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Kenneth Arnold's sighting

Kenneth Arnold sighting report in the Press:

The article below was published in the newspaper The Courier-Journal, Louisville, Kentucky, USA, on page 38, on July 20, 1947.

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Flying Disks May Be Just the First Of a Series of New Aerial Puzzles

By HOWARD W. BLAKESLEE
Associated Press Science Editor

NEW YORK, July 19. -- The flying disks are probably the first of a series of aerial puzzles, with others to come, in the opinion of Dr. J. L. Moreno, New York, widely known psychiatrist and originator of the science of sociometry, or group organization.

Dr. Moreno believes that there is no doubt that many witnesses of the flying disks really have seen what they described. Not all saw the same things, but the observers are perfectly normal persons.

All were peering into a new sky world, new because of what scientists and engineers have said will soon be flying there.

Men have been seeing things like flying disks for centuries. Now these apparitions have a new meaning, and some of them a new dreadfulness.

More to See, Now

Furthermore, today there are more to be seen. Once there were only birds, clouds, big hailstones, mirages, high ice crystals, balloons and shooting stars.

Now there are planes, weather-balloons targets which are shining aluminum reflectors, the know-how to produce man-made shooting stars, drifting ribbons of lightweight foil to interfere with radar, vapor trails of stratosphere planes and improved V-2 rockets. Well-known scientists have speculated on atomic substances which they say might wipe out a nation and all life therein. Mostly these atomic menaces are described as coming though the air.

Today, most people quite subconsciously look at the innocent heaven with a quickened interest.

"An analysis of the reports," Dr. Moreno says, "gives the symptoms of a mental condition from which human society suffers at present.

"The basic cause seems to be fear of coming disaster. A social psychosis of this sort is difficult to diagnose because the individuals sharing in it are normal.

'Feelings Infectious'

"These normal feelings are infectious. Mankind has experiences many similar developments in the past. These produced the beliefs in the witches, pixies, devils, giants, Santa Claus and the astrological and other cults.

"Our technical era offers a fertile field for new perils. These are linked with radar, radio, atom bombs and the like. The potentialities for creating illusions are present all the time.

"The form taken depends on who is in authority at the moment. Once it was some great mysticist. Later there were Marx, Lenin and Hitler. Today, Einstein, Marconi and others set a pattern because they are believed by so many people to know or to have known what the future holds.

"The beliefs that people take spread like wildfire because human society is highly structured. Experiences, real or rumored, spread according to specific social laws. They spread just as surely as a stone falls in accord with the law of gravitation. There is a law of social gravitation, based on emotional infectiousness of individuals for one another.

More to Come

"Mankind is not just a number of individuals. Mankind consists of millions of networks through which ideas travel. The popular term is grapevine. It is because these networks that report, true or false, spread with such velocity. The natural networks are enhanced by the press, radio, movies, magazines and other publications.

"The flying saucers, when viewed with similar phobia of the postwar period, prognosticate a crop of similar disturbances to come.

"Man has yet to learn to control these networks, which are for human society what the nervous system is for the individual."

The flying disks began on June 25, without attracting great immediate publicity. Kenneth Arnold, Boise businessman, who flies as an agent for a fire-protection equipment company, said that from his plane he saw, above the Cascade Range near the Washington-Oregon state line, a string of nine objects that seemed to be moving about 1,200 miles an hour. Their formation resembled the tail of a kite. Arnold said they were bigger than four-engine planes, but he could not identify them further.

Carries Camera

Arnold was kidded by friends, harried by strangers, flooded by phone calls. Now he feels vindicated. There is nothing far-fetched in his picture plan. A photograph was taken north of Seattle of a single flying object, which showed near twilight as an elongated patch of light and lasted too long to be a shooting star.

The photographer, Frank Ryman, of the U. S. Coast Guard, was unable to identify the object.

By July 3, flying disks have been reported in 10 states, mostly west of the Mississippi. The mane had become "flying saucers."

The reports exploded overnight into national prominence when Capt. E. J. Smith flew a transport plane out of Boise in early twilight. He, his first officer, Ralph Stevens, and Stewardess Marty Morrow were quoted as agreeing that all of them saw, first five, and a little later four flying disks. Both flights seemed to be in loose formation.

The Roswell Bubble

Smith thought at first they were other planes, and blinked his lights, but received no answering signal. He too failed to identify the flying objects.

About this time, the Army Air Forces added an official bit, in response to growing insistence for an explanation. Capt. Tom Brown, Washington, was quoted: "We are not dismissing the possibility there is something to it. And not dismissing the possibility that it's all a hoax."

On July 9, the stories climaxed and burst like a bubble when an Air Forces officer at Roswell, N. Mex., issued a statement that the flying disk had become a reality with the discovery of something of that sort on a ranch near Roswell.

That statement was discussed on the air and in early editions for seven hours before the thing arrived at Fort Worth and was identified as the radar target of a weather balloon. About a hundred of these targets are sent up daily all over the United states.

Sizes Varied

The disks were seen both day and night. Sizes varied. They were as big as tops of cofee cans, or big as footballs. At spokane, they were described as the size of five-room houses. In Tennessee, they were reported bigger than houses. This trio emitted fire and smoke from exhausts.

There were flat, translucent plates a little more than a foot in diameter. In Denver, one was reported bearing an American flag. In South Carolina, a group of Army pursuit planes chased a flock of disks. In Delaware, the disks resembled mayonnaise jars. At night, some were seen as beautiful balls of fire. At Glen Falls, N. Y., they were described as big as an auto headlight. One had red fire in front and a trail of blue smoke.

One woman said she saw a saucer with legs, and it was coming towards her.

Everything's round

All descriptions fit with the fact that near the limit of vision, all objects appear round. The may be bright, in reflected light, or from exhaust fire, or they may look dark, but they are round. If bright, they can be seen at great distances.

The apparent sizes, even near the limit of vision, vary greatly depending on background. So do apparent speeds.

Radar failed to spot any of the disks. Not one was seen by any observer closer than the one who first reported the object. Mirages rarely appear so high in the sky, and not at night. High-altitude ice crystals are common sights, but have the forms of rings around the moon or sundogs, which are colored patches near the sun. Meteors might account for many night disks, but hardly for those seen in the daytime.

A professor in Australia and Lt. Col. Hatwin A. Schultze, American officer in Germany, said they might be muscae volitantes, which means flying flies. These are blood corpuscles moving in the eyeball, which appear against a sky background as dark, rapidly moving spots. Their motion fail to fit flying disks. Everyone knows them as spots before the eyes.

Fear showed repeatedly in speculations that the disks were things of some foreign power making military experiments. One report credited a supposed foreign atomic flying engine with strange powers.

Numerous objects were found on the ground. But these had not been seen in flight, or only at the very end of flight. A flying buzz-saw was picked up in Wisconcin, and a metallic thing, turtle-shaped with a back fin, in California.

Whatever else they may be, the flying saucers are also new folklore in the making.

[Photo caption:] Don Hill, the sportscaster, and Livington Gilbert, announcer, made this photo of a flying disk - or something - in Hill's yard the morning (3:15 a.m.) of July 3. They said it traveled on a curve at about 150 miles an hour.

To: Kenneth Arnold or Newspapers 1940-1949.

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