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The Gorman Dogfight: It was “one of the most credible accounts of UFO activity in the country,” according to a recent piece by the Grand Forks Herald from North Dakota.
On Friday evening, October 1, 1948, a crowd formed to watch a college football game on a crisp fall evening in Fargo. The time was 8 p.m. and the game wasn’t yet halfway through.
The Bisons from North Dakota Agricultural College Bison were playing the Augustana Vikings. Nearby in the sky, a former WWII Fighter Pilot had a skirmish with a UFO.
Aerial Display Likely
Strangely, on the day of the game, the local sports editor, Eugene Fitzgerald, posted what seems a prophetic headline:
“Aerial Display Likely in Bison-Augustana Game Tonight.”
Surely enough, there was an aerial display, but the sports editor predicted “more passing than rushing” in the game –not a UFO dogfight.
Only recently, the files created during the resulting government investigation were declassified for public eyes.
WWII Pilot George Gorman
Accomplished World War II pilot George Gorman and three experienced aviators witnessed the UFO, lending significant credibility.
At the time of the Gorman Dogfight, he was a 25-year-old second lieutenant in the North Dakota Air National Guard.
That evening, Gorman and his fellow pilots were returning to the base from a cross-country flight to North Dakota in a P-51 Mustang. The pilots flew over the old Dacotah Field where the football game was happening. Around 8:30, Gorman remained flying while after the other pilots returned to Fargo’s Hector Airport.
Gorman Spots a Flying Disk
Gorman remained in the air about two miles from the football field, planning to land around 9 p.m. An air traffic controller warned him about a smaller plane, a Piper Cub, flying at a lower elevation. The pilot acknowledged the plane, which he saw below him. Then, he spotted something entirely different and decided to investigate.
According to the Herald:
“He said it was a ‘flying disk,’ was round with well-defined edges, brilliantly lit and circling slowly over the city. He asked the tower about the object, and they said they only saw Gorman’s plane and the Piper Cub. This object was not showing up on radar.”
According to another account, he described the craft like this:
“It was about six to eight inches in diameter, clear white and completely without fuzz at the edges,” he reported. “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.”
Next, the encounter quickly escalated into a high-speed dogfight.
The Weirdest Experience of a Lifetime
As Gorman approached around 7,000 feet, the UFO started flying faster, at what he estimated could have been 600 miles per hour. The craft easily evaded Gorman, who could only go 400 mph, but then it aggressively flew back towards his plane. For the next 27 minutes, Gorman remained in a dogfight with the UFO.
“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.”
After his encounter, a shocked Gorman had difficulty landing his plane. Later, told the Fargo Forum the event was “the weirdest experience I’ve had in my life.” The object made no sound and left no exhaust trail or odor.
Later, the pilot drew a diagram of what he experienced, which is now public after the Air Force declassified it.
Corroboration of the Gorman Dogfight
On October 4, investigators from Air Force intelligence arrived to interview the witnesses of the Gorman Dogfight. They talked to Gorman and two air traffic controllers: Lloyd D. Jensen, and H.E. Johnson.
On the ground, two Civil Aeronautics Authority employees also reported seeing the object.
In addition, the investigators interviewed the pilot of the Piper Cub, who was a local doctor, Dr. A. E. Cannon. A witness flying with the physician also saw the UFO. After landing, they went to the air traffic controllers to report what happened.
After the interviews, everyone had corroborated Gorman’s story.
In a sworn statement, the pilot said the UFO had shown “definitive thought” in its movements. Also, it had proven itself capable of easily outmaneuvering his plane.
“I am convinced that there was definite thought behind its maneuvers,” Gorman said. “I am further 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.”
The High-Speed Chase
The local newspaper interviewed the pilot, and Gorman described what happened:
“I’ve never seen anything like it,” Gorman reported. “If anyone else had reported such a thing, I would have thought they were crazy.”
While attempting to keep up with the UFO, he had blacked out for a moment.
“I am in fairly good physical condition, and I do not believe that there are many if any, pilots who could withstand the turn and speed effected by the object, and remain conscious,” he wrote. “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.”
Later, Gorman’s plane showed high radioactivity, explained away due to the high-altitude flight.
Just Another Weather Balloon?
Next, the investigators came up with a now-familiar story to explain the incident.
Per the Herald:
“Despite what seems to be evidence to the contrary, the Air Force concluded the object was a combination of looking at the planet Jupiter and a weather balloon. According to Eriksmoen, Gorman insisted it wasn’t a weather balloon, but the Air Material Command warned him not to divulge any further information, or he would be subject to a court-martial.
“That might be one reason why Gorman stayed pretty quiet throughout the rest of his military career, which took him to bases in Italy and throughout the U.S. He retired as a lieutenant colonel and died from pancreatic cancer in Texas in the early 1980s at the age of 59.”
Thus, the old weather balloon excuse, combined with the strange idea that unusually bright Jupiter had disoriented the pilot.
After Gorman retired, he would never speak publicly of the incident again. However, he reportedly told friends that the air balloon explanation never convinced him.
Witnesses at the Football Game?
As noted, all of this was happening during the football game about two miles away. Notably, visibility was reportedly good that night, without clouds or rain. Strangely, there aren’t any current accounts available from witnesses at the game that night. If you have a verifiable account, please contact the Grand Forks Herald.
J. Allen Hynek, an astronomer hired by the Air Force to study the incident, agreed with Gorman that the UFO wasn’t a weather balloon. Hynek worked for Project Sign, which would eventually be called the now-famous Project Blue Book.
Hynek’s son Paul gives his account on the History Channel’s “Project Blue Book” from 2019. Below, you can see Paul discuss his father and the show.
“No, it’s not super creepy at all to have the Game of Thrones supervillain play your TV dad,” Paul humorously said about the show. Aidan Gillen played J. Allen Hynek and was “Littlefinger” on the popular Game of Thrones series.
Paul Hynek makes a cameo in Project Blue Book, which he shows in the video.
More About the Gorman Dogfight
The Gorman Dogfight was unique because it went on for 27 minutes and numerous reputable sources backed up the story, both on the ground and in the sky.
See more in the Project Blue Book clip from the History Channel below:
See more recaps of the show below: