climb." Then in a few seconds he is supposed to have called and said, "It's above me and I'm gaining on it. I'm going to 20,000 feet." Everyone in the tower agreed
on this one last bit of the transmission, "I'm going to 20,000 feet," but didn't agree on the first part, about the UFO's being metallic and tremendous.
The two wing men were now at 15,000 feet and trying frantically to call Mantell. He had climbed far above them by this time and was out of sight. Since none of them had any oxygen they were worried
about Mantell. Their calls were not answered. Mantell never talked to anyone again. The two wing men leveled off at 15,000 feet, made another fruitless effort to call Mantell, and started to come
back down. As they passed Godman Tower on their way to their base, one of them said something to the effect that all he had seen was a reflection on his canopy.
When they landed at their base, Standiford Field, just north of Godman, one pilot had his F-51 refueled and serviced with oxygen, and took off to search the area again. He didn't see anything.
At three-fifty the tower lost sight of the UFO. A few minutes later they got word that Mantell had crashed and was dead.
Several hours later, at 7:20P.M., airfield towers all over the Midwest sent in frantic reports of another UFO. In all about a dozen airfield towers reported the UFO as being low on the southwestern
horizon and disappearing after about twenty minutes. The writers of saucer lore say this UFO was what Mantell was chasing when he died; the Air Force says this UFO was Venus.
The people on Project Sign worked fast on the Mantell Incident. Contemplating a flood of queries from the press as soon as they heard about the crash, they realized that they had to get a quick
answer. Venus had been the target of a chase by an Air Force F-51 several weeks before and there were similarities between this sighting and the Mantell Incident. So almost before the rescue crews
had reached the crash, the word "Venus" went out. This satisfied the editors, and so it stood for about a year; Mantell had unfortunately been killed trying to reach the planet Venus.
To the press, the nonchalant, offhand manner with which the sighting was written off by the Air Force public relations officer showed great confidence in the conclusion, Venus, but behind the barbed-
wire fence that encircled ATIC the nonchalant attitude didn't exist among the intelligence analysts. One man had already left for Louisville and the rest were doing some tall speculating. The story
about the tower-to-air talk. "It looks metallic and it's tremendous in size," spread fast. Rumor had it that the tower had carried on a running conversation
with the pilots and that there was more information than was so far known. Rumor also had it that this conversation had been recorded. Unfortunately neither of these rumors was true.
Over a period of several weeks the file on the Mantell Incident grew in size