"Always Telling the Truth Means Never Having to Remember Anything"
By Dennis Balthaser
Many times I’m asked where and how the term “Flying Saucer” came about. Years ago, most people including some researchers, referred to strange aerial phenomenon as flying saucers. Today most researchers refer to them as Unidentified Flying Objects, (UFOs). One of the reasons for using the description UFOs is because what people have seen in recent years cannot be explained as only a saucer or disk shaped craft. They are now explained by witnesses as various shapes such as triangles, cigar shaped, orbs, and disks. So today the term UFO is commonly used when referring to any unknown object seen in the air, however, the term flying saucers is still preferred by some as a general description of what people are seeing.
Perhaps the most widely publicized use of the term Flying Saucer was used in the Roswell Daily Record newspaper article of July 8, 1947, written by Public Relation Officer Walter Haut, under orders of the base commander Colonel William Blanchard, to report what had been recovered on the Foster ranch northwest of Roswell a few days earlier. There were other reports of strange objects seen in the sky prior to that article, but the Roswell Incident of 1947 became the most famous report using the term flying saucer. As we all know, the following day, July 9, 1947 the newspaper reported it was only a weather balloon, in the article made famous by General Ramey, to discredit the original report that a flying saucer had been found in the New Mexico desert.
That brings us to how we believe the description Flying Saucer came into existence. Two weeks prior to the 1947 Roswell Incident, on Tuesday, June 24, 1947 businessman, Kenneth Arnold, was flying his personal airplane used for his business, between Mt. Adams and Mt Rainier in the state of Washington, searching for a missing marine troop plane supposedly down in the area. About 3 pm. he spotted nine saucer type aircraft flying in formation, very bright as if nickel plated, and observed that they were traveling at an immense speed. His best estimate of the altitude of these craft was between 9500 and 10,000 feet, while he believed their speed was about 1200 miles per hour. (In 1947 no known aircraft could travel at that speed.) He couldn’t believe what he had seen, but later said, “I must believe my eyes.”
When Arnold finally landed in Yakima sometime later, and asked others about what he had seen, he was not given any information. The next morning, however, he met a man in Pendelton, who informed Arnold that he had sighted the same objects yesterday afternoon from the mountains in the Ukiah section, giving confirmation to what Arnold had observed from his private airplane the previous afternoon. The man told Arnold that the objects in flight appeared to weave in and out of formation.
The thing that first got his attention was several flashes like a mirror was reflecting sunlight, traveling at an incredible speed. They first appeared as possible saucers like a pie plate, but he didn’t notice any tails on them as an airplane would have.
Arnold decided to clock them using his clock on the instrument panel, and determined that it took them only one minute and 42 seconds to travel from Mount Rainier to the peak of Mount Adams, indicating they only remained in his site for about 2 minutes once he saw them.
Later a reporter for the East Oregonian newspaper would recall that Arnold’s description of what he saw was, “like a saucer would if it were skipped across the water.” Thus, the reporter’s use of the phrase “saucer-like” gave us the term “flying saucer.”
Kenneth Arnold’s flying experience started as a boy in North Dakota, where he took his first flying lesson. Due to the cost of lessons he didn’t begin flying regularly until 1943, and for several years flew an average of 40 to 100 hours per month after that.
In a interview Mr. Arnold did with Frank M. Brown, Special agent CIC, of the 4th Air Force Headquarters at Hamilton Air Force Base in California, on July 10th, Mr Brown indicated that at the time of the sighting Mr. Arnold was 32 years old, married, the father of two children, and well thought of in the community he lived in. In that interview Arnold stated that his business had suffered greatly since the incident due to the fact that at every stop he made on his business routes, large crowds were waiting to question him about what he had seen. He also stated, “that in the future if he saw anything in the sky, he would never say anything about it.” That statement is similar to what ranch foreman Mack Brazel said about the debris he found on the ranch near Roswell in 1947, after being incarcerated by the military for 5 days at Roswell Army Air Field. Brazel said, “if he ever found anything again he’d bury it in the desert.” So both Arnold and Brazel believed what they saw and reported it, only for the media, the military and others to make light of it and ridicule them. It’s no wonder they didn’t want to discuss it any more. The same thing happened to Travis Walton, “Fire in the Sky”, about his abduction experience. He also was ridiculed after going public, so I understand why people that see strange unexplainable things in the air are reluctant to talk about it. For many it’s not worth the criticism they have to endure if they mention it.
A majority of the unexplained things people see are actually explainable, such as clouds, planets, aircraft, balloons etc, however, for both Arnold and Brazel what they reported were not like anything they had seen before. As patriotic Americans they felt a need to report what they experienced, only to later suffer for doing that. They simply wanted an explanation for what they had seen or found, but never were given that, and more than likely their lives were never the same again.
Dennis G. Balthaser
Dennis G. Balthaser
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