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Kenneth Arnold sighting, June 24, 1947:

The document below is about one of the numerous explanations put forth to Kenneth Arnold's report of his June 24, 1947 sighting. This is a part of the corresponding case file. See the case file here. The purpose of the following is not to decide what Kenneth Arnold saw, or to decide that Kenneth Arnold saw something, but to present one of the numerous explanations of his sighting report and to comment about it.

KENNETH ARNOLD SAW F4U CORSAIR FIGHTERS OR OTHER PLANES, WITH TAILS CAMOUFLAGED NOT TO BE VISIBLE AGAINST THE SKY:

Kenneth Arnold reported he did not see a tail on the objects that puzzled him.

Eric Maillot wrote that he found an explanation to that and that it gave him a solution to the sighting report:

"...certains modèles de F4U, particulièrement ceux de l'U.S. Navy, ont été peints en tricolore: dessous blanc, milieu bleu ciel, dessus bleu marine. Certaines parties de l’avion, surtout la queue, se confondent alors aisément avec un fond de ciel bleu lumineux comme le démontrent les photos couleurs ci-dessus. Vue de loin, la taille apparente des appareils se réduit tellement que la queue devient rapidement invisible ; seule la zone foncée (peinte en bleu nuit) reste visible." [em1]

i.e.:

"...some version of the F4U, particularly those of the US Navy, were painted with three colours: white underneath, sky blue in the middle, Navy blue on the top. Some parts of the plane, especially the tail, merge then easily with a background of luminous blue sky as the color photographs show it above. Seen from a distance, the apparent size of the apparatuses is reduced so much that the tail quickly becomes invisible; only the dark zone (painted in night blue) remains visible."

Eric Maillot argued that a fighter such as the F4U Corsair; which tail was sometimes camouflaged in light blue so that it would be difficult to see against the light blue background of the daylight sky, could be the solution to the Kenneth Arnold sighting.

Eric Maillot explains that it is because the tails of these F4U Corsairs were camouflaged, that Kenneth Arnold described these planes like discs with a convex triangle at the back, instead of seeing them and identifying them as what they really were:

"It will be noted that the zone of the dark painting, the most visible from the distance, has an outline which makes it possible to understand a detail quoted by K.A in his radio interview of June 25 ('They looked something like a pie plate that was cut in half with a sort of a convex triangle in the rear.')

This appeared sensible, and the underlying information and pictures provided by Maillot are certainly fit as far as the F4U Corsair is concerned: this plane could have flown there, it could have had a tail camouflaged in light blue that could not have been visible against the light blue background of the daylight sky.

As of November 22, 2009, nobody apparently cared to alert that this explanation is actually flawed.

Indeed, the situation reported by Kenneth Arnold was entirely misunderstood by Eric Maillot.

This is what Kenneth Arnold really said:

"... Now, I thought, well, uh, that maybe they're jet planes with just the tail, the tails painted green or brown or something, ..." [ka1]

Kenneth Arnold did wonder whether the tails could have been unnoticeable because some camouflage was applied.

But he never said at all that he could not see the tail against the background light blue daylight sky, on the contrary, what he said implied that the camouflage that would have resulted in the tails not being visible had to be "green or brown or something..."

This means that he did not see the tail at a time when the objects "... even went down into the canyons in several instances, oh, probably a hundred feet..."

Left: Mount Rainier, Washington, as seen on flight to Mount St. Helens. View is from the south. USGS Photograph taken on December 28, 2004, by Jim Vallance and Stephanie Konfal.
(hvo.wr.usgs.gov/volcanowatch/2008/08_09_18.html)

He saw no tail when the objects were against a non-snow, non-sky background; he saw no tail when the objects were against a green or brown terrain background.

Obviously he also did not see the tails either when the objects were "against the snow"; he reported seeing no tail at any time.

Thus: Eric Maillot has it all wrong. If it was a camouflage that prevented him to see the tails, it had to be a green or brown camouflage, a camouflage to hide the tails against a non-snowy ground, not against the clear blue sky.

And, of course, such a camouflage would have made the tails visible against the snowy terrains and against the blue daylight sky, and Kenneth Arnold did not report any tail at anytime at all; which means not only that light blue tail camouflage is not the solution, but that no tail camouflage is part of a solution.

References:

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