R e s e a r c h
Martin SHOUGH & Wim VAN UTRECHT
The eye-witness account below is from a US Navy interrogation conducted with Capt. Emil J. SMITH on July 9, 1947. The interview is quoted in : GROSS, Loren E., The Fifth Horseman of the Apocalypse, UFOs: A History, 1947 June 24th - July 6th, Supplemental Notes, private publication Fremont, CA (2000).
We left Boise, Idaho, at 2004 Pacific Standard Time. At approximately 2015, the co-pilot, Ralph Stevens, called my attention to the first object [seen? Not clear]. We were then in the vicinity of Emmet, Idaho, our altitude was approximately 6500, and we were climbing to our proposed cruising altitude of [not clear] from there to Pendleton, Oregon. The heading of the plane at that time was 300 degrees Magnetic North, and the object (one) was sighted at approximately 290 degrees, or ten degrees to our left. Then an additional four objects appeared to the left of the main, or first, object. These four objects appeared slightly smaller than the first object sighted, but all of the objects appeared on the same plane. I estimated the altitude of the objects to be about 8500. They were within our sight for approximately [not clear] minutes, then they disappeared.
Shortly after the first group disappeared, probably one or two minutes later, the second group appeared about 310 degrees, or to the right of the plane. Their altitude was the same as the first group. Three of the objects appeared to be on the same plane, and one object appeared slightly higher and to the right of the others. The second group stayed within our sight twelve to fifteen minutes, then disappeared. We had levelled off by the time the second group disappeared.
The objects were flat on the base, the top slightly rough in contour. The dimensions appeared the same as a DC-3 approximately five miles from us. In other words, it could have been ninety miles away if it would be possible for an object as large as that would have to be flying, but since we didn't know what we were looking at or how large it was, we decided that if it were the size of a DC-3 wing span (90 feet), it was about five miles distant. Actually, we have no idea just how large it was since we could not determine its distance from us. When we first sighted the objects, we decided they were either going away from us or coming towards us. After a short while, however, we knew they couldn't be coming towards us, because we never approached them. I don't believe they could have been going a reat rate of speed and still stayed in sight for as long as they did. I would judge they might have been travelling about 300 miles per hour.
My personal opinion regarding the objects are - that their speed varied, was not constant. When first sighted, they were going slow and stayed within sight for quite some time. However, when we lost sight of them, they seemed to disappear practically immediately. I think they either put on a tremendous burst of speed and disappeared from sight, or else they dissipated. Also, it appeared that only one object, the large one, was controlled, and it in turn controlled the other objects, and I think they were ground controlled.
In both instances, the co-pilot sighted the objects first and called my attention to them. The weather was clear and unlimited, with not a cloud in the sky. We checked the wind, and it was 230-10, or out of the Southwest at ten miles per hour. The air speed of the ship was about 185 MPH. The sun was below the horizon and the objects were silhouetted against the sky, hence we could distinguish no color or reflection.
Ralph STEVENS, co-pilot of the plane, was interviewed separately on the same day as Capt. SMITH (July 9, 1947). STEVENS stated substantially as follows:
I was flying the plane when I spotted the first object at 2012 on the 4th of July, eight minutes after departure from Boise, Idaho. I thought it was an oncoming aircraft similar to ours (DC-3) about five miles away, so turned on our landing lights, which is the usual signal to another plane to let it know you're in the vicinity. I mentioned this fact to Smith, and he watched the object also. While we were both watching, four more objects appeared at the same altitude as the first. They seemed to be at the same altitude as our plane, about 6,000 feet. They were heading about 290 degree magnetic North, so I turned to follow them. We watched them for four or five minutes, then they all merged as one and disappeared. I don't know whether they merged in line of flight or not, nor do I know whether they went beyond our vision or whether they dissipated.
Two minutes later, the large object reappeared with three smaller ones on its left and one smaller one a great distance to the right. We had the second group in sight for about twelve minutes. The last time seen, they were still in that formation and disappeared into the sunset. Also, when we last saw them, they seemed to have continued climbing after we levelled off and were about nine or ten thousand feet.
At the time we saw the objects, the sun was below the horizon, but there was quite a bright red glow above the horizon from the sunset. I couldn't really say what distance they were from us, not knowing what they were or how large they were. However, while we were watching them we radioed ahead to Ontario, Oregon, about thirty miles distant, to the weather station there, and told them what we were seeing and asked them to go outside and see if they could see them. They radioed back and said they could see nothing, so the objects could have been beyond Ontario, since we had told them that they were between our plane and Ontario. It should also be [said? Not clear] that the personnel at Ontario would be looking at a dark sky and not be likely to be able to see them anyway.
I can't say whether are man-made disks or not, whether they are radio controlled or not, or anything about them. They did not maneuver much at all, except when the first group merged. All I can say is that they were going our direction and were climbing. I don't think they were clouds, as there hadn't been a cloud in the sky, and it would have been quite a phenomenon as it was like nothing I had ever seen before. There was a big difference in the size of the objects. The smaller ones were hard to distinguish as to shape, they were not shiny, nor did they "flip". I couldn't swear on a [bible? Not clear] they were not clouds, but I think it impossible. Had they been clouds, they wouldn't have appeared and disappeared so suddenly, and we [could? Not clear] have approached them.
As we were taxiing out to take off from Boise, the tower called us and asked us if we had seen any disks lately. As a consequence, we were and had been talking about the flying disks when we sighted them. I don't believe, however, that it was a figment of the imagination, as Smith and I were seeing the same things, even the object far off to the right in the second group. We also called the stewardess, who had not been in on the conversation, and without mentioning "disks" asked her what she saw. She stated that she saw the same things we did, which seemed to prove to us that it was not our imagination.
Cover of the July 9th 1947 edition of the Daily Times that featured the sighting reported by Capt. SMITH and his co-pilot.
The above sketch was drawn by aviator and business man Kenneth ARNOLD who made headlines with his own report of nine "peculiar looking aircraft" flying across the face of Mt. Rainier in Washington state, 16 days earlier. ARNOLD based his sketch on Capt. SMITH's description of the objects (the two met the day after the Emmet sighting). [Image gleaned from project1947.com.]
Comment - STEVENS' statements that "Had they been clouds, they wouldn't have appeared and disappeared so suddenly, and we [could] have approached them" are completely resolved by the mirage theory.