Thursday, April 11, 2013

Historical UFO Research

After reading the article about the research into the June 23, 1947 Cedar Rapids UFO sighting, a few suggested that maybe we should do that for all these older sightings. I think that the idea might be more trouble than it is worth. Here’s why.

The Cedar Rapids case was important because it was alleged the sighting of a disc took place prior to Arnold and more importantly, it was documented prior to Arnold. Granted, the documentation was in a newspaper, but if the witness said that he had seen a disc-shaped object and it was reported before Arnold, it became important. It would suggest that the Arnold description didn’t have the influence that some have since claimed.

Now, as I explained, I looked at several sources, including Dick Hall’s The UFO Evidence. Some sources suggested the sighting was published in newspapers but I could only find a single footnote and it didn’t reference a newspaper article as the source. Instead, it cited Frank Edwards in a 1956 speech.

So I began the search which eventually revealed the sighting was not made on June 23, but on the 24th, it didn’t happen in Cedar Rapids or Iowa, and it wasn’t published until sometime after Arnold. It became just another single witness sighting of something in the sky that did nothing to advance our knowledge of UFOs.

Many of these early sightings have nothing in them to help us. Many of the 1947 sightings that preceded Arnold were reported after Arnold. If there is no documentation to support the date, meaning something dated before the Arnold sighting hit the streets (meaning when it was published), then it does nothing for us. There are many of these, but in every case I have looked at, they were noted after Arnold.

I went back through Keith Chester’s marvelous Strange Company, looking for sightings of Foo Fighters that were described as disc shaped. The trouble was all of the sightings he collected were told to him long after Arnold had told his tale. That doesn’t mean that they were no good or were confabulations; it just means that they couldn’t be documented prior to Arnold.

This all came about simply because I wanted to document disc-shaped craft before Arnold… and there is very little to do that. Yes, I know that John Martin used the term in the late 19th century but it was a description of size rather than shape.

Yes, I know that we can track through sighting reports from the early 20th century and find some. But these are all prior to 1940. What I wanted to find was some disc-shaped craft reported between 1940 and Arnold in June 1947.

All this is a long-winded way to suggest that looking into the sightings that were reported after Arnold but claimed to have been made before Arnold isn’t going to help in what I wanted to do. Some of these sightings are of no real scientific value no matter when they were published. They were single witness and any evidential value they had has long eroded.

There is one thing that could be done. Everyone can do what I did with the Cedar Rapids sighting. Chase it down. If you live in a town with one of these old sightings, you might want to see if you can get to the original story and not the one that is currently being reported. If you find the information is accurate, so much the better… but I’ll bet that it has been skewed somehow. I don’t know how many times I have tried to chase a sighting to the original source only to find it is significantly different or even worse, was never reported. Someone made it up long after the fact.

The point is that some sightings are just of no real importance… others should be taken to the original source and see how that stacks up with what we see today… and finally there are some very important sightings that should be stripped of the rumors so that we can concentrate on the facts.


Kurt Peters said...

"...and finally there are some very important sightings that should be stripped of the rumors so that we can concentrate on the facts..."

Sir Kevin: you not see the irony in such a statement coming from the titular leader of The Roswell Dream Team?

Anthony Mugan said...

I suspect Kevin is right, on reflection, as it would be impossible at the moment to achieve a general consensus on any case outside each specific 'school' of thought. Even cases that can be fairly clearly be shown to have, or probably have, conventional explanations keep cropping up in secondary sources and there seems no way of stopping this at the moment. It's clear that, unfortunately, we always have to go back to primary sources until such time as the subject enters the paradigm stage

Alfred Lehmberg said...

" you not see the irony in such a statement coming from the titular leader of The Roswell Dream Team?"

_Little_ irony can be found in any appendage to a research effort only trying to follow the data, do due diligence, prosecute a core logic, and then publish that cogent effort in a manner keeping its respect to this day, Mr Peters. I offer that you look to Dr. Randle's faux-debunking opposition for vapid fatuousness, _enduring_ irony, and even the sneering innuendo you might be proffering here.

Steve Sawyer said...


"This all came about simply because I wanted to document disc-shaped craft before Arnold… and there is very little to do that."

Granted. I, too, thought there was little to no reliable evidence or prior documentation published in the 1940 to pre-Arnold 1947 timeframe of aerial disks being sighted, and argued that point in a prior blog posting here.

However, there is a very intriguing exception I only belatedly became aware of, after looking into the question further, and that I'd appreciate your comment and input upon, Kevin.

Part 1 of 2:

I'm referring to the Spring of 1947 sightings by various weather bureau personnel, particularly one on April 1, 1947 by Walter A. Minczewski, in Richmond, Virginia, which involved at least 4 separate sightings of disk-like objects by U.S. government Weather Bureau [USWB] employees, at least one of which were apparently viewed and tracked by theodolite when they were observing and tracking pibal weather balloons they had sent up, and then suddenly saw unfamiliar disk objects somewhat nearby.

See: and for the only documentation I was able to find online. The first link is to a relevant excerpt from the book "UFOs and Government." The second link here goes to some of the original Project Blue Book documentation about this pre-Arnold disk sighting, which is unfortunately a rather vague description of "Incident #79," and which I think was written up by J. Allen Hynek years later as part of a lengthy summary report on various UFO sightings cases for PBB.

The gist of these pre-Arnold sightings by USG weather bureau personnel in April (and earlier in the Spring) of 1947, was that (according to a reference in the recent book "UFOs and Government," by Swords, Powell, et al, noted at the first link, above) various USWB had observed at least three times before Minczewski's April 1 sighting various disk-like objects, either through theodolites or visually direct from the ground (the documentation is unclear about that).

Steve Sawyer said...

Part 2 of 2:

Here, below, is an excerpt from "UFOs and Government" which notes the following:

"An example worth mentioning [of a series of pre-Arnold disk sightings], because it became of interest to the intelligence community, was the Richmond, Virginia case of April 1, 1947[4]. There were actually several incidents involving the U.S. Weather Bureau station there in the spring of 1947. On at least three occasions, observers from the station [Question: was this the USWB station on Wallops Island, Virginia?], after having released weather balloons and beginning to track them, had seen another object in the sky which they could not explain. These were mentioned by the trackers to co-workers and superiors, but whether any formal notice was made is not known. In April, one of these personnel, Walter Minczewski, saw another of these objects and placed his balloon-tracking theodolite (a very manuverable [sic] sighting telescope sometimes equipped with a camera and used to sight balloon and missile launches) on the mystery "whatever-it-was." Minczewski reported what he saw to his superiors and did not pursue the issue any further. The Weather Bureau, sometime after the UFO wave began getting national publicity months later, apparently (we do not know the specific transfer of information) dusted off the report and sent it to the Air Force, whereupon it became part of the investigation."

(( Note: [bracketed] comments, in the excerpt above, are my insertions into the quoted text, or to include a footnote reference [4] in the book's text as shown in the Google Books search I did on "Walter Minczewski" that I couldn't superscript here.))

Oddly, the reference in "UFOs and Government" which cites/quotes from "Incident No. 79" is different from the more brief and less detailed PBB document I found at [second link, above], so I can only assume there is a separate, more detailed PBB document that Swords, et al, quoted from for inclusion in their book, but I couldn't find it on

As an excerpted example of this difference, "UFOs and Government" quotes, regarding "Incident No. 79 -- April 1847, Richmond, Virginia" the following:

"A weather bureau observer at the Richmond Station observed on three different occasions, during the six-month period prior to April, 1947, a disc-like chrome metal object. All sightings were made by a theodolite while making pibal [pilot balloon] observations."

"On the last reported sighting, the balloon was at 15,000 feet altitude, the disc followed for 15 seconds. It was shaped like an ellipse with a flat level bottom and a dome-like top. The altitude and the speed were not estimated, but the object, allegedly through the instrument, appeared larger than the balloon."

"Another observer at the same station saw a similar object under corresponding circumstances, with the exception that her balloon was at an altitude of 27,000 feet and possessed a dull-metallic luster. There was good visibility on days of observation. Report of this sighting was not submitted until 22 July 1947."

Following that, in "UFOs and Government," is the AMC opinion:

"There is no readily apparent explanation."

Steve Sawyer said...

So, what to make of all that? It's very perplexing, to say the least.

Here we have a series of at least 4 separate sightings, over a six-month period apparently ending with Minczewski's USWB report April 1 1947, and prior to Arnold's
June 24, 1947 sighting, of what seems like an archetypal, metallic, disk-like object, and even more prototypically, Minczewski allegedly saw a "dome-like" protusion on top of the disk he observed and made some kind of internal USWB report about.

How damned "classic" a UFO morphology can you get?

However, there are several ontological problems with this reporting and minimal documentation, as I'm sure most here reading this can clearly see:

First, while the data is highly suggestive of an artificial, non-prosaic object of some kind having been observed multiple times by two or more different USWB employees, and through theodolites, where is the actual, original USWB report made in April of 1947 by Minczewski for his superiors itself?

The quote from Swords' book above says the Minczewski/USWB UFO report was "dusted off" and then submitted to the Air Force, but only AFTER the 1947 UFO wave began to gain publicity, and as a result having been kicked off by the media reports of and immediately following Arnold's reported sighting. Note that the quote above says the USWB report was only submitted to the Air Force on "22 July 1947."

Second, note that the "UFOs and Government" excerpts, and the original PBB documentation are second-hand characterizations or summations by PBB personnel of the incidents, and it's unknown if any actual quotes from Minczewski's report were included in PBB's two different summaries on "Incident No. 79."

Also, where is the original PBB subsidiary or peripheral documentation of the report, or of "intelligence community" interest, even if second-hand, of Minczewski's report?

All we have here, so far, is both Swords, et al, and PBB's later, early 1950's summary report or interpretation of Minczewski's original April 1947 USWB report, not the report itself, which one would think would have been included in the original PBB file archives, unless it was "lost" or purloined, as many original PBB documents were, and thus went "missing," prior to declassification and submission to the National Archives for public release and microfilming.

We only have two brief, years-later synopses, which refer to "Incident #79" or "No. 79" and no other related PBB or other USG/USWB documentation, as far as I know. That's problematical.

In other words, what other PBB documentation, if any that is, exists of what the Air Force did or documented in late July or August, 1947, about the Minczewski report? Are there any investigatory PBB documents contemporaneous to when they finally, belatedly, got the USWB report, or not?

This is yet another example of the kind of subtle complexity and problem that Kevin cited in trying to pin down to an original source or documentation of the other alleged pre-Arnold, mid to late '40's disk sighting reports that have been reported, but only after the fact of Arnold's sighting publicity.

Steve Sawyer said...

Third, the information, _if_ true, as to Minczewski's report being accurate, points in two opposing directions (as far as the "psychosocial" UFO hypothesis [PSH] is concerned), in that we have a seminal pre-Arnold report of a 4-episode, stereotypical, early 1950's-style "flying saucer," and which is of, apparently, a single disk observed through theodolite each time while visually tracking pibal releases, possibly "domed," and which is rather unlike what Arnold reported.

Arnold reportedly observed, from approximately 15 to 25 miles away [!], nine different roughly 100-foot long objects, wavering "in train," and that the Arnold objects reported had a very thin (1:20 ratio) side aspect, heel-like in shape, not the prototypical round or truly disk-like shape, and that the eighth of nine objects in line appeared different from the other eight, with a similar curved convex front, but with a dual-concave or "scalloped" tail-like appearance. But NOT your standard, archetypal circular or oval disks!

[For details, see Arnold's varying original drawings at: and (a later sketch), plus Martin Shough's exhaustive analysis at -- see .pdf pages 132, 133, and 137]

Fourth, the question all of this raises, naturally, is that if, as the "psychosocial" theorists posit, the Arnold sightings generated in the media and public mind a kind of subtle and esoteric "confabulation" that UFOs looked like stereotypical, round metallic disks or saucers (which they may have to some extent, considering primarily the semiotics and semantic issues raised by the original misbegotten term "flying saucer" and psychological or mental imagery created by that term), as debated in the earlier blog posts here and related comments, how can you square that, the PSH supposition, with what Arnold actually saw, reported, and drew sketches of? You can't, exactly.

That seems far more likely to have been caused, and the PSH erroneously promulgated, on the same basis as what people read in newspapers, or heard about on radio, which were the words, not the actual _appearance_ of what Arnold saw or the sketches and drawings he made thereof, and after the fact. Did any late June, July, or August, 1947 newspaper or magazine reports of Arnold's sighting include his actual drawings? I don't think so.

So, how was the "flying saucer" imagery, as to shape or morphology, created?

By what people imagined, both reporters and the public, when they interpreted the "saucer-like" skipping motion Arnold initially described, as also being the shape of the objects themselves, since plates or tea saucers are familiar, round objects, and the basic point of reference most subconsciously used and understood, keying off of the word "saucer" itself, and which is a very common "logic error" based on how language is used and terms, especially new ones, are interpreted and "repurposed" by the recipient. The descriptive words were misinterpreted, and then "homogenized" by the press, and then the public. IMHO.

Even Arnold himself began, by July or August, to use the term "saucers," "saucer-like," and "flying saucers" to describe the shape of what he'd seen, despite his drawings, as a form of verbal or mental shorthand, and due to the positive (negative?) feedback loop and linguistic synthesis of the media, public, and additional UFO reports.

So even Arnold, and most others, were infected by this subconscious "meme" and the term "flying saucer" as to shape became, inadvertently and unfortunately, the common parlance and visual ideation.

Steve Sawyer said...

Noam Chomsky, the famous linguistic expert and political historian, has had a lot to say about this memetic process, which is actually a natural outcome, in lieu of and when the related semiotic imagery or "symbols"/shape/meaning and definitions of the terms used regarding Arnold's sighting were initially absent of the pictures of the shapes he sketched and claimed to have actually seen.

That only came later, and were also somewhat distorted and manipulated by the retelling and second and third-hand reinterpretations visually presented by later graphic artists and illustrators, who embellished what Arnold actually first made drawings of, sometimes absurdly so.

So, while I can see how the PSH is somewhat true, in its hypothetical effects on mental imagery derived from early, synoptic written or verbal descriptions, the PSH fails in a majority of the best, most well-documented UFO cases.

The PSH does not and cannot "explain away" the actual, best examples and most objectively documented multiple-witness UFO cases on record. And those are the cases that have to be explained, not the majority of reports which involve distant misperceptions, natural atmospheric or astronomical prosaic phenomena, mis-identifications, delusions, and hoaxes.

It's the hardcore 5-10-15 percent (depending on the era concerned) of best cases which very strongly suggest, at least, an unknown and unidentified phenomenon.

And, in 1 to 5 percent of these latter cases, the appearance, motion, reactive behavior, radar and/or other sensor-based detection and recordings, coupled with stable, valid multiple witnesses who never went public with their reported sightings or sought publicity, further suggests a potential or at least possible form of one or more kinds of advanced non-human intelligence [ANHI] being perhaps involved.

To paraphrase Arnold, it seems impossible, but there it is.

Reject it or accept it, or simply accept the ambiguity as an agnostic, but there does seem to be a singular form or forms of an objectively still unknown phenomenon.

As I have said before, I am a UFO agnostic, guided by the facts, and empirically attempting to discern the patterns of overall best reported cases, and what they might suggest, and which I believe should be the focus of objective, scientific ufology and researchers.

Something truly bizarre is and has gone on for many, many decades now, and we still do not have direct proof as to its origins, nature, or possible intent, if any. "Trufos" as Maccabee termed them, remain a very elusive mystery. To quote the famous Winston Churchill aphorism from a 1939 speech, "It is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma; but perhaps there is a key." Serious investigators should be seeking the keys necessary to help potentially unlock the mystery.

So, then, how to explain what Minczewski allegedly reported to the USWB in April of 1947, and the failure of the Project Sign personnel to honestly or seriously investigate those pre-Arnold reports? And which, in the shape and dimensions of what Minczewski observed and reported, brings us back to the stereotypical UFO of the PSH, oddly enough.

Could Minczewski have fabricated his account, after the Arnold and related sightings became known and generated nationwide publicity? Could he, and the others at the weather station who reported similar ellipsoid or rounded disk-like objects, confabulated their accounts, either in the months up until early April 1947, or after Arnold's sighting became well known? Those speculations, all things considered, seem highly unlikely.

Or, could it have been an elaborate "April Fool's Day" joke? 8^}

How could we ever find out, or separate the wheat from the chaff at this late date? I think this is, as Kevin has illustrated, a nearly impossible task, especially in lieu of Minczewski's original USWB April report, only sent to the Air Force, allegedly, on or after July 22, 1947, not being publicly available.

So, what do you think?

Steve Sawyer said...


In "Part 2 of 2," above, the footnote [4] from which the source of the "UFOs and Government" quoted excerpt comes from (...Richmond, Virginia case of April 1, 1947[4].) is noted in the list of footnotes in Swords book as derived from:

"4. SIGN microfilm, Roll 2, also J. Allen Hynek, "Final Report, Project 364," Appendix B in Unidentified Flying Objects: Project Grudge (henceforth "Grudge report," and James McDonald archives, University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona."

Also in that same part 2 of 2, I noted ""Incident No. 79 -- April 1847, Richmond, Virginia" which should obviously have been 1947, not the mid-19th century. 8^}

Too bad the Google blogs comment function doesn't allow post-publication editing. Hi ho.

cda said...

Incident no 79?

If there was any sense of chronology, there ought to be 78 incidents before this.

Were any of these disc-shaped?

Steve Sawyer said...


See the link I provided to the original Project Blue Book page file, at which shows the original PBB entry about "Incident [No./#] 79" in facsimile form -- the list of reported UFO case incidents in this report was not, oddly, in any chronological order, it was from a general review of a large number of cases.

For example, "Incident #1, 1c, 1d, 1e -- Muroc, California -- 8 July 1947" is also after both the USWB / Minczewski report received by the Air Force on July 22, and also before the June 24 Kenneth Arnold sighting entry (listed as "Incident #17"-- see: for the first of three pages of Hynek's initial analysis of Arnold's sighting). And there's no mention of the early July Roswell incident, either. Which is strange, considering Haut's press release and the subsequent brief national publicity.

[See also: for "Incident #1" Project Grudge facsimile page]

This group of UFO sightings, in no particular chrono order, is from a report produced by J. Allen Hynek, dated April 30, 1949, entitled "Mapping, Charting and Reconnaissance Research Laboratory / Final Report / Project 364" -- Hynek's report was also included as an "Appendix B" to an even longer summary technical report on Project Grudge from August, 1949.

See: for the Hynek "Appendix B" report cover page, and for the related "Table of Contents" of the Aug. '49 summary Project Grudge report.

So, the order number of the particular cases covered in Hynek's report may have had more to do when the USAF received and logged the case incident in their records sequentially, rather than the date of the actual incidents involved.

KRandle said...

Steve –

The problem here is the one that I have been talking about. There is no documentation to support a date prior to Arnold. Yes, Minczewski said the events began on April 1 and that he reported them to his superiors, no one has found any documentation to prove this. I asked Michael Swords specifically about this point and if he or any of the others with him in writing UFOs and Government had seen any Weather Bureau documents and he said no. He believes, as do I, that such documents might exist, but the search could be cumbersome. It is also true that such documents, seen by the Weather Bureau as unimportant, were destroyed long ago.


I was going to add this to the response to Steve, but you brought it up, so… This case does mention a disk shape but there is no documentation to precede Arnold. Curiously, it is not in the Project Blue Book records at all which makes you wonder about the mission of Blue Book. Clearly they knew about it.

Someone sanitized the files before they were released into the public arena. How do I know, you might ask. Well, this case does not have a file, but it is case no. 79 in the Grudge report. There are, in fact, a number of cases that Hynek mentioned in this Grudge report that do not appear in the Project Blue Book files. How did the people at Grudge know about it if there are no documents relating to it?

The problem here is, of course, that the Grudge report was issued long after Arnold so while it does document the case early on, it is not early enough for our purposes. In other words, the sightings could have been made prior to Arnold but not reported until after.

The cases cited in the report are not in chronological order so that events that happened after Arnold are reported before it. Case No. 1, for example, is from July 8. There are a number of sightings dated prior to Arnold including one dated June 21 in which the objects are described as “flashes or discs” according to the Project Blue Book files. The problem, again, is that I have nothing to suggest that this report was made prior to Arnold.

Steve Sawyer said...


"The problem here is the one that I have been talking about. There is no documentation to support a date prior to Arnold. Yes, Minczewski said the events began on April 1 and that he reported them to his superiors, no one has found any documentation to prove this."

Yeah, exactly. That's why I posted the lengthy series of posts above, about the Minczewski case, a kind of "exegesis" or illustration of precisely the same kind of thing your post here talks about, which is that regardless of what UFO sighting cases prior to Arnold's may exist, unless there is some form of original, primary sourcing that documents or recorded such cases _before_ Arnold's, such as a newspaper account or pre-Project Sign documentation, the evidence is only second-hand, belated, and therefore only circumstantial, and thus not reliable as evidence of pre-Arnold disk sightings.

[BTW, the USWB "events" didn't begin on April 1, 1947 -- that's when the last incident of an observed disc occurred, by Minczewski, after three prior Richmond USWB sightings had transpired over the previous six months, and afterward Minczewski allegedly submitted to his USWB superiors an internal report of his sighting(s), which was only later, after Arnold, "dusted off" and sent to and received by the USAF PBB staff on 22 July 1947, and which there is no original USWB documentation of.]

I had hoped there might have been some traces of the Minczewski USWB report in PBB or earlier USG UFO project files, but not only were those records "sanitized" (and where might those sanitized document files be now, if anywhere?), but a large number of some of the best case files, as noted explicitly in PBB files still extant, were recorded as "missing" or went elsewhere (Boland memo, anyone?) even before PBB was closed down in late 1969. Even Hynek was not above having removed certain original case files from PBB, which were belatedly discovered by Vallee in Hynek's disorganized collection of UFO files.

So I guess there's no "primary source" documentation of generic "flying disks" available anywhere dated before the Arnold sighting, and it does seem like an exercise in futility to try to find any. My Dad, a career USAF MSgt, now deceased, was involved in a major UFO case in the early 60's involving the crews of two separate USAF aircraft, but there is no record of that incident whatsoever in any document collections I've looked into.

As an aside, I do find it highly intriguing that Michael Swords' account of the Minczewski case as portrayed in "UFOS and Government" is so detailed. He also states in his book that as a consequence of the dual-weekend UFO sightings over the Washington, D.C. area in mid to late July, 1952 [the famous "Washington Merry-Go-Round" case(s)],
that supposedly Truman contacted the NSC on July 28, 1952 to initiate an alternate UFO investigation by the CIA, and I suspect that derives from the Connors/Hall book, "Summer of the Saucers..." book, where they claimed an actual NSC meeting with Truman in attendance occurred, but I don't think that's true, and there seems to be no independent documentation of that misbegotten speculation.

See the wikipedia "Robertson Panel" entry for additional detail about that suspect claim -- there were no recorded NSC meetings in that timeframe, and Truman was on the road days beforehand to Chicago to attend the Democratic National Convention, and then flew down to Missouri for vacation for another several days before returning to Washington, D.C.

Frank Stalter wrote an article about this on his "UFO Partisan" blog. It's documented that a White House meeting did occur with reps from the USAF, CIA, and NSC, regarding "defense of the capitol" on Sept. 3, 1952, but no other declassified documentation about that exists, as the series of meetings that day were "off the record." Very intriguing, that.

Anthony Mugan said...

If we look over history then we can see that the terminology used to describe what appear to be broadly similar experiences by observers changes quite radically. I seem to remember reading a description of a sighting by members of Alexander the Great's army of 'silver shields floating in the sky' (sorry - reference escapes me) for example.
by the middle ages such observations were usually interpreted in supernatural terms and by the late 19th and early 20th centuries we get a curious hybrid of the supernatural and the technological (ghost airships / fliers / rockets). Disks and saucers appear to be just another label a culture has assigned as a way of attempting to describe something. Perhaps the only unusual feature is that this time the social meme gained long term traction whilst the others fizzled out.
There may be some merit to aspects of the psycho-social hypothesis. If culturally you are 'expected' to see an airship (or a disk) then you may well describe something in those terms even if objectively it is a point source of light or a 'ball or light' etc etc. The tricky thing with all of this is separating out the objective data from subjective interpretation and subjective judgements. Overall I wouldn't worry too much about exactly when specific phrases began to be used, other than in a sociological or historical perspective and in providing context for helping spot subjective interpretation within primary sources.

As an aside - agree about the NSC meeting (or rather the absence of evidence for it) around Washington 52 (was involved in editing Wikipedia in that regard). It is quite interesting how the documentary record stops a layer down from the White House (barring occasional and largely insignificant items). For the Truman period in particular where it is difficult to argue the subject was not a matter of concern at the time this seems somewhat curious. Landry's comments suggest a lot was done verbally which may be the answer to that specific issue, but the absence of any paper trail at the highest levels of government in those pre-FOIA days is very curious indeed.

David Rudiak said...

Maybe this discussion should be turned on its head. Kenneth Arnold initially reported ONLY disc- or saucer-like objects and waited until a month later before privately reporting to authorities one of the nine objects being crescent-shaped.

So the public-at-large heard only of Arnold's saucer-like objects and never heard about the crescent-shaped one, yet there are also a few, rare reports from the public of seeing crescent-shaped objects. Except for the Phoenix, Rhodes photo case of July 7, I seriously doubt Arnold was even aware of these other crescent reports.

In this case we have other crescent-shaped reports preceding Arnold's instead of Arnold's saucer-shaped report preceding other similar reports. Therefore should ignore Arnold's crescent object because it wasn't reported until later?

Likewise, I still don't see why we should continue to dismiss similar, well-documented, much earlier, disc-like reports, like the previously mentioned one of explorer Nicholas Roerich and party's 1926 sighting of a fast-moving oval brightly reflecting the sun, or the 1904 Frank Schofield naval report of 3 circular and egg-shaped objects flying in formation beneath the heavy cloud layer for 2-3 minutes before sharply changing course and soaring above the clouds. So what if they didn't specifically use the words "disc" or "saucer" in describing the shape? (Of course, "disc" or "saucer" also imply that from some vantage points, something that appears to be oval or circular in shape will also have a thin, flattened look.)

Next post, an unknown "ball"-shaped object reported by a plane crew in 1935.

David Rudiak said...

This airplane sighting of a unknown, ball-shaped object seen in broad daylight over an extended period of time (80 minutes), comes from the Los Angeles Times, Oct. 27, 1935, p.2.

Although a weather balloon is cited as a possibility, the lengthy duration of the sighting would likely rule this out. Also there were no bright planets in the vicinity--the closest was Jupiter which didn't set for another 4-5 hours--plus it being early to mid-afternoon, wherein Jupiter would still be invisible to the naked eye.


Excitement was created on the plane of Central Airways of Mexico yesterday afternoon en route to Los Angeles when a strange body was observed near Hermosilla [maybe Hermisillo], Mex.

The object appeared to be a ball larger than the largest star and compared to the full moon as a tennis ball would compare with basketball, [Therefore around 5-7 minarc] Pilot Paul Adams and Co-Pilot J. E. Tremayne said at Grand Central Air Terminal.

When viewed through a small telescope, the colors of the ball changed to a mixture of red and greenish hues.

The ball was visible from 2 p.m. until about 3:10 p.m. when it disappeared over the western horizon. Passengers confirmed the flyers' observations.

The possibility existed that the object might have been a rare and unexplained fireball, although the recorded appearances of fireballs have been only of few minutes' duration. These strange celestial bodies become visible as golden balls and burst in a red and green shower of light.

If the object was a fireball, it represented an extraordinary astronomical phenomenon, according to Edward H. Morse of Pasadena. Morse saw a fireball some time ago through his fifteen-inch telescope. It lasted only a minute or so, he said.

One theory was advanced that it might have been a weather balloon which had drifted over that region. According to Weather Bureau officials here, balloons are used for wind observation of different colors including red and blue. They doubted that this could have been one of their balloons, but pointed out that El Paso and other border stations use colored balloons.

The object was reported first by Field Manager Otero of the Hermosilla airport. He could not explain it.

Anthony Mugan said...

@David Rudiak

Good point

KRandle said...

David -

For this discussion, I limited the range for searching. I was looking for sightings that preceded Arnold in a narrow time frame. But that was for the purposes of this discussion. The older sightings are quite interesting...

The point, however, was the statements that had been made that there were no disc-shaped craft sighted in the months before Arnold, and I have yet to be able to document reporting of those incidents prior to Arnold. Many exist, but the reporting all followed Arnold...

And that is why, for this discussion, those decades before Arnold are not relevant.