A lot has been said and written about UFOs, namely flying saucers. The idea just refuses to go away. Blame it on the American man named Kenneth Arnold who was flying his light aircraft over Washington State on the afternoon of June 24, 1947. (Photo, below.) He reported seeing nine ‘saucer-like things’ flying in formation at speeds he would later estimate at an astounding 1,900 kilometers per hour. His sensational report, never fully explained, gave birth to the term ‘flying saucer’, which was soon to becomes a staple diet of science fiction writers. Incidentally, the Arnold sighting gave birth to something else — the start of an intensive, top secret search by the United States government into the UFO/Unidentified Flying Object phenomenon. Even today, it remains an ongoing assignment, despite repeated official denials.
What Arnold saw was probably a flight of jet fighters reflecting the Sun’s rays in a way that made them appear as discs. However, since 1947 literally hundreds of thousands of people all over the world have reported the sighting of strange objects in the sky, coming in a bewildering range of shapes and sizes. They are spotted all the time, but most are something more sensible like an aeroplane, glider, helicopter, balloon or bird. In rest of the cases, there is probably misinterpretation of natural phenomena like sprites and ball lighting. Sprites form in the upper atmosphere. None of them lasts more than a second, but when lots of them appear and disappear in a row, they can look like a fast-moving object. Ball lighting can appear just above the ground, creating an eerie glowing ball. This can hover for a few seconds before discharging itself into a nearby object. A CIA report in 1997 confirmed that over half of all the UFOs sightings from the late 1950s to the 1960s were actually American spy planes like U-2 on secret missions or test flight. This admission, however, could not suppress the enthusiasm of science fiction writers and Hollywood film producers.