have been around for more than half a century, if not many centuries, but
the “Age of Flying Saucers” didn’t start until 1947.
the afternoon of June 24 that year, an Idaho businessman and private pilot named Kenneth Arnold was
flying in his single-engine plane near Mount Rainier in the state of Washington when he saw nine strange objects flying through the
were at about the same altitude as he was, 9,500 feet, perhaps twenty to twenty-five
miles away. Every few seconds, he said, “Two or three of them… would dip or
change their course slightly, just enough for the sun to strike them at an
angle that reflected brightly on my plane.” It was the flashes of sunlight
that caught his attention.
first, Arnold assumed they were military jets because of their speed,
which, judging the distance between two peaks and noting time it took for
them to pass from one to the other, he calculated as more than 1,500 miles
an hour. But they were weird looking, somewhat like flat pie pans and didn’t
seem to have tails. They were so strange that after landing he told some pilot
friends about them.
he went to an FBI office to report what he’d seen, but the office was closed.
So he went to a newspaper office, where he told a reporter what he had seen
and reportedly said the objects “flew like a saucer would if you skipped it
across the water.”
phrase was included in a story that was sent out over the wires of the Associated
Press, and within two days the nation’s press was talking about “flying saucers”
and the Age of Flying Saucers began.
was never the same again for Arnold (below). Very soon he began getting phone calls from
all over the country. He was ridiculed in the press and was the butt of some
bad jokes. However, many people took him seriously, including pilots who had
seen similarly unexplained aircraft.
of those pilots was United Airlines Captain E. J. Smith, who saw similar objects
on the evening of July 4, 1947, just ten days after Arnold’s sighting. Smith and his first officer, Ralph Stevens,
were flying a DC-3 airliner from Salt Lake City to Seattle. As they were flying over Emmett,
Idaho, they saw five disk-shaped objects in the sky ahead
of them. They called a stewardess, Martine (Marty) Morrow, into the cabin
and asked her to take a look. She did and, depending on which Internet web
site you look at, said, “What are those?” or “Why, there’s a formation of
those flying discs.”
depending on which web sites you access, the five objects disappeared and
then came back, or were joined by four others. Whichever, the objects were
in view for ten to fifteen minutes before disappearing.
next day Arnold was at the Seattle airport and happened to meet Captain Smith. They talked
about their experiences and soon became friends.
never met Kenneth Arnold and most of what I know about him comes from the
Internet. He died in 1984, but there are ufologists still active today who
did know him. Still others have analyzed his June 24, 1947 sighting (later on he saw UFOs on several other occasions)
in minute detail and this information is available on the Internet. There
are more than 11,000 web sites devoted to Kenneth Arnold or mention him in
I never met him, I did talk with him by phone several times in February and
March 1978. He had sent a letter to the National Enquirer offering to sell
the right to re-publish portions of his book, The Coming of the Saucers, which
was first published in 1952. The letter was passed on to my editor, Bill Dick,
who was then in charge of UFO stories, and he asked
me to check it out.
the half dozen or so editors I worked for, Bill Dick was the only one who
wholeheartedly shared my belief that UFOs are real.]
my first phone call to Arnold, I submitted a memo to Bill saying:
Arnold’s sighting of nine crescent-shaped UFOs on June 24, 1947, is the granddaddy of all flying saucer cases and was
the beginning of the ‘Modern’ phase of the phenomenon. His story has never
been told in the Enquirer before but he is now willing to talk to us. Since
then he has had six or seven other sightings and has photographed UFOs on
two occasions. He has investigated hundreds of UFO cases over the years and
many military and civilian pilots have come to him to tell him their stories.
He has many strange stories to tell, including the following.
One, the Marine Corps transport plane’s wreckage that Arnold was searching
for the day he saw the nine saucers supposedly had thirty-two Marines aboard,
but the head of the three-man search team that climbed up to the crash site
on the side of Mount Rainier told Arnold that they found no bodies, no bones,
no blood although the fuselage was fairly intact. Everything else, including
the luggage of the thirty-two Marines was still on board. Arnold said the Navy first claimed mountain lions dragged the
bodies off and later stated that the bodies were never brought down because
the wreck occurred in a very inaccessible place.
Two, the Maury Island incident, in which two fishermen claimed pieces of a
falling flying saucer rained down on their boat, was not a hoax, as the Air
Three, the director of a Landing Aids Experiment Station regularly picked
up UFOs on his radar screen but could never see them visually. He would even
route planes into the area where the UFOs were but the planes’ crews never
saw them either. Arnold said he mentioned this man’s experiences once on a talk
show and the station was shut down without warning or explanation shortly
Four, in the early 1950s he received a number of stories from boat captains
along the Pacific Coast who told him of seeing mystery submarines surfaced near
their boats. They were small, generally no bigger than the boats, usually
had windows or portholes on the sides and were often round or disc-shaped.
The captains said the mystery crafts would eventually sink back into the ocean
or take off into the air.
“Arnold still flies, still investigates sightings. He is still
in his sixties and he’s a businessman and his letter to us is an offer to
negotiate for the right to publish portions of his book, The Coming of the
Saucers, published in 1952. I have read portions of it and it is pretty interesting.”
negotiations with Arnold eventually fell through but I don’t remember why. It
may have been because of money. Arnold estimated he had spent about $30,000 of his own money
on UFOs in the thirty years since his 1947 sighting and he felt that his book
was worth at least that much. It is possible that my editors didn’t agree,
although the Enquirer had sometimes paid much more than that for other stories.
Arnold had also suggested that his book be published in serial
form, maybe a chapter a week, and it is also possible that the editors didn’t
feel his book was worth so much coverage. In those days, brevity was one thing
nearly all Enquirer stories had in common. Most of them never ran more than
a thousand words [a total that this article passed several paragraphs back].
deal may have fallen through for some other reason. Arnold had a really strong dislike of most newspapers, magazines
and reporters, and he might have felt the Enquirer was jerking him around.
At that time, the Enquirer was the only publication of mass circulation paying
any attention to UFOs, and Arnold told me he liked the way we treated the subject. For
much of the time that he and I talked, my editor Bill Dick was in Russia and no negotiations could be conducted until he returned.
Bill was the only other staff member besides me who knew about Arnold’s offer. He died some years ago.
Kenneth Arnold’s feelings about the press, he was always polite and civil
to me. But it was clear that he thought most newspapers and magazines didn’t
have the courage to tell the public the truth about flying saucers. “It’s
gotten so goddamned complex that nobody really gives a (bleep) whether it’s
solved or not,” he told me. “They’re only interested in making money.”
he also said: “There is a bunch of nameless, faceless people that are a lot
higher than the government that are saying, ‘Look, Chum, you shut up!’ And
they’re talking to your publishers and there isn’t a publisher in thirty years
that’s got the guts goddammit to get out and say
what they ought to say. And that’s just the way I feel about it.” He also
believed many newspapers and magazines had distorted his views.
Arnold had no doubt that UFOs were real. “I think this is probably
the greatest discovery in the world, or the greatest discovery of consciousness,
in the world and there’s not going to be an end to it,” he said. “It’s coming,
it’s coming all the time. If I can tell by my phone calls and by the stuff
that people keep sending me from newspapers all over the world, I know damned
well it’s pretty cockeyed important.”
Arnold was born on March 29, 1915 in Subeka, Minnesota, grew up in North Dakota, graduated from the University of Minnesota as a chemical engineer and later learned to fly. Eventually he moved
to Boise, Idaho, where he owned a business.
some years he flew in his plane from one town to another in five western states,
selling and installing automatic and manual fire fighting equipment. It was
on one of these trips that he saw the nine crescent-shaped objects. That
came about because about six months earlier a Marine Corps C-46 transport
plane with thirty-two men aboard crashed into the southwest side of Mount
Rainier and had not been
found. The government had offered a $5,000 reward for the discovery of the
wreckage and recovery of the bodies.
Arnold was a member of the Idaho Search and Rescue team and
had participated in aerial searches before. On the afternoon of June 24, 1947, the day of his sighting, he took off from an airport
at Chehalis, Washington, and headed for Yakima,
Washington, about one hundred miles to the east. En route, he detoured
a little to the north to fly over Mount Rainier and look for the crashed plane. Kenneth Arnold was an
outspoken man given to salty language.
his 1947 sighting, hundreds of people contacted him, so much so that his business
suffered for a while. Virtually every time he flew into an airport, people
were waiting to talk to him, taking time away from his work. Some of the stories
that people told him were more bizarre than what he saw on that flight near
Mount Rainier. In our conversations, he mentioned those incidents
and some of his personal experiences.
other things, he talked about the military cutting out forty-two frames of
a film he took of two UFOs that flew under his plane and claimed there was
nothing on the film, the fact that he believed military and airline pilots
had been silenced under threats of fines and imprisonment, that the crew of
two airliners going in opposite directions saw seven UFOs between them, and
that UFOs might have been able to read his mind.
better understand some of the incidents and people he talked about, it would
help to briefly review them. In addition to the crash on Mount Rainier of a Marine Corps transport plane, there were these:
THE MAURY ISLAND INCIDENT.
The military and most ufologists say this was a hoax, but Arnold was convinced it was not. The island is in Puget Sound about twenty miles south of Seattle. Allegedly, on June 21, 1947, several men in a harbor boat near the island saw six
UFOs overhead. One seemed to be in trouble and it spewed out chunks of material,
which fell and injured a teenage boy on the boat, killed a dog and damaged
of the men reportedly wrote to Ray Palmer, who published pulp magazines, and
told him about the incident and saying he had fragments of the material. In
July, Palmer, who had once before contacted Arnold and later published his book, asked Arnold to investigate the Maury Island report. Arnold went to Seattle and met with Captain E.J. Smith and the two began checking
out the story.
that month, the two of them had met two Army Air Force intelligence officers,
Captain William Davidson and Lieutenant Frank M. Brown, who had requested
details of the sightings each man had had. When Arnold and Smith investigated
the Maury Island report, very strange things seemed to happen and they
decided to call in Captain Davidson and Lieutenant Brown. The two officers
flew in, talked with them, as well as one or two men from the boat and reportedly
put the material aboard their plane, a B-25 bomber.
officers then took off to return to Hamilton Field at San Rafael, California. But not long after taking off, the plane caught fire.
Two crewmen aboard parachuted to safety, but Davidson and Brown were both
killed in the crash. One of the crewmen who survived reportedly said that
when he jumped out of the plane at 11,000 feet he saw something lift off the
top of the plane. Some people claim the plane was sabotaged because it was
carrying parts of a UFO aboard, but the Air Force denied that and said it
was an accident.
LANDING AIDS EXPERIMENT STATION: In 1943, the Navy built an auxiliary airfield
near Arcata, California, on the Pacific Coast two hundred ninety miles north of San Francisco. Unknown to the Navy, Arcata turned out to be the third
foggiest location in the world, with fog sometimes lasting for weeks.
Navy was unable to make maximum use of the field. After World War II ended,
the Navy, the Army and the Civil Aviation Authority used the base to conduct
experiments designed to disperse the fog.
of the most distinctive methods was FIDO (Fog, Intensity Dispersal Of), in
which gasoline was burned along the sides of the runways to lift the fog,
something the British sometimes did in England during the war. At the Arcata station, however, it took
20,000 gallons to raise the fog for each landing – at a prohibitive cost of
$ 15,000 per landing. The base was closed in 1950.
Arnold knew the head of the station, who told him he had tracked
“ghost UFOs” on radar in the sky above the station but was never able to see
anything visually. The objects would sometimes split in two, travel side by
side and later join back together. He even asked pilots to fly into the area
where radar indicated these things were, but the objects always avoided the
planes. Most curious of all is that they seldom moved faster than twenty-five
to thirty miles an hour.
mid-June 2005, I received emails from a man who identified himself as B. B.
Clark. He had just read this page about Kenneth Arnold. Clark
said he and Charles Grimes were the two pilots who flew most of the test flights
conducted in dense fog at the Arcata station from its inception in 1946 until
the facility was closed in the spring of 1950. During that time they made
more than 1,500 landings in almost zero visibility fog conditions.
were guided by Ground Controlled Approach (GCA) crews using a pair of oscillating
radar antennas with narrow "pencil beams," one scanning side to
side (azimuth), the other up and down (elevation), as well as 360-degree rotating
radar for surveillance of the entire area.
think our GCA crew (probably the sharpest team anyplace) was one of the first
to see the objects on the radar screen that were unidentifiable," Clark
said. "Grimes and I on many occasions followed radar headings that took
us into packs of these so called Gizmos and never saw anything other than
a few seabirds."
was a B-17 pilot and Grimes was a troop carrier pilot in World War II. After
the Arcata experiments, both flew for Eastern Air Lines for more than thirty
years. In their careers, each accumulated more than 30,000 hours in the air.
"Neither he nor I have ever seen anything even slightly resembling a
UFO," Clark said.]
MONO LAKE SIGHTING: This is a lake high in the California Sierras near
the Nevada border and about two hundred fifty miles east of San Francisco. Arnold
said an airliner eastbound from San Francisco and another one westbound to San Francisco would pass each other over the lake about the same time
each day. On June 22, 1977, the crews of both planes saw seven UFOs between them.
Arnold heard the story from his old friend, Captain E.J. Smith,
who had heard it from one of the pilots involved.
GORMAN DOGFIGHT: On the night of October 1, 1948, Lieutenant George F. Gorman of the North Dakota National
Guard was returning to Fargo in a P-51 fighter plane when he got into a twenty-seven-minute
dogfight with what appeared to be a blinking ball of light about the size
of a volleyball. Whenever Gorman got near it, the
light became steady and swiftly pulled away from him. He chased it all over
the sky from 7,000 to 14,000 feet at speeds of up to four hundred miles an
hour. The light was faster and could out-maneuver the plane. At the airport,
two traffic controllers witnessed part of the dogfight, as did the pilot and
a passenger of a small plane that was landing. The light eventually disappeared.
1978, or perhaps in 1979, I tracked Gorman down by phone. He was then a retired
lieutenant colonel and living in New Braunfels, Texas, just north of San Antonio. He accepted my phone call but declined to answer any
questions about the dogfight. However, he allowed me to read a detailed account
that had been published elsewhere, and after each sentence or so, he would
acknowledge that “Yes, that’s right” or something similar. He confirmed everything.]
are excerpts from three phone conversations, each lasting about forty minutes, that I had with Arnold.
… Isn’t it true that after (his 1947 sighting) occurred that a lot of people
got in touch with you when they had sightings and told you about their own
ARNOLD: Yes. In fact, I was kind of by myself in a way, outside
of the airline boys and all the ones that were able to talk at that time.
And most people, particularly pilots, would call me and say, “Well, we joined
your club… We saw so many and such and such, and it looked like such and such
and so on.” And it was kind of a basis of where even military personnel here,
some of the boys out here at Mountain Home (Air Force Base), fighter pilots
have seen them, and they’ve never said anything to anybody but they’d come
and talk to me because they felt at least I was going to be sympathetic–
ARNOLD: Now we had a very responsible pilot here [Boise,
Idaho] who runs the Nampa Flying Service, named Harry Clark,
a very respected person who saw seven of these things.
They were rather triangular shaped (and they) went under the wing of his plane
between Nampa and the mountains between Boise and Mountain Home. They were going from west to east.
He wouldn’t even give his name, but (the newspaper) wrote up his whole story
and finally Harry admitted to me that he was the one. He was quite shocked.
The funny (thing) was that one time I landed my plane over there, and we were
friends, and he said, “Oh, so you’re the guy who sees funny things in the
sky.” And after he saw (them) he fidgeted around and fidgeted around and I
said, “Well, draw me a picture of it, Harry.” A lot of incidents like that
ARNOLD: I’ve been bothered by busybodies, intelligence (people)
and this type of thing. They’re friendly for three or four years and then
apparently they refined their approaches. Most of these people have come to
me under various, well I wouldn’t call it disguise, I wouldn’t exactly say
that, but they ask a bunch of stupid questions and then all of a sudden ask
a question that I know that they couldn’t possibly have asked if they weren’t
pretty familiar with what the military was trying to do. It’s like they all
went to the same school…
Did you tell me that the military tried to discredit you?
ARNOLD: No. The military that I was associated with, Captain
William Davidson, Lieutenant Frank Brown, I later learned after meeting with
them, after the accident, that Lieutenant Brown was a counter-espionage agent.
And that he actually worked out of Mitchell Field, New York! This wasn’t known
to me. He was just an A-2, you know, Air Force intelligence. But these were
the people who were very gracious and kind to me. But they also said at the
time when I was asked to (speak) by the Knife and Fork Club people… he said,
“You let us take care of it, Ken, and don’t expose this subject… Don’t offer
yourself for exposure, or we would advise you not. Of course, you can do as
you please.” But he said, “I think that you will regret it.” In other words,
they do things like this and all of a sudden when you get this offer and that
offer to appear some place, all of a sudden it got canceled. And it happened
so frequently in the last thirty years…
Smith was told the same thing. Smith and I had met with Lieutenant Frank Brown,
or with (Captain) Davidson, quite a number of times. They kind of briefed
us on what they knew because they were intensely curious themselves. And so
(many) of their associates in the military and the Air Force had also seen
these things. But they didn’t want to get involved in any type of publicity.
They didn’t want us to get involved or be exposed to a lot of publicity until
they had a chance to do it. They kept saying, “You let us take care of it
and in a couple of weeks we’ll let you know just exactly what’s going on.”
Well, they never did let us know. We were set out there and hung up. We didn’t
know what the hell happened.
thing that puzzled us was that we were familiar with the details of what happened
there at Tacoma [Maury Island] and when the news releases came out of the public relations,
apparently through the Pentagon, there wasn’t any semblance of the truth of
the whole thing. (It) was just laughed off as if it was just some kind of
a big hoax, and I have photostat letters and whatnot
from people that were involved in the immediate family of at least Lieutenant
Brown, just exactly what the flight engineer of that particular flight said
as he left the plane at about 11,000 feet, which saved his life. And it was
quite fascinating… I don’t think Smith or I could figure out why the personnel
that we worked with in connection with military intelligence, why their stories
got so completely loused up when it came out of their public relations as
explanations for various things that happened…
TRACKS ‘GHOST UFOs’
Didn’t you also investigate a lot of UFO cases that did not involve pilots?
ARNOLD: Oh, yes. I met quite a few people and I recorded a
good deal of their sightings. One particular lady, a graduate of the University of Oregon,
saw a little person. It was quite an amazing experience that she had. And
then I worked for several weeks with Kenneth Ehlers. He was head of the Landing
Aides Experiment Station at Arcata, California. This is where they had FIDO [“Fog, Intensive Dispersal
Of”] and they landed planes there because of the fog… He was a super expert.
I tape-recorded all of our conversations. He was seeing things on the radar
screen that he determined to be a thousand to three thousand feet above him
and he’d get out and look through glasses and see nothing.
it was that he was seeing was traveling at about thirty miles an hour. And
many times the target would split in two and travel side by side maybe several
miles in the sky and then would join back together again. It was a complete
puzzle. He even took giant airplanes coming in on blind landings and put them
on a direct collision course with these things… Then he’d ask the pilots,
“What do you observe?” and “Do you see anything ahead of you or underneath
you or above you?” And these things would just politely avoid the plane and
they never were able to see anything. I’ve got photographs of his radar screen…
The reason he was so concerned about these things was that the image gave
back a return of (one of) your smaller planes. He said that it was more puzzling
because of the fact that they didn’t seem to go any faster than about twenty-five
to thirty miles an hour. And he observed them many times. However, when one
of these images was in the area, he did have to steer their experiments with
their own aircraft out of the area because he couldn’t positively determine
whether this was a real aircraft or what it was. But it was something that
gave a good return on his radar.
Is (Ehlers) still around?
ARNOLD: I don’t know. I first mentioned that on a radio program
about him and played an interview with him. Within about a month afterwards
they closed down the entire Arcata Landing Aids Experiment Station, much to
the surprise of everybody over there, and gave no reason for it and Kenneth
Ehlers was then transferred, I think, to the East Coast, and I haven’t heard
from him since…
Are you still active in investigating cases or have you tapered off or what?
ARNOLD: No. I have to earn a living like everyone else. And
my living hasn’t been made writing books or this type of thing. It’s been
in the engineering work that I do. However, I still get calls and people who
come to meet me and talk with me, which keeps me somewhat involved even though
maybe I don’t have the time to devote that I would like to have. Follow me?
AIRLINERS, SEVEN UFOS
ARNOLD: It’s like Captain Smith telling me about the two American
Airlines and United (airliners and) how they passed within several thousand
feet of each other, and they saw seven of these (UFOs) in between them… a
group clustered together. It was a senior pilot of American Airlines who related
the experience to Captain E. J. Smith when they were both up taking a physical
up in New York
just recently. This happened the 22nd of June of this year [Actually, 1977].
Oh, I thought you were talking about an old case. But you’re talking about
something that happened very recently then?
ARNOLD: Oh, yes.
Would you go back over that, just, what did you say, two or three airlines?
ARNOLD: I know this happened because Captain E. J. Smith called
me long distance from Sarasota, Florida, to tell me about it. What happened was that over Mono
Lake, as I understand the story from Captain Smith – it could have happened
on the 23rd instead of the 22nd but I think it was the 22nd – there was a
time of day when both United and American Airlines (flights) would be passing
over Mono Lake, which is in the high Sierras near Bishop, California. It’s
a rather remote area. And I understood that United was flying east at 41,000
feet, a DC-10 I think it was, and American Airlines was flying west to San Francisco. And they passed each other over this area almost within
seconds every day. And these seven (objects) were in a cluster between these
two aircraft. (The pilots) all saw them. They were just amazed. Anyhow (it
was) Captain McCormick, (who) was the senior captain on the United’s flight and was the one arriving back in New York,
who told Captain Smith. I just thought, “Well, it’s just another one of those
things.” What made it most interesting was that there was a talk program… (and) I happened to mention this
sighting and we got this phone call from a forest ranger up at Mono Lake who said he used to set his watch by the time when these
planes went over because they were so accurate. He was looking up at the time
they went over, and he saw those seven things too, from the ground. He said
that several days before this he saw Mono Lake, which is a completely placid, still lake, in the mountains
and not very many people live up there. I’ve flown over it. But he said he
saw just like a tidal wave in this lake, and this lake was just spinning and
the waves were three or four feet high. He said a round circular type of aircraft
lifted out of the lake and stood there about a hundred feet above the lake
for a little while, and just turned on edge and went right off into the blue.
I thought that was very unusual.
ARNOLD: I have records of other experiences where people have
made the association between water and these things. In fact, if I was anywhere
near the coast I would fly out over the Pacific for quite a ways… (This was)
when we were seeing all these mysterious submarines. I talked with captains
of some of these boats. They said they saw this thing and it surfaced right
close to them. It was a little bit bigger than their boat and it wasn’t a
fish or anything. It was just something that it looked like it had windows
in it. But they didn’t see anything real close and all of a sudden it would
go down into the sea or take off into the air. The funny thing about most
of their descriptions was that the thing was either circular or semi-circular.
When was all this?
ARNOLD: Well, that happened in’51, ’52, probably ’53. I occasionally
went out there because my work took me that way. It was off Trinidad Head,
which is near Arcata (California), where there seemed to be the most sightings of this
type of thing…
BODIES MISSING IN CRASH
Let me ask you one question. Somebody sent me a letter recently telling me
about Kenneth Arnold’s sightings, and then talked about the crash of a Marine
Corps plane and saying there was never any blood or something very mysterious
about the plane crash itself… Was there something unusual about the wreckage
ARNOLD: Well, all I can tell you is (about) the three men who
first reached the wreckage. Now, (the Navy) had a $5,000 reward on it. That
was (why) I was searching for the plane (on the day of his June 24, 1947 sighting). That reward offer said we will pay $5,000
for the discovery of the wreckage and the recovery of the bodies. Every time
I was flying in the area, I’d take a sweep over the southwest side of Mount Rainier. This C-46 transport with thirty-two Marines aboard
crashed into the Tacoma Glacier, which is at about the 9,500-foot level of
Mount Rainier. Mount
Rainier goes a little over
14,000 feet. It was this crash I was looking for that day. Well, a forestry
man saw the tail of it. So they first sent the First Search and Rescue (from)
McChord Field [near Seattle] up there to check it out. There were three of them
that reached there first. And I had a telephone conversation with McChord
Search and Rescue – I was with Idaho Search and Rescue at the time – and they
said that (when) they reached the fuselage, the fuselage was almost intact
and all the luggage of everyone was still aboard, and their parachutes had
never been used. But he said there was no blood, no bones and there were no
No blood, no bones, no bodies?
ARNOLD: Right. Now we got that right from the head of rescue
at McChord Field. It wasn’t through the press and it wasn’t through the Marine
Corps or anything. And so we published it… I didn’t associate (the crash)
with flying saucers. It was just a mystery. But, we published it, and pretty
soon I got a letter from H.H. Goode (?) of the Fourth Naval District and,
oh boy, he was just real (angry), wondering what authority I had to say such
(a thing)… I didn’t give a damn one way or the other particularly. I just
thought it was a very unusual thing and there was no way they could say (the
thirty-two Marines) walked off from it. But right after the crash was found
and the rescuers got there, (the Navy officer) said it looked like mountain
lions carried off the bodies, which was ridiculous of course, and it was typical
of the (military’s) explanations. A little later, they changed that story
and said that the terrain was too treacherous to bring the bodies down from
the mountain… This is (ridiculous) because if three men can get up (to) the
wreckage, going downhill is a hell of a lot easier than pulling bodies uphill.
And they shouldn’t have had any trouble whatsoever. But they finally ended
up saying the terrain was too treacherous to bring the bodies down and so
they didn’t bring them down. And that was the last thing we heard publicly
In other words, they left the bodies there?
ARNOLD: That apparently was the official… explanation. However,
they had the funerals for the people that perished in that crash. At Round
Pass at Mount
Rainier National Park. I think it was about a month or two afterwards, and there were thirty-two coffins there and there
were no bodies in them… I’ve never known in my life in the Search and Rescue
Squadron for anyone to lie to one another. But the Fourth Naval District had
complete control over the public relations. The military got right into it
and that was it.
Did you know the head of the search and rescue team that went up there?
ARNOLD: No, I didn’t know them. It’s possible that during various
meetings which we (Search and Rescue teams) used to have somewhere around
the country that I have met some of them. I recall the particular man’s name
who was heading the party and he was the spokesman for the three (but) I don’t
know what I’ve done with it.
Was he the one who told you about the no bones, no bodies, no
ARNOLD: Yes. He told us by telephone. We called up and asked
him about it. The three first men got to the crash and came down the mountain
and that was it. Then of course the military came in and the Marine Corps
or the Navy actually was in charge of it. They never paid the reward to the
forestry fellow who (found the crash). They left the bodies there and therefore
the reward wouldn’t be valid because it was for the discovery of the crash
and the recovery of the bodies.
This doesn’t sound like the military, though, not to recover the bodies.
ARNOLD: Well, it sure doesn’t to me either. That’s really unusual
and I didn’t connect it with the flying saucer business. But then I began
doing a lot of research and I found that many times there was ships at sea
found with dinner sets all ready to be eaten and everything and here the ship
would be found and the thirty-five or forty or fifty people completely gone
and they never could figure out what happened to them.
Have you ever flown over the area where the wreckage occurred?
ARNOLD: I saw it… from the air the next year, in 1948 on June
24th, the same date (of his sighting of the nine objects in 1947). I made
a flight with a 16-mm camera right over this area, and of course I showed
the pictures of the mountains. The weather wasn’t as good that day as it was
in 1947. But I just thought for the heck of it I was up there, I’m just going
to fly this route again. Maybe by chance I could see some more of these things.
And I didn’t go up to the 14,000-foot level and come completely down the canyon
as I did in ’47 because the wind was so turbulent that day, and you can get
trapped in some of those places… But in order to really search an area very
thoroughly, you’ve got to go very slowly, you’ve got to watch out for your
wind change, and you usually want to stay at least twenty-five to fifty, maybe
seventy-five feet up to as high as a hundred feet up off the mountain. So,
that’s the reason I didn’t really fly in to take a movie of the crash because
it wasn’t too important and the winds were getting pretty bad up there. There
were some clouds and that sort of thing, so I just photographed the whole
area… The first thing the forestry man saw was the tail of the airplane. By
the time the rescue crew got up there, a certain amount of melting took place
and the fuselage was exposed. And I saw pictures of the fuselage. It looked
to me like the fuselage was not torn or bashed in particularly. It just looked
like the plane hit real hard, and sheered the wings. But the fuselage itself
was fairly intact.
Then supposedly the bodies are still there?
ARNOLD: As far as I know that was the last report that the
Marine Corps put out, or the Fourth Naval District…
BOOK MEN PHOTOGRAPHED BALLS OF LIGHT
A businessman here in West
Palm Beach called
me earlier this afternoon and was telling me about a UFO incident that occurred
somewhere in that area, he thinks around 1961. He was not involved. He was
down at McClellan Air Force Base in California and he was a communications specialist, and what happened
is that all of the West Coast communications funneled into McClellan and then
relayed out to Wright-Patterson or Washington, D.C., and what happened was that for four or five Wednesday
nights in a row, a large number of balls, different colors. He’s not positive
of the colors, but like orange, green and white, of different sizes – golf
ball size, orange size and grapefruit size, OK? – were seen over these ICBM
sites, and the messages would come in to McClellan to be relayed out to Wright-Patterson.
And by the second or third Wednesday night this happened, they had a bunch
of Blue Book personnel out there and they photographed these things. And the
photos would be transmitted by facsimile machine to McClellan and then on
back to Wright-Patterson, and there were like twenty or thirty of these things
at times, and sometimes the speed would be enormous, like 15,000 miles an
hour. And he’s curious why he’s never seen anything in print about this. And
I am just curious if you’d ever heard anything of this nature?
ARNOLD: Yes I have. These military pilots would call me and
tell me they had seen such and such and so and so. And they’d say, “Look,
I’m not supposed to say anything.” Of course, I knew that the joint armed
forces all had a $10,000 fine and ten-year imprisonment penalty on any personnel
that was in the military – that’s all branches of the military – (who) released
information on unidentified flying objects without going through public relations.
And, that’s a fact. I knew that way back in 1947. That might sound silly to
you, but it seems funny because the military that made observations were simply
scared off from saying anything about it, and that was it…
FILMS TWO UFOs, BUT…
ARNOLD: There’ve been some wonderful sightings. I’m sure
that the military with the facilities of gun cameras and this type of thing
must have thousands and thousands of this stuff. Hell, they’ve been seeing
these things all over the world, and I can’t see how they could possibly avoid
seeing. And they would certainly try to take pictures of them. I’ve got some
movies of them myself. I have movies of two that went under me at Mount Lassen
[in northern California] and this, of course, confirmed my feeling about them
maybe being alive because I could see a pine tree through one of them. This
film was sent in to Wright-Patterson Field and my publisher at the time, a
man named Ray Palmer, sent it in and asked them if they could identify the
brown ducks or something that was in it. These things were going over a thousand
miles an hour (as they) went under me. I was within half a mile of them. I
had a camera (with) a six-power lens on it at sixty-four frames a second and
I got probably thirty-five or forty frames of them. Well, they sent the movie
film back, saying, “There’s nothing on the film” that they could see, no ducks,
no nothing. But (when) they sent it back, forty-two frames had been clipped
UFOs MAY BE ALIVE
In all your thirty years, have you ever… come to any conclusions about the
ARNOLD: No, I’ve seen them seven or eight times, and my first
impression is this: The ones that that I first reported over Mount Rainier were definitely crescent-shaped type things, with a
pulsating thing in the middle of them. I’ve seen them since, and whatever
it is, it has the ability to change its density apparently to accommodate
for either its speed or flyability or whatever it
is. The impression that I have felt is that these were going somewhere. I’ve
never seen any of them that circled me or got curious. However, you get the
feeling that they’re aware of you. And, of course, you’re aware of them, but
my thinking was that they’re something alive–
ARNOLD: Something that… could come from the surface of this
earth, commonplace things that go through a stage of development similar to
a tadpole. It would be difficult for you to believe it’s going to be a frog.
But when you watch the process, it becomes a frog. And it’s, well, a density,
like I said to “Look” magazine one time. I said, “If you take a jellyfish
in the ocean and you’re not familiar with jellyfish when it’s completely extended,
it looks just like the ocean water, or very similar. It looks just a little
bit milky, and you stick your finger in it, Oh Boy, it will really shock you.
And then it solidifies. Nature has ways of doing this type of thing with these
deep fish, or with fish in the deep parts of the oceans, and they go through
various stages of development… If it is an aircraft from some place, they
haven’t advanced much. You know, if you took a picture of, say, a 1915 airplane
and then you took a picture of a 1978 aircraft that we have, you’d hardly
know that they were related.
ARNOLD: And then you’d think that any civilization that could
be making something like this would improve it or something. Nature takes
many, many millions of years sometimes to evolve from one form to another.
However, these things have been seen many times before. I’m not a Bible study
person in particular, but I’ve read the first twelve chapters of Ezekiel,
and when he talks about this man, he was a farmer or something, and he looks
up and he sees a wing upon a wing, and burning coals in the center. If you
hadn’t seen one of the original pictures of one of these flying saucers as
I saw the 24th of June
1947, you’d never know what
the guy was talking about… He’s trying so hard to explain something to somebody,
and mixing it all up with God and this and that. But it would be difficult
to reconstruct these things. It’s just something that occurred to me and like
Ezekiel said, it was God talking to him. Of course, everything is God, if
you want to call it that, or the Creator or whatever, but you couldn’t criticize
the fellow but he had one description in particular of a wing upon a wing,
and the burning coals, the fire in the center, and this is identical to the
first observation I had.
you take Chip Chiles of Eastern Airlines or some of these other boys that
have seen these torpedo things, they seem to be outright mechanical things.
They have a (inaudible) and tail on them, and windows and all…
the night of July 24, 1948, Captain C. S. Chiles and co-pilot J. B. Whitted were flying an Eastern Airlines DC-3 airliner with
twenty passengers aboard from Houston to Atlanta. When they landed in Atlanta, the pilots reported that near Montgomery, Alabama, they had seen a huge plane flash down toward the airliner
and then shoot back up into the sky when it was about seven hundred feet from
them. They said it was about a hundred feet long, about four times as fat
as the fuselage of a B-29 bomber, had two rows of brightly lighted windows,
and had no wings. When it veered away from them, flames shot out about fifty
feet behind it. It came so close that it left the DC-3 rocking.]
can only say from my own reasoning, that if we’ve gone to the moon, it’s just
the first step. We’re gonna go to the other planets,
and if anybody else is living in the universe… they might have been able to
make the journey here. And so the possibility is there, but then there’s also
the possibility that SOME of these things may not have anything particularly
to do with this, too…
ISLAND INCIDENT NO HOAX
ARNOLD: How all (these) psychological things happen is just
a complete, baffling puzzle to anyone because things happen. On the Maury Island incident, I think both (Captain) Smith and myself just knew there wasn’t technical equipment that could
read our minds. Or we hoped the hell there wasn’t. It was a pretty shocking
experience and neither Smith nor I know any more about it. And from our experience
with the military in that particular affair, to have it called a complete
hoax was ridiculous. Because if it was, somebody went to a hell of a lot of
trouble to try to scare the hell out of us, and it would have taken monumental
means to not become detected in some way because it had the whole community
up there baffled.
my pamphlet – I named it “The Flying Saucer As I saw It” and I published that
in 1950 – I have pictures of everybody involved in the crash on Mount Rainier
that was given out by the forest search and rescue and I have photostatic
letters of (Lieutenant) Frank M. Brown as to what happened their crash, what
the flight engineer said about the plane, when he left the plane he saw something
lift off the top of it and he said he thought probably it was Lieutenant Brown
or Captain Davidson, but he said he found out when he got on the ground –
he had dropped 11,000 feet in a chute – he heard the crash and then he discovered
the next morning in Kelso that both of the people that were left on the plane
were killed. He couldn’t understand what this was that came off the top of
the plane as he left the plane. They (the flight engineer and the other crewman
who survived) were forced out by Captain Davidson and Lieutenant Brown, and
both Davidson and Brown had on their harnesses but they didn’t have their
chutes on when they were found.
NO MONEY ON HIS BOOK
Have you made any attempt to publish your book?
ARNOLD: Oh, yes… There’ve been a number of people trying to
stop me from writing another book, but I haven’t quite gotten to it because
I’ve had so many other things to do. But I’ve got a multitude of unusual things
that I could talk about if it would be worthwhile. But the last book that
I wrote, “The Coming of the Saucers,” we never made any money on it, and what
we did make I insisted that it be donated back to Ray Palmer for any research
that could be developed to find an answer to this. So, the whole thing was
really fundamentally just a big expense on my part and, I think, on Ray’s
part. We thought it was important to write it down, and to write it down right,
and that’s what we did.
ARNOLD: …I made recordings of people’s experiences, and I’ve
got quite a library of them. I gathered quote a lot of very valuable information.
The evidence is just overwhelming. I spent a great amount of money doing this.
I figured I spent close to $30,000 of my own money and almost lost my wife
in the process because I was so intensely interested (laughs)…
ABLE TO READ HIS MIND
think that this (his June 24, 1947 sighting) was the first indication that… there was some
intelligence somewhere that was able to read my mind. I think other pilots
have felt the same way about it. We’ve been very cautious about mentioning
such a thing even though we were completely convinced that this has been and
is taking place… It was a rather frightening experience due to the fact that
when you actually felt inside that somehow your mind was being controlled
or being read in some way by some unknown entities that were apparently making
use of it. It didn’t really make any sense.
I don’t need publicity. I’ve had publicity for thirty years and I run away
from it because every time I get a lot of publicity I have hundreds and hundreds
of people write me letters. I want to be curious and everything but it just
got so it was impossible for me to answer them. I was just doing everything
without any remuneration, which you might say endangered my own livelihood
because I was neglecting my own work, my engineering work…
Maury Island incident has never been cleared up… The military intelligence,
Air Force intelligence, all of them were just as
baffled as any of the rest of us.
I was pestered by, I think, every conceivable agency of the government, questioning
my reliability and goodness knows what. And this has been going on. There
was a time (when) you could tell whether someone was tapping your phone because
you could lift it up and hear clicks and things that were not normal on your
telephone. But these days they just take a little transmitter, put it up there
in the telephone office and every time the receiver is lifted off here, they
record everything you’ve got to say. Well, anything this important… is something
that would be most vital… for the government or their agencies to get a hold
of. It was something that certainly baffled military intelligence from my
association with them.
ARNOLD: I’ve got letters from the wife of Lieutenant Brown,
where she is convinced that the death of her husband was not an accident.
I’ve got many photographs that I received from the Fourth Air Force, that
were given to me when I was a guest down at Hamilton Field.
I’ve got all sorts of things, a lot of documentary things here that, like
photographs of that entire crash on Mount Rainier… I have
here one (photo) that shows one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight,
nine people at this crash scene. (On the photo) I said, “Here, this is an
official U.S. Navy photograph NA13 Number 1047. Date 25th of July, 1947. This
is on the scene photograph of the Marine Corps C-46 disaster on Tacoma Glacier
at the 9,500-foot level on Mount Rainier in the
State of Washington. Thirty-two Marines were reported to have perished in
this crash. The bodies were never recovered from the wreckage, and pictorial
proof of the bodies has never been released, leaving unsettled the great controversy
as to whether bodies actually were found in the wreckage. The $5,000 reward
offered for the recovery of the bodies was never paid. Being an experienced
mountain pilot, Kenneth Arnold participated in the air search for this wreckage.
It was while Arnold
was engaged in this air search operation that nine strange ray-like aircraft
crossed his pathway at speeds exceeding 1,700 miles an hour.” Well, I just
said that going up a mountain is a lot tougher than coming down. And I couldn’t
figure out what the hell was going on. The only thing I had was what the Search
and Rescue units had. They exchange information because (the) experience of
people who have been in rescues (and) search missions is pretty valuable to
all of us….
something awful fishy about the whole thing. I didn’t connect it with flying
saucers at the time, at all. I just said, well, they found the crash and these
news reports came out about it and they were completely conflicting to mine.
It was quite important the first men that got there, the leader said the parachutes
were all intact, all the luggage of the personnel, the Marine personnel, was
intact. There was no blood, no bones, no bodies… They were completely
baffled. They didn’t know what could have happened to the bodies. They (the
thirty-two Marines) didn’t jump out because the parachutes were still there,
unless they did it just for the hell of it, you know, and everybody committed
suicide that way, and they’d be strung all over the mountain. I don’t know.
The thing is still pretty muddy…
TOLD HIM TO KEEP QUIET
ARNOLD: I don’t give a damn what the Army says or what the
Air Force says or what not. I kept my mouth shut. They advised me to. They
didn’t want me to expose the subject. They were against anything that was
written about me… because they didn’t want me to partake in it. Because I
was associated with them and I knew what the hell they were doing. But they
have no control over me. Now, every one of the pilots, I don’t give a damn
what major airline you talk to, these pilots are shut up. They just say, “Look,
if you see anything strange out there, you tell us and let our public relations
handle it or you just go look for another job.” That’s about what it amounts
to. And I don’t know whether this $10,000 fine and ten years’ imprisonment
is inclusive of all airline pilots in public transportation.
PILOT THREATENED WITH COURT-MARTIAL
Among pilots, we’re all pretty good friends and we talk with each other, and
I think my credibility as far as a pilot goes, I started way back in 1932,
isn’t too bad. Now, when Lieutenant (George F.) Gorman had his experience
North Dakota. I wrote to him and… he wrote me this letter, dated
December 18, 1948.
He said, “Dear Mr. Arnold, I have been unable to answer your letter. However,
I think that you can understand my position better when you know the facts.
First of all, I am under the military control of the Tenth Air Force and they
have issued direct orders concerning the disks or objects. Second, the Air
Material Command has issued orders classifying the information as Secret.
And this makes it a general court martial to release any more information.
The command has asked that my commanding officer and myself
be court-martialed for releasing what information we did. I have General Edwards
or some other high officers to thank for the refusal to carry it out. Third,
the counterintelligence corps have asked that I turn
over all information to them. And I have no doubt the FBI will be getting
around to sending me a few letters too. The public relations officer released
more than he should have, and now we are being given a rough time. And they
can sure do it, too. I have a normal amount of curiosity and I have a lot
of questions to ask but then I had a lot of them unanswered that night. The
rest that I have will have to wait until they get ready to answer them. One
of these days I will be out in Boise and look you up and we can visit. I think that I can
be out there just after the first of the year. I would enjoy hearing from
you again and I hope to see you soon. George F. Gorman, 1421 13th Street North, Fargo, North
I called him or he called me, I don’t remember which way it went, but he gave
me the impression that what he didn’t say, which he knew, is what I put as
a bottom line on the photostat letter of his, “This
letter received from Lieutenant George F. Gorman of Fargo, North Dakota, will
erase any doubts of the importance of Lieutenant Gorman’s experience in the
air with the (inaudible) disk-like lighted object that reacted in evasive
maneuvers to his thoughts rather than to the physical attitude of his airplane.”
You follow that?
ARNOLD: OK, now if that isn’t important, I don’t know what
the hell is important. Because the mind-boggling type of thing that went up
on Maury Island was the fact that both Smith and I – Captain Smith is probably
one of the most respected airline captains that ever flew – and he was puzzled
about the whole thing too, that people were reporting things that we were
actually thinking, not only what we were saying. And this wasn’t the work
of the FBI or the CIA or something else. It is something that was entirely
out of their class. Because I don’t think they’ve got that kind of sophisticated
equipment. And they were in impossible situations to which nobody in his right
mind could have actually tried to do, in a senseless manner, that must have
taken a, well, a great deal of work, expenditure, whatnot, to cover up whatever
they wanted to cover up and which we never did discover what it was. The whole
thing began back there, and we were hesitant because we knew that nobody would
believe us, so we just kept quiet. But now it’s coming out over and over again,
so much that it’s overwhelming.
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