in the news 1947
PART FIVE 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 16 THROUGH JULY 20, 1947
Annapolis, Maryland The Capital - 16 Jul 47
Hamilton, Ohio Daily News Journal - 16 Jul 47
We, The People
By Jay Franklin
Washington, July 16. So far, this column has not seen any flying saucers -- although sorely tempted to rush into print with the report that a flying saucer pointed with Hammer-and-Sickle and with a Russian-looking aviator at the controls passed over the National Press building.
The explanation of this phenomenon, which is reported by a number of trustworthy witnesses as well as by a number of obvious cranks and publicity seekers, is beyond me. My own macabre inclination runs in favor of the theory of the late Charles Fort, who spent a life-time gathering data of just this kind.
Mr. Fort compared us to fish at the bottom of the sea, trying to explain the debris dropped now and then from passing ships. His own belief was that the earth is "owned" -- as a colony or hot-bed or even a pit -- by some or several groups of extra-terrestrial being whose nature was entirely unknown to us. In his life-time, he massed a large amount of authenticated data which defied any other analysis, pointing out that the rule of science was simply to deny the existence of any data which it could not explain.
Another rule of science, he reported, was to dismiss with a scientific label any inconvenient fact. This rule is illustrated by the solemn pronouncement that the flying saucers are "moscae volantes" (Latin for "flying flies"), which is termed a rare optical phenomenon, that causes the observer to imagine that he sees objects moving rapidly out of the limits of ocular vision. This explanation, it can be pointed out, explains nothing, since the objects might not be imaginary, and in this particular case the occurrence of the flying saucers has been so widespread that the phenomenon can no longer be described as rare. Since the sight of the saucers has been at widely separated points and times by entirely different observers, the other explanation of "mass hallucination" cannot hold water, though some credit can be given to "mass-suggestion" in the numerous cases involved since the disks were first reported.
One thing is clear: Unless the army has developed secrecy and security regulations to an unheard-of degree, this is not an example of experimental military aircraft. Also, since none have crashed, it can be argued that army pilots are not at the controls. The absence of any trace of these saucers on earth suggests that Fort may be right, though this column is puzzled by the statement that they couldn't possibly have come from outside the earth's atmosphere since they would have been burnt to powder in the process of getting inside the ionosphere, the stratosphere etc.
It was my impression that rocket-scientists, were already calculating on how to pierce through to the outer space and had decided that it was entirely practical, which would not be the case if missiles were sure to be burned to powder in the perilous passage. For finally we must fall back on the conclusion that we know nothing of the world and or the universe except through our five senses. These senses we know to be limited -- extremely so even by comparison with the senses of observable animals. It is entirely possible that the thing we see, smell, hear, taste and touch is entirely different from the thing itself. For that reason, this column preserves a completely open mind on the reality of these flying saucers that have hovered over the country for the last two weeks.
Manitowoc, Wisconsin Herald-Times - 16 Jul 47
Where's Our Scientific Spirit?
Although sight of the flying discs have not been reported from other sections of the nation for some days, it is with disappointment we view the lack of astronomical enterprise on the part of Manitowoc residents. After the fine beginning in scientific investigation made late last week we felt sure it was only a question of time before local observers would spot bigger, better and more startling platters rolling up and down our skies.
What is the matter with Manitowoc? Local residents have just as good eyes or imaginations as stargazers in Milwaukee, Seattle or New York. In addition an alert Chamber of Commerce could not afford to let this community be bypassed by the most sensational story of recent years -- not with two aluminum companies, a paper firm and a paper box establishment possessing possible manufacturing facilities for the discs.
Thus far, however, Manitowoc imaginations have not publicly entered the guessing game concerning the origin of the mysterious plates. They have demonstrated admirable restraint but have spotted the rest of the country a head start which can not be overcome by ordinary cerebrations.
Explanations by a number of persons, here and abroad, some of whom consider themselves "authorities" have suggested the discs were the result of mass hysteria, product of a toymaker's genius, an invasion from Mars, flat tops of floating beer bottle caps, reflections from airplanes, "shooting stars," round reflections of airplane beacons, meteorological apparatus, motes and a mild variety of delirium tremens.
These suggestions reveal imagination, ingenuity and as much knowledge of the subject as could be obtained from a canvass of the local kindergartens.
During the past few days, for some unaccountable reason, the flying discs have vanished from news service telegraph reports as mysteriously as they first appeared in the heavens.
Perhaps it's merely coincidence that "saucer" activity ceased after report of a "legitimate" finding at Black River Falls, where a 15-inch silver disc with tiny motor, propeller and an R.C.A. photo electric cell was picked up on the fair grounds.
At any event Manitowoc residents, late to enter the game, are now faced with the double puzzle of what the discs "really" were and why they have suddenly disappeared. Anyone clever enough to come up with authentic explanations of both phenomena will probably receive as his reward a prompt investigation by the house unAmerican activities committee.
Oelwein, Iowa Daily Register - 16 Jul 47
Editorial: Now What Could This Be?
Some enterprising promoter, willing to capitalize on just about anything, including the amazing American yarn of the flying saucer, has sent us this letter. We found it amusing:
Have you seen one of the mysterious "Saucers?"
What did it look like ? ? ? ? ?
Do you think these strange celestial manifestations are harbingers of a better day?
Do you believe that it means a new and revolutionary advance is coming?
Will it make your life brighter, happier, more useful?
We believe one of these startling discs is on its way to you. Then the secret will be out.
(Signed) The Combined and Amalgamated Committee of Sky-scanners, Disc Decipherers and New-Product Introducers.
The letter was postmarked in New York City.
Mexia, Texas Daily News - 16 Jul 47
Letters to the Editor
Editor Mexia Daily News:
About 1898 right after the Spanish-American War the American Public became highly excited about Flying machines that some highly imaginative persons had seen cruising through the air and the general opinion was they had flown in from Mars and we were in extreme danger of being invaded by these warriors from Mars.
Excitement ran high all over the country and, being a sizeable kid, it scared me so I haven't fully cooled down yet but sufficiently though to not be alarmed over any Flying Discs that some of bur honest but highly excitable citizens have recently been seeing throughout the country.
I saw one of these discs yesterday afternoon but it didn't run my blood pressure up at all. I stayed cool as a cucumber. I have been seeing them for a long time, ever since these giant airliners started painting their planes a silvery color. When this plane is a long ways off and the sunshine reflects from same, it appears like a flashing star or saucer and this, in my opinion, is what our good citizens have been seeing and getting excited over.
What about the discs that have been found with radio tubes and wires attached, you may ask. That's easily explained in four words, -- "Boys will be boys." I fully understand boys, being an old one myself and this extra age is all that has kept me from rigging up a Disc myself and thereby carrying the joke and excitement a little farther.
So keep cool, friends, and let Not Your Heart Be Troubled.
Ben W. Jackson.
Paris, Texas News - 16 Jul 47
By Paris News Correspondent
DETROIT. - The 102 veterans attending the Detroit Auto Body Repair and Painting School show very little interest whenever class discussions mention "flying saucers."
The chief theory is that the flying saucer is what Kilroy travels in, which seems to be substantiated by the fact that Kilroy is "the man who has just left from where you are when you get there."
Brainerd, Minnesota Daily Dispatch - 16 Jul 47
British See War Scare in Flying Discs
LONDON (AP)- Taking flying saucers seriously, a British scientist said today, may lead to use of the atom bomb as indiscriminately as New Englanders burned witches 300 years ago.
"People don't take these things seriously unless they have been worked up into a state of terror, hatred or some other emotion," Prof. J.B.S. Haldane wrote in the Communist Daily Worker, of which he is board chairman.
"Once they are reported other people see them, and we have the atmosphere for a war scare," he continued, adding "Ignorance of this kind is not funny. In the past it led to burning witches alive. In the present it may lead to the burning of still larger numbers of people with atomic bombs."
The professor said the flying saucers themselves were "physiological phenomena."
Clearfield, Pennsylvania Progress - 16 Jul 47
Now It's Dishpans
BRADFORD, PA – UP – Those mysterious "flying saucers" now have something to ride in.
Bert Bishop reports he saw six discs spinning high in the air northwest of Bradford last night. He said they looked like "dishpans."
Greensburg, Indiana Daily News - 16 Jul 47
Rush Prophet Disc Guesser
(By International News Service) Rushville, Ind., July 16. - Rushville's amateur weather prognosticator Mark Purcell, who each spring announces a long range weather forecast is batting near the 100 per cent mark so far this summer.
He figured the weather would remain between cool and warm until about the middle of August when the sun will "really turn on the heat for several weeks."
Purcell says beginning with early September temperatures will return to an average pleasant warm and remain mild with the passing of summer.
Purcell's guess on the "flying discs" perhaps is as good as any. He believes they were accumulated gases caused by the atom explosions at Bikini and Helgoland island and explains when enough of the gasses massed they "took off" and the sun's rays on the gas mass gave them the appearance of a silvery disc.
Billings, Montana Gazette - 16 Jul 47
Roberts Farmer Observes 'Disc'
Red Lodge, July 15. - It's happened at last!
Carbon county has been visited by the "flying discs" or something which appears to answer the description of the phenomenon which have visited different sections of the United States the last month.
A Roberts farmer, who didn't want his name revealed because he feared being accused of imbibing, reported that while he was driving his tractor Monday afternoon, he saw a bright flash in the sky.
He said he thought at first it was an airplane, but, although it appeared to be flying at a high rate of speed, he could tell it didn't have wings. He explained how he turned off the tractor motor to see if he could hear anything, but the "disc" was not making any kind of noise.
The farmer, who declared he wasn't imagining the phenomenon, said it "glittered" as it flew through the air. He couldn't estimate, how high it was from the ground.
A fellow-worker was hailed and told to look, but the object -- "flying disc" or whatever it was -- had disappeared from sight.
Port Arthur, Texas News - 17 Jul 47
'Flying Discs' Were Seen in Germany in 1944, Airman Says
JENA, La. July 17 (INS) – E.E. Basco, of Jena, La., a former bombardier-navigator in the European theater, has told how he and his crew members had seen "flying saucers" over Germany late in 1944. He said that Army Intelligence had knowledge of the strange objects more than two and a half years ago.
Basco said that he was reluctant to mention his experience over the Rhine because "In some quarters of the United States, the idea of flying discs had been ridiculed."
Basco said military officials had scoffed at the report at the time, but that Army intelligence officers to which he reported the first incident were interested and called him back to questioning several times.
Basco related, "It was during the Battle of the Bulge. We were making regular bombing missions from our French base and just over the Rhine, I sighted about 20 of the shiny discs. They appeared to be several thousand feet below my plane, and approximately the size of a wash tub.
"They weren't moving fast. I thought they were going around in circles."
Sioux Center, Iowa News - 17 Jul 47
Local Girl Sees Flying Saucers
Emma Mouw, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Peter W. Mouw, reports having seen a flying saucer about 2:30 Thursday morning. She got up for a drink of water and looked out of the south window of the Jake Baker residence where she is staying. She saw it and then went outdoors -- it resembled a large ball of light, hovered in the sky, and then went down with a tail of light. A very bright light, which looked a little like the bright light seen when welding, illuminated the neighbor's house. It lasted only a short while.
Lebanon, Pennsylvania Daily News - 18 Jul 47
Armed Forces Unification Step Toward New Defense
Washington, July 17 - In this era of flying discs, top General Eisenhower says this nation must guard itself well against insane attack, and Congress is getting on with it. The long overdue bill unifying the Army, Navy and Air Corps has been set up for agreement. The Navy first negotiated assurance that its appropriation and activities will be rather fully continued. Hence the bill will not save much money. National defense appropriations for this fiscal year will run. nearly $10,000,000,000. Even military men are beginning to become wary of themselves spending so much. State Secretary Marshall has pointed out soldiers ordinarily have not had much business experience, and should devote some effort to reducing their costs. Possibly a better guard against insane attack might be erected for a few hundred million rather than all those billions, Congressmen have been muttering.
But the unification, which will eliminate some duplication, is being pushed forward finally now by the Republicans in a mild form agreeable to the heroes of the war (Eisenhower and Nimitz, for instance). It is a loose unification, but you will soon be calling the martial departments by their new name "National Defense Establishment". Changes from the original bill mainly involve legal rewording to preserve the status of Naval aviation, the Marine Corps and the administrative functions of routine bureaus which feared being side tracked.
The final report of Chairman Gurney's Armed Services Committee says "the world is entering an era in which war, if it comes, will be fought at speeds and accompanied by devastations that stagger the imagination." For this, the bill sets up a single overall secretary, three under secretaries for land, sea and air, a council of national defense (under the President), a national security resources board, the joint chiefs of staff, a central intelligence agency (latter three already operating), a procurement agency and research agency. It does not abolish much, but unifies what already exists.
Frankly, certain congressional people doubt that this will do, but are saying little yet. All defense activities have been glamorized by the indefinite but awful possibilities of atomic attack of directed air missiles. Defense talk has been almost entirely centered in these incalculable prospects, without getting down to cases. The atmosphere is fraught with flying questions and unclarified.
The only current possibility of attack would come from Russia. The Russian military situation, when measured against the United States, has many definite limitations. Military writers assume a missile attack would be launched across the Polar-Alaskan spaces at our industrial nerve centers (Michigan, Illinois, Ohio) to be followed by invasion from an airborne array. Much weather comes that way. Theoretically this might all be done in a few days with efficient organization, but the Russians have displayed no aptitude for organization, comparable for instance, to Nazi efficiency.
The military men with whom I talk seem to think the threat now, at this stage of developments, implies a Russian chance to create some limited chaos in this country by sudden missile attack, accompanied by domestic Communist uprisings, but suggests that invasion would be out of the question. They see a threat of terror against us, maybe, but no possibility of conquest. They think public awakening to this threat may have been overdone (witness our aerial pancake sensitivity) because Russia would have to control a great stock of missiles capable of maintaining sustained attack, many thousands of airplanes for invasion, and a system of supply which would defy all efficiency experts. (Airfields would have to be seized progressively advancing toward the point of attack, and these as well as missile launching bases, would have to be maintained against counter-attack). The gasoline problem alone would create a deterrent which Russia could hardly be expected to meet with existing supplies.
Such an attack would necessarily fail if it even gave time for successful counter-attack. Missile-launching areas would be subject to airplane attack and missile destruction. Russian oil is limited and vulnerable. Defensive services have explored possibilities of creating an airscreen north of us in Canada to blunt the effectiveness of missile flights, throwing them off mark or destroying them. The whole attack would-require catastrophic destruction of such swift, devastating scope as to raise sound questions about when, if ever, the Russians would be capable of it.
On the other hand the Russians, far from being isolated militarily behind an iron curtain, are weak and openly susceptible to counterattack. A factual expose of their unnoticed and unadvertised condition will be carried in a subsequent column, showing their iron curtain to be tissue paper from their defense standpoint.
Winnipeg, Canada Free Press - 18 Jul 47
Flin Flon Couple Spot A "Saucer"
FLIN FLON, Man.. July 18 (Special) - What is believed to be a flying saucer was observed here at 8 p.m. Thursday by Mr. and Mrs. Phil Rosentrator, of 23 Hill street.
Mr. Rosentrator, standing in his yard, noticed a large white object flying in a southern sky. At first he thought it might be a seagull, but decided this could not be as the object was large, ball-shaped and white in color, travelling in a uniform course from, east to west and having a speed similar to an airplane.
Mr. Rosentrator said he knew the motor noise of an aircraft could have been distinctly heard at the height of the object, which passed from view behind buildings after it had almost reached the western horizon. During the entire distance it appeared to be flying in a direct line with no variation.
Helena, Montana Independent Record - 18 Jul 47
Flying Saucers Finally Sighted Here; Unique Aerial Exhibition Lasts 45 Minutes, Witness Says
Saucers flew over Helena Thursday.
After weeks of watching by residents, the speeding disks were sighted over Helena at 2:45 o'clock Thursday afternoon by Mrs. F.J. Murphy, 817 Eleventh.
"I was taking a sun bath in the back yard when I first noticed them," Mrs. Murphy said. "At first I thought they were spots before my eyes. Then I could see them clearer.
"I watched them for about 45 minutes as they flew south. The first ones I saw were in a formation of 12 and after that they were both high and low, coming and going one or two at a time. One was quite low, it looked like it was round and as it went across the sun it appeared to be transparent with dark vertical and horizontal lines.
"Bonnie Martinson, Dan McLeod and Bill Bennett also saw them. At first we thought they were milkweed seeds but the men said seeds wouldn't go that fast."
Mrs. Murphy reported sighting the flying saucers to the police. The sighting of the saucers here Thursday was the first time a Helena resident reported seeing the phenomena, although residents have been watching for weeks.
Joplin, Missouri Globe - 18 Jul 47
Jimmie Fidler in Hollywood
...When Doris Dudley goes looking for her son, Butch Jenkins, she knows exactly where to look. Butch and his brother, Skipper, have erected what they call an "observatory" on the roof of their Santa Monica home, and they take turns standing watch for flying saucers. So far, no luck...
Winnipeg, Canada Free Press - 19 Jul 47
Two More "Flying Discs" Reported
Two more persons have claimed to have seen "flying discs." H.R. Minaker, 405 Marjorie street, St. James, reported seeing one travelling south-east over College street at 8.45 p.m. Friday. He drew the attention of two neighbors to the sight, and pointed out that it was reddish-orange. Six-year-old Carolyn Best, daughter of Mrs. J. Best, 146 Brooklyn street, Charleswood, claimed she saw a flying saucer and pointed it out to her playmate, Evelyn Vance, of Elmhurst road. "It looked like a large silver spoon with a round end and a tail on it," said the little girl.
Anniston, Alabama Star - 20 Jul 47
Flying Saucer Seen At Oxford
Another flying saucer was reported seen in the sky south of Oxford at 9:15 o'clock Friday night.
First sighted by Raymond Cobb as he sat on the porch of his home on East Sixth Street, he called his son and his wife and their visitor to also witness the spectacle.
According to Mr. Cobb, the saucer made a brilliant light and appeared to be about ten feet in diameter.
It remained in the sky for a few minutes, he said, and disappeared after a stroke of lightning, accompanied by thunder, knifed across the sky in that vicinity.
Mrs. Verna Boyd and Mrs. Lester Dempsey last night reported seeing three flying saucers shooting across the sky in the direction of Fort McClellan.
Mrs. Boyd said the big one made a brilliant light and was followed by two smaller ones. She said it was traveling at a terrific speed.
Joplin, Missouri Globe - 20 Jul 47
Railroad Man Sights "Saucer" Over Joplin
Charles L. Garde, an employe of the Frisco railroad at its freight house on south Main street, reported that he saw a "flying saucer" sailing very fast over the Interstate building at 11:30 o'clock Friday night. He described it as oval shaped, about the size of a meat platter and was bright and "shiny." It was moving in a southeasterly direction and was visible only a few seconds.
Ada, Oklahoma Evening News - 20 Jul 47
'Object' Flitting About Sky Near Ada Friday Night Brings Saucer Stories to Focus Here
Ada got into the saucer world in a big way Friday night. Not one but numbers of men and women in Ada saw a lighted object flitting back and forth in the northwest quarter of the sky. According to most of those who saw it, the "object" would be almost stable for a short time and then move with great rapidity across the sky north, and before long would reverse its course and dash back south.
Ross Repass and his wife, who live at 626 North Beard, were driving six miles east of Ada on Highway 13 when they first noticed it. They watched it all the way to Ada and then drove out on North Broadway to observe it longer. Ross says the object seemed to be near when he first saw it and got dimmer as time passed.
Although several who saw "it" will not agree with the conclusion of men of science who were asked about it, the explanation is generally about as follows: The northwest sky was spotted with thin clouds. An airport beacon, probably at Pauls Valley, was casting rays of lights so they would be reflected against the clouds. The fact that the light was stable at times and then moved swiftly, much faster than a plane can fly, would tend to bear out this theory. This reflection could be seen without any light beams being visible between the clouds and the beacon, one engineer pointed out.
Walla Walla, Washington Union-Bulletin - 20 Jul 47
Glen Culp, who drove over from Salt Lake last week declares that he had no "spots in his eyes" nor was he looking for anything unusual when suddenly in the distant blue he saw three approaching. One was trailing the other two which were flying abreast at terrific speed.
At first he thought that they were shiny aluminum planes but on closer scrutiny as he stopped at the side of the highway, the better to watch them, he could not identify them with anything he had ever seen before.
He relates that they were round and at that distance looked about me size of a street stop sign. And then as he watched for a matter of seconds, they suddenly disappeared.
Culp, who is active in numerous civic and fraternal organizations in the Utah city, planned to stop enroute home at Sun Valley for a two-day Rotarian conclave.
A past president of the Salt Lake club, he had been appointed instructor for the new elected club presidents who would be in attendance.
Then expected to hustle on home to be in charge of the Shrine drill team which would be a part of the Centennial parade in Salt Lake on July 24. This sizeable contingent is impressive when it appears in off-white uniforms and red fez headgear.
The Centennial is in the nature of Walla Walla's 1936 celebration and early-day western costumes plus bearded faces are virtually compulsory for public spirited male citizens during the commemoration.
Butte, Montana Standard - 20 Jul 47
Man Who Reported 'Flying Saucers' Feels That He Has Been Vindicated
PENDLETON, Ore., July 19. (AP) Kenneth Arnold, Boise, Idaho, businessman who flies about western landscapes peering for flying saucers, says people no longer think him a crackpot.
As the man who reported nine disks as big as four-engined planes speeding over Western Washington June 25 and started a nationwide furor, Arnold found himself regarded as an air-struck businessman who had read too many futuristic stories.
Hundreds of letters, telegrams and phone calls overwhelmed him. Friends kidded him and strangers harried him. It got so he hated to go out on the street.
Now he walks with an assured tread and feels that he is vindicated.
"Everybody can't be seeing things," he says. "Even if only one percent of the reports are accurate, there is still something very unusual going on. I might doubt myself, but can't doubt such observers as Captain E.J. Smith, United Airlines pilot. And there's nothing wrong with my eyes, either."
His eyes red from long hours aloft squinting at the horizon, Arnold says he'll continue his search on daily business trips about the country. He is a flying agent for a fire protection equipment company. He carries a camera and intends to get a picture to "shove down the throat of those stiffnecked doubters."
The ex-University of Minnesota swimmer and footballer says he now believes:
1. The disks are not from any foreign country.
2. The Army could give the answer if it would -- "if they don't have the explanation now they certainly could do something to find out."
3. If the Army has no explanation the disks must be -- "and I know this sounds crazy" -- from another planet.
Arnold says his family never doubted him and he is pleased that hundreds write in their belief in him, but he is appalled at some of the frivolous reaction.
"Ladies wearing hats named flying saucers," he snorted. "Why they're just trying to laugh this off."
Then, after a minute's reflection, "but maybe it's a good thing, because it might be more serious than anyone but a few top ones realize."
La Crosse, Wisconsin Tribune - 20 Jul 47
Flying Saucers are nothing new, for John D. Webber of Portland, Ore., formerly of La Crosse, had ideas of them 10 years ago. His theory of the disk he designed is that it could be powered with turbo-jet units.
Former Resident Built Model Of Flying Disk 10 Years Ago
John D. Webber of Portland, Ore., formerly of La Crosse, had ideas of flying saucers 10 years ago and made a sketch of one. The sketch was published July 10 of this year in The Oregonian, which gave it a four-column play with accompanying description.
Webber, Portland industrial designer, provided in his sketch for a plexi-glass front to house the pilot and navigator of the turbojet-propelled craft. The picture was distributed by the Associated Press. Webber is the son of Mrs. John B. Webber, 121 South Eighth street.
Another Portland paper, The Oregon Journal, told of Webber's idea in an illustrated story. To quote: "A local industrial designer, John D. Webber, has come out with what he thinks flying disks could be, with emphasis on the could."
Builds Model Disk
"Webber said he built a model of a similar gadget 10 years ago. 'These things could be turbo-jet propelled craft,' he said, 'powered by two 3,000-horsepower engines, the exhaust thrusts of which are diverted by the pilot, up or down, right or left, eliminating the need for elevators or ailerons. One 20-foot propeller on each leading corner of the saucer permits slow takeoff and landing speeds and will disengage and automatically fold into compartments when supersonic speed is desired. Gear (three-wheeled tricycle) which lands the saucer at a 40-degree angle also folds into recesses and flaps cover the same.
"'Tempered plexi-glass, three inches thick, houses the pilot and navigator, who use a radar screen and telescopes for speed-vision observations. Highly polished duralumin or magnesium covers the 30-by-30-foot saucer.
"'In such a version, with both top and bottom surfaces free from drag and turbulence cut to a minimum with the wave shock virtually eliminated from the leading edge by turbo-jet air inlets, 800 to 1,500 miles an hour should easily be attained.
"The gadget Webber pictured, horseshoe-shaped with the center filled in, looks like a tremendous bug, with the enclosed pilot-navigator compartment in the front as the mouth.
"The bug proposition was somewhat substantiated by a disk witness Tuesday, (July 8). She was Mrs. Irma Rittenhouse, 3120 NW Guam street, who said she saw two together and one following. They were clam-shaped, large and white.
"The first report today (July 9) of a flying disk over Portland came from Mrs. Simon T. Hernandez, 1830 SE Schiller street, who said she saw one stationary in the sky over SW Barbor boulevard for a few moments at 9:40 a.m. It was round, she said, and one-half of the bottom appeared to be painted red. It flashed like metal in the sun.
"Another disk report came in at 10:20 a.m. when Mrs. G.M. Young, 3934 SE 33rd place, telephoned that she and her neighbors watched one traveling south at a high altitude for quite some time.
"At 10:24 a.m., according to police, an unidentified man called, from the SP&S yards to say he observed a disk going south over the yards. He said it was his second disk for the day. Police cars were alerted to look for the object."
Walla Walla, Washington Union-Bulletin - 20 Jul 47
Pruett Notes Discs Furor
By J. Hugh Pruett
Astronomer Extension Division,
Oregon Higher Education System
At this writing the country is still wildly agog over those mysterious discs which instantly materialize in the azure heights -- seemingly from nowhere -- roll and skip along the "under heaven," then as suddenly again fade into the great unknown. Perhaps by the time this comes to publication a complete explanation will be at hand, for, as one college sophomore expressed himself, "it would be terrible if we have to worry along for the next 100 years without knowing."
Suggestions are prevalent that the flying saucers may be scouting ships from another planet. Such visitations from space have long been the theme for stories of the Jules Verne type. From weird boats which descend from the skies there emerge overgrown, goggle-eyed, misshapened creatures like Hallowe'en goblins. Who can forget that Sunday evening in October 1938 when Orson Welles' realistic radio version of H.G. Wells' "War of the Worlds" threw thousands into panic all over the country?
Since the highest planes find the discs still higher, perhaps scientific experimenters have launched something huge high above the earth where the air resistance is very small. To become a satellite very near the earth and constantly encircle it without any further addition of energy, a horizontal speed of 4.9 miles per second would be required if there were no atmosphere. But there is plenty of atmospheric resistance near the earth. At a height of 300 miles where the air is practically nonexistent the required satellite speed would be 4.7 miles per second. But the least resistance there would make the body gradually spiral toward the earth.
Maybe the saucers are chunks from some exploded celestial body which have been captured recently by the earth. At 300 miles such a piece only 2.7 miles in diameter would look as large as a full moon. It could easily be seen even if very much smaller. Whether of celestial or terrestrial origin, it would encircle the earth in 95 minutes. This would give an angular movement across the sky each minute of about four degrees, or eight times the width of the moon.
The only certain material visitors from space are meteorites. About 1500 authenticated falls of these stony and metallic bodes are on record. A few years ago Dr. C.P. Lipman of the University of California announced he had found living microscopic riders in these little space ships. But other scientists, not doubting that he had found bacteria, were quite certain the little passengers had climbed aboard after the ships had arrived in port.
This writer does not believe the reported discs are interplanetary space ships, satellites or supernatural portents. Perhaps 55 per cent are distant clouds, or airplanes, wind-borne seeds, weather bureau balloons, meteors and bright stars near the horizon. Someone doubtless could explain the remaining 10 per cent -- if he would.
Charleston, West Virginia Daily Mail - 20 Jul 47
The "flying saucers" have come and gone, yielding their place on the front page to duller and scarcely less credible occurrences. All this is probably a good thing, and we may congratulate ourselves on having escaped with so little loss in life and property. But there is still one little item which ought to be cleared up, and it is fair to note that all the scientific wizards who never believed in "flying saucers" in the first place have not provided much clarification. Why, since it was determined to see something, did a nation of otherwise sober and sensible people, decide to see "flying saucers"? Why not rampant hippogriffs or winged horses, why not a flying broomstick or a space ship?
The nation's brighter minds have painstakingly explained the impossibility of "flying saucers." They have blamed the whole exciting episode, as is the fashion these days, on something like a mass neurosis with accompanying hallucinations. They have not been very explicit about the reason for the neurosis or why so many people thought they saw "flying saucers" instead of any of a number of other exciting illusions they might have had. Is it just possible that they don't know?
Walla Walla, Washington Union-Bulletin - 20 Jul 47
Seeing of Saucers in Flight Is Phenomenon of Current Fears
(Editor's note: Fact or fancy, truth or fiction? These are the main questions in the great flying saucer mystery, which in less than one month has become a nationwide distraction. Howard W. Blakeslee, AP science editor, here focuses all the confusing reports and conflicting explanations, reports how the whiz-disks may be the first of a 20th century folklore, the hob-goblins of tomorrow).
By Howard W. Blakeslee
Associated Press Science Editor
NEW YORK (AP) - The flying disks are probably the first of a series of aerial puzzles, with others to come, in the opinion of Dr. J.L. Moreno, New York, widely known psychiatrist and originator of the science of sociometry, or group organizations.
Dr. Moreno believes that there is no doubt that many witnesses of the flying disks really have seen what they described. Not all saw the same things, but the observers are perfectly normal persons.
All were peering into a new sky world, new because of what scientists and engineers have said will soon be flying there.
Men have been seeing things like flying disks for centuries. Now these apparitions have a new meaning and some of them a new dreadfulness.
Furthermore, today there are more to be seen. Once there were only birds, clouds, big hailstones, mirages, high ice crystals, balloons and shooting stars.
Now there are planes, weather balloon targets which are shining aluminum reflectors, the know-how to produce man-made shooting stars, drifting ribbons of lightweight foil to interfere with radar, vapor trails of stratosphere planes and improved V-2 rockets. Well known scientists have speculated on atomic substances which they said might wipe out a nation and all life therein. Mostly these atomic menaces are described as coming through the air.
Today most people quite subconsciously look at the innocent heavens with a quickened interest.
"An analysis of the reports," Dr. Moreno says, "gives the symptoms of a mental condition from which human society suffers at present.
"The basic cause seems to be fear of coming disaster. A social psychosis of this sort is difficult to diagnose because the individuals sharing in it are normal.
"These normal feelings are infectious. Mankind has experienced many similar developments in the past. These produced the beliefs in witches, pixies, devils, giants, Santa Claus and the astrological and other cults.
"Our technological era offers a fertile field for new perils. These are linked with radar, radio, atom bombs and the like. The potentialities for creating illusions are present all the time.
"The form taken depends on who is in authority at the moment. Once it was some great mysticist. Later there were Marx, Lenin and Hitler. Today Einstein, Marconi and others set a pattern because they are believed by so many people to know or to have known what the future holds.
"The beliefs that people take spread like wildfire because human society is highly structured. Experiences, real or rumored, spread according to specific social laws. They spread just as surely as a stone falls in accord with the law of gravitation. There is a law of social gravitation, based on emotional infectiousness of individuals for one another.
"Mankind is not just a number of individuals. Mankind consists of millions of networks through which ideas travel. The popular term is grapevine. It is because of these networks that reports, true or false, spread with such velocity. The natural networks are enhanced by the press, radio, movies, magazines and other publications.
"The flying saucers, when viewed with similar phobias of the postwar period, prognosticate a crop of similar disturbances to come.
"Man has yet to learn to control these networks, which are for human society what the nervous system is for the individual."
The flying disks began on June 25, without attracting great immediate publicity. Kenneth Arnold, Boise businessman, who flies as an agent for a fire protection equipment company, said that from his plane he saw, above the Cascade range, near the Washington-Oregon state line, a string of nine objects that seemed to be moving about 1,200 miles an hour. Their formation resembled the tail of a kite. Arnold said they were bigger than four-engine planes, but he could not identify them further.
Arnold was kidded by friends, harried by strangers, flooded by phone calls. Now he feels vindicated. But now, also, he carries a camera. There is nothing far-fetched in his picture plan. A photograph was taken north of Seattle of a single flying object, which showed near twilight as an elongated patch of light and lasted too long to be a shooting star. The photographer, Frank Ryman, of the U.S. Coast Guard, was unable to identify the object.
By July 3, flying disks had been reported in 10 states, mostly west of the Mississippi. The name had become flying saucers.
The reports exploded overnight into national prominence, when Capt. E. J. Smith flew a transport plane out of Boise in early twilight. He, his first officer Ralph Stevens and stewardess Marty Morrow were quoted as agreeing that all of them saw, first five, and a little later four flying disks. Both flights seemed to be in loose formation.
Smith thought at first they were other planes, and blinked his lights, but received no answering signal. He too failed to identify the flying objects.
About this time the Army Air Force added an official bit, in response to growing insistence for an explanation. Capt. Tom Brown, Washington, was quoted -- "we are not dismissing the possibility there is something to it. And not dismissing the possibility that it's all a hoax."
On July 9 the stories climaxed and burst like a bubble when an air force officer at Roswell, New Mexico, issued a statement that the flying disk had become a reality with discovery of something of that sort on a ranch near Roswell.
That statement was discussed on the air and in early editions for seven hours, before the thing arrived in Fort Worth and was identified as the radar target of a weather balloon. About a hundred of these targets are sent up daily all over the United States.
The disks were seen both day and night. Sizes varied. They were as big as tops of coffee cans, or big as footballs. At Spokane a group of eight was described as the size of five-room houses. In Tennessee, three were reported bigger than houses. This trio emitted "fire and smoke from exhausts.
There were flat, translucent plates a little more than a foot in diameter. In Denver one was reported bearing an American flag. In South Carolina, a group of Army, pursuit planes chased a flock of disks. In Delaware the disks resembled mayonnaise jars. At night some were seen as beautiful balls of fire. At Glens Falls, New York, they were described as big as auto headlights. One had red fire in front and a trail of blue smoke.
In all reports except one, no details were observed to identify the things. The exception was at St. Louis where the object was described as 300 feet distant, circular, with ribbed framework, a propeller, an exhaust and a slow rolling motion.
All descriptions fit with the fact that near the limit of vision all objects appear round. They may be bright, in reflected light, or from exhaust fire, or they may look dark, but they are round. If bright, they can be seen great distances.
The apparent sizes, even near the limit of vision, vary greatly, depending on background. So do apparent speeds.
Radar failed to spot any of the disks. Not one was seen by any observer closer than the one who first reported the object. Mirages rarely appear so high in the sky, and not at night. High altitude ice crystals are common sights, but have the forms of rings around the moon, or sun-dogs, which are colored patches near the sun. Meteors might account for many night disks but hardly for the daytime.
A professor in Australia and Lt. Col. Hartwin A. Schultze, American officer in Germany, said they might be muscae volitantes, which means flying flies. These are blood corpuscles moving in the eyeball, which appear against a sky background as dark, rapidly moving spots. Their motion fail to fit flying disks. Everyone knows them as spots before the eyes.
Fear showed repeatedly in speculations that the disks were things of some foreign power making military experiments. One report credited a supposed foreign atomic flying engine with strange powers.
Numerous objects were found on the ground. But these had not been seen in flight, or only at the very end of flight. A flying buzz-saw was picked up in Wisconsin, and a metallic thing, turtle-shaped with a back fin, in California. Eino Wepplo, at Franklin, Minn., found broken fragments of something hard and dark, in sizes from peas to apples, in his field. University of Minnesota scientists said the things were pieces of earth fused by lightning. Wepplo declared he was familiar with results of lightning hitting the ground, and that this is different. He sent the Associated Press a box of the pieces.
Edward F. Chandler, New York engineer, said the planes flying high enough to be out of ordinary sight, could drop lightweight disks to learn over how much ground they would scatter with their sailing motions. Someone, he explained, might be experimenting with duds to learn how widely disks loaded with radioactive particles would spread over a military objective.
There was suspicions of radioactive clouds, the man-made kind that congress heard of a few weeks ago as possible future military weapons.
Dr. Felix Ehekenhaft, now in Vienna, in the past few years has seen under his microscope particles in the air being whirled rapidly by the magnetic forces in light. His colleague, Lilly Rona, said perhaps in the earth's great magnetic field similar electrified particles get to whirling in large masses. They might, she said, become visible under peculiar lighting conditions.
Humor came with the disks. New York Times writers invented a daily new name. The objects were successively flying saucers, the disk derby, celestial crockery, and dither of the disks. A sports writer said they were saucers tossed by the British to go with the cups the Yanks were winning. Soviet Deputy Foreign Minister Gromyko said they were from a mighty Russian discus thrower who did not know his strength. Stalin was said to be blowing smoke rings. A cartoonist drew soaring American dollars.
Whatever else they may be, the flying disks are also new folklore in the making.
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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