Kenneth Albert Arnold (March 29, 1915[1] – January 16, 1984[2]) was an American aviator and businessman. He is best known for making what is generally considered the first widely reported modern unidentified flying object sighting in the United States, after claiming to have seen nine unusual objects flying in tandem near Mount Rainier, Washington on June 24, 1947.

Kenneth Albert Arnold
Born(1915-03-29)March 29, 1915
DiedJanuary 16, 1984(1984-01-16) (aged 68)
Alma materUniversity of Minnesota
OccupationBusinessman, aviator
Home townBoise, Idaho

Early lifeEdit

Arnold was born in Sebeka, Minnesota, but grew up in Scobey, Montana. He attended the University of Minnesota,[3] where he was coached in football by Bernie Bierman. He was an avid swimmer and diver being good enough at the latter to try out for the U.S. Diving team.


Arnold began Great Western Fire Control Supply in Boise, Idaho in 1940, a company that sold and installed fire suppression systems, a job that took him around the Pacific Northwest.

Arnold was regarded as a skilled and experienced pilot, with over 9,000 total flying hours, almost half of which were devoted to Search and Rescue Mercy Flyer efforts.[4]

He ran unsuccessfully for Lieutenant Governor of Idaho in 1962.

UFO sightingEdit

On June 24, 1947, while flying near Mt. Rainier in Washington State, Arnold claimed to have seen nine unusual objects flying in the skies. Arnold also claimed to have seen UFOs on several subsequent occasions.

Arnold originally described the objects' shape as "flat like a pie pan", "shaped like a pie plate", "half-moon shaped, oval in front and convex in the rear", "something like a pie plate that was cut in half with a sort of a convex triangle in the rear", or simply "saucer-like" or "like a big flat disk" (see quotes), and also described their erratic motion being "like a fish flipping in the sun" or a saucer skipped across water. From these, the press quickly coined the new terms "flying saucer" and "flying disc" to describe such objects, many of which were reported within days after Arnold's sighting. Later Arnold would add that one of the objects actually resembled a crescent or flying wing.

The U.S. Air Force formally listed the Arnold case as a mirage; this is one of many explanations that have been disputed by critics, and researchers Jerome Clark, author of The UFO Book (1998)[5] and Ronald Story, editor of The Encyclopedia of UFOs (1980).[6] Both argue that there has never been an entirely persuasive conventional explanation of the Arnold sighting.

After his UFO sighting, Arnold became a minor celebrity, and for about a decade thereafter, he was somewhat involved in interviewing other UFO witnesses or contactees. Notably, he investigated the claims of Samuel Eaton Thompson, one of the first contactees. Arnold wrote a book and several magazine articles about his UFO sighting and his subsequent research.

By the 1960s, Arnold had tired of his notoriety and UFOs in general, and he eventually declined all interviews. On June 24, 1977, however, he attended the First International UFO Congress in Chicago, curated by Fate to mark the 30th anniversary of the "birth" of the modern UFO age. Some of his comments at the event reflected his displeasure at the general ignorance concerning the matter:

Personal lifeEdit

Arnold and his wife Doris had four daughters, Kiska, Karla, Kim (Purvis) and April Katri. He died, aged 68, from colon cancer at Overlake Hospital in Bellevue, Washington per his bio. Arnold did not practice any organized religion, and he was in the habit of handing out a "philosophy card" which facetiously praised the skeptical "unbeliever".[7] His daughter Kim would however explain later that this merely implied his belief in questioning dogma and his support for independent decision making. In her view his belief in a divine creator caused him to defend the authenticity of his sighting of June 24, 1947, until his death.[8]

Kenneth Arnold famous CallAir A-2 AirplaneEdit

The actual CallAir A-2 airplane which Kenneth Arnold was piloting when he made his famous UFO sighting back in 1947 still exists. It is currently at the North Cascade Vintage Aircraft Museum in Concrete, Washington and is still in excellent flying condition.



  1. ^ Project 1947, "Some life data on Kenneth Arnold"
  2. ^ Find a grave, Cremated, and ashes given to his wife
  3. ^ Arnold, Kenneth. "PROJECT 1947". Kenneth Arnold's Biography. Retrieved April 30, 2018.
  4. ^ Diana Palmer Hoyt, "UFOCRITIQUE: UFO's, Social Intelligence and the Condon Committee"; Master's Thesis, Virginia Polytechnic Institute, 2000; read it online
  5. ^ Jerome Clark, The UFO Book: Encyclopedia of the Extraterrestrial. Visible Ink, 1998. ISBN 1-57859-029-9
  6. ^ Story, Ronald, editor, The Encyclopedia of UFOs, Garden City: Doubleday & Company, Inc, 1980, ISBN 0-385-13677-3
  7. ^ Collins, Curt (March 15, 2017). "UFOs, Kenneth Arnold and the American Bible". Retrieved October 25, 2018. Italic or bold markup not allowed in: |website= (help)
  8. ^ Arnold, Kim. "Statements by Kim Arnold". Saucers Incorporated, 2011. Retrieved October 25, 2018.
  • Arnold, Kenneth; Palmer, Ray (1952), The coming of the saucers: a documentary report on sky objects that have mystified the world, Boise, Wisconsin: Privately published by the authors, p. 192, 3021444
  • Clark, Jerome, The UFO Encyclopedia: The Phenomenon from the Beginning, Volume 2, A-K, Detroit: Omnigraphics, 1998 (2nd edition, 2005), ISBN 0-7808-0097-4
  • Campbell, Steuart, The UFO Mystery Solved, Explicit Books, 1994, ISBN 0-9521512-0-0
  • Obituary, Idaho Statesman, January 22, 1984

External linksEdit