Military flyers are some of the most experienced airmen in the world. Often, they fly the most advanced and capable aircraft of their day at speeds and altitudes the majority of people will never experience. For that reason alone, military pilots are considered some of the most credible witnesses of UFOs but as we shall see, encountering such objects can be unfortunate even deadly.
5 Captain Howard’s Jellyfish
On June 29th, 1954, a British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC) Stratocruiser airliner with 30 passengers and crew onboard and piloted by Captain James Howard spotted a large object with six surrounding smaller objects apparently following them as it flew from New York to Ireland.
Captain Howard would later admit that with little point of reference it was hard to judge the size of the largest object, but he estimated it to be much larger than his own aircraft and shaped like a Jellyfish while the smaller objects appeared like small lights.
Howard reported the object to ground controllers, and two United States Air Force F-86 Sabre fighters were scrambled to investigate. With armed fighter aircraft in pursuit at high speed, the objects responded in spectacular fashion with the smaller objects forming up in a line behind the larger one before merging with it like navy warplanes returning to their aircraft carrier. In front of both the airline crew and passengers and the two fighter pilots the object then simply faded away from existence rather than accelerate or decelerate away like a regular aircraft.
It just disappeared!
4 The Foo Fighters Photograph
The above photograph appeared in UFO circles in the 1960s and has been the source of debate ever since. Its exact origin is unclear as is the story behind it but it is claimed to show two of the so-called “Foo Fighters” – a nickname given to luminous objects reported by pilots during World War II which we would now label as UFOs – flying alongside two Japanese military aircraft.In the chaos of post-war Japan, no military pilot come forward claiming to have taken the incredible photograph which has led some to speculate it is a fake. Fake or not, it has come to symbolise the mystery of the “Foo Fighters” of World War II that haunted many a military pilot.
3 Thomas Mantell
In early 1948, the United States was still abuzz with talk of flying saucers. The year before saw two of the most significant incidents in UFOlogy take place; namely, the Kenneth Arnold sighting (which gave the world the term “flying saucer”) and the Roswell Incident when a UFO supposedly crashed in the New Mexico desert. Given the mania surrounding flying saucers many felt that events were building to something amazing, possibly even alien contact, but on January 7th, 1948 things appeared to take a grizzly turn.
In the early afternoon, personnel at Fort Knox Army base in Kentucky saw an object described as a “red cone trailing a gaseous green mist” performing manoeuvres at speeds in excess of 500 mph as well as periods of where it simply sat stationary in the air – something not even modern helicopters are capable of.
When the observers learned that a flight of four North American P-51 Mustang fighters were in the area, they requested they investigate. Among the four fighter pilots was Thomas Mantell, a seasoned pilot who flew transport planes during the Normandy landings on D-Day.
Shortly after beginning their interception, one pilot was forced to turn back due to lack of fuel. Mantell and the other two pilots continued as the object began to climb away from them. Lacking oxygen masks, Mantell’s two wingmen broke off their pursuit as the air became thinner but Mantell continued onwards. Fort Knox lost contact with Mantell shortly afterwards. Soon, news reached the base that witnesses had seen a P-51 Mustang in a death dive before it crashed onto a farm. At 3:50 pm, firemen pulled Mantell’s dead body out of the wreckage thus confirming his death.
Many UFOlogists were quick to speculate that Mantell had been killed because he was perceived as a threat by the aliens. The official cause of death was that Mantell blacked out from lack of oxygen at the high altitude he was flying and failed to come round in time to pull out of the dive. Just what exactly he and his comrades were chasing, however, has never been satisfactorily explained.
2 The Kinross Incident
On November 23rd, 1953, USAF radar operators at Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan started tracking an unusual object near the Soo Locks and decided to send an F-89C Scorpion from Kinross Air Force Base to investigate it. The F-89 Scorpion was piloted by First Lieutenant Felix Moncla and 2nd Lieutenant Robert L. Wilson who operated the aircraft’s radar.
The F-89 had difficulty tracking the object and so had to rely mostly on instructions from ground controllers. On their radar screens, the controllers watched as the F-89 and the object appeared to merge on the screen; this occurs when two aircraft occupy the same location but at different altitudes. Believing the F-89 had passed underneath the object the controllers waited patiently for it to reappear.
But it never did....
The object continued on until contact was lost but the F-89 was nowhere to be seen. A major search and rescue operation was launched, but nothing was ever found of the aircraft. The USAF published a report that the aircraft had crashed into Lake Superior due to mechanical failure while pursuing a Canadian military aircraft that was off course; something the Royal Canadian Air Force fiercely denies.
Over the years a number of people have claimed to have found wreckage from the aircraft but none have been successfully corroborated and just what happened to Moncla and Wilson remains an enduring aviation mystery.
1 Orders To Fire!
On May 20th, 1957, British and American ground radar stations detected an object behaving unusually over South-East England. The object’s speed varied from very high to very slow before at one point it remained stationary over Ipswich (it is interesting to note that this is in the vicinity of Rendlesham Forest where the famous Bentwaters Incident occurred 23 years later).
Two USAF F-86D Sabre Dog fighters were scrambled to intercept the object as it turned towards the North Sea. To the pilots’ surprise, they received orders that they were to shoot down the intruder despite the fact there were American pilots in British airspace. The two fighters were vectored into an attack posture based on the direction the object was travelling as they neared it and prepared to fire a salvo of their air-to-air rockets.
The pilots reported that the object produced a very powerful radar “return” meaning the object was exceptionally large for an aircraft.
As they armed their rockets to fire, the object suddenly sped away at very high speed. They tried to pursue it, but the object’s speed increased exponentially to the point where even the ground radar stations with their longer range lost contact with it. With nothing to shoot down, the pilots disengaged and returned to their base.