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in the news 1948


Order of the Guinea Pigs

Above: (Unofficial) certificate -- issued by the Grand Council, Exclusive Order of Guinea Pigs -- and given to members of the U.S. Navy who participated in the 1948 nuclear weapon tests at Eniwetok Atoll. The wording read...

To all the loyal Brother Pigs, Greetings. Know Ye that [name of member] having, through an exaggerated sense of patriotism subjected his body to the rigors attendant to atomic weapons, gamma rays, rain storms, mermaids, small boats, canned beer, jeeps, rationed water, telephones, small planes, palm trees, helicopters, sea shells, sand fleas, coconuts, mal-de-mere and the like is by this document accorded full status as a Brother Pig and all brothers are hereby commanded to give him due recognition as same under penalty of being driven from the common trough.

The Eniwetok group had issued the certificates since Operation Crossroads in 1946. Participants at subsequent test sites often formed their own unofficial societies, including the "Royal Order of the Radiated Desert Rats".

Story on the Eniwetok tests below.


Ottawa, Canada Journal - 3 Jan 48

Spiral galaxy

ON PALOMAR MOUNTAIN the observatory is ready to begin its dramatic quest. Is the universe expanding or constant? Does life exist on other planets?

Giant Palomar telescope May Be Key To Unlock Many Mysteries of Universe

Central Press Canadian.

Los Angeles, Calif. -- In only a few months, puny man -- who thinks of himself as the most inquisitive creature in the universe -- will peer curiously eight times farther than he ever has been able to see before -- at least six sextillion (6,000,000,000,000,000,000,000!) miles into interstellar space!

The fabulous Mount Palomar telescope, being built since 1929, is scheduled to begin early operation atop 6,000-foot high Palomar Mountain, 100 miles southeast of here.

Scientists around the world heaved a sigh of relief recently when word was flashed that the nerve-wracking 160-mile truck trip of the telescope's precious 200-inch mirror had been successfully negotiated from the optical laboratories of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena to the installation site.

The new "eye" may dwarf all that human beings have known heretofore about the infinite space surrounding them. In a world newly made scientifically self-conscious through the unlocking of the secret of atomic energy -- the power of the universe -- the new instrument may reveal information so staggering as to be difficult to comprehend.

May Solve Riddle

With rocket journeys to the moon no longer consigned entirely to fantastic imagination, the new instrument some day may enable scientists to provide a "road map" for the first travelers in interstellar space. The earth's satellite literally will be moved up until its rugged surface seems just outside the window!

The riddle of whether there is life on some of earth's sister planets in the solar system, mainly Mars or Venus, may come close to being solved.

The even more challenging wonder as to whether there may be other inhabited heavenly bodies like the earth revolving about some of the countless other suns in the universe also may be explored further.

Far from discounting the possibility of life like ours elsewhere, astronomers speculate that there must be hundreds of millions of stars in the Milky Way which, like our sun, have planets spinning around them.

If any of them have temperatures like that of earth, atmospheres containing plenty of oxygen and water, then the odds may be heavily in favor of life existing elsewhere similar to that of the earth.

By hooking up to the new telescope some of the newly developed instruments, such as the spectro graph [sic] which the Russian astronomer, Gabriel Tikhov, recently used to make observations convincing him that vegetation grows on Mars resembling that of the northern pine and juniper tree belts of Russia, the first real data on the presence of life like that of earth on other planets may be gathered.

Only slightly less astonishing than what the telescope may reveal are the facts of its own creation. It will be a big brother to the great Mount Wilson telescope with its 100-inch mirror, which has been the world's biggest until its size was doubled by the new arrival.

Both are the brain children of the late Dr. George Ellery Hale, who did not live to see his greatest project finished but died knowing that its achievement was a mere matter of carrying out his carefully computed mathematics.

In 1935 the Corning Glass Works poured the huge Pyrex disk which is the key to the mammoth instrument. It was hauled across the continent like a giant eggshell, breaking many records for railroad transportation but not getting broken itself.

Will Grasp Light Rays.

The disk weighed 20 tons, and work was begun immediately on carving out the concave in the shape of a parabola. With greater precision than is used on the world's finest jewelry, the surface was ground to an accuracy of two one-millionths of an inch. Yet five and one-half tons of the original glass was polished away.

Backed by a ribbed steel frame, the mirror is 24 inches thick at the edges and 20-1/4 inches at the middle. A 40-inch hole in the center makes it a great gleaming doughnut.

It is reposing in an aluminum bath now, receiving the "silvered" surface that will enable it to grasp light rays that were beamed to the earth many thousands of years ago and are just arriving after hurtling through space all that time at a speed of 186,324 miles per second!

The handling of this tremendous mirror in the telescope's mechanism is still more remarkable. It must be held true to 1/000/000th [sic] of an inch. Yet it must be effortlessly swung around by a miraculous instrument no bigger than a sewing machine motor so that it can keep the stars constantly in focus. Perfect balance does it.

The great reflecting telescope ls the ultra-modern refinement of the first simple instrument of its type invented by none other than Sir Isaac Newton, the same Englishman who, according to legend and fable, also discovered the force of gravity with the help of an apple that fell on his head while he slept under the tree.

Sir Isaac Newton gave wings to the exploration of interstellar space by developing in 1666 the first reflecting instrument as a salient improvement on earlier devices built by the famed Galileo.

Newton was rewarded by being able to discover the moons that revolve around the plant Jupiter and the mysterious "horns" of Venus. The horns remain largely a mystery to this day and are, perhaps, one of the mysteries finally to be cleared up through observations with the great telescope that is the descendant many times removed of Newton's discovery.

Scientists' Latest Dream.

Palomar's instrument will have cost six million dollars when it is completed -- the mirror alone costing $6,000,000 -- and it will be housed in a building 10 stories high on a ridge 5,600 feet above sea level. A community is being completed nearby for the astronomers and staff to occupy.

The telescope dwarfs by comparison the other great "eyes" of the world. Its 200-inch mirror serves as an index, and it not only is twice the size of that of the Mount Wilson instrument, but surpasses by far such other great telescopes as the 74-inch reflector of the David Dunlop observatory at the University of Toronto, the 72-inch reflector of the Dominion Astrophysical of Victoria, BC, and Ohio Wesleyan University's 69-inch reflector at Delaware, O.

The most ambitious project of its kind ever undertaken by man in his attempt to probe into the mysteries of the farthest reaches of the universe, it may hold its place until rocket-borne telescopes are sent 300 to 600 miles into the sky to take photographs unhampered by the earth's atmosphere.

The rocket suggestion is advanced by Dr. Fritz Zwicky, rocket specialist at the California Institute of Technology, and represents the latest dream of the ever-restless scientists who even before the Palomar telescope gets into operation are trying to find a yet greater and more spectacular way to study the heavens.

Tokyo, Japan Pacific Stars and Stripes - 3 Jan 48

Danger Signs Posted By U.S. In Pacific Atom Test Area

WASHINGTON, Jan. 2 (AP) -- The Atomic Energy Commission posted a "Danger-Keep Off" notice today covering 39,000 square miles of the Pacific Ocean surrounding Eniwetok Atoll, the site of forthcoming new "tests of military weapons."

The Commission gave public notice that "hazards will exist" after January 31, 1948, in a rectangular area approximately 173 miles north and south and 226 miles east and west.

The danger will continue throughout the calendar year of 1948, the Commission said, "as a consequence of tests of military weapons" to be conducted.

"All possible precautions will be taken to insure against the incidence of injuries to human life or to property within the danger area," the Commission announced.

"If necessary, warnings of any hazards outside the designated area will be given in the event that such dangers are created by activities conducted within the danger area.

"Notice of the designation of the danger area is being made in air and marine navigational notices."

The Commission described Eniwetok Atoll as its "proving ground for routine experiments and tests of atomic weapons."

The area of hazard extends from 10 degrees 15 minutes north latitude to 12 degrees 45 minutes north, and from longitude 160 degrees 35 minutes east to 163 degrees 55 minutes east.

St. Cloud, Minnesota Times - 3 Jan 48

Jet Plane To 'Land' In Sky

By James P. Strebig
AP Aviation Reporter

Washington -- A new Jet fighter plane is expected soon to start and end a flight high in the sky for the first time in history.

This is the McDonald [sic, should be McDonnell] XP-85, known as a "parasite" fighter because it is based on a larger craft. The XP-85 has no landing gear. It can take off and land only on a special gear slung under the belly of the parent ship.

The radical little fighter -- only about 15 feet long -- still is a highly classified secret in the Air Force, but many of the details have leaked out over a period of months as construction neared completion at St. Louis, Mo. Flight testing should start soon at the Air force [sic, uncapitalized] base near Muroc, Calif.

The nearest approach to the condition under which the XP-85 will make its first flight was that of the Bell XS-1, a research plane powered by rocket engines. This plane was carried aloft under a B-29 and launched as a glider in mid-air. It was piloted to a normal landing on its tiny wheels. After numerous glider flights, the XS-1 began power flight tests.

The XP-85 cannot "land" except on its hook, located just ahead of the cockpit. It was designed to be carried in the bomb bay of a B-36 bomber, but initial test flying will be from the belly of a B-29.

"Parasite" fighters are an old idea. The Navy based such planes aboard the dirigibles Akron and Macon. Those planes could land and take off on the ground, however, and flew at less than 200 miles an hour -- compared with more than 600 miles an hour expected of the XP-85.

This little fighter, carrying four 50-calibre machine guns and a wing load of rockets, is powered with a Westinghouse 24C axial flow jet engine, capable of 3,000 pounds thrust (equivalent to about twice that many horsepower when traveling at top speed).

Its folding wings are 21 feet wide when extended, and it has extra fins behind the cockpit to aid stability, a problem which is serious because of the wing sweepback the short fuselage.

Reno, Nevada Gazette-Journal - 03 Jan 48

Many Seeking Rocket Rides
Want to Soar at 3000 MPH

CHICAGO. (AP) Volunteers who contend they're willing to be shot into the sky in a V-2 rocket have offered their services to the navy's high-altitude research program but the service isn't booking any reservations.

"Several" Americans, including a few former service personnel, have written in saying they're ready to ride in a missile that can soar 100 miles up into space and attain a speed of more than 3,000 miles an hour.

This was disclosed to reporters by Dr. T.J. Killian, science director, research division, of the office of naval research (ONR) who said in an interview at the meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science:

"They did not look on it as a suicidal venture. I think they expected us to provide means of getting them back safely."

Killian and other naval scientists said the navy has no plans to take anyone up on the offer, but Killian said that if the problem of "deceleration" (gradual slowing down) of a man on such a flight could be worked out, it might be possible for a human being to survive the world's fastest nine-minute ride.

(That's the time it takes for the average flight of a V-2 in tests conducted to date, employing two rockets to study conditions high above our planet. It would be necessary to "decelerate" a man because of the tremendous momentum his body would have picked up during the flight.)

"A man could survive the launching of a V-2, because the acceleration at launching is not great," Killian said. "And, insulated in a steel container, with plenty of air, I don't believe he'd be affected by cosmic or solar radiation during a flight of only eight or nine minutes."

Tucson, Arizona Daily Star - 4 Jan 48

Life On Mars Is Held Likely
War-Developed Photo Cell Enables Astronomers Further Studies

Science editor, North American Newspaper Alliance

CHICAGO, Jan 3. (NANA) -- The possibility of life on Mars has become more feasible with a report here of finding in the thin atmosphere of the red planet nearly twice the amount of carbon dioxide -- one of life's three essentials -- as exists in the earth's atmosphere.

This was reported to the American Association for the Advancement of Science by Dr. Gerald Kuiper, director of the Yerkes Observatory at Williams Bay, Wisconsin. It has long been known that Mars has a thin atmosphere but, Dr. Kuiper said, only with the war development of astronomy's latest tool, the extremely sensitive lead-sulphide photoelectric cell, has it been possible to tell anything of its composition. The presence of carbon dioxide was determined by the fact that this gas, necessary for all plant life, strongly absorbs certain bands of invisible infrared light.

Check Time Near

There are two other essentials for plant life: a small amount of water and some form of soluble nitrogen. The North and South Poles of the planet are covered with what look like great icecaps. There is no certainty, however, that these are frozen water. They may be dry ice, or frozen carbon dioxide. It will be possible to settle this question with the same sensitive gadget, Dr. Kuiper said, by observations during February when Mars will be within about 68,000,000 miles of the earth.

This will leave only nitrogen out of the life picture. Nitrogen in the earth's atmosphere is transformed into ammonia by lightning and comes to the earth as rain. Approximately 100,000,000 tons of this ammonia falls each year, according to Dr. Kuiper, and it makes life on earth possible. He also pointed out that there definitely is no rain on Mars but ammonia may be produced by "dry lightning" due to atmospheric electricity in dust storms.

There are large areas on Mars which turn green with the advancing seasons, like vegetation of earth. The lead-sulphide cell, Kuiper said, will make it possible to determine whether this martian [sic] vegetation, if it really is vegetation, is made up of grasses or of mosses and lichens.

May Be Lichens

The great probability, the astronomer said, is that the green areas, covering thousands of square miles, will turn out to be great fields of lichens growing over bare rock. This is the hardiest form of life on earth and is the most likely to have gotten a foothold on the far less hospitable sister planet.

Probability that any evidence of animal life can be found is very remote, Dr. Kuiper said. He compared the likely climatic conditions there as those of a desert 10 miles high. There are no lakes or streams and all animal life on earth is known to have originated in water. Even if higher life could exist today on Mars it is highly unlikely that it could ever have got started.

Venus Lifeless

Dr. Kuiper said that any life on Venus, the planet closest to the earth, is impossible. There is no water and the atmosphere consists very largely of carbon dioxide. The sea-level temperature on the sunlit side of the planet is very close to the boiling point. The surface of Venus is swept constantly by titanic dust storms.

Lead-sulphide cell observations, he said, also have confirmed the belief that the atmospheres of the great planets Jupiter and Saturn consist almost entirely of poisonous gasses - amonia [sic] and methane. These gasses would make life in any way like that on earth impossible, even if it could exist in the extremely low temperatures. Dr. Kuiper also reported finding that the satellites of Jupiter and Saturn, some of them larger than the moon, have no atmosphere, although there is evidence that some of them may have had at one time.

Cumberland, Maryland Evening Times - 5 Jan 48

[No Headline]

Where are the flying saucers of last summer? Are they in the some realm of the forgotten which contains Kilroy?

Mattoon, Illinois Daily Journal Gazette - 7 Jan 48

Legend of "Flying Saucers" Revived

Edwardsville, Ill. -- (INS) -- The legend of the "flying saucer" was resurrected today.

Several persons in Edwardsville reported seeing a "bright, aluminum spot moving slowly across the sky to the southeast."

Weather observers at nearby Scott Field and at Lambert-St. Louis airport in St. Louis county speculated that what the Edwardsville people saw was either an airplane or a weather balloon.

Edwardsville, Illinois Intelligencer - 7 Jan 48

Weather Balloon Observed Here

Several residents of Edwardsville recalled last year's news accounts of "flying saucers" early this morning when they observed what proved to be a small balloon flying at an exceedingly high altitude southeast of this city.

It was a tiny balloon released at 4 o'clock this morning at St. Louis-Lambert airfield. The balloon, it was reported this morning, is of a design to remain in the air for about three and a half hours under normal conditions. It was first observed here about 7:20 o'clock, remaining almost stationary, and was still visible at 7:50 o'clock when light clouds passed between it and the earth.

At the low elevations in Edwardsville the wind was blowing almost directly from the south. The course of the balloon indicated that the wind at the altitude at which it was flying was almost directly from the west. Presumably the wind was at a very low speed at the high altitude.

It is possible that the balloon was somewhere in the vicinity of Troy when observed here and the distance of travel in nearly four hours was less than 40 miles. The material from which the balloon is made was painted a silver color, probably aluminum and glittered brightly as the early morning rays of the sun were cast upon it.

Men in the yards of the Illinois Terminal railroad were among the first to observe the balloon. They told B.G. Ebert, relief station agent, and he became interested. Ebert decided in a few minutes that the object was not an astronomical phenomenon and was traveling very slowly.

He took a position where the balloon could be watched between wires along the railroad. Without the use of glasses he was certain the object was moving. The Intelligencer was advised and a few business men were told to see the balloon.

According to reports at the airfield the gas bag is about two and a half feet in diameter. The balloon is designed to reach altitudes of 10,000 to 15,000 feet. Wind checks and other information are obtained through use of the balloons and equipment carried.

Franklin and Oil City, Pennsylvania News-Herald - 8 Jan 48

Talk of Comets, Saucers Stirred by Object in Sky

NASHVILLE, TENN., Jan. 8 (UP) -- A bright, bulb-shaped object seemingly directly above the sun started a flurry of speculation about comets throughout a wide section of southern Kentucky and middle Tennessee late yesterday -- and revived "flying saucer" talk.

The object was sighted at Clarksville, Nashville, and Columbia in middle Tennessee, and at several points in southern Kentucky.

Nashville astronomers identified the object as "some sort of balloon," probably a weather station balloon. The Nashville weather bureau said: "Not ours. Ours burst and dropped its instruments right on schedule."

Dr. Carl K. Seygert [sic, should be Seyfert], Vanderbilt university astronomer, said he thought the object was about five miles high. An observer from a radio tower estimated the height of the object at about 6,000 feet.

Walla Walla, Washington Union-Bulletin - 8 Jan 48

Flying Saucers Sailing Kentucky Skies Again

FORT KNOX, Ky. (AP) -- Flying saucers are said to be sailing Kentucky skies again.

The object spotted early Wednesday afternoon by Colonel Guy F. Hix, commander of Godman field here, was chased by National guard planes and followed from the ground by state highway patrolmen. Colonel Hix said he spotted the "saucer" from the airport's observation tower and that it was "very white and looked like an umbrella."

He radioed three National guard planes to follow the object and the pilots reported later they were 20,000 feet high and the saucer was still above them. They estimated its speed at about 180 miles per hour.

Highway patrol headquarters at Elizabethtown also reported receiving calls from cruisers whose occupants said the disk resembled an "ice cream cone with a little fire at the bottom."

Louisville, Kentucky Courier Journal - 8 Jan 48

One Touch of Venus:
Pilots Chase 'Disk' (Or Planet)
But They Fail to Catch 'Saucer' Seen At Knox

A bright and shiny object lured three Kentucky National Guard Reserve pilots high in the sky yesterday.

The chase started when a gleaming object was sighted in the southwest sky. It was easily visible at Fort Knox. Officers at the post radioed to three planes flying overhead to see if they could catch the object which they thought might be one of the flying disks reported seen last year.

Focuses On Venus.

But when Dr. Walter Lee Moore, University of Louisville astronomer, focused his telescope by measurements given him by Godman Field officers it was trained straight on the planet Venus.

Dr. Moore said Venus was near the sun at this time and added that "very exceptional atmospheric conditions" could have made it visible to the naked eye during the day.

"If they chased Venus in airplanes," said Dr. Moore, "they certainly had a long way to go."

The disk was first reported visible about 2 p.m. by Col. Guy F. Hix, commander of Godman Field, who said he watched it for about 2 hours from the airport's observation tower.

Looked 'Like Umbrella.'

"It was to the south and near the sun," he said, "very white and looking like an umbrella."

Colonel Hix said he radioed the three planes, which had come from Louisville and were circling overhead, to go after the object.

"About 20 minutes later they radioed back they were 20,000 feet high and the saucer was still above them. The pilots said the saucer was too high and too fast for them to catch."

The colonel added the pilots reported the saucer was travelling west at about 180 miles per hour. But, the colonel said, from the observation tower it appeared motionless.

Says It Didn't Move.

Colonel Hix said he and his executive officer, Lt. Col. Garrison Wood, and other officers carefully watched the disk through 8-power binoculars, sighting along an upright.

"I thought it was a celestial body," he said, "but I can't account for the fact it didn't move. I just don't know what it was."

Meanwhile Fort Knox authorities were receiving telephone calls from persons in near-by towns who also reported seeing the saucer and asking what it was all about.

And State Highway patrol [sic, uncapitalized] headquarters at Elizabethtown were receiving reports from cruisers, whose occupants told of seeing the object.

Seen At Madisonville, Too.

Sgt. John T. Worful, Elizabethtown, said a cruiser had radioed from Madisonville that a saucer had been seen there.

"It was reported to look like an ice-cream cone with a little fire at the bottom," Worful said. "It appeared to be about 45 feet across the top and 100 feet long through a small telescope," he said.

"Several officers were watching for it," said Worful. "We've got orders to watch out for those thing [sic] and report them to Patterson Field, Ohio, and Godman Field."

Clarksville, Tennessee Leaf-Chronicle - 8 Jan 48

Balloon? Flying Saucer? Celestial Body? Well It's Anybody's Guess

Clarksville citizens got their first real glimpse of what may have been a "flying saucer," based on reports that circulated through two states yesterday and today.

Most reports received by the Leaf-Chronicle indicated that an object about 15 inches in diameter appeared in the northern skies and seemed to be moving very slowly in a southern direction. Seen first at about 2 o'clock yesterday afternoon, the object was described by observers as being "silver colored and appeared to be hovering above the city." It was egg-shaped on some occasions and later was described as appearing to be joined to another object.

Knapp Flying Service told the Leaf-Chronicle today that the object passed over the airport yesterday afternoon and the first impression of personnel there was that it might have been at an altitude of about 4,000 feet. However, it was explained that its exact altitude could not be determined since it was not known just what sized an object it was.

Over Courthouse

By the time it reached the center of Clarksville, the object seemed hovered [sic] above the courthouse for about half an hour, but appeared to be moving south by inches. It was at this time that it appeared to be the largest, and many observers expressed the opinion that it may have been a balloon of some type. Others thought it may have been a kite, although no trace could be made of any that may have been put into the air. At one point, observers said the object seemed to be swaying and that something was attached to it.

The object first appeared in the north about the size of a grapefruit, and as it traveled toward Clarksville, it appeared [sic] grew larger. After seemingly hovering above the city for about 1½ hours, it appeared to get smaller and began moving south. As it vanished, observers said it looked to be about the size of the north star and had a faint glow, and the last trace of it was at about 4 o'clock, when it was said to have disappeared behind some clouds.

An epitome of various reports from Nashville, Louisville, Madisonville and Bowling Green, from where the object was seen, indicated the object must have been closer to the earth at Clarksville than at any other place.

Byron Likins, co-owner of the Bowling Green Flying Service at Bowling Green, Ky., told the Leaf-Chronicle today that the object appeared over Bowling Green yesterday afternoon about 4 o'clock. He said the object was about the size of a silver dollar and that it was moving south. He stated that no weather balloons would have lingered as long as that object did since they explode soon after reaching a high altitude. Mr. Likins said he was certain it must have been a celestial body of some kind and based his opinion on the theory that if it were not, one would have landed somewhere in the United States. He told the story of how a National Guard flying unit set out to chase the object and how they reported back that the object was "high above them and traveling too fast for them to catch it." They were flying at 20,000 feet, he said.


NASHVILLE, Jan. 8 (AP) -- A "flying saucer" which puzzled many Nashvillians yesterday was reported by an astronomer today to be a balloon -- but no one could say whose balloon it was.

The round object, seen by numerous persons above the sun on the western horizon, sent astronomers scurrying to their telescopes and brought many calls to the Nashville Tennessean.

Dr. Carl K. Seyfert of Vanderbilt University said observation through a telescope showed a rope dangling from the bright glass-like object. The U.S. weather bureau here agreed with him that it was a balloon but said it was not one of the bureau's.

At Fort Knox in Kentucky National Guard planes yesterday chased an object in the sky to a height of 20,000 feet but observers said it was still above them.

Several reports of what were thought to be "flying saucers" have been received at various points in western Kentucky and Tennessee during the last 24 hours but in at least one instance the celestial object has been definitely identified as a weather observation balloon.

First report came from Fort Knox, that a disc, similar to those reported in large numbers last summer, had been seen by Col. Guy F. Hix, commander of Godman Field.

An object seen at Nashville was identified by Dr. Carl K. Seyfert of Vanderbilt University as a balloon from which a rope was dangling. The U.S. weather bureau at Nashville agreed it was a balloon but said none had been sent up there.

At Hopkinsville, flyers Jimmy Garret and Bill Crenshaw followed a flying object and reported to the Kentucky New Era newspaper office that they identified it as a weather balloon. At Madisonville, Hugh Clark and Thomas Gant observed what they believed was the same balloon from a plane.

At the Madisonville weather bureau it was reported that Northwestern University, Evanston, Ill., had sent up 21 weather observation balloons. It was surmised that those seen in Kentucky and Tennessee might have been some of those sent up by Northwestern.

Nashville, Tennessee Tennessean - 8 Jan 48

Comet Over City Is Just Balloon

The brilliant object seen late yesterday afternoon in the western sky directly above the sun was a balloon, according to Nashville astronomers and weathermen.

The object, which puzzled local citizens and sent Nashville astronomers hurrying to their telescopes, was termed a balloon catching the sunlight by Dr. Carl K. Seyfert, astronomer at Vanderbilt university, after thorough examination. Weather bureau officials agreed with Seyfert's diagnosis, but said it was not one of their balloons, while an observer from the WSM radio tower also expressed the opinion it was a balloon.

Telephone calls to The Nashville Tennessean described the phenomenon as a round object which seemed to be made of glass. One man said it looked like a gold star and a woman said she had been watching it all afternoon and thought it was a glass disc.

"Maybe another flying saucer," she said.

Several of the witnesses were of the opinion that the object, which gave off an extremely bright light, was composed of a glass-like substance. Others believed they had sighted a daylight comet.

Seyfert said he at first believed it to be the planet Venus, which often is bright enough to be seen in daylight, and later also thought it was a comet. Observation through the telescope, however, showed a rope hanging from the object, which was bulbous at the top and narrowed to a fine point, and knots or small objects which might be weather instruments attached to the rope.

Weather bureau officials said they send only a single balloon into the sky each morning about 8:30 or 9 a.m., which rises to a height of 60,000 feet, then bursts and drops the instruments to the ground. Weather balloons are not customarily pear-shaped and do not ordinarily remain at a uniform level, they said.

L.E. Rawls, who saw the object through a telescope from the WSM tower on Franklin road, said his telescope magnified it 100 times and there was no question as to its being a balloon.

Rawls estimated the height to be about 6000 feet, but Seyfert said he thought it to be about five miles high.

Latimer J. Wilson, local astronomer, expressed himself as undecided as to its true nature. He said it was shaped like an electric light bulb and seemed to be transparent. He said it turned yellow about 4:50 p.m., red at 5:05 p.m. and completely disappeared by 5:12 p.m.

Other observers reported it was moving toward the south and southeast when last sighted, shortly after dark last night.

Old superstitions were aroused, in addition to the revival of last summer's talk of flying saucers, and many persons preferred to cling to metaphysical and mystical interpretations, rather than accept the "balloon" verdict.

"Strange!" exclaimed some of the older folk, and when no satisfactory explanation for the balloon's being there could be found, they added: "I thought so!"

Chapel Hill, North Carolina Daily Tar Heel - 8 Jan 48

Louisville Pilot Killed in Crash of Fighter Plane

Franklin, Key., Jan 7 -- (UP) -- A Louisville, Kentucky pilot Thomas F. Mantell was killed today when his Kentucky Air National Guard fighter plane crashed into a field five and one half miles south of here near the Tennessee border.

Mantell was a captain in the Army Air Forces during the war. He was identified by his army identification tags.

The plane, which persons at the scene of the crash say was a P-51 Mustang fighter, bore markings indicating it belonged to the National Guard.

National Guard officials at Standiford field in Louisville say one of their planes is missing and an investigation party is en route to the scene.

Mantell took off from Louisville this morning, with Atlanta, Ga., as his destination. He apparently crashed on the return trip, about 4 o'clock this afternoon.

Mrs. Joe Phillips, on whose farm the plane crashed, says she heard the plane roar low over her house. She went to a window in time to see the aircraft fall apart in the air, at about tree-top height. It plunged to the ground about 300 yards from her home.

Louisville, Kentucky Courier-Journal - 8 Jan 48

P-51 Blows Up, Killing Hero Over Franklin
Capt. T.F. Mantell Won D.F.C. for Holland Hop

Capt. Thomas F. Mantell, Jr., 25, of 6301 S. Third, was killed at 4 p.m. yesterday when his plane exploded in the air near Franklin, Ky. He held numerous decorations for service with the Air Forces in Europe.

Mantell left Standiford Field at 10 a.m. in a Kentucky Air National Guard plane on a training flight to Atlanta, airport officials said. He was on his way back when the plane exploded five miles south of Franklin near Spring Lake Road.

Mantell was flying a P-51 single-sear pursuit ship.

Mrs. Joe Phillips, on whose farm the plane crashed, said the craft seemed to be having engine trouble as it passed over her house.

Heard Blast Later.

Seconds later Mrs. Phillips heard an explosion. She rushed to a window in time to see the plane disintegrating at tree-top height.

Another person who heard the explosion and saw the crash was Barbara Mayes, 14, who was awaiting a bus at Spring Lake School. She said she saw the plane the instant it exploded.

Officials at the airport here declined comment pending an investigation.

Mantell, a graduate of Louisville Male High School, entered the Air Force soon after his graduation. He took part in the invasion of Normandy and numerous other missions, according to his parents.

Captain Mantell Mantell was one of the first fliers to cross the Cherbourg Peninsula on D-Day. He won the Distinguished Flying Cross for services over Holland. Enemy fire severed the rudder and elevator controls and set fire to the tail sections while the plane was 100 miles from the target. Mantell succeeded in completing his mission and getting plane and crew home safely.

He was separated from service a year ago and since that time has been connected with the Kentucky Air National Guard.

Survivors are his wife, Mrs. Margaret Mantell; two children, Thomas Mantell, III, and Terry Lee Mantell; his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Thomas F. Mantell, and two sisters, Miss Dortha [sic] Mantell and Mrs. Joseph W. Powell.

New Philadelphia, Ohio Daily Times - 8 Jan 48

Pilot Dies Chasing Flying Saucers

Louisville, Ky., Jan. 8 (INS) -- Kentucky National Guard headquarters at Standiford Field, Louisville, said today that a Louisville pilot killed in the explosion of his plane near Franklin, Ky., yesterday afternoon was engaged in a hunt for flying "saucers" at the time.

The spokesmen for the National Guard said however, that the accident and the mission of the plane and the youthful pilot, who was decorated for D-day heroism in the invasion of Europe were merely a coincidence.

The guard headquarters emphasized that in its opinion there was no connection between the plane's explosion and the flying object it was seeking to investigate.

The pilot was 25-year old Captain Thomas Mantell, Jr., and he was returning from a training flight to Atlanta when he received radio instructions from Godman field at Fort Knox to investigate the reported "saucer."

Captain Mantell had been in radio communication with Godman Field a few moments prior to the accident to his plane but there was no indication of trouble.

It was very definite that something was seen by Kentuckians -- for the reports came from too many western area towns and too many different persons in scattered localities to have been the result of someone's imagination.

Middlesboro, Kentucky Daily News - 8 Jan 48

Flier Killed When Hunting New 'Saucer'
Plane Crashes at Franklin; Object Is Not Identified

LOUISVILLE, Ky., Jan 8 (UP) -- The Kentucky Air National Guard reported today that Capt. Thomas F. Mantell, Louisville, who died yesterday when his P-51 crashed at Franklin, Ky., was one of three pilots searching for a strange object seen in the sky.

The guard said Captain Mantell and three other pilots left Atlanta, Ga., yesterday at 1:45 p.m. (CST) on a routine flight to Louisville. Their planes were checked prior to flight, and all were in perfect condition. All were flying P-51's.

When they got near Fort Knox, they were messaged by radio that Col. Guy F. Hix, commanding officer at Godman Field, had seen a strange "thing" in the sky. One pilot landed at Louisville as scheduled, but the other three gave chase.

Can't Reach Object

The guard said two of the pilots went to about 15,000 feet and were unable to get near the object, so they returned and landed. Nothing was heard from Captain Mantell and there were no radio messages before he crashed, the guard said.

The guard said it was "anybody's guess" what happened after the other two landed.

Six National Guard men are at Franklin investigating, and are expected to make a report later in the day.

Plane Falls Apart

Mrs. Joe Phillips, on whose farm the plane crashed, said she heard it roar low over her house and went to a window in time to see it fall apart in the air, at about tree-top height. It struck the ground about 300 yards from the house.

Barbara Mayes, 14, who was waiting for a bus at Spring Lake School, near the scene, said she heard the plane explode in the air.

The two pilots who landed said the "thing" was still above them and moving too fast for them when they were at 15,000 feet. Colonel Hix watched it through powerful binoculars until clouds obscured it.

Streamer on 'Thing'

The colonel said the streamer of red appeared first at the top and then at the bottom of the object, which did not seem to be moving.

Colonel Hix and personnel at Godman Field sighted the object at 2:30 p.m., and watched it until it disappeared behind clouds at 4 p.m. Others in Kentucky and Middle Tennessee saw the "thing."

A University of Kentucky physics professor was to come to Godman Field this afternoon and use high powered equipment to trace the chart of the object, if it reappears, Colonel Hix said.

Colonel Hix said it was his guess that the object either was a celestial object, although it did not appear to be moving, or a large balloon.

Nashville astronomers identified the object as "some sort of balloon," probably a weather station balloon. The Nashville weather bureau said, "Not ours. Ours burst and dropped its instruments right on schedule."

Dr. Carl K. Seygert [sic, should be Seyfert], Vanderbilt University astronomer, said he thought the object was about five miles high. An observer from a radio tower estimated the height of the object at about 6,000 feet.

Wilmington, Ohio News Journal - 8 Jan 48

[NOTE: The following are three separate news articles grouped under the heading "Strange Phenomena Seen in Sky Here".]

Strange Phenomena Seen in Sky Here

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Airman Killed Chasing Reported Flying Saucer

Louisville, Ky., Jan 8 -- (AP) -- The Kentucky National Guard headquarters revealed here today that Capt. Thomas F. Mantell, Jr., 25, was killed in a plane explosion near Franklin, Ky., yesterday while chasing what was believed to be a "flying saucer."

Mantell was one of three Kentucky National Guard officers sent yesterday to investigate a reported "flying saucer" in the air near Fort Knox. The object also was reported visible at Hopkinsville, Ky., Nashville, Tenn., and other points in the two states.

Mantell was flying a P-51 National Guard plane which witnesses said apparently exploded in the air and crashed near Franklin.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - -

"Saucer" Escapes

Fort Knox, Ky., Jan 8 -- (AP) -- A "flying saucer" reportedly was seen here yesterday and Col. Guy F. Hix, commander of Godman Field, sent three airplanes after it, but the "saucer" got away.

Colonel Hix said the saucer became visible here about 2 P.M.

"It was to the south and near the sun, very white and looked like an umbrella," he elaborated.

Three National Guard planes were circling overheard at the time, so the colonel said he radioed the craft to give chase. But a few minutes later the pilots radioed back the saucer was too high and going too fast for them to catch.

The Army officer said he watched the saucer through binoculars and that from an observation tower it appeared motionless.

"I thought it was a celestial body, but I can't account for the fact it didn't move. I just don't know what it was."

Dr. Walter L. Moore, of the University of Louisville, said the planet Venus was near the sun at the time the saucer was reported seen.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Control Tower Operators at CCAB Watch Maneuvers

A sky phenomena, described by observers at the Clinton County Air Base as having the appearance of a flaming red cone trailing a gaseous green mist, appeared in the southwest skies of Wilmington Wednesday night between 7:20 and 7:55 P.M.

S/Sgt. Gale F. Walter and Cpl. James Hudson, control tower operators at the air field, saw the phenomena at 7:20 P.M. and observed its maneuvers in the sky until 7:55 P.M. when it reportedly disappeared over the horizon. The sky phenomena hung suspended in the air at intervals and then gained and lost altitude at what appeared to be terrific bursts of speed. The intense brightness of the sky phenomena pierced through a heavy layer of clouds passing intermittently over the area and obscuring other celestial phenomena.

M/Sgt. Irvin H. Lewis, S/Sgt. John P. Haag, Sgt. Harold E. Olvis and T/Sgt. Leroy Ziegler, four members of the alert crew, joined the control tower operators in observing the sky phenomena for approximately 35 minutes.

Nashville, Tennessee Banner - 8 Jan 48

Kentucky Flier Killed Chasing 'Saucer'

Louisville, Ky., Jan. 8 -- (UP) -- The Kentucky Air National Guard reported today that Capt. Thomas F. Mantell, Louisville, who died yesterday when his P-51 crashed at Franklin, Ky., was one of three pilots searching for a strange object seen in the sky.

The guard said Captain Mantell and three other pilots left Atlanta, Ga., yesterday at 1:45 p.m. (CST) on a routine flight to Louisville. Their planes were checked prior to flight, and all were in perfect condition. All were flying P-51's.

When they got near Fort Knox, they were messaged by radio that Col. Guy F. Hix, commanding officer at Godman Field, had seen a strange "thing" in the sky. One pilot landed at Louisville as scheduled, but the other three gave chase.

The guard said two of the pilots went to about 15,000 feet and were unable to get near the object, so they returned and landed. Nothing was heard from Captain Mantell and there were no radio messages before he crashed, the guards said.

The guard said it was "anybody's guess" what happened after the other two landed.

Mrs. Joe Phillips, on whose farm the plane crashed, said she heard it roar low over her house and went to a window in time to see it fall apart in the air, at about tree-top height. It struck the ground about 300 yards from the house.

Barbara Mayes, 14, who was waiting for a bus at Spring Lake School, near the scene, said she heard the plane explode in the air.

The two pilots who landed said the "thing" was still above them and moving too fast for them when they were at 15,000 feet. Colonel Hix watched it through powerful binoculars until clouds obscured it.

Colonel Hix, who said he was not aware Captain Mantell was one of the pilots searching for the "thing," described it as being about one-half the size of a full moon. "It was absolutely white, except for a streamer of red that appeared to be revolving," he said.

The colonel said the streamer of red appeared first at the top and then at the bottom of the object, which did not seem to be moving.

Colonel Hix and personnel at Godman Field sighted the object at 2:30 p.m., and watched it until it disappeared behind clouds at 4 p.m. (CST).

A University of Kentucky physics professor was to come to Godman Field this afternoon and use high powered equipment to trace the chart of the object, if it reappears, Colonel Hix said.

Colonel Hix said it was his guess that the object either was a celestial object, although it did not appear to be moving, or a large balloon.

Numerous telephone calls were received by Army and State Highway Patrol officials, although descriptions varied widely.

Captain Mantell, 25, flew many missions over Europe in World War II and held the Distinguished Flying Cross.

Glenn Mayes, who witnessed the plane crash said he was in his front yard, about 300 yards from the spot where the plane plunged to the ground, said he first heard the plane and then saw a "vapor trail" before he spotted the aircraft. [sic, entire sentence]

Mayes estimated that the plane was up 20,000 feet when it suddenly went into a dive, plunging about half-way to the earth before it began disintegrating.

He said smoke rose from the engine after the crash, but that the wreckage did not burn.

Captain Mantell's body was at Booker Funeral Home at Franklin this morning, and was expected to be removed to Louisville this afternoon.

Among his survivors are his wife, Mrs. Margaret Mantell, and two children.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

An airborne object at a high altitude which yesterday afternoon caused speculation about comets and "flying saucers" throughout Middle Tennessee and Central Kentucky was definitely a balloon, according to consensus of observers.

There remained a difference of opinion, however, as to the type of balloon and a mystery as to its origin.

The object, which was described as "pear shaped" and like a "suspended light bulb," was sighted over a wide area on a line extending from Columbia, Tenn., to Louisville, Ky. Its altitude, checked twice by pursuing airplanes, was reported at 11,000 feet at Hopkinsville, Ky., and above 20,000 at Louisville.

Two Hopkinsville aviators, Jimmy Garnett and Bill Crenshaw, investigated the object by plane and identified it as a "free weather balloon" (no instruments attached to it). Telescope observers here and at Franklin, Columbia and Clarksville also identified the object as a balloon.

At Madisonville, Ky., where Hugh Clark and Thomas Gant observed what they believed was the same balloon from a plane, the Weather Bureau surmised that it might have been one of 21 weather observation balloons sent up by Northwestern University at Evanston, Ill.

Latimer J. Wilson, local astronomer, agreed that the object was a balloon but stated that it was unlike any weather balloon he had ever seen and that it appeared to be "made of glass."

Meanwhile the local Weather Bureau reported no balloons missing.

Franklin, Kentucky Favorite - 8 Jan 48

Plane Explodes In Mid-Air, Crashes Killing Pilot On Joe Phillips Farm

A P-51 Army fighter plane exploded in mid-air and crashed on the farm of Joe Phillips about 5 miles south of Franklin yesterday afternoon about 3:30 p.m., killing the pilot, wearing identification tag of Thomas F. Mantell, 3533 River Park Drive, Louisville. The wrecked plane bore the No. Ky. NG869.

Mrs. Joe Phillips said she was sitting by her fire when she heard the plane, with the engine apparently in trouble, flying over her house. Almost immediately there was a loud explosion. Startled, she glanced out the window and saw the disintegrating plane hit the ground on a woods-lot [sic] about 200 yards away from her house.

Pieces of wreckage were seen a quarter of a mile from the point of the crash. Several people in Franklin reported they heard the explosion.

A vapor trail still floated in the sky an hour after the crash.

Another eye witness, Barbara Mayes, a student in the Franklin Grade School said she saw the plane explode while high in mid-air. She was waiting at the Lake Springs School for her bus to take her home when she witnessed the explosion.

The plane crash marked the second in the past few months. The point of the explosion is perhaps three miles as the crow flies from the spot of the crash which took the lives of Ed Snow and Richard M. Thompson on April 29, 1947.

Mrs. Joe Phillips said she called the telephone operator and asked that an ambulance and aid be called to the scene.

The remains of the dead flyer were removed from the scene by ambulance and carried to the Booker Funeral Home to await instructions from the next of kin who were to be notified of the tragedy by Fort Knox officials.

A veteran of World War II, Captain Mantell participated in the Normandy invasion, winning the Distinguished Flying Cross among other decorations, his family in Louisville stated. He was discharged from the Army a year ago. His wife and two children survive.

He left Louisville yesterday morning for Atlanta and was enroute to Louisville on the return portion of a training flight when the accident occurred. Authorities at Fort Knox reported he left Atlanta at 2 p.m. yesterday.

Reed Shoulders, assistant chief of police, said Bill Horn, local constable, was standing guard last night over the wreckage, pending arrival of proper authorities to assume custody of the wrecked plane.

The plane was operated by the Kentucky National Guard.

Ironwood, Michigan Daily Globe - 8 Jan 48

[No heading]

The Navy is perfecting a special type of balloon for scientific study of ultra high altitudes. The craft, which will carry instruments but no crew, is expected to attain 18-mile heights.

Chicago, Illinois Garfieldian - 8 Jan 48

Scholar Asks 'Sky Patrol' To Keep Public Calm

A "sky patrol" to eliminate mass hysteria occasioned by "flying saucers" was recommended by C.C. Wylie, professor of astronomy, University of Iowa, last week in a talk before the convention of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

"We believe that our citizens have plenty of real troubles without adding the burden of imaginary dangers, and that, in these days of robot planes, bomb-carrying balloons, V-2 bombs and atomic bombs, neither individuals nor communities should be allowed to get hysterical because of our failure to explain some simple phenomenon, well known to us, but not understood by the general public," Prof. Wylie declared.

The recommendation for the sky patrol grew out of studies and work conducted by Prof. Wylie at the University of Iowa and the mid-west division of the Meteoritical society.

Not Expensive

Here they worked with newspaper editors and various universities in the Middle West. The work, covering a limited region in the Middle West, shows that getting the facts back of these reports is not difficult for the specialist, and that a year-round coverage of the entire United States would not be expensive, Dr. Wylie stated.

An agency to provide accurate information could be easily formed, he said, and suggested a national director, several regional directors provided by the Meteoritical society, science teachers from the nation's colleges and high schools to act as volunteer workers, and a number of cooperative observers of the U.S. Weather bureau.

Note Unusual

The workers at the University of Iowa were notified whenever a person saw anything conspicuous in the sky which he did not remember having seen before, or whenever he found something which might have fallen from the sky.

"To illustrate reports received, requests that search be made for an airplane going down in flames, coming from points 300 miles apart, have been found to refer to a meteor 200 miles from the nearer of those points. A report that an airplane had fallen in flames into Lake Michigan and a report of a meteor burning limbs from a tree 400 miles away were found to refer to the same meteor," Prof. Wylie said.

"Many interesting stories of 'something' seen in the sky are not thought by anyone to refer to meteors. For example, when near the horizon at night, the bright planet Venus resembles the light of a not too distant plane; and for weeks at a time Venus can be seen in broad daylight by persons with normal eyesight.

Venus Trouble

"On one occasion a young man in Storm Lake, Ia., found it in daylight, and had a considerable number of the people of the community looking at it. On another occasion the offices of Wall st., in New York City, were nearly emptied temporarily to look at Venus in the daytime sky.

"On both occasions people thought they were looking at a comet, and that they should be able to see it 'tail and all.' On numerous occasions Venus was mistaken for an enemy craft of some sort, and several stories of aviators going up to shoot it down have been received.

"The crescent moon in the daytime sky is another common celestial object which is unfamiliar to many. The convex side is often up in the daytime. The moon then resembles a parachute and it was occasionally mistaken for a bomb carrying parachute.

May Cause Hysteria

"An unfamiliar object in the sky which is not explained may start talk, and develop into community hysteria," Prof. Wylie cautioned, "as in an Iowa community while the Japanese bombs were reported coming over.

"A trained person would have found from a few interviews whether the object or objects seen were about 100 feet high, about 5,000 feet high, or at the distance of the stars and planets; but some weeks after official investigators had arrived on the scene, we received a letter from the county sheriff. He wanted us to give the position of the planet Venus in the sky in the early evening and later, so that he could publish a note in the local paper, and calm the fears of the people in his community."

Explanations of the "flying saucers," an example of mass hysteria on a national scale range from the reflections of sunlight obliterating the outline a plane to a prank where some young men confessed that they had sent up a big paper saucer carried by helium filled balloons," Prof. Wylie said.

Need Respect

"We believe that scholars cannot hope to hold the respect of the public if they fail to explain simple phenomena in which people in general are interested [part of quote missing from published news account] Middle-Western States Puzzle Scientists' when a few telephone calls would give all the data necessary for a good press feature," he declared.

"Our failure to handle to handle better the various stories during the war, and the 'Flying Saucers' stories after the war has no doubt contributed to a lowering of respect by the general public. It has been said that a civilization which does not respect intellectual ability as much as athletic prowess is on the road to decay. Certainly scholars cannot hope to exert effective leadership if they are not respected.

Suggests Staff

"In these days of international tension, it seems that, as a matter of national security, we must be ready to recognize authentic reports of V-2 bombs, robot high speed planes, or bomb carry [sic] balloons seen in the air. It is obvious that we would not now. Such a report would be lost in the mass of material which, at present, is completely ignored, or if investigated only by persons without the technical training for useful work."

Referring to his proposal for a national "sky patrol," Prof. Wylie recommended that the national director should have help in his office from an astronomer, a psychologist, and whatever technicians, computers, and secretaries are needed to make the work effective for the purposes of national defense.

"From our previous work," Prof. Wylie concluded, "we feel that the cost of the entire project need be no more than the cost of a good university laboratory for research in some field of science."

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The Arrival

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