To the best of anyone’s knowledge, the very first official inquiry into the existence of an Unidentified Flying Object (UFO) took place in Japan in the 13th Century. The date: September 24. The event: lights moving in circular patterns in the southwest for several hours. A General in the military named Yoritsume ordered the investigation. In what may well be termed an indication of things to come in the world of UFO investigations, the result of the study ordered by General Yoritsume was that the strange behavior of the lights in the sky was the result of phenomena that was entirely natural. The wind, you see, was making the very stars in the sky sway back and forth.
Several thousand years before the Japanese investigation took place is the time period in which we find the very first written record of the existence of UFOs. The Place: Egypt. The Time: the reign of Thutmose III, from 1504 to 1450 B.C. The Facts are These: During the 3rd month of winter around the sixth hour of the day, a circle of fire appeared to be approaching from the sky. Whatever it was, it was headless, but managed somehow to emit a stench from its mouth greater than that experienced by anyone who has ever eaten raw oysters. A few days later, the UFO seemed to have given birth as more of them were present in the skies. The Egyptian UFOs also had grown brighter. When the mighty military of the Pharaoh threw their heads skyward to partake of the enjoyment or fear of being a spectator, the circles of fire reached higher into the sky.
One of the oddest reports of a UFO in terms of the shape that it took occurred a few days following the celebration of American independence in 1874 in Oaxaca, Mexico. The UFO appeared in the sky for several minutes. Historical comparative descriptions of UFOs have ranged from saucers to blimps to cigars to wheels to cylinders, but few match the Oaxaca UFO for creativity when it comes to describing its appearance. The Oaxaca UFO was shaped, according to witnesses, like an enormous trumpet.
One report of a UFO in particular inspired the official bluebook recording of reports by the United States Air Force . The year was that annus mirabilis in the history of UFO reports: 1947. The man behind what would become an increasingly significant element of Air Force record-keeping was Kenneth Arnold and the date that changed everything was June 24. Arnold was a private pilot who took to the skies that late June afternoon to assist in the search for a Marine C-46 transport plane that the Cascade mountain range had appeared to swallow.
Mt. Rainier was clearly visible as a result of the magnificently clear day and Arnold was about to make a turn in his plane when suddenly a bright light flashed. When he looked to find the source of the flash, the only thing his vision fell upon was the sight of a DC-4 taking part in the search. The only problem was that the DC-4 was too far away to have caused the flash of light. Fortunately for UFO addicts all over the world, the light flashed again.
Arnold was able to detect the source of the light this time. In fact, there were nine different sources of light. Nine objects that gleamed brightly in the afternoon sun providing sustenance to the timber of the Pacific Northwest were flying in rows of four and five. Arnold used the positioning of Mt. Rainier and Mt. Adams to do some quick calculations of the speed of these UFOs and he was astounded to find that his calculation resulted in an estimated speed of around 1600 miles an hour. That speed was far beyond what any craft built by human beings was capable of at the time. The UFOs that Arnold would later describe were thus: flat, shiny and moving like a boat on rough waves. Three minutes later they were gone. In other words, Arnold was describing what would soon come to be the iconic description of the craft in which visitors from another world were observing earthlings: flying saucers.