- Jerry Washington & Annie MacFie

Franklin member Jodie Turner, Sr., has sent us some relevant new material published in Great Britain's UFO Magazine. Someone who was there when it happened has been found in England, and in his article, "The Fatal Flight of Thomas Mantell," Tony Dodd brings to light some important information. 

James F. Duesler, a former Captain in the U.S. Army Air Corps, married an Englishwoman and emigrated to the United Kingdom many years ago. He told Dodd that in 1948 he had been stationed at Godman Field (Ft. Knox) and served as an investigator of air crashes. An official statement issued by the Dept. of Defense bears his name, but Duesler insisted that the document is a falsehood because he never made any statement concerning the Mantell Crash to any authority. 

The elderly gentleman's story begins on the afternoon of January 7, 1948. He was called to the control tower at the airfield to observe "a strange, grey-looking object which was hovering some distance away." He described what he witnessed as shaped like an inverted ice cream cone and rotating, as evidenced by a vertical black line which seemed to be moving around it. The bottom of it looked red. 

Duesler then told of some Air National Guard planes in the vicinity that the controller radioed to investigate. These were the four P-51D Mustangs under the command of Capt. Mantell. One of the four continued on to their destination (Louisville) because of low fuel. Soon, a second of the Mustangs left the formation, its pilot being unsure of his location and worried about becoming lost. He was given permission to return, and one of the other pilots was ordered to guide him to their  base. 

This explains why Mantell was left to pursue the unknown alone. At 15,000 feet he radioed Godman "that he had it in sight" and was closing in for a better look. This was to be the pilot's last transmission. To those in the control tower, the unidentified object was obscured by clouds. Apparently, concern for the Mustang in pursuit of it had not yet developed, for Duesler recalled, ".our interest in the object was lost, and I returned to my quarters." 

Although Mantell was dead in the wreckage of his aircraft within  45 minutes of beginning his chase, Duesler was unaware of any further developments until 1:00 AM when he was awakened to return to the tower. A glowing, orange, cigar-shaped UFO was being observed as it circled in the distance. Reports of a similarly described object were coming in from St. Louis and Wright-Patterson Air Base in Ohio. 

Duesler eventually went back to bed, but he would not rest for  long. At 3:00 AM he was summoned to investigate a plane crash. When he and two other accident investigators arrived on the scene, 130 miles away, near Franklin, they were puzzled by what they found. 

Because of the weight of the engine, he maintained, the Mustang  should have nose-dived straight into the ground; however, it appeared to  have "belly-flopped" into a small clearing, doing no damage to the  surrounding woods. Although the wings and tail had broken off, the fuselage sustained little damage, and no blood was evident in the cockpit.  The pilot's body had already been taken away, but Duesler was informed by others at the scene that ".nowhere on the body had the skin been punctured or penetrated, yet all the bones had been crushed and pulverized." 

Duesler admitted he found the circumstances of the accident strange. "The damage pattern was not consistent with an aircraft of this type crashing into the ground," he was quoted as saying. "The official report said that Mantell had blacked out due to lack of oxygen. This may well have been the case, but the aircraft came down in a strange way." 

A reader, Graham Conway of British Columbia, wrote to the magazine to ask the obvious question: "Why such a lengthy delay [in sending Duesler to investigate twelve hours after the crash]? Were the `backroom boys' already at work fabricating a web of lies? It seems the truth will come out. It's only taken fifty years for this balloon story to deflate. I wonder how many more are yet to come?" 

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