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The Kenneth Arnold sighting, June 24, 1947:

The 1967 article in FSR:

This is the article about Kenneth Arnold's sighting published in the Bristish Flying Saucer Review (FSR) in Volume 32, No 5, pp 2-12, 1967. Use the buttons below to browse though the pages of the article.

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(From documents obtained by Peter Gersten and CAUS) With Comments by John A. Keel, FSR Consultant.

DURING the 1960s, I approached the Federal Bureau of Investigation (F.B.I.) in Washington, D.C., asking to see their UFO-related files. Each time they assured me that the F.BI. had absolutely no interest in UFOs and therefore no such files existed. But in the late 1970s, the New York lawyer Peter Gersten applied the new Freedom of Information Act and forced the F.B.I. to produce hundreds of documents. Among these were the original reports on Kenneth Arnold. As is their practice, the F.B.I. carefully deleted the names of the individuals mentioned in the reports, but it was easy to restore most of the missing information, using Arnold's public statements and later interviews.

Although there was a massive "ghost rocket" wave in Europe in 1945-46, most UFO historians regard Arnold's sighting on June 24, 1947, as the real beginning of the "Flying Saucer", He was an exceptionally credible witness, as the interviewers note in these documents, and his later involvement in the Maury Island "hoax" proved him to be an exceptional investigator as well. But in the years following the events of l 947, he and his family were hounded by eager UFO buffs and bewildered witnesses. Finally, he deliberately spread the rumour that he had moved to Australia. He made very few public appearances and purposefully demanded an exorbitant lecture fee. But he did speak in Chicago, Ill. in June 1947, before a UFO convention. organized by Jerome Clark and FATE magazine.

Kenneth Arnold passed away in January, 1985, in Bellevue, Washington, only a few miles from the site of his 1947 sighting.

The big surprise in the F.B.I. documents was a report by a prospector who had been working the Cascade Mountains on that same afternoon of June 24, 1947 when he saw "five or six" disc-shaped objects weaving through the mountains! Apparently this man (his name was deleted from the report by the F.B.I.) was a corroborative witness to Arnold's sighting, and was viewing the objects from the ground while Arnold was watching them from the air! Note that the document bears the notation "REPORTS OF FLYING DISCS ... SECURITY MATTER -X".

I should mention that in handling stacks of these liberated Government documents, I have found that the F.B.I. reports in particular were very badly written, lacking in significant detail and often filled with idiotic speculation and innuendo. The prospector's report is completely lacking in background detail. We don't even know if the prospector spoke to an F.B.I. agent directly or if this report was derived from a letter sent to the Army at an earlier date. Like so many of the F.B.I. papers from the J. Edgar Hoover era, this item would not stand up in a court of law. But it is very interesting, nonetheless.

The second document describes a phone call made to David Johnson, aviation editor of the Idaho Daily Statesman, although his name has of course been deleted. (Most of the other deletions in this document are Kenneth Arnold's name.) · Lieutenant Frank Brown wrote this for the Army Air Force investigating group. The third document is also by Brown, and is basically an endorsement of Arnold as a reliable witness. These two documents by Brown were both written for the Air Force's Confidential file, and both were later found in the F.B.I.'s UFO file even though the F.B.I. professed to have no interest in UFO matters.

Two weeks later, Lt. Frank M. Brown and Captain William Davidson would die in a plane crash shortly after taking off from McChord Field in Tacoma. They had been visiting Arnold who was investigating the notorious "Maury Island" affair. At that point in time, Brown and Davidson were the only Air Force officers involved in UFO investigations. Two weeks after the plane crash, Paul Lance, a newspaper reporter involved in the Maury Island mystery, died very suddenly. Harold Dahl's 12-year-old son vanished suddenly at the same time. Dahl and his son had been aboard a boat in Tacoma harbour when they sighted some "flying doughnuts" near Maury Island. Weeks later, Dahl's son was found in the tiny village of Lusk, Wyoming, many hundreds of miles from Tacoma. He was suffering from total amnesia!

A rigorous campaign was also waged by someone to ridicule and discredit Ray Palmer, the Chicago editor who sent Kenneth Arnold $200 for expenses to investigate the Maury Island case.

The last of the documents was written by Arnold himself and submitted to the F.B.I. It proves him to be a very careful observer and is filled with significant detail. It also raises some rather astonishing questions. These questions haunted Arnold privately.

His attention was drawn to the objects by a bright flash of light. Twenty years later, at his speech in Chicago, he provided more details. "As I was making this 180° turn," he said, "and flying directly toward Mount Rainier at about 9200 feet elevation, a tremendous flash appeared in the sky. It lit up my whole aircraft even the cockpit, and I was startled. I thought I was very dose to collision with some aircraft I hadn't seen. Or, I thought, possibly a military plane had dived over the nose of my airplane and the reflection of the afternoon sun against his wing surfaces had

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