Maybe it all could just be chalked up to fireworks, but on Loedding's day off on ,
Independence Day, a nationwide rash of saucer sightings hit the headlines. New Jersey residents started off the long
balls of fire silently darting through the air at high speed were reported between International News Service reports, 5 July 1947.
During those same early morning hours, further west, Mrs. B.B. Connor of
Bartlesville, Oklahoma, saw a group of star-like objects fly through broken cloud layers.
She described them as maneuvering in an erratic manner Bartlesville, Oklahoma, Daily Enterprise, 1 July 1947, p. 1.
From sun rise to mid afternoon discs sighting came from Virginia, Idaho, Colorado, Texas, California, Louisiana, and
Arkansas Bloecher, Report on the UFO Wave of 1947, Index.
At a carload of people driving near Portland, Oregon, spotted four disc-shaped objects streaking past Mount Jefferson. Just before that Harry Hale, production manager of the Portland Oregonian, saw a shiny disc-like object in the sky west of Beaverton while driving to work that morning The (Portland) Oregonian,5 July 1947 (Interestingly, around that same time a private pilot flying over Idaho saw a similar disc speeding toward Oregon as a V-shaped object was spotted by ground observers in Troutland, Oregon) Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Sentinel, 6 July 1947; and Chicago, Illinois, News, 5 July 1947.
These were only the first few of many Oregon reports. The next came at from a Portland radio station employee, Frank Cooley. He and many of his co-workers saw disc-shaped objects from the windows of the International News Service office in the Journal building Bloecher, Report on the UFO Wave of 1947, p. II-9; and Los Angeles, California, Herald-Express, 5 July 1947. Don Metcalfe, an employee at the nearby Oaks Amusement Park saw the same discs. His superintendent, William LeRoy, also saw them and made a report to police The (Portland) Oregonian, 5 July 1947.
Five minutes later a Portland policeman, Kenneth McDowell, had a sighting. While feeding pigeons behind Precinct House No. 1, he became surprised to see them suddenly startled away. McDowell looked up and to his amazement observed five large oscillating discs, two going south, three east. They were traveling at a high rate of speed and looked like nothing he had seen before.
This prompted an all-car police alert to report any aerial objects. Five minutes later the first of many responses
came back into headquarters Bloecher, Report on the UFO Wave of 1947, p. 111-15. At 1:10
P.M., for example, two Portland policemen in car 82 near Oaks Amusement Park, Walter A.
Lissy and Andrew Fox, who were both civilian pilots and WWII veterans, reported six or seven "flat, round discs. They
were flying at terrific speed in a straight-line formation" headed south within P30S of
one another. Lissy said they zig-zagged and made turns so sharp that he knew they could not be aircraft. Each of the
objects headed east over the park at great height estimated as high as
feet. No engine noises or vapor trails were noted, but
they did see "flashes" of light. The last disc
fluttered rapidly to the side in an arc and they all appeared
white against the clear blue sky Detroit, Michigan, Free Press, 5 July 1947; and Cleveland, Ohio, Press, 5 July 1947; and The (Portland) Oregonian, 5 July 1947.
In Car 13 officer Earl Patterson, at SE 82nd and Foster Road (three miles from Lissy), saw something too. He reported
an "oval whitish aluminum-colored object" coming out of the west heading southwest at terrific speed at about
feet. Patterson, who was a former Army Air Force
veteran, stated that it resembled no plane he had ever seen Project Blue Book Files, Roll No. 1, Cases 28-32, listed as Incidents 5-16 in 1947 era documents.
Then harbor patrolman, Captain K.A. Prehn, boat pilot A.T. Austad, and patrolman Kent C. Hoff reported to Portland police headquarters that they had seen three to six oscillating, flashing discs. These were described as being "shaped like chrome hubcaps" traveling very fast and high at about 10000 feet toward the south over the Globe Mills. The men were uncertain of the exact number of objects because the flashes from the objects were so bright that they could not stand to stare at them. They did agree that the objects wobbled and oscillated as they flew with turning and weaving motions Portland, Oregon, Journal, 5 July 1947.
Numerous Portland citizens also reported sightings. At 2:00 P.M.
metallic discs glinting in the sunlight were
seen across the Williamette River near the Rose Island bridge. Picnickers and a woman pilot saw silvery
discs. One woman at 4:30 P.M. described viewing an object like "a new dime flipping around" over the Sandy
District. Two white or silver objects flew over Portland at 4:58 P.M. heading southeast, and a third passed over at
5:30 P.M. KOIN radio station employee, Frank Cooley, a former Marine Corps observer, confirmed numerous disc sightings
around Portland throughout the day. Cooley, as stated, saw a formation of twelve discs himself as high as
feet at 1:00 P.M. He declared that they were
and maneuverable devices, indicating that the objects were larger than many believed. He continued:
plainly experienced maneuvers in the sky. . . At one time a number of the discs would get into formation and fly
circles around another disc. It was hard to follow their behavior exactly because of the great height, their
gleaming surface and their nature Bloecher, Report on the UFO Wave of 1947, p. II-9; and Los Angeles, Herald-Express, 5 July 1947.
In Milwaukie, Oregon, (due south of Portland) three discs in a line formation were
observed flying in a northeasterly direction by State Police Sergeant Claude Cross during that 1:00 P.M. flurry of
sightings. Also across the Columbia River from Portland near Vancouver, Washington, Clark County Sheriffs Deputies
John Sullivan, Clarence McKay, and Fred Krives reported up to 30 such flying objects. Their sightings (which actually
involved eight deputies but not Krives) began after hearing reports of flying discs broadcast on the police radio. The
deputies then went outside of the sheriffs headquarters to have a look for themselves and soon caught sight of "round"
objects flying over high and fast in a straight line toward the west and south. As they passed, a low humming noise
could be detected. Witnesses told the International News Service that
they were there and no mistake about that
Project Blue Book Files, Roll No. 1, Cases 28-32, listed as Incidents 5-16 in 1947 era documents.
They explained that the objects appeared in the southwest over the courthouse heading southwest at about
feet. The deputies saw numerous flights of discs—the
first of which had seven objects in it. The tail end of that formation split off the main line to form a separate
group rising above the others. They were described as disc-shaped with speeds approximating an aircraft
Bloecher, Report on the UFO Wave of 1947, p. ffl-15.
To date no has been able to determine exactly what all of these Portland and Washington State sightings represented. It should be noted, however, a flight of B-29 bombers followed by group of P-80 jet fighters did fly over Portland just before 1:00 P.M. at high altitude. Later, Army Air Force investigators made an assumption that they may have dropped "chaff strips of aluminum foil which were used in exercises and during wartime to jam enemy radar. This, in fact, may not be too far-fetched of an explanation as Burl Nolisch of 6604 North Burrage Street did tell reporters that day that he saw an aircraft fly over at 1:00. He mentioned this fact only because he saw pieces of aluminum foil swirling around afterwards—assuming they may have been dropped by the aircraft Ibid., p. 111-16; and Ruppelt, Report on Unidentified Flying Objects, p. 36.
Elsewhere in the country that afternoon at 3:00 P.M. MST, 38 miles south of Great Falls, Montana, Mr. and Mrs. Curt Dennis were enjoying the holiday by fishing off a bridge. Then, as in so many other cases, they were attracted by a flash in the sky. Above them twelve silver-colored objects flew over in a single file formation headed northwest Helena, Montana, Independent-Record, 5 My 1947. On the Sacramento River near Broderick, California, another family was enjoying a picnic when a shiny disc appeared far above. Mrs. Clarence Henn and her son, Robert, commented at the time that whatever it was, its surface must have had a highly polished finish to reflect the sun so brightly. When the object did leave, it did not gradually move out of view, but just vanished Sacramento, California, Bee, 5 July 1947. In Pocatello, Idaho, that afternoon R.A. Seymour observed seven high-flying star-shaped or spoked discs revolving around their own axis. They moved in steady flight, about four times the speed of a conventional aircraft Pocatello, Idaho, Tribune, 6 July 1947; and Salt Lake City, Utah, Tribune, 1 July 1947. In Richland, Washington, Mrs. Nordman saw a similar "flying disc" zoom northeast with a "turning motion." She commented that it was only by chance that she glanced up to see it—indicating the craft emitted no noise Richland, Washington, Villager, 10 July 1947, p. 1.
Two separate disc sightings came at 6:20 P.M. EST from Charleston, South Carolina, then one from T.L. Huckaby in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, describing a grayish "wash tub" shaped object. Also in Arkansas, near Fayetteville, farmer Henry Seay had his livestock badly spooked by three low flying yellow discs Little Rock, Arkansas, Gazette, 6, 7 July 1947; and Little Rock Arkansas Democrat, 1 July 1947; New Orleans, Louisiana, Times Picayune, 1 July 1947; and Spokane, Washington, Spokesman-Review, 1 July 1947; and Bloecher, Report on the UFO Wave of 1947, p. IV-1. In Santa Monica, California, at 5:00 P.M. PST pilot Dan J. Whelan and another flyer, Duncan Underbill, witnessed a "flying saucer" 40 feet to 50 feet in diameter "catapulting across the sky" at about 450 to 500 miles per hour toward the northwest on a steady course at 7000 feet The Yuma Sun & Arizona Sentinel, 5 July 1947, p. 1; and Hollywood, California, Citizen-News, 5 July 1947. After a similar report from Mr. Nova Hart near St. Louis, one came from the Clark County Building Inspector of Las Vegas, Nevada, O.J. Morling. He stated that he and his wife saw up to two dozen "discs" pass over in a loose formation. They estimated the objects were traveling at about 100 miles per hour, at 500 feet of altitude heading toward the northeast.
Private pilot Raymond Harris also saw saucers over Nevada. From his 150 Voyager he and a friend observed five discs below them—so bright they were hard to look at. He turned his aircraft to give chase but could not intercept the saucers which were zipping off toward the southwest. After the incident he described the objects to his father, a deputy sheriff, as circular and brilliant Sacramento (California) Evening Bee, 5 July 1947; and Boulder City (Nevada) Daily News, 1 July 1947, p.1; and Elko, Nevada, Daily Free Press, 1 July, 1947.
Around twilight at 5:30 P.M. PST while near his home in the Seattle suburb of Lake City, Coast Guardsman Yeoman Frank Ryman captured a saucer on film. Initially he spotted it at a fair distance away, flying over the north end of Lake Washington. Before taking the photo he had a chance to view the disc through binoculars and estimated it to be traveling northward at about 10000 feet - - - somewhere around 500 miles per hour. At least twenty other individuals watched with Ryman as he lowered his field glasses and replaced them with a camera. His photos were developed at the local military intelligence office but showed only a sharp point of light. The military attributed the image to a balloon, but the report, and its supporting evidence, is claimed to have been lost "Coast Guardsman Snaps Photo of Flying Saucer," St. Joseph (Missouri) Gazette, 5 July 1947, p. 5 (Two other independent sets of observers in other parts of Seattle reported seeing multiple discs about a half an hour before Ryman took his photos) Bloecher, Report on the UFO Wave of 1947, p. IV-4.
That night an incident occurred which was second only to Arnold's sighting in terms of media coverage. Captain
E. J. Smith and First Officer Ralph Stevens of United Airlines Flight 105 were the chief
witnesses. Shortly after takeoff from Boise's Gowan Field at 9:04 P.M. MST, they observed from their DC-3 airliner
silhouetted against the sunset in a loose formation. When Smith asked Stewardess Marty Morrow to
come forward, she confirmed the observation. Ironically, before the crew boarded the plane, someone had asked them if
they had seen any flying saucers—as the disc sightings were by then starting to receive more and more publicity.
Smith snapped back with a smile that,
I'll believe them when I see them.
In that dark cockpit Smith remembered his famous last words as they watched the mysterious sight for several minutes
as four more discs joined the group just as the original five faded from sight. The second group flew in a straight
line formation of three together with the fourth one off by itself. Smith said "this group seemed to be higher than
our flight path," [then at
and when they did leave, they left fast!
The sightings lasted twelve minutes and covered 45 miles as the unknown objects moved in a northwesterly direction across Idaho. At one point Smith recalled that it looked almost as if some of the discs merged together. Reaching a cruising altitude of 8,000 feet, Smith had attempted to close in for a better look as the discs neared Oregon but could not attain an airspeed much above 185 miles per hour. At that point he contacted the nearest observer he could reach—the radio tower at Ontario, Oregon. The attendant there could not see anything, yet neither could the pilots by that point. The objects had suddenly sped out of the area at tremendous speed Project Blue Book Files, Roll No. 1, Case 34, listed as Incident 10 in 1947 era documents; and The New YorkTimes, 6July 1947, pp. 1,36.
The news media was already waiting at Pendleton for a scheduled landing of the plane because many people had overheard the radio transmissions back and forth between Ontario tower and Flight 105. As a result, the story became an immediate sensation. Both Naval Intelligence and Brown and Davidson from Army Intelligence interviewed Captain Smith.
The Brown and Davidson interview occurred on July 12th just after they had finished talking with Kenneth Arnold at the Hotel Owyhee about his incident. Arnold then invited them to his home for coffee and sherbet. While at Arnold's house they heard Smith was in Boise for a layover, so they all went out to the airport to talk to Smith and were joined by Dave Johnson from the Boise Evening Statesman.
Alfred Loedding probably would not have had the fine details of the interview via the Fourth Air Force until several months later. Coordination until at least September of 1947 was very haphazard, not only between the 4th AAF but with Dayton and Washington. Yet, because he was a Pentagon liaison, Loedding probably knew more at any one given time that summer than any single group doing investigations. Edward Ruppelt later wrote about those days:
At first there was no co-ordinated effort to collect data on the UFO reports. Leads would come from radio reports or newspaper items. Military intelligence agencies outside of ATIC [Dayton] were hesitant to investigate on their own initiative because, as is so typical of the military, they lacked specific orders.
When no orders were forthcoming, they took this to mean that the military had no interest in UFO's. But before long this placid attitude changed, and drastically. Classified orders came down to investigate all UFO sightings. Get every detail and send it directly to Wright Field. The order j carried no explanation as to why the information was wanted.
This lack of an explanation and the fact the information was to be sent directly to a high-powered intelligence group within Air Force Headquarters stirred the imagination of every potential cloak-and-dagger man in the military intelligence system. Intelligence people in the field who had previously been free with opinions now clammed up tight Ruppelt, Report on Unidentified Flying Objects, p. 23.
On that same night the manager of the Idaho United Press and a fifteen-year veteran reporter, John C. Corlett, had a sighting that seemed to confirm the presence of something strange near Right 105.
While relaxing at home in his garden, he and his wife with their dinner guests, famed Boise artist V.H. Selby and his wife, all had a disc sighting. It occurred around the same time as Captain Smith's encounter when the couples observed a white disc zoom across the sky in a matter of just seconds. The object came from the northwest and traveled southeast as it passed silently overhead at an altitude of about 10,000 feet in a clear sky John Corlett, "Newsman and Wife See Idaho Discs," United Press news story, 5 July 1947; and The (Portland) Oregonian, 5 July 1947; and Boise, Idaho, Daily Statesman, 5 July 1947; and San Francisco, California, News, 5 July 1947; and Detroit, Michigan, Free Press, 5 July 1947; and Cincinnati, Ohio, Post, 5 July 1947; and Boston, Massachusetts, Traveler, 5 July 1947; and Windsor, Ontario, Daily Star, 5 July 1947.
Earlier that afternoon in Idaho, disc activity had been observed near the Twin Falls area In his book on the 1947 wave, Bloecher tells of another sighting of a V formation of discs in Auburn, California, just an hour earlier to the Twin Falls case. Bloecher wrote: "Kjell Qvale, an automobile salesman in Alameda and a former Navy pilot for five years, reported that he and a group of 50 other witnesses had watched a triangular formation of disc-like objects near Auburn at 2:30 P.M. PST, flying south. Qvale said that the discs, seen first directly overhead, 'appeared to be made of metal and looked like bright silver,' He added that their round outline was clearly distinguishable. The objects were in view 'for three or four minutes,' he said. 'I have seen a lot of airplanes, and these were not airplanes. The only clue I could get as to their height, size and speed was the fact that they disappeared one at a time, high in the sky, and not over the horizon. This effect would be caused if they were very, very large and very high, and flying at a terrific speed—1,000 miles an hour,' he said." Bloecher also sites a sighting of a V formation of discs that night in Denver, Colorado as well as two sightings of similar V formations over New Orleans on July 6th. Between 2:30 P.M. MST and 3:10 P.M. three groups of discs ranging from twenty to nine objects were seen by over sixty persons enjoying the 4th of July celebrations in the local park of Twin Falls Seattle Post Intelligencer, 5 July 1947; and Bloecher, Report on the UFO Wave of 1947, p. II-7. At 7:00 P.M. PST as many as 200 people observed a disc at Hauser Lake, Idaho, just a few miles northeast of Spokane. George Aster described that event, stating, "I pointed it out to the others and they all stood around and followed it for about 30 minutes while it hovered at about ten degrees above the horizon." The witness saw the craft while celebrating the holiday at the lake and agreed that it must have hovered at about 20,000 feet until an aircraft came into the area and all of a sudden it shot straight up into the sky and vanished in "a fraction of a second."
Observers gave a host of physical descriptions ranging from a shiny aluminum disc-shaped craft to having the appearance of a silver dollar approximately 30 feet across. UFO researcher Dr. James McDonald tracked down George Aster in 1967 and confirmed the details of this remarkable event. He also learned from the interview that while the disc had hovered, it slightly wobbled. Aster said that this behavior completely discounted in his mind the possibility the object was an aircraft—due to these peculiar lateral oscillations Spokane, Washington, Daily Chronicle, 5 July 1947.
The Independence Day Sightings may have just been due to mass hysteria. Although contrary to popular belief, many people who reported "flying saucers" on the 4th had not yet heard the term. Soon, however, the phrase would become a household word as hundreds started seeing an onslaught of flying saucers.