Tony Dodd - FLIGHT TO DESTRUCTION
The Strange Death Of Pilot Thomas Mantell
stories have been written about the untimely death of Captain
Thomas Mantell whose USAF P-51 Mustang aircraft crashed on the
7th. January 1948, shortly after having observed an Unidentified
Flying Object seen hovering in the air close to the United States
Army Air Force Base at Godman Field, Kentucky. Like so many
incidents at the time, the official Mantell files remain classified,
and the truth within them gathers dust in some vault, probably
housed at Wright Patterson AFB Dayton, Ohio.
the years such UFO related stories have been debated by researchers
throughout the World, but the final proof about such incidents has
never been forthcoming. The self-destruct mechanism, which seems
to be an inherent part of UFO investigation emerges with uncanny
regularity and this coupled with a clever disinformation programme,
has stifled the startling truth to the present day.
Thomas Mantell case is no exception to this rule. The tragic death
of this brave pilot has officially been put down to pilot error,
but who could say otherwise. Mantell could not defend his actions
or tell the true story of what confronted him that fatal day. The
official Army Air Force verdict, and that shared by many UFO investigators,
is that Mantell’s aircraft crashed after he blacked out owing
to lack of oxygen while attempting to fly too high an altitude in
what was later described as a high altitude weather balloon. ( It
seems that I have heard this weather balloon story before at Rosswell)
case was officially closed and the true circumstances of what had
occurred entered the files of Project Saucer, The secret investigation
group operating out of Wright Patterson Army Air Field in 1948.
Official Version Of Events
Thomas Mantell incident began at 1.20pm. On the 7th. January, 1948.
when the control tower operators at Godman Field Army Air Force
Base, Kentucky sighted a strange unidentified airborne object hovering
in the sky close to the base. Several senior officers were summoned,
and the base Operations and Intelligence Officer were soon joined
by the Commanding Officer, but none were able to identify the slowly
the time a flight of four P-51 fighters were on a routine training
flight under the supervision of Flight Commander Captain Thomas
Mantell. They were flying towards Godman Field when at approximately
2.45pm, the control tower officer in charge ordered them to investigate
the strange object. Captain Mantell acknowledged, but a short time
later one of the pilots requested permission to brake away as he
was running low on fuel, leaving the three remaining aircraft to
head in the direction of the strange object.
next message came from one of the three remaining pilots, who said
he was losing his bearings and was becoming fearful of becoming
lost. He too was granted permission to break away and return, but
he would be accompanied by one of the two remaining pilots, who
was instructed to accompany his colleague to guide him safely back
to base. The only aircraft now in pursuit of the object was that
piloted by Captain Thomas Mantell.
15,000 feet Mantell contacted the control tower and stated that
he had the object in sight and was climbing to investigate. A short
time later Mantell reported that he was closing on the object but
that was the last message broadcast. Mantell’s aircraft crashed
approximately 130 miles down range from Godman Field.
official Air Technical Information Command report on the crash stated
that they were of the opinion that Captain Mantell lost consciousness
due to oxygen starvation. The trimmed aircraft had continued to
climb until increasing altitude caused a sufficient loss of power
for it to level out. The aircraft then began to turn left due to
torque and as the wing drooped, so did the nose, until it was in
a tight turning spiral. The uncontrolled descent resulted in excessive
speed causing the aircraft to disintegrate. It is believed that
Captain Mantell never regained consciousness. This was born out
by the fact that the canopy lock was still in place after the crash,
discounting any attempt to abandon the aircraft. They also stated
that the UFO was in no way responsible for the crash.
SUDDEN BREAKTHROUGH IN INFORMATION
James F Duesler was the deputy commander at Godman Field on the
date of the incident. He was also a pilot and crash investigator.
Some years later he married an English girl and emigrated to England
where he lived in retirement with his wife until she died. He then
lived alone until his death.
contacted by Jim Duesler after he heard me giving an interview on
the radio about the UFO subject and we became good friends and were
in constant contact for about three years prior to his untimely
death from natural causes. I found Jim to be a very warm and likable
man who was easy to befriend- an elderly gentleman of high integrity.
He had nothing to gain by recounting his version of the Thomas Mantell
incident, which highlights numerous flaws in the official report
which contained an official statement issued by the Department Of
Defence which they claimed was made by Captain Duesler at the time.
Duesler personally told me that he never made a statement to any
authority relating to the incident, and that the DoD statement issued
was a fake. He also told me that the fake statement included the
words: Certified A True Copy-James F Duesler, Jr, Captain. USAF.
He said that this was obviously a fake because he did not serve
in the United States Air Force- he served in the US Army Air Corps
before the inception of the USAF.
this point I will only refer to Captain Duesler as Jim as he was
obviously a civilian by this time and I will relate his story with
the help of a recorded interview.
the afternoon of 7th. January, 1948, I was standing on the parking
apron of Godman Field talking to Captain Warren Carter, who was
the base operations officer, when one of the clerks from the operations
centre came up to us and told Captain Carter that he was required
in the control tower. He duly went to the tower and a short time
later contacted me and requested that I join him as there was something
important happening. I went to the control tower and told to look
in certain direction into the sky. A small piece of paper had been
put on the control room window to give an indication of direction.
I looked out and saw a strange grey looking object which was hovering
some distance away.
of its shape we described it as an inverted ice cream cone. The
widest part pointed towards the ground and the narrow part pointing
towards the sky. We also noted that the object appeared to be rotating
because it had a black line running from top to bottom which moved
around, giving the appearance of rotation. The wide bottom of the
object was a red colour.
this time a flight of four Air National Guard P-51 Mustangs were
approaching our position at Godman. The flight was under the command
of Captain Thomas Mantell.
was told of the object and requested to investigate. He responded
to the request and told us he would investigate. One of the aircraft
reported that the running low on fuel and requested that he break
off and return to base. Permission was given leaving three aircraft
to continue the investigation. A second aircraft then came over
the intercom saying that he was unsure of his location and was afraid
of getting lost and requested to break away and return to base.
He was given permission and one of the two remaining aircraft was
instructed to join him and guide him back to base.
left Captain Mantell’s aircraft alone moving towards the distant
object. The last transmission received from Mantell was when he
was at 15000 feet, at which time he said that he had the object
in sight and was closing for a better look. Nothing more was heard
from him. The object then became obscured by cloud and was lost
from view. At this our interest in the object was lost and I returned
to my quarters.
about 1am. In the morning, I was awoken from my bed by control room
staff who informed me that they were watching strange in the sky.
I got up and went to the control tower where they pointed out an
object which was circling in a wide arc in the distance. It was
agreed by all present that it resembled a cigar shape and was glowing
a dull orange colour. During this time control tower operators at
St.Louis and Wright Patterson had received reports of the same cigar
shaped object. The object had also been reported by a flight of
B-25 Mitchell Bombers to the St. Louis tower. I eventually went
back to bed only to be awoken again at 3.30a. and informed that
Thomas Mantell’s aircraft had crashed approximately 130 miles
away. As I was a member of the accident investigation board I was
required to attend the scene.
company with two other men I attended the scene and on arrival found
that the aircraft had crashed not far from the road and had strangely
come down in the centre of a small clearing surrounded by tall trees.
At this time I was told that the body of the pilot had been removed
from the aircraft and taken away. Military personnel at the scene
also told me that nowhere on the body had the skin been punctured
or penetrated; yet all the bones in the body had been crushed and