June 24th: Flying Saucer Day

It may not be marked in red on your calendar, but today, June 24th, is an important day in UFO history.  It’s the date we started using the term “flying saucer” to describe unidentified flying objects and the date the biggest UFO conspiracy theory of all time was put to rest by the federal government.

The First Flying Saucer

On June 24, 1947 experienced pilot Kenneth Arnold was helping to search for a C-46 transport plane that had crashed near Mount Rainier in Washington State. He reported seeing nine objects flying in formation at a high rate of speed (estimated at 1700 mph).

Describing the incident, Arnold said they looked like saucers flying across the sky and the term – flying saucers – became part of our cultural vocabulary.

The Conspiracy That Wouldn’t Die

Two weeks later, the Roswell Army Air Field (southern New Mexico) issued a press release stating that they had recovered a “flying disc” from a nearby ranch. The statement was quickly retracted and reported as a downed weather balloon, but UFO believers cried “conspiracy”.

The Roswell conspiracy theory has grown over the years to include a huge government cover up and transportation of the crashed craft and alien bodies to Area 51 in Nevada for examination and experimentation. It is a huge cultural phenomenon that has been the subject of numerous books, documentaries, movies and television shows.

The theory refuses to die even though it’s been debunked serval times.

On June 24, 1997 (exactly 5o years after Arnold’s siting) the Air Force released the second and final report on the Roswell incident. The first report (1994) claimed that the saucer was debris from a high-altitude observational balloon. The last report claimed that the alien bodies were high-altitude parachute test dummies.

Which, of course, put the whole thing to rest (insert sarcasm punctuation here).

The Bath Family Connection

Now, you may already have known all (or most)of this, but you may not know the Bath family’s Roswell story.

In 2013, my two sons decided to take a road trip. On a lark, they decided to visit Roswell New Mexico to see what all the excitement was about. They had a lot of fun, but the highlight of their visit to Roswell was what happened at the Boy Scout council office.

They introduced themselves as sons of a district executive in the Salt Lake City council and asked what kind of patches the council had for sale. As they talked patches, the Roswell staff lamented that they were having a difficult time coming up with a design for their council’s 2014 national jamboree patch set.

Considering it a no-brainer, my son’s suggested that they give each district their own alien and design a patch set around that. The staff was excited and went to work on it right away. A few months later, three patch sets came in the mail from the Roswell council and they looked great.

My sons, like their father, have a tendency to exaggerate, so I wasn’t sure how much of this story to believe, but a couple of years later I met up with the Roswell council executive at a meeting in Tucson, Arizona. When I introduced myself, he blurted out, “I know your sons, they designed our last jamboree patch for us!”

I guess anything’s possible on June 24th.

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