BY KENNETH ARNOLD
The following story of what I observed
over the Cascade mountains, as impossible as it may seem, is positively
true. I never asked nor wanted any notoriety for just accidentally being
in the right spot at the right time to observe what I did. I reported something
that I know any pilot would have reported. I don't think that in any way
my observation was due to any sensitivity of eye sight or judgment than
what is considered normal for any pilot.
On June 24th, Tuesday, 1947, I had finished
my work for the Central Air Service at Chehalis, Washington, and at about
two o'clock I took off from Chehalis, Washington, airport with the intention
of going to Yakima, Wash. My trip was delayed for an hour to search for
a large marine transport that supposedly went down near or around the southwest
side of Mt. Rainier in the state of Washington and to date has never been
I flew directly toward Mt. Rainier after
reaching an altitude of about 9,500 feet, which is the approximate elevation
of the high plateau from which Mt. Rainier rises. I had made one sweep of
this high plateau to the westward, searching all of the various ridges for
this marine ship and flew to the west down and near the ridge side of the
canyon where Ashford, Washington, is located.
Unable to see anything that looked like
the lost ship, I made a 360 degree turn to the right and above the little
city of Mineral, starting again toward Mt. Rainier. I climbed back up to
an altitude of approximately 9,200 feet.
The air was so smooth that day that it
was a real pleasure flying and, as most pilots do when the air is smooth
and they are flying at a higher altitude, I trimmed out my airplane in the
direction of Yakima, Washington, which was almost directly east of my position
and simply sat in my plane observing the sky and the terrain.
There was a DC-4 to the left and to the
rear of me approximately fifteen miles distance, and I should judge, at
14,000 foot elevation.
The sky and air was clear as crystal.
I hadn't flown more than two or three minutes on my course when a bright
flash reflected on my airplane. It startled me as I thought I was too close
to some other aircraft. I looked every place in the sky and couldn't find
where the reflection had come from until I looked to the left and the north
of Mt. Rainier where I observed a chain of nine peculiar looking aircraft
flying from north to south at approximately 9,500 foot elevation and going,
seemingly, in a definite direction of about 170 degrees.
They were approaching Mt. Rainier very
rapidly, and I merely assumed they were jet planes. Anyhow, I discovered
that this was where the reflection had come from, as two or three of them
every few seconds would dip or change their course slightly, just enough
for the sun to strike them at an angle that reflected brightly on my plane.
These objects being quite far away, I
was unable for a few seconds to make out their shape or their formation.
Very shortly they approached Mt. Rainier, and I observed their outline against
the snow quite plainly.
I thought it was very peculiar that I
couldn't find their tails but assumed they were some type of jet plane.
I was determined to clock their speed, as I had two definite points I could
clock them by; the air was so clear that it was very easy to see objects
and determine their approximate shape and size at almost fifty miles that
I remember distinctly that my sweep second
hand on my eight day clock, which is located on my instrument panel, read
one minute to 3 P.M. as the first object of this formation passed the southern
edge of Mt. Rainier. I watched these objects with great interest as I had
never before observed
airplanes flying so close to the mountain tops, flying directly south
to southeast down the hog's back of a mountain range. I would estimate their
elevation could have varied a thousand feet one way or another up or down,
but they were pretty much on the horizon to me which would indicate they
were near the same elevation as I was.
They flew like many times I have observed
geese to fly in a rather diagonal chain-like line as if they were linked
together. They seemed to hold a definite direction but rather swerved in
and out of the high mountain peaks. Their speed at the time did not impress
me particularly, because I knew that our army and air forces had planes
that went very fast.
What kept bothering me as I watched them
flip and flash in the sun right along their path was the fact that I couldn't
make out any tail on them, and I am sure that any pilot would justify more
than a second look at such a plane.
I observed them quite plainly, and I estimate
my distance from them, which was almost at right angles, to be between twenty
to twenty-five miles. I knew they must be very large to observe their shape
at that distance, even on as clear a day as it was that Tuesday, In fact
I compared a zeus fastener or cowling tool I had in my pocket with them
- holding it up on them and holding it up on the DC-4 - that I could observe
at quite a distance to my left, and they seemed smaller than the DC-4; but,
I should judge their span would have been as wide as the furtherest engines
on each side of the fuselage of the DC-4.
The more I observed these objects the
more upset I became, as I am accustomed and familiar with most all objects
flying whether I am close to the ground or at higher altitudes. I observed
the chain of these objects passing another high snow-covered rIdge in between
Mt. Rainier and Mt. Adams
and as, the first one was passing the south crest of this ridge the last
object was entering the northern crest of the ridge.
As I was flying in the direction of this
particular ridge, I measured it and found it to be approximately five miles
so I could safely assume that the chain of these saucer like objects were
at least five miles long. I could quite accurately determine their pathway
due to the fact that there were several high peaks that were a little this
side of them as well as higher peaks on the other side of their pathway.
As the last unit of this formation passed
the southern most high snow-covered crest of Mt. Adams, I looked at my sweep
second hand and it showed that they had traveled the distance in one minute
and forty-two seconds. Even at the time this timing did not upset me as
I felt confident after I would land there would be some explanation of what
A number of news men and experts suggested
that I might have been seeing reflections or even a mirage. This I know
to be absolutely false, as I observed these objects not only through the
glass of my airplane but turned my airplane sideways where I could open
my window and observe them with a completely unobstructed view. (Without
Even though two minutes seems like a very
short time to one on the ground, in the air in two minutes time a pilot
can observe a great many things and anything within his sight of vision
probably as many as fifty or sixty times.
I continued my search for the marine plane
for another fifteen or twenty minutes and while searching for this marine
plane, what I had just observed kept going through my mind. I became more
disturbed, so after taking a last look at Tieton Reservoir I headed for
I might add that my complete observation
of these objects, which I could even follow by their flashes as they passed
Mt. Adams, was around two
and one-half or three minutes -- although, by the time they reached Mt.
Adams they were out of my range of vision as far as determining shape or
form. Of course, when the sun reflected from one or two or three of these
units, they appeared to be completely round; but, I am making a drawing
to the best of my ability, which I am including, as to the shape I observed
these objects to be as they passed the snow covered ridges as well as Mt.
When these objects were flying approximately
straight and level, they were just a black thin line and when they flipped
was the only time I could get a judgment as to their size.
These objects were holding an almost constant
elevation; they did not seem to be going up or coming down, such as would
be the case of rockets or artillery shells. I am convinced in my own mind
that they were some type of airplane, even though they didn't conform with
the many aspects of the conventional type of planes that I know.
Although these objects have been reported
by many other observers throughout the United States, there have been six
or seven other accounts written by some of these observers that I can truthfully
say must have observed the same thing that I did; particularly, the descriptions
of the three Western [Cedar City, Utah] Air Lines employees, the gentleman
[pilot] from Oklahoma City and the locomotive engineer from Illinois, plus
Capt Smith and Co-Pilot Stevens of United Air Lines.
Some descriptions could not be very accurate
taken from the ground unless these saucer-like disks were at a great height
and there is a possibility that all of the people who observed peculiar
objects could have seen the same thing I did, but, it would have been very
difficult from the ground to observe these for more than four or five seconds,
and there is always the possibility of atmospheric moisture and dust near
the ground which could distort one's vision.
I have in my possession letters from all
over the Unites States and people who profess that these objects have been
observed over other portions of the world,
principally Sweden, Bermuda, and California.
I would have given almost anything that
day to have had a movie camera with a telephoto lens and from now on I will
never be without one - - but, to continue further with my story. When I
landed at Yakima, Wash., airport I described what I had seen to my very
good friend, Al Baxter, who listened patiently and was very courteous but
in a joking way didn't believe me.
I did not accurately measure the distance
between these two mountains until I landed at Pendleton, Oregon, that same
day where I told a number of pilot friends of mine what I had observed and
they did not scoff or laugh but suggested they might be guided missiles
or something new. In fact several former Army pilots informed me that they
had been briefed before going into combat overseas that they might see objects
of similar shape and design as I described and assured me that I wasn't
dreaming or going crazy.
I quote Sonny Robinson, a former Army
Air Forces pilot who is now operating dusting operations at Pendleton, Oregon,
"What you observed, I am convinced, is some type of jet or rocket propelled
ship that is in the process of being tested by our government or even it
could possibly be by some foreign government."
Anyhow, the news that I had observed these
spread very rapidly and before the night was over I was receiving telephone
calls from all parts of the world; and, to date, I have not received one
telephone call or one letter of scoffing or disbelief. the only disbelief
that I know of was what was printed in the papers.
I look at this whole ordeal as not something
funny as some people have made it out to be. To me it is mighty serious
and since I evidently did observe something that at least Mr. John Doe on
the street corner or Pete Andrews on the ranch has never heard about, is
no reason that it does not exist. Even though I openly invited an investigation
by the Army and the
FBI as to the authenticity of my story or a mental or a physical examination
as to my capabilities, I have received no interest from these two important
protective forces of our country; I will go so far as to assume that any
report I gave to the United and Associated Press and over the radio on two
different occasions which apparently set the nation buzzing, if our Military
intelligence was not aware of what I observed, they would be the very first
people that I could expect as visitors.
I have received lots of requests from
people who told me to make a lot of wild guesses. I have based what I have
written here in this article on positive facts and as far as guessing what
it was I observed, it is just as much a mystery to me as it is to the rest
of the world.
My pilot's license is 333487. I fly a
Callair airplane; it is a three-place single engine land ship that is designed
and manufactured at Afton, Wyoming as an extremely high performance, high
altitude airplane that was made for mountain work. The national certificate
of my plane is 33355
||/s/ Kenneth Arnold
|They seemed longer than
wide, their thickness was about 1/20th their width
|They did not appear to me to
whirl or spin but seemed in fixed position
|traveling as I have made drawing.