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New History Channel Show Tells of Pilot’s 1948 ‘Dogfight’ With UFO Above Fargo

by Kim Hyatt                       January 9, 2019                      (westfargopioneer.com)

• The first episode of “Project Blue Book” premiered on the History Channel Tuesday, January 8th. It focuses on a 25-year-old National Guard lieutenant’s encounter with an UFO in the skies above Fargo, North Dakota.

• In October 1948, the local Fargo newspaper interviewed Lieutenant George Gorman, a B-25 fighter pilot in World War II. He told ‘The Forum’ that his “dogfight” with the UFO was “the weirdest experience I’ve had in my life.”

• The Fargo newspaper ran an account of the incident at the time. Flying at night in a P-51 over what is now North Dakota State University during a football game, Gorman saw a “flying disk”. It was round with well-defined edges, brilliantly lit and circling over the city. Gorman decided to investigate and a 27-minute chase ensued. Gorman tried crashing into it, but the disk dodged him at speeds of 600 mph. His P-51 aircraft’s top speed was 400 mph. As he approached the disk, it lit up and, with a burst of speed, outdistanced him.

• “Once, when the object was coming head on, I held my plane pointed right at it,” Gorman reported. “The object came so close that I involuntarily ducked my head because I thought a crash was inevitable. But the object zoomed over my head.”

• His story was corroborated by another pilot flying over Fargo that night, and two air traffic controllers to whom Gorman relayed information regarding the disk. Maj. D. C. Jones, commander of the 178th fighter squadron at Hector airport, said Gorman was so shaken by the experience that Gorman had difficulty landing that night.

• The Air Force investigated the incident through Project Blue Book, as depicted in the television show. According to the National Archives, there were more than 12,500 sightings reported to Project Blue Book in the 1950’s and 60’s, but the investigations officially found no evidence that UFOs were “extraterrestrial vehicles” or a security threat, including this one. Air Force investigators noted that Gorman was a credible, sincere witness “who was considerably puzzled by his experience and made no attempt to blow his story up.” But the Air Force ultimately ruled it an encounter with a weather balloon.

• According to ‘The Forum’ newspaper clippings from 1947 to 1995, UFO sightings were a dime a dozen back then. “A flurry of reports of unidentified flying objects were made in North Dakota,” says an article from August 1965. Countless columns aimed to disprove the sightings, claiming that “flying saucers aren’t for real,” said one article from August 1963. A March 1950 article tried to downplay the UFO hype, saying UFOs aren’t anything new and that, in fact, sightings in North Dakota dated back to 1897.

• Nevertheless, the Fargo-Moorhead area has welcomed “ufologists” for lectures over the years. Officials investigated reports made by children, adults and law enforcement alike.

• As for Gorman, he carried out his career in the Guard quietly, never again speaking publicly about his UFO experience. He denied Life magazine an interview in 1952. Gorman told friends that “he was never convinced that he had been dueling with a lighted balloon for 27 minutes.”

 

A new History Channel series exploring U.S. investigations into UFOs has a strong Fargo tie.

The first episode of “Project Blue Book” premiered Tuesday, Jan. 8. It focuses on a 25-year-old National Guard lieutenant’s encounter with an unidentified flying object in the skies above Fargo.

The lieutenant, George Gorman, a B-25 fighter pilot in World War II, told The Forum in October 1948 that the “dogfight” with the UFO was “the weirdest experience I’ve had in my life.”

              Lieutenant George Gorman

According to the archived Forum article: Flying in a P-51 over what is now North Dakota State University during a football game, Gorman saw the “flying disk,” according to the archived Forum article. It was round with well-defined edges, brilliantly lit and circling over the city.

After Gorman decided to investigate the disk, a 27-minute chase ensued in the Fargo night sky.

Gorman tried crashing into it, but the disk dodged him at speeds of 600 mph, he recalled. His aircraft was going at a top speed of 400 mph, and as he approached the disk, it lit up and, with a burst of speed, outdistanced him.

“Once, when the object was coming head on, I held my plane pointed right at it,” Gorman said. “The object came so close that I involuntarily ducked my head because I thought a crash was inevitable. But the object zoomed over my head.”

His story was corroborated by another pilot flying in Fargo that night and two air traffic controllers who Gorman relayed information to regarding the disk’s antics.

Maj. D. C. Jones, commander of the 178th fighter squadron at Hector airport, said Gorman was so shaken by the experience that Gorman had difficulty landing that night.

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When a U.S. Fighter Pilot Got Into a Dogfight With a UFO

by Colin Bertram                 July 19, 2018                  (history.com)

• On October 1, 1948, a 25-year old former World War II fighter pilot named George F. Gorman (standing at left in  above photo) had a 27-minute encounter with a white orb UFO at high altitude above Fargo, North Dakota. “I’ve never seen anything like it,” Gorman told a local newspaper following the event. “If anyone else had reported such a thing I would have thought they were crazy.” The incident was recorded both on the ground and in the sky by numerous reputable sources, and investigated by the U.S. Air Force under Project Sign, a precursor to Project Blue Book.


• Gorman was serving as a second lieutenant in the North Dakota Air National Guard, and was taking part in a cross-country flight in a P-51 Mustang alongside other National Guard airmen. When the other pilots landed at Fargo’s Hector Airport, Gorman stayed in the air in order to get in some night-flying time in the cloudless conditions. Having circled over a lighted football stadium, he was preparing to land at about 9 pm when he saw the taillight of another craft passing on the right, though the tower had no other object on the radar.

• Gorman closed to within 1,000 yards to see a white orb “…about six to eight inches in diameter, clear white and completely without fuzz at the edges.” “It was blinking on and off. As I approached, however, the light suddenly became steady and pulled into a sharp left bank. I thought it was making a pass at the tower.”

• Gorman tried in vain to catch up with the object, and got behind it at around 7,000 feet when it made a sharp turn and headed straight for his P-51. Almost at the point of collision Gorman dived and said the light passed over his canopy at about 500 feet before cutting sharply once more and heading back in his direction. Then the object shot straight up in the air in climb so steep that his plane stalled. The object was not seen again. Gorman had been engaged in aerial maneuvers with the UFO for 27 minutes by the time he brought his plane in to land.

• Gorman reported that he noticed no sound, exhaust trail or odor from the object. And while he had reached speeds of up to 400 m.p.h. while in pursuit—he couldn’t keep up with whatever it was.

• “I’m convinced that there was definite thought behind its maneuvers,” Gorman said in a sworn statement to his commander. “I am further convinced that the object was governed by the laws of inertia because its acceleration was rapid but not immediate… [and] followed a natural curve.” “The object was not only able to out-turn and out-speed my aircraft… but was able to attain a far steeper climb and was able to maintain a constant rate of climb far in excess of my aircraft,” said Gorman.

• The small white orb UFO was also witnessed by air-traffic controllers Lloyd D. Jensen and H.E. Johnson, who were manning the Hector Airport tower. According to Johnson, the object was “travelling at a high rate of speed” and was “fast enough to increase the spacing between itself and [Gorman’s] fighter.” Johnson described the object as appearing to be “only a round light, perfectly formed, with no fuzzy edges or rays leaving its body.”

• Dr. A. E. Cannon, the pilot of the Piper Cub also flying in the vicinity, and his passenger also viewed the object both in the sky and upon their return to the airport where they immediately joined the traffic controllers in the tower. Two Civil Aeronautics Authority employees on the ground also reported seeing the object.

• Back in Fargo, after the Air Weather Service revealed it had released a lighted weather balloon 10 minutes before Gorman first saw the object, Air Force investigators pounced, proclaiming the balloon the likeliest explanation for the object seen. They determined that Gorman’s own maneuvers and high speed gave the balloon the appearance of moving in opposite directions as he passed by. Investigators also noted the bright appearance of Jupiter on that date, and that Gorman had been attempting to chase the bright dot of the planet at the same time the weather balloon was in range. This became the official government explanation.

• Gorman returned to the Air Force full-time, retiring at the rank of lieutenant colonel in 1969. He never spoke publicly about the encounter again, though he did tell friends “he was never convinced that he had been dueling with a lighted balloon for 27 minutes.” Gorman died in 1982.

 

In the words of Captain Edward J. Ruppelt, the man who investigated unidentified-flying-object reports for the U.S. Air Force in the early 1950s, the Gorman Dogfight remains one of the “classics” among UFO sightings.

                     newspaper account

The incident, which still lacks an airtight explanation, involved a 27-minute air encounter between a veteran World War II fighter pilot named George F. Gorman and a mysterious white orb at high altitude above Fargo, North Dakota. “I’ve never seen anything like it,” Gorman told a local newspaper following the October 1, 1948 event. “If anyone else had reported such a thing I would have thought they were crazy.”

Captain Ruppelt operated Project Blue Book, which continued the work of Project Sign and Project Grudge, a series of hush-hush studies conducted by the U.S. Air Force between 1947 and 1969. His mission: to determine if UFOs were a threat to national security and to scientifically analyze UFO-related data.

What makes the Gorman Dogfight unique in the now-declassified pages of Project Blue Book is not only the length of the encounter, but that it was recorded both on the ground and in the sky by numerous reputable sources.

Chasing—and being chased by—a light

At the time of the incident, Gorman, a 25-year-old former fighter pilot, served as a second lieutenant in the North Dakota Air National Guard. It was this role that placed him behind the flight controls of a P-51 Mustang on Oct. 1, 1948, taking part in a cross-country flight alongside other National Guard airmen.

George F. Gorman in later years

While the other pilots landed at Fargo’s Hector Airport, on that fateful evening Gorman stayed in the air in order to get in some night-flying time in the cloudless conditions. Having circled his P-51 over a lighted football stadium, he was preparing to land at about 9 P.M. Advised by the control tower that the only other plane in the vicinity was a Piper Cub (which Gorman could see about 500 feet below him), he witnessed what he believed to be the taillight of another craft passing on the right, though the tower had no other object on the radar.

Deciding to take a closer look at the unidentified object, Gorman pulled his plane up and closed to within about 1,000 yards. “It was about six to eight inches in diameter, clear white and completely without fuzz at the edges,” he said of the object in his report. “It was blinking on and off. As I approached, however, the light suddenly became steady and pulled into a sharp left bank. I thought it was making a pass at the tower.”

Deciding to follow, Gorman tried in vain to catch up with the object, reporting that he finally got behind it at around 7,000 feet, where it made a sharp turn and headed straight for the P-51. Almost at the point of collision Gorman dived and said the light passed over his canopy at about 500 feet before cutting sharply once more and heading back in his direction. Just as collision seemed imminent once again, Gorman said the object shot straight up in the air in a steep climb—so steep that when he tried to intercept, his plane stalled at about 14,000 feet. The object was not seen again, but according to Gorman he had been engaged in aerial maneuvers with it for 27 minutes by the time he brought his plane in to land.

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