calls to the Nashville Tennessean.

            Dr. Carl K. Seyfert of Vanderbilt University said observation through a telescope showed a rope dangling from the bright glass-like object. The U.S. weather bureau here agreed with him that it was a balloon but said it was not one of the bureau’s.

            At Fort Knox in Kentucky National Guard planes yesterday chased an object in the sky to a height of 20,000 feet but observers said it was still above them.

            Several reports of what were thought to be “flying saucers” have been received at various points in western Kentucky and Tennessee during the last 24 hours but in at least one instance the celestial object has been definitely identified as a weather observation balloon.

            First report came from Fort Knox, that a disc, similar to those reported in large numbers last summer, had been seen by Col. Guy F. Hix, commander of Godman Field.

            An object seen at Nashville was identified by Dr. Carl K. Seyfert of Vanderbilt University as a balloon from which a rope was dangling. The U.S. weather bureau at Nashville agreed it was a balloon but said none had been sent up there.

            At Hopkinsville, flyers Jimmy Garret and Bill Crenshaw followed a flying object and reported to the Kentucky New Era newspaper office that they identified it as a weather balloon. At Madisonville, Hugh Clark and Thomas Gant observed what they believed was the same balloon from a plane.

            At the Madisonville weather bureau it was reported that Northwestern University, Evanston, Ill., had sent up 21 weather observation balloons. It was surmised that those seen in Kentucky and Tennessee might have been some of those sent up by Northwestern.  


Back to Mantell Directory Page