Alternate Perceptions Magazine, May 2021
Advent of the Flying Saucers - 1948
by: Rick Hilberg
January 7 - The Kentucky National Guard has three fighter planes and two attack bombers ready to chase flying disks Saturday. But there were no mystery saucers to be found.
Officers at Godman field, adjacent to Fort Knox, kept three telescopes trained on the skies Friday.
"We didn't see a thing," Lt. Col. E. Garrison Wood, deputy base commander, reported. He added however, that private citizens continued to report seeing "something in the sky."
Col. Wood said base personnel would continue to scan the skies, particularly in the area southeast of Louisville, where they saw something "white and round" several times earlier in the week.
One National Guard pilot, Capt. Thomas Mantell, 25, was killed Wednesday (January 7) when his plane crashed while he was flying toward the mystery disk. [This sparse treatment of the Mantell crash indicates the general attitude of the times that it was merely a tragic accident, and not as a result of some lurid speculation by later UFO writers that it was a case of an interplanetary craft luring Mantell to his demise.] Source: Chicago Daily News, February 10,
January 6 - Chehalis, Washington - A birdman who went "sizzing and whizzing" above her barn was reported by Mrs. Bernice Zaikowski , 61, a long-time Chehalis resident.
Her report was received with a certain amount of skepticism. Police Chief Tom Murray declined to investigate. An army official at McChord field commented that it "sounds like one of those saucer deals - I just can't put any stock in it at all."
Flyers at Chehalis county-city airport said they could find no record of a transient birdman making a refueling stop, although they conceded January 6 was a good day for flying and ordinary, old-fashioned pilots piled up a lot of flying time.
Undaunted by doubters, Mrs. Zaikowski, whose veracity is not questioned by acquaintances, said she "heard a sizzing and whizzing and there he was, just about 200 feet above my barn."
She insisted she could see him clearly, that he was equipped with big, silver wings and appeared to be manipulating controls strapped to his chest. The wings appeared to be fastened over his shoulders by a strap arrangement and he flew in an upright position, she said.
Polish-born Mrs. Zaikowski, whose descriptive powers occasionally failed as she attempted to explain the birdman's maneuvers, said the wings appeared to retract close to his body as he ascended "very rapidly," then were extended to hover, bank and proceed in level flight. She could not tell what motive power was used, but saw no propeller. The wings did not flap, she added.
She was certain it was not a one-man helicopter, such as the army has at McChord field, because the "wings did not rotate."
"I know most people don't believe me,” said Mrs. Zaikowski, "but I have talked to some people in Chehalis that tell me they saw the man too, and that he flew south from Chehalis and apparently came in from the north or west.
"It was about 3:00 p.m. on Tuesday after New Year's Day (January 6) and there were a lot of small children coming home from school at the time. They saw the man, too, and asked me if they could go into my backyard so they could watch him longer as he flew toward the south end of the city." Mrs. Zaikowski asserted at least five other Chehalis residents, none of whom she knew by name, told her they also had seen the birdman. One, a soldier she met at church, told her the army had been experimenting with birdmen for some time, she said.
McChord officials said that if it had, it was news to them.
One other explanation remained. Mrs. Zaikowski said one man she talked with suggested it must have been an angel predicting the coming of a third world war. Source: The Oregonian, Portland, OR January 21, 1948.
April 9 - Longview, Washington - Residents of this Columbia River city were agog Friday at the report of Mrs. Viola Johnson, a laundry worker, and James Pittman, janitor, that they had seen three men hovering about 250 feet in the air over Longview.
"They looked like three men in flying suits flying through the air," Mrs. Johnson recalled. "They wore dark drab flying suits and as far as I can judge - I'm not very good at judging distance - they were about 250 feet high, circling the city."
Mrs. Johnson said: "They were going about the same speed as a freight train and had some kind of apparatus on their sides which looked like guns, but I know they couldn't have been guns.
"I couldn't see any propellers or any motors tied on them, but I could hear motors which sounded about like airplane motors, only not so loud. "When they first came into sight, I thought they looked like gulls, but as they got closer, I could make out that they were not gulls and I knew they were men. I could see it plain that they were men.
"I couldn't make out their arms, but I could see their feet dangling down and they kept moving their heads like they were looking around. I couldn't tell if they had goggles on, but their heads looked like they had helmets on. I couldn't see their faces."
Source: The Oregonian, Portland, OR April 10, 1948.
July 24 - Two Eastern Air Lines pilots said they met a wingless two deck plane early today Southwest of Montgomery, Alabama. They said the strange ship, shooting red flames and with a blue glow underneath the fuselage, passed their ship at 5,000 feet, headed toward New Orleans. The pilots said the stranger looked like a comic strip "rocket ship."
The two pilots - Capt. C. S. Chiles and Co-Pilot J. B. Whitted - were flying the Houston - Atlanta - Boston run. They left Houston, Texas at 9:30 Chicago time last night. This morning at 2:45 o'clock, they sighted the strange ship 20 miles southwest of Montgomery.
After reaching Atlanta at 3:40 a.m., the pilots told of their strange experience. Capt. Chiles said that they first sighted the object up ahead when nearing Montgomery.
"It was in line almost with our flight, " he said. "We veered off to the left and this object turned to its left. When it came near to us, within better sight, its fuselage appeared to be about 100 feet in length and about four times the circumference of a B-29 fuselage.
"It had two rows of windows, an upper and a lower. They were square. Out of the rear of the ship red flames were shooting 25 to 50 feet. There was a strange glow underneath the fuselage. The ship appeared to be doing 500 and 700 miles an hour, heading toward New Orleans.
"When it got alongside of us it pulled up with a tremendous burst of flame out the rear. The flames were so bright they blinded us for a second. Then the ship disappeared into the broken clouds and the moon was shining intermittently and the ship could be seen for a few seconds and then be obscured. The ship had no wings. It seemed to have an upper deck and a lower deck and was fully lighted inside. We saw no occupants. "
Of the 20 passengers on board, Childs said only one was awake and saw the other ship. He gave this passenger's name as C.L. McKelvie, Henelton Pike, Columbus, Ohio.
The E.A.L. ship went on from Atlanta today on its regular run.
Both pilots live in Atlanta and both served in the army air forces as fighter pilots during the war. Childs, a native of Knoxville, Tenn., has been with Eastern for nine years. Whitted, from Durham, N.C., has been with Eastern for two years.
At Montgomery, Maxwell and Dannelly army fields said they knew nothing about the report.
Air force officials in Washington said they could shed no light on the mystery craft.
The CAA at New Orleans said they had no report on the incident.
Source: Chicago Sunday Tribune, July 25, 1948.
August 11 - Hamel, Minnesota - Two boys were playing outside when a round, dull gray object, two feet in diameter and 1 1/2 feet thick, landed near them like a balloon with something of a metallic noise. It spun, went up, hovered for a time, maneuvered as if trying to avoid telephone lines and trees, and then sped away to the northeast. An FBI agent from Saint Paul found an area some two feet in diameter where the ground seemed to show signs of extreme weight or pressure where the boys said the object touched down.
Source: Air Force Files.
October 1 - Fargo, North Dakota - At 9:00 p.m. Air National Guard pilot Lt. George Gorman, flying a practice flight in an F-51 Mustang saw a fast moving light below his plane.
Gorman immediately contacted the control tower at Fargo Airport for landing authorization as well as to report on the unknown air traffic he observed. The tower had also spotted the unusual light and told him they knew of no such traffic that matched the report.
The strange light made a series of acute turns and then Gorman decided to pursue the thing. The light in turn seemed to try to avoid Gorman's plane and at times seemed to make passes at his plane directly over his canopy as if in an aerial "dog fight" for some 20 minutes, all the time witnessed by the tower operator. Then the light suddenly climbed to 17, 000 feet, turned to the north and disappeared into the night.
Source: Personal files.