On June 25, 2021, the U.S. government released a nine–page preliminary report on UFOs, or, as it is now calling them, Unidentified Aerial Phenomena, or UAPs. The report is the latest notable event in what has been a renaissance for UFOs in recent years. Greg Eghigian is a historian of science at Penn State who has published research and is writing a book on the history of UFOs in the U.S. We spoke with him for The C
A pilot named Arnold Kenneth flew his little aircraft in Washington, near Mount Rainier. As he was flying about, he said that he saw a kind of gleam or brightness that picked up his eye, and he was frightened that another aircraft would collide. When he looked he saw nine very odd-shaped ships in formation, which he described.
After Arnold landed, the officials at a nearby airport reported his sightings and finally spoke to some journals. When a reporter requested Arnold to explain how objects were moving, he answered, ‘If you skip it across the water, they flown like a saucer.’ Some very smart, business journalists had the headline ‘flying saucer’ and they had been flying saucer from that point on – even if Arnold never spoke the sentence.
A Gallup survey six weeks after the event revealed that 90% of Americans heard the term ‘saucer flying.’ That was the start of the flight saucer era phenomenon and the current UFO notion.
Other people in the country started noticing similar phenomena in the sky in a few days. The US Air Force chose to examine the complaints in the space of weeks. The storey of Arnold also generated much attention in the press and this was soon covered by the international media. In the space of months, it was a global phenomenon.