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UFO Case Report:

The 1947 Kenneth Arnold UFO Sighting

Date: June 24, 1947
Location: Near Mt. Rainier, Washington, United States

The modern phenomena of UFOs and “flying saucers” began in Washington state on June 24, 1947, when Kenneth Arnold spotted nine mysterious, high-speed objects “flying like a saucer would” along the crest of the Cascade Range near Mount Rainier. His report made international headlines and triggered hundreds of similar accounts of “flying saucers” locally and across the nation.

Kenneth Arnold showing an illustration of one of the nine objects he saw.

Kenneth Arnold in front of his CallAir plane.

Kenneth Arnold's drawing to Army Air Force (AAF) intelligence, July 12, 1947.

Classification & Features

Type of Case/Report: MajorCase
Hynek Classification: DD
Special Features/Characteristics: Pilot/Aircrew, Witness Sketch, Witness Photo, Multiple UFOs

More Articles on this Case

Edward Ruppelt: The Arnold Case

Edward Ruppelt, The Report on Unidentified Flying Objects

Although a formal project for UFO investigation wasn't set up until September 1947, the Air Force had been vitally interested in UFO reports ever since June 24, 1947, the day Kenneth Arnold made the original UFO report.

NICAP: Kenneth Arnold Case Directory


Articles, reports, and documents related to the Kenneth Arnold sighting.

The Story of the Arnold Sighting

Dr. Bruce S. Maccabee

You will not find any conventional history book that even so much as mentions that on this date the human race first became aware of a phenomenon that could well be the most important discovery of the last century, or even in the history of mankind: the presence of "Other Intelligences" (Non-Human Intelligence). This document, the "ultimate Arnold" history and analysis, is an edited and updated version of my presentation at the 1997 MUFON Symposium.

I Did See the Flying Disks

Kenneth Arnold, FATE Magazine, Spring 1948

The following story of what I observed over the Cascade mountains, as impossible as it may seem, is positively true. I never asked nor wanted any notoriety for just accidentally being in the right spot at the right time to observe what I did. R

Project 1947: The Kenneth Arnold Sighting

Project 1947

Articles and documents relating to the Kenneth Arnold sighting.

Conversations with Kenneth Arnold

Bob Pratt

This article by Bob Pratt recounts his conversations with Kenneth Arnold.

Another Failed Explanation for the Kenneth Arnold Sighting

Dr. Bruce Maccabee

In the Skeptics UFO Newsletter (SKUFON), #46 of July 1997 Philip Klass has proposed, in conjunction with Keay Davidson, a new explanation for the flying saucer sighting by Kenneth Arnold. One wonders why it took 50 years for this explanation to be proposed. R

Prosaic Explanations: The Failure Of UFO Skepticism (exerpt)

Dr. Bruce S. Maccabee

The June 24, 1947 sighting by private pilot Kenneth Arnold was not really the first recorded UFO sighting. However, it was the first sighting to be publicly reported and it attracted worldwide interest. It also attracted many more than its share of explanations.

CIC Memo by Frank Brown

Project 1947

Confidential Memorandum from Frank M. Brown, Special Agent, CIC, 4th AF regarding Arnold Interview

Transcript of Edward R. Murrow's conversation with Kenneth Arnold

Project 1947

Almost three years after the famous June 24, 1947 sighting in the Cascades of the state of Washington, Edward R. Murrow engaged the pilot/witness Kenneth Arnold in a conversation about his historic experience. Portions of that conversation are reproduced here in an exact transcript of the broadcast as it was heard nationwide on the evening of April 7, 1950.

Resolving Arnold - Part 1 (Skeptical)

Martin Kottmeyer

The 50th anniversary of the flying saucer phenomenon is upon us, and thoughts time-warp back to the case that started it all, Kenneth Arnold's sighting of nine objects speeding by Mount Rainier on a sunny June afternoon.  R

Resolving Arnold - Part 2: Guess Again (Skeptical)

Martin Kottmeyer

One problem that stands out in any attempt to make the Arnold case a True-UFO is the drawing in the Air Force files.  R

Full Report / Article

Source: Loy Lawhon, About.com
[go to original source]

Funny how your life can get turned upside down just because you see something. Kenneth Arnold's story is the story of a pretty straight guy. He was an Eagle Scout when he was a teen-ager. He worked for the Red Cross. He was an All-State football player in high school, with hopes of being a college star until a knee injury cut his football career short.

After college, Arnold became a salesman and learned to fly, combining the two by flying from small town to small town selling fire control equipment, eventually owning the Great Western Fire Control Supply Company. He was a member of the Sheriff's "aerial posse"of Ada County, Idaho, he was a relief U.S. Marshall, and he sometimes flew prisoners to the Federal Penitentiary. Flying his light plane, a Callair, was the basis of his livelihood.

In other words, he was the perfect UFO witness: a solid citizen, honest and trustworthy, married, with two daughters.

On June 24, 1947, he was returning home from a business trip when he made a detour into the Yakima, Washington area to help in an aerial search for a missing C-46 marine transport plane that was believed to have gone down in the area.

At around 3:00 in the afternoon, he was flying at about 9,000 feet, near Mount Rainier, when a flash of light caught his eye. He turned and saw a procession of nine very strange objects flying from north to south in front of his plane. They were flat and rather heel-shaped, very shiny, and they moved erratically, like a "saucer would if you skipped it across water." You can see Arnold's drawing of what he saw here. Arnold estimated their size at about two-thirds that of a DC-4, and he calculated their speed at over 1500 mph by timing their travel between two mountain peaks of known distance.

When he arrived at Yakima, Washington, Arnold told several other pilots about his sighting. The consensus among them was that it was some type of military "secret weapon". However, Arnold would later find that the U.S. military was as mystified by the objects as he himself was.

In Pendleton, Oregon, Arnold went to make a report to the FBI, but the local office was closed, so he talked to the editor of the East Oregonian newspaper instead and it was the editor who put the story on the newswires. Because of Arnold's background and reliability as a witness, the story got wide circulation. Here's Arnold's report in his own words.

What did Arnold see? Skeptics said everything from clouds to blowing snow on the mountain, to droplets of water on his airplane window. Here Martin Kottmeter shoots down some of the early theories of what Arnold saw. More recent explanations include Phil Klass' meteorite fragments and James Easton's white pelicans.

The June sighting and the resulting hoopla were not the end of Arnold's association with UFOs. On July 5th, 1947, Arnold was introduced to Captain E. J. Smith, who, along with his co-pilot and a stewardess, had seen a formation of UFOs over Emmett, Idaho. They hit it off well and became good friends.

In the middle of July, Arnold received a letter from Raymond Palmer, editor of the pulp magazine Amazing Stories. Arnold didn't know who Palmer was, since he didn't read the pulps. Palmer wanted Arnold to write down his experiences for publication in the magazine and he offered to pay. Arnold didn't particularly care about the money and sent Palmer a copy of what he had already told the newspapers and the Army Air Corps.

Later in July, a couple of Army Air Force intelligence officers named Lt. Frank M. Brown and Capt. William Davidson had a friendly meeting with Arnold. He gave them an account of his sighting and they asked him to report any further incidents to them. Lt. Brown filed a report giving his impression of Arnold's story. Arnold, Smith, Brown, Davidson, and Palmer were later to become involved in the Maury Island hoax.

Case ID: 511 edit: 511

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