June 24, 2010

First “Flying Saucer” Reports – 1947

On this day in 1947, pilot Kenneth Arnold saw nine lights that seemed to pace his airplane and then zoom past Mount Rainier in Washington. He described the moving lights as boomerang shaped but also said that they moved like saucers skipping over water. 

Somehow Arnold was misunderstood and misquoted, and many people thought he said that the strange objects he saw looked like saucers flying through the sky. Soon reporters dubbed the sighting as “flying saucers.” Suddenly many people, worried or thrilled, started studying the night sky and seeing saucer-shaped unidentified flying objects

And so began the modern UFO craze. Since people expected to see saucer-shaped items, they did see saucer-shaped items. This was very frustrating for Arnold, who has been photographed with a picture of what he did see.

Of course, many people over the years have assumed that flying saucers and other UFOs are and were extra-terrestrials (aliens) in spaceships. However, most reliable accounts and photos can be explained in other, more earthly, ways: birds, the planet Venus, fireballs, meteors, human-built aircraft, mirages, hoaxes--the list goes on and on.

What is the explanation for Arnold's sighting? Given the shapes and motions he saw, some likely explanations are pelicans, mirages of mountain peaks, or meteors. We will never know for sure, but those explanations are far more likely than aliens.

I am busy making every day special by taking a trip through California, Oregon, and Washington.

The daily posts will be minimal during my trip. Happy summer to everyone in the Northern Hemisphere!

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