Do you believe in flying saucers? Are there craft from other worlds entering our atmosphere? Are there secret explanations behind sightings that remain classified as Unidentified Flying Objects?

For the present it is a matter of each individual’s belief, says this science writer who has spent months of research to prepare a series of articles which will appear each Monday in The Journal.

Perhaps his efforts will help you decide.

What People See

A sketch was made after Dr. Anton Kukla and Mrs. Audrey Lawrence said they were terrorized by a fluorescent green flying saucer, which glowed with a bright reddish orange color. They said it dived toward and hovered over their car last year in Australia. If it was in their imaginations . . .

They’re Not Alone . . .

It’s Been Going On For Centuries

Minneapolis Star Science Writer

The Edmonton Journal
Monday, November 21, 1966

In the reign of Thutmose III, an Egyptian scribe recorded that circles of fire had been seen in the sky.

First there was only one of them, but as the days went on there were many more. The people were terrified. They cried out and crawled upon their bellies.

Thirty - four hundred years later, June 24, 1947, Kenneth Arnold, a Boise, Idaho, businessman, flying his plane on a business trip, sighted what appeared to be a string of strange aircraft flying over Mount Rainier in Washington. He estimated that they were 20 to 25 miles away were 45 to 50 feet long and flew at 1,700 miles an hour. Describing them to newspapermen, he said that they flew with a strange motion, “like a saucer would if you skipped it across water.”


The newsmen, always alert to a catchy phrase, called them flying saucers, although, it appears now, Arnold was not the first man to so describe them.

On Sept. 24, 1878, the Denison Daily News, of Denison, Tex., reported that John Martin, a farmer who lived a few miles south of Denison, had seen a dark disc flying across the sky at a high rate of speed and had described it as saucer - shaped.

In 1878, however, the description phrase did not catch on. Arnold’s description, carried on the press wires and published in hundreds of papers, did. And, with this report was born the flying saucer controversy.


Many strange sights had been seen in the sky, centuries before Arnold saw his saucers. But they made little impact on public consciousness until the magic phrase was written to grip the public imagination.

Today we no longer call them flying saucers. Now they are called Unidentified Flying Objects, shortened to UFOs.

It just happened that the ones Arnold saw were disc-shaped. Actually, they come in several shapes and sizes, Mostly they are discs, wheels, spheres or cigar-shaped. Usually they are silent, although at times they may make a noise. They may be shiny objects or appear to be lighted; at other times they pulse, changing in brightness, or come equipped with flashing lights, which are usually red or green.


We have many good descriptions of them, some of these from highly reliable witnesses.

The Egyptian scribe, reporting on his circles of fire, likewise gave a good description Like a good scientist, which he certainly was not, he pegged the time of the sighting: “in the year 22, of the third month of the winter, sixth hour of the day.” The bodies of the objects were one rod in diameter. They gave off a foul odor and “had no voice." They were brighter than the sun.

Thutmose III, a king of the 18th Dynasty, probably ruled from about 1501 BC until 1443 BC. Thus, the tattered papyrus which carries the scribe’s story may be the oldest record of what we call a UFO.


Jacques Vallee, a mathematician and astronomer, who in 1965 wrote one of the most thoughtful books to date on the UFO situation, through the years has collected evidence of early sightings of objects which might be the equivalent of today’s UFOs. He has on file more than 300 sightings prior to the 20th century.

In his book, Anatomy of a Phenomenon, he writes that it is his belief that a search through documents, letters and other papers in the libraries of churches, castles and monasteries throughout Western Europe would reveal many UFO reports which have been hidden away for centuries. He feels that in any serious study of the situation these older sightings must be taken into consideration.


UFOs did not suddenly come into being on the day that Arnold saw his discs above Mount Rainier. They have been around for a long, long time. It is not too great a flight of fancy to imagine that brutish, prehistoric men might have cowered in fright, like the Egyptians, at things seen in the sky.

More recently, but prior to the Arnold sighting, the UFOs were common during the last years of the Second World War. In the winter of 1944, Allied airmen began reporting the sighting of pulsating red fireballs. In many instances, these balls flew alongside the planes, sometimes for a good part of a mission. The fliers called them “foo fighters,” and for a time feared that they were a new kind of enemy weapon.


After the war was concluded, it was learned that German and Japanese pilots, seeing the same phenomena, at first had feared that they were some sort of new Allied weapon.

In the summer of 1946, hundreds of “ghost rockets” flew across Scandinavian skies. The belief generally seemed to be that they were test rockets being flown by the Russians, although the very number of them should have been a tipoff that rocket testing was not involved. The fact that the Russians by that time held the German rocket and missile development centre at Peenemunde probably lent some credence to the belief.

But to go back a ways.

The prophet Ezekiel, as related in the Old Testament, in 593 BC, saw what might have been a UFO: “And I looked, and, behold, a whirlwind came out of the north, a great cloud, and a fire infolding itself, and a brightness was about it, and out of the midst thereof as the color of amber, out of the midst of the fire.”


Ezekiel goes on to describe what he had seen in considerably more detail. The description, couched in the language of a man who knew no science and little technology, nevertheless is objective.

Creatures in the object spoke to him, and he was taken aboard and transported to the Tel Abib mountains, where he remained “astonished” for seven days.

In the medieval years, so many strange objects flew over Western Europe that Charlemagne and other kings thought it prudent and necessary to prescribe penalties against creatures that travelled on aerial ships.

On the night of March 6, 1716, Edmond Halley, the British astronomer for whom Halley’s comet is named, saw an object in the sky which glowed so brightly that he could read a printed page by its lights. It stayed in the sky for more than two hours.


These examples could go on and on. A book could be written about the pre-1947, pre- Arnold sightings.

The significant thing about all these sightings, however, would seem to be the various interpretations which have been placed upon them, the interpretations matching in each instance the temper and the intellectual bent of the times in which they were sighted.

In the Middle Ages and earlier (and in some cases long after), they were regarded in a religious light and were thought of as visions or divine manifestations. They were “signs in the sky.”

In the days of the Second World War, the “ghost rockets” and the “foo fighters” were thought of as implements of war.


But today, in the space age, they tend to be thought of as spacecraft, controlled by intelligences, perhaps from solar systems circling other stars many light years distant.

Out of this present–day concept arises the great controversy that today revolves about the UFOs.

One large school of thought is convinced that the UFOs in fact are spaceships and that the earth for centuries has been under surveillance and study by the creatures which operate them.

Another school of thought, perhaps as large, believes that UFOs are no more than natural phenomena, which can be explained in terms of happenings on the earth or in its atmosphere.


Between these schools of thought stand those people who have tried to keep an open mind and who, in consequence, are greatly puzzled and sometimes disturbed, unable to arrive at any decision or belief, one way or the other.

This is understandable, for there is no real proof to which either side in the controversy can point. Photos and motion pictures have been taken of UFOs and all of them have been disputed. So far as is known, no scrap of material has ever been recovered from a UFO which would serve as a basis for making a solid scientific judgment.

The U.S. Air Force has the official responsibility for the investigation of the UFOs. The air force position is that no evidence has been found that the UFOs are anything other than natural phenomena mistakenly reported.

Led by the National Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenomena (NICAP) the “believers” charge that the air force knows far more than it has released, that it, in effect, has clamped down a censorship.

Two theories exist on this matter.

Either the air force has obtained significant proof of UFO reality and, fearing a public panic, is withholding the facts until the public can be psychologically prepared to accept them, or the withholding of information has nothing to do with a special or exclusive knowledge of the subject but stems more or less from governmental red tape, lack of continuity of the UFO project, or differences of opinion within the air force.

The air force denies this. It declares it is concealing nothing.

Thus at the moment, it all boils down to a matter of belief.

The man who wants to make an honest decision on what he should believe faces a quandary. The lack of solid proof that the UFOs are anything other than the manifestations of natural phenomena impels him toward a negative belief.

The stature of many of the people who have seen UFOs, honest citizens who are in a position to know what they are talking about and are convinced that the things they saw are not natural phenomena, inclines him to think that he must give a large measure of credence to what they report.


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