Originally Posted by Aepervius
I have researched the Mantell incident in more detail. NICAP published a comprehensive repot on this case and came to conclusion that Mantell had not seen or was chasing the planet Venus, but that he had seen a new experimental balloon at high altitude. The balloon was not of the traditional design, i.e. a round shape made from an orange skin of rubber, but was made of a transluscent polymer film, never seen before. This was part of the "Skyhook" balloon launch programme, examining cosmic rays in the atmosphere conducted in 1948. It would indeed have been the "impressive and interesting" candidate for Mantell to have the incentive to "chase". This type of balloon also matched the ground witness observations, being a cone shaped object, reflecting light giving it a metallic appearance, with a long trailing tail.
Mantell did a very brave but foolish thing, and that was to try and achieve an altitude where he could close in on the object, but he was not carrying any oxygen equipment. Above 14000 feet he would have started the process of hypoxia in his body. At 25000 feet, his aspirational target altitude, he would only have around two minutes of consciousness before he passed out, and it seems that this did happen. A few minutes after his last radio contact, his aircraft descended in a spiral and disintegrated under a high speed descent.
The Airforce were embarrased by the initial explanation of Venus, and later changed it to the Skyhook description of events. This again reinforced my point. The attitude seemed to be any explanation however improbable was good enough, but in this case the Venus explanation was ridiculed by the more probable explanation of Skyhook.
Personally, I am completely happy with Skyhook explanation. It was a new pioneering design very different from the old. It is an impressive large and metallic looking object that owing to the secrecy of the project in 1948, would have been unknown to pilots and ground witnesses of the day. Mantell, it seems, was "hyped up" by the strange reports and his instructions to pusue and identify the unknown object. He was too brave for his own good, broke regulations, and flew at an unwise altitude for too long to get a closer look at what he thought could be an extra-terrestial object, and died for his trouble.
The secrecy behind the launch of pioneering aerial man-made objects, appears to be the cause of this tragic case. My common sense is fully in tact and working fine, thanks!