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- The Flying Saucers are Real - 3/38 -
existence of flying saucers. On March 18 it flatly denied they were Air Force secret missiles or space-exploration devices.
Three days later, a Chicago and Southern airliner crew saw a fast-flying disk near Stuttgart, Arkansas. The circular craft, blinking a strange blue-white light, pulled up in an arc at terrific speed. The two pilots said they glimpsed lighted ports on the lower side as the saucer zoomed above them. The lights had a soft fluorescence, unlike anything they had seen.
There was one peculiar angle in the Arkansas incident. There was no apparent attempt to muzzle the two pilots, as in earlier airline cases. Instead, a United Press interview was quickly arranged, for nation-wide publication. In this wire story Captain Jack Adams and First Officer G. W. Anderson made two statements:
"We firmly believe that the flying saucer we saw over Arkansas was a secret experimental type aircraft--not a visitor from outer space. . .
"We know the Air Force has denied there is anything to this flying-saucer business, but we're both experienced pilots and we're not easily fooled."
The day after this story appeared, I was discussing it with an airline official in Washington.
"That's an odd thing," he said. "The Air Force could have persuaded those pilots--or the line president--to hush the thing up. It looks as if they wanted that story broadcast."
"You mean the whole thing was planted?"
"I won't say that, though it could have been. Probably they did see something. But they might have been told what to say about it."
"Any idea why?"
He looked at me sharply. "You and Purdy probably know the answer. At a guess, I'd say it might have been planned to offset that Navy commander's report--the one on the White Sands sightings."
The White Sands case had puzzled many skeptics, because the Pentagon had cleared the published report. The author, Commander R. B. McLaughlin, was a regular Navy officer. As a Navy rocket expert, he had been stationed at the White Sands Rocket Proving Ground in New Mexico. In his published article he described three disk sightings at White Sands.
One of the disks, a huge elliptical craft, was tracked by scientists with precision instruments at five miles per second. That's 18,000 miles per hour. It was found to be flying fifty-six miles above the earth. Two other disks, smaller types, were watched from five observation posts on hills at the proving ground. Circling at incredible speed, the two disks paced an Army high-altitude rocket that had just been launched, then speeded up and swiftly outclimbed the projectile.
Commander McLaughlin's report, giving dates and factual details, was cleared by the Department of Defense. So was a later nation-wide broadcast.
Then the Air Force made its routine denial.
Why was McLaughlin, a regular Navy officer subject to security screening, permitted to give out this story? Was it an incredible slip-up? Or was it part of some carefully thought-out plan? I believe it was part of an elaborate program to prepare the American people for a dramatic disclosure.
For almost a year I have watched the behind-the-scenes maneuvers of those who guide this program. In the following chapters I have tried to show the strange developments in our search for the answer; the carefully misleading tips, the blind alleys we entered, the unexpected assistance, the confidential leads, and the stunning contradictions.
It has been a complicated jigsaw puzzle. Only by seeing all parts of this intricate picture can you begin to glimpse the reasons for this stubbornly hidden secret.
The official explanation may be imminent. When it is finally revealed, I believe the elaborate preparation--even the wide deceit involved--will be fully justified in the minds of the American people.
IT HAS BEEN over two years since the puzzling death of Captain Thomas Mantell.
Mantell died mysteriously in the skies south of Fort Knox. But before his radio went silent, he sent a strange message to Godman Air Force Base. The men who heard it will never forget it.
It was January 7, 1948.
Crowded into the Godman Field Tower, a group of Air Force officers stared up at the afternoon sky. For just an instant, something gleamed through the broken clouds south of the base.
High above the field, three P-51 fighters climbed with swift urgency. Heading south, they quickly vanished.
The clock in the tower read 2:45.
Colonel Guy Hix, the C.O., slowly put down his binoculars. If the thing was still there, the clouds now hid it. All they could do was wait.
The first alarm had come from Fort Knox, when Army M.P.'s had relayed a state police warning. A huge gleaming object had been seen in the sky, moving toward Godman Field. Hundreds of startled people had seen it at Madisonville, ninety miles away.
Thirty minutes later, it had zoomed up over the base.
Colonel Hix glanced around at the rest of the men in the tower. They all had a dazed look. Every man there had seen the thing, as it barreled south of the field. Even through the thin clouds, its intermittent red glow had hinted at some mysterious source of power. Something outside their understanding.
It was Woods, the exec, who had estimated its size. Hix shook his head. That was unbelievable. But something had hung over Godman Field for almost an hour. The C.O. turned quickly as the loud-speaker, tuned to the P-51's, suddenly came to life.
"Captain Mantell to Godman . . . Tower Mantell to Godman Tower . . ."
The flight leader's voice had a strained tone.
"I've sighted the thing!" he said. "It looks metallic--and it's tremendous in size!"
The C.O. and Woods stared at each other. No one spoke.
"The thing's starting to climb," Mantell said swiftly. "It's at twelve o'clock high, making half my speed. I'll try to close in."
In five minutes, Mantell reported again. The strange metallic object had speeded up, was now making 360 or more.
At 3:08, Mantell's wingman called in. Both he and the other pilot had seen the weird object. But Mantell had outclimbed them and was lost in the clouds.
Seven minutes dragged by. The men in the tower sweated out the silence. Then, at 3:15, Mantell made a hasty contact.
"It's still above me, making my speed or better. I'm going up to twenty thousand feet. If I'm no closer, I'll abandon chase."
It was his last report.
Minutes later, his fighter disintegrated with terrific force. The falling wreckage was scattered for thousands of feet.
When Mantell failed to answer the tower, one of his pilots began a search. Climbing to 33,000 feet, he flew a hundred miles to the south.
But the thing that lured Mantell to his death had vanished from the sky.
Ten days after Mantell was killed, I learned of a curious sequel to the Godman affair.
An A.P. account in the New York Times had caught my attention. The story, released at Fort Knox, admitted Mantell had died while chasing a flying saucer. Colonel Hix was quoted as having watched the object, which was still unidentified. But there was no mention of Mantell's radio messages--no hint of the thing's tremendous size.
Though I knew the lid was probably on, I went to the Pentagon. When the scare had first broken, in the summer of '47, I had talked with Captain Tom Brown, who was handling saucer inquiries. But by now Brown had been
shifted, and no one in the Press Branch would admit knowing the details of the Mantell saucer chase.
"We just don't know the answer," a security officer told me.
"There's a rumor," I said, "it's a secret Air Force missile that sometimes goes out of control."
"Good God, man!" he exploded. "If it was, do you think we'd be ordering pilots to chase the damned things?"
"No--and I didn't say I believed it." I waited until he cooled down. "This order you mentioned--is it for all Air Force pilots, or special fighter units?"
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