Kenneth Arnold

Kenneth Arnold

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Kenneth A. Arnold was an American aviator and businessman. He is best-known for making what is generally considered the first widely reported unidentified flying object
Unidentified flying object
A term originally coined by the military, an unidentified flying object is an unusual apparent anomaly in the sky that is not readily identifiable to the observer as any known object...

 sighting in the United States, after claiming to have seen nine unusual objects flying in a chain near Mount Rainier
Mount Rainier
Mount Rainier is a massive stratovolcano located southeast of Seattle in the state of Washington, United States. It is the most topographically prominent mountain in the contiguous United States and the Cascade Volcanic Arc, with a summit elevation of . Mt. Rainier is considered one of the most...

, Washington on June 24, 1947. (See Kenneth Arnold UFO sighting
Kenneth Arnold UFO sighting
The Kenneth Arnold UFO sighting was an incident on June 24, 1947, where private pilot Kenneth Arnold spotted a string of nine, shiny unidentified flying objects flying past Mount Rainier at then unheard of supersonic speeds that Arnold clocked at a minimum of 1,200 miles an hour...

)

Early life


Arnold was born in Sebeka, Minnesota
Sebeka, Minnesota
As of the census of 2000, there were 710 people, 332 households, and 188 families residing in the city. The population density was 289.1 people per square mile . There were 378 housing units at an average density of 153.9 per square mile . The racial makeup of the city was 99.01% White, 0.14%...

, but grew up in Scobey, Montana
Scobey, Montana
As of the census of 2000, there were 1,082 people, 500 households, and 280 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,481.6 people per square mile . There were 611 housing units at an average density of 836.6 per square mile...

. He attended the University of Minnesota
University of Minnesota
The University of Minnesota, Twin Cities is a public research university located in Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota, United States. It is the oldest and largest part of the University of Minnesota system and has the fourth-largest main campus student body in the United States, with 52,557...

. He was an avid swimmer and diver
Diving
Diving is the sport of jumping or falling into water from a platform or springboard, sometimes while performing acrobatics. Diving is an internationally-recognized sport that is part of the Olympic Games. In addition, unstructured and non-competitive diving is a recreational pastime.Diving is one...

 being good enough at the latter to try out for the U.S. Diving team
Diving at the Summer Olympics
Diving was first introduced in the official programme of the Summer Olympic Games at the 1904 Games of St. Louis and has been an Olympic sport since. It was known as "fancy diving" for the acrobatic stunts performed by divers during the dive...

.

Career


Arnold began Great Western Fire Control Supply in Boise, Idaho
Boise, Idaho
Boise is the capital and most populous city of the U.S. state of Idaho, as well as the county seat of Ada County. Located on the Boise River, it anchors the Boise City-Nampa metropolitan area and is the largest city between Salt Lake City, Utah and Portland, Oregon.As of the 2010 Census Bureau,...

 in 1940, a company that sold and installed fire suppression systems, a job that took him around the Pacific Northwest
Pacific Northwest
The Pacific Northwest is a region in northwestern North America, bounded by the Pacific Ocean to the west and, loosely, by the Rocky Mountains on the east. Definitions of the region vary and there is no commonly agreed upon boundary, even among Pacific Northwesterners. A common concept of the...

.

Arnold was regarded as a skilled and experienced pilot, with over 9,000 total flying hours, almost half of which were devoted to Search and Rescue
Search and rescue
Search and rescue is the search for and provision of aid to people who are in distress or imminent danger.The general field of search and rescue includes many specialty sub-fields, mostly based upon terrain considerations...

 Mercy Flyer efforts.

UFO sighting


On June 24, 1947, while flying near Mt. Rainer, Arnold claimed to have seen nine unusual objects flying in the skies
Kenneth Arnold UFO sighting
The Kenneth Arnold UFO sighting was an incident on June 24, 1947, where private pilot Kenneth Arnold spotted a string of nine, shiny unidentified flying objects flying past Mount Rainier at then unheard of supersonic speeds that Arnold clocked at a minimum of 1,200 miles an hour...

. He also claimed to have seen UFOs on several other occasions afterwards, as well.

Arnold originally described the objects' shape as "flat like a pie pan", "shaped like a pie plate", "half-moon shaped, oval in front and convex in the rear", "something like a pie plate that was cut in half with a sort of a convex triangle in the rear", or simply "saucer-like" or "like a big flat disk" (see quotes), and also described their erratic motion being "like a fish flipping in the sun" or a saucer skipped across water. From these, the press quickly coined the new terms "flying saucer
Flying saucer
A flying saucer is a type of unidentified flying object sometimes believed to be of alien origin with a disc or saucer-shaped body, usually described as silver or metallic, occasionally reported as covered with running lights or surrounded with a glowing light, hovering or moving rapidly either...

" and "flying disc" to describe such objects, many of which were reported within days after Arnold's sighting. Later Arnold would add that one of the objects actually resembled a crescent
Crescent
In art and symbolism, a crescent is generally the shape produced when a circular disk has a segment of another circle removed from its edge, so that what remains is a shape enclosed by two circular arcs of different diameters which intersect at two points .In astronomy, a crescent...

 or flying wing
Flying wing
A flying wing is a tailless fixed-wing aircraft which has no definite fuselage, with most of the crew, payload and equipment being housed inside the main wing structure....

 (see image).

The U.S. Air Force formally listed the Arnold case as a mirage
Mirage
A mirage is a naturally occurring optical phenomenon in which light rays are bent to produce a displaced image of distant objects or the sky. The word comes to English via the French mirage, from the Latin mirare, meaning "to look at, to wonder at"...

; this is one of many explanations that have been disputed by critics, and researchers Jerome Clark
Jerome Clark
Jerome Clark is an American researcher and writer, specializing in unidentified flying objects and other anomalous phenomena; he is also a songwriter of some note....

, author of The UFO Book (1998) and Ronald Story, editor of The Encyclopedia of UFOs (1980). Both argue that there has never been an entirely persuasive conventional explanation of the Arnold sighting.

After his UFO sighting, Arnold became a minor celebrity, and for about a decade thereafter, he was somewhat involved in interviewing other UFO witnesses or contactees. Notably, he investigated the claims of Samuel Eaton Thompson
Samuel Eaton Thompson
Samuel Eaton Thompson was an American contactee who claimed to have been in contact with extraterrestrials. Though his claims earned little publicity during his life, Thompson might have been the first North American contactee....

, one of the first contactees. Arnold wrote a book and several magazine articles about his UFO sighting and his subsequent research.

By the 1960s, Arnold had little to do with UFOs, and eventually declined all interviews. On June 24, 1977, he however attended the First International UFO Congress curated by Fate to mark the 30th anniversary of the "birth" of the modern UFO age. Some of his comments here reflect his displeasure at the general ignorance concerning the matter:

Personal life


Arnold and his wife Doris had four daughters. He ran unsuccessfully for Lieutenant Governor of Idaho
Lieutenant Governor of Idaho
Lieutenant Governor of Idaho is a constitutional statewide elected office in the State of Idaho. According to the Idaho Constitution, the lieutenant governor is elected to a four-year term....

 in 1962.

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