I have been searching for any documentation of a flying saucer, a disk-like craft, being described in the months prior to the Arnold sighting of June 24, 1947. There are many such references, but all of them seem to have been published after Arnold. The Project Blue Book files list several… and it should be noted that there are fewer listed there today than there were originally… the lone exception, as mentioned, is the Walter Minczewski sighting in April 1947. Michael Swords told me that he suspected that documentation for it existed in the Weather Bureau but he had seen nothing. For me, with this particular question, I had to know that the documentation existed. It was about being able to wave a document of known provenance and showing that it mentioned a disk-shaped craft and with an established date before Arnold.
Yes, and to head off any discussions of saucers in the decades that preceded Arnold, I know that these descriptions had been used. Yes, there was documentation for it, but I was looking for something specific in the months prior to Arnold.
Thanks to the people over at the NICAP site especially Michael Tarbell, and Steve Sawyer who made sure that I saw it, we have an interesting sighting from December 30, 1946. It appears in a mimeographed publication known as “Round Robin.” It is dated February 1947 [which given how these things worked, might not have been published until March or April, but it is dated February], and has the title, strangely, “Space Ships Again?”
The editor noted that they had published, in December, a report by Ella Young from 1927 and another sighting of “remarkable lights seen on 20th of last October.” This report, including corroboration of a friend, said:
Yesterday, Dec. 30,  I was with a friend on the high ground that curves southward from Morro Bay [California]. We were looking at the sky to the south where the sun had gone down – golden, with a bank of cloud mist, also golden, on the horizon. The time was 25 min. of six. Suddenly a dark object appeared in the sky; it came forward and grew more distinct. It was very black on the golden sky, and was coming forward head-on – an air machine of some sort. It had a bat-like appearance owing to the curve of its wings. There may have been motion at the extreme tip of each wing but I could not be sure. It appeared to stand still for several minutes and the form was most distinct. Suddenly it with lowered itself toward the horizon, or the bank of cloud mist made an upward movement (perhaps both movements occurred), for the machine passed behind the cloud and did not again appear. Immediately afterward a great flush of colour spread on the sea… I enclose a statement from my friend…
This Ella Young, described as the distinguished author seems to have been a fairly well-known poet. She was born in Ireland but immigrated to the United States in 1925, and moved to California. Given that information, and the spelling of “colour,” I suspect this is the right woman.
The friend is not identified in the “Round Robin” and I have been unable to learn who it was, though this sighting is in Harold Wilkins’ Flying Saucers on the Attack [page 40 of the American paperback edition]. He describes “…Young as an American authoress, who wrote to Mr. Meade Layne, M.A., who has devoted much time to the investigation of these remarkable phenomena, seen at various dates…” Although Wilkins reproduces Young’s statement in his book, that didn’t provide evidence of the report prior to Arnold. Interestingly, he also alters it, changing the time from “25 min. of six,” to “and the time was 5:35 p.m.,” and removes both the underlining and the parenthetical statement.
The “Round Robin” editor also printed the note that came from Young’s friend but without a name, it does little to actually corroborate the story. It was signed as “An Interested Observer,” and it said:
A friend [Young] and I were sitting near Morro Bay about 5:30 in the evening of Dec. 30, watching the sunset over the sea. As brilliant colours poured into the sky, golden and bright red, a large blackish shape appeared. We thought it was a large airplane but noticed that the wings were larger than usual and that they curved like the wings of a bat or a bird. They were wider and broader, also. The shape flew slightly toward land, then hung poised in the air for at least more than five minutes. Then rather suddenly a large band of golden cloud floated in front of it, blotting it out completely. The sunset deepened in colour but the shape had disappeared. I thought this might be of interest to you, as there is no doubt about the shape.
Well, not exactly a disc shape, but then, it sort of matches the description given by Arnold some months later. Sure, you have to interpret what is meant by the descriptions and by doing that you certainly can slip off the rails. For those who think they might want to track down Ella Young, which wouldn’t be all that difficult given her writing career, I will note that she died on July 23, 1956.
There is some intriguing discussion with this article. It said, “And as was lately pointed out in Flying Roll, RR [Round Robin] friend Vincent Gaddis has collected data on some thirty-odd instances of mysterious flying objects, widely varying in appearance – nearly all of recent date.”
This might be even more important than Young’s sighting. Here is a reference to thirty UFO sightings that were made prior to Arnold. We know little about them, other than Vincent Gaddis had collected them. If we can access that source, then we might find a wealth of information about disk-shaped UFOs (which to this point I have been unable to do other than learn that Meade Layne was probably the publisher of “Round Robin”… and that Layne had a Ph.D from USC, taught at a couple of universities, and wasn’t the nutcase he has been labeled as being). It would suggest a growing wave of sightings that existed prior to Arnold and suggest that Arnold didn’t mark the beginning, but actually the middle of the wave. The press jumped on the Arnold sighting, and only then realized what was going on, meaning that people were seeing strange things in the sky. My search of sightings documented prior to Arnold might just have found the mother lode.