Image: Saturday Night Uforia Logo

the positively
true story of
kenneth arnold



Above: A North American B-25 Mitchell of the U.S. Air Force.

ON SUNDAY, August 3, 1947, Americans across the country awoke to find in their morning newspapers an Associated Press account of the tragic death of two pilots in the crash of an Air Force bomber in the Pacific Northwest.

The doomed B-25 had departed in the early morning hours of Saturday, August 2, from McChord Field in the state of Washington and was enroute to the pilots' base at Hamilton Field in California. Shortly after takeoff it had plunged from the sky in flames, smashing into the ground.

Disturbing in itself just for the loss of two men in their prime, the tragic aspect of the fatal flight was overshadowed by the news that the two men killed were military intelligence officers who were said to be carrying aboard a cargo of six metal fragments recovered from a flying saucer -- and that there were hints that the fatal crash had been the result of sabotage.

From the Ogden City, Utah Standard Examiner...

Crashed Bomber Reported Carrying 'Flying Disc'

BOISE, Aug. 2 (AP) -- Six pieces of what may have been a flying disc were being carried back to Hamilton Field, Calif., from Tacoma, Wash., in a B-25 bomber which crashed and burned near Kelso shortly after taking off from McChord field, it was learned tonight.

The pilot and copilot of the twin engined bomber were members of army intelligence, stationed at Hamilton Field, and had been assigned to investigation of the flying disc mystery.

They were Capt. William L. Davidson and Lt. Frank M. Brown, and both were instantly killed when their bomber plummeted to earth after the left engine burst into flames.

That they were carrying with them six pieces of a metal or lava substance was made known by Capt. E.J. Smith of United Airlines, who was in Tacoma with Kenneth Arnold of Boise.

Davidson and Brown had gone to Tacoma in response to a message from Arnold, who had told them he "might have something interesting to show them," according to Brig. Gen. Ned Schramm of fourth air force at Hamilton.

Smith, who on July 4 reported seeing nine flying discs while his airliner was roaring over southern Idaho, said that he and Arnold had given the six pieces of metal or lava to Davidson and Brown shortly before they took off from McChord field about two a.m. Friday for Hamilton Field.

Smith said the pieces of metal or lava were "extremely heavy" and when he and Arnold obtained them, showed evidences of having been subjected to extreme heat.

Arnold had gone to Tacoma earlier this week to investigate a story told by Harold Dahl and Fred L. Crisman of Tacoma, who operate a concern known as Tacoma Harbor Patrol, according to Arnold. Dahl and Crisman, according to Arnold, said that their boat was struck by portions of what had appeared to be a flying disc "in trouble" and they had recovered portions of the metal.

Smith, telling his story to the Idaho Statesman by telephone from Tacoma, had gone to Tacoma to join Arnold in the latter's check of the Dahl-Crisman story.

Smith would say nothing for publication beyond the fact that he and Arnold had talked at length with Brown and Davidson and had given them the pieces of metal or lava.

Smith says he does not know what happened to the objects after the B-25 crashed and burned.

Lieut. Brown and Capt. Davidson had been in Boise several weeks ago where they interviewed Smith during a stopover at the Boise air terminal and spent most of a day talking to Arnold about what he and Smith had seen of flying discs.

It was Arnold who first startled the nation with his story of flying discs weaving an irregular flight path between Mt. Rainier and Mt. Adams in Washington state.

In San Francisco, Gen. Schramm, chief of staff of the fourth air force, told the Statesman by telephone that Brown and Davidson had been engaged in gathering material on flying discs and that this material was being passed on to "higher headquarters."

Schramm said he did not know what had caused the airplane accident. Informed there were stories circulating to the effect the plane had been sabotaged to prevent the six objects from reaching Hamilton, he said he doubted if that could be true.

He said no special emphasis should be placed on the fact Brown's and Davidson's reports were being passed on to higher headquarters, as that was a normal procedure.

Schramm said he did not know to his own knowledge if there were anything aboard the plane or any information on discs in the plane "except what Brown and Davidson were carrying in their heads."

He said that from what information he could gather concerning the wreck of the B-25, it burst into flames in flight. Two members of the crew, both enlisted men, escaped death by bailing out, apparently on command of the pilot.

Gen. Schramm said that Brown and Davidson had wanted to continue their mission in investigation of the disc stories that have swept the nation since the day Arnold made his report of the objects near Mt. Rainier.

Schramm said the two intelligence men were experts on "questioning people" and had not been sent to Tacoma to "get anything" but to talk to Arnold in response to his suggestion he would have "something of interest" for them.

They thought, said Schramm, they would learn "something new" and therefore went to Tacoma in pursuance of their efforts to "leave no stone unturned" in unraveling the disc mystery.

That they received from Smith and Arnold six pieces of some metal or lava apparently was not the original cause of their going to Tacoma, as far as could be learned.

Schramm said he "couldn't visualize the boys having picked up something" but added that he was not in a position to say if they were carrying anything when they crashed.

Schramm's telephone interview was made before Smith revealed in Tacoma in response to a direct question that he and Arnold had given the intelligence operatives the objects.

Since arriving in Tacoma, Smith and Arnold have been extremely reticent to say anything for publication. Smith indicated that whatever had been published in Tacoma concerning their find had not come directly from them.

They virtually had gone into seclusion Saturday and Smith was contacted only after United Airlines in Seattle, which refused to reveal his whereabouts, sent him a telegram asking him to telephone the Statesman.

The Associated Press account had been written by Dave Johnson, aviation editor of the Idaho Statesman. Both Johnson and the Statesman were more than 450 miles away from the scene of the events the story described -- but Johnson had been able to get the behind the scenes scoop because he had a personal relationship with both Kenneth Arnold and Captain E.J. Smith.

And also because -- though left unmentioned in the Associated Press article -- Dave Johnson had himself been an integral part of the story from its beginning.

Smith and Arnold

Above: July 5, 1947 national wire photo of Captain E.J. Smith and Kenneth Arnold at the International News Service offices in Seattle, Washington.

THE DRAMATIC EVENTS leading to the deaths of Capt. Davidson and Lt. Brown had begun six weeks earlier with Kenneth Arnold's reported sighting of nine unusual aircraft traveling in excess of 1200 miles per hour. Arnold had been piloting his private plane near Mt. Rainier that day in late June while on a business trip, and his reported sighting ignited a nationwide firestorm of sighting reports spanning 45 states and parts of Canada over the next two and half weeks.

Dave Johnson had been one of the first reporters to interview Arnold for a news story, his access to Arnold facilitated by the fact that both men lived in Boise, both were pilots, and both had formed a friendship around those two relevant facts long before Arnold's reported sighting.

Soon after his interview with Johnson, Arnold left for a fishing trip to Washington state and was just returning when he met Captain E.J. Smith of United Airlines. Smith had just the day before made headlines for having seen nine flying discs while piloting his airliner enroute from Boise to Washington state. Meeting by pure coincidence during mutual stopovers in Seattle, Arnold and Smith immediately bonded over their separate but similar experiences.

Returning home to Boise, Arnold took off with Johnson in the Idaho Statesman plane on a quest to see and photograph a flying disc for a story Johnson was writing. Unsuccessful in that attempt, Johnson continued the aerial pursuit alone over the next two days -- finally spotting a flying disc while flying solo and writing up his account for the Statesman.

And with Johnson's published account the first three dramatis personae of the saga had made their appearance on the stage of events -- each of them claiming personal witness of the flying discs.

Three days later, on July 12, 1947, Arnold was interviewed in Boise by Captain Davidson and Lieutenant Brown, both military intelligence officers. Davidson and Brown -- who had flown in that day from their base at Hamilton Field in California -- had been the primary military intelligence officers investigating flying disc reports across the west coast. As part of their day interviewing Arnold they also met with Dave Johnson and Captain Smith -- in fact the five men at one point all met together. Davidson and Brown soon returned to California, but not before leaving their contact numbers should Arnold, Johnson or Smith come into any information of interest regarding the flying discs.

And so five of the key players in the drama to come were now in place.

By the end of July three new characters made their unexpected appearance -- directly moving the story towards the events which would lead to the tragic deaths of Capt. Davidson and Lt. Brown. The first was Raymond Palmer, editor in chief of Amazing Stories. Palmer had written Arnold a letter in early July, requesting Arnold to write up the story of his sighting for publication. Soon another letter arrived from Palmer offering Arnold $200 expense money if he would go and investigate the tale told by Harold Dahl and Fred Crisman of Tacoma, Washington of the sighting of a giant flying disc near Maury Island -- seemingly in trouble -- which had ejected tons of metal before flying off again with five other giant flying discs.

Arnold turned to Dave Johnson for advice and, according to Arnold, Johnson encouraged him to take Palmer up on his offer. But behind the scenes Johnson was apparently highly suspicious, first contacting a Washington state newsman who had interviewed Dahl and who had quickly come to the conclusion that it was all a hoax -- based in large part on witnessing Dahl's wife angrily screaming at Dahl to admit it was all a lie. Johnson followed this up by a Western Union telegram to Davidson and Brown urging them to investigate Palmer just as Arnold was preparing to leave for Tacoma to conduct his investigation of Dahl's and Crisman's stories.

And with the addition of Palmer, Dahl and Crisman into the mix, eight players were now in place for the weird events yet to come -- though others would soon be playing their own supporting roles in the drama.

Arnold would write of his experience five years later in the book The Coming of the Saucers -- published and in fact co-written by Raymond Palmer. It is from that book that the story of Johnson's encouragement for Arnold to go to Tacoma is told. Yet, Johnson's behind the scenes activities -- revealed decades later in a declassified FBI report -- would seem to be inconsistent with such advice.

And as it turns out, it would be just the first of many inconsistencies and discrepancies to come in the story of that time as later told by Arnold.

Wilcox Report

Above: First page of FBI report on events at Maury Island.

THE STORY OF THAT TIME as told by Arnold five years later would become part of the canon of UFO lore. Yet there were other documents revealing FBI investigations which would tell a far different tale than that told by Arnold. These investigations had all taken place within three weeks of the events and included the statements given to the FBI by all who had been at Tacoma -- or more precisely, all who were still alive -- including Captain Smith, Fred Crisman, Harold Dahl, and even Arnold himself.

In Arnold's version of events, told five years later, he had arrived in Tacoma on Tuesday, July 29, 1947 and met that night with Harold Dahl -- first in Arnold's room at the Winthrop Hotel, and then driving to Dahl's secretary's house, where Arnold says he made an extraordinary effort to remember every detail of her home, however insignificant...

We left the hotel and drove in Harold's car out to his secretary's home. It was a rather unpretentious looking little house, standing all alone on a corner. The evening was bright and clear and it only took us ten minutes to get there. I noticed particularly the streets and the avenue we took. I thought to myself, "I may go out there in the morning and look it over in the daylight."

This was the first time I had ever played investigator and I guess I thought investigators would make notes of that kind...

We pulled up in front of a house, got out and walked up a rather cracked sidewalk to a wooden porch. The porch had no screens and there were no rugs on the floor. I remember the white spindle-like porch supports. Harold knocked on the side of the doorway and then opened the screen door. It was hinged on the west and opened on the east. There was enough light from the street light so that I could see the house was of about a 1912 vintage and could have used another coat of white paint.

I turned the doorknob of the main door. It was hinged on the east and opened inward from the west. The door was of a dark wood like mahogany. Although not hand carved, it gave a hand-carved effect. The doorknob was oblong with little raised grapes or insignia on it. The window in the front door was the etched picture kind of glass.

Upon entering the house, I saw a piano to my left against the wall. A bedroom led directly off to the right of the front room. The entire front room was very narrow with a slight archway between the farther end of the front room and a small open dining room. Another archway tunnelled into the kitchen in the rear. Next to the piano by the west window was a large radio, about a 1937 model, with its wires trailing through the edge of the window panel to the outside. I could see from the reflected light of the room the aerial going up outside the house. The base of the aerial was made of two 2 x 2s. There was a piano bench at the piano. On top of the piano were several kewpie dolls such as you win at sideshows, trimmed with ostrich feathers, and some inexpensive plaster-of-paris animal figurines.

The problem with Arnold's later account was that all persons involved -- including Arnold himself -- told the FBI just weeks after the events that Arnold had in fact arrived not on July 29th but rather on the next day, Wednesday, July 30th. From an August 19, 1947 report by FBI agent Jack B. Wilcox on the events at Tacoma...

A check of the records of the Winthrop Hotel at Tacoma, Washington, revealed that KENNETH ARNOLD, giving his address as Route [Illegible] Mountview Drive, Boise, Idaho, rented room 502 from July 30 at 7:43 P.M. until August 3.

And from a separate FBI report of a statement taken August 19, 1947 from Kenneth Arnold...

He informed that he left for Tacoma, Washington, via his personal plane on July 30, 1947.

It might be considered natural when writing five years later to be off by a day in such an account. The discrepancy however becomes much more disquieting because in Arnold's later telling the extra day provided for a series of mysterious events which could not have happened without insertion of the extra day into Arnold's later account.

In Arnold's later account, for instance, Capt. Smith arrived in Tacoma on Wednesday, July 30, met with Crisman and Dahl, and then spent the night of July 30th in Arnold's hotel room where just after retiring to bed they received a call...

We had just settled down to go to sleep when the phone rang. It was Ted Morello of United Press. I later found out he was UP's head man in Tacoma with offices in the Tacoma Times Building. I immediately started to hang up on him when he said, "Hold on a minute. Some crackpot has been phoning us here, telling us verbatim what has been going on in your hotel room for the last day."...

Ted Morello of United Press not only told me but I turned the phone over to Captain Smith. He was equally amazed at what Morello knew, particularly when he quoted things that had been said in the room that evening when neither Dahl or Crisman were present.

But in fact according to the statements given to the FBI by all involved -- including Arnold himself -- Smith arrived on the afternoon of Thursday, July 31st, after Arnold flew into Seattle to pick him up. And according to the statements given to the FBI, Smith then met with Dahl and Crisman, then was driven back to Seattle by Crisman so that Smith could retrieve his car, and upon returning about 8:30 in the evening found Capt. Davidson and Lt. Brown already in Arnold's room. This means that not only could the calls from reporter Ted Morello not have taken place the night before, they couldn't have taken place the night of July 31st either as Davidson and Brown remained in the room until after midnight, before departing for the fatal flight back to California.

Such discrepancies would continue to accumulate throughout Arnold's retelling of the following days through August 2nd when compared to the individual witness statements taken by the FBI -- with each inconsistency in Arnold's later account seeming to add a new and mysteriously sinister overlay to the events at Tacoma.

And the difference in narratives would last though the final day of Arnold's and Smith's time in Tacoma -- August 3, 1947. From Arnold's 1952 account...

The next morning, August 3, was bright and sunny. The weather while we were in Tacoma was exceptionally good. The visibility was wonderful. We could see Maury Island out across the bay from our hotel window; in fact, photographing it from our northwest window was as close as I ever got to it. I remember remarking to Captain Smith that if we didn't get out of that hotel room pretty soon the suspense would drive us crazy. About nine o'clock we met Harold Dahl and his secretary at the little roadside cafe. We all had bacon and eggs.

While we were eating Captain Smith suddenly got up and went to the pay phone. He made a call to someone, then came back to the booth and told me he was going to be gone for about an hour. I asked where he was going.

"I'm sorry, Ken," he said, "I can't tell you. But you return to the hotel and stay in the room and wait for me and don't leave the room under any circumstances. Lock the doors! I'll be back to the hotel not later than twelve o'clock noon. You've got to trust me and don't worry about me coming up missing or something."

I was glad he said that but somehow I was so spooked I didn't believe he'd ever get back. The investigation had gotten under way with six men and now there were only three of us. Harold Dahl appeared to both of us to be kind of shaky. We didn't think he'd last long in a pinch.

For the last two days we definitely felt a misgiving or a feeling of oppression like a dark cloud had encompassed our minds. Now Smithy was going to do something to try to shake it off.

"Okay, Smithy," I told him, "I'll be expecting you at twelve noon and I'll do exactly as you say."

I went back to the hotel. I don't even recall whether Dahl and his secretary dropped me off or whether Captain Smith dropped me off en route to wherever he was going. Brother, I didn't like him leaving me! I'd had enough mystery. When he refused to tell me where he was going it sent cold chills up and down my backbone.

I carried out his orders. I went up to my hotel room and locked the doors. I watched my wrist watch like a hawk and I checked my time with the telephone company several times. I walked around for awhile like a caged lion but spent most of my time gazing out of the windows. Twelve o'clock -- and no Captain Smith. Twelve-thirty came -- and no Smithy. One o'clock -- and still no Smithy. I was really getting worried.

It wasn't until nearly two o'clock that I heard a knock on my hotel room door. I was nearly frantic. I felt heavily the responsibility of starting this investigation and getting all these nice people involved in it. Was I glad to see Captain Smith when I opened the door! With him was a military man. Captain Smith quickly introduced him to me as Major Sander of S-2 Army Intelligence of McChord Field.

Captain Smith said, "I'll tell you, Ken, where I went and what I did."

What a relief that was. At last I was going to hear something. That didn't account for my elation. I was elated because I was so doggone glad to see Smithy.

Smithy started talking. "I phoned McChord Field from the cafe. I told Major Sander I wanted to see him. I drove out to the base. I didn't tell you where I was or whom I was going to see for the simple reason that I wanted to tell my story separately from yours and unknown to you. Then Major Sander could compare my interpretation of everything that has happened with yours independently of each other."

I said, "That's swell, Smithy. Boy, am I glad to see you!"

Major Sander was a middle-aged man about five feet eleven inches tall. He had a pleasant smile and blue eyes and spoke in the softest voice I think I have ever heard a major use. He took a chair over by the window. I went over and half reclined on the bed and started telling him everything I knew that had taken place. I don't think I left out a thing. Captain Smith said nothing.

After I had finished Captain Smith made the remark to Major Sander, "You see, all this must have happened because our stories are the same," or something to that effect.

Major Sander made the quiet remark that he was positive that Smith and I had been made the victims of a hoax. Of course, it hadn't been completely evaluated yet. It was something that would take a couple of weeks to come to a positive decision about. He asked us not to discuss the matter any further with anyone and told us that in approximately two weeks, through his office or through the office of A-2 Military Intelligence of the Fourth Air Force, an explanation would be forthcoming to us privately. I remember thinking, "Well, in two weeks I'll know what in the dickens happened in Tacoma."

Major Sander had such a quiet, positive, reassuring way about him that at that particular moment all of the things about Crisman and Dahl that didn't ring true suddenly came to our minds. At least, they did to mine and from the shrug of Captain Smith's shoulders I was certain the same things were going through his mind.

"I am very certain," Major Sander continued, "that the B-25 crash was just another one of those accidents. It's too bad that a misleading story was printed in the newspaper."

Right there I looked at Captain Smith. We knew that the story, if it was misleading, was so from only one standpoint -- that no definite proof had been established regarding the possible sabotage of the B-25. We let his remark go. We were so blamed happy. At last we felt free to leave Tacoma and go home.

Major Sander got up from his chair and made some remark about the fragments on the floor. He nonchalantly started picking up a few. I remember him saying that they would have these analyzed for the sake of being thorough but that he wanted us to take a drive with him. He was going to show us thousands of tons of this stuff. Apparently these supposed fragments from a flying disk were really something else. We brightened up. We were going to be shown and that made us happy.

Major Sander started gathering up and wrapping the fragments in a hotel towel with the intention of taking them with him. There were lots of fragments on the floor and all around and both Smithy and I started helping him pick them up. I ran onto a piece that looked like it would make a good ash tray. Almost at the same time Smithy ran onto another piece that he put in his pocket, saying it would make a good paper weight. I said, "Yeh, I think I'll take a piece of this home too, for an ash tray. It'll remind me of the screwiest adventure I ever had."

Major Sander had gathered up all the pieces and piled them on top of several towels. He started to bundle them up, stopped short, turned to me and said, "We don't want to overlook even one piece. I would like to have them all."

That gave me a start. I handed him my piece and Captain Smith's eyes met mine over Major Sander's back. The Major put out his hand to Captain Smith for his piece. He, like myself, willingly gave it to him.

Maybe Major Sander was not conscious of what Captain Smith and I mentally said to one another. I thought, "this Major Sander is a pretty smooth guy, but he's not smooth enough at this point to convince me that these fragments aren't pretty important in some way." I suddenly felt that no one had played a hoax on anybody! I thought, "Major Sander is a phony dressed up in a lot of sheer intelligence as to how psychologically to handle men." I had bumped into a few of these fellows in my life. From the things they say it is pretty tough to decipher what they really mean. These thoughts ran through my mind in spite of my very real desire to come to a definite conclusion about this whole affair.

Major Sander proceeded to wrap everything up in a bundle. I offered to help carry it downstairs but he insisted on doing that himself. When we reached the south entrance of the hotel lobby, Major Sander opened the trunk of his car and placed the wrapped fragments in the trunk. It was a civilian car. I remember making the remark that we shouldn't steal the hotel towels as they would certainly bill me for them. We were short of towels in the room anyhow. Major Sander motioned for Captain Smith and me to get in his car. He was going to take us out and show us something. He didn't tell us where he was going to take us but by this time we didn't much care.

We drove clear out on the point of the peninsula. Soon we arrived at a large sign that read "Tacoma Smelting Company" or something like that. He drove along the road into these grounds. There were literally piles of lava-like smelter slag. At first glance it looked identical to the fragments Major Sander had taken from our room and loaded into the trunk of his car.

All of a sudden I thought, "Well, I'll be darned! I guess Major Sander is right. Someone has played a hoax on us." At that moment we wanted to believe so. If Major Sander had not stopped the car and invited us to get out and look at the smelter slag we would have left Tacoma happy that we had been fooled.

He drove down a little side road among the piles of slag, stopped the car, and we all got out. Captain Smith and I started picking up pieces and inspecting them. It looked a lot like the fragments we had been handling in our room for the past three days. We had handled them, weighed them, looked at them and felt the touch of them in our hands. When we picked up pieces of slag and held them in our hands we kind of looked at each other.

I don't know what Smithy was thinking. I thought, "Yes, it looks like the same stuff, it's heavy like the same stuff, but it doesn't feel like the same thing.

The smelter slag that I picked up looked more like the box of supposed fragments that Fred Crisman had given Captain Davidson and Lt. Brown. I remembered feeling one of the pieces as Crisman and Davidson were transferring that heavy box from Crisman's car to the trunk of the command car.

I can't very well explain or demonstrate the difference in the feel of things such as this. To give you an idea as to how I evaluated this in my mind, close your eyes and have someone hand you a rock, a piece of brass, a piece of steel, a piece of aluminum, and a piece of copper. If you try this, as I have many times, you will notice that each one of these items has a particular feel to your fingers. It is something that your memory of feeling retains.

Neither Smithy nor I bothered to take any samples of the smelter slag. Major Sander didn't offer us any of our own fragments from the trunk of his car so we could compare them with the smelter slag. I believe both of us thought of this. Major Sander, however, had seemed a little touchy about letting us get our hands on the fragments again after he wrapped them up. Neither of us said anything about it.

At this point, if there is such a thing as hypnosis or hallucination that could have affected us in this evaluation, we would certainly have been affected to believe conclusively that all the fragments were smelter slag from this very smelter. This dump was handy to town. The stories of Crisman and Dahl did not ring completely true. And Captain Smith and I, if we had a desire at all, wanted to believe that the whole thing was a hoax. For some reason we couldn't convince ourselves it was all as simple as the Major put it.

As we left the dump both Smithy and I seemed to be trying hard to convince Major Sander that we believed him. We had told him our stories separately. If he had thoroughly understood what we had told him, and he thought that either one of us had an ounce of intelligence, he would have known that he had not completely convinced us of anything. It seemed unfair to judge Major Sander. Evidently Captain Smith invited him to come to town and give us his opinion. That is what I assumed and I certainly didn't want to say anything that would seem critical of Major Sander's attempt to clear up the mystery.

Major Sander drove us back to the hotel where he bade us goodbye, once again assuring us that within a couple of weeks we would be told the outcome of the characters involved in the investigation as well as what really caused the crash of the B-25. We thanked him. Even though it was a relief to have everything in military hands at last, we were still left wondering.

As Smithy and I walked up the stairs I was thinking that it was odd how Major Sander knew just the right side road to take out at the smelter and how he stopped only where there were pieces of slag that closely resembled the pieces of stuff we had. There were dumps all around and yet he proceeded into the smelter grounds quite a long way and made a little turn before stopping and letting us out. I thought that he must have been there before.

I wished we had hidden a few of the fragments. It would have been interesting to have had them chemically analyzed by a chemist who didn't know where they came from. If we had been alert this could have been done easily, as well as taking a few of the smelter fragments and having them analyzed and then comparing the two. Again, I rightly thought, "Why should I be suspicious of Military Intelligence not giving us the right dope?" After all, like policemen to some extent, they are supported by the tax payers of the country which included Captain Smith and myself, and I thought that the personnel had been properly trained to exercise their talents for the protection and benefit of all of us. It was a pleasant thought to take home with us.

I packed my suitcase and we checked out of the Hotel Winthrop with a sigh of relief. I intended to go directly to Barry's Airport. However, as we got into Captain Smith's car I thought of Harold Dahl. He had seemed so sincere and even though we couldn't figure it all out we should at least say goodbye. Captain Smith thought it would be nice to see Harold and say goodbye, too. Harold had mentioned he was going to be working all day on some book work at his secretary's house. We decided to take a quick run out there. I had taken special note of the location that night I rode out there with Harold and it was only a ten minute ride.

I had Smithy take exactly the same route and we arrived at the little white house on the corner. As we pulled up to the curb I could see that the house was empty. I exclaimed to myself, "No! It' can't be!" I knew Captain Smith saw that I had suddenly become upset.

In every respect that house was the same house, located in the same place, where I had been the first night I met Harold Dahl. I got out of the car and walked up to the house, just as I had done that first night. I was completely baffled.

As I stepped up on the porch my weight caused the same squeak. The screen door was ajar. There were cobwebs extending from the main entrance door to the screen. There was the frosted glass window, exactly as I recalled it. I opened the screen and there was the door knob and all the other aspects of the door as I remembered it, exactly as I had seen it four nights before. Speaking of cold chills, I felt like someone had poured a whole bucket of ice water down my neck. I could not believe it.

The house looked completely deserted and as if it had not been lived in for at least three months. I rushed around to the side of the house where I had noticed the radio aerial. Sure enough, there was the aerial, made out of two 2x2s with the aerial wire leading in the side of the window. I had never heard of anything like this except in dreams. I was panicky.

I raced around the house and peered in the windows. The rooms were all the same as I remembered, even to the kitchen nook and the color of the paint on the inside. I returned to the front door and tried it. It was locked. I remembered that door knob so well. When Harold Dahl, four nights before had motioned me to go in, I had taken hold of the door knob the same way. It felt exactly the same in my hand. The screen door and the main door were hinged exactly as before. I turned around and stood on the walk, mumbling to myself, "Incredible! Absolutely incredible!"

I was really beginning to doubt my sanity. Suddenly the thought flashed into my mind, "I've just gotten the streets mixed up. I must have the streets mixed up. This must be a home that was built at the same time by the same contractor, and I'm just on the wrong street or at the wrong address."

Captain Smith had gotten out of his car and was standing looking at me and looking at the house. I told him that I was sure this was the same house. If I was mistaken it was one which looked just like this one. I wondered what a vacant house was doing in Tacoma. I had heard how acute the housing shortage was and that every available house was occupied with long waiting lists of families trying to find some place to live. This house looked like it had been vacant for months. There wasn't a stick of furniture inside, just dust, dirt, and cobwebs everywhere.

I jumped back into Captain Smith's car and asked him to go back to the avenue so I could retrace myself. We did and still came to the same house. I had him race up and down a lot the streets in the close vicinity. There wasn't another house within blocks and blocks that even resembled this one.

I finally gave up looking. I wanted to get in my plane and fly home. As we drove away I told Smithy my utter confusion. He just stared down the road, not saying a thing. Maybe he thought I was kind of buggy, I don't know. As we pulled up to Barry's Airport I suggested that he and I both inspect my airplane very carefully. He helped me inspect my ship from its nose to it tail. It appeared sound and airworthy.

This house thing kept racing through my mind. I knew that on the coast cobwebs form very fast. But heavens, I couldn't figure how cobwebs in the amount that were in and around the house could form in a few days time. Even if Dahl's secretary had moved the same night I was there it wasn't time enough. I tried to chalk it all up to mistaken directions and thought that at some later date I would get in touch with Harold Dahl and ask him about it.

I have since tried to phone Harold Dahl on many occasions and have been unable to locate him. Less than a month after all this occurred I attempted to call him and the operator told me they had no H.A. Dahl in their phone books. I didn't see how this could be possible. I had seen his name in the phone book and had called him myself. I was quite sure that new books hadn't come out within this month and decided that the long distance operator I talked to when I attempted my call was mistaken. I had enough of playing investigator and the quicker I forgot about it, I told myself, the better off I would be. This wasn't the solution of this case, however, as I well know now. Today it is still as big a mystery as to what actually took place in Tacoma as it was on August 3, 1947.

That was the story of August 3, 1947, told by Kenneth Arnold five years later -- up until the time he and Captain Smith were about to depart Tacoma, each going their separate ways.

The August 19, 1947 FBI report telling of Smith's personal statement given to FBI agent Pierre LeVec on August 12 would tell a significantly different story...

On Sunday morning, August 3, 1947, DAHL appeared at the Hotel room and told them that he had received a letter from CRISMAN which said in effect, "Take care of my business. I'll be out of town for three or four days." Dahl had a letter with him but he did not show it to SMITH or ARNOLD. The three men then drove to DAHL's secretary's house in South Tacoma and picked her up and the four of them then went to breakfast on the South Tacoma highway. While the four of them then went to breakfast SMITH excused himself and called Major SANDERS at McChord Field and arranged an appointment to meet him at the Hotel lobby at 11:00 A.M. They then took DAHL's secretary to her home where DAHL picked up a typewriter and then drove SMITH and ARNOLD back to the Hotel.

Here then was the first major discrepancy between Smith's version -- given on August 12, just nine days later -- and Arnold's retelling five years hence.

In Arnold's version Dahl and his secretary meet Smith and Arnold at a cafe for breakfast. In Smith's version both he and Arnold drive by car to the secretary's house twice that same morning. Yet Arnold says of his visit later that day, "I had taken special note of the location that night I rode out there with Harold," which had been days before, mentioning nothing about being at the house twice that same morning with Smith.

And then there is the matter of Smith's call to Major Sanders, after which Arnold says Smith left the cafe, later telling him "I drove out to the base" -- while in Smith's version he arranges to meet Sanders at the hotel later that morning and -- as will be seen -- Smith then drives with Sanders to a nearby coffee shop.

Continuing on with Captain Smith's statement of August 12 to the FBI, referring to the departure of Dahl after dropping Smith and Arnold at the hotel...

They asked him if they were going to take them to Maury Island that day and he replied that he was not. He further stated that he was sick of the entire business and that if he was ever contacted by the Army or the authorities he was going to deny ever having seen anything and claim to be "the biggest liar that ever lived". Shortly after returning to the Hotel, SMITH met Major SANDERS in the lobby and they went in SMITH's car to a coffee shop in South Tacoma where SMITH proceeded to tell Major SANDERS the entire story of the incidents which had occurred in Tacoma regarding the CRISMAN and DAHL story since Thursday afternoon. Following this, SMITH took Major SANDERS back to the Hotel and introduced him to ARNOLD and suggested to ARNOLD that he also tell Major SANDERS the entire story of what had occurred. ARNOLD did so. Major SANDERS after looking at the fragments which were still in the room suggested that they drive out to the Smelter near Tacoma as he believed the slag at the Smelter would bear a distinct resemblance to these fragments. The three men then drove to the Smelter and the slag was noted to be definitely similar to the fragments which CRISMAN and DAHL had left in the Hotel room. They then returned to the Hotel room and Major SANDERS left them. After packing their bags, SMITH took ARNOLD to Berry's Airport where his plane was parked and then SMITH drove himself back to Seattle.

Noticeably missing from Smith's account was any mention of going to Dahl's secretary's house between leaving the hotel and dropping Arnold off at the airport -- an omission that's particularly striking and noteworthy in that the mysterious abandonment by the secretary of her home would likely be something to be not merely recounted but specifically pointed out to the FBI agent taking Smith's statements about the events at Tacoma -- if such a thing had indeed happened.

Smith's part of the story as told in the report of the FBI investigation concludes with Smith's return to Seattle, and an unexpected visit from a reporter who had been involved in earlier events...

About an hour after his arrival in Seattle, which was approximately 7:30 P.M. LANTZ of the Tacoma Times appeared at SMITH's home with the newspaper containing the Associated Press story which had originated in Boise, Idaho in the Boise Statesman and which was written by JOHNSON following SMITH's admission to him that fragments had been carried by Lieutenant BROWN and Captain DAVIDSON on the fatal B-25 flight. SMITH at this time continued to refuse to give any statements for the Press and told LANTZ that he had placed all of his information in the hands of the Army. SMITH stated that a couple of days later he called Major SANDERS at McChord Field and asked him if there was any recent information concerning the incident. SMITH states that Major SANDERS informed him that CRISMAN had not yet been contacted, but that the Federal Bureau of Investigation was "setting a trap for him". SMITH further advises that on Friday, August 8, 1947, he appeared before Lawyer JOHN NOLAN at the County-City Building, Seattle and made a deposition of the facts relating to the incidents in Tacoma from Thursday afternoon, July 31, last until Sunday morning, August 3, last.

A copy of this deposition is now in possession of the writer and is being forwarded herewith to the Bureau. It should be noted that this deposition is in no way as complete as the statement taken by the writer above and any setting out of this deposition in this communication would be superfluous.

Smith's sworn affidavit recounting the events for August 3, 1947, read (names blacked out on the declassified copy included in brackets)...

Sunday morning I called a [Major Sanders] of S-2 McChord Field and asked him to meet me at the Winthrop Hotel at 11 o'clock. I met this [Major Sanders] at 11 o'clock and we drove to a small coffee shop on the Tacoma highway where this complete story was related to him by me. We then drove back to the Winthrop Hotel where Major [Sanders] was introduced to Mr. Arnold by me and again listened to Mr. Arnold's story. Mr. Arnold and I departed from the Winthrop Hotel Sunday afternoon at approximately 4:30.

And though Smith's recounting in his affidavit was terse, it was no less so than Kenneth Arnold's statement to the FBI on the events of August 3, given on August 19, 1947 (names blacked out on the declassified copy included in brackets)...

Mr. [ARNOLD] advised that Captain SMITH had informed him that he had made an appointment with Major [SANDERS] at McCord [sic] Field and intended to tell Major [SANDERS] the complete story. During the afternoon, Captain SMITH and Major [SANDERS] came to the hotel room, according to [ARNOLD], and some of the fragments that [DAHL] had brought to Mr. [ARNOLD's] room, following the conference were shown to Major [SANDERS]. Upon viewing the fragments, Major [SANDERS], according to [ARNOLD], stated that they were nothing but slag from the copper mill, however, before Major [SANDERS] left, he gathered up every fragment in the room, according to Mr. [ARNOLD], and took them with him. Mr. [ARNOLD] stated that he then left for Boise, Idaho.

And like Smith's account given above, noticeably missing is any mention of a visit to the secretary's house, purported five years later to have been mysteriously abandoned.

But even the departure of Arnold and Smith from Tacoma would not be the end of the tale, as Dahl and Crisman would step forward to make their own claims...

...and Arnold would have his own plane accident, coolly stating it had been caused by sabotage from an entirely unexpected source.

go to comments on this entry


1. The title of this series is taken from two statements made by Kenneth Arnold -- once to the press and once to the military -- stating that his story was "positively true".

2. Major Sander, the public information officer at McChord field, is variously referred to also as Major "Sanders". The above analysis defers to the spelling of whichever document is being quoted in the spelling of Major Sander's name.


The Arrival

Whether you need some serious styling for your walls at home or work or are on the lookout to give someone a special gift they'll treasure forever, you support the work of Saturday Night Uforia whenever you shop for great posters from from any link at this site -- any, each, and every time you start your shopping from here. You still get the same great deal as your friends and family, but a little will be sent back our way as a thank you from And you'll have the extra satisfaction of directly supporting the work of Saturday Night Uforia while treating yourself or friends to something special... like any of these great sci-fi movie posters (you can even have them mounted, laminated, or framed). Just click on the pic for a larger version...

Cowboys and Aliens

Apollo 18


Aliens, 1986

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy




Giger's Alien


The X Files

Transformers 2- Revenge of the Fallen


Critters, 1985

War of the Worlds

Transformers 2 - Bumblebee

Terminator Salvation

Star Trek

Men In Black II

Alien vs Predator

2001: A Space Odyssey

The Quiet Earth, 1986

Close Encounters of the Third Kind, 1977


Termination Salvation -X

Independence Day

Men In Black

Alien, Italian Movie Poster, 1979

Blade Runner Japanese Style

Star Wars - Saga Collage

Star Wars- Return Of The Jedi

Star Wars

Forbidden Planet, Robby the Robot

Star Wars- The Empire Strikes Back

Invasion of the Saucer Men, 1957

Earth vs. the Flying Saucers, 1956

The Day The Earth Stood Still, 1951

Earth vs. the Flying Saucers, Swedish Movie Poster, 1956

Earth vs. the Flying Saucers, French Movie Poster, 1956

Teenagers From Outer Space, 1959

Robinson Crusoe on Mars, 1964

2001: A Space Odyssey, 1968

Devil Girl From Mars, 1955

Earth vs. the Flying Saucers, German Movie Poster, 1956

This Island Earth, 1954

Robinson Crusoe on Mars, 1964

Invasion of the Saucer Men, 1957

Earth vs. the Flying Saucers, 1956

The War of the Worlds, 1953

Invasion of the Body Snatchers, 1978

The Day of the Triffids, 1963

The Phantom Planet, 1962

The Day The Earth Stood Still

Invasion of The Body Snatchers, 1956

It Came from Outer Space, 1953

Queen of Outer Space, 1958

2001: A Space Odyssey


Image: Saturday

Image: Night

Image: Uforia

Saturday Night Uforia Copyright 2012 : All Rights Reserved