“You may not see massive UFO exhibits
at your local science museum, but there’s
no dearth of saucer stories infesting my email.
Every day, I receive several reports of alien sightings,
extraterrestrial plans for Earth, and agitated screeds
about the reluctance of scientists to
take the whole subject seriously.”
The news report described the sighting of a shiny saucer like object over a small sleepy town in Idaho. The early dusk sighting witnessed by a barber and his customer.
Why is it that the majority of flying saucer sightings are by Joe Blow from Idaho? Why are sightings rarely seen in large metropolitan areas of the World? Most importantly, when and where did the terror of flying saucer sightings begin?
Apparently disc-shaped flying objects have been recorded throughout history since the Middle Ages. The first highly publicized sighting was by Kenneth Arnold on June 24, 1947. That June day Mr. Arnold was flying his small plane near Mount Rainier in Washington State. He saw something unexplainable at the same altitude he was flying. A chain of nine objects shot across the sky, glinting in the sun as they traveled. By his observation, these objects traveled at a speed of 1,700 miles per hour, or three times faster than any manned aircraft of its time.
Mr. Arnold never specifically used the term flying saucer. At the time, he was quoted saying the shape of the objects he saw was like a saucer, disc, or pie-plate, and several years later added he had also said the objects moved like saucers skipping across the water. Both the terms flying saucer and flying disc were used commonly and interchangeably in the media until the early 1950s. Then in 1952 the United States Air Force used a much broader term, unidentified flying objects or UFOs.
As time soon proved this was just the tip of the iceberg and the era of UFO sighting had begun. It wasn’t long until everyone was looking for these new aircraft, which according to the papers were saucer-like in shape. In just a few short weeks hundreds of reports of these flying saucers were made across the nation. While people thought they were seeing the same things that Kenneth Arnold saw, there was a major irony that nobody at the time realized. Kenneth Arnold hadn’t reported seeing flying saucers.
Today many of the alleged flying saucer sightings of the era are now believed to be hoaxes. Photographs and movies altered by someone wanting to obtain their fifteen minutes of fame. The flying saucer is now considered largely an icon of the 1950s and of B-movies and is still a popular subject in science fiction.
This obsession with UFOs may have started several decades ago but it still is an area of science that is unable to be explained. Who knows, maybe in the not too distant future the Miss Universe pageant will be replaced by the Miss Flying Saucer pageant and there will be proof that UFOs are more science and less fiction.