On June 24, 1947, Kenneth Arnold, a Boise businessman and licensed air-rescue pilot, was flying his plane from Chehalis to Yakima, Washington. He was startled to see nine flat, shiny objects flying in line near Mt. Rainier.

    Shortly after noon, on June 24, Arnold was discussing a C-46 Marine transport, believed to be down in nearby mountains, with Herb Critzer, chief pilot for the Central Air Service in Chehalis, Washington. Arnold decided to look around during his proposed flight to Yakima, Washington, hoping to discover it and collect the $5,000 reward which had been offered.

    Piloting a "specially designed mountain airplane" he took off at about 2:00 PM and headed directly for the "high plateau of Mt. Rainier," a point varying from 9-10,000 ft. elevation.

    As he was searching, he maneuvered his ship into a 180 degree turn "over Mineral, Washington, at approximately 9,200 feet altitude." Suddenly, a "tremendously bright flash" flooded his plane. Surprised and curious, Arnold spent the ensuing half minute scanning the adjacent skies, but spotted nothing. Then, again without warning, the flash recurred. He identified the source as being far to the left and north of his position. There he observed "a formation of very bright objects coming from the vicinity of Mt. Baker, flying very close to the mountain tops and traveling at tremendous speed."

    The shape of the nine mysterious objects was not discernible "as they were still at a distance of over a 100 miles," but Arnold could see the formation "was going to pass directly in front" of him, "flying at approximately 170 degrees in a reverse-echelon pattern."

    His immediate evaluation was that they were jets. They appeared to have no tails, but he decided some effective camouflage was obscuring the tail assembly from his view. Notwithstanding the confusion about their design, the author notes that he "observed the objects' outlines plainly as they flipped and flashed along against the snow (of the mountainsides) and against the sky."

    The unknowns were passing at almost right angles to Kenneth Arnold and his plane and, having Mt. Rainier and Mt. Adams as fixed points, he decided to try and determine their speed. As they held to their overall course, the objects "fluttered and sailed," flashing blue-white in the sun, and "swerved in and out of the high mountain peaks of the Cascade Mountains between Mt. Rainier and Mt. Adams." Although "they didn't fly like any aircraft I had ever seen," they flew in "a definite formation," with the lead ship higher than the last, and, while functioning in unison, they moved "erratically"; or, in the now historic, they looked "like a saucer would if you skipped it across the water."

    Establishing their distance from his plane as about twenty-three miles, he began his attempt to determine their velocity. Basing a second calculation on a plateau between Mt. Rainier and Mt. Adams, Arnold concluded that the entire formation "formed a chain in the neighborhood of five miles long." Timing the echelon's north-to-south flight between the two points at around "one minute and forty-two seconds," he deduced that the craft were "traveling in excess of a 1000 mph."

    And then they were gone.

    Landing in Yakima at about 4:00 PM, he recounted his experience, but it was not taken very seriously. Returning to his plane, he took off for Pendleton, Oregon, where he fell to speculating with friends about the maximum speed achieved, up to that time, by the military's secret aircraft. The consensus was not more than seven hundred miles an hour. The conversation stimulated Arnold to return to his calculations. The first results of these more refined evaluations indicated the unknowns were hurtling across the heavens at more than 1,700 mph. The data were minimized by measuring the flight path as from the base of Mt. Rainier to the base of Mt. Adams - which overcompensation naturally shortened the distance traveled considerably, actually to 39.8 miles. However, even this modification still produced a speed rate of "over 1,350 mph."

    Finally, deciding the fluttering of the craft would have been too much for the human body to sustain, Arnold settled for the conclusion that the objects must have been remotely controlled guided missiles from a military base.

    The latter drastic revision of this solution to his sighting is, of course, Flying-Saucer history.

....Within hours, things of every size and shape were being sighted in the skies across the U.S.>

      From Kenneth Arnold and Ray Palmer, The Coming of the Saucers
              (Amherst, Wisconsin. Privately printed, 1952).