Unidentified flying objects (UFOs) have been in existence for millennia with depictions in ancient civilizations through art and literature from the Greeks and Romans to the Sumerians and Egyptians.
The modern era of UFOs started around the time rockets and advanced aircraft were often flying in a secretive way. Perhaps coincidence or paranoia. In any event, the UFO sighting of civilian pilot Kenneth Arnold in 1947 has gained a lot of attention and raised many eyebrows.
While flying his small aircraft, Arnold claimed to have spotted nine blue, glowing objects flying incredibly at an estimated 1,700 mph in a V formation near Washington’s Mount Rainier on June 24, 1947.
Arnold’s UFO sighting took place two years after WWII and the first year of the Cold War. He first thought the mysterious objects to be some new military aircraft, but the military confirmed there were no tests carried out near Mount Rainier that day. Arnold described the UFOs’ motion similar to a saucer being skipped across the water. Then the media coined the now-famous phrase “flying saucer.”
Other reports of a group of 9 UFOs soon cropped up across the region, including sightings by the crew of a commercial flight in Idaho and a prospector on Mount Adams. No credible explanation for the sightings from the government, which claimed that Arnold was hallucinating or had seen a mirage. However, UFO mania had set in, and a few weeks later, the famous Roswell sighting would continue the obsession.