George F. Gorman

The date, 1st October 1948, Lieutenant George F. Gorman of the North Dakota Air National Guard, along with his squadron was returning from a routine cross country flight.

Gorman returned to Hector airport, Fargo with his squadron and then decided to continue in his F-51 Mustang to do some night time flight training on his own. His squadron landed while the Lieutenant remained in the air.

At about 21.00 hours the remaining F-51 Mustang was cleared to land by the control tower. With a Piper Cub light aircraft in the area it would only be a few minutes until the F-51 would be on the ground. Gorman could see the Piper Cub about 500 feet below him.

Gorman spotted what he believed to be a taillight of an aircraft that passed to his right. The control tower insisted that there was no other aircraft in the area. Gorman informed the tower he was going to investigate the second aircraft. Gorman closed rapidly on the object to get a closer look.

"It was about six to eight inches in diameter, clear white, and completely round without fuzz at the edges (i.e., sharp and clear)," "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.

"I dived after it and brought my manifold pressure up to sixty inches but I couldn't catch up with the thing. It started gaining altitude and again made a left bank," Gorman said. "I put my F-51 into a sharp turn and tried to cut the light off in its turn. By then we were at about 7,000 feet. Suddenly it made a sharp right turn and we headed straight at each other. Just when we were about to collide, I guess I got scared. I went into a dive and the light passed over my canopy at about 500 feet. Then, it made a left circle about l, 000 feet above, and I gave chase again.”

Gorman headed towards the object on a collision course, the UFO went into a steep climb. In pursuit Gorman’s F-51 stalled, because of the steep rate of climb, at about 14,000 feet. The UFO was not seen again. The “dogfight” had lasted just under half an hour.

Shaken by the event, Gorman managed to land safely. He commented the object had no sound, or left exhaust trails. Gorman’s Mustang had been pushed to full power and at times had reached 400 mph.

He also described the UFO as being round and flattened.

The tower controllers, Lloyd D. Jensen and H. E. Johnson acknowledged seeing strange lights near the airfield. "After passing to the east of the airport it seemed to take a northwest heading," Johnson said. "The object seemed to be at about 2,000 feet and appeared to be travelling at quite an excessive speed compared to a Piper Cub that was east of the field at the time. No definite outline could be identified. Both objects (the UFO and the Piper) were sighted at the same time."

Through binoculars Jenson sighted "an object or a light travelling at a high rate of speed, apparently on a southwest heading. The F-51 was some distance behind and the object was travelling fast enough to increase the spacing between itself and the fighter. The object appeared to be only a round light, perfectly formed, with no fuzzy edges or rays leaving its body. The edges were clear cut. No other shape was observed. The main identifying characteristic was the high rate of speed at which it was apparently travelling."

Dr. A. E. Cannon, who piloted the Piper Cub along with his passenger Einar Nielson, also saw the same light the tower controllers had seen. Cannon said "While circling the football field at NDAC at 1,600 feet, Fargo tower advised us that there was an F-51 in the air and a few moments later asked us who the third plane might be. We had noticed the 51 and when we were over the north side of Hector field going west, a light, seemingly on a plane, passed above and to the north, moving very swiftly toward the west. At first we thought it was the 51, but we then saw the light of the 51 higher and move over the field.”

"We landed on Runway 3, taxied to the administration building, and went up to the tower and listened to the calls from the 51, which seemed to be trying to overtake the plane or lighted object, which then went southwest and over the city. The object was moving very swiftly, much faster than the 51. We tried to get a better view with a pair of binoculars, but couldn't follow it well enough."

In his statement to Major D. C. Jones the commander of the 17th Fighter Squadron, Gorman said he believed that there was “thought” behind the objects movements. "I am also convinced that the object was governed by the laws of inertia because its acceleration was rapid but not immediate, and although it was able to turn fairly tight at considerable speed, it still followed a natural curve."

Gorman added the object could out manoeuvre the F-51 in both climb and speed. "When I attempted to turn with the object, I blacked out temporarily due to excessive speed. Gorman also said “I am in fairly good physical condition and I do not believe there are many, if any, pilots who could withstand the turn effected by the light and remain conscious."

Captain Edward J. Ruppelt, the head the of Project Blue Book in the early years, later hypothesized that Gorman had chased a lighted balloon, however, the reported high speeds away from the F-51 created a problem.

In 1970, Dr. James E. McDonald, a University of Arizona atmospheric physicist said "Although the pilot-balloon light became the official explanation there are a number of explicit statements in the Blue Book file that thoroughly discount that hypothesis."

Gorman is not alone when it comes to UFO sightings.

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