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Location: UFOUpDatesList.Com > 1997 > Nov > Nov 14

Re: Kenneth Arnold's testimony

From: bruce maccabee <brumac@compuserve.com>
Date: Fri, 14 Nov 1997 12:44:42 -0500
Fwd Date: Fri, 14 Nov 1997 13:24:34 -0500
Subject: Re: Kenneth Arnold's testimony

>Date: Thu, 13 Nov 1997 20:49:42 -0500
>From: James Easton <pulsar@compuserve.com>
>Subject: UFO UpDate: Re: Kenneth Arnold's testimony
>To: UFO UpDates - Toronto <updates@globalserve.net>

>If I may quote from Bruce Maccabee's paper, "The Complete
>Sighting Report of Kenneth Arnold, with Comments and Analysis":

>"His drawing suggests that the objects were nearly circular
>overall. He wrote on the sketch that "they seemed longer than
>wide, their thickness was about 1/20th of their width." His
>suggestion that their width (or length) was about twenty times
>.greater than their thickness may be an exaggeration. The sketch .
>he drew of how they appeared "on edge" has the dimensions 4 mm
>wide by 45 mm long (approx.) which suggests a ratio closer to
>1/11. (It is typical for people to overestimate length to width

>Bruce merely pointing out that Arnold's estimates are

I appreciate James' use of my research to support his arguments.
However, I was not "merely pointing out" that Arnold wasn't
perfect. Imperfection of visual estimates is a "given." What I
was trying to do was make the best estimate of length to width
ratio based on all of Arnold's information.

>Also perhaps now worth mentioning Bruce's further observations:

>"These statements about how they flew with respect to the
>mountain peaks are very important because they provide
>information on the distance from Mr. Arnold. These mountain peaks
>lie along a wide north-south line extending southward from Mt.
>.Rainier to Mt. Adams. These peaks were about 20 miles east of .
>Arnold at the time. These statements also provide the altitude of
>the objects. To Arnold they appeared to be approximately at his
>altitude because they seemed to be "pretty much on the horizon to
>me." Since he was flying at 9,200 ft, this implies that they were
>close to that altitude. (Arnold actually stated his letter that
t>hey were at 9,500 ft.) However, the mountain peaks south of
>Rainier generally are 5,000 to 7,000 ft high, with the higher
>ones being farther away (more to the east) from Arnold. Hence his
>statement that there were higher peaks on the far side of the
>pathway indicates that the objects were definitely lower than
>about 7,000 ft. Furthermore, he stated that they went behind some
>(or at least one) of the lower, closer peaks. Geological survey
>maps show that mountain peaks which the objects could have
>disappeared behind have altitudes of 5,000 to 6,000 ft. Hence it
>appears that they were lower than 6,000 ft and that Arnold
>overestimated their altitude".

>Again, Arnold's estimates are shown to be subjective and by
>reference to the survey maps, apparently grossly inaccurate.

>Mistaking the altitude of the objects by some 4000 feet, doesn't
i>nspire confidence in any of Arnold's other observations or

WHOA THERE!   Losing confidence in Arnold's observations?
Arnold's actual statement, quoted in my article, is"

"I would estimate their elevation could have varied a thousand
feet one way or another up or down, but they were pretty much on
the horizon to me which would indicate they were near the same
elevation as I was."

In other words, because they appeared to be "on the horizon"
Arnold deduced that they were at his altitude give or take 1000
ft. The question would be, how wrong was he? James emphasizes the
4000 ft height difference and implies that Arnold was so far off
(9200 or 9500ft vs 5500ft) that his observations can't be trusted.

But James should have asked himself the same question I did,
namely, just how far off is this in terms of Arnold's  means of
measurement? His only means of measurement was by observing
whether the sighting line to the objects went upward or downward
and by how much. (Apparently he did not know, at the time of the
sighting or when he wrote his report to the Air Force, what the
actual altitudes of the mountains are.) He concluded that the
sighting line was nearly level, i.e., it didn't seem to go upward
or downward.

How big was his error in estimating the angle of the sighting
line? The objects were 20 miles away. An error of 4000 ft in 20
miles is the ratio 0.0379 radians which corresponds to 2 degrees.
It is difficult to estimate the horizon from an airplane. To be
within 2 degrees of the actual value is good accuracy. To me,
this is evidence in favor of Arnold's accuracy!

>This also of course means the altitude of the objects would not
>preclude geese as a conceivable explanation.

Yes, geese flying around the mountain tops 20 MILES AWAY! But if
you keep the same sighting line toward the mountain tops and
imagine moving the geese close enough to Arnold's plane so that
they could be seen with some clarity you would automatically
raise their altitude. For example, geese at 1 mile from  the
plane (9,200 ft) would be at an altitude of about 9,100 ft.


>>As Arnold points out: "Even though two minutes seems like a very
>>short time to one on the ground, in the air in two minutes time, a
>>pilot can observe a great many things, and anything within his sight
>>of vision probably as many as fifty or sixty times".

>And apparently still make significant errors of judgement.

WHOA THERE! Sounds like a skeptic trying to put the worst foot
forward, or to shine the "light of darkness" on a witness'
testimony. It is obvious from Arnold's report that he did a
number of "tests" during his sighting time, such as comparing the
angular size of the UFOs with the angular size of a distant
aircraft using a cowling tool as a reference.

Sure, he wasn't perfect, but he was probably as good as could be
hoped under the conditions of the sighting.

>I would recommend reading Bruce's paper for some further insight
>into Arnold's calculations.

Thank you, so would I.

>Not that I'm suggesting for a moment Bruce argues in favour of
>Arnold watching a flock of geese.

You got that right!

>At present, that's not my argument either, I would simply like to
>discuss whether there are grounds for accepting it as a possible

Grounds...... or quicksand?

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