Did you see any strange lights in the sky yesterday?
Perhaps you spotted an extraterrestrial anniversary celebration! The so-called modern era of ufology (yes, it’s a word) dawned 71 years ago on June 24.
That’s when Kenneth Arnold, above, an Idaho businessman flying his private plane, saw nine disc-like objects zooming impossibly fast past Mount Rainier, in Washington. He told the East Oregonian newspaper, which ran a tiny article that was picked up by The Associated Press.
June 24 was also the day, in 1997, when the Air Force published a conclusive paper about a second incident reported in 1947: a rancher near Roswell, N.M., found odd, metallic debris scattered there. Rumors grew that an alien spacecraft had crashed. The report was intended to debunk rumors about little green people once and for all (whether it succeeded is debatable).
As for Mr. Arnold, stung at being mocked by skeptics, he once complained to an Air Force officer who interviewed him, “If I saw a ten-story building flying through the air I would never say a word about it.”
But he never recanted his original story.
Nancy Wartik wrote today’s Back Story.
Your Morning Briefing is published weekday mornings and updated online. Sign up here to get it by email in the Australian, Asian, European or American morning. You can also receive an Evening Briefing on U.S. weeknights.
And our Australia bureau chief offers a weekly letter adding analysis and conversations with readers.
Browse our full range of Times newsletters here.
What would you like to see here? Contact us at email@example.com.