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1947:  Year of the Alien Wave

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 UFOs that Kenneth Arnold saw in 1947

1947 is known as the year of the first "wave" of modern flying saucer sightings. A study of U.S. newspapers that year documents over 832 sightings in the United States just in the thirty days between June 15, 1947 and July 15, 1947. For the entire year there were over 1,500 reports. Included on this website is a CIA report tracking saucer sightings in 1947. This report was secret and withheld from the public for decades


The Kenneth Arnold Case

This is the first key flying saucer case of modern times. As you can see from my sections, ‘Ancient Alien Sightings’ and ‘Aliens in Ancient Art’, reports of flying objects are certainly not unique to our century. However, this is the case that caught the attention of the media and re-informed the contemporary world that flying saucers existed.


The Facts

Kenneth Arnold was a private pilot and a businessman. He was also a member of the Idaho Search and Rescue Mercy Flyers and a Federal Deputy Marshall. On June 24, 1947 Arnold joined in a search mission to find a Marine Curtis C-46 transport plane that was believed to have crashed in the Cascade Mountains.

While flying at about 9,000 feet at 2:00 p.m., Arnold saw nine silver disks moving in formation directly across his flight path. He estimated them to be about twenty-five miles away. Since they were unusual, to say the least, Arnold decided to time them to estimate their speed. He checked his watch as they passed Mt. Ranier and again when they passed Mt. Adams. It took them 1 minute and 42 seconds. After landing and checking the distance between the two peaks, Arnold realized the disks had been traveling over 1,700 miles per hour! This was twice the speed of sound, and the world airspeed record in 1947 was only about 650 miles per hour!

Pilot Kenneth Arnold in 1947

Pilot Kenneth Arnold, photo taken in 1947 

"They Flew Like a Saucer"

Not only Arnold, but people flying in a nearby Douglas DC-4 also saw the flying disks. In addition, disks were seen by hundreds of people on the ground. The disks made no sound. They were completely silent. In an interview with The East Oregonian newspaper, Arnold said: "They flew like a saucer would if you skipped it across the water."

When the Associated Press picked up the story, they called the disks "saucer-like objects." From this, the term ‘Flying Saucer’ was officially made an integral part of the human language. Be sure to check out the CIA’s official report on the Kenneth Arnold sighting in our ‘Alien Documents’ section.

1947 Seattle Post UFO headline
Headline from 1947 reporting sightings and landings of
flying saucers.

Other Sightings

 June 14, 1947

Richard Rankin saw a triangular formation of ten disks over Bakersfield, California while flying from Chicago to Los Angeles. He estimated their speed at 600 miles per hour.

 June 21, 1947

Residents in Spokane, Washington saw eight disks flying at an estimated speed of six hundred miles per hour at 11:00 a.m.

Early UFO photo

Early UFO photo from the midwest

 June 21, 1947

A salesman driving through Yukon, Oklahoma saw six disks flying in formation at an "incredible rate of speed."

 June 24, 1947

Three disks were seen above Richmond, Washington. They were wobbling as they zipped across the sky. This is the same day Kenneth Arnold saw his disks. He also noted that the disks were "wobbling."

 June 27, 1947

A woman sees disks "wobbling from side to side," fly past the Cascade Mountains at phenomenal speed while in formation. She was quoted as saying, "They looked like silver plates."

 June 28, 1947

Two pilots from Maxwell Air Base in Alabama, see a bright light traveling at high speed make a 90-degree turn and disappear. Six other witnesses, including two intelligence officers, see the same thing.

 June 28, 1947 

A farmer in Wisconsin by the name of Beuscher sees several silent disks zoom over his farm. At the same time, reports of flying disks overhead come in from across the state of Illinois.

 June 29, 1947

The driver of the Des Moines-Mason City bus in Iowa sees five disks streak across the sky. Shortly after that sighting, he counts thirteen more coming from the opposite direction.

Scientists at White Sands Proving Grounds in New Mexico spot "silvery disks" flying across restricted airspace at speeds greater than sound. In 1947 White Sands was the only nuclear air base in the world. The appearance of these saucers over this facility generated a flurry of military activity and concern. See copies of top-secret memos concerning this in the ‘Alien Documents’ section.

Headline from U.S. press during 1947 wave

Headline from U.S. press  during 1947 UFO "wave".

June 30, 1947

Near Williams field in Arizona, a U.S. Navy pilot sees two disks appear to land about twenty miles south of the Grand Canyon. The pilot described them as having "inconceivable speed."

 June 30, 1947

Portland, Oregon police officers see "five shiny chromium hub caps" disappear and reappear while flying by. The hub caps "wobbled from side to side" as they flew. The disks were seen by officer K. McDowell along with two other officers and a pilot.

Note: Wobbling from side to side was a commonly observed characteristic of flying saucers in the late 1940s and early 1950s. Since then the aliens apparently have re-engineered their craft to reduce this. They now fly straight, with less wobble, and they are frequently tilted sideways.


July 4, 1947

Let the fireworks begin! Campers at Twin Falls, Smoke River Canyon in Idaho see more than thirty disks traveling at a high rate of speed.

United Airlines crew, pilot E. J. Smith, copilot Ralph Stevens and stewardess Martie Morrow see nine disks while flying over Idaho. The disks put on a fantastic display. They perform acrobatics, merge together, then split apart again. They also disappear and reappear.

On July 4, 1947, that day alone, there were eighty-eight major disk sightings reported by over four hundred people across twenty-four states. It is estimated at least ten million people saw flying saucers on this day.


July 4, 1947

The crash at Roswell happens. Shortly before midnight in an explosive thunderstorm, the now-famous flying saucer crash at Roswell, New Mexico occurred. It is also known as "The Crash at Corona" because Corona, New Mexico is about forty miles closer to the crash site than Roswell. However, the crash debris was taken to Roswell Air Base, hence the name "Roswell." See my ’Roswell’ section for the full story.

Newspaper article; experts stumped

Article (1947) discussing the fact that military experts have no idea what the flying saucers are, or where they came from.

 Sightings in Europe

April 20, 1947

Citizens in Col de Serres, France report seeing disks flying over the valley.

May 21, 1947

Slow-moving, large cigar-shaped objects are seen in Sweden.

June 10, 1947

Fast-moving flying objects are seen in Finland.

July 7, 1947

In Sussex, England people see disks fly over the coast and out to sea.

Citizens in Naples, Italy report a slow-moving, shiny disk overhead.

Astronomers at Del Satto Observatory in Chile spot disks. Estimated speed: 3,000 miles per hour!

Japan and Holland also report seeing high-speed disks on this day.


July 18, 1947

Norway: Two objects are seen diving into Lake Mjosa.

July 19, 1947

Several witnesses see an object dive into Lake Kolmjorv, Sweden.

July 23, 1947

Workers near Pitanga, Brazil witness the landing of a craft. Three 6
-foot tall beings get out wearing transparent suits emerge from the craft.

August 11, 1947

In Sweden over four hundred people see fast-moving disks fly overhead.

August 14, 1947

Italy: A citizen, R. L. Johannis, comes across two small beings with large heads and large eyes.

September 1, 1947

Greece: British army units see "mystery projectiles." (Don't you just love the British? They don't see disks or saucers, they see "projectiles.")

October 9, 1947

Las Vegas, Nevada. Air Force pilots flying over Las Vegas spot a disk traveling at one thousand miles per hour. It does a 180-degree turn at that speed. Any earthly airplane trying that maneuver would have self-destructed.

Key Events In 1947

  • There was a huge number of flying saucer sightings.
  • The sightings were worldwide.
  • They were witnessed by millions of people.
  • Almost all the sightings were in broad daylight.
  • The famous 'Roswell' crash did not happen out of the blue, it was just one of thousands of fly-overs.

Related Page Links

 Alien Spacecraft

Ancient Alien Sightings

Aliens in Ancient Art

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