The Kenneth Arnold UFO Incident
Kenneth Arnold UFO
incident is, when it comes to modern (post-WW2) UFO
sightings, the one that started it all.
few minutes before 3:00 p.m. on June 24, 1947, while flying a CallAir
A-2 from Chehalis, Washington to Yakima, Washington at a
of about 9,200 feet (2,800 m) and having made a slight detour to see if
he could spot a downed U.S. Marine Corps C-46 transport plane Arnold
saw a bright flashing light in the sky nearby. Uncertain of what it
was but fearing it might be reflected sunlight from another plane he
scanned the skies, but other than a DC-4 some 15 miles (24 km) to his
rear the sky was empty.
first flash was followed, less than a minute later, by a string of
flashes in the direction of Mt. Rainier at the time about 20 to 25
miles (40 km) away. Thinking it might be a reflection on his aircraft’s
windshield he initiated a series of rocking motions, the maneuver and a
glance through an open side window apparently ruling that out.
lights now (according to Arnold) definitely objects, the flashing less
prominent, passed in
front of Rainer their silhouette appearing dark against the
white flanks of
snow covered mountain. According to writer Jerome Clark, The UFO
Encyclopedia: The Phenomenon from the Beginning,
them as a series of nine objects, eight convex in shape with one
shaped. In Arnold’s initial description he likened their movements to
saucers skipping on water but did not compare their actual shapes to
saucers as was later quoted by reporters 
using means albeit neither all that accurate or scientific,
guesstimated the speed and size of the objects placing the speed at
1700 mph (2700 km/h) and the size as slightly smaller than the trailing
and distant DC-4 (a United Airlines crew, having a similar
sighting 10 days later, placed the size of the objects as some 100 feet
(30 meters) in length, slightly larger than a DC-4).
sighting was corroborated by a number of independent
prospector, Fred Johnson, viewed six of the objects from nearby Mt.
Adams at about the same time as Arnold‘s encounter.
woman, in Yakima, named Ethel Wheelhouse also saw several flying disks
traveling at extreme speed reportedly about the same time as Arnold‘s
member of the Washington state forest service, who had been on fire
watch about 20 miles (32 km) south of Yakima, reported seeing
flashes at 3:00 p.m. on the 24th over Mt. Rainier.
at 3:00 p.m. Sidney B Gallagher, exact location unknown, reported
seeing nine shiny disks flash by to his north.
all there were at least 16 reported sightings, of flashing unidentified
objects, on June 24 in the Washington state area
contrast the pilot of the DC-4, trailing Arnold, reportedly saw nothing
and the Army Air Force’s response was that Arnold had seen a mirage.
dubious have offered the following:
original sightings were a fabrication on the part of Arnold.
objects were meteors.
objects were pelicans.
objects were seagulls.
objects were an illusion, a creation of wind blown snow.
himself apparently believed the objects were either of extraterrestrial
origin or a
product of the American military (a tailless jet, similar perhaps to
the prototype German WW2 Horten Ho-229 turbojet flying wing).
In an April, 1950 interview, with Edward R Murrow a CBS newsman, Arnold
was later to state: “In the excitement of it all . . . nobody new
exactly what they were talking about . . . They said that I said they
were saucer like; I said that they flew in a saucer like fashion.”
In the immediate aftermath of the June 24, 1947, sighting the number of
UFO incidents increased dramatically with arguably the most famous the
(alleged) military recovery of a crashed flying disk at
In reality it appears the Army Air Force (AAF) took Arnolds and the
subsequent sightings seriously, coming to the conclusion that the
saucer reports were neither imaginary nor adequately explained by
natural phenomena. This in turn led (publicly) to Project Sign, Project
Grudge, project Blue Book, and purportedly, in secret, to
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