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Kenneth Arnold sighting, June 24, 1947:

The document below is one of the collection of statements by Kenneth Arnold about his sighting on June 24, 1947. This is a part of the case file raw data. See other statements here and the case file here.

The speech at the 1977 chicago International UFO Congress:

This document:

This is a transcript of a tape, or part of a tape, of Kenneth Arnold's speech at the First International UFO Congress in Chicago, Illinois, USA, in June 1977, published in the "Proceedings of the first International UFO Congress", compiled and edited by Curtis G. Fuller and the editors of Fate magazine, Mary Margaret Fuller, Jerome Clark, Betty Lou White, Warner books editors, USA.

"As I came out below on this first sweep I passed over a little community of Mineral Washington, the pine trees there, and knew pretty much where I was. I made a turn at probably 2000 ft over Mineral, Washington and started climbing back slowly but steadily climbing, to gain sufficient altitude to go back on the high plateau again for another pass at this mountain. As I was making this turn and, of course flying directly toward Mt. Rainier, at about 9200 ft elevation... it was a beautiful day, in fact the plane was very stable, I didn't have to fight controls or weather or anything... a tremendous flash appeared in the sky and it lit up my whole aircraft, even it seem the cockpit of the airplane and I was rather startled."

"I thought I hadn't seen a plane that was very close to me, or possibly it had been a military plane that had dove over my nose and the reflection of the afternoon sun against his wing surfaces had caused the flash. Now this just, in less than one tenth of a second, I think, went through my mind. I looked all around below me and looked ahead of me. And then the flash came again and, uh, this very, very bright flash, it was almost like an arc light, was coming from a group of objects far up to the north of Mt. Rainier, in the area of Mt. Baker, which is almost in a lie with Mt. Rainier and Mt. Adams. I observed a chain of very, very peculiar aircraft approaching Mt. Rainier very rapidly... I think I described them like the tail of a Chinese kite. They seemed to be in an echelon formation. However, in getting a look at them against the sky and against the snow of Mt. Rainier as they approached, I just couldn't discern any tails on them, and I had never, never observed an aircraft without a tail. Particularly these were of fairly large size and there was nine of them in number. I was good at counting things like this because I flew missions counting antelope, sheep, cattle, and what not in the course of my lifetime, and the first craft..."

"I kept searching for their tails. I was quite surprised that I couldn't find their tails.I was aware that the military was very clever at camouflage and I was, of course assuming all the time that these were military craft or at least military missiles. I was puzzled because the formation of their echelon travel which was at 170 degrees, which is south, from north to south, following very closely to the Cascade Range, their formation as I observed it seemed to .... the first craft was at a higher elevation than all the rest of craft, which, of course, is not conventional, military formation at all, in either this country or Russia or Germany or anything that I had ever heard of before. So I just assumed, in a flash, that they were some new type of military missile or jet and possibly remote controlled. They didn't fly like airplanes actually. This brilliant flash that came from their surfaces, which I assumed was from the sun reflection at first, would pulsate and they would flutter like this and sail, and they seemed to fly just as readily on edge as they did on a level. As I mentioned before they seemed like they were linked together in a sort of diagonal chain-like formation, similar to geese, but, uh [chuckle] they were not geese. I was very puzzled about that. However, I made a special note, they were all independent. Individually they were flying on their own, but every once in a while one of them would give off a flash like this and gain a little more altitude or deviate just a little bit from the echelon formation. And this went periodically on among the... alternatingly [sic], I should say, not in regular rhythm particularly... among all the nine craft I was observing."

"When they approached Mt. Rainier's north edge, I could see they were to the west of Mt. Rainier, to me, which was a very good observation from my standpoint, because I was at right angles to them, I determined that if they were missiles or whatever they were I was going to clock their speed, or make an attempt to clock their speed. Now, around airports most pilots are always arguing about the speed of military craft, they're always arguing about the speed of their own planes. And I just thought, oh, it's a beautiful day and I've got a beautiful viewpoint here and I'm going to clock their speed even though I was closer to Mt. Rainier than to Mt. Adams, which was directly to the south and in their line of flight. I was going to clock their speed with my 24 hour clock which has a big sweep second hand on my instrument panel."

"As the first one, putting its nose out of the southern edge of the snowfield of Mt. Rainier, my sweep second had was just approaching, if I remember it correctly, about one minute to three. I think it was just going over the three. And they kept, of course flying between Mt Rainier and Mt Adams there is quite a lot of rough, high terrain, it's been named for many years goat ridge. I don't know why. Supposedly because it is very rough and very steep. But this goat ridge, as I later flew it, is approximately 5 miles long. Is in a line similar to this [probable gesture]. I was approaching Mt. Rainier. I realized that my attempt to clock their speed absolutely accurately would have been hopeless because I was rapidly approaching Mt. Rainier at 9200 ft at about a hundred miles an hour, steadily climbing myself and or course they were passing from north to south and, uh, anyhow, what took place was that, as the first one was passing this goat ridge... as the first one actually passed the end of goat ridge the last one seemed to enter above the goat ridge. I made a guess that the formation of these peculiar aircraft was approximately 5 miles long. Now this estimation is purely an estimation because the goat ridge is quite irregular. It isn't running at exactly 170 degrees. But I was getting some kind of a judgment as to how long the formation was. These craft seemed to be climbing a little bit as they were following this 170 degree heading and I knew that I was on a level with them because thy were on a horizon with me, so my altimeter showed a little over 92 hundred feet, so they were flying at an elevation of about 92 hundred, probably a little less or a little more as they sort of undulated, if you want to call it that, as they flew."

"As the... to be quite sure, as the last of this echelon formation of these strange aircraft actually passed Mount Adams, and to the best of my judgment were above a little bit, some of them, the head one was a little above Mt. Adams, I looked at my sweep second hand, and they had covered that distance of about 50 miles in a minute and 42 seconds. I didn't really, I knew they were flying really fast. I knew they were faster than our P-51's, or any planes I knew of militarily speaking, However, I didn't really try to figure out how many miles they were going.. Somehow I had a rather unusual feeling about it. Because of their size, and I judged their size to be probably, a hundred feet, their wingspan a hundred feet in diameter. And, of course, I was very puzzled by the fact that they didn't have tails. But I got a good look at their image on the snow. Now, when they gave off this flash they would appear to be round. When they turned lengthwise or flatwise to me they were very, very thin. And actually they disappeared behind a sharp projection on Mt. Rainier in the snow field to my eyesight. And, since I knew approximately where I was, flying of course toward the mountain, I knew where they had passed. I thought my judgment and my clocking could be within reasonable limits as to about how fast they were going. As they were going past this goat ridge the second from the last one seemed, it was not reflecting and it seemed to turn its rear end toward me. I guess that's the best expression I can use. And I could see that it was a very wraith-like looking thing, but it wasn't round at all. And the other ones gave me the impression they were rather like a tadpole. If you've ever seen a tadpole they have a little sort of a peak at their rear. But I couldn't quite positively determine if they were all the same design as this one I particularly noticed or whether they were ... Actually this one was a little larger, it seemed a little darker in color than the others and its wingspan seemed a little bit lighter. Of course a leader of a group of craft of this kind would, of course, you would assume would probably be the first ship. This was second from the last one and the last ship I couldn't see too well because he was fluttering and jerking very rapidly."

"The way that they performed was that, if there was a human being in them, they would have been made into hamburger at the first turn because they were going very fast and very erratically and they could change their direction almost instantly and it would have been awfully hard. The centrifugal must have been terrific, if there were human beings on them. This is the reason that gave me the impression that they must robotly [sic] guided missiles."

"Anyhow I sort of lost interest in my search mission and I decided that maybe I ought to go to Yakima and report it. Now in my craft in order to save weight so I can make high altitude take offs with it on short airfields I don't carry a lot of radio gear. I just had a small, little radio that I could contact the control tower with. I didn't need expensive and elaborate gear and so I couldn't very well call Seattle tower, I couldn't call Takoma tower or McCord or anything. I just kept flying on the way they had traveled across the Cascade range and on to Yakima."

"I felt positive in my own mind as I was continuing my flight to Yakima the forest observatories which run up and down the Cascades just couldn't possibly have missed seeing them because they were large and very distinct and there was quite a formation of them. However, I later found out that they had observed them but they had given their report not to the press or not to the public but of course to their superiors which, everything ends up eventually, I guess, in the Pentagon. I don't know."

"So I landed at Yakima and I knew the pilots there. Al Baxter was the general manager of Central Aircraft. He was an examiner as well, and I explained this all to him and I said they didn't have any tails and I told him the approximate size and I mentioned the tremendous speed and acceleration they had and the seemingly effortless way they flew. And he was really quite puzzled. We had been friends for a long time and he knew that I wouldn't make such a report unless it was absolutely true. Many of the helicopter pilots in the area had come in that afternoon and one of them mentioned, Well, Ken, I think you saw some of those guided missiles from Moses lake. I said I never heard of guided missiles from Moses Lake. I thought, well maybe that's what it is. And I felt satisfied that that's probably what they were."

[Kenneth Arnold then talks about what he did after the sighting.]

The above document is one of the collection of statements by Kenneth Arnold about his sighting on June 24, 1947. This is a part of the case file raw data. See other statements here and the case file here.

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