However, three days earlier, the front page of the Grand Haven Tribune used the words “flying saucers” in a headline when Ottawa County folks claimed to see strange objects in the night sky.
The headline on the front page of the July 5, 1947, edition of the Tribune read: “Flying Saucers Make Michigan Bow.” The accompanying article pointed to “southwest of Port Huron” and in West Michigan as locations where people were seeing the strange phenomenon.
Two days later, the July 7 edition of the Grand Haven Tribune published a front page headline that read: “Saucers Seen Over Coopersville.” The accompanying report included a description of a dinner party in Allendale on July 5 in which guests witnessed “18 to 21 of the saucers” in the evening sky. Similar sightings came from Hudsonville.
The day after the second Tribune UFO article, the Roswell Daily Record published its legendary headline, along with a report that a flying saucer had crashed near the town.
The next day, the newspaper published a retraction of sorts concerning the captured “flying saucer.” “An examination by the Army revealed last night that mysterious objects found on a lonely New Mexico ranch was a harmless high-altitude weather balloon — not a grounded flying disc,” the Record reported.
The paper also published an account by W.W. Brazel, the 48-year-old Lincoln County rancher who first discovered the debris. Brazel relayed that on June 14, 1947, he and his 8-year-old son, Vernon, came upon a large area of bright wreckage consisting of rubber strips, tinfoil, paper and sticks. At the time, Brazel and his son didn’t pay much attention to it; but on July 4, he, his wife and two children journeyed to the spot to gather up some of the debris.
When Brazel came to town on July 7 to sell some wool, he met with Sheriff George Wilcox and whimsically whispered, “kinda confidential like,” that he might have found the wreckage of a “flying disc.” Brazel had read about sightings around the country that were being reported by The Associated Press, thus he introduced the subject as a possible explanation for the debris.
Some historians point to the July 8, 1947, Roswell Daily Record headline as the origin of the term “flying saucer.” The Associated Press actually used the term at the end of June 1947. Local editions of newspapers, such as the Grand Haven Tribune on July 5, based their headline writing upon those AP articles.
It is unknown how many copies of the July 8, 1947, Roswell Daily Record exist today, but an estimated 50,000 copies of front-page reproductions have sold to date. The Tribune’s front-page “flying saucers” edition is more infamous than famous, and exists only on microfilm for the curious.