Damn you Kenneth Arnold!
Citing old flying saucer or UFO sightings irks some UFO mavens, but we have to consider one sighting, which is iconic and the causa principia of all that follows in UFO lore: Kenneth Arnold’s June 24, 1947 sighting near Mt. Rainier.
Was Ken Arnold deluded by flying pelicans or a strange, unique meteorological phenomenon? Did he see experimental aircraft? Was he hallucinating? Was his eyesight/mind affected by a lack of oxygen or airflight vertigo?
Whatever Ken Arnold saw or thought he saw, he was affected (or afflicted) by that June 1947 sighting in ways that confirm Mr. Arnold believed wholeheartedly that he saw something extraordinary and otherworldly.
An article by Sidney Shalett in the April 30, 1949 edition of The Saturday Evening POST provides confirmation that Ken Arnold became a “flying saucer” believer and dedicated the rest of his life to finding out what it was that he had seen or experienced.
Shalett’s interpretation of Arnold’s sighting:
Ken Arnold did not appear to have a psychosis or any other demeaning mental affliction. My feeling is that if a person truly has an unusual experience, it will be personally transforming, which was the case with Ken Arnold.
Persons hoaxing UFO sightings or who have been deluded by a hallucinatory event will come to discard their tale or mental disturbance; even “insane” persons will abandon their delusion if treated therapeutically.
But Arnold never wavered in his belief. That he came to the idea his sighting was of otherworldly craft can be debated. It’s an option that tests credulity but remains a possible option.
Whatever Arnold aw or experienced, his sighting, as Shalett observes in the rest of his POST article, that observation – real or mentally created – has brought the flying saucer/UFO phenomenon (or dilemma) down upon us, even to this day.
Without Arnold, UFOs or flying saucers would have remained odd occurrences dismissed by almost everybody, even those of us consumed by the damn things.