Sunday, March 06, 2005

Aztec and Inconvenient Facts

Aztec is not the only alleged flying saucer incident described in Behind the Flying Saucers. However, rather than enhancing the credibility of Dr. Gee, or Silas Newton, these other tales just create further problems for the proponents of Aztec, as each has been shown since to have terrestrial explanations. If Dr. Gee or Newton were truly "in the know," why would they get it all so wrong?

The best example is the famous Mantell case. On 7 January, 1948, Captain Thomas Mantell, a fighter pilot in the Kentucky Air National Guard, crashed his F-51 fighter near Franklin, Kentucky. He had been chasing a large object that some claimed was a flying saucer. The official conclusion was that Mantell had perished in a tragic accident, caused by his attempt to intercept an object first said to be Venus, then a weather ballon, and finally both Venus and two weather balloons. He violated orders by climbing above 14,000 feet without oxygen equipment, and died either of hypoxia before the plane crashed or had lost consciousness and died upon impact. It was uncertain at the time exactly what Captain Mantell had been chasing, however, which led to much speculation that it was a flying saucer.

In Behind the Flying Saucers, Scully dealt with the Mantell case. "This case has been hashed and rehashed many times," he wrote, "but never once had anybody come near a remotely plausible solution as to what happened to Mantell and his plane." Until Silas Newton (posing as "Scientist X"), of course, who "explained" in his Denver lecture that:

"A good deal of what is claimed to have happened to ships in the air, such as disintegration... can be duplicated in the laboratory. Mantell’s plane... from the motor to the tips of the wings held together by reason of magnetic frequency. This was even true of Mantell himself. Therefore all that a flying saucer had to do to disintegrate Mantell’s plane, the lecturer revealed, was to demagnetize it... This, then was the magnetic research scientist’s explanation as to what happened to Captain Mantell and his ship. The captain was proving a source of annoyance in his pursuit of a magnetically controlled flying saucer. A button was pushed and Mantell and his plane were no more."

There is only one problem with this explanation - it isn’t true. Kevin Randle, in "An Analysis of the Thomas Mantell Case", a highly-detailed, well-researched and peer reviewed paper which has been posted on-line at the UFO Updates site, proved - beyond any reasonable doubt - that the original military explanation of Mantell’s death was the correct one, and that the UFO he had been chasing was in fact a cosmic ray research balloon known as "Skyhook." In Strange Skies: Pilot Encounters with UFOs, Jerry Clark comes to the same conclusion, and refutes the contention that there were no skyhook launches at the time of the Mantell incident (see. p. 63).

Newton’s use of the story, and Scully’s acceptance of it, undermines their credibility even further. It also demonstrates the lack of judgment, and the will to believe, of people like Scully and Wilbert Smith. Smith, for example, stated in a speech in on 31 March, 1958, at Ottawa, Ontario, that:

"In Mantell’s case, the altered field configurations in the vicinity of the [flying saucer] reduced binding forces within the structure of the aircraft to a value below that of the load, which the parts were supposed to carry. So it just came apart."

Of course, it made perfect sense at the time for Newton to include the Mantell case in his con, and for Smith to link it to his belief in flying saucers. It was genuinely unexplained, at least to the public’s satisfaction, and it had received a wide range of sensationalistic publicity. It was the perfect case for Newton to include in the con - mysterious and well-known. It fed into Scully's belief that there was a "cover-up". But we now know that it had nothing to do with "magnetic frequency" or flying saucers. It was simply a tragic accident - and a perfect example of inconvenient facts and the will to believe.

Paul Kimball

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hello sir.

My name is Bob( I am enjoying your blog. I have been interested in getting to the "bottom" of this story since 5th grade.

I recently have finished a major effort utilizing the Project Blue Book Archives, in order to rehash the Mantell story, for myself. Surprisingly, the archives show that the Air Force knew it was an Uidentified Flying Object all along. I don't know where the experts that I've been trusting all this time got their information, but it isn't the same information. The "SkyHook" balloon had been spotted and tracked at 10 mile per hour, drifting at 25,000 feet.

The UFO that Mantell and his fellow pilots were "chasing" was clocked at speeds never less than 180 mph, and Mantell himself claimed, just before he "disappeared", which is what his mates said happened, from their perspective, that it was going 360 mph or better.

The short time in which it all takes place does not even remotely account for the lack of oxygen theory. This all took place in moments, not hours or even large blocks of minutes. He pulled up, reporting he would break off at 20,000 if no closer, then...gone.

The UFO was further tracked by the Air Force over several states, at 250 mph.