January 7 - 1948 - The Mantell UFO Incident
The very first casualty by an Air National Guardsmen took place just after World War II in Kentucky when Captain Thomas Mantell crashed while chasing an unidentified flying object. UFO stories usually center on aliens or the supernatural, but the basic fact of the crash that killed Captain Mantell is a reflection of real world anxieties and priorities. The object he was chasing was described initially as an odd disk, but when he and three other pilots flying P-51s began following it, they realized it was gaining altitude. Mantell was the only pilot who decided to chase it all the way, which is when he blacked out and his plane went into a tailspin. Mantell's death made the story an official government problem, as well as reflecting the basic facts of living in the new culture of the Cold War.