The ‘First’ UFO – Kenneth Arnold Sighting

Arnold Sighting

Although the history of UFOs can be traced back many centuries to early cave drawings, pictures, and folklore, the modern era of the study of  UFOs is usually believed to be the 1947 Arnold sighting.

It was a report of nine “flying saucers” made by pilot Kenneth Arnold on June 24, 1947 in almost perfect conditions. Arnold was aiding in the search for a missing plane when the sighting occurred. He did not believe his story would be believed, but swore that it was true. Arnold related his sighting to the Chicago Daily Tribune: “The first thing I noticed was a series of flashes in my eyes as if a mirror was reflecting sunlight at me…”

“I saw the flashes were coming from a series of objects that were traveling incredibly fast. They were silvery and shiny and seemed to be shaped like a pie plate…What startled me most at this point was…that I could not find any tails on them.”


Left: Kenneth Arnold with an illustration of a UFO he saw in 1947. Right: Illustration of a flying wing

Arnold estimated that the objects were flying at an altitude between 9,500 and 10,000 feet, and at a great speed. After clocking them from Mt. Ranier to Mt. Adams, he arrived at an estimated speed of 1,200 miles per hour. “It seemed impossible,” he said, “but there it is…I must believe my eyes.”

A ‘Flying Saucer’ Is Born

The term “flying saucer” was coined, not by Arnold, but a reporter. Arnold made the statement that the objects moved, “like a saucer would if you skipped it across the water.” East Orengonian newspaper reporter Bill Bequette paraphrased Arnold’s statement when he placed the story on the AP news wire. Arnold’s term “saucer-like” became “flying saucers.”

 The US military attempted to ignore the press reports of Arnold’s sighting, but as the story grew, they felt compelled to take action. A meeting to discuss a course of action was held at the Pentagon on July 7, 1947, only a few days after the Roswell crash. Taking charge was Chief of the Army Air Force Air Intelligence Requirements Division, General Schulgen.

The group made the decision to follow up on “qualified” observers’ reports of flying discs. Three days later, Arnold received a request from Continental Air Command to appear for an interview, regarding his report. Two Counter Intelligence Corps investigators would carry out the investigation.

The results of this session were included in Project Blue Book. Arnold’s report was one of the first of 850 different UFO reports to make US media by the end of July, 1947. More than anything else, Arnold was in the right place at the right time to forever be an important part of the history of UFOs. Source: UFO Casebook

Was Kenneth Arnold Mistaken?


In 1944, the Horten Brothers, famed for their flying wing designs, designed and constructed a twin-engined jet propelled flying wing fighter prototype that was built by the Gotha factory and designated Ho 229. Unfortunately (at least for the Horten Brothers and the Ho.229) the war ended before the prototype could be flown. The nearly completed airframe was captured by American forces and shipped back to the United States for study.


A drawing by Kenneth Arnold of the shovel like aircraft he spotted traveling above the speed of sound. Could this point to a device by Zimmerman?

The German turbojet engines of the period were notoriously unreliable and wore out quickly. Some engine designs had a life before overhaul measured at around 10 running hours (this is called, in aviation parlance, Time Between Overhaul or T.B.O.

Modern jet engines have TBOs measured in the thousands of hours running time which tells you just how far we’ve come in a relatively short amount of time).

Let us propose that someone in the Pentagon or the Army Air Force, felt that the Ho.229 was a perfect fighter for the defense of the United States and the possible coming invasion of Japan (scheduled for 1946).

Then, a well regarded aviation company was contracted, maybe Northrop or even Boeing, to build an Americanized variant of the Ho.229 using the latest American-built jet engines.

Maybe only ten planes were built and flown before the project was terminated (due to the fact that not everyone would have been thrilled with the idea of America using a Nazi weapon).

The only examples were then flown across the Cascade Mountains in June 1947 to a secret storage facility and were spotted by Kenneth Arnold enroute. 

Jack Northrop and his Flying Wing Fighter


Flying wing technology, like this Northrop N-1M, existed in the late 1920s. Could Kenneth Arnold have seen an advanced version of this type of aircraft?

Jack Northrop was a huge advocate of the flying wing configuration. By the end of World War II, Northrop had built the XB-35 Flying Wing bomber, powered by piston engines. The XB-35 suffered from serious engine transmission and propeller problems and Northrop revised the design to use jet engines. Designated the YB-49, the new flying wing bomber came under intense congressional scrutiny by a Senator Symington, who seems to have had an intense hatred of Jack Northrop.

Now, before Northrop built the full-sized XB-35 bomber, they built several small-scale flying test beds, the Northrop N1M and the N9M. The later plane, the N9M was an elegant, sharp looking aircraft that flew for a number of years (and still does in restored condition). It was powered by two Franklin light-airplane engines and featured a number of advanced control concepts (later replaced by more conventional systems).

One look at this yellow angle and one can imagine a powerful fighter aircraft emerging from it. Northrop, while designing the XB-35 Flying Wing, imagined the Flying Wing revolutionizing air travel and air warfare. He envisioned flying airliners and cargo planes. Even light aircraft for private use. Did he also envision a series of fighter plane flying wings? Could this be what Kenneth Arnold spotted in the sky above Mt. Rainier?

Imagine, if you will, the Northrop N9M scaled up to use two Packard 12-cylinder Merlin engines or two 12-Cylinder Allison engines. This powerful flying wing would have been a direct competitor to the famous Lockheed P-38 Lightning. Imagine now, that Northrop has a couple of these dream machines in testing, under the strictest secrecy, even from other parts of the company (and especially from Senator Symington).

World War 2 ends and so does the immediate need for a twin-engine flying wing fighter plane. But the Jet Age has dawned and Northrop converts his fighters from piston engines to jet propulsion, again in strict secrecy. Lastly, imagine that Northrop has these planes take a test flight, a test flight spotted by Kenneth Arnold. Adapted from: Mystery Aircraft



Read previous post:
Five Important Movies Of The Flying Saucer Era

For the last century or so the world has been...

Three New Findings About the Moon

  Researchers have announced interesting news concerning the Moon, especially...

Did The Big Bang Really Happen?

Astrophysicists are casting doubt on what just recently was deemed...