January 7

The Mantell UFO Incident


They returned to Earth to mark the anniversary of the fatal crash.

Ironically, the craft looked like a balloon.  Convex metallic panels were fastened together to form the shape of a massive, inverted teardrop.

A middle panel flickered and lit up like a giant screen–similar to a stadium Jumbotron, or the bright advertising screens attached to buildings in Times Square.

Images of a wondrous city appeared on the screen.  The alien constructions followed impossible geometry–buildings like tops balanced on a fine point, their upper floors widening in a gravity-defying spiral.

In an open area, a crowd of strange beings–themselves also shaped like spirals–gathered around the teetering base of a large statue.

The moving image panned down the length of the statue.  It represented a human, dressed in the garb of an airplane pilot.  A plaque appeared at the tapered base of the statue, with an approximation of English writing:

Thomas F. Mantell

January 7, 1948

Beneath the date, a cursive of strange spiraling letters explained the statue’s significance.  As amazed Earthling’s watched from below, a translation seemed to unravel in their minds.  “A casualty, upon our first visit.”

And the significance unfurled in their human minds.  A Kentucky pilot, Thomas F. Mantell, died in 1948.  His plane crashed as he chased after what he believed was an alien UFO.  The fatal incident brought new seriousness to the nation’s discussion of alien spacecraft: otherworldly visitors might be a threat.  One rumor declared Mantell’s plane was shot down by an alien craft; another suggested that his plane’s wreckage glowed with radioactivity.

Later arguments revealed, however, that Mantel most likely died while chasing a then-secret project:  a Skyhook weather balloon.

Next, a line of spiral letters scrolled across the bottom of the screen-panel.  A translation followed instantaneously in their heads:  “That earlier visit had been a scouting party.  This one is intended to conquer.”

Other silver-panels opened. The nozzles of alien weapons extended from the spacecraft that hovered over this city, and over others around our former planet.