From Stig Agermose

 Kenneth Arnold's Sighting and Media Misinterpretation



Hello List,

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
authors, 1952).

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 a
     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 is
     _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 to
     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 they
     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 ( least not
     with humans).

-    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 Ohio.)

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
     and form."

-    "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_ from
     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_,
     tailless objects..."

     (Note that the _crescent-shape_ (!) appears on an
     '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 -
     racing over..."

-    "...'saucer-shaped' missiles..."

-    "...nine bright, saucer-like objects flying at
     'incredible' speed...."

-    "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
Arnold's sightings.)

Now, what did a so-called guided missile look like in
those days?

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!)

Best regards,


Hi List,

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
brothers, i.e.:

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
by Arnold.

But, note that this jet is manned with 1 pilot. (However, this
is not a problem at all - but Arnold didn't know that.)



October, 1998

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