Kenneth Arnold and the pelicans
Bona fide UFO researcher Jerome Clark coined an epithet for those who are skeptical about certain UFO sightings that ufologists deem authentic: pelicanists
Mr. Clark’s coinage comes about because one ufologist (James Easton) had the temerity to suggest Kenneth Arnold’s famous flying saucer sighting of June 24th, 1947 was of pelicans.
(Mr. Clark and other ufologists think Arnold actually saw alien spaceships. We’ve suggested elsewhere that Arnold saw a bevy of Navy test airplanes flying out of Whidbey Air Base in Washington State.)
Here is a drawing that Arnold made of his sighting:
Here is Fate magazine’s rendition of the Arnold sighting:
And here is a later version of what Arnold says he saw – we don’t know why Arnold altered his observation):
And here are some pictures of pelicans in flight:
And here is a map of pelican migration patterns:
Also, Mount Rainier (in the Cascades) is subject to temperature inversions, especially between the winter thaw and summer season (June).
Temperature changes at various mountain altitudes causes inversions (when he warm air bumps up against pockets of colder air), distorting observations through those inversions.
Here are two photos of Mount Rainier in June, with weather fronts that evoke inversions:
So while Jerry Clark, whom we respect and admire, has created a bon mot for the UFO skeptic – a barb that lesser UFO lights often employ – in the Arnold case, the suggestion that he (Arnold) saw a flock of pelicans, and mistook them for supersonic aircraft of alien design is not out of the question.