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Location: UFOUpDatesList.Com > 2002 > Nov > Nov 19

Skyhook, Mantell & Charles B. Moore

From: Bill Hamilton <skyman22.nul>
Date: Tue, 19 Nov 2002 08:00:42 -0800
Archived: Tue, 19 Nov 2002 07:07:25 -0500
Subject: Skyhook, Mantell & Charles B. Moore

In response to Kevin Randle's compilation of material on the
Thomas Mantell case I thought I would do a little research on
Skyhook balloons and the history of these balloons when I ran
across an interesting reference to Charles B. Moore's connection
to the Mantell case. Not only has Moore claimed responsibility
in the Roswell event, but he seems to remember participating in
the launch of the Skyhook that foiled Mantell.

At first I found this reference that seems to indicate that a
Skyhook balloon was launched in 1948 from Clinton County Air
Force Base in Ohio as part of a Naval classified research
project (classification: Confidential).

"Clinton County Air Force Base was a Strategic Air Command
bomber alert facility in the early 1960s. The All Weather Flying
Center was based at the Clinton County Army Airfield during the
late 1940s. The big Skyhook balloons, part of a classified naval
research project, were launched from Clinton County AFB in the
late 1940s.

On 07 January 1948 newspapers across the U.S. carried headlines
similar to the Louisville Courier: "F-51 and Capt. Mantell
Destroyed Chasing Flying Saucer." The "Mantell Incident" was the
most thoroughly investigated sighting of that time. Captain
Thomas Mantell died trying to reach a Skyhook balloon, launched
from Clinton County AFB. He didn't know that he was chasing a
balloon because he had never heard of the huge, 100-foot-
diameter skyhook balloons, let alone seen one. Mantell's death
was ultimately caused by the hype over UFOs, which no doubt
caused him to chase after it at all costs.

In the late 1960s Clinton was the site of a UASF Special
Operations Squadron Field Training Detachment, preparing gunship
crews for deployment to Vietnam. In 1971, the Department of
Defense closed the Clinton County Air Force Base in Wilmington,
Ohio, eliminating over 300 civilian jobs and an annual payroll
of $9 million. Wilmington citizens and the business community
banded together and turned the 1,432-acre facility into a
commercial air park, the home of Airborne Express since 1980."



This article does not tell us how the author determined that CC
AFB was the lauch center for the Skyhook. An analysis of wind
patterns over that region would be helpful as Moore's statement
conflicts with the statement above.

A 1952 article in Life magazine said this about the Mantell case;

"One was the calamity that befell Air Force Captain Thomas F.
Mantell on Jan. 7, 1948. That afternoon Mantell and two other F-
51 fighter pilots sighted an object that looked like "an ice-
cream cone topped with red" over Godman Air Force Base and Fort
Knox, Ky. Mantell followed the strange object up to 20,000 feet
and disappeared. Later in the day his body was found in a nearby
field, the wreckage of his plane scattered for a half mile
around. It now seems possible that Mantell was one of the very
few sighters who actually were deceived by a Skyhook balloon,
but the incident is still listed as unsolved by the Air Force



It seems the Skyhook explanation was considered from the very
beginning, but due to its classification status, confirming
information was hard to come by.

This reference from CUFON seems to give us a valid description
of the Skyhook:

"A frequent cause of "unidentified aerial object" reports is he
sighting of "Skyhook" balloons at high altitudes. The huge
balloons (73 feet in diameter and 129 feet long) ascend to
altitudes as high as 100,000 feet. The translucent polyethylene
plastic of which the balloons are made gleams brightly in the
sun. At higher altitudes, Skyhook balloons tend to lose their
spheroid shape and undulate slowly in air currents, often
assuming the shape of eggs or discs. Skyhook balloons are
released regularly from west coast launching sites by the Air.
Force under Project "Moby Dick." They have been known to drift
across the entire United States on their mission of obtaining
weather data in the upper reaches of the earth's atmosphere. The
launching of one of these sky monsters is shown in the photo at
left.(photo omitted) At right is a Skyhook balloon depicted
shortly after the launching as it begins its long trip skyward.
The smaller spheres to the left are three-foot weather balloons
which are used to compute winds aloft.



The interesting reference to smaller balloons to compute wind
speeds is interesting and I do not know if these were always
used, but this description of Skyhook leaves little doubt that
the Skyhook was capable of changing shape with altitude, but
generally had a spheroid shape that may assume a disc shape.

Personal sighting: I saw a bright spheroid object at 5:45 AM one
morning in Phoenix in 1997 when my next door neighbor called to
alert me (and awaken me a full hour before I usually get my
morning coffee) and I observed this unusual object in the
Northwestern sky where it was hovering at a high altitude and
appeared to be lit up from inside. When I focused my telescope
on it I observed that it was a spheroidal balloon reflecting the
morning sun (the sun was still below the Eastern horizon) and I
videotaped it for later identification. A little later this
object made the news as a possible UFO until it was identified
as a cosmic ray balloon released from the State of New Mexico.

Here is the interesting addition to this report. I ran across
this posting that Charles B. Moore may have been the culprit who
helped launch the Skyhook that deceived Mantell...

"When the call came, Mantell, 25, was leading a flight of three
propeller-driven Kentucky National Guard P-51s back from a
routine training mission to Atlanta. He and his fellow pilots
responded, but the two other planes, having no oxygen, abandoned
the chase. Mantell continued through the broken clouds.

 He radioed the tower: "I'm closing in now to take a good look.
It's directly ahead of me and moving at about half my speed. The
thing looks metallic, and it's tremendous in size."

Not long afterward, radio contact was lost, and about 35 minutes
later Mantell's P-51 exploded in the air as it was diving toward
earth, not far from Franklin in Simpson County.

The crash became one of the country's most famous UFO incidents
- chronicled by many news reports as the first UFO fatality in
the world. Air Force investigators later theorized that the
object Mantell described was either the planet Venus, which was
extremely bright at that time of year, or a weather balloon.

Now there may be new light on the mystery.

Last Thursday, from his home in Socorro, N.M., retired balloon
scientist Charles Moore, former engineer in charge of the Navy's
Project Skyhook, said he is all but certain that Mantell was
chasing a balloon that he helped launch.

Moore, 74, a professor emeritus of atmospheric physics at the
New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, said that on
Jan.6,1948, at Camp Ripley, Minn., he helped prepare, launch and
track a Navy Skyhook balloon that, when fully inflated, was 105
feet tall and nearly 73 feet in diameter.

He said the helium-filled balloon lifted 90,000 feet into the
frigid sky, then flew to the southeast over Illinois, Kentucky,
Tennessee and South Carolina before it finally blew out to sea
and vanished without ever releasing a parachute that held its
payload of scientific information.

"It was a cosmic-ray balloon that carried a cloud chamber
designed to test high-energy particles that come in from outside
our atmosphere," Moore said. "It was not metallic. It was
polyethelene, like a garment-cleaning bag, about one one-
thousandth of an inch thick. But if you were at the right angle
relative to the sun, it could have appeared metallic. Otto
Winnzen (the project chief) essentialy tracked the balloon by
reports of an unidentified object. He was quite sure that the
sighting over Godman field, Ky., was the balloon.

"The Navy was not at all interested in having the idea put out
at the time that the flight that caused Captain Mantell's death
was a result of one of their experiments, but we strongly
believed it was so. My memory is that I was cautioned by local
Navy officers involved with the project not to say anything
about it," Moore said. "I deeply regret that someone got
killed... and I have a deep feeling against cover-ups. I'd like
to see my history correct."

A spokesman for the Office of Naval Research in Washington said
he could neither support nor deny Moore's statements. However,
he confirmed that Skyhook balloons, which were classified
"confidential," were being used for atmospheric testing by the
Navy during 1948 in central Minnesota.

Mantell's wife, Margaret, now remarried and still living in
Louisville, was not allowed to see the wreckage of her husband's
plane. She said she was told that pieces of it were sent to
Dayton, Ohio, for investigation, and that her husband had passed
out from oxygen starvation before the crash. Mantell, who had
been among the first fliers to cross the Cherbourg Peninsula on
D-Day and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for heroism
during World War II, was buried at Zachary Taylor National
Cemetery in Louisville.

His oldest son, Thomas Mantell III of Louisville, was not aware
of Moore's account of the Skyhook balloon but said he had heard
mention of the Skyhook theory in some of the many stories on the

He is skeptical, however, that a balloon could have been flying
half the speed of a P-51, as his father's radio message

"The cover-up is the big thing," Mantell said. "They were very
vague with my mom...She, like me, believed that he was too good
a pilot to have gone too high and blacked out from lack of
oxygen. He'd flown too many missions without oxygen, and he knew
his capabilities. I would really like to know the real cause of
the crash. That's what befuddles me more than anything."

From: From: "Terry W. Colvin" <fortean.nul>
Subject: IUFO: [Fwd: Capt. Mantell Jr. [[1 of 2]]]
Date: 3 Aug 1998 13:47:00 -0400
To: iufo <iufo.nul>, UASR UASR <UASR.nul>

Could Otto Winzenn or Moore know where the records are for these
Skyhook launches? Perhaps one of these men could provide further
info that would actually lead to the resolution of this case
providing, of course, that Moore doesn't change the figures.

It seems to me that all the reports in the Mantell case point to
a Skyhook as the source of his sighting with a 99% probability,
but with a little more digging could be increased to about a
99.9% probability.

I have always accepted some accounts of the Godman Tower radio
communications that seemed baffling indicating a possible UFO,
but have now changed my mind and I do believe that the most
likely explanation is a Skyhook balloon.

-Bill Hamilton

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