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Alternate Perceptions Magazine, September 2020

Advent of the Flying Saucers -1947

by: Rick Hilberg

On July 7th, self-described "freelance scientist" William Rhodes was walking to his backyard workshop in Phoenix, Arizona when he heard a "swishing" sound overhead. He looked up to see a somewhat heel-shaped object maneuvering in the clear morning air. He ran to get his camera and managed to snap two photographs of it before it made a second pass over his house and flew off. The photos were prominently featured on the front page of the Arizona Republic several days later.


After a few detours these past few months, we are finally going to start our chronology of those early years of the "flying saucers" and begin with 1947, the year which saw the Kenneth Arnold sighting on June 24th make headlines around the world and introduced  a puzzling phenomenon that would baffle experts back then, and continue to baffle now more than seventy years later. Notice than I am not going to list the Arnold case, as it is such a landmark event and is known to just about all who have an interest in the elusive disks. Where is Roswell, you might ask? Well in the flood of sightings that came in after the Arnold incident, it received little publicity in the press, as it was explained as a weather balloon. There it sat as a forgotten footnote until several researchers rediscovered it circa 1978 and subsequently turned it into something of a cottage industry.

There were indeed several reports of "classic" flying saucers made before Arnold, and we are going to begin with the following example:

Mid-April - At the Weather Bureau in Richmond, Virginia, a U.S. Government meteorologist named Minozewski and his staff had released a weather balloon and were tracking its east-to-west course at 15, 000 feet when they noticed a silver, ellipsoidal located just below it.

Larger than the balloon, the object appeared flat on the bottom, and when observed through their tracking theodolite, was seen to have a dome-like structure on its upper surface. Minozewski and his assistants tracked the object for 15 seconds as it traveled rapidly in level flight on a westerly course before disappearing from their view. (1)

June 24th - On the same afternoon as the Arnold sighting, Lester Swingleson and his wife, who lived north of Lonejack, Missouri, saw a group of seven or eight "platter-shaped" objects come into view from the southwest at a high rate of speed and pass overhead in a matter of a few seconds, proceeding in a steady course to the northwest toward the Kansas City area.

The couple described seeing white vapor trails streaming from each object. With them at the time were two young girls, the daughters of neighbor Harold Coy. (2)

June 25th - Mr. and Mrs. Lloyd Lowry were returning home from a vacation trip when that afternoon, as they were driving east of Pueblo, Colorado, they "suddenly observed a strange missile approaching at a high rate of speed." The object was oval-shaped, seen first at an estimated altitude of 2, 000 feet, and descending rapidly toward their automobile. It swooped down to 500 feet just above the vehicle. Following this strange object was a similar one, approaching on an identical course.

"We were alarmed," Mr. Lowry reported. "As the first one approached, we could see it revolving at tremendous speed on its axis, even faster than its forward flight." As it reached a point just above and ahead of the car, "it suddenly veered off sharply to the right, and at the same time its companion did likewise." The objects then disappeared to the south in a matter of seconds. 

Lowry hesitated to make known their experience at first because he was afraid it would not be believed. (3)

June 28th - H.E. Soule, of the western Colorado farming community of Appleton, told authorities in Grand Junction that sometime that afternoon he saw a two-foot disk of "non-shiny aluminum" color approach out of the northwest sky at an altitude of about 200 feet. 

The disk "swooped" over his home, narrowly missing the roof, veered eastward and gained altitude quickly as it followed Highway 6 for about a mile, then turned southwest and disappeared from sight. Soule described its speed as "amazing", and said he heard no engine noise nor saw any vapor trail. (4)

July 4th - Mr. and Mrs. L A. Walgren of Denver, Colorado were sitting on their lawn watching the fireworks at Denver University that evening when they were startled to see a group of objects fly overhead in an extended V-formation. The formation disappeared quickly in a northerly direction at a high rate of speed. The objects were out of sight before the Walgrens could even get to their feet.

The witnesses described the formation of disks as giving the appearance of a "rippling, V-shaped cloud." The undersides of the objects appeared to reflect the city lights. As they passed over, the Walgrens described hearing "a hollow, rustling sound, like an air blast in an empty  barrel." (5)

July 4th - Herman V. Friede of Los Angeles, California, described seeing an object "shaped like a lima bean" fly over Elysian Park at 8:30 p.m. at an estimated altitude of 5, 000 feet.

Friede said he could see what appeared to be two jet pipes sticking out from the rear edge of the object, with vapor trails coming from them. The leading edge of the object appeared transparent, Friede reported, and "could have been a cockpit." Friede was an aircraft inspector at a large area plant and was certain that it was no conventional object. (6)

July 5th - J. E. Johnson of Waterloo, Iowa, said that at 1:30 a.m. that morning a high-speed object had flown over his home. He described it as a "bright, flat object," similar to a dinner plate, "about 12 feet in diameter."

The disk was flying about 25 feet above the ground and made a "rocket-like, swishing noise" as it flew directly over his house at a "terrific speed." Johnson said "It was too close to the ground to be an airplane. It was a terrible experience. It numbed me from head to foot." (7)

July 6th - A formation of five disk-like objects in a row, which appeared to the witnesses to be "strung together" by invisible wires, was reported by Jesse L Hendrickson of Kankakee, Illinois, as he sat on his front porch with neighbor Frank Abrogast, at 9:30 p.m.

The two described the objects as "rolling along leisurely" on their edges, in the attitude of a wheel. Their altitude was estimated to be at about 300 or 400 feet. The disks were luminous, casting a "light blue glow," and they appeared to the two men to be "about the size of ordinary dinner plates." The witnesses heard no sound, and they were both quite certain that the objects were not balloons. (8)

July 7 - A "buzzing noise" coming from overhead caught the attention of Robert Meegan and his son as the two worked in the fields near their home in Willow Springs, Illinois on the Des Plaines River a few miles east of the Argonne National Laboratories. 

Looking up, the Meegans saw "13 round objects all going east, single file in a straight line." None of the objects "weaved or wobbled," and the witnesses described them as being "bluish-gray" in color. They were reported as round and flat on the bottom, and were estimated to be "probably the size of a house" by the two. (9)

July 8th - For a period of 20 minutes, beginning at 1:45 p.m., Mrs. Savina Rosetta, along with her son, Dempsey, and several neighborhood children, watched a shiny, disk-shaped object maneuver overhead in Sacramento, California.

"When I first saw it over Southside Place, it was moving north at about 1, 000 feet up, " Mrs. Rosetta reported. "Then it started to spiral up until I could hardly see it." After making its circular ascent, the disk leveled off and resumed its northerly flight. Mrs. Rosetta and the children finally lost sight of it at 2:05 p.m. , high in the northern sky. (10)


1- Blue Book files.
2- Kansas City Times 6/28/47.
3- New Orleans Times-Picayune 7/7/47.
4- Salt Lake City Deseret News 7/5/47.
5- Denver Rocky Mountain News 7/6/47.
6- Los Angeles Times 7/6/47.
7- Chicago Sunday Tribune  7/6/47.
8- Chicago Sun 7/8/47.
9- Chicago Times 7/8/47.
10- Sacramento Union 7/9/47

Thursday, February 22, 2024