The Madisonville incident, Mantell incident or the Mantell encounter, concerns the death of 25-year-old Captain Thomas F. Mantell, a Kentucky Air National Guard pilot, died in the crash of his F-51 Mustang fighter, after being sent in pursuit of an unidentified flying object (UFO) on January 7, 1948. The event was among the most publicized early UFO incidents.
- "...appeared to be metallic."
- —Thomas Mantell, seconds before he chases the UFO(Usborne World of the Unknown: UFOs)After a huge flying saucer-type craft was seen over Madisonville, Kentucky, three P-51 Mustang planes were sent to investigate the UFO. After a few minutes, Mantell, a pilot of one of the aircraft, said that the UFO was made of metal. He decided to give it a chase, even after the other two pilots had given up and he lost radio contact.
Later, after the UFO incident settled, Thomas's plane was found obliberated a whole 135 kilometers away from the initial area. This completely puzzled many people, and the press declared Mantell the first-ever UFO victim. The incident caused much panic in the public.