Alternate Perceptions Magazine, June 2019
THE "FIRST" FLYING SAUCER PHOTOGRAPH
by: Rick Hilberg
1946 Swedish "ghost rocket"
The question of just when the first photograph of the "flying saucers" was taken depends on just what we consider a flying saucer to be. We have a photograph of an alleged "foo fighter" taken during World War II in 1944 following some aircraft that's been widely published over the years ( although to me there are serious doubts about its authenticity ), as well as one of the mysterious "ghost rockets" that haunted Europe right after the war ended taken in Sweden in 1946, that could possibly be considered as a part of the phenomenon. But the one that seems to be generally considered as the first of the post Kenneth Arnold era was taken on July 4, 1947 in Seattle, Washington during the massive wave of sightings that erupted after Arnold's June 24 incident was widely reported in the newspapers and in radio reports all over the world. That's the one that I do indeed consider as a "flying saucer" incident, and let's take a closer look at it, as many of the details of this case have been lost to researchers for more than seven decades.
At about 5:30 p.m. Pacific Time on that July 4th holiday, Yeoman Frank Ryman was alerted by a group of his Lake City neighbors in suburban Seattle, Washington who had spotted a disk-like object approaching from the south. Ryman, of the Coast Guard Press Information office in Seattle, ran into his home on 22nd Street N.E. and grabbed his Speed Graphic press camera. Outside, he waited until he had the disk in sight and then snapped a photo using Super XX film, using a shutter speed of 1/50 of a second with a lens aperture of F22.
Switching to a pair of binoculars, he observed the strange object through the instrument. " The disk came over at about 9,000 or 10,000 feet. It was flashing silver in the sun, ( and was ) about one-tenth the apparent size of a full moon," he told news reporters later. Ryman said that the disk appeared to change its course slightly in its flight toward the north. "As the object hurtled through the sky, it seemed brighter at certain times than at others. I believe it was the way the sun hit it", he said. He said that he heard no noise from the disk, and stated, " I am positive there were no wings or fins in sight. It definitely was not a plane. I looked for wings and other possible projections as I watched it through the binoculars. I thought it conceivably could have been a weather balloon being blown along by a high wind. The Navy told me there was very little wind - about 10 to 12 knots at most. The object I photographed appeared to be traveling over 500 miles an hour."
Ryman enlarged image with darker background
Ryman said that the strange disk was in sight for approximately four or five minutes and was seen by more than twenty of his neighbors. He called the Seattle Post-Intelligencer newspaper right afterwards, and his photographic film was quickly developed in the paper's photo darkroom. It showed a small, blurred white oval object against the background sky. After enlargement, the image became quite distinct, and it was this enlarged version that was used in the paper and put on the news wires for other papers to reproduce, as indeed was the case. This photograph has to be considered as a solid multiple witness case, as it was witnessed by many of his neighbors, and several of them actually saw Ryman taking the photograph itself. Not only this, but at least three people made reports of it in other parts of Seattle some half an hour before that made by Ryman and his neighbors. A J.H. Oakley reported seeing a group of six objects at Bow Lake, and Charles Kamp, a bus driver for the local transit company, saw several disks along with his wife "over the University district", traveling towards the west at a high rate of speed.
The Air Force files on the case state that the sighting and photograph were explained as being a weather balloon. However, the reported speed of the object, as well as the wind information that the Navy passed along to Ryman, seem to make that explanation rather doubtful. The official Air Force file further lists that the object was in sight for some ten minutes, not four to five as stated by the more than twenty witnesses. This would seem to make the weather balloon “answer" more plausible, but it indeed runs afoul of the stated facts regarding this important first occasion of a "flying saucer" being exposed on film. And not just some yokel claiming that he happened to spot one in his back yard and take a photo, but one where multiple witnesses were present when a respected member of the Armed Forces actually captured the image of one of the elusive flying platters as well.
Sources: Multiple United Press and Associated accounts; Seattle Post Intelligencer 7/5/'47; Seattle Times 7/5/'47; numerous published reports in the UFO literature over the years.
Attached: 1946 Swedish"ghost rocket", Ryman enlarged image with darker background.