Kenneth Albert Arnold

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Kenneth Albert Arnold

Death: Died
Immediate Family:

Son of Edward Erb Arnold and Bertha Barden

Managed by: Private User
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Immediate Family

About Kenneth Albert Arnold

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

Early life

Arnold was born in Sebeka, Minnesota, but grew up in Scobey, Montana. He attended the University of Minnesota. 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.

UFO sighting

On June 24, 1947, while flying near Mt. Rainer, Arnold claimed to have seen nine unusual objects flying in the skies. He also claimed to have seen UFOs on several other occasions afterwards, as well.

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 (see image).

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) and Ronald Story, editor of The Encyclopedia of UFOs (1980). 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 little to do with UFOs, and eventually declined all interviews. On June 24, 1977, he however 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:

“… well, right here we’ve seen something, I’ve seen something, hundreds of pilots have seen something … in the skies. We have dutifully reported these things. And we have to have 15 million witnesses before anybody is going to look into the problem … seriously? Well this is utterly fantastic. This is more fantastic than flying saucers or people from Venus or anything as far as I am concerned.”

Personal life

Arnold and his wife Doris had four daughters. He ran unsuccessfully for Lieutenant Governor of Idaho in 1962. He was a keen beekeeper and ran a local scout group until his death, aged 68, in Bellevue, Washington.

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Kenneth Albert Arnold's Timeline

Age 69