The Unexplained: What happened a week before Roswell?

Kenneth Arnold was the first man to describe unknown objects in the sky as Flying Saucers. He said he saw them near Mount Rainier in Washington. Photo: The Spokesman-Review.

Kenneth Arnold described the flight objects to be like saucers skipping across water.

Thus began the era of the flying saucer.

Around July of 1947, events started unfolding in Roswell, New Mexico that would taunt and tantalize Americans for years.  The events started when a Mr. Brazel, a sheep rancher, heard a loud explosion and saw a flash of light.  The Roswell Event still tantalizes.  When Brazel went to investigate and reported his findings to an intelligence officer at Roswell Army Air Field, he opened a package of controversy that has never gone away.

Possibly because of the huge amount of mystique surrounding this Roswell incident, an event that happened in the Pacific Northwest, about a week earlier, fell into the dark shadows.  Since there was only one witness, it may not have figured high on a credibility scale, a “He said…”   It should have caused some shock waves.  The man who said it was of undeniable credibility.

A 32-year-old businessman, Kenneth Arnold was flying his Single Engine plane over the Cascade Range of Washington under excellent weather conditions.  A few minutes before three in the afternoon, he saw a blue-white flash of light.  He scanned the sky and saw a commercial flight way in the distance, making its run from San Francisco to Seattle.  Maybe the plane had caught a reflection.  He then saw another burst of light in the cockpit.  This time he determined the flash had come from the north.

Arnold peered toward the mountain tops in the distance.  Then he saw it!  A well-organized formation of objects was skimming the mountaintops.  Could they be the formation of new Air Force jets?

As he kept watching the objects, he could see blazing sunlight reflecting off of some of them as they tilted and caught the rays.  As he watched them traverse the landmarks on the mountains, his mathematical calculations determined that they were going much faster than any form of known aircraft—and Arnold was up on that stuff.  They were going over 1600 mph.

When Kenneth Arnold landed in Yakima at four that afternoon, he made a beeline to a pilot’s lair to discuss his unsettling experience. Had they had a similar experience in the area?

One pilot tried to convince Arnold that they were guided missiles being tested at a range nearby.  Though the fellow pilots tried to be helpful, one or more of them blabbed.  When Arnold landed in Pendleton, Oregon a little later, he was met by a pack of newsmen.  They were relentless in their inquisition, but he remained cool and was unflappable.  He saw what he saw and could not be shaken.  He had seen something up there—something that alarmed him.

One of the earliest known photographs of a UFO was taken about Mount Washington.

Kenneth Arnold, whose home was in Boise, was a solid citizen.  He was a known search and rescue pilot with more than 4,000 hours in the air.  He had flown the Cascade Range many times on his business trips as a salesman for badly-needed fire-fighting equipment.  He had described the flight of the objects to be like saucers skipping across water.  He estimated that each object in the formation was 50 feet across.

Because of his courage in coming forward with his experience, and standing tough in the face of ridicule from detractors, his experience became more and more publicized.  This caused others to come forward with their own similar experiences.

Several people from different parts of the country called in reports of seeing similar fast-moving objects in the sky. Some on that same day, and some a few days earlier or later.  One of these witnesses said the objects were shaped like the bottom of horses’ hooves.

It was Arnold’s experience that ushered in what became known as The Saucer Era.

The dam burst and there were not enough pens to write down all of the reports that came in over the next five years.  The Air Force was too overwhelmed by reports to investigate.  They did their best but could not keep going at that pace.  Washington started a project with the code name Sign and had demanded investigations of all as a matter of national security.

When Roswell happened a few days after Arnold’s experience, it served to make saucer events more solid.  But then, rumors started flying  and by that time the monster of ridicule had reared its ugly head.  Then came the denials.  They needed it all to go away.  The role of the Air Force and the government in UFO investigations has been under a microscope ever since.

In the Spring of 1948, a new magazine made its debut.  In its first issue, Kenneth Arnold was asked to relate his UFO experience in the first person.   FATE magazine has weathered the storms of disbelief and skepticism.  It persevered.  The Arnold account is what made flying saucers valid as terminology.

SMH

Sara Marie Hogg is the author of Curious, Indeed, a collection of true stories about the bizarre and unexplained. Please click HERE to find the book on Amazon.

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