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Location: UFOUpDatesList.Com > 1999 > Apr > Apr 1

Re: Kenneth Arnold's Saucer-like Descriptions

From: Mark Cashman <mcashman@ix.netcom.com>
Date: Thu, 1 Apr 1999 14:13:51 -0500
Fwd Date: Thu, 01 Apr 1999 17:59:31 -0500
Subject: Re:  Kenneth Arnold's Saucer-like Descriptions

>From: Brad Sparks <RB47Expert@aol.com>
>Date: Sun, 28 Mar 1999 16:57:27 EST
>To: updates@globalserve.net
>Subject: Re: Kenneth Arnold's Saucer-like Descriptions

>I think the argument about discrepancies in Arnold's
>descriptions of the objects' shapes is rather nitpicking, when
>it is admitted that he had trouble describing something unusual
>which took him by surprise and which he had difficulty seeing or
>at least discerning detail ("so thin I could barely see them").

>That said, I am nevertheless bothered by the fact that no one
>else in the 1947 flap ever saw objects shaped like Arnold's,
>with only one possible exception (a suspected hoax apparently).


This is a repost of some material I provided in line with this
thread on the P1947 list:


Here are some things I'd offer in regard to this sighting and
the description of the object.

A number of factors may (speculation follows) have come into
play with regard to shape and aspect ratio of the objects as
seen by Arnold.

1) The objects were highly reflective (according to Arnold) and
their reflectivity was specular. Therefore the objects would
tend to reflect some portion of their surroundings as an image.
This would tend to alter the apparent shape at various
attitudes. For instance, the upper surface at most angles would
tend to reflect the sky. Note that the side view sketch shows
the objects as flattest on top, which is consistent with this
expected appearance as seen from the side. While we don't have a
course for Arnold's aircraft, he states that the objects were
traveling on a heading of 170 degrees. If Arnold were traveling
perpendicular to this course (which is a SSE course), he would
be heading ENE, which, at that hour of the day, would place the
sun behind him and perhaps to his left.  Therefore the object
when it tilted toward him was not propagating a glancing
reflection, but was likely to be actually reflecting the image
of the sun. The sky around the sun would tend to be brighter
than the sun at the opposite point of the sky, thus the image of
the sky reflected by the object when it was not directly
reflecting the sun would be brighter than the background sky.
This would make the plan shape of the object fairly visible in
comparision to the profile. Why? Because seen from profile, the
bottom of the object would partly reflect the snow below, and
partly the sky around the object. The upper surface of the
object would reflect the sky. I would suggest that this could
tend to make the object look unusually thin. Indeed, Arnold
reports "When these objects were flying straight and level, they
were just a black thin line, and when they flipped was the only
time I could get a judgement as to their size." This is, again,
what might be expected of a highly reflective, specular object,
possibly with a classic dark or gapped rim, reflecting sky from
the top and a snow and or rock surface from part of the bottom.

2) Arnold does not indicate that the objects ever tilted
directly toward him. He states "as two or three of them every
few seconds would dip or change their course slightly, just
enough for the sun to strike them at an angle that reflected
brightly on my plane" and "they... swerved in and out of the
high mountain peaks". He also states in the comment to his
sketch "of course, when the sun reflected from one or two or
three of these units they appeared to be completely round". The
sun angle being fairly high at that date and time, it is
unlikely that the tilt was more than, say 30 degrees (an
analysis or simulation could be done to make these figures more
complete), because that would carry the solar reflection past
the top of the object. Arnold states they would tilt "just
enough for the sun to strike them at an angle that reflected
brightly on my plane", implying that the object did not continue
to tilt past the sun image. In any event, it is clear that his
plan view of the object represents an interpolation based on a
relatively narrow range of tilt by the object. In addition,
Arnold was looking for a tail and wings. He states that he
expected these were aircraft, and should have wings and a tail.
Thus, given potentially confusing reflections from
high-specularity object, perhaps it is not surprising he was
willing to offer a sketch which contained a suggestion of
features he expected to see but could not find. At this late
date, it would be difficult to be sure.

In conclusion, I believe that the description provided by Arnold
seems consistent with the lighting environment at the time of
the sighting, the reported surface characteristics of the
object, and what we might expect from the observational powers
of an individual with good eyesight on a clear day. Indeed, the
portrayal of the objects as having a thin aspect ratio with a
slight bulge near the center of the bottom is consistent with a
little known characteristic of the reflection of the ground from
a disk-shaped reflective object. The edges, but not the center,
of such an object tend to reflect the sky - the center reflects
the ground. It is unlikely that Arnold would have known this.
Perhaps this adds even more credibility to his description.

Mark Cashman, creator of The Temporal Doorway at
- Original digital art, writing, and UFO research -

UFO cases, analysis, classification systems, and more...

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