In 1947, civilian pilot Kenneth Arnold reported that he had seen nine UFOs (unidentified flying objects) manoeuvring at great speeds whilst flying over Mount Rainier.
It was June 24, 1947, when pilot Kenneth Arnold reported the astounding sighting of nine unidentified flying objects, glowing bright blue and white and moving in a "V" formation in the sky's over Mount Rainier, Washington.
He estimated that the UFOs he saw were flying at approximately 1700 mph, he described their movements as that of "a saucer if you skip it across water." Some media outlets took this comment as he meant that the objects were shaped like saucers, which was not how it wanted it to be interpreted, this led to the common UFO term that is still used today of "flying saucer" when speaking about UFOs.
When Arnold first spoke about the sighting he said that initially he believed what he had seen were test flights of military aircraft, however, the military confirmed that they had not been conducting any test or training flights in the area at the time of the incident.
A local prospector who was on Mt. Adams at the time also said that he saw the mysterious objects flying in the sky at roughly the same time as Arnold, this added a lot of credibility to this claim.
Not long after Kenneth Arnold's UFO sighting hit the media and became national news, similar sightings started to be reported in much larger numbers than usual all across the United States.
On July 7, 1947, the same year as Arnold's sighting, is when it was reported in the media that a "flying saucer" had crashed in Roswell, New Mexico, and that the U.S Army had recovered the alien craft. The Army responded to these reports claiming that it was simply a wrecked weather balloon. This was the start of the Roswell Crash conspiracy stories.
With UFO sightings on the increase the U.S Air Force claimed to begin an investigation to follow up on these various reports, named Operation Sign which began in 1948.
The participants in the newly formed Operation Sign initially pointed towards their belief that these UFOs were actually sophisticated Soviet aircrafts, offering little in terms of trying to investigate if in fact they could potentially be extra-terrestrial spacecrafts.
Air Force investigators overseeing the case of Kenneth Arnold said that they deemed both Arnold and the prospector to be credible witnesses, however, they concluded that what they had seen was a mirage and not actually unidentified flying objects, closing the case.
In 1949, Project Sign was replaced by Project Grudge, which in 1952 turned into Project Blue Book, the longest running official U.S government enquiry into UFOs.
Project Blue Book compiled reports on over 12,000 UFO sightings or UFO related events that spanned from 1952 to 1969. Out of these reports, 94% of them were classified as "identified," meaning that they had been caused by a known atmospheric, astronomical or man-made phenomenon. This left 6% that were classed as "unidentified," meaning they did not actually have an explanation for the reports.
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