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The UFO Phenomenon

The term 'flying saucer' was a misquote

June 17, 2014 | Comment icon 33 comments



A view of Mount Rainier. Image Credit: PD - Mmxx
Amateur pilot Kenneth Arnold kick-started the modern UFO phenomenon after a sighting back in 1947.
Arnold had been flying his plane over Mineral, Washington on a clear day in June when he witnessed a formation of nine objects near Mount Rainer. The mysterious aircraft were stretched out across an area of around five miles in what he described as "a diagonally stepped-down, echelon formation."

As he watched the objects darting around he realized that he was not looking at any conventional aircraft. Assuming them to be some type of prototypes being tested by the military, Arnold estimated that they were traveling at speeds of up to 1700mph, far faster than any known aircraft of the time.
Once word of his remarkable experience got out his story started to make headlines around the country. The term "flying saucer", a phrase that would continue to be used up until the present day, was famously first coined after he had described what he had seen to reporters at the Pendleton newspaper on June 25th. What he had actually said however was that the objects had flown "like a saucer if you skip it across the water", not that the objects were literally saucer-shaped.

By the time this error was realized however it was too late - "flying saucers" had entered in to the mainstream consciousness and the modern UFO phenomenon was born.

Source: The Atlantic | Comments (33)


Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #24 Posted by Scepticus 8 years ago
Once again Arnold wasn't the first person to use the term saucer, . This just shows me why ufology can't be taken seriously when they can't even get their facts straight. As to you who doesn't know who, the first person to used the term saucer was, Look up John Martin and then you will find a news article from 1879 using the term. .
Comment icon #25 Posted by zoser 8 years ago
I was in Lake Elsinore in southern California. There's an airbase nearby(about 3 hours by car), which is why I said it may be some kind of military aircraft, but given how it looked and absolute silence it made at those speeds and altitude I just don't know. I can't really give a size estimate that would be all that accurate, maybe 3-4 car length from one wing tip to the other. Thanks for the testimony
Comment icon #26 Posted by zoser 8 years ago
I saw a UFO as a pre-teen that was classic saucer shape, lights and all. No wind, no sound (that I remember) and I was with 2 other people at the time..... I also was living in Orlando, Fl, about 30 miles inland from NASA, so it very well could of been something they were testing.... But it begs the question, Why would they test a craft in a residential neighborhood with witnesses? They wouldn't. It was most probably an ET UFO. They do actually exist.
Comment icon #27 Posted by scowl 8 years ago
They wouldn't. It was most probably an ET UFO. They do actually exist. Aliens regularly fly over residential areas to remind people that they do actually exist so people should buy books to learn more about them.
Comment icon #28 Posted by SaraT 8 years ago
Aliens regularly fly over residential areas to remind people that they do actually exist so people should buy books to learn more about them. I actually LOL'd over that one! Truth told!
Comment icon #29 Posted by bendigger0 8 years ago
Yes. The metallic disk-shaped objects sometimes imagined to be seen in our atmosphere are wholly a creation of media and the science fiction genre. I myself "saw" one of these "craft" at a range of about 30 meters for approximately 30 seconds. I even "saw" two human looking beings inside it. However, since i know that "flying saucers" ARE only a media creation... i'm intelligent enough to know that i didn't actually see what i thought i saw... i think?
Comment icon #30 Posted by lost_shaman 8 years ago
And, from the FBI, the Roswell UFO was described as a "flying disc" which was hexagonal in shape but that this "flying disc" was suspended "from a ballon by cable." (I'm guessing "ballon" is actually balloon. But they did spell telephonically correct, I suppose.) Anyway, that doesn't sound much like a "recovered" alien spacecraft to me. LOL. http://vault.fbi.gov...art 1 of 1/view Of course it also said conversations between RAAF and Wright Field that the FBI were monitoring had not "borne out this belief". Which means they were talking to eachout about something other than a "balloon".
Comment icon #31 Posted by lost_shaman 8 years ago
As to whether it was a Media Construct, the Military had already adopted the term "Disc" or " Disk" to refere to the Phenomena before Kenneth Arnold's sighting and that term is synonamous with "Saucer" so the answer would be no.
Comment icon #32 Posted by John Wesley Boyd 8 years ago
Once again Arnold wasn't the first person to use the term saucer, . This just shows me why ufology can't be taken seriously when they can't even get their facts straight. As to you who doesn't know who, the first person to used the term saucer was, Look up John Martin and then you will find a news article from 1879 using the term. . Not exactly. He described a balloon the size of a saucer, not that he saw a flying saucer.http://www.ufocasebook.com/denisontexas1878.html
Comment icon #33 Posted by John Wesley Boyd 8 years ago
At the beginning of the Saucer craze the public was still coping with the advent of nuclear weapons and that for the first time in the history of man, he had the power to wipe himself off the face of the earth. The Cold War and Stalin's Russia acquiring nuclear capability, the Iron Curtain, the Korean war, fallout shelters duck and cover drills, worrying about aliens and little green men must have been like a collective escapist mass fantasy. All-of-the-sudden everyone was seeing something strange in the sky or reading the reports about those who did. I remember as a twelve year old, going out... [More]


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