Flying Saucer and UFO Encounters
Joy HealeyThe UFO story originated not long after June 24, 1947, when many newspapers in the USApublished the first sighting of the "flying saucer".The story told how nine very bright, disk-shaped objects were seen by Kenneth Arnold, a Boise,Idaho, businessman, while he was flying his private plane near Mount Rainier, in the state of Washington. Now supported by a journalistic license, reporters took Arnold's original descriptionof the individual motion of each object, "like a saucer skipping across water," and rephrased it to:"flying saucer," referring to the objects themselves.Many years have passed since Arnold's memorable sighting, and the phrase has become socommon that an entry was made in Webster's Dictionary, and it is recognized today in mostlanguages throughout the world.For a while after the Arnold sighting, the term "flying saucer" was used to describe all disk-shaped objects that were seen flashing through the sky at fantastic speeds. Before long, reportswere made of objects other than disks, and these were also called flying saucers. Today thewords are popularly applied to anything seen in the sky that cannot be identified as a common,everyday object.In other words, a flying saucer can be a formation of bright lights, a single light, a sphere, orsome other shape; and it can be any color. Performance wise, flying saucers can hover, go fast orslow, go high or low, turn 90-degree corners, or even, apparently, disappear almostinstantaneously.Clearly the term "flying saucer" is open to interpretation when objects of every imaginable shapeand performance are labeled as such. This is why the military preference is the more general,although less colorful, name: unidentified flying objects. UFO (pronounced Yoo-foe) for short.Officially the military uses the term "flying saucer" on only two occasions. First in anexplanatory sense, as when briefing people who are unacquainted with the term "UFO": "UFO,you know, flying saucers." And second in a derogatory sense, for purposes of ridicule, as when itis observed, "He says he saw a flying saucer."This second form of usage is the exclusive property of those persons who positively know thatall UFOs are nonsense. Fortunately, if only as a matter of courtesy, those in this category arereducing in number. One by one these people drop out, starting with the instant they see theirfirst UFO!Some weeks after the first UFO was seen on June 24, 1947, the Air Force established a project toinvestigate and analyze all UFO reports. When the project first began, opinions ranged from nearpanic, to total derision for anyone who dared to even mentioned the words "flying saucer."