Back in 1948, an effort to pursue an unidentified flying object resulted in the untimely de̳a̳t̳h̳ of a young pilot.
On January 7th of that year, 25-year-old Thomas Francis Mantell Jr. of the Kentucky Air National Guard took to the skies to investigate a report by the Kentucky State Highway Patrol of a mysterious object that had been sighted flying high over Maysville.
When he, alongside his two wingmen, reached 15,000ft, they encountered a strange object described as “metallic” and “tremendous in size” that was moving around half the speed of the planes.
It wasn\’t long however before the men realized something was amiss.
“I felt a little shaky at 15,000 feet because I realized we were supposed to take oxygen at 12,000,” said Lt. B. A. Hammond who was one of the two wingmen accompanying Mantell that day.
“By the time I hit 22,000, I was seeing double. I pulled alongside Clements and indicated with gestures that I didn’t have an oxygen mask. He understood the situation, and we turned back.”
Mantell, however, decided to stay the course, despite the oxygen situation.
Later that day, radio contact with him had been lost and witnesses reported seeing a plane spiralling from the sky before crash-landing in the nearby countryside.
Mantell died on impact, having failed to make any attempt to escape the plane. It was determined that he had fallen unconscious due to oxygen deprivation during the flight.
The object he had been following, meanwhile, was sighted once more later that evening before disappearing without a trace, never to be seen again.