A. Arnold (March 29, 1915 in Sebeka, Minnesota
January 16, 1984 in Bellevue, Washington) was an
American aviator and businessman. He is best-known
for making what is generally considered the first widely
reported unidentified flying object sighting in the United
States, after claiming to have
seen nine unusual objects flying in a chain near Mount
Rainier, Washington on June 24, 1947.
was born in Sebeka, Minnesota, but grew up in Scobey,
Montana. He attended the University of Minnesota. He was
an avid swimmer and diver, being good enough at the latter
to try out for the U.S. Diving team.
began Great Western Fire Control Supply in Boise, Idaho
in 1940, a company that sold and installed fire suppression
systems, a job that took him around the Pacific Northwest.
was regarded as a skilled and
experienced pilot, with over 9,000 total flying hours,
almost half of which were devoted to Search and Rescue
Mercy Flyer efforts.
June 24, 1947, while flying near Mt. Rainer, Arnold claimed
to have seen nine unusual objects flying in the skies.
He also claimed to have seen UFOs on several other occasions
afterwards, as well.
originally described the objects' shape as "flat
like a pie pan", "shaped like a pie plate",
"half-moon shaped, oval in front and convex in
the rear", "something like a pie plate
that was cut in half with a sort of a convex triangle
in the rear", or simply "saucer-like"
or "like a big flat disk", and also described
their erratic motion being "like a fish flipping
in the sun" or a saucer skipped across water.
From these, the press quickly coined the new terms "flying
saucer" and "flying
disc" to describe such objects, many
of which were reported within days after Arnold's sighting.
Later, Arnold would add that one of the objects actually
resembled a crescent or "flying
U.S. Air Force formally listed the Arnold case as a mirage;
this is one of many explanations that have been disputed
by critics, and researchers Jerome
Clark, author of The
UFO Book (1998) and Ronald Story, editor of
The Encyclopedia of UFOs
(1980). Both argue that there has never been an entirely
persuasive conventional explanation of the Arnold sighting.
his UFO sighting, Arnold became a minor celebrity, and
for about a decade thereafter, he was somewhat involved
in interviewing other UFO witnesses or contactees. Notably,
he investigated the claims of Samuel Eaton Thompson, one
of the first contactees. Arnold wrote a book, The
Coming of the Saucers (co-authored by Raymond
Palmer) and several magazine articles about his UFO sighting
and his subsequent research.
the 1960s, Arnold had little to do with UFOs, and eventually
declined all interviews. On June 24, 1977, he however
attended the First
International UFO Congress curated by
Fate to mark the 30th
anniversary of the "birth" of the modern UFO
age. Some of his comments here reflect his displeasure
at the general ignorance concerning the matter:
well, right here weve seen something, Ive
seen something, hundreds of pilots have seen something
in the skies. We have dutifully reported these
things. And we have to have 15 million witnesses before
anybody is going to look into the problem seriously? Well
this is utterly fantastic. This is more fantastic than
flying saucers or people from Venus or anything as far
as I am concerned."
and his wife Doris had four daughters. He ran
unsuccessfully for Lieutenant Governor of Idaho in 1962.