Pendleton, Oregon East Oregonian - June 26, 1947

Boise Flyer Maintains He Saw 'Em

Kenneth Arnold

Kenneth Arnold Sticks To Story of Seeing
Nine Mysterious Objects Flying At Speed
Of 1200 Miles An Hour Over Mountains 


Kenneth Arnold, a six-foot, 200-pound flying Boise, Ida., business man, was about the only person today who believed he saw nine mysterious objects -- as big as four-engined airplanes -- whizzing over western Washington at 1200 miles an hour.

      Army and civilian air experts either expressed polite incredulity or scoffed openly at Mr. Arnold's story, but the 32-year-old one time Minot, N.D. football star, 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."

      A CAA inspector in Portland, quoted by the Associated Press, said: "I rather doubt that anything would be traveling that fast."

      A Washington, D.C., army spokesman was quoted as saying, "As far as we know, nothing flies that fast except a V-2 rocket, which travels at about 3500 miles an hour -- and that's too fast to be seen."

No High-Speed Tests In Area

      He added that there were no high-speed experimental tests being made in the area where Mr. Arnold reported seeing the mysterious objects.

      The Boise man, who owns the Great Western fire control supply which handled automatic fire fighting systems, described the objects as "flat like a pie pan and somewhat bat-shaped" and so shiny they reflected the sun like a mirror.

      He said the reflection was so brilliant that it blinded him "as if someone had started an arc light in front of my eyes."

      Mr. Arnold reported he was flying east at 2:50 p.m. Tuesday toward Mt. Rainier when the objects appeared directly in front of him 25-30 miles away at about 10,000 feet altitude.

      By his plane's clock he timed them at 1:42 minutes for the 50 miles between Mt. Rainier and Mt. Adams.   He said he later figured their speed by triangulation at "about 1200 miles an hour."

Admits Might Has (sic) Erred

      He admitted he might have erred 200-300 miles in his figuring but added "they still were the fastest things I ever saw."

      When first sighted, he thought the objects were snow geese.

      "But geese don't fly that high -- and, anyway, what would geese be doing going south for this time of year?"

      Next he thought they were jet planes.   He said he had heard so many stories of the speed of this type of craft traveled so he determined to clock them.

      However, he quickly realized "their motion was wrong for jet jobs."

      "I guess I don't know what they were -- unless they were guided missiles," he said.

      "Everyone says I'm nuts," he added ruefully, "and I guess I'd say it too if someone else reported those things.  But I saw them and watched them closely."

      "It seems impossible -- but there it is."

      Mr. Arnold, who flies 60 to 100 hours monthly throughout five western states, said he was 25-30 miles west of Mt. Rainier, en route from Chehalis to Yakima, when he sighted the objects.

Searching for Lost Plane

      He explained that he had been cruising around the western slope of the mountain in hope of seeing a marine corps plane, missing since last January.

      "I heard there was a $10,000 reward offered to anyone who locates it," he added.

      He said the "planes" remained visible by the flashes of reflected sunlight for some seconds after they passed Mt. Adams, perhaps for as far away as 50 miles.

      Mr. Arnold admitted the angle from which he viewed the objects would make difficult precise estimation of their speed, but insisted any error would not be grave "for that speed."

      The DC-4 was closer than the objects, but at 14,000 feet and somewhat north of him.  He said he could estimate the distance of the objects better because an intervening peak once blocked his view of them.  He found the peak was 25 miles away, he related.

      The Boise flyer said they flew on the west sides of Rainier and Adams, adding that he believed this would make it more difficult for them to be seen from the ground.

      He said he "measured" the formation by a snow-covered ridge over which they passed and estimated the "train" was five miles long.

Thought Window Was Cause

      He said that at first he thought the window of his plane might be causing the reflections, but that he still saw the objects after rolling it down.

      He also described the objects as "saucer-like" and their motion ""like a fish flipping in the sun.".

      Mostly, he said, he was surprised at the way they twisted just above the higher peaks, almost appearing to be threading their way along the mountain ridge line.

      "No orthodox plane would be flying like that," he commented.

      "Ten thousand feet is very low for anything going at that speed."

      Mr. Arnold was flying a three-passenger, single-engined plane at 9200 feet at the time, he reported.   His speed was about 110 miles an hour.

      The Boise man, who is married and has two children, landed here yesterday and said he would remain another day or two before returning to Boise.

      He described himself as a "fire control engineer" and emphasised he is not employed by the forest service but is a free-lance contractor.

Norman, Oklahoma Transcript - June 26, 1947

Bug-Eyed Salesman Reports Fast-Flying Mystery Planes

      PENDLETON, Ore., June 26 -- (U.P.)-- Residents of Pendleton sought an explanation today for the nine strange "saucer-shaped" planes an amateur pilot claimed he saw flying at an estimated speed of 1,200 miles an hour across southwestern Washington.

      The story was told by Kenneth Arnold, flying fire extinguisher salesman from Boise, Ida.

      He landed here, slightly bug-eyed, Wednesday and told how he spotted the "extremely shiny nickle-plated aircraft" skimming along at 10,000 feet on Tuesday.  Arnold was on a search for a missing Marine corps plane at the time.

      "They were shaped like saucers and were so thin I could barely see them," he told Jack Whitman, a local businessman.

      "There were nine of them and they were flying in a screwy formation about 25 miles away from me.  It wasn't any military formation I ever saw before.

      "I figure they were moving about 1,200 miles per hour because I clocked them with a stop watch during the time it took them to fly from Mount Rainer to Mount Adams.   That's 42 miles and they made it in one minute 42 seconds -- about 1,205 mph."

      Arnold said the strange aircraft were skittering across the southwest slope of Mount Rainier when he first sighted them.

      Whitman suggested tactfully, that Arnold had been seeing things but the pilot insisted, "I must be believe my eyes."

      There was no comment from military authorities on Arnold's story.

Portland Oregon Daily Journal - June 26 , 1947
Flying Disk Mystery Grows

2 Midwest Men Support Boise Flyer

Descriptions Tally on Fast-Flying Pie Pan Objects

(AP) -- A Boise flyer's tail of nine mysterious objects hurtling through the air over western Washington was discounted by Army and Air experts today, but received confirmation in reports from two midwestern cities.

      Descriptions of the shiny, "piepan" shaped objects, apparently flying in formation at terrific speed tallied in virtually all details, and at least two of the midwesterners added information on "motor noise" and "vapor trails."

Speed Terrific

      "The machine, or whatever it was, was a shiny silvery color -- very big -- and was moving at a terrific rate of speed."

      "The funny thing about it was that it made no noise. I don't think it had any type of internal combustion engine."

      Referring to a claim by Kenneth Arnold, flying Boise Idaho businessman, that he saw nine shiny objects in western Washington similar to the one Savage described, the Oklahoma City man declared: " I know that boy up there (Arnold), really saw them."

      Savage said he told his wife about the object at the time but "she thought I must have seen lightning" and he also told some skeptical pilot friends.

Wife Convinced

      "I kept quiet after that." He continued "until I read about that man seeing nine of the same things. I saw it and I thought it only fair to back him up."

      Mrs. Savage said today she now was convinced her husband saw the object " he was very much worked up about it when he read about the man in Washington," she declared.

      Savage said the object he saw was high up in the air -- "somewhere around 10,000 feet. I couldn't be sure, judging from the ground where I was."

Oregon Journal - June 26, 1947
Carpenter Reports 'Discs' in Midwest

KANSAS CITY, June 26, (AP) -- Nine shiny objects flying at a high rate of speed such as described by a Boise Idaho pilot were reported by W. I. Davenport, a carpenter, to have been sighted here Wednesday.

      Davenport, working on the roof of a house, said he saw the objects flying west shortly after noon. He said he first heard the faint sound of motors.

      "There were nine of them, flying in a group with one a little to one side." He said, "They were flying so fast I barely had time to count them before they were gone. They were leaving vapor trails."

      He added that he could not describe the shape of the objects since he could not see them clearly.


Boise, Idaho Statesman - June 27, 1947

Harassed Saucer-Sighter Would Like to Escape Fuss

PENDELTON. June 28 (UP) -- Kenneth Arnold said today he would like to get on one of his 1200-mile-an-hour "flying saucers," and escape from the furor caused by his story of mysterious aircraft flashing over southern Washington.

      "I haven't had a moment of peace since I first told the story," the 32-year-old Boise, Idaho, business man-pilot sighed.

      He said a preacher called him from Texas and informed him that the strange objects Arnold claims to have seen batting through the ozone actually were harbingers of doomsday.

      Arnold said he didn't get the preacher's name during their phone conversation, but the minister said he was getting his flock "ready for the end of this world."

"Men From Mars?"

      That was unnerving according to Arnold, but it wasn't half as disconcerting as the episode in a Pendleton cafe.  Arnold said a woman rushed in, took one look at him and then dashed out shrieking. "There's the man who saw the men from Mars." She rushed out of the eating place "sobbing that she would have to do something for the children," Arnold added with a shudder.

      Arnold, a representative of a fire control equipment firm, startled the country yesterday by reporting he had seen nine shiny, round objects skimming through the air in formation between Mt. Rainier, Wash., and Mt. Adams. Arnold said he was able to clock them with the stop watch on his own plane's instrument panel. He said they were spinning off a neat 1200 m. p. h.

      "This whole thing has gotten out of hand," Arnold went on. "I want to talk to the FBI or someone."

      "Half the people I see look at me as a combination Einstein, Flash Gordon, and screwball. I wonder what my wife back in Idaho thinks."

Won't Change Mind

      But all the hoopla and hysterics haven't caused Arnold to change his mind or back down. He doesn't care if the experts laugh him off. He said most of his aviator friends tell him that what he saw were probably either one of two things: New planes or guided missiles still in the United States Army air forces' secret category. Some theorized they were experimental equipment of another nation, probably Russia.

      "Most people," he said, "tell me I'm right."

      But meanwhile, aeronautical experts in Washington and elsewhere were teeing off on Arnold's story with facts and figures straight out of the books.

      Their principal point seemed to be that if Arnold's saucers moved as fast as he claimed, they couldn't have been tracked with anything short of radar.

      The fastest man has yet flown is 647 miles per hour -- a record set recently by Col. Albert Boyd in a P-80.


Oregon Journal - June 27, 1947

Arnold Insists Tale of Flying Objects O.K

PENDLETON, June 27 (AP) -- Kenneth Arnold, a veteran pilot and fire control engineer, Thursday clung stoutly to his story that he saw nine shiny crescent-shaped planes or pilotless missiles flying in formation at a speed of at least 1,200 miles per hour over the Mt. Rainier region.

      "It's God's truth -- I will swear it on a Bible. I saw them and I clocked them. They traveled 48 to 50 miles in 1 minute and 42 seconds."

      (A plane traveling 48 miles in 1 minute and 42 seconds would be moving at a speed of 1,692 miles per hour.)

      Arnold said he saw the objects flying in "weaving formation" in a line at 10,000 feet as he piloted his own small private plane over Mineral, Wash. He said he flew at a right angle to the line of flashing objects.

      When he landed at Pendleton, in route to Boise Idaho, Arnold told his story and stuck to it.

      "Some of the pilots thought it over and said it was possible. Some of them guessed that I had seen some secret guided missiles. People began asking me if I thought they were missiles sent over the North Pole. I don't know what they were, but I know this -- I saw them."

      Arnold, general manager and owner of the Great Western Fire Control Company, said he first saw the objects when they flashed in the sun low over the slopes of Mt. Rainier.

      "Then I saw them, weaving and ducking in and out as they came south not more than 500 feet over the plateau. They looked like they were rocking. I looked for the tails but suddenly realized they didn't have any. They were half-moon shaped, oval in front and convex in the rear. I was in a beautiful position to watch them. I thought they might be jet planes, and I clocked them. Then when I saw they had no tails and I realized how fast they were going, I knew they were like nothing I had ever heard of before. There were no bulges or cowlings; they looked like a big flat disk. They were larger than the ordinary jet plane but slightly smaller than a DC4, if you don't count the rear fuselage."

      Arnold said that the objects waved "like the tail of a Chinese kite."

      "They hugged the horseback between Mt. Rainier and Mt. Adams, and the flashing they made in the sun reminded me of the reflection of a great mirror."


The Oregonian - June 28, 1947

Flying Saucer Story Grows

Reports Pour In From Wide Area

Kenneth Arnold, the Boise businessman who touched off nation-wide conjecture with his story of the "flying saucers,"Friday armed himself with a C150 movie camera in case he should ever again meet up with the missiles he saw putting through the skies over Western Washington.

      "Next time," he vowed, "I'll get proof to back up my story." At the same time, the one time North Dakota football star fired a telegram at the Oregonian whose roundup story of opinion on Arnold's elusive sky travelers reported views of observers who intimated with tongue in cheek levity that the pilot was seeing spots before his eyes.

Mirror Angle Out

      The telegram, sent just before he took off in Pendelton in his single engine three seater plane for Boise, said:  

"I am certainly on your side of the fence and I did not believe it either but I have never suffered from snow blindness, mirages, or spots before my eyes of any kind."

      Arnold said he, "made certain" the objects were not the result of reflections from his own airplane, as suggested by a veteran United Airlines pilot. His story, he reiterated, "is positively true."

      Arnold told Pendelton newsmen he was not a pilot who did "crazy things" or who did "screwy flying." He said he had never been charged with a flying violation during his three years as a licensed pilot.

Jap Balloons Recalled

      He recalled that wartime stories of the Japanese balloons sitting over the Pacific Northwest were treated with skepticism and he suggested "that's the way it might be with my story."

      But Arnold's story had its backers. By Friday noon several residents of Oregon and Washington stepped forward with tales of the eerie saucer-like objects which the Boise flyer said he spotted flying in formation over the Cascades.

      E. H. Sprinkle of Eugene said enlargements of a snapshot he took with a $3.50 camera showed seven dots shaped like an "X" or "V" lined across the sky. Laboratory reports, however, suggested the dots were only dust spots on the negative.

      In the northerly city of Bellingham, Wash., George Clover said he looked up into the sky about 10 A. M. Tuesday and saw three shiny objects "like kites" heading south toward Seattle. He insisted they had no wings or pontoons and were traveling "real fast."

Widespread Reports In

      "At first I thought they were army jet jobs," he said, "because the engines didn't sound like gas engines."

      A Kansas City carpenter said he saw nine such discs, too. So did a pilot in Oklahoma City. Still another version, this time of a night flight, was told by Archie Eden of Wenatchee, who saw what he described as a speeding object descending in a long slant while he was driving on the Moses Lake highway.

      "As we watched, it neared the ground and when it was about 200 feet high it exploded. There was no blinding flash, but there were great showers of sparks, and piles of flame seemed to hurtle to the ground," he said.

      A Yakima, Wash., woman Mrs. Ethel Wheelhouse, reported sighting the "whatzits," Tuesday afternoon. They sped so fast she could not count them and they abruptly disappeared, she said. In Portland, Mrs. Jerry Nuels, 6510 S. E. Foster St., said she saw some flying discs south of Kelso last Friday. She said that they were "bright and shiny."

Science Steps In

      From New York, the Associated Press attempted a scientific explanation of Arnold's story and the other scattered reports.

     The reports from five areas west of the Mississippi river centering about the mysterious disc-like objects roughly agree with the way light is occasionally reflected from a distant airplane, the news service pointed out.

      In clear air, the flash of sunlight from airplanes can easily be seen 50 miles. The flash, the news service reported, is round, the shape of the sun. Any other reflection at a great distance is also likely to be round, coming only from a small area on the plane.

      As for Arnold -- he flew to Boise to spend the weekend with his wife and children and try, if he could, to forget the hullabaloo provoked by his story of 1200 mile-an-hour speedsters. "All I wanted was an explanation of what I saw," he said ruefully brushing the spots from his eyes.

     More 1947 Reports

    1947 Documents


 Return to MAIN PAGE