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Kenneth Arnold sighting, June 24, 1947:

ABOUT THE JUNE 25, 1947 INTERVIEW ON WKPG RADIO BY BILL BEQUETTE:

Many ufology websites and ufology papers refer to one interview of Kenneth Arnold as having been made by William "Bill" Bequette and broadcast on WKPG radio on June 25, 1947.

It is sometimes added that the radio audio recording was provided by Mike Christol, and the transcription was done by John Powell and posted on the Encounters forum on Compuserve.

In reality:

Both the audio recording and the transcription are not an interview of Kenneth Arnold as having been made made by William "Bill" Bequette and broadcast on WKPG radio on June 25, 1947.

They are an interview of Kenneth Arnold made by Ted Smith and broadcast on KWRC radio on June 26, 1947.

Although it is likely that radio audio recording was shared by Mike Christol at some point, and that John Powell posted a transcription on Compuserve, the real discoverer of the recording is someone else.

The real story of the recording discovery.

The true story really deserves to be told!

The audio recording was discoered by Frenchman Pierre Lagrange in 1988 in the United States.

When Pierre Lagrange went to the US to investigate the Kenneth Arnold case, he asked US experts such as Loren Gross, Ted Bloecher, Jerome Clark, George Eberhart and others, if they knew of a possible radio interview with Kenneth Arnold. He thought that Arnold might have been interviewed on the radio, as he had been by the newspapers journalists.

All replied to Pierre Lagrange that they had never heard about any possible radio interview of Kenneth Arnold contemporary to the sighting, and that they had no knowledge of a recording.

Pierre Lagrange remember very well these discussions with the researchers of the Center for UFO Studies (CUFOS) when he came to Chicago. George Eberhart in particular explained to him that if Arnold had ever been interviewed on the radio, it had not been recorded and that any trace of its existence had long disappeared.

A few days later, Pierre Lagrange was back in Chicago... with the recording!

This recording is one of the many documents which he brought back from his long investigation in the United States and his investigation into the Arnold affair he had started in 1986.

Pierre Lagrange was also the first to bring to light the reproduction of the very first newspaper article ever written about the Kenneth Arnold sighting, published in East Oregonian on June 25, an article written by Bill Bequette, whom he located and interviewed.

Since 1947, nobody of other which Bill Bequette had not sought to him to meet since 1947, only Long Greg had telephoned to him.

The interview of Arnold allotted to Bill Bequette was thus made by a journalist named Ted Smith, whom Pierre Lagrange could not meet when he went to Pendleton in 1988, but who was interviewed by the journalists of the East Oregonian in 1997 for a birthday case file Pierre Lagrange authored.

A copy of this radio interview had indeed survived. Pierre Lagrange had thought that since Kenneth Arnold was interviewed on the radio, he must have asked for a recorded trace. Pierre Lagrange was right, and then he discovered this recording among Raymond Palmer's personal file, at his widow's Marjorie Palmer, in Wisconsin. She had granted Pierre Lagrange access to the personal papers of her husband, friend of Kenneth Arnold, and by discussing with Marjorie Palmer's son, Pierre Lagrange asked him whether he remembered of any recorded sound documents. the latter said that there were vinyl records sent by Arnold to his father in the files. The two men searched the files and Pierre Lagrange put the hand onto an old, thick, disc, black, with a handwritten label which said, according to his memory, KWRC, Kenneth Arnold, 26 June 1947 (Pierre Lagrange specified to me that this is based on memory but he took a photograph of the disc and could check it out sometime.)

The two men then had to find a suitable record player, and Pierre Lagrange managed to record the sound which came out of that record player's loudspeaker, with the emotion to listen for the first time to such a document, whereas he was the only one who suspected its existence strongly enough to search for it seriously... and to find it!

When Pierre Lagrange returned to Chicago with this document, Eberhart, Clark and the other people there were stunned. They certainly had been amazed already by certain discoveries that Pierre Lagrange had made the previous days, in particular the fact that he had located Captain E.J. Smith, whereas nobody knew where he was, and who was the witness of a sighting contemporary and rather similar to that by Kenneth Arnold, important enough to prompt Kenneth Arnold and Army people to meet him at the time.

CUFOS people had never suspected that such a recording could exist. Pierre Lagrange gave them a copy, and little by little, and in particular because they had copied it on a cassette rape of rare audio documents for their funders, it ended being shared and copied again by some people who had the nerves to claim they discovered it.

The recording was also published by Ray Palmer's son, Raymond Palmer Jr., at the time of the reprint of the Kenneth Arnold and Ray Palmer book book "The Coming of the Saucers", about 1997.

Likewise, the reason the story of the Bill Bequette's role and the East Oregonian's role are so often reproduced in the newspapers since the beginning of the 1990's, whereas nobody ever talked about all that before, credit goes to Pierre Lagrange for a series of articles published in the Press following his first university publications in 1990.

In particular, an article in the French magazine "Le Point" in 1990 gave all the details that the other journalists recopied thereafter. Before the investigation by Pierre Lagrange, only two or three ufologists knew about the exact details, only partially, of the circumstances by which all had started. The name of Bequette appeared only in three texts that nobody had really read nor cited: a booklet by Loren Gross published on small scale, an article by Greg Long published in the MUFON Journal and which had not particularly raised attention, and a presentation for a conference of Arnold at the UFO Congress in Chicago in 1977.

Like each time, except with Loren Gross, the Bequette name was mentioned without giving the detail of the affair, nobody then paid attention to the way in which the things had started and when the literature is searched through, it appears that pratically everyone gives whimsical versions of the manner the Arnold story came to the ears of the journalists. Even the report by Bruce Maccabee in the MUFON proceedings tells silly things on this matter.

Notes:

Because the interview is widely referred to as "Bill Bequette's interview on WKPG radio on June 25, 1947, and because I too believed it was, not spontaneously realizing that it was really the Ted Smith interview although I had both texts. Thus I initially planned to release two radio interviews when it was one radio interview. I thought Pierre Lagrange discovered a "Ted Smith interview" and others discovered a "Bill Bequette interview".

As I started publishing with the so-called "Bill Bequette" interview, planning to publish the "Ted Smith interview" later as a Pierre Lagrange find and a different document, I nevertheless keep it mentioned in my list of Kenneth Arnold statements, so that people looking for the so-called "Bill Bequette interview" can see what the real story is.

What actually is the Ted Smith interview can be listened to and read here.

The collection of statements by Kenneth Arnold about his sighting on June 24, 1947, part of the case file raw data, can be found here and the case file is here.

I want to express my warmest thanks to Pierre Lagrange serious research in the Arnold affair, for sharing his findings, for making me aware that there really was no Bill Bequette radio interview, and for sharing the true story of the discovery of Kenneth Arnold's radio interview recording.

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This page was last updated on May 27, 2009