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Kenneth Arnold's sighting

Kenneth Arnold sighting reports in the Press:

The article below was published in the newspaper The Daily Press, Newport News, Virginia, USA, on page 6, on July 13, 1947.

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Just Illusion, Maybe?

All sorts of phantasmagoric suppositions and theories and guesses have been made in the week or two since they appeared as to what the "flying saucers" are. Many scientific-minded persons still hold - and very likely, when the tale finally reaches the end, they will be proven in the main to be right - that the "flying saucers" is only illusion. At least one young elementary schoolboy in Newport News is firmly convinced that they are space-vehicles arriving from another planet. The possibility of their being a secret weapon invented by some real or potential enemy to the United States has received its share of comment, though such a supposition of course is absurd.

The very witness of the tales and the very frequency of the "flying saucers" appearance, when examined in comparison with the fact that no one of any scientific standing admits having observed one, inclines us to revise our earlier estimate that so many apparitions must connote some material substance to them. There are, it must be conceded, some possible material explanations. Most prominent in the assertion by a Roanoke toy manufacturer that to stimulate sale of a new variant of quoits he has invented, he had distributed numbers of rubber "discs" amnog retails - to be inflated with gas, released, and lead to a flood of questions. The play of searchlights on clouds undoubtedly accounts for some others of the apparitions. Reflections, blood-concentration from stare into the light on the eye's lens, the retinal image remaining after looking at a bright object, all these things must have contributed to the growing count of "flying saucers." A small balloon or two seems to have added to the total. And many "observers" must be seeking publicity.

Failure of anything more tangible in the way of a mystery aircraft, however, to be revealed, the apparent lack of interest among army circles, and the well-nigh universal gullibility of human beings, their exaggerative propensity, and their response to suggestion, seem to relegate the "flying saucers" to the realm of such chimeras as the cabbage make of nearly a half century ago, or of the kissing bug - both reportedly lethal to human beings, but both finally exposed as


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imaginative myths. If not, there will be an explanation in due time. While we await it we needn't worry about Martian men with noses a yard long and eyes on tentacles landing from strange craft to subdue us overnight - not about mad Russians using "flying saucers" to reconnoitre our land preparatory to atomic assault.


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Saucers, Sorcery, Or Only Illusions?

It was hot. The nation, unaccounted yet to prickly heat, was depressed and irritable. The foreign news was bad. Russia had walked out of the Paris conference. Europe was splitting into armed camps.

Like that lightning before a storm, reports crackled from coast to coast about mysterious "flying saucers" skimming through the skies at speeds up to 1200 miles an hour. soon they were seen in most states of the Union and around the world.

The strange missiles were seen by hundreds since Kenneth Arnold, businessman-pilot of Boise, Idaho, first reported them flying in loose formation high above the Cascade mountains in Washington on June 25. They generally disappeared into the distance.

Most agreed that they were round or oval but guesses as to their size ranged from that of a five-room house to one of a "silver ball, six inches in diameter."

An Army air force captain in Washington said the A. A. F. had decided there must be something to all the stories but was mystified. He said reports of flat round objects zipping through the skies were too wide-spread to be groundless and noted that a number of observers had been competent airmen.

Military planes, armed with long range cameras, patrolled skies around the Pacific coast in search of flying saucers. A Seattle coast guard said he had photographed one of the flying discs and his negative magnified nearly 20 times, showed a white dot near the center of the picture.

The army, navy and state departments officially checked all their units to see if any were sending aloft objects which might account for the phenomena. The answers were negative.

David Lilienthal, chairman of the atomic energy commission, said the discs had nothing to do with atomic experiments. Nuclear experts branded as "pure gibberish" reports linking the mysterious saucers with "transmutation of atomic energy."

Some scientists suggested that reflections of light, such as from aircraft, might account for the bright spots. Others said they must be mirages. Psychologists said unkind things about mass hysteria, autosuggestion and hidden fears.

"America's reply to the Loch Ness Monster", chortled the British newspaper.

Europeans generally took the view that the flying saucers, like Sweden's "ghost rockets," would go away if everyone would take a good stiff bicarbonate and the pledge, in that order.

To: Kenneth Arnold or Newspapers 1940-1949.

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