United Airlines Flight 105 Case
Emmett, Idaho
July 4, 1947

Stewardess Marty Morrow & Captain E. J. Smith,
courtesy of Wendy Connors

Wendy Connors & Michael Hall:
Two other independent sets of observers in other parts of Seattle reported seeing multiple discs about a half an hour before Ryman took his photos. 

That night an incident occurred which was second only to Arnold's sighting in terms of media coverage. Captain E.J. Smith and First Officer Ralph Stevens of United Airlines Flight 105 were the chief witnesses. Shortly after takeoff from Boise's Cowan Field at 9:04 P.M. MST, they observed from their DC-3 airliner five discs "silhouetted against the sunset in a loose formation." When Smith asked Stewardess Marty Morrow to come forward, she confirmed the observation. Ironically, before the crew boarded the plane, someone had asked them if they had seen any flying saucers - as the disc sightings were by then starting to receive more and more publicity. Smith snapped back with a smile that, "I'll believe them when I see them." 

In that dark cockpit Smith remembered his famous last words as they watched the mysterious sight for several minutes as four more discs joined the group just as the original five faded from sight. The second group flew in a straight line formation of three together with the fourth one off by itself. Smith said "this group seemed to be higher than our flight path," [then at 7,000 feet] "and when they did leave, they left fast!" 

The sightings lasted twelve minutes and covered 45 miles as the unknown objects moved in a northwesterly direction across Idaho. At one point Smith recalled that it looked almost as if some of the discs merged together. Reaching a cruising altitude of 8,000 feet, Smith had attempted to close in for a better look as the discs neared Oregon but could not attain an airspeed much above 185 miles per hour. At that point he contacted the nearest observer he could reach - the radio tower at Ontario, Oregon. The attendant there could not see anything, yet neither could the pilots by that point. The objects had suddenly sped out of the area at tremendous speed. (25) 

This sketch depicts the only details the crew could definitely give to Intelligence officers - thin oval craft "smooth on the bottom and rough on top." Smith told the International News Service that the mysterious objects "were as big as an airplane but definitely were not aircraft." This sighting ended up in Air Force files as the third of nine in 1947 records to receive the sparingly-given designation "unidentified." Known as the United Airlines Flight 105 Case, it was second in fame only to the Kenneth Arnold Sighting during 1947. This would be only the first of four cases involving United Airlines flights over the following six weeks.

The news media was already waiting at Pendleton for a scheduled landing of the plane because many people had overheard the radio transmissions back and forth between Ontario tower and Flight 105. As a result, the story became an immediate sensation. Both Naval Intelligence and Brown and Davidson from Army Intelligence interviewed Captain Smith. 

The Brown and Davidson interview occurred on July 12th just after they had finished talking with Kenneth Arnold at the Hotel Owyhee about his incident. Arnold then invited them to his home for coffee and sherbet. While at Arnold's house they heard Smith was in Boise for a layover, so they all went out to the airport to talk to Smith and were joined by Dave Johnson from the Boise Evening Statesman.

Alfred Loedding probably would not have had the fine details of the interview via the Fourth Air Force until several months later. Coordination until at least September of 1947 was very haphazard, not only between the 4th AAF but with Dayton and Washington. Yet, because he was a Pentagon liaison, Loedding probably knew more at any one given time that summer than any single group doing investigations. Edward Ruppelt later wrote about those days: 

At first there was no coordinated effort to collect data on the UFO reports. Leads would come from radio reports or newspaper items. Military intelligence agencies outside of ATIC [Dayton] were hesitant to investigate on their own initiative because, as is so typical of the military, they lacked specific orders. 

When no orders were forthcoming, they took this to mean that the military had no interest in UFO's. But before long this placid attitude changed, and drastically. Classified orders came down to investigate all UFO sightings. Get every detail and send it directly to Wright Field. The order carried no explanation as to why the information was wanted. 

This lack of an explanation and the fact the information was to be sent directly to a high-powered intelligence group within Air Force Headquarters stirred the imagination of every potential cloak-and-dagger man in the military intelligence system. Intelligence people in the field who had previously been free with opinions now clammed up tight.

On that same night the manager of the Idaho United Press and a fifteen year veteran reporter, John C. Corlett, had a sighting that seemed to confirm the presence of something strange near Flight 105. 

While relaxing at home in his garden, he and his wife with their dinner guests, famed Boise artist V.H. Selby and his wife, all had a disc sighting. It occurred around the same time as Captain Smith's encounter when the couples observed a white disc zoom across the sky in a matter of just seconds. The object came from the northwest and traveled southeast as it passed silently overhead at an altitude of about 10,000 feet in a clear sky. 

Earlier that afternoon in Idaho, disc activity had been observed near the Twin Falls area. Between 2:30 P.M. MST and 3:10 PM. three groups of discs ranging from twenty to nine objects were seen by over sixty persons enjoying the 4th of July celebrations in the local park of Twin Falls. 

Source: Alfred Loedding and The Great FIying Saucer Wave of 1947, Wendy Connors and Michael Hall, pages 52-55.

25 Project Blue Book Files, Roll No.1, Case 34, listed as Incident 10 in 1947 era documents; and The NewYork Times, 6 July 1947, pp. 1,36.