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The Gorman Dogfight

The Gorman Dogfight

The Gorman Dogfight

Following a cross country exercise with the North Dakota Air National Guard, the last thing Lieutenant George F. Gorman expected was a dogfight with an unidentified flying object.

On the night of October 1, 1948, Lieutenant Gorman, a veteran pilot who chose to fly with the Air National Guard following World War II, was flying an F-51 Mustang with a group of other guard pilots on a cross country training exercise. The other pilots landed early in the evening but seizing the opportunity to log more night flying time, Lieutenant Gorman remained in the air until around nine o’clock that night. After circling the football field in Fargo, North Dakota, which was fully lit, Gorman signaled the Hector Field control tower he wished to land.

The tower warned of a Piper Cub plane below him but informed Gorman that his Mustang and the Piper Cub were the only aircraft in the vicinity. At this point Lieutenant Gorman spotted what he first believed were the tail lights of another plane. Contacting the tower, he received a report that he and the Piper Club were the only aircraft on radar. Aborting his plans to land his F-51 Mustang, Lieutenant Gorman pulled within 1,000 yards of the lights to visualize describe an object about six to eight inches in diameter with blinking lights on it.

As he pulled close to the unidentified flying object, Lieutenant Gorman reported the lights stopped blinking and became a steady glow. The UFO also sped up, trying to out run him. As he chased the object, it turned and headed straight for his aircraft. With only about five hundred feet separating them, Lieutenant Gorman dove his plane to avert a collision. The object once again reversed its course and headed toward Lieutenant Gorman. This time he held his course and the object responded by shooting straight upward just before it collided with Gorman’s plane. Gorman’s pursuit of the UFO ended when his engine stalled at 14,000 feet.

Gorman returned to the Fargo airfield and was said to have been shaken by the events of the evening. His story was corroborated by the two air traffic controllers in the tower, Lloyd D. Jensen and H.E.Johnson, who reported seeing a light such as the one Gorman described. Both the light and the Piper Cub were seen simultaneously by all three men. The pilot of the Piper Cub and his passenger also acknowledged seeing the light in addition to the F-51 Mustang which Gorman flew.

In later describing the incident, Lieutenant Gorman said he felt “there was definite thought behind [the object's] maneuvers.” Gorman admitted to losing consciousness temporarily due to the high rate of speed his plan was traveling. Later an Air Force investigation tried to explain away the events as an encounter with a weather balloon or a Canadian jet. When these were ruled out, the Air Force claimed the object’s maneuvers were but a reflection of the movement of Gorman’s own aircraft.

Whatever happened in the skies above Fargo, North Dakota on the night of October 1, 1948, it is now one of the most famous UFO encounters in history. Labeled the “Gorman Dogfight” in the Air Force’s official investigation of UFO sighting, Project Blue Book, it was witnessed by four men in addition to Lieutenant Gorman. Lieutenant Gorman was silenced by the Air Force from further discussing the matter under threat of court martial even though the Air Force continued to investigate UFO sightings.