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Gorman Dogfight

On this date in 1948, Lieutenant George Gorman wrote a letter stating, “…the Air Materiel Command has issued orders classifying the information as Secret. And this makes it a General Court Martial to release any more information. The Command has asked that my commanding officer and myself be court-martialed for releasing what information we did.”

The incident the young lieutenant was referring to has since become known as the Gorman Dogfight, one of the early “classics” in UFO history.

On the evening of October 1, 1948, Lieutenant Gorman was returning from a cross-country flight with his squadron of the North Dakota Air National Guard. When the pilots got to Hector airport in Fargo, Gorman decided to log some night-flying time, so he circled his F-51 around the city. As he prepared to land, the control tower advised him that a Piper Cub 500 feet below. But then another light flashed by on the right. The tower insisted there weren’t other planes in the sky, so Gorman told them he wanted to investigate and turned to follow the light.

He closed to within about 1,000 yards to take a good look, later saying: 

“It was about six to eight inches in diameter, clear white, and completely round 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 dived after it … but I couldn’t catch up with the thing. It started gaining altitude and again made a left bank. I put my F-51 into a sharp turn and tried to cut the light off … 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 …”

Gorman said he cut sharply toward the light, which was once more coming at him. When it again appeared that they would collide, the object shot straight up … disappearing overhead. The dogfight had lasted 27 minutes.

The official explanation the Air Force gave was that the light was merely a lit weather balloon. Such a balloon had been released in Fargo that night. Investigators believed the incredible movements of the object were an illusion brought about by the movements of Gorman's fighter.

Dakota Datebook written by Merry Helm

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