(See story on page 1, also.)
Dumbfounded crewmen of a United Airlines plane flying from Boise to Portland Friday evening joined a horde of Portland-Vancouver area residents in describing "flying discs" seen Friday.
Discs also were reported in many other regions of the West, but the carefully qualified statements of Capt. E. J. Smith, First Officer Ralph Stevens and Stewardess Mary Morrow remained a new high in observations.
In an interview at Portland before taking off for Seattle, Captain Smith, a veteran of 14 years with United Air Lines said an object at first believed to be an approaching aircraft was sighted by Stevens, who was at the controls eight minutes after take-off from Boise at 9:04 P. M.
Stevens flashed his landing lights as a signal there was another aircraft in the area. There was no response.
What the devil is that? Stevens demanded. Captain Smith said he looked and made out not only the "disc"
Stevens had mistaken for a plane, but four others, about evenly spaced in a line to the south of it.
Smith estimated their distance at
about 30 miles, but said they were clearly visible against the afterglow
of the setting sun.
They radioed a report to the Boise CAA tower, then called Stewardess Morrow to the flight deck to verify what they saw.
Shortly afterward, the five discs disappeared, then three more appeared in front of them, with a fourth flying
itself, way off to the right, Smith said.
He radioed the Ontario, Ore., CAA communications tower and told the operator:
Step outside and look to the southwest about 15 miles and see what you can find:
The operator reported he could see nothing, which Smith said meant the discs were farther away than he had previously estimated since they were not visible to the tower operator.
He was some 30 miles from Ontario at the time, he said.
The airliner was at 10,500 feet when he saw the first disc, Stevens reported. The discs seemed to be flying in about the same direction and to be climbing about at the same rate as the airliner. However, when the plane reached a height of 8000 feet, the discs still were in sight and somewhat higher.
The first group veered to the left of the airliner before disappearing, then the second group in
formation, appeared. The objects finally
merged, then disappeared, then came back in sight and finally
vanished, again in the northwest, Smith said. "W
hen they did finally disappear, they went fast.
You can see a big plane at a great distance for a long time before it disappears. But no object I know of could
disappear so quickly as these things.
Both Smith and Stevens, who had been joking about sighting "flying discs" before taking off from Boise, were obviously embarrassed but earnest when telling of the strange objects. Stevens has been flying for United three years.
Other reports from the Portland-Vancouver and other areas of the west included:
Thomas Berry, 915 N. E. Killingsworth street, his wife and a friend, saw what they thought was a star traveling to a northeasterly direction over Troutdale. They examined it through binoculars and glimpsed it flashing in the sun.
It appeared to be V-shaped and was flying level, although dipping a bit, they reported.
M. A. Deaton, 2578 N. E. 32d avenue, saw a disc going due east and described it as
fast traveling, faster than
International News Service reported discs seen from windows of the bureau's office in the Journal building. "At first they appeared to be high flying birds as the motion undulated and it appeared some kind of wings propelled them," INS reported.
They banked sharply and without apparent system of direction. Two objects were so high that reports of their
disc-like appearance could not be verified, but they seemed to move with high speed. They were last seen heading
south after circling sharply over the west side area.
A possible explanation was seen by Burl Noflsch, 6604 N. Burrage street, who witnessed a plane going east about 1 P. M. He said he saw foil or aluminum pieces nearby, swirling away on air currents, and it appeared they had been thrown from the plane.
Sherman Cook, 2000 N. E. 65th avenue and neighbors did better. They "captured" a "disc" which fluttered down from an estimated altitude of more than 4000 feet to land on the Rose City golf course.
Cook and his next-door neighbor, Bud Bankhead, rushed to the scene and found a 3x2 foot piece of white paper, of cheap quality, slightly yellowed around the edges. It was turned over to The Oregonian for scientific examination.
However, Portland police asked Oregon national guard flying units to look into the reports.
At Eugene, E. F. Smith, an assistant cashier from the Southern Pacific railroad, said he saw silvered discs, which seemed to be tied together, being dropped from alight plane. He was driving his car at the time and did not see them land.
A private pilot at hear-by Springfield said he had dropped yellow advertising leaflets from his light plane recently, but was not in the air Friday.
Meantime Alturas and San Diego, Cal., Omaha, Neb., Grand Junction. Colo., and Boise, Idaho, reported visitations of "flying saucers," first reported a week ago by Kenneth Arnold, Boise pilot, who said he saw nine traveling 1200 miles an hour. They have since been reported over most of the West.
At Alturas, Modoc county's district attorney Charles Lederer and Dale Williams, secretary of the Alturas Chamber of Commerce, reported seeing seven while driving through the Warner mountains near the Oregon border. They estimated the discs were 2000 feet in the air and traveling at a tremendous speed.
Two navy chief petty officers at San Diego, Robert L. Jackson and William Baker, said they saw three discs traveling about 400 miles an hour, coming in from the west, circling and heading back to sea.
Mrs. Fred C. Nelson said she saw three, two round and the other oval-shaped as if tilted, in the northern sky at Omaha early Thursday. They glowed like a full moon, she asserted.
From Grand Junction came a report that H. E. Soule, Appleton, Col., saw a disc swoop down from the Northwest at an altitude of about 200 feet, narrowly miss his house, and then soar to greater heights and disappear southeast. The disc appeared about two feet in diameter, traveled at amazing speed, and had no motor sound or vapor trail, he said. This occurred last Saturday.
John Corlett, United Press correspondent at Boise, reported he, V. H. Selby, Boise artist, and their wives saw a disc while having a garden dinner. The disc moved from the northwest to southeast and took about three seconds to disappear from view, Mrs. Corlett, who saw it first, reported. It was noiseless and traveled at high speed.