First UFO Sighting Ever Recorded: Kenneth Arnold's Life-Altering UFO Experience

By Sarah Norman | February 5, 2024

How a Routine Flight Became a Historic Encounter

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(Chronicle/Alamy Stock Photo)

On a serene June afternoon, experienced pilot Kenneth Arnold, with 4,000 flight hours to his name, embarked on a seemingly ordinary journey from Chehalis, Washington. He was headed to an air show in Pendleton, Oregon, intending to refuel in Yakima, Washington, aboard his trusted single-engine CallAir A-2 light airplane. A member of an Idaho search and rescue unit, Arnold planned a minor deviation from his route that day. His eyes were set on a prize - a $5,000 reward for locating a U.S. Marine Corps Curtiss C-46 Commando transport that had tragically crashed with 32 U.S. Marines on board, somewhere along his eastward trajectory.

The clock neared 3:00 p.m. when Arnold, circling approximately 20 miles west of Mt. Rainier in his quest for the C-46 wreckage, was jolted by an unexpected spectacle. A bright flash caught his attention in the northeast direction. His initial thought was:

A military lieutenant must be having a joyride on a shiny P-51, and I've just caught a glimpse of the sunlight glancing off its wings.

Nine UFOs Sped By Arnold

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(getty images)

As more flashes came into view, Arnold soon dismissed a nearby Douglas DC-4 airliner as the source. What he claimed to see instead was a formation of nine gleaming objects, strung together in a five-mile-long echelon.

Each of these objects bore no resemblance to any known aircraft. They were circular, roughly 100 feet in diameter, with no discernible tail to be seen. Their movement was peculiar too, flipping, banking, and weaving side to side with an uncanny similarity to the tail of a Chinese kite. Little did Arnold know, this was no ordinary detour but a journey to a groundbreaking discovery that would forever change our understanding of the skies above.