On June 24 in 1947, the modern fascination with UFOs began when a private pilot from Idaho reported seeing nine objects “flying like a saucer would” along the crest of the Cascades.
According to HistoryLink.org, an online encyclopedia of Washington history, Kenneth Arnold saw the high-speed metallic objects while flying his plane near Mount Rainier en route from Chehalis to his home in Boise.
Arnold said he saw a bright light that afternoon, looked north and saw the nine objects — each about 50 feet across and all of them roughly circular, except for one that was crescent-shaped. He said he watched them for about 2 minutes until they disappeared over Oregon at speeds approaching 1,400 mph.
During a refueling stop in Pendleton, Ore., Arnold described his experience to the East Oregonian newspaper. Arnold’s story, disseminated by the Associated Press, was headline news across the country. An Air Force investigation later concluded Arnold had seen a mirage or disc-shaped clouds. Arnold died in 1984.
Other Northwest UFO sightings soon followed, including ones in Portland, in Vancouver, Wash., and in Boise.
The first pictures of an alleged UFO appeared in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer on July 5, 1947. The photo by U.S. Coast Guard Yeoman Frank Ryman showed a “small bright disc” he said he saw flying over his home in Lake City. Researches later said his photo showed a weather balloon.
A few days later, on July 8, the U.S. Army famously announced it had recovered parts of a crashed UFO near Roswell, N.M. The Army withdrew its report the following day, saying the material was from a balloon.
Dean Kahn: 360-715-2291