The Night of the Flying Saucers
Friday, July 6, 2012
If we were to read this headline today in North Dakota, it still might pique interest. Imagine it as the banner headline of the Fargo Forum in 1947. Typeset in all boldface capital letters it read, Report: “Flying Saucer” Seen in N.D.
July 6 was a Sunday in 1947, an especially important day for newspapers. Fourth of July celebrations had come to an end, and the Independence Day weekend had been a particularly peculiar one for some across the nation as the lead paragraph stated:
“Those mysterious ‘flying saucers’ which observers have reported seeing in various parts of the nation in the past two weeks have been observed in North Dakota.” Virgil Been of Elliott, in Ransom County, reported that he saw an object about the size and shape of a dinner plate, but green in color, above his mother’s barn. Been, a U.S. Navy veteran, said the disc was also seen by his brother and mother as it passed overhead, about 30 to 40 feet, at a high rate of speed.
A man in Waterloo, Iowa had also reported seeing a similarly sized disc flying some 25 feet in the air. In the same week, people from across the country were daring to report their sightings of saucers and unexplained flying objects. The newspaper reported that the Army had a California-based fighter plane standing by and prepared to give chase, following the flying saucer reports from across the country.
Americans from Maine to Oregon reported the strange flying disks. An unidentified scientist from the Manhattan Project reportedly said the saucers were being used in experiments with atomic energy, but an official with the atomic bomb project said he knew nothing about it. The chairman of the atomic energy commission also claimed there was “no connection” with the nation’s atomic project.
Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of people were said to be watching the night skies, with cameras (and most likely, expectations) at the ready. Two days previously, two hundred persons were reported to have seen similar objects in Idaho. Hundreds claimed the same kind of sightings in Oregon, Washington and other western states.
From all the reported sighting, the paper announced, there were certain common characteristics. The disks were round or oval, flat, and flying in a peculiar undulating motion-all at terrific speed.
The front page story ended with an ominous quote from the first reported observer, a man named Kenneth Arnold, that could have been lifted from a science fiction novel: “I don’t believe it either” he said, “but I saw it.”
Dakota Datebook written by Steve Stark
Dill, Joe, 1988 Forum Communications Company, North Dakota 100 Year, The Forum