Watch the skies!: a chronicle of the flying saucer myth

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Smithsonian Institution Press, Apr 1, 1994 - Body, Mind & Spirit - 342 pages
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On June 24, 1947, pilot Kenneth Arnold flew from Chehalis, Washington, on his way to Yakima. As he headed toward Mt. Rainier, he witnessed nine peculiar disk- or saucer-shaped aircraft flying in a line at incredible speed. Arnold's attempts to contact the authorities resulted in front-page news stories that referred for the first time to "flying saucers." Watch the Skies! chronicles the arrival and invasion of the UFO myth in American popular culture. Curtis Peebles recounts in detail the record of sightings, contacts, and abductions over nearly fifty years, among them "The Classics" of 1948, the Invasion of Washington, and the famous "swamp gas" sighting that led to the Condon Report. Drawing on sources ranging from Air Force files to pulp magazines to popular movies such as Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Peebles shows how mania about UFOs took hold of society in different ways. Peebles shows how supposed eye-witness accounts, published in the late 1940s and early 1950s pulp magazines like Amazing Stories and True, led decades later to "wild ravings" about underground bases where aliens waited to enslave humanity and about treaties between the government and aliens. On another level, Peebles shows, organizations were established to try to induce the Air Force - as the official government arm that investigated claims of UFOs - to release alleged hard evidence of an alien presence. A skeptic with an encyclopedic knowledge of UFO lore and history, Peebles critically assesses the past record and more recent claims involving cattle mutilations, abductions, Air Force test flights of UFOs, and the existence of a mach 8 superplane called Aurora. This thoroughly researched chronicleconcludes that the flying saucer myth is not really about disk-shaped spaceships and their angelic or demonic pilots. Rather, like earlier mythologies, it is an attempt to make order out of the world, an expression of our hopes and fears.

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Watch the skies!: a chronicle of the flying saucer myth

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The phrase flying saucer didn't come along until 1947, and since then it has come to connote many things in the sky people don't understand. Peebles ( The Moby Dick Project , Smithsonian, 1991) has ... Read full review

Contents

Rejection
26
Suspicions
35
The 1952 Rap
53
Copyright

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About the author (1994)

Veteran freelance writer & historian Curtis Peebles ("Dark Eagles," "Watch the Skies!," "The Corona Project," & "Guardians") lives on Palomar Mountain, California. He graduated from Cal State Long Beach in 1985 with a BA in history. A writer specializing in satellites, space flight, & military aviation, Mr. Peebles is also a fellow of the British Interplanetary Society & a frequent contributor to its journal, as well as "Space Education Magazine" & "Spaceflight Magazine.

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