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 found.
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
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
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 day.
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
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 travelled
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 I saw.
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 sun glasses)
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 Yakima.
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. Rainier.
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
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
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
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
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
|| Mirror Bright
|They did not appear
to me to whirl or spin but seemed in fixed position
|traveling as I
have made drawing.