As a good example of how the media may misinterpret information
on UFO sightings - misinterpreted either on purpose, or as a
result of pure (technical) misunderstanding - I will use the
well-known UFO sightings by Kenneth Arnold, observed in his
plane in the vicinity of Mount Baker/Rainier/Adams, on June 24,
The first URL I will refer to is:
(From: The Coming of the Saucers: A Documentary Report on Sky
Objects That Have Mystified the World by Kenneth Arnold and Ray
Palmer. Boise, ID; Amherst, WI: Privately published by the
In this report he's referring to the following (regarding the
sighting of the objects):
- "...a plane I saw was a DC-4 far to my left..."
- "...all the time I was thinking to myself that I
was observing a whole formation of jets..."
- "...I could not find any tails on them. I felt sure
that, being jets, they had tails..."
- "As I described them at the time, their flight was
like speed boats on rough water or...
- "As I put it to newsmen in Pendleton, Oregon, they
_flew like saucer would_ if you skipped it across
- "Another characteristic of these craft that made
tremendous impression to me was how they fluttered
and sailed, tipping their _wings_ alternately..."
- "...extremely highly polshed surface of their
- "I felt sure this formation of strange craft was
travelling in excess of a thousand miles per hour."
- "The high point of my enthusiasm got its top knocked
off when one of the helicopter pilots said, 'Ah, it's
just a flight of those guided missiles from Moses
- "...we still had a speed of over thirteen hundred
and fifty miles per hour. To me, that evening, that
was that. They were guided missiles, robotly
- "I knew that speeds of this velocity the human body
simply could not stand, particularly considering
the flipping, erratic movements of these strange
- "After talking to the editor of the East Oregonian
newspaper, I was fairly convinced that it was some
new government invention along the line of guided
- "...when Dave Johnson called on me. Dave Johnson
_aviation editor of The Idaho Statesman newspaper_, ...
When I caught _the look in his eye and the tone of his
words_, _flying saucers_ suddenly took on a different
and a serious significance. The doubt he displayed of
the authenticity of my story told me, and _I am sure he
was in the right position to know_, that it was not a
new military guided missile and if what I had seen was
true it did not belong to the good old USA. It was then
I began to wonder."
- It is guessed that by the expression 'flying saucer',
Arnold - and possibly also the editor - actually meant
the objects were flying like a saucer would, being
skipped across water, and thus describing the objects'
way of behaviour or movements in the air. I guess
this was the earliest, general impretations of this
(Note: All underlines by me; AWS)
The conclusion which can be drawn from this report is that:
- The objects' _movements in the air_ were similar
a saucer being skipped across water.
- The _shape of the objects_ were not similar to
that of a saucer; rather - they had _wings_.
- The suggestion was that it could be guided missiles;
robotly controlled, from Moses Lake.
- They didn't have tails.
- They looked like jets, _possibly_ indicating that
had typical - more or less visible - jet trails.
(The propulsion system could e.g. be based on a jet
engine with liquid fuel, or a solid propellant motor,
thus creating more or less trailing flames.)
- They were highly likely not manned (...at least
- After speaking with the aviation editor of The Idaho
Statesman newspaper, Arnold somewhat changed his
opinion and was suddenly mentioning a 'flying
saucer'(??)....(Was he hypnothized by the editor?)
However, as mentioned above, this is likely to
describing the movements of the object.
The second URL I would like to refer to is:
(Excerpts of Kenneth Arnoldís correspondence with the U.S. Air
Force, after his alleged sighting of 9 "disc-shaped" craft in
the vicinity of Mount Rainier, Washington, on June 24, 1947.
Note: This is not the original document, but a transcription of
a letter sent by Kenneth Arnold, in July of 1947, to the
Commandingv General of Wright Field (now Wright- Patterson AFB)
In this report Arnold's referring to the following:
- "These objects were holding an almost constant
elevation; they did not seem to be going up or
coming down, such as would be the case of
rockets or artillery shells. I am convinced in my
own mind that they were some type of airplane,
even though they didnít conform with the many
pects of the conventional type of planes that I know."
- "In fact I compared a Zeus fastener or cowling tool
I had in my pocket with them, holding it up on them
and holding it up on the DC-4 that I could observe
at quite a distance to my left, and they seemed
_smaller than the DC-4_; but, I should judge their
span would have been _as wide as the furtherest
engines on each side of the fuselage of the
- "Capt. [name withheld], copilot Stevens of United
Airlines and myself have compared our observations
in as much detail as possible and agreed we had
observed the same type of aircraft as to size shape
- "They were approaching Mt. Rainier very rapidly,
and I merely assumed they were jet planes. Anyhow,
I discovered that this was where the reflection had
come from, as two or three of them every few seconds
would _dip or change their course slightly_..."
- "...swerved in and out of the high mountain peaks.
Their speed at that time _did not impress me
particularly_, because I knew that our army and air
forces had planes that went very fast."
- "As I was flying in the direction of this
particular ridge, I measured it and found it to
be approximately five miles so I could safely assume
that the chain of these _saucer-like_ objects was at
least five miles long."
The conclusion which can be drawn from this report is that:
- The objects' size were comparable to a DC-4 engine.
- Arnold has adopted the expression _saucer-like_
the meeting with the editor of The Idaho
Statesman newspaper(!). The expression could thus
(in those days) - apparently - also be used when
describing the objects' movements in the air.
Further, some URLs showing the newspapers' writing are:
Thus, some of the newspaper writing and expressions include:
- "A newsman dubbed them 'flying saucers'."
- "The Air Force called them 'Unidentified Flying
Objects', or UFOs."
- "Arnold saw nine, fast-moving, _crescent-shaped_,
(Note that the _crescent-shape_ (!) appears
'artist's impression' drawing of the objects;
being kept by Arnold in this URL:
- "Arnold clocked thair speed at nearly 1,300 mph,
faster than any known jet plane."
- "Strange 'flying disks' have been whizzing at
1,200 miles an hour..."
- "...nine mysterious objects - big as airplanes -
- "...'saucer-shaped' missiles..."
- "...nine bright, saucer-like objects flying at
- "Mystery disks hurtling in sky"
- "He (i.e., Arnold) described the objects as each
big as a DC-4 passenger plane, 'flat like a
pie pan'....." (!!!????)
- "Baffling 'flying saucers'"
- "...'disc derby'...."
- "...fleets of flying saucers....."
- "...the discs....."
Needless to say anything more....
For those of you who are interested, here's
something more on guided missiles, among other things:
(Searh for 'Guided Missile' here.)
(which includes a Swedish incident, very similar to
Now, what did a so-called guided missile look like in
Here's a couple of examples:
Could it be a "flying saucer" of this type Arnold
observed? The readers of The List must judge for
(I think I must mention that I have participated in
the development of certain types of guided missiles
myself, i.e., at
(In addition, this was a much too long mail!)
The objects Arnold were observing (or, at least one of them)
could possibly also be some newly captured German Horten Ho-IX
(or Ho-229 A-1) jet planes; captured just after the war. But,
possibly also some new planes, and further developments of this
German plane, maybe in close co-operation with the Horten
At least, the features 'crescent-shaped' wings and tail-less
fuselage, are evident on this plane. (However, I didn't find any
references to a 'crescent-shape' object, as written by Arnold
himself in the referred to reports in my prior mail; I just
discovered that only the newsmen were writing this expression in
some newspapers from those days.)
The speed was 607 mph. (977 km/h), and the wing-span approx. 55
ft. (17 m), i.e., within the speeds and dimensions as estimated
But, note that this jet is manned with 1 pilot. (However, this
is not a problem at all - but Arnold didn't know that.)
Return to UFO