I drove back to Dayton convinced that the UFO wasn't Venus. Dr. Hynek had said Venus would have been a pinpoint of light. The people in the tower had been positive of their descriptions, their
statements brought that out. They couldn't agree on a description, they called the UFO "a parachute," "an ice cream cone tipped with red," "round and white," "huge
and silver or metallic," "a small white object," "one fourth the size of the full moon," but all the descriptions plainly indicated a large object. None of the descriptions
could even vaguely be called a pinpoint of light.
This aspect of a definite shape seemed to eliminate the sundog theory too. Sundogs, or parhelia, as they are technically known, are caused by ice particles reflecting a diffused light. This would not
give a sharp outline. I also recalled two instances where Air Force pilots had chased sundogs. In both instances when the aircraft began to climb, the sundog disappeared. This was because the angle
of reflection changed as the airplane climbed several thousand feet. These sundog-caused UFO's also had fuzzy edges.
I had always heard a lot of wild speculation about the condition of Mantell's crashed F-51, so I wired for a copy of the accident report. It arrived several days after my visit with Dr. Hynek. The
report said that the F-51 had lost a wing due to excessive speed in a dive after Mantell had "blacked out" due to the lack of oxygen. Mantell's body had not burned, not disintegrated, and
was not full of holes; the wreck was not radioactive, nor was it magnetized.
One very important and pertinent question remained. Why did Mantell, an experienced pilot, try to go to 20,000 feet when he didn't even have an oxygen mask? If he had run out of oxygen, it would have
been different Every pilot and crewman has it pounded into him, "Do not, under any circumstances, go above 15,000 feet without oxygen." In high-altitude indoctrination during World War II,
I made several trips up to 30,000 feet in a pressure chamber. To demonstrate anoxia we would leave our oxygen masks off until we became dizzy. A few of the more hardy souls could get to 15,000 feet,
but nobody ever got over 17,000. Possibly Mantell thought he could climb up to 20,000 in a hurry and get back down before he got anoxia and blacked out, but this would be a foolish chance. This point
was covered in the sighting report. A long-time friend of Mantell's went on record as saying that he'd flown with him several years and knew him personally. He couldn't conceive of Mantell's even
thinking about disregarding his lack of oxygen. Mantell was one of the most cautious pilots he knew. "The only thing I can think," he commented, "was that he was after something that
he believed to be more important than his life or his family."
My next step was to try to find out what Mantell's wing men had seen or thought but this was a blind alley. All of this evidence was in the ruined portion of the
microfilm, even their names were missing. The only reference I could find