The Most Renowned UFO Incidents (Part 2 of 10)

The Most Renowned UFO Incidents (Part 2 of 10) April 4, 2018

[The following is a portion of a chapter in a book manuscript I intend to publish in my Still Here book series on biblical eschatology. I believe some UFO sightings–probably hundreds worldwide in the past two generations–have been unnatural phenomena attributable to angels (cf. Daniel 4.13, 17, 23; Hebrews 1.14; 1 Peter 1.12).]

UFOs Are Labeled “Flying Saucers”[1]

Mount Ranier

Historians claim that U.S. media interest in UFOs began most significantly on June 24th, 1947. On that day, Kenneth Arnold—an experienced pilot and a reputable businessman—was flying a small, private airplane during the mid-afternoon in clear skies near Washington State’s majestic-looking Mount Rainier. He was flying from the city of Chehalis eastward to the city of Yakima at 9,200 feet in altitude when he saw a strange formation in the sky right before 3:00 PM. Arnold landed in Yakima at 4:00 PM and reported having seen nine, shiny, silver-colored, disk-shaped objects flying about twenty-three miles from his airplane at speeds he estimated in excess of 1,200 miles per hour. (At that time, no national government had developed any aircraft that could fly anywhere near that fast.) Arnold further described the disks or discs as having dome-shaped tops. He said they flew in a long chain formation, weaving like the long tail of a Chinese kite. He added that they sometimes appeared “saucer-like” or like “pie-pans skipping across water.” The media soon reported this sighting, calling the objects “flying saucers.”

(Mt. Rainier is 14,411 feet high and glacier-covered year-round. It is very visible from West Seattle, fifty miles away, where I was born and reared. Mt. Rainier is one of the sixteen most dangerous volcanoes in the world. I also lived for a time in Yakima and still own several acres of property there.[2])

Arnold first told his amazing story to Yakima Airport staff. Minutes later he flew to Pendleton, Oregon, to attend an air show there. By then, his story had gotten out. The next day, upon request by the East Oregonian newspaper in Pendleton, he went to their office to be interviewed by two reporters. Bill Bequette wrote the story that was published that day, on June 25th. The reporters were impressed with Kenneth Arnold. They judged him a reliable witness and a keen observer. The Associated Press, United Press, and Chicago Tribune soon interviewed Arnold by telephone. All three newspapers published articles about Arnold’s story the next day, on June 26th. In these interviews, Arnold said at the time of the sighting he thought it could be an optical allusion caused by raindrops on his driver-side window or reflections of it. So, he rolled down his window, yet he still saw the objects. Arnold reported seeing only one manned aircraft during his flight—a DC-4. That pilot later said he didn’t see the objects.

The U.S. Army denied having any aircraft in the area during the time of Kenneth Arnold’s alleged sighting. The Army Air Force eventually concluded that Mr. Arnold had seen “a mirage.”

But Kenneth Arnold’s claimed sighting was soon corroborated by others in Washington State who also seemed to have been reliable witnesses. Fred Johnson, a prospector on Mt. Adams, said he saw the same formation of flying objects through his telescope and at the same time Arnold reported that he saw them. Then, on July 4th, 1947, the Oregonian Journal received a letter from L. G. Bernier of Richland, Washington, in which he stated that he saw three strange objects flying in formation in the sky at enormous speeds just before 3:00 PM on June 24th. And a member of the Washington State forest service on fire watch reported seeing “flashes” in the sky that moved in a straight line at 3:00 PM, June 24th, over Mt. Rainier. Plus, the two, major, Seattle newspapers reported the names of other people who contacted these newspaper staffs and told them they saw the same sighting at the same time.

The Roswell Incident

A few days later, the most publicized UFO incident ever reported occurred near Roswell, New Mexico, USA. Strangely, it only became such a publicized event decades after it occurred. During the first week of July, in 1947, ranch foreman William Brazel discovered metallic remains of an aerial crash near Roswell. Members of the Chaves County Sheriff’s Office and Major Jesse Marcel, of the Roswell Army Air Field, examined the wreckage. Marcel said it was “a flying saucer.” No doubt he said this due to that description publicized days earlier of what Kenneth Arnold had seen. Marcel then alerted the U.S. Air Force. On July 8th, the Roswell Daily Record newspaper reported that “a flying saucer” had been found near Roswell. That same day, the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) released its investigative report of this incident. It said the crashed debris was a weather balloon, not a flying saucer.

On the next day, July 9th, the Roswell Daily Record published its interview of Brazel. He described the crash debris that he found as being “bright wreckage made up of rubber strips, tinfoil, a rather tough paper and sticks.” That description was confirmed by his daughter. Not much was made of this Roswell incident for many years thereafter. William Brazel died sixteen years later, in 1963.

But in 1978, Stanton Freedman interviewed Jesse Marcel about this Roswell incident. Marcel then said the debris looked odd. Freedman alleged that the U.S. military had suppressed its true nature. Some people even claimed that the remains of extraterrestrials were found at the crash site and that there was a cover-up about it by the federal government. Freedman was then featured in a 1979 television documentary entitled “UFOs Are Real” and a National Enquirer article published in February, 1980. So, Freedman sparked renewed interest in the Roswell incident that continues to the present.

[1] Some of this section is gleaned from, accessed on April 1, 2013.

[2] In 1980, this land, including all of the City of Yakima, was covered with almost three inches of ash from the eruption of Mt. St. Helens. We allowed city maintenance to dump many dozens of truckloads of street sweepings of the ash on our property, and we later covered it up.

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