On 7 January 1948, Godman Army Airfield at Fort Knox, Kentucky received a report from the Kentucky State Highway Patrol of an unusual aerial object near Maysville, Kentucky. Reports of a westbound circular object, 250 to 300 feet (91 m) in diameter, were made from Owensboro, Kentucky, and Irvington, Kentucky.
At about 1:45 p.m., Sgt Quinton Blackwell saw an object from his position in the control tower at Fort Knox. Two other witnesses in the tower also reported a white object in the distance. Base commander Colonel Guy Hix reported an object he described as "very white," and "about one fourth the size of the full moon.
"Godman Tower Calling the flight of 4 ships northbound over Godman Field. Do you read? Over.
[Pause] Godman Tower Calling the flight of 4 ships northbound over Godman Field. Do you read? Over."
"Roger, Godman Tower. This is National Guard 869, Flight Leader of the formation. Over."
"National Guard 869 from Godman Tower. We have an object out south of Godman here that we are unable to identify, and we would like to know if you have gas enough; and if so could you take a look for us if you will."
"Roger, I have the gas and I will take a look for you if you give me the correct heading.
One of his three companions in flight received permission to continue his pre-assigned flight plan, while Mantell and the remaining two planes headed to the coordinates of the visual sightings.
Mantell led the way in the climb to 15,000 feet, and upon reaching the position, he radioed the following statement back to the control tower.
"The object is directly ahead of and above me now, moving at about half my speed... It appears to be a metallic object or possibly reflection of Sun from a metallic object, and it is of tremendous size... I'm still climbing... I'm trying to close in for a better look."