Form: 97 Research
Date: 6/4/2006 10:30:37 AM Pacific Standard Time
From: Brad Sparks
BCC:,, Kimballwood, KRandle993,

In a message dated 6/3/2006 11:14:41 PM Pacific Daylight Time, writes:

Subj: Re: Clinton County UFO
Date: 6/3/2006 11:14:41 PM Pacific Daylight Time
Sent from the Internet

Venus was not simply in thesky; it set at 19:58 EST in the WSW as seen from WilminGton on 7 Jan 1948, about as close in time and space to the disappearance of the UFO over the horizon as might ever be reported.

Red, Green, White, Triangle, Blob, brighter than any star, rapid movements up and down and side to side (yet never actually going anywhere)...  these descriptions have all been mentioned when Venus is the culprit. OK, I  admit that "triangle" is not mentioned often, maybe even never, but still...

Of course, Skyhook balloons don't zoom up and down, and neither does Venus, but witnesses do report those kinds of motions in sightings later attributed to Venus. Hynek expended one sentence in calling the sighting "undoubtedly Venus" in the Project Grudge Report (1949).

I don't think it was one of the cases that he later revised.

Tom DeMary


Brad Sparks: 
The more I look into the Mantell case and the allegations of a Skyhook balloon or Venus as causes, the more problematic it gets.  First though, I find it strange that the AF's official position for many years was that Mantell was killed chasing Venus, yet the AF (and Ruppelt) concealed the fact that its files contained analyses by top intelligence officers at AMC Project Sign flatly denying the Venus explanation in unusually strong language, based on Godman Field Commander, Col. Guy F. Hix's azimuth data, and a THEODOLITE TRACKING from Godman Field of the same or similar object two hours after Mantell's crash.  I have never seen these documents or statements or THEODOLITE TRACKING ever pointed out by anyone before (Ruppelt concealed them), so here we are finding out about a coverup of the Mantell case, now in 2006, 58 years after the fact:

An AMC memo of 8 Nov 48 by C. A. Griffith, Chief of Operations Section, AMC Intell Dept (written by Sign's Project Officer Capt Robert R. Sneider) states sharply:

"4. The evidence obtained from MCREXE44 conclusively proves that this object was not the planet Venus."

Conclusively.  Have you ever seen an AF document make such a strong statement in a pro-UFO direction???  And this was AFTER the Project Sign TOP SECRET Estimate of the Situation had already been rejected by the Air Staff in August and Oct 1948, when the Project Sign staff was demoralized as a result.

Then Albert Deyarmond, Asst Deputy for Technical Analysis in the AMC Intell Dept, comments on this analysis, based again on the (covered up) THEODOLITE TRACKING and azimuth data, two days later with his own conclusion that the Mantell case was "UNEXPLAINED":

"10 Nov 48

"It is apparent from the data given above, that the object sighted at Godman Air Force Base on 7 January 1948 was not the planet Venus. Therefore, this sighting must be considered as unexplained.

Asst Deputy for Tech Analysis
Tech Intelligence Div
Intelligence Department"

I don't know about you but I feel this document is something of a bombshell, virtually the EQUIVALENT of the TS Estimate of the Situation, it is just short of stating "extraterrestrial."  And as we ought to know, in the Navy document I found that quotes the suppressed Project Sign Interim Status Report of 30 Nov 1948 (the actual Ghost of the Estimate, not the AIR 203 study whuch said nothing about ETH), they were still asserting in that Interim Report the ETH or "inter-planetary" as a possible explanation for flying discs. 

I also want to convey how amazed I am to find so many AF brass inside the Control Tower at Godman Field during the Mantell incident.  I have never heard this before.  This was not some case of a bunch of dumbcluck hillbilly enlisted men and low-ranking green officers.  The base CO was there, Col. Hix, along with Lt Col. E. G. Wood probably his deputy, Base Operations Officer Capt Cary Carter, Capt James Duesler, and more, this is just off the top of my head.  Also there was a Control Tower shift change at 3 PM in the middle of the Mantell chase, so an entirely new set of Tower personnel were then exposed to the whole incident, effectively doubling the number of personnel involved. 

This reminds me that back in 1975 I interviewed Gen. Garland and was surprised to hear him say "I knew Tommy Mantell" and he said he thought highly of him (if I can find my notes I can check the exact quotes I think I made)  Clearly Mantell was not a hick barnyard pilot in some hillbilly Kentucky ANG but was known to important AF brass as having a high reputation long before his death. 

And although Ruppelt lies and covers up a lot in this case, as he does in so many others, he does let slip (as he sometimes does in other cases) one intriguing comment of special human interest (p. 37):

"A long-time friend of Mantell's went on record as saying that he'd flown with him several years and knew him personally. He couldn't conceive of Mantell's even thinking about disregarding his lack of oxygen. Mantell was one of the most cautious pilots he knew.

          "The only thing I can think," he commented, "was that he was after something that he believed to be more
important than his life or his family."

Keep that ultimate sacrifice in mind before you dismiss this case as just a stupid IFO and dumb pilot error in flying too high without oxygen.  There are many troublesome aspects of this case that call for a fair hearing at last be given to Mantell.  Maybe it will turn out that it was an IFO and was hypoxia/pilot error.  But let's finally review ALL of the available FACTS and DOCUMENTS FIRST before doing so shall we?

Yes Venus set as would be seen from Clinton County AFB, Wilmington, Ohio, the time I get by US Naval Observatory online calculations at 7:56 PM EST (19:56 rather than 19:58) or 6:56 PM CST the time zone used for most of the Godman Field reporting.  The Clinton County AFB Control Tower was about 3 miles southeast of Wilmington so a more pinpoint calculation based on its exact coordinates might account for the couple minutes' difference:

Clinton County AFB, Wilmington, Ohio
Control Tower 39 25 47 N, 83 47 32 W elev about 1055 ft

However, at about the same time as the 6-7 PM (CST) sightings from Clinton County AFB, the same or similar sighting was made from Lockbourne AFB, Columbus, Ohio, where a key witness in the Control Tower was an AMATEUR ASTRONOMER with 6 years' affiliation with the Hayden Planetarium/American Museum of Natural History.

True, witnesses can see Venus or stars on the horizon changing colors, twinkling, seeming to move up-down, side-to-side, back-and-forth, without actually going anywhere, due to autokinesis effects of involuntary eyeball movements viewing largely featureless backgrounds like the sky where the eye cannot hold its focus perfectly still.

But the amateur astronomer witness in the Lockbourne Control Tower states that he saw the light in the WSW at about 15 degs elevation, a very specific figure, at roughly 6:45 PM (CST), TWO HOURS AFTER SUNSET, and that it was red, changing to amber-yellow for 1-2 secs at a time, and INTENSELY BRIGHT "greater than that of any star" and comparable to a RUNWAY LANDING LIGHT AT "FULL INTENSITY" at 500 feet away.  Assuming a runway light is 2 feet in diameter (someone could check on that) the angular size would be over 1/3 Full Moon, much much larger than a star or planet or pinpoint. 

It appeared to be appeared to be circular with "a thin wisp of tail extending towards the horizon" and its length about 5 object diameters.  Obviously very specific and hard to imagine anyone with astronomy background can extrapolate 5 times a pinpoint, it had to have an extended angular diameter.  Presumably this "tail" was about 2 Full Moons in length.

Then at the very specific time of 6:50 PM this object suddenly dropped to the horizon in about 4 seconds, hovered there for 3 seconds, then climbed back to its previous position (about 15 degs elevation) in 3 seconds, but not in a straight line, but in an elliptical course counterclockwise.  That does not sound like autokinesis of a star or planet Venus.  He estimated its speed in this rapid maneuver as about 500 mph and that it appeared to be about 5 miles away from Lockbourne.  Allowing for human error in estimating the 15 deg elevation (witnesses usually overestimate) so that it was say 5-10 degs elevation, in fact, that is roughly correct for a 5-mile distance moving 5-10 degs in 4 secs (400-800 mph). 

Then it lowered to the horizon and faded out of sight at 6:55 PM.  Yes this was the setting time of Venus to within a minute or so, and it was in the same direction (WSW).  Extraordinary coincidence. 

This just screams out "astronomical"!!!!  But before you decide to dismiss this as Venus just consider a few more troubling observations by the amateur astronomer in the Lockbourne Control Tower (and the sightings by the 6 Tower and base personnel at Clinton Co. AFB at the same time).  And keep in mind this is a PARTIAL analysis based on only a small part of the scattered files on this case in the BB files (it is very time-consuming pulling this all togther, a detailed Chronology minute by minute is desperately needed and it needs to watch for numerous typos and other errors in the AF files and not just blindly accept what they read in black and white):

He reported that there was "a high overcast and not one heavenly body was visible."  How then could Venus have been visible?  He concluded "The object apparently being under the overcast, and its erratic movement proves that it was not an astronomical phenomenon." 

So then we have to postulate that the overcast was not overcast but a haze that Venus could shine through.  But that does not explain the Clinton Co. AFB observations which in fair agreement with the Lockbourne describe a vertically elongated lighted object, specifically in a triangular or ice-cream cone shape and colored red in parts.  The Clinton Co. AFB witnesses say the object was so bright that when a cloud drifted in front of it the light shined right through, even though the cloud blotted out the stars (from there the weather was not overcast but scattered clouds).  They made several drawings of this Skyhook-balloon shape, which Ruppelt redrew again to show how they were so similar to a Skyhook which he drew right next to them.  Yet it was 2 HOURS AFTER SUNSET and a Skyhook could not possibly be seen. 

The covered-up THEODOLITE TRACKING from Godman Field raises potentially insuperable problems for a Skyhook theory and of course it totally excludes Venus (which was 40-50 degs away), which could hardly be seen in daylight anyway. 

The THEODOLITE TRACKING was made by 1st Lt Paul I. Orner, Airways and Air Communications Service, ATC (Air Transport Command), Detachment 733-5, Air Force Base Unit (103rd MCS Sq), Godman Field, he was the Detachment Commander. 

Lt Orner was in the Control Tower during the Mantell chase and he records a number of key facts, including the fact that Mantell's wingman Lt Clements refueled and went back up to search for the UFO and for Mantell, but with oxygen, went 100 miles out, (up to 33,000 ft) which would be over past Franklin where Mantell had crashed (but no one had heard the report yet) and just over the Kentucky/Tenn border.  Yet he saw absolutely nothing, he saw no object, as he reported to the Tower at about 4:45 PM.  If it was a Skyhook balloon why didn't Clements see it? 

Why didn't Mantell and his 3 wingmen see the Skyhook on their way in to the Louisville/Godman area?  In fact the Mantell flight was SPECIFICALLY ASKED by Godman Tower when they approached Godman if they had seen the object on their way in!!!  This isn't just assumption based on a hope, but a specific query put to them while they were still in flight! 

Godman base Commander Col. Hix was phoned about the object sighted by the Tower at about 2:15 PM and he arrived at the Tower at about 2:20 PM to see for himself.  Sure enough he saw the stationary white object at about azimuth 215 degs (bet. SW and SSW) about 1/4 Full Moon in angular size.  When viewed through the 8x binoculars Col Hix could sometimes see RED COLOR bordering the top or the bottom.  Skyhooks in midafternoon sunlight are WHITE NOT RED.  Only sunset lighting gives them a fiery red coloration.  Col Hix and the Tower personnel lost sight of the object at 3:50 PM when it went behind a cloud, and it had remained "stationary for 1-1/2 hours" according to Hix's statement.  They did not know yet that Capt Mantell had already crashed at about 3:18 PM.  About this time (maybe 3:45) Lt Clements had refueled and went up in his F-51D to look for Mantell and the UFO and he was told by the Tower that the object had disappeared behind a cloud but gave him the last known heading, apparently 220 degs (I'm still trying to verify and correct the bad typos in AF's poorly retyped copies of key witness statements like Clements' and many others).  Then they told him the adjust heading by 5 degs to the left, apparently to the 215 azimuth at which the Tower had watched the UFO for 1-1/2 hours.  (Mantell had reportedly followed a 210 heading but all these figures need to be carefully checked.) 

Lt Orner also saw the small white object stationary obejct in the SW sky from the Tower with Col Hix and the many other AF officers and personnel.  Orner said that through binoculars it looked like a white parachute with bright sunlight reflecting off the top.  Sounds like a SKYHOOK balloon!!!  EXCEPT that he too saw "RED LIGHT" on the lower part of it. 

This is Lt. Orner's report of his THEODOLITE TRACKING of the UFO from Godman Field which began at about 5:35 PM (CST), or 1/2 HOUR AFTER SUNSET for a high-altitude Skyhook balloon (almost an hour after sunset on the ground):

"At about 1735 CST I returned to the Control Tower and [saw] a bright light different than a star at a position of about 240° azimuth and 8° elevation from the Control Tower.  This was a round object.  It seemed to have a dark spot in the center and the object moved north and disappeared from the horizon at a point 250° from the Tower.  The unusual fact about this object was the fact that it remained visible and glowed through the haze near the Earth when no other stars were visible and did not disappear until it went below the level of the Earth in a manner similar to the sun or moon setting.  This object was viewed and tracked with the Weather Station theodolite from the hangar roof."

We now know that the 1-6-48 Skyhook launch from Milaca, Minn., (NOT Camp Ripley 43 miles away, that was g.d. lie) reached its MAXIMUM HEIGHT of 80,000 ft in 3 hours of launch, or presumably at about 11 AM on the 6th.  It could therefore not go any higher.  Thus the nonsense about 100,000 ft is sheer falsehood.  It had gone almost DUE SOUTH from Minnesota, slightly to the W, at about 190 degs.  It did not get tracked heading SE towards Kentucky so it is anyone's guess where it actually went, unless there are lots of news reports charting its course along the way.  There are no upper winds data in 1948 from 80,000 ft so no way to check using meteorological records. 

That means that when Lt Orner tracked the object by Godman's theodolite at 5:35 PM CST at 240° azimuth and 8° elevation, if it was a Skyhook balloon at 80,000 ft it had to be about 100 miles away to the WSW, which would be the vicinity of HOPKINSVILLE, Kentucky.  YES THAT HOPKINSVILLE from the 1955 incident.  It would NOT be anywhere near Nashville, Tenn., where famed astronomer Carl Seyfert sighted from 4:30 to 4:45 PM CST what he called a balloon with cable to a suspended basket (the Skyhook pictures of 1-6-48 do not show a "basket" or any other large object hanging beneath, only relatively tiny payloads). 

Even worse, when Lt Orner lost track of the UFO in the theodolite it was at the horizon (0 degs elevation) still farther north at 250 degs azimuth.  An 80,000 ft balloon would have to be at about 350 MILES away at that point over southern Missouri!!!  Even more discrepant with Seyfert's sighting in Nashville, which would also be about 350 miles away.  AND IT IS IN PITCH DARKNESS!!!!!  The Skyhook could not have been seen!!!

Finally there is a question about the SIZE of the Skyhook launched on 1-6-48, which affects whether Godman or Mantell could even have seen the balloon.  Claims of 100 ft size are belied by the tracking report which states that the dozen or so balloons launched there from late 1947 to early 1949 were 70 ft and 72.8 ft balloons, not 100 ft.  Also unclear and being checked is whether this 70-72.8 ft size applies to the entire package or just the gas bag that is lit up by reflected sunlight.  Photos of the 1-6-48 launch show that about half its length was the essentially invisible cabling to the relatively tiny payloads and half the gas bag, which might mean the envelope was only about 35 ft in size. 

Simple physics and human physiological optics shows that the Minimum Angle of Resolution of about 1 arcminute (for normal 20/20 vision) would limit the maximum distance a 35 ft Skyhook balloon gas bag could be seen is only about 23 MILES!!!  One could not see ANY details, it would be a mere PINPOINT at that maximum possible distance for Skyhook visibility.  That would raise the question of how on earth Mantell could see a Skyhook from 90 miles away in order to chase it 90 miles to his death.

-----Original Message-----
>From: Don Ledger <dledger@NS.SYMPATICO.CA>
>Sent: Jun 3, 2006 4:41 PM
>Subject: Re: Clinton County UFO
>Richard Hall wrote:
>>These are some of the reports (I saw a few that turned up in Allen 
>>Hynek's personal files several years ago) that convince me something
>>more than a Skyhook ballon was there. Skyhooks simply don't zoom up and
>>down at high speed.
>>Maybe there was a Skyhook present that caused some of the sightings
>>(even that has not been clearly established, I don't think), but if so,
>>Brad Sparks has done a pretty good analysis disputing that interpreation
>>for the Mantell object.
>>It is quite possible that a Skyhhok intermittently visible could have
>>been present and caused some sightings. Wouldn't be  the first time in
>>UFO history that witnesses confused two separate objects. I recall a
>>MUFON case where police had a legitimate UFO sighting, then began to
>>confuse a distant USAF aircraft for the UFO they had seen earlier. Those
>>things happen. - Dick
>Spot on, Dick. Often in electronics and in aviation it's never
>one thing that goes wrong it's two or in the case of aviation, 3.
>Coincidences happen. And that was mine and Fran's mistake for
>suggesting just that.
>There are too many UFO reports tossed because a prosaic marker
>was in the sky such as Venus or an aircraft or the Moon, etc.
>where the witness report is simply explained away as that, except
>if the witness is actually asked, they were aware of the prosaic,
>except of course Jill Tarter who doesn't know the Moon from an
>pumpkin pie.

Subj: Re: WFIE Transcript on Mantell Story 
Date: 6/2/2006 10:40:02 AM Pacific Standard Time
From: Brad Sparks

In a message dated 6/2/2006 10:18:24 AM Pacific Daylight Time, writes:

Subj: Fwd: Re: WFIE Transcript on Mantell Story
Date: 6/2/2006 10:18:24 AM Pacific Daylight Time
Sent from the Internet

I won't put this on CE and SHG yet. Want you to read it first, then I'll
post it. Be ready to respond to it.

Brad Sparks:
Well in a way it's laughable.  Mantell chased the object for 90 miles from Godman to Franklin.  A 100-foot Skyhook isn't even visible to the naked eye from 90 miles distance.  That's an angular size of 0.7 arcminute and Minimum Angle of Resolution is about 1 arcminute.  Sorry doesn't wash, it's a violation of the laws of physics and physiological optics. 

Kevin seems to think that Mantell could climb vertically straight up to a Skyhook at 100,000 ft (notice even Moore does not say the Skyhook went that high).  Does he not realize that the F-51D had a maximum climb angle of only 17 degrees?  It couldn't go straight up like some later jets could. 

Also the 10 minutes at 20,000 ft without oxygen reminds me of a comment that was reported of Mantell's radio conversation in AF files where Mantell said he would fly that way for 10 minutes then break off.  That could mean Mantell knew exactly how long he had and was well aware of what he was doing.  Also the oxygen mask blocking the clear reception of voice reminds me that the last transmission was garbled and could not be understood. 

BTW when I interviewed Gen Garland in 1975 he told me "I knew Tommy Mantell."  Mantell was no hick hillbilly pilot of some backwoods.  He was known to AF command of Garland's rank. 

>Date: Fri, 02 Jun 2006 11:48:12 -0400 (EDT)
>Subject: Re: WFIE Transcript on Mantell Story
>Good Morning -
>Read the transcript and I thing there are a couple of points that need to
>be made for the sake of accuracy. Thomas Mantell was not an "ace." He was
>a transport pilot who received the Distinguished Flying Cross for action
>during the Normandy Invasion, but he did not shoot down five enemy
>aircraft (the requirement to be an ace). That is not to say he wasn't
>brave, as the DFC proves, just that he didn't fly fighters during the war.
>Military regulations required the use of oxygen above 14,000 feet and
>according to various medical studies, the useful consciousness of a pilot
>at 20,000 feet, without oxygen is about ten minutes. At 25,000 feet it is
>significantly less, which suggests that Mantell, with his aircraft trimmed
>to climb probably passed out at about 25,000 feet. The aircraft continued
>to climb until it stalled, fell through and began a power
>dive breaking up between 10 and 20,000 feet.
>While the skyhook balloons might not have been classified, the project was
>and Mantell and those with him and those in the tower were unfamiliar with
>the skyhook balloons. The evidence available today suggests that Mantell
>was attempting to intercept a skyhook that was at 80 to 100,000 feet, or
>something like 10 to 12 miles above him. Since everyone that of weather
>balloons of fifteen or twenty five in diameter, a skyhook that was four of
>five times as large and made of shiny material, seen at such a distance
>would certainly fool them. If you look at the drawings of the object made
>by the men in the tower, it is clear what they were describing.
>Might I suggest you look at the paper I wrote, available at UFO Updates
>(just type that into your search engine and then clink on the lins) and
>you'll see the evidence in great and gory detail.
>Thomas Mantell died in a tragic mistake of misidentification complicated
>by his violation of regulations. It is a sad tale but it is time to retire
>this from the UFO lore.
>Kevin D. Randle