The UFO Files
Thread: The Gorman UFO Dogfight
The Gorman UFO Dogfight
Posted by jkrog08, on May 23, 2009
About nine months after the famous Mantell UFO Incident comes yet another great but sadly overlooked (by the general public) UFO-aircraft encounter case. This was another Air National Guard encounter, not in Kentucky but this time in Fargo, North Dakota. The difference between this and the Mantell incident however is the fact that on October 1st, 1948 2nd Lieutenant Gordon actually engaged in aerial combat maneuvers with the UFO. The Mantell case and this one make up two of the three “classic UFO cases that proved UFOs were a real event” according to Project Blue Book and Captain Edward J. Ruppelt’s(First leader of Bluebook) best selling book The Report On Unidentified Flying Objects. Again we have a World War Two veteran pilot who saw something that he thought was legitimate enough to not only go out of his way (and risk his life) to investigate but engage in a 27 minute “dogfight” with the unknown object. Can this again be honestly attributed to a mistaken identity of Venus, atmospheric phenomena, or a balloon? Can we continue to discredit military personal who actively engage in attempted UFO contact and chalk it up to a “mistaken identity” without taking a serious look at the facts? There is just way too many solid cases involving legitimate witnesses to ignore this phenomena .That again is the point of this thread; to present a detailed overlook of the facts of another excellent case involving contact with a UFO, I am not pushing any conclusion on anyone, I am simply providing the facts of the case and offering my opinion. As usual the final decision is up to you the reader.
1. Overview of Second Lieutenant George F.Gorman
2nd Lt. George Gorman of the North Dakota Air National Guard was 25 years old at the time of this incident and a veteran fighter pilot of World War Two. His job in the war was to train French student fighter pilots so it is unlikely that he mistook a balloon, Venus, or atmospheric phenomena for a UFO and then proceed to engage it. But things do happen sometimes so you never can be sure unless the facts show that an explanation is more likely than another. Also Gorman had no reason to lie as he was a well respected member of his community in Fargo, North Dakota, a business man, college educated, and a husband and father to a young daughter at the time. The following are some important facts noteworthy of Lieutenant Gorman:
2nd Lieutenant Gorman did not make the impression of being a dreamer. He reads little, and only serious literature. He spends 90% of his free time hunting and fishing; drinks less than moderately; smokes normally; and does not do drugs. He appears to be a sincere and serious individual who was considerably puzzled by his experience and made no attempt to blow his story up.So it appears that Lt. Gorman has quite the credibility and even the USAF investigators had no reason to doubt his credibility and thus his story. The real question becomes what exactly was Gorman chasing that October night? With his large amount of experience and education it seems much more possible that Gorman did in fact become engaged with a truly unknown flying object in 1948.
2. The UFO Is Spotted
On October 1st, 1948 2nd Lt. Gorman was flying a cross-country flight with other Air Guard planes, their aircrafts were the P-51 Mustang. At approximately 8:30 PM the flight arrived over Fargo, North Dakota, while the other pilots decided to land at Hector Airport in Fargo, Gorman decided to take advantage of the clear night to get some night flying time. At around 9:00PM his flight path took him over a football stadium where a game was being played, other then a small Piper Cub plane 500 feet below him the skies were empty, although apparently wouldn’t be for long. After being advised by the control tower that the Piper, piloted by Dr. A.E. Cannon had taken to the air, Gorman prepared to land. About five minutes later he contacted the control tower asking if another plane was in the area. He was told no; Gorman reported back that another light, looking like the light on the tail of a plane had passed him on the right. Gorman radioed in that he was going to investigate the unknown object.
3.UFO Versus P-51 Mustang
The ensuing dogfight lasted approximately 27 minutes and is the first reported “UFO-aircraft dogfight”. I will present this in a detailed timeline format for ease of reading and understanding. The following took place on the night of October 1st, 1948 in the sky over Fargo, North Dakota. All quotes are actual statements made by Gorman.The entire chase took place between the time frame of 9:00PM to 9:27PM with altitudes varying from 1,000 to 14,000 feet.
• 2nd Lieutenant Gorman pulls his P-51 up and reaches within 1,000 feet of the object.
• Gorman then performs a steep dive in chase of the object but cannot keep up even as he raised his manifold pressure.At times during this chase Gorman pushed his plane to its limit of speed and maneuverability, at times reaching speeds of 400MPH and blacking out once due to extreme G-forces . With all that the object still easily managed to out perform Gorman’s craft in every aspect. Also it is worthy of noting that the experienced Gorman was so shook up after the incident that he had to circle the airport twice before landing!
4. The Official Investigation
This is another case with ground witness confirmation of the object as well as the pilot. Another added perk to this particular case is that another aircraft with two occupants also witnessed the event. The only thing this case doesn’t have is a radar contact, but beings that radar was a recently new invention at the time it was not as sensitive as today. Also it is commonly reported that UFOs exhibit stealth-like capabilities in both sensory and visual spectrums. Within a few hours Project Sign personal were at the scene. The following is a compilation of the witness reports:
Witnesses Information and Statements:
• Air traffic controller Lloyd
Evaluation of witness:
• Air traffic controller H.E.
Mr. Johnson is approximately the same type as Mr. Jensen, stoical, quiet, Scandinavian type, not easily impressed, (un readable), smokes pipe only, has never used any habit forming drugs.Summary of interrogation by Project Sign:
Mr. Johnson was on duty at the Fargo Airport tower since about 1600 hours (4:00PM) 1, October 1948, and was in the tower at the time the F-51 called in requesting information about local traffic. At the time when Lt. Gorman called the second time in regard to the object. Mr. Johnson walked to the rear of the receiver and, looking out the south window, saw the object and the Cub. Object at this time was a little higher than the Piper Cub, and outside of him, the object seemed to be on a north heading and then turned northwest.
• Occupants of the Piper Cub(second aircraft): Pilot
Dr. L.N. Cannon and passenger Einar Nielson
Evaluation of witness:
Summary of Interrogation:
Apparently Dr. Cannon’s passenger was not interviewed by the USAF. Although unofficial, Mr. Nelson corroborated the doctor’s statements. The interrogation of the doctor was also conducted by Major Kubala. It is interesting to note that all witnesses, including Gorman, reported no sound what so ever, no smoke or exhaust, no smell, nothing but a very fast moving light apparently only around 6-8 inches in diameter.
• Sworn statement from 2nd Lt. George F. Gorman on October 23rd, 1948:
From a later conversation….
"I can tell you this much," he said, "because it's been mentioned in print. There was thought behind every move the light made. It wasn't any radar-responder gadget making it veer away from my ship."Apparently Dr. Cannon was approached by several different government investigators after this incident. Something that I found as well is some major discrepancies from the USAF itself pertaining to names of witnesses (ie; In one report the doctors initials are A.E. but in others is L.N., and others A.D! This was also the case with newspaper reports. I went with L.N. because it was the initial given in the first report by Sign) and different accounts given later down the line according to different government researchers. Here is a report conducted later in December of 48’ where you can see the information I am talking about pertaining to the multiple officials that contacted the doctor…
So why did I bring that up? Well it is an interesting note in the case because obviously someone isn’t getting their research straight and it ain’t me! Another reason I brought that up is to point out the constant disorganized research the USAF does, regardless if it is intentional (disinfo) or not. Another interesting point is why so many more officials (at least that we know of) contacted the doctor. It is probably nothing but I thought it worthy of attention.
Characteristics of The UFO
• * Object was symmetrical from any side viewed
5. Alternate Explanations
NOTE: Project “Saucer” was slang for Project Sign.
A Lighted Weather Balloon?
This was the explanation that became the official answer to what Lt. Gorman was chasing. This theory however has some holes in it that need to be addressed.
Captain Edward J. Ruppelt, who headed the Air Force's PROJECT BLUE BOOK in the early 1950’s, later hypothesized that Gorman bad chased a lighted balloon (a plane would rapidly overtake a balloon creating the illusion of head-on passes), however, the reported high speeds away from the F-51 created a problem with this answer.This official explanation still has some major issues. Here is what one atmospheric physicist said about it….
Dr. James E. McDonald. a University of Arizona atmospheric physicist, stated in 1970: "Although the pilot-balloon light became the official explanation there are a number of explicit statements in the Blue Book file that thoroughly discount that hypothesis.”Apparently the balloons where accounted for and not in the area at the time…
Some months later, 24 January 1949, the Air Weather Service provided ATIC with an analysis which indicated that Gorman had been chasing a lighted balloon. This explanation is not accepted by Keyhoe (1953), who says that although the Weather Bureau had released a weather balloon, it had been tracked by theodolite and found to have moved in a different direction from that in which Gorman had his UFO encounter.Major Donald Keyhoe(USMC) firmly believed that this was an unknown case and that the balloon theory was bogus. Kehoe was a well respected military man and wrote many books and did much research into Ufology so I think his opinion should carry some weight. The following is an excerpt for Major Kehoe’s book ”Flying Saucers Are Real”, Donald Keyhoe, 1950,2006(reprint),Cosimo Classics that contained a transcript of his conversation with Lt. Gorman. This passage I am about to show you totally debunks the balloon theory in my opinion…
"Anybody suggest it was a balloon?" I said casually.More….
An astronomical check by Professor Hynek ruled out stars, fireballs, and comets--a vain hope, to begin with. The only other conventional answer, as the Project report later stated, was hallucination. In view of all the testimony, hallucination had to he ruled out. Finally, the investigators admitted they had no solution.Illusion of Jupiter or Combination of balloon/Jupiter
Dr. Donald H. MENZEL, a Harvard University astronomer. recognizing some problems of applying the balloon hypothesis to the witness testimony, decided that there were two objects responsible for the "illusion"--a balloon and the planet Jupiter. Gorman was at times seeing a lighted balloon, and at other times "very probably a mirage of the planet Jupiter "Well this is more complex but not much better of an explanation, although it is still possible. The USAF didn’t even go with this theory but for the sake of ruling normal things out we need to take a look at it. For this to be true one must not take into account the uniform movements of the object as seen by multiple witnesses. They all would not be seeing the same mirage move at the same time, in fact that goes against all laws of physics if that is true. This was not the case here, the object appeared to move the same direction as observed by all witnesses. What does this mean? Well it means that if this was a mirage than likely no one but Gorman and possibly the Piper pilot would have seen it because they were in a reference frame close to each other. But the fact that observers on the ground as well saw the same thing means that a mirage is not possible(or at least not very likely in any sense). Because, simply put, if this was a mirage only seen by Gorman(as this alternate hypothesis goes) then it would be impossible for all the other witnesses to see the same thing, which they did.
The only logical conclusion (in my opinion) from this observation must be that the object was actually physically there; meaning that this object had to physically exist and had to be creating these observations by itself, and not by the bending and stretching of light rays seen from a certain speed and position creating a mirage of the planet Jupiter. If this object was subjective or dependent on the observers then they all would have seen very different “flight paths” of the object or not have seen the object at all, which is not the case. So by applying some relatively simple physics and meteorological understanding to the problem (admittedly there wasn’t as much information known at this time) we can likely dismiss the mirage theory, not to mention the unrealistic atmospheric and optical dynamics that would have had to happen to even begin to cause this “mass illusion”.
Light reaching our eye, after traveling through a region of the atmosphere where the temperature gradient is constant, follows a curved (parabolic) path. (See diagrams below. In them, the dark lines indicate the actual light ray path and the white dashed lines the path our mind thinks it sees.) The degree of curvature is proportional to the temperature gradient along that path -- the stronger the temperature gradient through which the light passes, the greater the bend. When the temperature gradient is not constant but changes with height, the curvature of the light path can increase more rapidly at some heights than others, thus producing interesting effects such as object distortions and multiple images.The witnesses did not see a “stacked disc shape” or see changing colors, they saw a small, luminous ball. Now I am sure conditions can be created to cause this but I have found no mention of how that would happen anywhere.
There was no temperature inversion reported that night, and without that the chances of a mirage happening are highly unlikely.
A Canadian “Vampire” Jet?
This was Dr. Cannon’s opinion, and for a brief time the opinion of Project Sign. This was quickly dismissed by multiple unavoidable facts:
6. Official Conclusions and My Conclusion
Official USAF Conclusions
Well the official conclusions were (like the Mantell case) originally said to be “unknown”(in Project Sign), but later (after the formation of Blue Book) changed to “a lighted weather balloon”. Well I believe I have shown evidence that have already dismissed that fact, as have official USAF documents. But for the sake of a neutral presentation let us look at the final conclusions…
Within a few hours, military officers from Project Sign arrived to question Gorman and the other witnesses. Project Sign had been created by the US Air Force in late 1947 to investigate UFO reports. The officers interviewed Gorman, Dr. Cannon and his passenger, and the control tower personnel at Fargo's Airport. The officers also checked Gorman's F-51 Mustang with a Geiger counter for radiation. They found that his Mustang was measurably more radioactive than other fighters which had not flown for several days; this was taken as evidence that Gorman had flown close to an "atomic-powered" object. The Air Force investigators also ruled out the possibility of the lighted object being "another aircraft, Canadian Vampire jet fighters, or a weather balloon." Their initial conclusion, writes UFO historian Curtis Peebles, was "that something remarkable had occurred" to Gorman in the skies above Fargo.Here are the official readings from the Geiger Counter test (Gorman’s plane is the top)…
Image courtesy of nicap.org
The cropped image I showed is only the final average radioactivity of the craft in “rads”, notice the top plane (Gorman’s) is much higher then even the second highest plane which is at around 52.Personally I don’t believe that the above normal readings you saw can be attributed to a “high altitude” of only 14,000 feet (only for a brief moment). Here is some information on radiation levels throughout the atmosphere…
Simply put, the radiation levels at that low altitude(or any altitude below around 30,000 feet at the least) are not sufficient to cause those types of readings. So what caused those readings? We may never know. But here is an interesting letter sent to Major Keyhoe pertaining to the “Geiger readings”…
The letter that came from Art Green, while I was working on the space plans, didn't make it easier:
Dear Keyhoe:Here is a statement made by the leader of Blue Book himself directly contradicting their “evidence”…
Captain Edward J. Ruppelt, 1956... "Other assorted historians point out that normally the 'UFOs' are peaceful, [fighter pilots] Gorman and Mantell just got too inquisitive, 'they' just weren't ready to be observed. If the Air Force hadn't slapped down the security lid these writers might not have reached this conclusion. There have been other and more lurid 'duels of death.'"But the personal in the tower did see the object change direction and Dr. Cannon not only saw the object go one direction and then turn around but he also saw it make a steep bank while changing direction. Well that about sums up the USAF opinion of the incident, now I will give my opinion (and it is only that) on what happened. Here is another interesting statement from an aeronautical engineer who worked in depth with the government on the UFO phenomena in the late 40’s and 50’s whose name was changed by Keyhoe for privacy reasons…
Final Conclusion of The USAF: Lt. Gorman was chasing a “lighted weather balloon”.
NOTE: Project “Saucer” was the slang for Project Sign.
7) My Conclusions
To me this case is truly unknown and thus why Captain
Ruppelt himself originally called this “one of the three UFO classic
cases that proved UFOs were a real event”. But once again (I always seem
to say that,lol) we are left with nothing but witness testimony, research,
and circumstantial evidence. Even though I believe this case presents those
in a manner greater than many others it still lacks the ultimate proof
or “smoking gun”. It is of interest to note that Lt. Gorman was given
orders by the Air Material Command to not divulge any more information
than what he had already, they threatened him under Court Marshall and
were saying they wanted to charge him for information he already divulged!
The following is a copy of a letter sent from Gorman in response to
December 10, 1948
Seems like Mr. Arnold was trying to reach out to a fellow pilot who had encountered something truly amazing.
Now why would the USAF do that for a weather balloon? It is also said that the Geiger counter readings were hidden and denied as well. Now even if the plane wasn’t radioactive to a higher extent than the others that does not mean Gorman didn’t encounter a UFO. Who knows what kind of advanced propulsion systems a true alien craft might possess? Needless to say I think the research I have shown does show some interesting radioactive readings were found. With all the possible explanations having massive holes in them (to say the least) I truly think this case remains unknown and another explanation is needed, however the only one that fits in my opinion is that Gorman did encounter something “intelligently controlled and of an unknown origin”.
There is a lot of information on this case but it is spread out and takes some time to understand and organize(it gave me multiple headaches!). Like many other cases in Ufology there is a lot more evidence to be discovered if one simply digs a little and doesn’t take the official explanation at face value. In my opinion this ranks in the top ten of best UFO cases ever, that is only my opinion however. Now if this was an actual alien probe or spacecraft is truly unknown but I think the evidence speaks for itself. At the very least this case remains unsolved in multiple peoples and my own opinion. Well that concludes this case for now, I just want to remind everybody who is celebrating Memorial Day to have a safe and happy holiday this weekend! Take care :up:
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