STRANGE GH: Tribune uses ‘Flying Saucers’ headline 3 days before famous Roswell edition

Sep 6, 2011

 

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.

Comments

DRudiak

I'm afraid Kevin Collier is unfamiliar with UFO history. The terms "flying saucer" and "flying disc" originated in the newspapers 2-3 days after the famous sighting of private pilot Kenneth Arnold near Mount Rainier on June 24, 1947. Instead of "many UFO historians", the reality is NO UFO historian has ever claimed the terms began with the Roswell incident of July 8, 1947.

Arnold initially described the nine objects he saw flying at supersonic speed across the face of Rainier as flat and somewhat disc-like or saucer-like or like a pie plate (later he added that one was shaped more like a flying wing). A large number of newspapers carried the story on June 26 and 27, but the terms "flying saucers" and "flying discs" didn't really take off until another famous sighting of July 4, 1947, by a United Airlines crew over Idaho who saw another 9 disc-like objects. That's when the newspapers exploded the next day with the saucer/disc terms on the front pages and in their headlines. Roswell didn't occur until near the tail-end of this nationwide epidemic of UFO sightings, that quickly died off after the military debunked the Roswell "flying disc" as a humble weather balloon, then followed up claiming most saucer sightings were mass hysteria or people seeing weather balloons.

David Rudiak

Kevin S. Collier

David Rudiak is correct. For the record, I do not for a minute the term "flying saucer" originated from the Roswell headline but many UFO enthusiasts, some who call themselves historians, make that false claim. Online UFO sites are the most notorious offenders. My column was meant to disprove the claim if anything. Actually, there are far more claims that Kenneth Arnold coined the term "flying saucer," which as you noted, is not true either.
As I stated in my column: "Some historians point to the July 8, 1947, Roswell Daily Record headline as the origin of the term “flying saucer." Those so-called "historians" are usually glorified ethusiasts, which I should have emphasized. I discount the July 8, 1947 "origin" claim when I write: "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." My notation of "the end of June" is in direct regard to Kenneth Arnold's encounter, but I didn't go into that in my piece due to lack of space. An editor or writer at Associated Press came up with the term based on Arnold's description. I didn't mean to confuse anyone.

 

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