in the news 1947
PART FOUR OF SEVEN PARTS
By the end of July 1947 the UFO security lid was down tight. The few members of the press who did inquire about what the Air Force was doing got the same treatment that you would get today if you inquired about the number of thermonuclear weapons stock-piled in the U.S.'s atomic arsenal. No one, outside of a few high-ranking officers in the Pentagon, knew what the people in the barbed wire enclosed Quonset huts that housed the Air Technical Intelligence Center were thinking or doing.
-- Captain Ed Ruppelt
Chief of the Air Force Project Blue Book
The Report on Unidentified Flying Objects (1956)
FOR THE FIRST two to three weeks of summer, 1947, the so-called "flying saucers" or "flying discs" were a public phenomenon covered in newspapers regardless of whether the source was civilian or military. But beginning in early July, and for decades to come, witness accounts of the sightings began to diverge onto two separate tracks -- civilian reports continued to be publicly featured in newspapers, while military reports were confidentially referred to military intelligence and not shared publicly. By the end of 1947 the military intelligence effort had coalesced into the first official Air Force investigation of the phenomenon, under the code name Project Sign.
But by that time six months had passed, and although Project Sign looked back briefly at a few of the most notable civilian reports, its declassified files today give only a part of the story of 1947. This then is the other "half" of the story, the publicly-reported accounts, opinion and analysis -- and especially the public's reaction -- exclusively as told through the newspaper and magazine articles of the time.
Note: News reports for the period from June 25, 1947 to July 9, 1947 (plus a few from July 10, 1947) were featured in the eight-part series It Seemed Impossible -- But There It Is. The story of Project Sign will be covered in an upcoming series.
JULY 14, 1947
Twin Falls, Idaho Times-News - 14 Jul 47
Here's the "flying saucer" which threw Twin Falls police, the FBI and army intelligence into such a dither here last week when the "disc" was discovered in the back yard at the home of Mrs. T.H. Thompson, 219 Seventh avenue east. Capt. B.B. Zacharias, Ft. Douglas, Utah, is shown above looking over the handiwork of four Twin Falls boys. (AP photo.)
Time Magazine - 14 Jul 47
Something rushed up into the sky and out of the grayness, rushed slantingly upward and very swiftly into the luminous clearness above the clouds in the western sky; something flat and broad, and very large, that swept round in a vast curve, grew smaller, sank slowly and vanished again into the gray mystery of the night.
— H. G. Wells, War of the Worlds
The first man to report seeing them was Kenneth Arnold, of Boise, Idaho. Arnold, a businessman, was flying near Washington's Mt. Rainier when nine saucerlike objects, noiseless and sunbright, came streaking over the Cascades at "1,200 miles an hour in formation, like the tail of a kite." Arnold said later: "I don't believe it, but I saw it."
Newspapers spread the story. Scientists put it down to spots before the eyes. Then other reports began to come in.
In Seattle, 15 persons in one day called the papers to report having seen "flying saucers." Two Portland deputy sheriffs spotted "20 in a line going like hell to the west." A Spokane woman saw five fluttering "washtubs," each "about the size of a five-room house." A Seattle coast guardsman took a picture of a "saucer" at dusk. The picture showed a pinpoint of light. A policeman saw a lone saucer skimming high over San Francisco Bay. From people in Colorado, New Mexico, Ohio, Michigan, Georgia, South Carolina, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York and 29 other states and Canada, reports came in.
Near Ottawa, something that looked like a white-hot stovepipe flashed wickedly over the heads of three men in a boat, they said. Other Canadians saw flying teacups. J. William Sheets of Seattle announced quietly: "They come through our yard all the time." E.E. Unger, meteorologist in charge of the U.S. Weather Bureau at Louisville, Ky., reported a strange orange light rolling across the southern night. Idaho's Lieutenant Governor Donald S. Whitehead saw a whole flock of broody bright objects sitting motionless in the midday sky. A woman in Texas saw a disk "as big as a washtub" dive, then shoot violently upward. In New Mexico, a man chased a falling disk up a canyon, found it was a five-by-eight-foot piece of tinfoil.
V.F.W. National Commander in Chief Louis E. Starr wired Washington and demanded a full and immediate explanation. When he got no answer, he announced: "Too little is being told to the people of this country."
But most sensible people were inclined to laugh it all off. Scientists and aviation officials, to whom the mystified U.S. turned for an explanation, were sure that the whole thing was nothing more than "mass hysteria." Englishmen began to compare the "flying saucers" to Scotland's Loch Ness monster.
Then, one day last week, veteran Pilot E.J. Smith took United Air Lines flight No. 105 from Boise to Portland. His report:
"My copilot, Ralph Stevens, also of Seattle, was in control shortly after we got into the air. Suddenly he switched on the landing lights. He said he thought he saw an aircraft approaching us head on. I noticed the objects then for the first time. We saw four or five 'somethings.' One was larger than the rest and, for the most part, kept off the right of the other three or four Similar, but smaller, objects.
"Since we were flying northwest -- roughly into the sunset -- we saw whatever they were in at least partial light. We saw them clearly. We followed them in a northwesterly direction for about 45 miles. Finally the objects disappeared in a burst of speed. We were unable to tell whether they outsped us or disintegrated. We never were able to catch them in our DC-3. Our air speed at the time was 185 miles per hour.
"Because we were following the objects at roughly the same altitude, we can't say anything about their shape except that they were thin and were smooth on the bottom and rough-appearing on the top."
The scientists, for the most part, kept mum. Some fumbled around with the idea of solar reflections, meteor crystals, ice crystals, hailstones. No astronomer had seen anything unusual. No weather plane or radar screen had picked up any astral bodies. Air Forces spokesmen denied that they had experimental planes resembling the saucers seen in the Northwest or anywhere else.
At week's end, the Denver Post telephoned David Lilienthal, chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission, and explained that someone had suggested that the phenomenon might be related to "transmutation of atomic energy." Lilienthal snapped: "I can't prevent anyone from saying foolish things."
All over the U.S. last week, people turned curious or uneasy eyes towards the skies.
Carbondale, Illinois Free Press - 14 Jul 47
By David V. Felts
THE NEWS stories about the flying disks, most of them written with tongue-in-cheek, were fun. Nobody has seen a disk because there was none to be seen.
Here's a reasonable and intelligent explanation of the phenomenon which will be remembered as the 1947 renewal of the annual midsummer madness. We quote the commentary of Prof. Leo Crespi of the Princeton faculty:
"The real question is whether it (a view of a flying saucer) is an illusion with some objective reference or whether people who have 'seen' disks are delusionary in their source and are voicing a delusion or the pure projection of a delusion."
Less technically, Professor Crespi allowed that "it was probably an honest mistake originally and that the spread of the idea to 38 states and much of the rest of the world has probably given the persons involved a feeling of excitement. Compensates for emptiness."
Syracuse, New York Herald Journal - 14 Jul 47
Says Saucers From Planes
CANTON - The so-called flying discs which have been reported in various parts of the nation are nothing but reflections from passing airplanes, according to Prof. John F. Smith, head of the Physics Department at St. Lawrence University.
Prof. Smith said he had seen the flying discs numerous times over Canton, and after following the discs closely he said he came to the conclusion they were merely reflections from passing airplanes. However, he said, he had not noticed any during the past few weeks, the period which the flying saucers were reported seen.
SUNLIGHT, or moonlight, hitting the polished propellers of an airplane would cause a reflection perhaps 10,000 to 12,000 feet away, Prof. Smith said, and this would appear to be a flying disc to persons on the ground, he explained. He compared it to a reflection often seen in a person's glasses. Prof. Smith said he himself had noticed the discs on airplanes flying to and from Massena passing over Canton. While the disc would be visible, many times the noise of the plane could not be heard because of its distance.
PROF. SMITH believes reports of seeing the "flying saucers" will soon die out. He points out these discs have been seen for many years, and that somehow the nation's curiosity has suddenly been aroused.
Hobart E. Hoyer, meteorologist at the U.S. Weather Observatory in Canton, points out that during the war radar reflectors were seen in this area and that they appear to be similar to the flying discs. The radar reflectors were from Pine Camp, and military authorities were notified whenever they were seen by the weather observatory staff.
Oakland, California Tribune - 14 Jul 47
Interest in 'Flying Saucers' Reflected in One Sermon
Current interest in flying saucers was reflected in at least one Oakland church yesterday. Speaking on the subject "Signs of the Times" at the Melrose Baptist Church, Dr. Vernor I. Olson, pastor, laid: "The nation-wide interest in flying saucers, bordering on hysteria in some sections, is one of the signs of the times.
"God is revealing Himself in all of the processes of this age. Christianity always calls us to an interpretation of the events that make up the history of our own day. John Wesley said he read the newspaper to see how God was governing the world. Facts are lights by which we should see God. Christianity, therefore, is a call to present-day thinking as well as to eternal faith.
"Humanity's curiosity concerning unknown forces as revealed by the present mania for seeing flying saucers strangely ignores the daily evidences of the power and influence of Jesus Christ in modern life," Dr. Olson asserted. "Today we are weather-wise, astronomy-wise, and 'rocket and saucer' wise. Jesus does not condemn the study of science, but He does indicate that a man's knowledge may itself be an argument against him if it stops short of spiritual wisdom.
Look For Sign
"If America would look for the Heavenly Sign'," Dr. Olson concluded, "with half the interest shown in flying saucers, then we may expect the spiritual revival many of our national leaders have declared is absolutely essential for the future welfare of our country."
Billings, Montana Gazette - 13 Jul 47
Flying Saucer Sighted In China 900 Miles From Mukden
Shanghai, July 13. (UP) - Central news agency said what was believed to be a "flying saucer" was sighted Sunday over the Shensi provincial capital of Sain -- 900 miles from Mukden where the first discs were reported over China.
The report quoted a member of the Sain fire brigade, who said he saw a round substance radiating bright lights gradually ascending and drifting southeastward.
Central said that 80 saucers were seen in Mukden the night of July 10 by Yin Cin-Po of the Anshan steel factory.
Winona, Minnesota Republican-Herald - 14 Jul 47
Black Market in China Swallows 'Flying Saucer'
Shanghai (AP) - Among Chinese reports of dazzling flying saucers, and some even made of jade, one man said today he had seen a disk land on the Shanghai bund.
When he reached the scene, the Chinese told newspapers, the saucer already had disappeared "into the black market."
North China news agency said crowds of Chinese near the summer palace in Peiping's suburbs reported seeing "an enormous saucer emitting bright beams in all directions and dazzling the eyes of all who saw it."
Nancy, France l'Est Républicain - 14 Jul 47
At last... in France too "Flying saucers" Are Reported
Le Mans -- An inhabitant of Le Mans who was at his window early Saturday morning states that he has seen, at an approximate altitude from 800 to 1,000 meters in the sky, two odd machines which took the western direction.
Of gray-greenish color, the crafts, according to the witness, had a slightly oval and punt shape and presented a series of darker spots on their circumference. They reached a speed definitely higher than that of the modern interceptors. No sound of engine was heard. Only a trail of smoke remained a few moments after their passage, then the crafts disappeared quickly in the low clouds.
Charleroi, Pennsylvania Mail - 14 Jul 47
Greene County Finally Gets Own Flying Discs
WAYNESBURG - Greene County was "invaded" by the new famous flying saucers, according to reports reaching the county seat today.
"Flying disks," were said to have been seen by a number of residents of the village of Nineveh over a period of 45 minutes. Strangely enough, the objects seemed to increase in size as they progressed through the sky, an observer reported.
At Ruff Creek, a group of people who were attending church saw gleaming objects passing overhead, and the excitement was high until someone discovered that the bright objects they saw were reflections from a distant revolving airplane beacon.
Burlington, Iowa Hawk-Eye Gazette - 14 Jul 47
Another Flying Disk Over City
Earl Dodds, 831 Curran street, reported that he and his wife saw what they believed to be a flying disk over Burlington Sunday.
Dodds said they were walking on Main street near the Burlington route station, looked up and saw the disk sailing overhead toward the southwest. It was high but not traveling at a high rate of speed.
"We had just come from church," Dodds grinned, "and I don't think we were seeing things."
Ruston, Louisiana Daily Leader - 14 Jul 47
Radio Announcer Tells Of Marsmen In Flying Saucers
Raleigh, North Carolina - Radio Commentator Carl Goerch (of WPTF, Raleigh, North Carolina) says that when he tells a joke in the future, he'll call it a joke. Calls poured into Goerch's Raleigh station from as far away as Florida last night after Goerch told how he met a load of men from Mars in a flying saucer. The control tower at the Raleigh-Durham airport got so many calls that it was unable to handle plane traffic for a while.
The story Goerch told was so absurd that he didn't bother to mention that it was a phony. He is an amateur flier, and on his broadcast he told a dramatic tale of meeting a flying saucer in the air near Benson, North Carolina.
The flying saucer was full of men from Mars... Little men with big green eyes and yellow skins who were crazy about American movies. They wanted to know how to get to Hollywood.
Goerch, of course, couldn't talk their language and their English wasn't any too good. So they talked by means of signs. He told them to turn west and go three thousand miles.
Station engineers didn't cut Goerch off the air while he was telling that story... Nobody could possibly take it for anything but a gag. Nobody, that is, except the hundreds of worried listeners in North Carolina and other states, and radio stations in nearly 20 other towns who called up to check.
Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin Daily Tribune - 14 Jul 47
Sight 'Flying Saucer' Over City Sunday
Appearance of one of the mysterious "flying saucers" in the sky over Wisconsin Rapids about 8:30 Sunday night was reported to The Tribune this morning by Mrs. Emil Reinert, 1230 Baker street.
Mrs. Reinert said that she and her husband saw the object from their front porch. It appeared in the northeast, travelling at about the same altitude as the planes which frequently fly over town. The "saucer," she said, was moving in a straight line and going far faster than any airplane.
It was headed in the direction of the airport and seemed to "fuse" and burst into fire. The fire subsided, Mrs. Reinert said, and the "saucer" resumed the size of an automobile headlight and quickly disappeared from sight.
Mrs. Reinert said that although she first believed the object might have been a shooting star, she is convinced that it must have been one of the "flying saucers" whose appearance during the past month has puzzled scientists and produced nationwide conjecture.
Madison, Wisconsin State Journal - 14 Jul 47
Freedom Resident Spots Flying Disc
NORTH FREEDOM - Mrs. Eugene Bonnell was the first in this locality to report seeing some of the mysterious flying "saucers".
Mrs. Bonnell said that last Thursday afternoon, about 5, she saw what she described as "saucer-like silver discs."
She estimated that there were 50 in the group, traveling east and "going very fast."
Moberly, Missouri Monitor-Index - 14 Jul 47
Children First in Moberly to Report Seeing 'Saucers'
It was bound to happen sooner or later! A "flying saucer" has been reported in Moberly. A slightly oblong, shiny, silver-colored object, looking much like two round objects fastened together, was spotted about 4:30 o'clock yesterday afternoon by Phyllis Dulany, 10, and her sister, Connie, 9, 324 Union avenue.
Calling the attention of their mother, Mrs. Morris Dulany, and a neighbor, Mrs. Myrtle Alexander, the four watched the object, which answered the description of some of the "flying saucers" going at a fast rate of speed "off toward the north" and high up. Mrs. Dulany reported that it remained in sight only a few minutes and seemed to her to be two or three feet across.
Twin Falls, Idaho Times-News - 14 Jul 47
* * * * * * *
Another "flying disc" was seen in Magic Valley Sunday but this one was still flying and didn't raise the hopes and interest of the nation as did the "flying disc" found Friday morning in a Twin Falls yard. Mr. and Mrs. Irvin Bodenstab and Byrd Walter reported seeing one of the elusive "discs" about 6:30 p.m. Sunday while they were driving in Hagerman valley. The "disc" was described by Mrs. Bodenstab as "round and silver and travelling very fast." She said it was headed toward the southwest.
Bakersfield, California Californian - 14 Jul 47
Wasco Joins Lodge, "Saucers" Reported
WASCO, July 14 – Citizens of Wasco have reported that they have been seeing not only "saucers," but also cups.
The first report was made by a farmer's wife who stated she had just seen five "saucers" flying northwestward at an altitude of about 10,000 feet.
Two reports came in Tuesday afternoon, the first from a 12-year old youth who saw a silver spot whirling in the eastern sky. The "spot" turned out to be the new Navlon plane purchased recently by the Barling Brothers of Wasco.
The second report to come in Tuesday was from the Semitropic area where an oilman said he had spotted a flight of 12 or 15 discs flying eastward from the Pacific. He would not attempt to describe them, but said they were flying in a tumbling forward motion. The lead "saucer" appeared to be larger and darker than the others, he claimed.
Van Nuys, California News - 14 Jul 47
Good Matrons Were Slightly Adither When Flying Saucers Made A Fast Run On Their Car
Well now, Willie Reporter and a little group of press gremlins were sitting around the office sleepily chewing the fat a couple of evenings ago, when along about umpteen minutes to midnight THAT telephone call came -- a report that flying discs had been seen in Van Nuys!
As long as they have been seen everywhere else in the country it was only natural that the aerial saucers should try out the ozone here, and sure enough, two housewives driving home from the theatre spotted the whatchamacallems in flight.
Nearly Hit Their Car
Mrs. William Saliai, 15742 Rayen St., Sepulveda, telephoned in to report that she and her friend, Mrs. Emery Yuhaxz, 13649 Gager St., Pacoima, were driving north on Van Nuys Blvd. near Valerio St. when several brightly illuminated round "objects" came swirling through the air, seemingly nearly hitting their car then swinging away. This show definitely made the two women forget the one they had seen on the screen only a few minutes before. They dashed on to Sepulveda, collected their husbands, and returned to the "scene of the saucers" for a further scanning of the sky.
Only the Moon Left
By that time the objects of their experience had disappeared, so they returned home and telephoned their exciting incident to The News.
Willie thereafter went outside and took a gander into the night sky himself -- but there were no discs to be seen: nothing but a rather dejected moon wearily trying to sink behind Mt. Universal.
Olean, New York Times Herald - 14 Jul 47
By Gilbert Stinger
Getting back to those flying saucers, if any, letters offering explanations about them are beginning to come in. Babs Horton, 927 Buffalo Street, suggests in a two page letter that "it is possible that the inhabitants of Mars are able to visit the earth."
She has a second suggestion that the saucers might be messengers of peace and progress from the Almighty.
JULY 15, 1947
Naugatuck, Connecticut Daily News - 15 Jul 47
Boy Snaps "Saucer"
A native of Norfolk, Va., William Turrentine, 14, photographed this object at eleven o'clock in the morning as it passed over his home, headed north at great speed. The boy stated he saw three of the objects which looked like "flying saucers" but was able to get a picture of only one. (International)
Naugatuck, Connecticut Daily News - 15 Jul 47
Riding along in a Washington, D.C., bus, artist Jack LaBous thought he spotted a "flying saucer" zooming across the sky. He sketched what he saw on an envelope (above), but was about 77 years behind the times. The bottom sketch was made in 1870, when the ship "Lady of the Lake" saw something in the mid-Atlantic sky, and it was incorporated in the skipper's report to the Royal Meteorological Society.
Twin Falls, Idaho Times-News - 15 Jul 47
The "Disc" Investigation
The "flying disc" hoax in Twin Falls at least gave us an insight into that old "cloak and dagger" secrecy which the U.S. army on occasion employs to the extent of making itself ridiculous.
Once army intelligence got wind of the discovery in Twin Falls, it threw its censorship machinery into high gear. The police were ordered to keep the "saucer" under lock and key, films of pictures already taken were commandeered, and to all questions regarding the "disc," the officers maintained a sphinx-like silence.
Naturally this army secrecy aroused speculation far and wide. The press wires buzzed with inquiries. Newspapers called from great distance for information. One newspaper dispatched its own plane to Twin Falls.
Not until the army officials who flew here from Salt Lake City had started on their return trip was there any indication that the whole business was a hoax -- that the "saucer," according to their investigation, had been constructed and "planted" by four boys in their teens.
"But why did these army officials take the fake disc back to Salt Lake City with them?" asked a local man who sensed something irregular about the investigation. "If it was a hoax, why didn't they put it on display here where we could all see it?"
Other questions also seem in order. If the army is "in the know" so far as these "saucers" are concerned, why didn't it merely ask for a description of the missile found in Twin Falls? If the description didn't tally with the real McCoy, why all the fuss and secrecy and their trip by plane to Twin Falls?
There is only one conclusion. Either the army doesn't know what these "saucers" are all about and is pretty much in a dither, or it made a grandstand play of the Twin Falls incident to keep the public ignorant or confused -- or both.
Back in Salt Lake City several days later the "brass," in true army fashion, released a picture of the "disc" which had been brought there from Twin Falls. In the arms of a captain, the "hoax" disc was made to appear as another triumph for the army.
Ludington, Michigan Daily News - 15 Jul 47
Whatever possible good might have stemmed from the "flying saucers" craze, it did not solve the correct spelling of "disk." One news service carried it "disc" for the first six times in a story and then switched to "disk" the rest of the way. The dictionary -- Webster's Collegiate, at least -- says that "disc" has a zoological implication. Indeed, Webster's Unabridged utilizes "disk" in referring to the astronomical -- and if imaginations haven't soared to the astronomical this time, they haven't soared at all.
When we laugh at the "ghost rockets" of the Swedes of the Loch Ness "monster" of the Scotch, we might well remember the excitement of Orson Welles' invasion from Mars or the "flying saucer" rage.
Even the Army got mixed into it. The radio newscasters flashed the word that the Army had found a flying disc! The U.S. refused comment, it was said. Breathlessly we awaited news that would unfold the secret. It came -- a deflated weather balloon.
Whenever the flying saucer yarn -- relief for summer doldrums, at any rate -- expends itself, it will simply mean another deflation of our national complex for imaginative things.
Lethbridge, Canada Herald - 15 Jul 47
Drumheller Sees Flying Saucers
DRUMHELLER, Alta., July 15 (CP) – Drumheller citizens reportedly got their first glimpse of the flying saucers this week when Mr. J.K. Adam, who was sunbathing on his lawn, said he saw three of the mysterious discs fly through the air, while two of them disappeared, one of them hovered long enough for Mr. Adam to call some of his neighbors to see it.
Later on in the evening several more were reported to have been seen over the valley. Some described the discs as flying saucers, others said they looked like a ball. The discs appeared from the north and seemed to disappear as they headed southeast.
Hagerstown, Maryland Daily Mail - 15 Jul 47
Resident Reports Seeing Strange Thing In Skies Here
Mysterious things are flying over Hagerstown again.
That's what K.W. Rohrer, 242 South Locust street, reported last night. He and his wife saw a big, light blue object dash through the sky at 8:20 p.m., traveling from east to west and crossing the heavens in ten or 15 seconds.
That's too fast for an airplane, and it didn't make any noise. It didn't look like a saucer, though.
Mr. Rohrer said that this object was light blue in color, apparently more or less circular, but tapering into a V at the end. It didn't seem to be lighted up from within, but was encircled with white as it passed through the darkening skies of dusk.
The local resident said that he didn't have any idea what it might have been -- he saw it accidentally, while looking upward at a repairman who was perched on a telephone pole, then called the attention of his wife to the phenomenon.
On July 6, five of the flying saucers that were then at the height of their fame were reported glimpsed over Hagerstown, but nothing suspicious had been viewed in the heavens since then until last night.
Pulaski, Virginia Southwest Times - 15 Jul 47
Flying Saucer Reported Seen By N&W Engineer
The "flying saucers" have come home to Pulaski county.
L.H. Flick, a Norfolk and Western railway freight engineer, reported seeing four "marble-like" objects traveling through the air near "Low Tunnel," opposite the powder plant at Radford about 15 miles from Pulaski, Sunday night about 9 p.m.
Flick, who lives in Roanoke, reported the mysterious objects appeared to be little round balls and were moving faster than any airplane he had ever seen. He did not estimate their altitude nor disclose how they were illuminated at that hour of the evening.
Humboldt, Iowa Independent - 15 Jul 47
Northwest Iowa News Flashes
Mr. and Mrs. Will A. Beam are the latest in this section of the country to report seeing "flying saucers" in the air. They didn't catch any of them.
Maryville, Missouri Daily Forum - 15 Jul 47
A Woman at Pickering Reports Seeing a Disc
The first disc to be reported as flying In Nodaway county was seen about 1:30 o'clock Monday morning by Mrs. Mattie Riddle of Pickering.
Mrs. Riddle, who lives in the south part of Pickering, was awakened by the rain storm and got up to close the windows when she noticed a bright object, about the size of a dinner plate in the sky.
She said the "flying disc" was not very high and was traveling from northeast to southwest and was "very pretty to look at."
Bismarck, North Dakota Tribune - 15 Jul 47
Grand Forks Looms As Flying Saucer Center
GRAND FORKS (UP) - Grand Forks may be on its way to becoming a "saucer center" with additional eyewitness accounts of the flying discs following close on the heels of initial reports of saucers over the city Saturday.
Mr. and Mrs. B.O. Borchers, Grand Forks, said they also saw some silver discs flying high in the air Saturday afternoon. The objects seemed to revolve with one side apparently brighter than the other, Mrs. Borchers said, while Borchers indicated he saw between 12 and 15 saucers moving very swiftly eastward.
Previously, Mrs. Bert Nordby, Grand Forks, saw the first saucers reported over Grand Forks Saturday. She saw one disc flying very fast at a high altitude, and which seemed to revolve over and over as it sped across the sky. Two girls, Theresa A. Nikle, 15, and Pauline Kitzinger, nine, also reported seeing a small, white disc high in the sky while swimming at Riverside Park pool Saturday.
A flying saucer, reportedly found on the Alvin Johnson farm near Manvel Monday afternoon, was investigated and found to resemble an automobile hubcap with two spark plugs welded to the inside. The plugs were connected by wire to a small electric motor to which an automobile light bulb was fastened.
Winona, Minnesota Republican-Herald - 15 Jul 47
Editorial: 171 Years Young
Once every year or so there comes justification for the national complex entertained by America that she is a 'young' country. This fixation, described by Oscar Wilde, a somewhat jaundiced critic of these United States as "the country's oldest tradition," is, it must be conceded, more than a fond illusion entertained by a 171-year-old nation.
Fresh evidence of America's joyous adolescence came last week, when, with the President of the United States pleading for the admission of 400,000 displaced persons to this country; with the Republicans pressing a new drive to cut taxes; with Lewis' capturing the most astounding wage terms of a long and astounding history for his coal miners; with the secret theft of files on the atomic bomb -- Americans were concerned but passingly with these events and gave their rapt attention to two other top news stories -- the mysterious flying saucers and the betrothal of Princess Elizabeth to a former Greek prince. The flying saucer diversion is entirely in line with other indications that the country is still in the growing stage, still has acne smattered across her beautiful features. For while Hitler rose to power, Americans played miniature golf; 'Knock Knock' jokes were a depression phenomena, and today singing commercials seriously rival these fads.
In last week's news could well have been seed which will grow into the future of the world -- for Russia muscled most of the Soviet sphere states out of the aid conference and a possibly crippled dream of General Marshall's limped to a feeble birth at Paris.
Were Mr. and Mrs. America concerned with this? Somewhat, it must be admitted; but far more rapt attention was given to the news stories on the engagement of the British princess, who impresses the casual observer as being a nice enough looking girl, although a trifle heavy and given to overly matronly hair-dresses.
The whole nation was enthralled by the soap opera overtones in the news stories of the royal romance. We were told (and how we eat it up) that the Princess eyes sparkled like the three-diamond ring she wore on her hand, and that Philip was the bobby soxers dream and that all was sweetness and light at Buckingham palace.
However it must not be thought that America neglected its own shores.
But the most newspaper space, the most radio coverage, and the most attention was given the marvelous flying saucers. The phenomena was seized instantly as a medium of advertising and comedian's copy and offered unlimited opportunities for practical jokesters. Between the spellbound absorption in the royal betrothal and the flying disks, it would seem that Americans are suckers for illusion of one sort or another.
This may be a deeply significant straw In the wind, a commentary on the times. It might be an indication that Americans, the professional wise guys, the original so-what kids need something to sustain belief in the fairies they have abandoned and the other faiths they have largely discredited. It may indicate that, failing a flying carpet, they will substitute a mysterious flying disk to supply life's prosaic wheels with an oiling of magic.
So last week America prepared to shoulder the burden of rebuilding the continent from which most of her peoples have sprung and whipped herself into a frenzy over what is probably an optical illusion. That is this nation, satirized as the 'Excited States' -- a country with the stride of a giant, and the capricious, seeking heart of a child.
1. In 1947 -- having just lived through five years of world war -- much of the U.S. population had at least passing familiarity with the concept of describing aerial objects in terms of their "apparent size". This was part of basic civil defense training intended to avoid estimations of actual size, which is notoriously difficult to gauge accurately for an object at an unknown distance and/or elevation (for instance, an aircraft at a certain distance and elevation might visually appear to an observer on the ground to be only two feet long). Both military and civil defense training included such things as comparing an aerial object to the size of a coin held at arm's length, so that, for instance, an object might be reported as the size of a dime or as the size of a quarter. Another common descriptor was comparing an object to the apparent size of a full moon. Therefore it is sometimes extremely difficult to discern whether witness reports given to the newspapers refer to an object's actual size or its apparent size, and such descriptions as "the size of a serving tray" or "the size of a washtub" should not necessarily be seen as a literal description of size.
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