Many of our readers will remember Edward R. Murrow, the popular, cigarette-smoking news commentator of the 1940's and 1950's who gave the news a dramatic touch in his own distinctive style. Almost three years after the famous mardi 24 juin 1947 sighting in the Cascades of the state of Washington, Mr. Murrow engaged the pilot/witness Kenneth Arnold in a conversation about his historic experience.
Portions of that conversation are reproduced here in an exact transcript of the broadcast as it was heard nationwide on the evening of vendredi 7 avril 1950. Some of you may have been listening to that broadcast. For you and for those who are somewhat younger, here it is, "the way it was."
Arnold: It was while I was searching for this crash that I noticed a terrific blue flash pass the nose of my airplane. I noticed that the flash came from a train of very peculiar-looking objects that were rapidly approaching Mt. Rainier at about 107 degrees. This train of objects were 9 in number. I assumed at the time they were a new formation or a new type of jet, though I was baffled by the fact that they did not have any tails. They passed almost directly in front of me, but at a distance of about 23 miles , which is not very great in the air. I judged their wingspan to be at least 100 feet across. Their sighing [sic] did not particularly disturb me at the time, except that I had never seen planes of tha[t] type.
Murrow: Mr. Arnold, after landing, made a routine report of what he had seen to a Civil Aeronautics Administration representative, and promptly forgot the matter, until the wheels of publicity began to turn. The floodgates opened.
I never could understand at that time why the world got so upset about 9 disks, as these things didn't seem to be a menace. I believed that they had something to do with our Army and Air Force.
On three different occasions, Mr. Arnold was questioned by military intelligence. They expressed doubt as to the accuracy of some of his reported observations.
That's right. Now of course some of the reports they did take from newspapers which did not quote me properly. Now, when I told the press, they misquoted me, and in the excitement of it all, one newspaper and another on got it as ensnarled up that nobody knew just exactly what they were talking about, I guess.
Here's how the name "flying saucer" was born.
These objects more or less fluttered like they were, oh, I'd say, boats on very rough water or very rough air of some type, and when I described how they flew, I said that they flew like they take a saucer and throw it across the water. Most of the newspapers misunderstood and misquoted that too. They said that I said that they were saucer-like; I said that they flew in a saucer-like fashion.
That was an historic misquote. While Mr. Arnold's original explanation has been forgotten, the term "flying saucer" has become a household word. Few people realize that Mr. Arnold has reported seeing these same strange objects in the sky on three other occasions. He says that some pilots in the northwest have reported seeing them on 8 separate occasions. We asked for his own personal opinion on the nature of what he and the others had seen.
I don't know how best to explain that. I more or less have reserved an opinion as to what I think. Naturally, being a natural-born American, if it's not made by our science or our Army Air Forces, I am inclined to believe it's of an extra-terrestrial origin.
Extra-terrestrial origin? You mean you think there's a possibility they may be coming out of space from other planet (sic)? I suppose that's pretty hard for people to take seriously.
Well, I'll tell you this much -- all the airline pilots, none of us have appreciated being laughed at. We made our reports essentially to begin with, because we thought that if our government didn't know what it was, it was only our duty to report it to our nation, and to our Air Force out of it (sic). I think it's something that is of concern to every person in the country, and I don't think it's anything for people to get hysterical about. That's just my frank opinion of it.
So that's how it all began; that was the trigger action. Kenneth Arnold's story went scudding over the news wires. Radio and newspapers picked it up, and then within days the country broke out into a flood of flying saucer observations.