saucer summer reading fest
The flying saucer wave of early summer, 1947 (which launched the modern era of sightings) was much like the elusive discs themselves -- seemingly there one moment, gone the next.
First reported on June 24, 1947, by Kenneth Arnold, such sightings would dramatically increase over the coming days, coming to a climax over the July 4th weekend. But as July waned so did the reports, and little more would be heard about the matter until the following January.
But one national special-interest magazine had already been printing stories of weird aerial phenomena and visitors from space long before that pivotal time. Launched in 1926, Amazing Stories magazine had become part of the Ziff-Davis publishing empire in 1938, which turned over its editorship to Raymond A. Palmer. Under Palmer's direction circulation soared, and the magazine became a mix of science fiction, science fact, and Fortean-type mysteries.
For instance in the realm of science fact, the following story -- without byline -- appeared in the May, 1946 issue of Amazing Stories...
Above: Back cover of May, 1946 issue of Amazing Stories.
Satellite Space Ship Station
ONE of the great problems confronting us in the mastering of the art of space travel is the matter of overcoming the gravitational field of the earth. Physicists, engineers and mathematicians have estimated that tremendous power is necessary to lift a ship away from the earth and to overcome the effects of gravity. It has been pointed out that vastly the greater portion of the ship would be motor and fuel sections. Each time a ship landed on the planet, it would practically need to be rebuilt, with new motors and fuel sections, because they would have been discarded in space. Physically, as well as financially, this is impractical.
(See Back Cover)
Rocket engineers have envisaged floating islands in space, rotating about the earth just as does the moon, which would serve as landing platforms beyond the gravitational field, where giant liners of space could moor, disgorge passengers and freight to be conveyed by smaller relay rockets to the planet itself, take on new passengers and cargo, refuel, and take off again with a negligible expenditure of fuel. Such flights would have an enormously expanded range and could fly to other stars themselves.
Pictured on our back cover is artist James B. Settles' conception of such an island in space, a monster island hangar miles long, capable of handling a dozen such giants of the void. He has depicted one such giant entering the lock, and has shown the smaller rockets conveying cargo and passenger lists to the earth's surface. He has shown another giant ship approaching the island.
A dozen such islands floating about the earth in fixed orbits that keep them continually above the same spot on the planet's surface would provide efficient depots for space travelers. They would make interplanetary and interstellar commerce feasible and practical.
Both islands and space liners would be built out in space, and would never land on any planet. Their whole existence would be spent in the ether, avoiding gravitational fields, and operating without the necessity of solving the bugaboo of "escape velocity". If space travel is to become a reality, this is the only answer.
Several months later the magazine would publish a short piece written by William C. Hefferlin...
Above: Cover of September, 1946 issue of Amazing Stories in which the following appeared.
AGAIN and again do new design planes and wings become more evident as progress marches along. In this article we describe still another that has answered a lot of head-aches and utilizes principles overlooked by many designers. This plane is designed for speed, strength and maneuverability.
Models of the circle-winged plane were built and tested with the current models available in 1927 in the city of San Francisco, from high buildings to check on tail-spin and gliding ability. It was found impossible to "tail-spin" the circle-winged job, and its gliding ability was found to be at least four times that of any other type, with no stalling factors. They almost seemed to fly themselves.
The principles involved? Easy, when it is pointed out to you. How many of us at some time have taken a "playing card" and held it between our fingers and flipped the card edgewise into the air? Remember how it "slid" through the air with very little of applied force? Yes, that's it; a wing designed to be almost flat with knife edges. Circular in shape, with an inner opening, like a flattened cooky [sic] or doughnut.
The circle design has the strongest and best pressure distributing and equalizing ability, and the weight is supported so that the pilot does not have to "teeter" every balance factor against up-and-down air drafts and sudden weight shifts from any direction.
A stream-lined fuselage is hung from the outside edges of the wings, the fuselage having retractable landing wheels, two in front and two in the rear, and four-wheel brakes. Above the wing and from the plane body in front and back are the two rudders. The wings' outer edges are pivot type, fastened at the fuselage. The inner circle edge is moved upward and downward by pivot fastenings on a lever arm coming from the interior of the plane. In fact, all wing and rudder movements are controlled by either "I" beams or tubular connection through lever action to the pilot's controls.
The motors are contained within the fuselage, and the propellers are on each side of the fuselage, and between it and the inner circle of the wing. The standard type of propeller was not found suitable for this plane; but a slow-moving "deep pitched" type with extreme air grabbing ability was the best.
At the pilot's option this plane can be skimming forward through the air, and by swinging the rudders, can be used to spin like a pin-wheel. The pilot's "blister" is in the center of the inner circle area of the fuselage's top side. Take off and landing speeds are materially reduced, and the plane with Ghyt No. 1 motors has clocked better than 1000 miles per hour at 20,000 feet elevation. The ceiling of this ship is above 60,000 feet altitude. Rate of climb and dive speeds are controlled by the raising or lowering of the inner circle of the wing. It was found impossible to "slide-slip" this plane, and any attempts to do so by the pilot produces a "banking" movement of the plane. On level flight the riding ability is as smooth as the latest "Stream-Liner" train, with the ability of an antelope to move in any direction at will. Truly a "Pilot's dream" come true.
The entire ship is pressurized for high altitude. The wing diameter from one outer wing edge to opposite side edge is 100 feet. Length of fuselage, 135 feet. Passenger capacity, 40 people. Fuel tanks are contained in the wing and have honey-combed cells internally.
-- W.C. Hefferlin.
Hefferlin and his wife -- as well as the "Circle-Winged Plane" -- would soon become part of that subset of saucer lore which had hidden civilizations at the poles and-or underground (in Hefferlin's case, called Rainbow City and located in Antarctica) from which the earthbound remnants of alien civilizations launched the saucers (which the Hefferlins later claimed were the inspiration for Hefferlin's article.)
The next month Amazing Stories carried as its main feature "The Green Man" -- a purely fictional piece (even editor Palmer called it "sheer fantasy") which nevertheless presaged later reports which were intended to be treated as decidedly non-fictional. The following is excerpted from its beginning pages...
Above, top: Cover of October, 1946 issue of Amazing Stories in which the following appeared. Bottom: Opening pages of story.
The Green Man
How would we actually receive a man from another planet? Let's imagine one came to Earth during 1945!
By Herald M. Sherman
THEY say anything can happen in California. But Professor William Roscoe Bailey did not think it could happen to him -- not to a world-renowned astronomer who had spent a life-time with his feet on the ground and his head in the stars!
These stars were far removed, by cosmic distances, from those of the Hollywood variety. Millions of them could be seen only through the great telescope at Mount Wilson Observatory. To Professor Bailey they outshone in brilliance and glamour the entire constellation of stars and starlets which could be seen through the eye of a movie camera.
That was one of the troubles with the people of this earth -- they were enamoured of the wrong kind of stars!
One look at the heavens on a clear, cool night like this, held more thrills for the Professor than an unobstructed view of Dorothy Lamour in her sarong.
Tonight, for instance, September 15, 1943, had been the Annual Meeting of his astronomical society at which the good professor had read a paper entitled, "Are Other Planets Inhabited?" It had proved to be the sensation of the evening.
"I contend," the Professor had stated, "that there may be millions of other worlds containing forms of life and intelligent creatures far beyond our present evolution. In time to come, through our development of rockets and control of atomic energy, we may be able to build space ships and explore, not only the moon, but planets like Mars and Venus. This will no doubt lead to the discovery that conditions necessary to life here may not be required for the type of life evolving on other worlds. You gentlemen of science must then be prepared to revolutionize or to scrap your previous theories."
The Professor's address had led to spirited controversy and the furor he had caused was still on his mind as he drove down the mountain in his car with his wife, Nellie.
"What do you think, dear?" he asked, a bit timidly.
"About what?" said Mrs. Bailey.
"About the possibility of life on other planets?"
"I don't think much of it," said his down-to-earth spouse. "If you want my frank opinion, I don't think you helped your reputation, giving a talk like that! They probably think you're 'bats'."
Professor Bailey almost steered his car off the road.
"But, Nellie, I'm as certain that other planets have life on them as I am that I am sitting here beside you!"
The car motor suddenly coughed, sputtered and stopped. They were rounding a steep decline on the road to the valley below. Professor Bailey applied the foot brake and grabbed the emergency. The car lurched and came to a stand-still on a precipice overlooking the twinkling lights of the entire San Fernando Valley.
"William! For goodness sake!" said Mrs. Bailey. "Get your mind off those stars and pay attention to what you're doing or we won't even inhabit this planet!"
PROFESSOR BAILEY had no mechanical inclinations. He fussed with the starter but the motor wouldn't respond. He got out of the car, lifted up the hood and gazed helplessly at the inert mass of metal.
"It's no use," he announced. "I wouldn't know what's gone wrong in a million years. You sit right there, Dear, and I'll find some place along here with a telephone. I only hope there's a garage open this time of night."
Professor Bailey put the hood down and took a pocket flashlight from the car compartment. The night air was chilly.
"Better turn your coat collar up," admonished Mrs. Bailey, "and don't get off the road. You know what a poor sense of direction you have."
The Professor nodded and looked up at the stars. They seemed to be laughing at him.
"I don't know why this had to happen to me," he said, ruefully. "Just make yourself comfortable. I'll get back as soon as I can."
Playing his flashlight before him, the Professor continued down the winding and perilous road which led from Mount Wilson Observatory to the towns far below.
Ah! There was a light -- a kind of luminosity -- but it was off the road quite a distance. The Professor hesitated. Should he venture that far off the highway? He peered about him. This was the only light in evidence, the only sign of habitation. There seemed only one thing to do and Professor Bailey did it. He found himself pushing through underbrush and clambering around shadowy cliffs, keeping his eyes, the while, on this spot of light ahead.
"Heavenly days!" he said. "It's further away than I thought. I doubt if these people will have a telephone line after I get there. Now where am I and how can I get back to the road?" The Professor looked about him, squinting through his eye glasses. He was not far from a clearing of some sort but he was turned around. Let's see -- the road was over here? No -- it was over there! Hold on -- that couldn't be right! Now, wasn't this distressing!
There wasn't any sense in standing still. It was too cold for that. If he could only retrace his steps, get down this embankment.
A stone turned under the Professor's heel and he got down -- head first!
HE LAY on his back and saw all the stars of the universe. He felt strangely dazed and tried hard to get his bearings.
There was the North Star in its same old place. Very reassuring, or was it? What in the name of the spiral nebula, Andromeda, was this? That huge silver cigar, glowing at both ends, which was coming down out of the sky! It was just above the tree tops now -- and it was going to settle in that clearing. The thing was making a strange humming sound. It was about the size of a small submarine.
"What won't those airplane companies build next?" the Professor wondered. "I never saw anything like this before -- not even in Buck Rogers!"
The silver cigar was making a vertical descent now, like an elevator. If he wanted to see it land, he'd have to climb up on that rise of ground. There she was -- hovering over the clearing as daintily as a humming bird. Her motors -- if that's what they were -- gave forth a musical sound -- a kind of a singing whir.
Oh, oh! Now that was stopped. The thing had come to rest so easily and quietly, he couldn't detect the slightest jar.
"Must be some secret testing place," thought the professor. "Guess I wasn't supposed to see this. Well, I'm here anyhow and I'm just going to get a closer look."
He pressed forward toward the clearing, picking his way by flashlight.
Yes, there it was -- there was that big silver thing. But its sides were quivering and pulsating as though it was alive -- and breathing! Or perhaps it was the perspiration on the good professor's glasses. No, he'd wiped them off and looked again and the thing was still inhaling and exhaling. Funny business! No flying crew in evidence. No sound. Just a silver monster, relaxing on the ground, gasping for breath after her flight through space.
"Well, this beats me!" said the professor, "I thought I'd seen everything but . . .!"
He hadn't seen everything. The underbelly of this silver spindle opened as though some unseen force had pulled a zipper -- and a white-robed figure stepped out.
"Greetings!" said this presence, in a voice as mellow-toned as any radio announcer's.
"How do you do?" said the Professor, a bit doubtfully. "Who are you?"
The figure advanced toward him and now he saw that it did not appear to be exactly human. The face was long, with an abnormally high forehead, and the skin seemed to be a pale green in color!
"I -- I'm sorry," said the Professor, backing away. "I -- I mean -- what are you?"
The strange being smiled. "I travel from planet to planet. They call me Numar!"
Professor Bailey rubbed his chin nervously and glanced about him. "If you don't mind, I -- I think I'll be going!"
"And I," said this presence, "am going with you!"
THE tone of voice was still mellow but persuasive. On closer examination, this being could be a member of the human family -- a circus freak of some sort. But what should he be doing out here on a mountain side, dressed in a white robe, and coming to earth in a new-fangled airship . . .?
"You won't want to be going with me," said the Professor. "My car -- it's broken down . . ."
"Yes, I know," smiled the figure. "I observed you as I was nearing the earth and a little ray from my aerial vessel stopped your motor. You see, my friend -- while you have been studying the stars, you, yourself, have been studied, -- and, from afar. I'm sure that you'll now be pleased to learn you've been selected to help me perform my mission on this earth!" ...
In the space of just a few months Amazing Stories' readers had been exposed to the concept of a circle-winged plane, aliens with luminous cigar-shaped ships with rays which could stop car engines, and the concept of a station in space from which space craft arrived and departed (not too far removed from the idea of a "mothership"). Then, in the June, 1947, issue -- published just weeks before Kenneth Arnold's sighting -- it carried an article by Vincent Gaddis on aerial mysteries of the 1930s and 1940s.
Gaddis was a leading Fortean who was also a regular contributor to the magazine before going on to author several best-selling books. Today he is popularly remembered as the man who coined the phrase "Bermuda Triangle", having brought first word of it to the world.
Above: June, 1947, cover for Amazing Stories magazine and opening pages of article.
Visitors from the Void
THERE have been signs, symbols and objects in the skies of earth described as snakes, swords, lights and rockets. Slow-moving so-called meteors have zig-zagged their way above the clouds, and stratospheric explosions have rocked the land below. Mysterious rays stopped airplane motors over the world's largest city as unidentified phantom planes puzzled the war departments of four nations. Ships and men were observed to drop from the heavens in isolated areas only to vanish.
By Vincent H. Gaddis
This is the startling story of bewildering events that have occurred in the last few years. What relationship, if any, exists between these varied reports? Who or what lies behind them?
From Point Pleasant, W. Va., on Oct. 11, 1931, came the report that a blimp or dirigible was observed to have plunged to the earth in flames, men leaping from it in parachutes as it fell. There were many witnesses who stated that the crash had occurred in the hills south of the city. Observers at Gallipolis Ferry reported that the blimp had crossed the Ohio River and it had fallen while one man was watching it through field glasses. Described as being between a hundred and one hundred and fifty feet long, it was at an altitude of three hundred feet when it burst. White objects, believed to have been parachutes, fell with it.
Searching parties were organized. Nearby airports sent planes to assist in the all-day search. Officials at Akron, Ohio, announced that all naval blimps were safe in their hangars. And despite the extensive search and far-flung inquiries, not a single clue was turned up. The mystery remains -- concealed somewhere in the West Virginia hills the solution to this puzzle is still a secret.
Then, slightly less than two months later, came a report from Hammonton, N.J. On Dec. 5, late in afternoon, an aviator was observed to fall in a parachute into the Folsom Swamp, one of the densest sections of bog and woodland in the southern part of the state, south of the city. Additional reports of witnesses came from Weymouth, a village on the other side of the swamp. Dropping from a high altitude, no plane had been observed or heard.
Led by state police, five local fire companies and witnesses, a small army of volunteers searched the swamp all night and all the next day, Airports throughout the eastern part of the country reported that all planes were accounted for. The long search was fruitless, but it was added that the swamp contains areas never penetrated before except by Indians.
A year later, on Dec. 29, 1932, it was reported that a large tri-motored airplane had been forced down in the woodlands eight miles west of New Brunswick, N.J. Observers said that its motors were silent and that its lights were blinding when it disappeared behind the wooded hills. Time of the observation was close to midnight. Again the state police made an unsuccessful search and again all planes throughout the east were accounted for.
These three reports were collected from the New York Times by David Markham, a member of the Fortean Society. According to Tiffany Thayer, secretary of the Fortean Society. Mr. Markham, who has been collecting material on maritime vanishments, has reached certain quasi-conclusions which he has asked him to withhold temporarily as possibly to dangerous to make public. My article "Strange Secrets of the Sea" presents the type of material referred to.
ONE year after the New Brunswick report a mysterious plane appeared over New York City. On Dec. 26, 1933, the metropolis was blotted out from above by a snowstorm. The first telephone call to police headquarters was made at 9:30 a m. and then the reports steadily increased. The plane could not be seen, but its progress was followed by the sound of its motor. Apparently the pilot was wandering blindly above the snow-shrouded towers of Manhattan in circles unable to find a place to land.
In the hope that the pilot had a short-wave receiver, the National Broadcasting Company tried to contact him. All airports were notified. Beacons and searchlights were lit. A ceiling of five hundred feet was reported at the Newark Airport. As the hours lengthened the ceiling rose, but the reports continued to flow in. Residents of Jersey City and the Bronx announced hearing the motor. By the middle of the afternoon, when the reports finally ceased, the visibility was set at a mile and the pilot could easily have landed at ports in New Jersey or Long Island, but all air fields in the Metropolitan area reported that there had been no flying during the day and no stray plane had appeared.
At this time a phantom plane was appearing over the Scandinavian countries. The first dispatch was released at Stockholm on Dec. 31, 1933, and it announced that Swedish army aviators had been ordered to chase a mysterious plane which had been sighted for several weeks over Lapland. Based, it was believed, somewhere in the mountains, it has [sic] been making night flights, and had recently been heard flying toward Norway during a heavy snowstorm.
Another dispatch from the same city on Jan. 9, 1934, stated that the "ghost plane" had been observed over Westerbotten in northern Sweden, and that the Swedish airforce [sic] had already lost two airplanes in efforts to locate the base of the mystery ship. A party of four men who had been making a ground search along the Norwegian border had vanished.
More dispatches followed from Helsingfors and Stockholm. There was speculation that the planes might be Soviet flyers making test flights to arctic icebreakers or exploring a new air route from Russia to the Atlantic. Soviet authorities denied that any of their planes were over the area. On Feb. 3 a Helsingfors dispatch announced that "continued night flights over Northern Finland, Sweden and Norway by so-called ghost aviators which have caused such apprehension here as to prompt the general staff to organize reconnoitering on a wide scale by army planes all over Northern Finland still remain a deep mystery." Although there were a large number of eyewitnesses, the plane could not be identified.
The report added that mysterious lights over Helsingfors and Viborg had caused alarm, and that the large unidentified plane had been sighted over eastern Finland where aviation experts stated "that the mysterious flyers show exceptional skill, undoubtedly superior to that of northern European aviators." The appearance of a mystery plane, the first, over London is referred to in this dispatch, and it has been pointed out that this group of reports stopped about the time of the inferior conjunction of Venus (Feb. 5, 1934).
But in March, 1935, an object described as "a large shining form resembling a gigantic snake, wriggling forth in the northwestern sky" appeared for half an hour in the early evening over southern Norway and Denmark. As observed at Grimstad by a correspondent for the Tidens Tegn (Norway), it had four or five curves marked off by shadows, and was in a vertical position with its "head" down toward the earth. The vision was clear. There were no clouds, and it was very brilliant. The Stavanger Aftenblad for March 26 published a complete description of the appearance and sketches of it made by the artist Naesheim who was a witness.
A similar object appeared three times over the city of Cruz Alta, Brazil; twice in December, 1935, and again in July, 1937. On its last appearance the "snake" had its "head" toward the earth, the head appearing as a ball of fire. In passing it might be added that there were reports of "swords" and "coffins" in the sky over the Polish-German border in 1937, but details regarding these reports are not available to the writer at this time.
Then came the mystery ray stopping airplane motors over New York City. In a Universal Service dispatch dated May 24, 1935, written by Lou Wedemar, it was announced that pilots had asked the Department of Commerce to investigate a supposed radio ray which was stopping the motors of planes flying over the city. The planes while flying over the central part of Manhattan had experienced puzzling engine trouble. In aeronautical circles the belief had spread that some sort of short-wave had been developed by an unknown experimenter which affected the motors at which it was aimed.
Motors went suddenly dead without apparent reason, and careful examination by expert mechanics failed to reveal any reason for the phenomenon. Several disasters had almost occurred as the "magnetism" did not pass off for some time, and the planes had to be brought down to emergency landings. One example cited was the near-disaster of a cabin plane piloted by Michael Stupelli which was forced to land in the East River while carrying three passengers.
This report, too, is not unique. In October, 1930, forty automobiles were stalled for an hour on the road between Riesa and Wurzen in Germany. All motors mysteriously stopped. But earlier, in the summer of 1923, and south of this road in Saxony, Germany, French aviators reported the mysterious stopping of motors near Furth while they were flying from Strasbourg to Prague. It was believed that a German experimenter was practicing on French airplanes with newly-discovered rays. If so, his secret was never used in the late war.*
[*This is not true. Your editor has an eye-witness account of six B-17s crashing in the Siegfried Line, coming down without a shot being fired, all of them crashing because of a simultaneous cessation of the motors. This incident was broadcast over the American radio by a news reporter, but did not appear in any paper of the same or following day that he knows of -- nor was it mentioned again on the air. It can only be assumed the information was suppressed for security reasons. It has also been rumored that German authorities have denied that they knew of such an ignition-stopping ray, or of the plane crashes mentioned. -- ED.]
ON THE night of Nov. 24, 1935, a "flaming word" [sic, probably should be "flaming sword"] was observed in the heavens between Palestine and Dallas, Texas. Dr. J.D. Boon, professor of astrophysics at Southern Methodist University, stated that no comet or stellar phenomenon of any kind had been scheduled to appear. One witness, a newspaper editor, described the appearance as "a narrow, bright shaft of light, absolutely stationary and vertical, an exact replica of a sword."
In February, 1936, the "phantom light of Ringold" (near Pasco, Wash.) was reported. It was a mysterious light, drifting widely and often along populated highways where it had caused motorists to drive into ditches, and many citizens of high repute had sworn to its authenticity. It vanished when approached, and all efforts to find a plausible explanation resulted in failure.
A ghost scare in a mine near Bishop, Va., was reported in dispatches of Jan. 18, 1937. Officials of the Pochahontas [sic] Fuel Company, owners of No. 34 Mine, were trying to lay the scare that had caused more than a hundred miners to desert the pits. The mine was believed haunted. For several months there had been reports of mysterious moans, shrieks, slamming of doors, and a phantom form that followed the men.
On the night of July 20, 1937, a mysterious plane was observed hovering over the Hendon Aerodrome and the heart of London. There were many witnesses. The Air Ministry was puzzzled [sic], and its investigation was fruitless. Two nights later the British steamer Ranee, while 500 miles off Cape Race, sighted a "mysterious plane" flying eastward. No trans-Atlantic flights were being made at the time. No planes had been reported missing. According to the crew of the vessel, two "navigation lights" were visible on the craft.
Mysterious blue flashes appeared in the southern sky of Sussex, England, on the evening of Oct. 2, 1938. These flashes were followed by a "sudden rift in the sky where a most beautifful [sic] blue-green radiance shone. Through this there appeared to drop a fiery body, vivid and lovely, which disappeared in a second. After this there was only one faint flash."
In December, 1939, another sky visitation came to Finland. According to the Finnish Evangeliskt Vittnesbord, the phenomenon took place close to midnight. It lasted for about a half hour. Beginning as a ball of fire which grew larger, the appearance changed from a red to a brilliant white color as sudden rays from the eastern and western horizons merged. As the light spread, a shining object, resembling a huge human-like figure, appeared for a few moments at the point where the rays merged. Then, slowly, the vision faded into the night leaving the spectators silent and bewildered.
A large light with a tail, resembling a comet, was observed in Transylvania in September, 1943. It was visible for five minutes. Witnesses reported that the head dissolved and the tail took the shape of a scimitar before vanishing.
On May 10, 1944, press dispatches told of a strange light in the sky at Mexico, Mo. A number of residents had observed it. Like a large kite moving up and down, from side to side, and sometimes almost in a circle. It was located in the northeastern sky at approximately a forty-five degree angle, visible in the early evening hours.
June 27, 1944 -- Brilliant red and green meteor over Cass County, Ind. A witness near Kewanna stated that it flashed across the road just above the telephone wires. Bright green with a tail of red sparks. But this object was merely a mild forerunner for the real puzzler that arrived less than two months later.
It came in the early morning hours of August 18, and so amazing were the varied reports of its appearance that astronomers in Chicago said that it was "man-made." The apparent ball of fire was visible above eastern Illinois, Indiana and western Ohio. All the reports are conflicting, and rumors of robot bombs, explosions and plane crashes followed in its trail. War plants were checked by military authorities. It moved too fast for a plane, and too slow for a meteor. Its size was given variously, some of the reports stating that it was too large to be an airplane. It followed a zig-zag course, from west to east and from south to north. It "screamed through the air," and rattled windows. State police were besieged with calls. There were a dozen reports of its fall to earth at widely-scattered points, but with one exception no traces were found. The exception is Lyons, south of Danville, Ill., where a piece of stone about eight inches long was said to have dropped from the flaming ball. It resembled "petrified wood."
From Tierquin, Ireland, came the story of a large luminous ball, larger than the moon, moving slowly west in the sky in January, 1945. In April a light was observed at Jefferstown, Ky., in the midnight sky. In [sic] was over Fisherville, to the east, size of a large cantaloupe, glowed and receded in brillance [sic] like a heart throb, casting its light like a lampshade over the town. After ten minutes it vanished. On May 4 in the early morning there was a flash of light and an explosion reported over six states. Visible for three seconds. Buildings shaken.
AT 7:30 p.m. on the evening of June 1, 1945, something whizzed through the sky over Morganton, N.C, traveling northwest. Tubular in shape, shiny, gleaming in the light as if covered with aluminum, five or six feet long, with a blue flame spurting from its tail. It disappeared in the vicinity of the mountains near Lake James and shortly later an explosive sound was heard. Near Morganton is Brown Mountain, scene of mysterious lights since the Civil War that are so puzzling that government geologists have conducted fruitless investigations. In my files is a long article on the Brown Mountain mystery that appeared in the Literary Digest for Nov. 7, 1925. These lights are about the size of a toy balloon, vary in color, move about, and appear and disappear abruptly.
The last report of a mysterious aircraft in the Scandinavian area came from Vaesterbotton, Sweden, on July 9, 1945. Its shape resembled that of a bird. It moved at great speed going south over the city at about 10,000 feet altitude. "If it was a plane, it was one the like of which the Swedish General Staff never had seen before." Late in the afternoon of Nov. 29, 1945, a flaming object exploded and then transformed itself into a ball of fire over Modesto, Calif. It was visible throughout the San Francisco area, and was observed moving away northeast at a speed of about 800 miles per hour at an apparent low altitude. But before we decide that is was merely a freak meteor, we must add that according to the Oakland Tribune "it was reported sighted in western Nevada a full five hours after it was first sighted at Oakland."
No, meteors do not linger or hover in the skies of earth, nor do they resemble rockets or airplanes.
The next month, in the July, 1947, issue of Amazing Stories, a letter-to-the-editor appeared telling of a strange sighting in 1910. Of particular interest here is that the magazine would have gone to press before Kenneth Arnold's report.
Above: July, 1947, cover for Amazing Stories magazine, in which the following appeared.
I tried several years ago to tell this story to some men who claimed to be interested in strange experiences and I have never tried again. I have been reading AMAZING STORIES a long time, but your "Observatory" has given me courage to contribute my two-cents. I have seen a space ship, not miles up, not miles away, but within two thousand feet, not flashing across the sky, but going around fifty miles an hour.
In February, about the 5th, 1910 -- 11:45 P.M., about four miles north of Greer, Idaho, on the Clearwater river, my house lighted up like sunlight. I went outside, and saw advancing from the north, or downriver, a large yellow globe, which I thought was a large meteor, but it was traveling so slowly and well below the canyon rim that I soon changed my mind. It passed so low over my head, and between me and the eastern canyon slope, that I could not see clear over its curve to its top. However, I had plenty of time to see that it was a perfect globe, made of a substance like highly polished gold in color, not bright itself, but lighting up the canyon like sunshine and reflecting back the lighted walls against itself. I could detect no separate lighting system, but the globe was what (yellow, dark, golden) lighted the ground, with intense white light.
This globe was not less than one-half-mile in diameter. I think more. It traveled south following the canyon of the Clearwater, and almost directly across the river from me curved around a jutting hill as a plane would do.
There were no openings, no visible ports or observation blisters, no rockets, no vapor, no sound of motors; but a strong draft followed it as it would follow a train or other moving body, and only the sound of wind was perceptible.
I watched this globe travel about ten miles. It was below canyon rim, as before stated, not over two-thousand feet up, and missing jutting peaks and ridges in a manner showing easy control.
I am 66 years old, think it my duty to leave this record, because this ship or others like it will visit us again. If Shaver, or others of your authors had seen it, your space ships would not have clumsy rocket tubes.
Editor-in-chief for Amazing Stories was Raymond A. Palmer -- known to his readers as "Rap" -- who would go on the next year to found Fate magazine. "The Observatory" section of Amazing Stories was Palmer's monthly message to his readers. At the time Palmer was heavily promoting "The Shaver Mystery" about an ancient underground civilization dwelling in cave-cities -- technologically advanced and made up of "Teros" (the good guys) and "Deros" (the evil doers), in an ongoing struggle to either benefit or destroy modern man -- which Palmer references in the following, from the November, 1947, issue...
Above: November, 1947, "Observatory" section of Amazing Stories magazine, in which the following appeared.
We've just had proof that the whole darn Martian space navy could tour the earth, and ten days later nobody'd believe they were here because everybody would be seeing everything from Martians to pink elephants in the sky. So, there we have the answer to you skeptics who ask us: "If Shaver is right about the caves, why hasn't somebody seen them and proved them?" The answer is, that if a dozen people came out of a cave and said they'd seen it, but didn't manage to get a photograph of it, the report would start a flood of imagination, and the real fact would be lost in the melee. Put it in your book -- the flying saucers DID fly over the U.S.
YOUR editor has made some tests to see if the scientists were right about the discs being red corpuscles in the eyeball, and we strained our eyes under the conditions required, and we stand ready to say that you can't see anything the way, outside of wavy lines and a sort of flicker in the sky. And we don't think that Kenneth Arnold and Captain Smith can be fooled THAT way! Nor do we, like the rest of the insulting world, call them liars! Congratulations, you two, on being brave enough to stand up to the truth. When those saucers return, some people will remember with respect. ...
Also appearing in Amazing Stories' November, 1947, issue -- in its "Impossible But True" section -- was the report of an at-sea event from 1887...
Above: November, 1947, back-cover illustration of Amazing Stories magazine, in which the following appeared.
The Mystery of
ON NOVEMBER twelfth, 1887, a British steamer, the Siberian, was proceeding at moderate speed past Cape Race. Suddenly the crew was startled to observe an enormous ball of flame rise from the sea, and float into the air. It moved against the wind, proceeding toward the Siberian, as though a contact were inevitable, to the horror of all aboard. But at the last moment it moved away, and within five minutes was lost from sight.
THE BALL OF FIRE
What was this fantastic thing? How could a ball of fire come up out of the sea? How could flame move against the wind? Was it flame? Was it perhaps something radioactive? We may never know what it really was, but we do know that it really happened!
If you care to scan the record, here is a bibliography: Nature, 37-187; the Meteorological Journal, 6-443; Thunder and Lightning, p. 68; L'Astronomie,1887, p. 76; The Books of Charles Fort. All competent sources.
It is impossible, but it is true!
But it was through founding Fate magazine that Palmer would make his most significant mark on flying saucer lore. In the following, from Fate's spring, 1948, edition -- the magazine's premiere -- Kenneth Arnold describes his historic first report of "flying saucers" in early summer, 1947...
Above: Cover for premiere issue of Fate magazine, Spring, 1948, and opening pages of Kenneth Arnold's account.
I Did See The Flying Discs!
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 eyesight or judgment other than what is considered normal for any pilot.
On Tuesday, June 24th, 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, Washington. 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. (This airplane has been discovered at the time of this writing -- July 29, 1947).
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 terrain.
There was a DC-4 to the left and to the rear of me approximately fifteen miles distant and, I should judge, at 14,000 feet elevation.
The sky and air was clear as crystal. I had not 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 north to south.
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. I was determined to clock their speed, as I had two definite points -- Mt. Rainier and Mt. Adams -- to clock them by, and the air was so clear that it was very easy to see objects and determine their approximate shape and size at almost fifty miles.
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, as I have frequently observed geese fly, in a rather diagonal chain-like line as if they were linked together. They seemed to hold a definite direction, but 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 permit me to observe their shape at that distance, even as clear a day as it was. 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 farthest 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 flying objects 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 was at least five miles long. I could quite accurately determine their pathway due to the fact that there were several of them as well as higher peaks on the other side of their pathway.
As the last unit of this formation passed the northernmost 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 landed there would be some explanation of what I had seen.
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.
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 field 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 Teton 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 at Mt. Rainier.
When these objects were flying approximately straight and level, they were just a black thin line and only time I could get a judgment as to their size was when they flipped.
These objects were holding an almost constant elevation; they did not seem to be going up or to be 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 Air Lines employees of Cedar City, Utah, the pilot from Oklahoma City, the locomotive engineer in Illinois, John Corlett, a United Press correspondent of Boise, Idaho, Dave Johnson, news editor at the Boise Daily Statesman, Captain Smith, a co-pilot Stevens, and Marty Morrow of United Air Lines, and Captain Charles F. Bergian and Jack Harvey of United Air Lines both of whom on July 28, 1947, made their observation on United Air Lines flight 105 westbound of Boise.
It is my opinion that descriptions could not be very accurate taken from the ground unless these saucer-like discs were at quite 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, while air observers I would judge to be much more accurate.
I have in my possession letters from all over the Unites States and Europe from 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.
When I landed at Yakima, Washington airport I described what I had seen to my very good friend, Al Baxter, who is the General Manager of Central Aircraft Company. He 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 and physical examination as to my capabilities, I received no interest from these two important protective forces of our country until two weeks after my observation; I will go so far as to assume that if our Military Intelligence was not aware of what I observed and reported to the United and Associated Press, and over the radio on two different occasions which apparently set the nation buzzing, they would be the very first people 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. I saw them and I know they are real.
My pilot's license is 333489. 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 NC-33355.
In that same issue of Fate -- part of a lengthy compendium of stories under the umbrella title "The Mystery of the Flying Disks" -- Arnold also told of strange events he experienced at Tacoma, Washington. Now known as the "Maury Island Incident", the tale would launch the first enduring saucerian myth of the modern era...
Above: Illustrations included in Arnold's description of the events at Maury Island.
Prior to July 28 I had received information of a Mr. Harold A. Dahl and a Mr. Fred L. Crisman of the Harbor Patrol at Tacoma, who had experienced something strange and had fragments of what they thought could be a flying disk. At the noon luncheon of the Advertising Club in Boise, Idaho, I was asked to recount my original observation of flying disks. I mentioned what I'd heard concerning the men in Tacoma, and Mr. Matthews, one of the members, told me after the luncheon that he knew Mr. Dahl personally, knew that he was reliable, and had worked with him for several years on the Harbor Patrol. Until then I had not put any real credence into the report.
I discussed whether I should investigate this affair with Dave Johnson, aviation editor of the Boise Statesman. Dave Johnson also observed some of these flying disks, and I put great stock in his advice. He told me it might be worth-while.
It was July 30 at dawn I took off in my own plane, intending to reach Tacoma before dark and contact Mr. Dahl.
It was at 7:00 o'clock that morning I sighted a formation of small disks going south at 4,000 feet as I was letting down at LaGrande, Oregon. I attempted to turn and catch up with them, but they were out of sight before I could complete my turn. I did have my camera on them all the time these objects were in my vision. I would judge them about 30 inches across, very thin, and light brown in color. My movie try was not very successful as there were some 25 objects in this flight and my film only recorded one or two, and these could be seen only under a jeweler's glass.
That afternoon I flew over almost the same route I had flown the day I first observed the flying disks.
It was dusk when I landed at Barry's Airport, which is a little airport located down on the mud flats. I am sure neither Barry nor his wife recognized me as the man whose picture had been in the paper connected with flying disk stories. Here I had my plane gassed and tied up for the night and called a number of hotels trying to get a room for the night. I was unable to find a room until I called the Winthrop Hotel, the largest and most prominent hotel in the City of Tacoma. To my surprise, they had a room with bath for me, called me by name, and seemed to be expecting me.
I went directly to the hotel and while preparing to take a bath, called Mr. Dahl. I told him who I was, why I had come to Tacoma, and said:
"I understand, Mr. Dahl, you have refused to talk or discuss the matter of the flying disks with any of the newspapers; or with anyone, for that matter. There are various aspects to your story that lead me to believe you have experienced something that is real and whether it is for publication or whether it is not, for my personal satisfaction, I would like to hear your story."
He told me: "Why don't you go back to Boise and forget about the whole thing? I don't think it is a very advisable subject to discuss. I have discontinued talking about it with anyone."
After some persuasion, he did come up to the hotel. He related the following story:
"On June 21, 1947, in the afternoon about 2:00 o'clock, I was patrolling the east bay of Maury Island close in to the shore. This uninhabited island lies directly opposite the city of Tacoma about three miles from the mainland. This day the sea was rather bumpy and there were numerous low-hanging clouds. I, as captain, was steering my patrol boat close to the shore of a bay on Maury Island. On board were two crewmen, my fifteen-year-old son and his dog.
"As I looked up from the wheel on my boat I noticed six very large doughnut-shaped aircraft. I would judge they were at about 2,000 feet above the water and almost directly overhead. At first glance I thought them to be balloons as they seemed to be stationary. However upon further observance, five of these strange aircraft were circling very slowly around the sixth one which was stationary in the center of the formation. It appeared to me that the center aircraft was in some kind of trouble as it was losing altitude fairly rapidly. The other aircraft stayed at a distance of 200 feet above the center one as if they were following the center one down. The center aircraft came to rest almost directly overhead at about 500 feet above the water.
"All on board our boat were watching these aircraft with a great deal of interest as they apparently had no motor, propellers, or any visible signs of propulsion, and to the best of our hearing they made no sound. In describing the aircraft, I would say they were at least 100 feet in diameter. Each had a hole in the center, approximately 25 feet in diameter. They were all a sort of shell-like gold and silver color. Their surface seemed of metal and appeared to be burled, because when the light shone on them through the clouds they were brilliant, not all one brilliance, but many brilliances, something like a Buick dashboard. All of the aircraft seemed to have large portholes equally spaced around the outside of their doughnut exterior. These portholes were from five to six feet in diameter and were round. They also appeared to have a dark, circular continuous window on the inside and bottom of their doughnut shape as though it were an observation window.
"All of us aboard the boat were afraid this center balloon was going to crash in the bay, and just a little while before it stopped lowering we had pulled our boat over to the beach and got out with our harbor patrol camera. I took three or four photographs of these balloons.
"The center balloon-like aircraft remained stationary at about 500 feet from the water while the other five aircraft kept circling over it. After about five or six minutes one of the aircraft from the circling formation left its place in the formation and lowered itself down right next to the stationary aircraft. In fact, it appeared to touch it and stayed stationary next to the center aircraft as if it were giving some kind of assistance for about three or four minutes.
"It was then we heard a dull thud, like an underground explosion or a thud similar to a man stamping his heel on damp ground. Immediately following this sound the center aircraft began spewing forth what seemed like thousands of newspapers from somewhere on the inside of its center. These newspapers, which turned out to be a white type of very light-weight metal, fluttered to earth, most of them lighting in the bay. It then seemed to hail on us, in the bay and over the beach, black or darker type metal which look similar to lava rock. We did not know if this metal was coming from the aircraft, but assumed that it was, as it fell at the same time that the white type metal was still falling. However, since these fragments were of a darker color, we did not observe them until they started hitting the beach and the bay. All of these latter fragments seemed very hot, almost molten. When they hit the bay, steam rose from the water.
"We ran for shelter under a cliff on the beach and behind logs to protect ourselves from the falling debris. In spite of our precaution, my son's arm was injured by one of the falling fragments and our dog was hit and killed. We buried the dog at sea on our return trip to Tacoma.
"After this rain of metal seemed over, all of these strange aircraft lifted slowly and drifted out to the westward, which is out to sea. They rose and disappeared at a tremendous height. The center aircraft, which had spewed the debris, did not seem to be hindered in its flight and still remained in the center of the formation as they all rose and disappeared out to sea.
"We tried to pick up several pieces of the metal or fragments and found them very hot -- in fact, I almost burned my fingers -- but after some of them had cooled we loaded a considerable number of the pieces aboard the boat. We also picked up some of the metal which had looked like falling newspapers.
"My crew and I discussed this observance for awhile and I attempted to radio from my patrol boat back to my base. The static was so great it was impossible for me to reach my radio station. This I attributed to the presence of these aircraft, as my radio had been in perfect operating order and the weather would not have caused this amount of interference.
"The wheelhouse on our boat had been hit by the falling debris and damaged. We immediately started our engines and went directly to Tacoma, where my boy was given first aid at the hospital there. Upon reaching the dock I had to tell my superior officer how the boat had been damaged and why the dog had not returned with us. I related our experience to Fred L. Crisman, my superior officer. I could plainly see that he did not believe it and I guess I don't blame him, but we gave him the camera with its film and the fragments of metal we had loaded aboard as proof of our story. Fred L. Crisman decided he would at least go out and investigate the beach where I judged at least twenty tons of the debris had fallen.
"I might add here that these strange aircraft appeared completely round, but seemed a little squashed on the top and on the bottom as if you placed a large board on an inner tube and squashed it slightly. The film from our camera, developed, showed these strange aircraft, but the negatives were covered with white spots similar to a negative that has been close to an x-ray room before it has been exposed."
That was the story that was related to me, Kenneth Arnold, by Harold A. Dahl, Captain of the Harbor Patrol of Tacoma, Washington. I give it in Mr. Dahl's words almost verbatim. After Mr. Dahl had related this story, he said he hoped that talking or discussing this matter of his observations was not going to wish any bad luck onto me.
He said that the next morning after he had made his observations, at about seven o'clock a gentleman called at his home and invited him to breakfast. Dahl said that this wasn't particularly unusual because many lumber buyers did call on people in his type of work early in the morning, as many times they wanted to buy salvage logs. This gentleman. Dahl said, wore a dark suit, he looked a lot like an insurance salesman, was about forty years old and was driving a 1947 black Buick sedan. Harold said that he would go to breakfast with him and Harold drove his car, which is a Chrysler, downtown to a little cafe and this other gentleman followed him.
The peculiar thing was that this gentleman did not want to discuss lumber. He was more interested in asking Harold about his family and about personal affairs, and if he was happy in his work and if he would like to continue being pleased and happy with his work and family. Harold thought that was rather unusual and finally asked him what he was getting at and the man, as they were having breakfast, told Harold almost verbatim what he had observed the afternoon before out on Maury Island.
Harold knew, or felt that he knew in his own mind, that this gentleman couldn't possibly have been out on Maury Island or couldn't possibly have observed these same aircraft, but the man left Harold at breakfast that morning with a sound impression that Harold Dahl ought to forget what he had observed out there and sop talking about it because Harold accidentally had observed something that he shouldn't have observed and that it would be much better for his business, his family and his general welfare not to discuss it with anyone.
Harold said to me: "I didn't put much stock in it but I did think it was rather fantastic how this gentleman happened to know what I had seen and I was quite sure that he hadn't talked to any of my crew and I know he hadn't talked to me before. In fact, I had never seen him before."
The things this gentleman had warned him about sort of revolved in his mind, but when he went hack to his dock to continue his business that day of the 22nd of June, he still decided that he would go on discussing it, talking about it, because it was a very unusual experience. Many of the other seamen had asked him questions and he felt as though he should answer them.
He said he would be glad to show me several of these fragments he had picked up on Maury Island that had fallen from the strange aircraft. "We've been using them up there for ashtrays." I went with him and he looked around awhile and finally found the fragments and when I first saw them I said:
"Why Harold, that's only lava rock."
"Well, I don't know much about metals," he said, "but that's the stuff that came out of the airplane. I know it did. Some of the white metal is over here in a garage of Crisman's. We'll go over and see it if you'd like."
I said: "Oh, that isn't special, I'll see it tomorrow." That evening we talked about this and that, fishing and hunting and about his experiences.
The next morning about nine-thirty Crisman and Dahl knocked on my hotel room door. I asked Crisman to tell me his story and Fred L. Crisman told me the experience he had had the 23rd of June when he went out to investigate the truthfulness of Harold Dahl's story.
He had taken a harbor patrol boat the 23rd of June, in the morning, out to the island and had observed about twenty tons of debris out there and as he was looking at some of it, one of the strange aircraft came out of somewhere, he wasn't just sure, but it made a circle of the bay and it banked in its circle at about a ten degree angle, circled the bay and went right into the center of a high cumulus cloud or thunder cloud. Crisman said that he had seen a lot of aircraft, but he had never seem them go into the center of a cloud before. It's pretty rough in there!
Crisman continued: "I observed this strange aircraft to be something similar to a balloon. It looked like a large inner tube to me. It didn't look squashed as Harold Dahl had told it, it looked more round, that is doughnut round or inner tube round, and it had large portholes about five feet in diameter that encircled the whole aircraft. It also had the observation window and definitely had a burling effect on its surface. It looked like a metal, a sort of brassy color or golden color, and maybe a little silver mixed in with it; and when the sun shown on it, it did show much more brilliance than would be expected from a polished surface."
Crisman said he tarried there awhile and picked up quite a load of fragments, put them on his boat, and then he returned to his dock in Tacoma. He did confirm the story of Harold Dahl and said that it certainly was true that he had seen one of these strange aircraft which Harold Dahl had seen.
I ordered breakfast up to the room and we sat around discussing this thing pro and con. Crisman seemed rather anxious to show me the pictures that they had taken as well as other fragments, and because he was quite anxious to show me this and to take me out to the island, I began to believe their story and asked both Crisman and Dahl if they would mind if I called army intelligence.
I said: "I think this thing is very serious and I think that it is an investigation that should be conducted by people who are accustomed to investigating things, not by a novice like myself or like yourselves." Crisman agreed with me and Dahl said that he didn't care about talking to military intelligence, but "if Crisman wants to, it's okay with me." I also asked them if they would mind if I asked Captain E.J. Smith of United Airlines to come over and listen to the stories. I told them that he more or less was an object of criticism the same as myself and without a doubt this might be tangible evidence that would prove our observations correct and stop a lot of these newspaper stories that had made us the laughing stock of the country. We felt that our integrity was at stake. It wasn't so much the newspaper talk, but when anyone says you're seeing spots or calls you a liar, you get upset about it, especially when you are not used to telling lies or making up some wild tale.
I called military intelligence first and I asked for Lt. Frank M. Brown. Brown, when he found out that it was me calling him, wouldn't take the telephone call collect on the military line. He went to a pay telephone to call me. Why, I don't really know. Anyhow, I told Frank Brown that I had something interesting to relate to him up here and that I had some fragments of what I thought was a flying disk and said: "If you fellows could come up, I think your trip probably would be worthwhile. I have enough evidence, in my own mind, to give real credence to what I ran into up here in Tacoma." I didn't describe these aircraft to Frank M. Brown to any degree at all, that is, I didn't describe any details about them that Harold Dahl and Fred Crisman had seen, but in spite of that Lieutenant Brown was very interested.
He said: "If we don't call you back within an hour, we'll be there."
After I finished that phone call, I called Captain E.J. Smith. The first time I called Captain Smith, he wasn't in, but finally I did reach him about twelve-thirty or one o'clock and I told Captain Smith over the phone a more or less brief of the story that had been related to me by Crisman and Dahl and about the fragments. Smith seemed intensely interested. I told him that I would fly over to Seattle and pick him up that afternoon if he would care to come over and listen to these stories. Fred Crisman took me down to the airport about three-thirty. I took off for Seattle to pick up Captain Smith at about four o'clock. Captain Smith was there and we had a cup of coffee and I related a little further the information that I had received from these two men over at Tacoma. Captain Smith became more and more interested and wanted to come over immediately, so we both got in my ship and I took off for Tacoma. At the hotel, I went directly up to the room and Crisman and Smith went out somewhere. I was in the hotel room alone about five-thirty or six o'clock that day of Thursday, July 3l, 1947, when Lieutenant Brown called me from the desk and said that he and Captain Davidson had flown up to Tacoma in a B-25 bomber and wanted to talk to me. I immediately invited them up to the room.
When they got up to my room, which was 502, I more or less jumped all over them in this respect. I said: "You fellows like to know a lot of things but you won't tell me anything. I'm awfully curious about this thing because this has happened to me and it hasn't happened to you yet. I hope you can appreciate how I feel. I've got something here very interesting that I want to tell you about and show to you and I want you to talk to these men because I think their story has some base to it, but before I do this, I would like to have you fe11ows, just as man to man, tell me what you have found out since you profess you have never seen a flying disk, and you don't know anything about them, but that you feel that they probably do exist and you are interested in information. You've done nothing but investigate this thing since the 24th of June: how about giving me a little of that information? At least for my own personal satisfaction."
Captain Davidson asked me to come over and sit on the bed where he took a pencil and piece of paper and drew me some pictures. He said: "We have several photographs in our Intelligence Department that were taken by a man in his front yard in Phoenix, Arizona, that are authentic. They are pictures and good pictures of these flying saucers or flying disks. I am drawing you here, Mr. Arnold, the photographs that we have in our possession."
He drew me a picture. First, of an almost round object that had a dark circle in the center of it and made this remark: "It apparently seems, according to the negative, that this flying disk had a hole in the center of it, or it could be a hole in the center of it."
I was being very much convinced by this time.
Then he drew another picture. This picture was really quite a shock to me. He drew a picture of a half-moon that had a sort of a half peak in the center of it. It was all rounded, easy flowing lines, and this picture was of another type of disk. This is the peculiar part of it and the reason I was shocked. On June 24th when I made my observation of the nine flying disks, the second one from the bottom looked just exactly like the picture he drew. The reason that I had never mentioned it or even talked about it or said anything to anyone this peculiar shaped disk was that I thought the angle that I was looking from was the reason why the second one from the bottom in this formation looked like the one they drew in their picture, but upon reviewing my observation carefully, I feel that if that one had looked like that picture, all of them would have looked the same which, of course, they didn't. They had a convex angle at the tail instead of a more or less concave angle rounded in shape. The peculiar object which they drew is four times as wide as it is long and the tips of its wings are rather bat-like and its center of fuselage is exactly the same length as the tips of the wings.
I knew right then and there that whether Davidson and Brown had ever seen any of these flying disks, they were getting pretty close to finding out all the information that could be found out about them, as none of them had actually fallen any place to my knowledge. After they had finished drawing me those pictures, we waited for another half hour or so discussing various features of this mysterious thing until Crisman and Smith came in. Dahl didn't take part in the conversation with military intelligence. He had work to do at home, or something, and he wasn't too anxious to talk to them anyhow. Why, I don't know. Crisman related his complete story to Captain Davidson. Captain Davidson and Lieutenant Brown saw the pile of fragments that were on the floor and handled some of them. Our discussion lasted until about twelve-thirty when both Brown and Davidson decided that they had to get back to Hamilton Field because they were short of airplanes and that they had to have every airplane in the air for a big air show that was going to come off the next day, and even though Captain S1nith and myself tried to persuade them to stay over and see the island for additional proof of the truth of Dahl's and Crisman's story, they insisted on leaving that night. Crisman gave them, and both Smith and I helped them load a whole Kellogg's corn flake box full of flying disk fragments from Maury Island into the rear trunk of the army taxi car that came to get them from McChord Field. They seemed to have cooled off on our story. Smith and I thought there was so much evidence that indicated the story was true that we couldn't quite understand their attitude for not wanting to see the island or for not wanting to stay there longer and do more investigating. They did want the samples, but their excuse for getting back to Hamilton Field seemed rather a feeble excuse considering the fact that their job of investigating flying disks was quite important. We knew it was important because we know that they exist.
Captain Smith stayed with me that night of July 31, Thursday. Smith and I discussed many phases of this while we were in bed and there seemed to be a lot of evidence to prove that Crisman's and Dahl's story was absolutely true and yet there was a lot of evidence that didn't quite add up and we couldn't piece it together. We knew something very strange was going on. All during the conference we had been bothered by the United Press and Paul Lance of Tacoma Times telling us what some mysterious telephone informant was telling them. It seemed that there was a certain person who kept calling the United Press telling them what was going on in Room 502 at the Winthrop Hotel, and the fantastic thing was that everything he said to the press that was going on up in room 502 at the Winthrop Hotel was true.
I don't know about later predictions that he made but I will relate to you that the press someway, somehow, found out that I was in town. They also found out that Captain Smith was there. They found out that we were investigating some flying disk fragments that were obtained through Fred L. Crisman and Harold A. Dahl of the Tacoma Harbor Patrol. Ted Morello, the United Press correspondent, told us very plainly over the phone, and several times after we had met him, that we were engaged in a very serious affair. His informants couldn't get the information that they generally can get on any kind of a story and Morello told us: "When my informants can't get me this information that I need and want, brother, there is something very serious going on, and I would suggest that Smith and Arnold, both of you, better get out of this town or go someplace and don't become involved."
That was rather peculiar because some of that conversation happened before the B-25 bomber crashed. Anyhow, we didn't want to talk to the press. Why should we? If Crisman's and Dahl's story was proven to be some kind of a hoax, Smith and I would both be the laughing stock of the country, and if it didn't prove to be any kind of a hoax, we had everything to win and nothing to lose. We weren't having a very good time because of this mysterious telephone informant, the press finding out almost verbatim what our conversations were, and so on. We looked in our room for tapped wires, and couldn't find anything that showed that any information was creeping out.
At one time, Ted Morello, United Press correspondent, called us and said: "We have this mysterious telephone informant on the other line here at the Tacoma Times." Both Crisman and Dahl were in the room with Smith and myself. The mysterious telephone informant was telling Ted Morello what we were talking about in that room. The room wasn't tapped in any way that we knew of it and we did really search -- tore the pictures off the wall, tore up the rugs, tore the beds apart. We were beginning to get worried. The situation was getting rather "spooky."
Smith and I went to sleep that night of July 31st. We woke up in the morning about nine o'clock when we heard the telephone ring. It was Fred Crisman. He said: "Have you heard the news this morning? A B-25 bomber crashed this morning at about 2:30 a.m. I have checked McChord Field and there was only one B-25 that left. You know and I know who was aboard that airplane!"
We heard through Crisman that morning that both the pilot and the co-pilot were killed, but that two other men, a chief engineer and a passenger, had parachuted to safety. Smith verified all this information at McChord Field. We found that the bomber had been under military guard while Lieutenant Frank M. Brown and Captain Davidson were interviewing us at the Hotel Winthrop. We also found out that the two men who parachuted from the plane were ordered to parachute by the copilot who strapped chutes on them and forced them out the door. The plane did not crash until eleven minutes later. This was found out through the United Press and their informants.
Ted Morello let us listen to the first recording of one of the men who had parachuted to safety and who was slightly injured. It was the passenger. This boy told the story that the left engine of the B-25 burst into flame all at once and that it happened about twenty minutes after the takeoff. It was also mentioned that the chief engineer had said that the automatic fire fighting apparatus installed in this airplane had failed to function.
There was a sheriff at Kelso who watched the plane in the air and saw it crash. The description this man gave the press was that the plane was observed at quite a high altitude with the left engine on fire. Its wings, tail and fuselage were intact. It turned, went into a very steep dive and crashed into the hill side. This steep dive lasted for quite some time before the crash.
If a man is conscious and his airplane is on fire, the first thought any pilot would have is to try to slow that airplane up, as slow as possible, because he would rather crash at 90 miles an hour than 250 or 300 miles an hour. Their plane was still intact; tail, rudder surfaces and wings. I know both of these pilots and I saw their licenses. They were pilots of the highest type of ability and would have slowed up that airplane before they crashed. Were both of these men dead long before their plane actually crashed and is that the reason their plane was under little or no control? Further, this airplane was equipped with the finest type of radio devices. They did not radio or attempt to radio anyone that their engine was on fire or that the plane was in trouble. Twelve hours before Army Intelligence released the names of the two intelligence officers killed in this crash, the mysterious telephone informant did tell the press their names, where they had come, what they were doing, their destination and what they were carrying aboard their B-25. Everything that this mysterious telephone informant said to the press was true to the very best of my knowledge. I am confident that no one of the four of us that were left in this investigation that next day of August 1st, had talked to the press or had even told the press the names of the people or parties who were visiting us or what we were discussing. Friday morning at ten o'clock, we made an arrangement with Fred Crisman to board his patrol and go out to Maury Island to see the fragments that we were told about: they told us there was about twenty tons more of it out there on the island. Smith and I discussed it to some extent before we went down to the boat, but we decided we would still investigate or try to get to the bottom of this if we could. We went down to the boat with Fred Crisman. We attempted to start the motor in the boat and the motor would not start. Crisman's mechanic was working on the motor. They had no other patrol boat available so Crisman suggested that in about an hour the mechanic would probably have the boat going and we'd all come back down to the boat and take off for Maury Island. We looked over the supposed damage to the boat. We could see that the boat had been damaged some. We didn't know to what extent, but it wasn't quite to such an extent as we felt Crisman had tried to impress us that it had been damaged. We could see that the window had been replaced and a horn and other things about the boat had been replaced. Smith and I went back to the hotel and waited for Crisman to call us at about eleven o'clock. He didn't call and we waited until two-thirty or three o'clock that afternoon, then finally called Harold Dahl and asked why Crisman hadn't called us and asked if he would look up Crisman and find out what had happened to him. Then Ted Morello of the United Press called us and told us that one of the four men in the room that morning, which would have been Dahl, Crisman, Smith or I, was going to be on an Army bomber headed for Alaska that afternoon. When we heard that tip from Ted Morello we immediately got hot on trying to find Crisman. We did locate Dahl finally and he did locate a note that was left by Fred Crisman that said he was going to be gone for two or three days on a business trip. It seemed very peculiar that Crisman didn't call us and tell us that or it may be that he couldn't. We don't know. We were expecting most anything to happen. United Press called us again and said that this mysterious telephone informant was now predicting things: "Captain Smith would be called Tuesday, August 5, to Wright Field, Dayton, Ohio ... to be interrogated by the Military Intelligence." ... "Kenneth Arnold's plane had been shot at in the air flying over the states of Washington and Oregon on numerous occasions." ... "Captain Smith's airline had also been shot at on numerous occasions over one of the western states." Also: "The B-25 bomber was shot down by a 20mm cannon."
The mysterious telephone informant also said that "The C-46 Marine plane that had crashed into the southwest side of Mt. Rainier (that was the plane I was searching for the day that I first made my observation of the flying disks), when discovered and actually investigated, would reveal that this ship had also been shot down and it had been shot down because there were certain people aboard this ship who had information in their possession that "they" didn't want to get out to anyone.
(Editor's note: This Marine C-46 was found on July 26 on the 10,000-foot level of South Tahoma Glacier, near Longmire, Washington. Eight men who climbed the glacier, discovered the wreckage. "Everywhere we looked there were parts of the plane," Ranger George Senner reported. But the searching party found none of the bodies of the 32 Marines who were aboard when the transport crashed. $5,000 reward offered by relatives of the dead men was never paid, apparently because of this unaccountable fact. No evidence of sabotage or "shooting down" could be discovered.)
Ted Morello told me that this mysterious informant had also told him that the United Airlines ship that crashed on LaGuardia Field (now solved by authorities who discovered that the gust lock had been on), was sabotaged and that the plane that had crashed in Copenhagen some many months ago on takeoff also had been sabotaged.
We got it now or thought we did. We were being given the "works" by some person. We were being made to look ridiculous. Further, we were getting nowhere with our investigation. We had not gotten out to Maury Island; we never seemed able to get the pictures taken by Dahl of the flying disks -- Crisman mentioned they were in his mountain cabin 55 miles up in the hills. We decided we had better go home. But we made one more try.
We met Harold and his secretary, stopped for breakfast at a little roadside tavern. While we were at breakfast Captain Smith went to the telephone and called somebody. I didn't know at the time who he called. This was Sunday morning, August 3rd. He came back to the table and said that he had an appointment with someone and that I should wait for him at the hotel and he would be back at twelve o'clock. I went back to the hotel room and waited until almost one-thirty before Captain Smith showed up, and when he did show up he was with Major Sanders of McChord Field, S-2 Intelligence. Captain Smith asked me to relate my story to Major Sanders. I did this as briefly as possible. Captain Smith said: "The reason I asked you to tell Major Sanders this is because I wanted him to hear our stories separately, and I wanted to find out just exactly what the score was-whether we should leave or whether A-2 wanted to interrogate us."
When I had finished giving this description to Major Sanders he got up and looked at the fragments and said: "That's nothing but smelter slag. I'll tell you what it is. It's just some kind of a hoax. That's true."
He said: "Now, I know that these flying disks exist although I've never seen one. I don' t know what the objects of Crisman and Dahl are, but these fragments they have given you are nothing but slag from the local smelter."
Smith took a piece of the fragments home with him to use as a paper weight on his desk. I was going to take one of the fragments and use it as an ashtray just to remind me of the experience I had in Tacoma. But Major Sanders very carefully took every piece and asked to have the pieces we had picked up, too. He wrapped them all in a towel and put it in his car. Then Sanders decided to take us out to the smelter and show us thousands of tons of material very similar to this or just exactly like it. He did take us out and we did see some black fragments and smelter slag that did look a lot like the substance that we had. It was very heavy and I think to some degree Captain Smith was convinced that the fragments we had were or could have very easily be smelter slag.
Arnold would go on to byline two more flying-saucer stories in the next two quarterly editions of Fate magazine -- one called "Phantom Lights Over Nevada" and the second titled "Are Space Visitors Here?" But Palmer would also continue to cover developments in Amazing Stories magazine, as from the following in the June, 1948, edition, with an article entitled "Fortean Aspects of the Flying Disks"...
Above: Cover for June, 1948, edition of Amazing Stories magazine.
Fortean Aspects of the Flying Disks
ARE THE flying discs the product of another world?
By Marx Kaye
Before snickering at this question, the reader is requested to wade through the formidable but thought-awakening Books of Charles Fort, published for the Fortean Society by Henry Holt & Company, 1941, namely: The Book of the Damned, New Lands, Lo! and Wild Talents.
The argument of this article is as follows:
1. If the flying discs are a new phenomenon in earthly skies it may be that some foreign power is ready to test out a new weapon, or that it is one of our own, because it must now be admitted that the discs are solid objects which are not the product of Nature. They travel against the wind and at rapidly varying velocities, also changing direction of flight with great frequency, according to numerous observations throughout the nation.
2. If, however, the flying discs are not a new phenomenon, and if they have been seen repeatedly in past centuries before our earthly civilizations had as yet produced even so much as a Zeppelin, then it follows that they must be the product of some extra-terrestrial civilization.
Are we being watched over as though we were cattle, owned by superior beings who live beyond this earth? Systematized scientists would willingly guffaw or smile at this "imaginative" assumption, but such facial calisthenics go no farther toward solving the problem than the lowing of cattle tends to free them from bondage.
Man's greatest psychological weakness is that he attempts to reduce the Unknown to his own level of understanding -- if only for the sake of his own egotism and prestige, or for the sake of orthodox System -- rather than try to raise his own understanding to such a level that it encompasses the Unknown.
This writer's sister-in-law was in Honolulu at the time of the Pearl Harbor attack. She was driving her car to a filling station when the attack occurred. A Japanese plane zoomed low over her head, and her daughter, seated beside her, remarked upon the Japanese markings which they could both plainly see on the wings. "Strange," said my sister-in-law, "that the government would go to such extremes of realism in their practice maneuvers."
She could not conceive of the reality behind what her own eyes had beheld. She, like most human beings, automatically placed the phenomenon in a category which lay within the scope of her understanding.
When Galileo insisted that the Earth revolved about the sun he was persecuted for his trouble, because a non-stationary Earth did not conform to the long established (Aristotelean and ecclesiastic) System of things.
When Louis Pasteur spoke of micro-organisms and propounded his germ-theory of disease, orthodox science, which represented the current System of his time, wished to ostracize him.
Now we have seen flying discs. Somebody in Seattle, in keeping with the darkest of mediaeval traditions, gained popularity in the press by asserting that they were nothing but the aluminum seals out of beer bottle caps. Then we are to believe that the aluminum seals out of beer bottle caps: 1. Travel in formation; 2. May be seen in almost every state of the Union and parts of Canada (not to mention one press report from Peru); 3. Travel at changing velocities, and against the wind!
Let us credit ourselves with more intelligence. Life is real and life is earnest -- not a soap opera. A serious mystery has been widely observed. Let us not distort the evidence to fit a System or to salve our vanity. Remember that the meek shall inherit the Earth, and this has been borne out in the fact that the humblest members of our civilization have always contributed the greatest values while those quick to laugh at an original thought or unusual insight into the Unknown have always been the quickest to seize upon the benefits which the humble and open of heart and mind have offered them even while gasping in the death throes of martyrdom. An idiot can laugh and guffaw and snicker. It takes a man of wisdom to think boldly and originally. So let us not tend toward social idiocy. Let us leave our world series and our juke boxes for a moment and take advantage of one of the greatest gifts of creation -- the human mind. Let us think. (Lest someone start doing it for us!) Let us examine the evidence without being influenced by what the discs "ought" to be, but guided by the thought that science, while doing the best job it can, is still greatly handicapped before the awful immensity of the Unknown, and that there are many things above our heads which are certainly beyond our full understanding today.
CHARLES FORT repeatedly proves that astronomers and other authorities on physical phenomena beyond this planet are very much like the astrologers as described by Lord Bacon when he "pointed out that the astrologers had squirmed into prestige and emolument by shooting at marks, disregarding their misses, and recording their hits with unseemly advertisement." (New Lands.) (Still, one day we may learn that the astrologers also have a leg to stand on, when orthodox science learns more about the interrelationship of gravitation and electromagnetism, and especially about extra-terrestrial radiations and their periodic effect on the controlling physiological factors of heredity.)
Many astronomers claimed the discovery of the planet Neptune to be a triumph of mathematical deduction, but Fort patiently points out the true facts of the case:
1. According to Leverrier, there was one planet external to Uranus.
2. According to another contemporary astronomer, Hansen, there were two planets.
3. According to a third contemporary, Airy, there was none.
All three scientists based their predictions upon mathematical deductions.
When Neptune was finally sighted it was found so far from the position in which Leverrier had predicted it would be that astronomers in the United States refused to accept that the planet had been discovered by means of calculation.
Fort points out: "One planet was found -- so calculated Leverrier, in his profound meditations. Suppose two had been found -- confirmation of the brilliant computations of Hansen. None -- the opinion of the great astronomer, Sir George Airy." (New Lands.)
Up until the accidental discovery of the trans-Neptunian planet, Pluto, by Mr. Tombough [sic, should be Tombaugh], in 1930, on "a photographic plate (not by exact calculation, although Lowell predicted it would be found), Leverrier's name enjoyed a high place in the history of astronomy, and still does, because he apparently "called his shot" to some reasonable extent. However, now that two trans-Uranian planets have been discovered, all the textbooks should be rewritten, giving Leverrier's place to the great astronomer, Mr. Hansen, who predicted two planets would be found (though, for all we know, there may be six more).
All this boils down to one point: Keep your eyes -- and your mind -- open. Our politicians, for example, are not solving the problems of this world, because the depth and scope of those problems require the insight of men of higher training and a modicum of wisdom. We must not accept in blind faith what all politicians tell us. It is the same with our scientific authorities. We must keep them on their toes by challenging what they say. Let us not munch placidly the lotus blossoms they print in the textbooks. Let us pat them all on the back and give them all the credit and cooperation they deserve, to be sure, but let THEM not build around our vision the blinding walls of a System that will not accept new things if those new things do not conform! Flying discs have just visited our skies. Beware of the definitions of the systematists. One "authority" said it was all the result of hallucinations.
We must shout back at this "authority" with the righteous indignation of adults whose intelligence has been grossly insulted. Why should people in thirty-nine or more states suddenly all acquire equivalent hallucinations at the same lime? How can an hallucination be photographed?
Dear Professor Orthodox: Life is real and life is earnest -- even more so than the System you go by.
The discs are real and they may be earnest They are not the product of Nature. Intelligent beings made them. If the discs belong to Russia or any other foreign power, we must prepare for an attack. But evidence would seem to point out that the discs are the product of a civilization which produced them centuries ago. As no civilization on Earth has been known to have produced such objects it follows that extra-terrestrial intelligences own them.
For the discs have been seen in past centuries. Just read Charles Fort for the authoritatively recorded masses of evidence.
CHARLES FORT points to the Sargasso Sea, that great mass of seaweed and debris in the North Atlantic Ocean which has been formed largely by the action of ocean currents. In other words, the floating substances in the Sargasso Sea are in the center of a vortex.
Fort then speaks of gravitational currents in outer space. Between the moon and the earth is a neutral, or balanced zone, somewhere, just as there are many neutral zones between other mutually attracting heavenly bodies. Into such neutral zones there may drift huge masses of spacial debris, meteors, cosmic dust, even water moisture in the form of ice. Fort says there is some evidence that these quasi-worlds float away into orbits around the earth, once formed, like a gigantic log raft in a stream, or around other planets, depending on where they were first concentrated. Inasmuch as the nebular hypothesis has achieved general acceptance in orthodoxy, Fort's hypothesis dealing with this coagulation of cosmic dust and debris in the neutral gravity zones should meet with equal acceptance. Where two whirlpools, currents, or vortices impinge upon one another, eddies are often formed. Suns have been formed by cosmic matter being drawn into huge electromagnetic vortices, and as the material captured gravitated toward the core of the vortex it traveled faster and in closer quarters. The resultant friction caused heat great enough to disrupt atoms and start the chain of atomic disintegrance that is a sun's source of energy. Now it may be just as possible that some of these vortices which capture cosmic matter are not as powerful or energetic and therefore the central drifting material is never condensed sufficiently nor moved swiftly enough to create either fusion heat or atomic disintegrance. Hence, amorphous dark bodies, loosely hung together -- spacial Sargassos. In regard to unknown, amorphous earth satellites, the sun has been repeatedly blotted out (Fort carefully points out specific instances) by something not accepted as being an eclipse. Fort then goes on to say that the orbits of these Super Sargassos sometimes come so close to earth that an interplay of gravitational attraction occurs. Among many instances he tells of bodies bursting out of graves in a cemetery (Riobamba, Brazil) and flying eight hundred or so feet into the air. Ice blocks have fallen from clear skies, also pebbles have descended inside of hailstones. An engineer friend of the writer related a relatively recent experience in the jungles of eastern Bolivia in which dangerously large rocks rained out of a starlit sky. Earthquakes have occurred in unusual places (from the standpoint of seismology). Our atmosphere has been disturbed violently by such proximity of extra-terrestrial bodies. Fort then gives case after case of strange appearances in earthly skies of flying saucers, lights, even -- Zeppelin-like structures, long before we knew about the aeroplane.
After reading Fort, then one begins to wonder. Consider, for example, the bad storms in the middle eastern part of the United States in the middle and latter part of June, 1947, which this writer personally witnessed. From St. Louis to the Twin Cities and beyond -- pressure areas, strange, upside down clouds (photographed and published in the newspapers), cyclones and electrical storms. Highest Mississippi flood level in 103 years. An earthquake in St. Louis. Pebbles broke windows in St. Paul during a hailstorm. And contemporaneous with all this -- flying discs.
Fort wonders if extra-terrestrial visitors do not camp on these Super Sargassos and watch us. When such masses approach us more closely the watchers apparently fly into earthly skies to look us over, then go back quickly to their sky islands. Fort also records instances in which reputable astronomers have observed lights and searchlights, stationary and moving, on the dark portion of the moon. This writer once clearly observed in his four-inch Newtonian telescope three symmetrical, circular bodies fly in formation across a field of vision that covered an area of the moon's surface the diameter of which could not have been less than five hundred miles. These objects traversed that field of vision in approximately three seconds. They were flying in perfect formation. All three were exactly the same size. Such symmetry in Nature would be rarer than space ships. This observation was made eighteen years ago and never forgotten.
[Note: the following two paragraphs are verbatim from the original, with some text and punctuation seemingly missing.]
A question now arises. But this time there were too many flying discs. This was not like anything ever seen before.
Answer We're liable to see a great many things soon in earthly skies that our human race does not consciously recall having seen before. Consider our startling advancement of the past fifty years. Since previous flying disc visitations (some were recorded in the 19th century) we have even shot off a few atomic bombs.
Atomic power! Somebody is playing with the building blocks of the Universe.
An alarm bell rings in outer space.
Earth has come of age! Earth has grown dangerous! Terrestrial men now have one of the keys to interplanetary navigation! We cannot let them come nosing out here into our territory!
So -- special investigation by extra-terrestrials. The discs are nosing about, friends. Maybe this is all nonsense, but -- think it over. The writer is of the opinion that an alarm bell had better ring in the cranial vacuae of some authorities' heads.
Remember: Beware of the systematists!
It would actually be good for this world to be presented with proof of the existence of extra-terrestrial beings, whether they be friends or foes. Because then perhaps men would cease regarding each other as Russians, Americans, Englishmen or Frenchmen, but would recognize the universality of Man. All men would simply call themselves Terrestrials and would unite against the dangers of the great Unknown.
Finally, in that same issue, Palmer's comments in the "Observatory" section were apropos of the times...
Above: "Observatory" section for the June, 1948, edition of Amazing Stories.
NOW that science has proved in so sensational a manner at least two phases of the Shaver Mystery, we have a prediction to make. We predict, based on evidence now in this editor's possession, that it will be definitely proved that space ships are visiting the earth right now. We label this as our opinion at the present moment, and we take full responsibility for the statement. But don't be surprised when we are proven to be perfectly correct. When the proof does appear, we will attempt to be the first to present it, but it will be most probable that since we must work three months in advance, we will be scooped. If we are, consider this paragraph a scoop of a scoop!
THE question arises, if space ships do visit the earth, is it a matter of "national security" and may we talk about it? Let's get that straight among those readers who have advanced that question in personal conversations to your editor. Whether or not it is a matter of national security, of course, depends on whether they attack us. Certainly an attack from outer space imperils our national security. We'd be at war with an enemy who would have a decided advantage, hut bowinell [sic, apparently a witticism for "but how in hell"] would he understand our talk and what would be the difference if he did? It would be like us understanding the ant's conversation about our descending foot, flattening their anthill. Perhaps in wartime, our military would clamp down on all talk concerning military matters. But right now we aren't at war with anybody, and we, in America, have the right of free speech, and we can talk about anything we please. For which we can be sued by other Americans in the courts if it is libelous or damaging. But there positively is no censorship on free speech, free press, free radio, free any kind of gab. Those readers who wonder about such things would do well to read the Bill of Rights and the Constitution, and listen less to those elements among us who whisper about our "freedom" not being freedom at all. If there is, or has been, any censorship on free speech, it's just because somebody has fallen for a bluff. For the benefit of those readers who are under the impression that there was a censorship on the now famous flying saucers, that's just plain poppycock. There never was any censorship (other than that of individual newspaper editors who "laid off" of a subject that was beginning to look ridiculous), and any authority you ask will tell you the same thing!
THIS reminds us of the story during the war, of how uncomfortable the heads of the "Manhattan Project" were because science fiction magazines were giving away atom secrets in merry fashion. At first a "leak" was suspected, then they learned the truth -- that science fiction writers and editors can and do predict future science from present fact with incredible accuracy. So, rather than draw enemy attention to actual atom experiments, by suppressing the science fiction magazines, they let them say what they wanted. Now, after the war, we know how excellent our writers really were in their craft. They'd make cracker-jack scientists in the main! Today, the same thing is happening,. For more than twenty years we've been talking about space ships, and maybe we're right at last! But "authorities" who will get the first reports of the mysterious craft, when they appear, will think there is a "leak" if they read any old issue of Amazing Stories at all! Moral: More "authorities" ought to read science fiction -- they won't be so surprised by logical developments as they develop.
ACTUALLY, we think important governmental agencies do read Amazing Stories. We know at least one man in Chicago who does, because we call him up every time we get some hot news on "events in the sky" and he pays us visits and calls us in return, evidencing great interest in our science "fiction". Our intelligence officers are a grand bunch of guys, let us tell you, and this one's the spittin' image of the old-time science fiction heroes we used to write about in Amazing Stories. You gals should see him. He's Buck Rogers come to life! And we sure hope we can get a scoop for him if we can possibly dig up any proof on the spaceships before one lands at LaGuardia Field!
RECENTLY we introduced a prominent newspaper man to Charles Fort's books, and ever since his aviation column has been full of space ships. Charles Fort should be alive today -- he'd have a picnic ... and aren't we all!
1. In the article "The Circle-Winged Plane" Hefferlin says "the plane with Ghyt No. 1 motors has clocked better than 1000 miles per hour at 20,000 feet elevation." The "Ghyt motor" was another fantasy construction of Hefferlin's, described in the "What Man Can Imagine" section of that same issue of Amazing Stories -- the section itself described as the magazine's department "for your ideas, no matter how wild they
2. Just two months prior to the publication of Vincent Gaddis' article "Visitors from the Void" a new wave of mystery aerial sightings over Scandinavia began to be reported, eventually leading to worldwide headlines telling of "ghost rockets". This would have no doubt occurred too late for any inclusion in the September, 1946, issue of Amazing Stories in which Gaddis' article appeared. More on the "ghost rockets" may be read in The Ghost Rockets of 1946 at this site (note: this is an extremely long entry).
3. Kenneth Arnold's first-person account of his initial sighting, as related in "I Did See the Flying Saucers", was a nearly verbatim reprint of the typed statement he had submitted to the Air Force, with mostly minor edits in the Fate magazine version. One incongruity however makes itself apparent. In the Fate article Arnold says "As the last unit of this formation passed the northernmost 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." However, in his statement to the Air Force, Arnold stated that it was the "southern most" peak.
Also possibly worth mentioning, in his typed statement for the Air Force, Kenneth Arnold stated, "...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." In the Fate piece that wording changed to "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 at Mt. Rainier."
In addition, the list of "observers that I can truthfully say must have observed the same thing" grew from his original statement, which originally read, "particularly, the descriptions of the three Western Air Lines employees [Insert: "Cedar City, Utah"], the gentleman [Insert: "pilot"] from Oklahoma City and the locomotive engineer from Illinois, plus Capt Smith and Co-Pilot Stevens of United Air Lines."
4. Arnold originally went to Tacoma as an assignment from Ray Palmer.
5. Harold Dahl was not a "harbor patrolman", let alone "Captain of the Harbor Patrol of Tacoma, Washington". Nor was Fred Crisman. In point of fact, they ran or were part of a log salvaging operation.
6. Lt. Frank M. Brown and Capt. William L. Davidson -- the intelligence officers who came to Tacoma -- had originally interviewed Kenneth Arnold in Boise, Idaho, following his sighting. The event for which they were returning to Hamilton field was the first "Air Force" day, established by President Truman "in recognition of the personnel of the victorious Army Air Forces and all those who have developed and maintained our nation's air strength." August 1 was chosen to mark the 40th anniversary of the establishment, in 1907, of the Aeronautical Division in the Office of the Chief Signal Officer of the Army.
7. The subsequent Air Force crash investigation showed that when the plane Brown and Davidson were piloting caught fire, they first made sure the two other men onboard were able to parachute out before looking after their own safety, and tragically were too late to save themselves (there was not, as Arnold asserted, an 11-minute interval between the men parachuting and the crash of the plane).
8. Fred Crisman was never sent on a military transport to Alaska.
9. Although pictures had been purportedly taken of the doughnut-shaped craft, they were never shown to anyone or published anywhere.
10. Arnold gets wrong the spelling of the name of reporter Paul Lantz, which Arnold spells "Lance".
11. The Marine transport which had gone missing during a severe storm the previous December had smashed into a cliff, and the few pieces of wreckage discovered at the time lay at the 10,000-foot level of Mount Rainier's South Tahoma glacier. It was determined that it would be unsafe to attempt any recovery of bodies (or as is more likely, body parts). It had been Assistant Chief Ranger William J. Butler of Mt. Rainier National Park who had first spotted pieces of wreckage through field glasses and who had led the way to retrieve the first evidence. Butler had been offered but personally declined to accept the $5,000 reward from the families of the lost Marines.
12. Arnold's version of events at Tacoma, aka the "Maury Island Incident", changed considerably over the years, as documented in parts five through 10 in The Positively True Story of Kenneth Arnold, available through the Past Weeks portal of this site.
13. In this and other re-tellings by Arnold, neither Dahl nor Crisman ever mention any attempt to contact the harbor patrol, law enforcement, the military, or any newspaper regarding their purported experiences. Subsequent interviews with the FBI showed instead that they sent the story to Amazing Stories, and later admitted it was a hoax. It may have originally been intended to be related to Palmer's "Shaver Mystery" and been repurposed after Kenneth Arnold's sighting (Amazing Stories "Discussions" section regularly printed letters from readers concerning Shaver, both pro and con). In fact, according to researcher John Keel, Palmer admitted that Crisman was the author of the following letter to the Discussions section in the June, 1946, issue of Amazing Stories ...
ENCOUNTER IN THE CAVES
I flew last combat mission on May 26 when I was shot up over Bassein and ditched my ship in Remaree Roads off Cheduba Island. I was missing five days. I requested rest leave at Kashmere. I and Capt. ( deleted by request) left Srinagar and went to Rudok then through the Khesa pass to the northern foothills of the Kabakoram. We found what we were looking for. We knew what we were searching for.
For heaven's sake, drop the whole thing! You are playing with dynamite. My companion and I fought our way out of a cave with sub-machine guns. I have two 9" scars on my left arm that came from wounds given me in the cave when I was 50 feet from a moving object of any kind and in perfect silence. The muscles were nearly ripped out. How? I don't know. My friend had a hole the size of a dime in his right bicep. It was seared inside. How we don't know. But we both believe we know more about the Shaver Mystery than any other pair.
You can imagine my fright when I picked up my first copy of AMAZING STORIES and see you splashing words about on the subject.
Don't print our names. We are not cowards, but we are not crazy. You have given a lot of information in AMAZING STORIES that seems entirely unrelated to our subject, but a lot of it is, that's what worries us.
ex-Capt. -- A.C.
At your request we have not printed your names, but if you've written this much why not write more? Your editor isn't dropping anything, so you might as well come clean. Your letter is exciting, but absolutely worthless unless you can give more definite information. Let's have it. If it exists, we'll get it anyway. -- Ed.
In any case, the "Maury Island Incident" found its way into "Vol. II, No. 1" (1948) edition of Shaver Mystery Magazine which featured the following illustration...
And then, circuitously, the illustration reappeared in Arnold's privately published (and somewhat bizarre) pamphlet entitled The Flying Saucer As I Saw It...
The caption accompanying the illustration read...
THE TACOMA AFFAIR . . .
The FLYING SAUCER incident as described by Harold Dahl and Fred Crisman of the Tacoma Harbor Patrol, Tacoma, Washington, August 1, 1947.
The investigation conducted by Kenneth Arnold, Boise, Idaho pilot and discoverer of the FLYING SAUCERS, and Captain E.J. Smith, veteran United Air Line pilot, along with Frank M. Brown and William L. Davidson of Military Intelligence. RESULTS . . . three men dead and one man missing.
Notation: The third man to die associated with the Tacoma incident was Paul Lantz, ace news reporter for the Tacoma Times. For more than thirty hours his body lay in the mortuary, officials unable to determine the cause of his death. Fred Crisman, Tacoma Harbor patrol operator, in the midst of the investigation was purportedly whisked away to Alaska aboard an army transport.
On another page of the The Flying Saucer As I Saw It, as caption to a picture of the search team on Mt. Rainier, is the following...
The bodies were never recovered from the wreckage and pictorial proof of the bodies has never been released, leaving unsettled the great controversy as to whether bodies actually were found in the wreckage. The $5,000 reward offered for recovery of the bodies was never paid.
Being an experienced mountain pilot, Kenneth Arnold participated in the air search for this wreckage. It was while Arnold was engaged in this air search operation that nine strange raft-like aircraft crossed his pathway at a speed exceeding 1700 miles per hour.
As pointed out in a note, above, it was considered unsafe to attempt any recovery of bodies (in addition there had been heavy snowfall following the crash, making the search exponentially more difficult), and the reward was offered to and declined by Ranger Butler. Nor is it true that "Kenneth Arnold participated in the air search for this wreckage", at least in its implication of being part of an official search. Arnold's interest lay in collecting the reward offered by the families, and his flight took place six months after the crash.
The Flying Saucer As I Saw It is available online at Foreshadower.net.
14. Photos of Lt. Brown and Capt. Davidson recently appeared at the Northwest Museum of Legends and Lore website. Also there is a photo of newspaperman Paul Lantz.
15. The difference in spelling the word "disc" in the article Fortean Aspects of the Flying Disks (ending in "k" in the heading but ending in "c" in the body) is as originally published. Likewise the italicization (or non-italicization) of "System" varies in the original.
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