Kenneth Arnold UFO sighting was an incident on June 24,
1947, where private pilot Kenneth Arnold claimed he spotted
a string of nine, shiny unidentified flying objects flying
past Mount Rainier at then unheard of supersonic speeds
that Arnold clocked at a minimum of 1,200 miles an hour.
This was the first post-War sighting in the United States
that garnered nationwide news coverage and is credited
with being the first of the modern era of UFO sightings,
including numerous reported sightings over the next two
to three weeks. Arnold's description of the objects also
led to the press quickly coining the terms flying saucer
and flying disc as popular descriptive terms for
June 24, 1947, Arnold was flying from Chehalis, Washington
to Yakima, Washington in a CallAir A-2 on a business trip.
He made a brief detour after learning of a $5,000 reward
for the discovery of a U.S. Marine Corps C-46 transport
airplane that had crashed near Mt. Rainier. The skies
were completely clear and there was a mild wind.
few minutes before 3:00 p.m. at about 9,200 feet (2,800
m) in altitude and near Mineral, Washington, he gave up
his search and started heading eastward towards Yakima.
He saw a bright flashing light, similar to sunlight reflecting
from a mirror. Afraid he might be dangerously close to
another aircraft, Arnold scanned the skies around him,
but all he could see was a DC-4 to his left and behind
him, about 15 miles (24 km) away.
30 seconds after seeing the first flash of light, Arnold
saw a series of bright flashes in the distance off to
his left, or north of Mt. Rainier, which was then 20 to
25 miles (40 km) away. He thought they might be reflections
on his airplane's windows, but a few quick tests (rocking
his airplane from side to side, removing his eyeglasses,
later rolling down his side window) ruled this out. The
reflections came from flying objects. They flew in a long
chain, and Arnold for a moment considered they might be
a flock of geese, but quickly ruled this out for a number
of reasons, including the altitude, bright glint, and
obviously very fast speed. He then thought they might
be a new type of jet and started looking intently for
a tail and was surprised that he couldn't find any.
quickly approached Rainier and then passed in front, usually
appearing dark in profile against the bright white snowfield
covering Rainier, but occasionally still giving off bright
light flashes as they flipped around erratically. Sometimes
he said he could see them on edge, when they seemed so
thin and flat they were practically invisible. According
to Jerome Clark, Arnold described them as a series of
objects with convex shapes, though he later revealed that
one object differed by being crescent-shaped. In Arnold's
initial descriptions he likened their movement to saucers
skipping on water, without comparing their actual shapes
to saucers, as news reporters would subsequently quote
him. At one point Arnold said they flew behind a subpeak
of Rainier and briefly disappeared. Knowing his position
and the position of the (unspecified) subpeak, Arnold
placed their distance as they flew past Rainier at about
23 miles (37 km).
a dzus cowling fastener as a gauge to compare the nine
objects to the distant DC-4, Arnold estimated their angular
size as slightly smaller than the DC-4, about the width
between the outer engines (about 60 feet). Arnold also
said he realized that the objects would have to be quite
large to see any details at that distance and later, after
comparing notes with a United Airlines crew that had a
similar sighting 10 days later (see below), placed the
absolute size as larger than a DC-4 airliner (or greater
than 100 feet (30 m) in length). Army Air Force analysts
would later estimate 140 to 280 feet (85 m), based on
analysis of human visual acuity and other sighting details
(such as estimated distance).
said the objects were grouped together, as Ted Bloecher
writes, "in a diagonally stepped-down, echelon formation,
stretched out over a distance that he later calculated
to be five miles". Though moving on a more or less
level horizontal plane, Arnold said the objects weaved
from side to side ("like the tail of a Chinese kite"
as he later stated), darting through the valleys and around
the smaller mountain peaks. They would occasionally flip
or bank on their edges in unison as they turned or maneuvered
causing almost blindingly bright or mirror-like flashes
of light. The encounter gave him an "eerie feeling",
but Arnold suspected he had seen test flights of a new
U.S. military aircraft.
the objects passed Mt Rainer, Arnold turned his plane
southward on a more or less parallel course. It was at
this point that he opened his side window and began observing
the objects unobstructed by any glass that might have
produced reflections. The objects did not disappear and
continued to move very rapidly southward, continuously
moving forward of his position. Curious about their speed,
he began to time their rate of passage: he said they moved
from Mt. Rainer to Mount Adams where they faded from view,
a distance of about 50 miles (80 km), in one minute and
forty-two seconds, according to the clock on his instrument
panel. When he later had time to do the calculation, the
speed was over 1,700 miles per hour (2,700 km/h). This
was about three times faster than any manned aircraft
in 1947. Not knowing exactly the distance where the objects
faded from view, Arnold conservatively and arbitrarily
rounded this down to 1,200 miles (1,900 km) an hour, still
faster than any known aircraft, which had yet to break
the sound barrier. It was this supersonic speed in addition
to the unusual saucer or disk description that seemed
to capture people's attention.
shares the story
landed in Yakima at about 4.00 p.m., and quickly told
friend and airport general manager Al Baxter the amazing
story, and before long, the entire airport staff knew
of Arnold's claims. He discussed the story with the staff,
and later wrote that Baxter didn't believe him.
flew on to an air show Pendleton, Oregon, not knowing
that somebody in Yakima had phoned in ahead to say that
Arnold had seen some strange new aircraft. It was at this
time that Arnold studied his maps, determined the distance
between Mt. Rainier and Mt. Adams, and calculated the
rather astonishing speed. He told a number of pilot friends,
and wrote in his account to AAF intelligence that they
did not scoff or laugh. Instead they suggested that maybe
he had seen guided missiles or something new, though Arnold
felt this explanation to be inadequate. He also wrote
that some former Army pilots told him that they had been
briefed before going into combat "that they might
see objects of similar shape and design as I described
and assured me that I wasn't dreaming or going crazy."
wasn't interviewed by reporters until the next day (June
25) when he went to the office of the East Oregonian in
Pendleton. Any skepticism the reporters might have harbored
evaporated when they interviewed Arnold at length; as
historian Mike Dash records:
Arnold had the makings of a reliable witness. He was a
respected businessman and experienced pilot ... and seemed
to be neither exaggerating what he had seen, nor adding
sensational details to his report. He also gave the impression
of being a careful observer ... These details impressed
the newspapermen who interviewed him and lent credibility
to his report.
would soon complain about the effects of the publicity
on his life. On June 27, he was reported saying, "I
haven't had a moment of peace since I first told the story."
He then said a preacher had called and told him that the
objects he saw were "harbingers of doomsday"
and that the preacher was preparing his congregation "for
the end of the world." But that wasn't half as bad
as an encounter he had with a woman in a Pendleton cafe
who looked at him and dashed out shrieking, "There's
the man who saw the men from Mars." She ran out "sobbing
she would have to do something for the children"
Arnold was reported saying "with a shudder".
then added that, "This whole thing has gotten out
of hand. I want to talk to the FBI or someone. Half the
people look at me as a combination of Einstein, Flash
Gordon and screwball. I wonder what my wife back in Idaho
talks of possible non-earthly origins
July 7, 1947, two stories came out where Arnold again
was raising the topic of possible extraterrestrial origins,
both as his opinion and those who had written to him.
In an Associated Press story, Arnold said he had received
quantities of fan mail eager to help solve the mystery,
none of it calling him a "screwball". Like the
earlier doomsday preacher Arnold spoke of, many of the
writers placed a religious interpretation on his sighting.
But others, he said, "suggested the discs were visitations
from another planet." Arnold added he had purchased
a movie camera, which he would now take with him on every
flight, hoping to obtain photographic proof of what he
the other story, Arnold was interviewed by the Chicago
Luis Arnold ...is not so certain that the strange contraptions
are made on this planet. Arnold... said he hoped the devices
were really the work of the U.S. Army. But he told the
TIMES in a phone conversation: 'If our government knows
anything about these devices, the people should be told
at once. A lot of people out here are very much disturbed.
Some think these things may be from another planet. But
they arent harming anyone and I think it would be
the wrong thing to shoot one of them downeven if
can be done. Their high speed would completely wreck them
in pointing to the possibility of these discs being from
another world, said, regardless of their origin, they
apparently were traveling to some reachable destination.
Whoever controlled them, he said, obviously wasnt
trying to hurt anyone.
He said discs were making
turns so abruptly in rounding peaks that it would have
been impossible for human pilots inside survived the pressure.
So, he too thinks they are controlled from elsewhere,
regardless of whether its from Mars, Venus, or our
would make similar statements when interviewed by journalist
Edward R. Murrow in 1950.
sighting was partly corroborated by a prospector named
Fred Johnson on Mt. Adams, who wrote AAF intelligence
that he saw six of the objects on June 24 at about the
same time as Arnold, which he viewed through a small telescope.
He said they were "round" and tapered "sharply
to a point in the head and in an oval shape." He
also noted that the objects seemed to disturb his compass.
An evaluation of the witness by AAF intelligence found
him to be credible. Ironically, Johnson's report was listed
as the first unexplained UFO report in Air Force files,
while Arnold's was dismissed as a mirage, yet Johnson
seemed to be describing a continuation of the same event
Portland Oregon Journal reported on July 4 receiving a
letter from an L. G. Bernier of Richland, Washington (about
110 miles (180 km) east of Mt. Adams and 140 miles (230
km) southeast of Mt. Rainier). Bernier wrote that he saw
three of the strange objects over Richland flying "almost
edgewise" toward Mt. Rainier about one half hour
before Arnold. Bernier thought the three were part of
a larger formation. He indicated they were traveling at
high speed: "I have seen a P-38 appear seemingly
on one horizon and then gone to the opposite horizon in
no time at all, but these disks certainly were traveling
faster than any P-38. [Maximum speed of a P-38 was about
440 miles an hour.] No doubt Mr. Arnold saw them just
a few minutes or seconds later, according to their speed."
The previous day, Bernier had also spoken to his local
newspaper, the Richland Washington Villager, and was among
the first witnesses to suggest extraterrestrial origins:
"I believe it may be a visitor from another planet."
60 miles (97 km) west-northwest of Richland in Yakima,
Washington, a woman named Ethel Wheelhouse likewise reported
sighting several flying discs moving at fantastic speeds
at around the same time as Arnold's sighting.
military intelligence began investigating Arnold's sighting
in early July (see below), they found yet another witness
from the area. A member of the Washington State forest
service, who had been on fire watch at a tower in Diamond
Gap, about 20 miles (32 km) south of Yakima, reported
seeing "flashes" at 3:00 p.m. on the 24th over
Mount Rainier (or exactly the same time as Arnold's sighting),
that appeared to move in a straight line. Similarly, at
3:00 p.m. Sidney B. Gallagher in Washington state (exact
position unspecified) reported seeing nine shiny discs
flash by to the north.
Seattle newspaper also mentioned a woman near Tacoma who
said she saw a chain of nine, bright objects flying at
high speed near Mt. Rainier. Unfortunately this short
news item wasn't precise as to time or date, but indicated
it was around the same date as Arnold's sighting.
a pilot of a DC-4 some 10 to 15 miles (24 km) north of
Arnold en route to Seattle reported seeing nothing unusual.
(This was the same DC-4 seen by Arnold and which he used
for size comparison.)
Seattle area newspapers also reported other sightings
of flashing, rapidly moving unknown objects on the same
day, but not the same time, as Arnold's sighting. Most
of these sightings were over Seattle or west of Seattle
in the town of Bremerton, either that morning or at night.
Altogether, there were at least 16 other reported UFO
sightings the same day as Arnold's in the Washington state
area. maptable of Washington state sightings
primary corroborative sighting, however, occurred ten
days later (July 4) when a United Airlines crew over Idaho
en route to Seattle also spotted five to nine disk-like
objects that paced their plane for 10 to 15 minutes before
suddenly disappearing. The next day in Seattle, Arnold
met with the pilot, Cpt. Emil J. Smith, and copilot and
compared sighting details. The main difference in shape
was that the United crew thought the objects appeared
rough on top. This was one of the few sightings that Arnold
felt was reliable, most of the rest he thought were the
public seeing other things and letting their imaginations
run wild. Arnold and Cpt. Smith became friends, met again
with Army Air Force intelligence officers on July 12 and
filed sighting reports, then teamed up again at the end
of July in investigating the strange Maury Island incident.
similar sighting of eight objects also occurred over Tulsa,
Oklahoma on July 12, 1947. In this instance, a photo was
taken and published in the Tulsa Daily World the following
day (photo below). Interestingly, the photographer, Enlo
Gilmore, said that in blowups of the photo, the objects
resembled baseball catcher's mitts or flying wings. He
was of the opinion that the military had a secret fleet
of flying wing airplanes. He had been a gunnery officer
in the Navy during the war, and using information from
another witness, also a veteran, he performed a triangulation
and arrived at an estimation of speed of 1,700 miles per
hour (2,700 km/h), or essentially the same estimate as
Arnold's. One of the objects, he said, seemed to have
a hole in the middle.
Arnold-like objects photographed over Tulsa, Oklahoma,
July 12, 1947
(from Tulsa Daily World).
or three photos of a similar, solitary object were taken
by William Rhodes over Phoenix, Arizona on July 7, 1947,
and appeared in a local Phoenix newspaper and some other
newspapers. The object was rounded in front with a crescent
back. These photos also seem to show something resembling
a hole in the middle, though Rhodes thought it was a canopy.
Rhodes's negatives and prints were later confiscated by
the FBI and military. However, the photos show up in later
Air Force intelligence reports.
was soon shown the Rhodes photos when he met with two
AAF intelligence officers. He commented, "It was
a disk almost identical to the one peculiar flying saucer
that had been worrying me since my original observation
the one that looked different from the rest and
that I had never mentioned to anyone." As a result,
Arnold felt that the Rhodes photos were genuine.
and origins of term "flying saucer"
account was first featured in a few late newspaper editions
on June 25, appeared in numerous U.S. and Canadian papers
(and some foreign newspapers) on June 26 and thereafter,
often on the front page. Without exception, according
to Bloecher, the Arnold story was initially related with
a serious, even-handed tone. The first reporters to interview
Arnold were Nolan Skiff and Bill Bequette of the East
Oregonian in Pendleton, Oregon on June 25, and the first
story on the Arnold sighting, written by Bequette, appeared
in the newspaper the same day.
June 26 and June 27, newspapers first began using the
terms "flying saucer" and "flying disk"
(or "disc") to describe the sighted objects.
Thus the Arnold sighting is credited with giving rise
to these popular terms. The actual origin of the terms
is somewhat controversial and complicated. Jerome Clark
cites a 1970 study by Herbert Strentz, who reviewed U.S.
newspaper accounts of the Arnold UFO sighting, and concluded
that the term was probably due to an editor or headline
writer: the body of the early Arnold news stories did
not use the term "flying saucer" or "flying
disc." However, earlier stories did in fact credit
Arnold with using terms such as "saucer", "disk",
and "pie-pan" in describing the shape. (see
quotations further below)
Headline from June 26, 1947, Chicago Sun is perhaps
the first-ever use of the term "flying saucer"
later, Arnold claimed he told Bill Bequette that "they
flew erratic, like a saucer if you skip it across the
water." Arnold felt that he had been misquoted since
the description referred to the objects' motion rather
than their shape. Thus Bequette has often been credited
with first using "flying saucer" and supposedly
misquoting Arnold, but the term does not appear in Bequette's
early articles. Instead, his first article of June 25
says only, "He said he sighted nine saucer-like aircraft
flying in formation..."
next day in a much more detailed article, Bequette wrote,
"He clung to his story of shiny, flat objects racing
over the Cascade mountains with a peculiar weaving motion
like the tail of a Chinese kite.' ...He also described
the objects as 'saucer-like' and their motion 'like fish
flipping in the sun.' ...[Arnold] described the objects
as 'flat like a pie-pan and somewhat bat-shaped'."
It wasn't until June 28 that Bequette first used the term
"flying disc" (but not "flying saucer").
review of early newspaper stories indicates that immediately
after his sighting, Arnold generally described the objects
shape as thin and flat, rounded in the front but chopped
in the back and coming to a point, i.e., more or less
saucer- or disk-like. He also specifically used terms
like "saucer" or "saucer-like", "disk",
and "pie pan" or "pie plate" in describing
the shape. The motion he generally described as weaving
like the tail of a kite and erratic flipping.
example, in a surviving recorded radio interview from
June 25, Arnold described them as looking "something
like a pie plate that was cut in half with a sort of a
convex triangle in the rear." His motion descriptions
were: "I noticed to the left of me a chain which
looked to me like the tail of a Chinese kite, kind of
weaving... they seemed to flip and flash in the sun, just
like a mirror... they seemed to kind of weave in and out
right above the mountaintops..."
following day (June 26) were the following quotations
attributed to Arnold:
United Press: "They were shaped like saucers
and were so thin I could barely see them..."
Associated Press: "He said they were bright,
saucer-like objects--he called them 'aircraft'. ...He
also described the objects as saucer-like
and their motion 'like a fish flipping in the sun.
...Arnold described the objects as 'flat like a pie pan'."
Associated Press: "They flew with a peculiar
dipping motion, 'like a fish flipping in the sun,' he
said. ... He said they appeared to fly almost as if fastened
together -- if one dipped, the others did, too."
Chicago Tribune: "They were silvery and shiny
and seemed to be shaped like a pie plate.... I am sure
they were separate units because they weaved in flight
like the tail of a kite."
June 27 was the following quotation:
Portland Oregon Journal: "'They were half-moon
shaped, oval in front and convex in the rear. ...There
were no bulges or cowlings; they looked like a big flat
disk. ...Arnold said that the objects weaved 'like
the tail of a Chinese kite'."
weeks later, Arnold was still referring to the shape of
the objects as "saucers" or "saucer-like."
In the Portland Oregonian on July 11, he was quoted saying,
"I actually saw a type of aircraft slightly longer
than it was wide, with a thickness about one twentieth
as great as its width. ...I reckoned the saucers were
23 miles away."
to the army
a written statement to Army Air Forces (AAF) intelligence
the following day (July 12), Arnold several times referred
to the objects as "saucer-like." At the end
of the report he drew a picture of what the objects appeared
to look like at their closest approach to Mt. Rainier.
He wrote, "They seemed longer than wide, their thickness
was about 1/20th their width." (document with Arnold's
drawing at right) As to motion, Arnold wrote, "They
flew like many times I have observed geese to fly in a
rather diagonal chain-like line as if they were linked
together. They seemed to hold a definite direction but
rather swerved in and out of the high mountain peaks."
He also spoke of how they would "flip and flash in
the sun." text
of written report
Kenneth Arnold's report to Army Air Forces (AAF) intelligence,
dated July 12, 1947, which includes annotated sketches
the typical craft in the chain of nine objects.
complicate the shape descriptions further, a month after
his sighting, Arnold was to become involved in the bizarre
Maury Island incident. Arnold was dispatched by a magazine
publisher to Tacoma to investigate it, although he eventually
turned the investigation over to the AAF. In a meeting
with two AAF intelligence officers (the same ones who
interviewed him on July 12 and for whom he wrote his report),
Arnold first revealed one of the nine objects was different,
being larger and shaped more like a crescent coming to
a point in the back. It was at this time that Arnold was
also shown the Rhodes photos of a crescent-shaped object
over Phoenix, which Arnold deemed authentic because of
the unusual shape.
note the object in the drawing bears an uncanny similarity
to the WW2 German design, the Horten Ho 229, sometimes
further claiming it was captured German technology being
tested. But there is no historical evidence of any kind
UFO reports after Arnold sighting
the weeks that followed Arnold's June, 1947 story, at
least several hundred reports of similar sightings flooded
in from the U.S. and around the world most of which
described saucer-shaped objects. A sighting by a United
Airlines crew of another nine, disk-like objects over
Idaho on July 4 probably garnered more newspaper coverage
than Arnold's original sighting, and opened the floodgates
of media coverage in the days to follow.
collected reports of 853 flying disc sightings that year
from 140 newspapers from Canada, Washington D.C, and every
U.S. state save Montana. This was more UFO reports for
1947 than most researchers ever suspected. Some of these
stories were poorly documented or fragmentary, but Bloecher
argued that about 250 of the more detailed reports (such
as those made by pilots or scientists, multiple eyewitnesses,
or backed by photos) made a persuasive case for a genuine
intrigue to Arnold's story, the U.S. military denied having
any planes at all in the area of Mount Rainier at the
time of his sighting. Likewise, on July 6, speculation
arose in newspaper articles that the objects being sighted
were due to either the "flying wing" or "flying
flapjack," a disc-shaped aircraft, both experimental
planes under development by the U.S. military at the time
(see military flying saucers). The military repeated that
neither aircraft could account for the sightings, which
is also born out by historical records.
most famous UFO event during this period was the Roswell
UFO incident, the alleged military recovery of a crashed
flying disk, the story of which broke on July 8, 1947.
To calm rising public concern, this and other cases were
debunked by the military in succeeding days as mistaken
sightings of weather balloons. Just before the Roswell
story came out, the Army Air Forces in Washington issued
a press statement saying they had the matter under investigation
and had decided the flying discs definitely were not "secret
bacteriological weapons designed by some foreign power,"
"new-type army rockets," or "space ships."
investigation of Arnold story
first investigation of Arnold's claims came from Lt. Frank
Brown and Capt. William Davidson of Hamilton Field in
California, who interviewed Arnold on July 12. Arnold
also submitted a written report at that time. Regarding
the reliability of Arnold's sighting, they concluded:
is the present opinion of the interviewer that Mr. Arnold
actually saw what he stated he saw. It is difficult to
believe that a man of [his] character and apparent integrity
would state that he saw objects and write up a report
to the extent that he did if he did not see them."
this, the Army Air Force's formal public conclusion was
that Arnold had seen a mirage.
addition, on July 9 AAF intelligence, with help from the
FBI, secretly began an investigation of the best sightings,
mostly from pilots and military personnel. Arnold's sighting,
as well as that of the United Airline's crew, were included
in the list of best sightings. Three weeks later they
came to the conclusion that the saucer reports were not
imaginary or adequately explained by natural phenomena;
something real was flying around. This laid the groundwork
for another intelligence estimate in September 1947 by
Gen. Nathan Twining, commanding officer of the Air Materiel
Command, which likewise concluded the saucers were real
and urged a formal investigation by multiple government
agencies. This in turn resulted in the formation of Project
Sign at the end of 1947, the first publicly acknowledged
USAF UFO investigation. Project Sign eventually evolved
into Project Grudge, and then the better known Project
personnel of the U.S. Air Force's Project Sign (19471949)
also later studied Arnold's story. According to Major
Edward J. Ruppelt,
I found that there was a lot of speculation on this report
[amongst Sign personnel]. Two factions ... joined up behind
two lines of reasoning. One side said that Arnold had
seen plain, everyday jet airplanes flying in formation
... The other side didn't buy this idea at all. They based
their argument on the fact that Arnold knew where the
objects were when he timed them ...
There was an old theory that maybe Arnold had seen wind
whipping snow along the mountain ridges, so I asked Air
Force investigators about this. I got a flat "Impossible."
skeptical objection raised is that Arnold was suspiciously
precise in his descriptions (for example, "approaching
Mt. Rainier at about 170 degrees" and "passed
almost directly in front of me, but at a distance of about
23 miles"), perhaps calling into question Arnold's
reliability as a witness.
Campbell has argued that the objects Arnold reported could
have been mirages of several snow-capped peaks in Cascade
Range. Campbell's calculation of the objects' speed determined
that they were travelling at roughly the same speed as
Arnold's plane, indicating that the objects were in fact
stationary. Mirages could have been caused by temperature
inversions over several deep valleys in the line of sight.
J. Klass cited an article by Keay Davidson of the San
Francisco Examiner in arguing that Arnold might have misidentified
meteors on June 24, 1947. In rebuttal, optical physicist
Bruce Maccabee pointed out a meteor theory would require
impossibly slow speeds and durations for brightly glowing
meteors on a horizontal trajectory.
Easton was the first of several skeptics to suggest that
Arnold may have misidentified pelicans: the birds live
in the Washington region, are rather large (wingspans
of over three meters are not uncommon), have a pale underside
that can reflect light, can fly at rather high altitudes,
and can appear to have a somewhat crescent-shaped profile
Carrier recently claimed to have seen the same UFOs as
Arnold described, "ovoid objects flying in formation"
"rotating along their axis of motion, like footballs,
with one side black and one bright white, so they alternated
in color while they spun." He later realized it was
a flock of seagulls. He claimed that Arnold's account
showed that Arnold was incorrectly estimating his height,
believing himself level to mountains four thousand feet
below him giving him erroneous estimates of the level,
distance, and speed of the objects.
argues it is impossible for a bird to be as bright as
reported by Arnoldthe objects' brightness was what
Arnold said initially attracted his attention. Further,
Arnold was flying at roughly 110 miles (180 km) an hour
on a parallel course to the objects. Arnold reported the
objects rapidly moving forward of his position as he observed
them flying southward on a parallel course between Mt.
Rainier and Mt. Adams. No bird could fly faster than Arnold's
plane; instead birds would have steadily moved backward,
not forwards, relative to his position.
Menzel was a Harvard astronomer and one of the earliest
UFO debunkers. Over the years, he offered several mutually
exclusive explanations for the Arnold's 1947 UFO sighting.
Bruce Maccabee rebutted Menzel's explanations in a 1986
monograph, arguing that Menzel often left out data that
conflicted with a given 'explanation'.
1. In 1953, Menzel argued that Arnold had seen clouds
of snow blown from the mountains south of Mt. Rainier.
Maccabee noted that such snow clouds have hazy light,
not the mirror-like brilliance reported by Arnold. Further,
such clouds could not be in the rapid motion reported
by Arnold, nor would they account for Arnold first seeing
the bright objects north of Rainier.
In 1963, Menzel argued that Arnold had seen orographic
clouds or wave clouds; Maccabee noted that this conflicted
with testimony from Arnold and others that the sky was
clear, and again can't account for the brightness of the
objects or their rapid motion over a very large angular
In 1971, Menzel argued that Arnold had merely seen spots
of water on his airplane's windows; Maccabee notes that
this contradicts Arnold's testimony that he had specifically
ruled out water spots or reflections shortly after seeing
the nine UFOs. For example, the early Bill Bequette article
of June 26 in the East Oregonian has Arnold saying he
at first thought that maybe he was seeing reflections
off his window, but "he still saw the objects after
rolling it down."
sightings by Arnold and his opinion
a 1950 interview with journalist Edward R. Murrow, Arnold
reported seeing similar objects on three other occasions,
and said other pilots flying in the northwestern U.S.
had sighted such objects as many as eight times. The pilots
initially felt a duty reporting the objects despite the
ridicule, he said, because they thought the U.S. government
didn't know what they were. Arnold did not assert that
the objects were alien spacecraft, although he did say:
"being a natural-born American, if it's not made
by our science or our Army Air Forces, I am inclined to
believe it's of an extraterrestrial origin."
Then he added that he thought everybody should be concerned,
but "I don't think it's anything for people to
get hysterical about."
first issue of Fate (1948) featured the article The Truth
About The Flying Saucers by Arnold. In 1952 he described
his experiences in the book The Coming of the Saucers,
which he and a publisher friend named Raymond A. Palmer