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Location: UFOUpDatesList.Com > 1997 > Nov > Nov 26

Re: Kenneth Arnold's testimony

From: bruce maccabee <brumac@compuserve.com>
Date: Wed, 26 Nov 1997 08:45:08 -0500
Fwd Date: Wed, 26 Nov 1997 12:17:19 -0500
Subject: Re: Kenneth Arnold's testimony

>From: James Easton <pulsar@compuserve.com>
>Subject: UFO UpDate: Re: Kenneth Arnold's testimony
>To: UFO UpDates - Toronto <updates@globalserve.net>

>As there's a number of debatable points in Arnold's testimonies,
>for those interested in discussing them, perhaps we could go back
>over the issues separately.

>Firstly, can we agree a perspective on which to consider these

>In his radio interview, Arnold states:
>"I was approximately 25 to 28 miles from Mt. Rainier, I climbed
>back up to 9200 feet and I noticed to the left of me a chain
>.which looked to me like the tail of a Chinese kite, kind of .
>weaving and going at a terrific speed across the face of Mt.
>Rainier. I, at first, thought they were geese because it flew
>like geese, but it was going so fast that I immediately changed
>my mind and decided it was a bunch of new jet planes in

>So Arnold is 25-28 miles from Mt. Ranier and notices a chain of
>objects, flying in echelon like geese, or pelicans <g>, and
>they're travelling across the face of Mt. Ranier.

>Can we assume the objects must therefore have been between
>Arnold's plane and those 25-28 miles to the mountain?

The were flying along a track which obviously took them between
Arnold and the mountain.

>However, in Bruce's "The Complete Sighting Report of Kenneth
>Arnold...", he quotes from Arnold's letter to the Army Air Force
>(L) and his later book "The Coming of the Saucers", privately
>published in 1953 (B).

>Arnold now states:

>(L) "The sky and air was as clear as crystal. I hadn't flown more
>than two or three minutes on my course when a bright flash light
>reflected on my airplane. It startled me as I thought I was too
>close to some other aircraft.

>(B) "I spent the next twenty to thirty seconds urgently searching
>the sky all around - to the sides and above and below me - in an
>attempt to determine where the flash of light had come from.


>Before I had time to collect my thoughts or to find a close
>aircraft, the flash happened again. This time I caught the
>direction from which it had come. I observed, far to my left and
>to the north, a formation of very bright objects coming from the
vicinity of Mt. Baker, flying very close to the mountain tops and
>travelling at tremendous speed.

>(L) I observed a chain of nine peculiar looking aircraft flying
>from north to south at approximately 9,500 ft elevation and
>going, seemingly, in a definite direction of about 170 degrees.

>(B) "At first I couldn't make out their shapes as they were still
>at a distance of over a hundred miles".


>Is this apparent contradiction in the distance explainable?

Contradiction?  Error in distance estimate, maybe.   We  have a
time development if events here.   When first detected by a flash
they were seen to the north of Rainier. apparently, if Arnold places
them in a direction toward Mt. Baker.

Now one does not know what flight path they were on, but if you
imagine they were going in a straight line past Rainier to Adams,
which is approximately 170 deg as estimated by Arnold, then,
on a map, project  this line north of Rainier.

Now start at Mineral, Washington and draw a line toward Mt.
Baker, which is at the Washington- British Columbia border.
This sighting line of arnold intersects the hypothetical roughly
170 straight path about 50 miles from Arnold's plane.
I suggest that this is the more likely distance than the 130
miles from Arnold to Mt. Baker.  Now, if Arnold's sighting line
had actually been some degrees south of Mt. Baker then the
objects were closer.
(get map, try yourself).

>Could a flash have reflected off Arnold's plane from an object
>over 100 miles away?

Let's make it 50 miles away.   It is still a very bright flash.   At this
point it is necessary to determine what Arnold meant by a "flash
on his plane" Was it so bright that he actually saw light reflected off
his plane?  I doubt it since this was full daylight and the objects were
very distant.

On the other hand, if the light entered his eye directly it could
what Arnold seemed to imply.   When you look at a mirror
reflecting the sun  you are actually looking at the sun(!), just
from a different direction than directly toward the sun.

If the angular size of the mirror is smaller than the sun's
angular size (i.e., less than about 8 milliradians or about 1/2
degree), then you are looking at a piece of the sun.  Suppose we
imagine a roughly circular object sufficiently flat and shiny to
appear as  a mirror and let its diameter be 80 ft.  Then at 50
miles the angle is 0.3 milliradians. The fraction of the sun
which this small angle represents is about (0.3 mr/8mr)^2 =
0.0014.   (Squared because it is the area of the mirror divided
by the area of the suns disc that determines the reflected solar
"flux.")  So you get roughly 0.14% of the sun's light being

(Note: no spherical divergence here since the surface was assumed
to be flat; if a curved surface then the fraction must be reduced

Now, the solar disc is about 1-2E5 times brighter than the sky
(for experts: B = luminance = (1 to 2)E9 cd/m^2 for sun, and B =
1E4 cd/m^2 for bright sky near the horizon; these numbers change
with atmospheric conditions and the elevation of the sun and are

E# represents 10  raised to a power, 10^#).

Hence 0.0014 of the solar disc is still more than a hundred times
brighter than the sky. Although one does not know the exact
conditions of sy brightness, nor the exact reflectivities of
these objects, this calculation does suggest that the reflection
would be easy to see even over a distance of 50 miles.

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