07/07/1947 The Oregonian [banner head]

Eight ‘Flying Saucers’ Reported Down on Idaho Mountain

Air Search Scheduled For Region

Flights Continue To Be Observed Over Wide Area Pictures on Wirephoto Page

While national guard aircraft Sunday hunted the skies over Pacific Northwest states for sight of the mysterious “flying saucers,” eight of the flying gadgets were reported to have made a landing on a mountainside near St. Maries, Idaho, in full view of ten persons.

Mrs. Walter Johnson of Dishman, Wash., a suburb of Spokane, said she saw the saucers come down in timber near St. Maries Thursday, but the incident had not been reported until she returned to her home Sunday.

Col. G. R. Dodson, whose 123rd fighter squadron of the Oregon national guard scoured Oregon and Washington skies Sunday searching for the elusive missiles, said a flight of four P-51s would be sent early Monday morning to check the area. “So far we haven’t found saucer, disc or anything,” Colonel Dodson commented.

He described the operation Sunday as “routine,” but said the pilots carried instructions to watch for flying discs.

Extreme Speed Reported

Mrs. Johnson said the saucers were seen to fall near Butler’s bay on the St. Joe river six miles west of St. Maries, where she was visiting her parents.

She said they came into view at an extreme speed, traveling from the south to the north. Suddenly they slowed, she said, and then “fluttered like leaves to the ground.”

“The mysterious part was that we couldn’t see them after they landed,” said Mrs. Johnson. “We could see them flutter down into the timber yet we couldn’t see that they did anything to the trees.”

She said the objects were saucer-shaped, but thicker than she had expected, resembling wash tubs more than discs. She described them as “about the size of a five-room house.”

Officers See Discs

Mrs. Johnson said the objects were seen by her relatives as well as the neighbors who viewed them independently. She said the incident had not been reported earlier because she didn’t know whom to contact.

Meanwhile, the man who first started this business of “flying saucers,” Kenneth Arnold, Boise, Idaho, flying businessman, reported he had invested $150 in a movie camera to get photographic proof of the discs he said flipped through the blue yonder “like fish skimming through water.”

Spiking rumors of Army Air Force connection with the flying discs, Gen. Carl Spaatz, commandant of the army air forces, denied in Seattle knowing anything about the flying saucers or of plans to use army air force planes to look for them. Then he continued on to Medford on a fishing trip.

Utah Group Observed

Discs continued to be sighted at various locations throughout the day Sunday. They were said to have been seen at Chicago over Lake Michigan, in Southwestern Ontario, in Wisconsin, Minnesota and in Maryland.

In Utah, ex-state treasurer Oliver G. Ellis and his son saw a group of discs high in the sky west of Salt Lake City. He said the “luminous discs behaved like radio-controlled objects, hovering in a group for a moment, then suddenly formed a swiftly whirling horizontal circular pattern.” He said two discs broke loose from the group “as if snapped from the end of a giant whip.” Later the flight was continued in a V-formation and moved south-westward until it disappeared, Ellis said.

In Portland, reports on the flying objects did not come in before noon. At 12:42 P. M. police were called by a man who said he saw what he thought was a flying disc headed south and traveling very fast. A woman reported that she saw a reddish object “round as a dollar” about 5 P. M. that zoomed out of sight so fast neighbors she summoned to look at it failed to glimpse it. Another man standing on the corner of N. W. 6th avenue and Glisan street, told The Oregonian he saw four flying discs heading south at a “good rate of speed.

2000 MPH Reported

Reports continued to come in during the daylight hours with one taxi cab driver reporting the platter-like objects traveling high and nearly 2000 miles an hour. Another report came in of seven of the discs traveling in a “geeselike formation.”

The 123d fighter squadron at Portland Army Air base will have airplanes and pilots ready to take off Monday if anyone sees any discs, flying around, according to Colonel Dodson. The stable of 23 fast P-51 fighter planes, equipped with gun-sight movie cameras, was lined up on the concrete apron Sunday ready to comb the skies for any aerial marauders citizens might report.


07/08/1947 The Oregonian

Guard Planes Plan Search
Pictures Sought Of Mystery Discs

See Story on Page 1 also.

Northwest national guard air squadrons went on an emergency footing Monday, determined to keep Oregon, Washington and Idaho skies under constant surveillance until the mystery of the “flying saucers” is solved.

Fighter groups from Portland, Boise and Spokane began arranging sector patrols designed to include every portion of the Northwest in a systematic search for the strange aerial visitors.

Col. G. R. Dodson, commander of Portland’s 123rd fighter squadron, was in close communication with Col. Tom Lamphier, leader of the 190th squadron at Boise, and Col. Frank Frost, Spokane squadron commander. The top air officers plotted the areas in which the discs have been reported and made plans for regular patrols by fast, camera-equipped warplanes in “flyways” established along the Columbia river from Walla Walla to the sea and from Puget Sound south to headwaters of the Willamette river.

Additional supplies of movie film for the planes gunsight movie cameras was being flown here from Washington, D. C., the officers reported.

Disc Contact Hoax

Earlier in the day Col. Robert Delashaw and Maj. David Warwick, regular AAF officers attached to the ONG fighter squadron as instructors, took two P-51s up for a fruitless search flight over Portland after a report that an unidentified object had been sighted in the sky above the Eastmoreland golf course.

Additional supplies of movie film for the planes’ gunsight movie cameras are expected to arrive Tuesday by air express from Washington, D. C., squadron headquarters announced.

Colonel Dodson said he had been informed by telephone from Spokane that Colonel Frost led two search missions in flights over the St. Maries, Idaho, area where picknickers Sunday reported seeing eight huge, shining discs land in a dense forest. The searchers found nothing, he said.

The story of a P-38 tangling with one of the hurtling hallucinations while engaged in aerial mapping at 32,000 feet over Montana also proved to be a complete hoax.

Russell Baird, pilot of the photographic plane at Bozeman, Mont., said he was “just sitting around the hangar gassing” and somebody must have told the tale to the newspapers.


07/08/1947 The Oregonian

Air Forces Deny Discs U.S.-Made

If there is any such thing as a flying saucer disc, washtub or luminous ball of any kind flying around loose, it was not made in America. That was the official announcement from the army air forces Monday night in answer to the epidemic of reports from 40 states ranging from the Northwest to New England.

“Neither the AAF nor any other component of the armed forces has any plane, guided missile, or other aerial device under development which could possibly be mistaken for a saucer or formation of flying discs,” Maj. Gen. Nathan F. Twining, chief of the AAF air material command, told The Oregonian unequivocally when reached by phone at Kirtland army airbase at Albuquerque, N. M.

Air Force Investigates

“Some of these witnesses evidently saw something,” General Twining, a native of Portland, declared. “But we don’t know what. We are investigating.”

AAF laboratories at Wright Field confirmed General Twining’s statements to The Oregonian.

The navy and atomic energy commission also officially announced they had no knowledge of or connection with the mysterious missiles.

One of the most promising reports from Russell Baird, pilot of a photographic plane near Bozeman, Mont., collapsed when the pilot announced he had merely been “gassing around the hangar” and had no intention of telling a story for publication.

Another apparently fizzled out when national guard pilots from Spokane failed to find any trace of flying platters “big as houses” supposed to have fluttered into the timber near St. Maries, Idaho.

Reports Come In Yet

But more reports continued to come spinning in, most of them as elusive and varied as the reported missiles themselves.

A Rutland, Vt., woman said she saw a brilliant object in the night sky which she assumed to be a “flying saucer,” although it was stationary.

At Cambridge, Mass., a housewife said she saw “a group of white flying saucers whirling around and going at a tremendous speed.”

Harvard university astronomical observatory took note of New England’s entrance into the game of “spinning the platter,” but said it had had no luck so far in photographing one of the discs.

Curbstone explanations of the phenomena ranged from the theory they were radio-controlled flying missiles sent aloft by U.S. military scientists to the suggestion they might be merely sunlight reflected from the wing tanks of jet-propelled planes.

The mysterious saucers first were reported June 25 in the state of Washington, but Charlie T. Hamlet, superintendent of the Kingsport, Tenn., Times-News composing room, said he had seen the discs two years ago.

They were “of a bright, aluminum color” and “were going at a terrific speed,” Hamlet said, explaining he kept quiet about them because of the Oak Ridge atomic bomb plant, then a war secret.

Aluminum Discs Seen

Norman Hargrave, a Houston, Tex., jeweler, told a Chronicle reporter Sunday that he had found an aluminum disk floating near the beach while he and his wife were walking along the beach.

He said the disk was about 20 inches in diameter and six inches thick. Monday, however, Hargrave said it was all just a joke.

But the Chronicle, in its final edition Monday pointed out that “there are some mysterious facts contained in his (Hargrave’s) first report that lend credence to the tale.”

Hargrave reported the disk bore this inscription: “Military secret of the United States of America, army air forces M 4339658. Anyone damaging or revealing description or whereabouts of this missile subject to prosecution by the United States government. Call collect at once LO446 army air forces depot, Spokane, Washington.”

Officer Denies Report

In big letters, Hargrave said were plainly printed “nonexplosive.”

At Spokane, Col. Frank D. Hackett, commanding officer of the Spokane air depot, told the Associated Press late Monday that he knew “nothing about” the reported finding of a flying disk on the Texas Gulf coast other than that his public relations office had received a call from the Houston Chronicle.

Local developments page 11.


07/09/1947 The Oregonian [banner head]

‘Disc’ Found in New Mexico Declared Weather Balloon

[photo of Jess Marcel squatting and holding weather balloon debris in office]

No Disc — It’s Only a Radar Kite

[caption] This battered device, shown with Maj. Jesse A. Marcel, AAF intelligence officer at Roswell, N. M., was believed to be a “flying disc” until the Forth Worth army air field weather officer definitely identified it as a high-altitude weather radar target. (Associated Press Wirephoto)

Airmen End Excitement Over Object

Shiny Kite-Stars in Regular Use On Radar Tests

FORTH WORTH, Tex. July 9 (AP) — An object found near Roswell, N. M., which created a storm of speculation Tuesday that it might be one of the mysterious flying “discs” or “saucers” was a weather balloon and its kite, the 8th air force announced Tuesday.

The announcement was made by Maj. Gen. Roger M. Ramey, commander of the 8th air force with headquarters at Fort Worth.

The object was flown from Roswell to Fort Worth by the air force, where it was identified by Warrant Officer Irving Newton of Medford, Wis., of the base weather station.

General Ramey said that several of the balloons were released daily according to changes in the weather.

Radar Work Aided

(A similar object was identified Monday night at Adrian, Mo., by the Kansas City weather bureau.)

Grant Cook of Adrian found the tin-foil covered object on his farm and notified authorities. Investigation by meteorologists revealed it as a reflector for radar signals.

(Printed on the reflector was the notation: “W. X. X. N.-Feb. 21 — M. P.”)

Army weather experts in Washington, however, discounted any idea that the such weather targets might be the basis for the scores of reports of “flying discs.”

Brig. Gen. Donald Yates, chief of the AAF weather service, said only a very few of them are used daily at points where some specific project requires accurate wind information from extreme altitudes. Without field reports, he would not hazard a guess on a precise number, he said.

Army Describes Tests

For ordinary purposes, General Yates told a reporter, the AAF uses balloon-borne radiosondes much on the order of those employed by the weather bureau, tracking them with radio direction finders. Those instruments consist of a milky white balloon five or six feet in diameter with the automatic radio transmitting apparatus suspended below in a package about cigar box size.

During the war, General Yates said, the radar target method of wind checking was standard practice because of the high degree of accuracy needed.

The weather bureau said it uses none of the radar target balloons at land stations. Some are used from coast guard vessels in the Atlantic, bureau officials said, but they normally blow eastward toward Europe.

Many Freed Daily

Between the army and the weather bureau, hundreds of weather balloons without the metallic target are released daily from points all over the country.

Ivan R. Tannehill, weather bureau chief forecaster, pointed out, however, that such balloons have been in use for many years. He said, they were unlikely to have been mistaken “all over the country and all in one week” for mysterious objects speeding through the sky at supersonic speeds.

Suspended from the balloons are kites or six-sided stars, covered with a shiny material such as tinfoil. These objects are traced by radar and computations from the radar reveal air currents.

Object Damaged

The object found in New Mexico was badly damaged.

The balloons measure 50 inches across but expand greatly as they ascend, air force officers reported. They sometimes reach 60,000 feet. The kites and stars generally are more than five feet in diameter.

The balloon and the object it carries are technically known as ray wind [sic] high altitude sounding devices, popularly known as “weather radar targets.”

General Ramey said the object found in New Mexico definitely was a United States army device.

Plans to fly the object to Wright field for further investigation were cancelled.
A public relations officer said it was in this office, “and it’ll probably stay right there.”

General Ramey spoke over a local radio station (WBAP) Tuesday night after the 8th air force headquarters was flooded with queries concerning the object. In his broadcast, he said that anyone who found an object he believed to be a “flying disc” should contact the nearest army office or sheriff’s office.

Additional details on page 16.


07/09/1947 The Oregonian

‘Discs’ Swoop Over Angler

See Story on Page 1, Also

The mysterious “flying saucers” — big and little, black and luminous — still are plentiful in the Pacific Northwest, according to the unflagging volume of reports from wide-eyed sky gazers.

More than 50 telephoned “disc” reports came in Tuesday to switchboards at The Oregonian and station KGW, which interrupted its regular broadcasts to give listeners the vital statistics on aerial thingumabobs citizens said they saw.

Local descriptions included that of a fisherman who was bewildered by four flying objects which he said swooped down over his boat, the Darlene Jack, as he was pulling up his nets at the mouth of the Willamette river about 2 A. M.

Fisherman Hears 'Swoosh'

Malcolm Morrill, who lives on his boat at the North Portland moorage on N. Swift boulevard, told The Oregonian that the shapes were bigger than any airplane he had ever seen and made a swooshing noise “something like a jet plane.” Two discs which looked like silver footballs drew attention of Richard C. Maynard, 3915 N. Houghton street, as he sat in a downtown office. The objects he said traveled eastward at about the speed of transport planes.

A report from a Mrs. Clement, Vanport, said she saw a disc land and explode near Triangle lake.

The 2-year-old daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Eugene Hilderbrant, 3405 N. E. 74th avenue, called their attention to a pair of very bright spheres high in the sky heading south about 7 P. M., Hilderbrant reported.

Editor Sees Object

Mrs. L. Rutan of 3837 S. E. 40th avenue, her neighbor, Malcolm King, 3715 S. E. 40th avenue, and King’s mother, father, uncle, and another neighbor saw “a whole cloud of swirling things in the sky” about 4:25 P. M., they reported. King said there were 25 of them — some square — and that they circled and later disappeared to the southeast.

A similar sight greeted the startled eyes of Frank Watson, 3124 N. E. 15th avenue, who breathlessly announced he saw a group of about 30 objects in the sky at 4:20 P. M. at an estimated altitude of 7000 feet.

“They were playing dipsy-daisy and chasing each other,” he related.

A. T. Pritchard, 8717 N. E. Webster street, editor of the Oregon-Northwest Angler and Hunter magazine, said he saw a large object, followed by a bluish haze, zip across the sky between Mt. Hood and Mt. Adams.


07/09/1947 The Oregonian

New Craft Hit As ‘Nonsense’;
People ‘Imagine’ Speeds of 1200

By Ron Moxness
Staff Writer, The Oregonian

Pictures on Wirephoto Page

Those space sailing discs which have given sky-gazing residents of the Pacific Northwest a collective pain in the neck might be secret army missiles or “whatzits” from another world to some people, but to Mrs. Hester Wilson of 2324 N. W. Johnson street they’re nothing but toy balloons on the loose.

And she just nodded confidently when army officials announced the “flying disc” found in New Mexico Tuesday was just a radar reflecting kite attached to a weather balloon.

Mrs. Wilson, for the past 24 years operator of balloon concessions at country fairs and rodeos over Oregon and Washington, walked into The Oregonian editorial rooms a little bit fed up with “all this nonsense” about saucers in the sky.

“They’re nothing but fugitives from a concession stand,” she muttered. “Made of rubber, full of helium and pretty hard to describe when they’re traveling high with six or seven more balloons tired on behind.”

People Termed Imaginative

Mrs. Wilson blamed estimates of 1200-mile speeds attributed to the mystery objects on people’s “imagination” — and she said that balloons, when they get high enough, look flat and shiny. Dangling string, she avers, could be “vapor.”

Willing to prove her point, she invited an Oregonian reporter and photographer to the top of Mt. Tabor for an eyewitness test. A helper, Clinton Fromm, who spent most of July Fourth blowing up balloons at the St. Paul rodeo, brought along a tank of helium and a generous supply of the rubber spheroids.

“Until about a year ago you couldn’t get helium gas for balloons,” Mrs. Wilson said, as Fromm set up his equipment. “Balloons filled with air won’t float, except under a good breeze. Lots of times concession men have a string of six or seven balloons get away — and often kids lose them, too. So we have “flying discs.”

Balloons Let Loose

Mrs. Wilson let loose a brilliant orange balloon to test wind direction while Oregonian Photographer Milton Werschkul poised a camera. Fromm then tied a string of varicolored balloons with a big-eared “cat” balloon at the head of the string. Then Mrs. Wilson freed the string.

As the balloons soared straight up into the air, they gradually lost shape. At roughly 1000 feet they appeared flat and their to-and-fro tugging motion on the long string gave their motion the same sort of undulating movement described by other “disc” spotters. The string of balloons disappeared within a few minutes — heading southwest over the Mt. Tabor district.

The “fins” on some of the flying missiles, Mrs. Wilson argued, could be the big “ears” sported by the popular “cat” balloons which carry the painted face of a cat under rubber finlike ears. To prove this point, she sent a second string of the balloons skyward and at a good height the optical illusion proved puzzling.

High Altitudes Reached

The balloons, the weather bureau reported, could reach a height of 30,000 feet and could sail along for a couple of days before breaking up under ideal conditions. “Lots of times,” Mrs. Wilson said, “concession men have a few balloons left over at the end of the day and let them go rather than try to deflate them and use them again. Sometimes they break loose by accident.”

The balloon theory might be shrugged off by the irate eyewitnesses of something bigger and better than rubber toys — but weather bureau officials pointed out that in the United States alone, four times a day 1000 balloons are freed into the sky in connection with the gathering of weather data.

Metallic Foil Covers Disc

Radio sound balloons are sent aloft 100 times a day over the North American continent, the weatherman said. And these, coincidentally enough, carry a 2-foot disc with a metallic foil covering which are tracked with radar in the assembly of everyday weather facts.

Wind-aloft balloons, released at night at this time of the year, carry small electric lights powered by batteries dropped by 8-inch parachutes.