Close Encounters 1947 thru 1950
Updated: Feb 5
by Mike Jamieson
Kenneth Arnold's widely reported sighting occured on June 24, 1947, beginning an era of "UFOs" being a focused-upon subject.
That very same day an Oregon man had a sighting that he did share at the time and exactly 40 years later would reassert in reporter Hal McCune's Pendleton East Oregonian article that the incident he reported really happened.
The witness was an Oregon farmer named Bill Schuening. He was driving his pickup truck on a rural road, 25 miles north of town, when he heard a humming sound. As he drove up a rise, he could see a silver sphere hovering several feet over a field and two small (3 feet) beings underneath. They wore green suits and white helmets. He was quoted next as saying within seconds they were gone: "How they got in [the craft] I'll never know. Suddenly they were just gone." He observed the craft departing first toward the Walla Walla River and then circle back towards the mountains.
The manner of how these beings reportedly reentered is a feature that would be regularly observed by others during similar encounter incidents reported upon in subsequent decades.
There were other UFO occupants reports near the historic date of June 24 1947 and dramatic news coverage that didn't seem as credible or serious as the above case.
One example of a less credible-sounding report includes a paraphrased account based on a letter in the Tennessean newspaper (July 9 issue) from Nashville, TN. A man shared that as he was driving he saw a "flying saucer" land in a field and then two small beings, "glowing like fireflies", emerge from it. They greeted him with gestures and soon departed in their craft. While the news article related that the witness appeared sane and sober, historian Jerome Clark opined that "the story sounds more like a practical joke than a serious report". (Volume 1 of The UFO Encyclopedia, pg 267)
Another possible example of the media blitz over Arnold's sighting inspiring tall tales was a news report on July 8 1947 in the News Tribune from Tacoma, Washington. There it was noted that "levity had its day, coming from" three individuals that the newspaper identified by name and address. The neighborhood group reported seeing disks landing on a neighborhood roof with small beings emerged. The beings reportedly vanished upon approach.
Similar newspaper accounts coming out just a short time after Arnold's sighting, with people either phoning in or writing to papers included an article on July 7 in the Daily Telegram from Worcester, Mass and a report in the Houston Post on July 9.
It would be some time before serious attention would be directed to close encounters of the third kind. That would be when an investigatory network established by Coral and Jim Lorenzen in 1952 via the Aerial Phenomena Research Organization would address reports previously ignored.
Historian Jerome Clark describes the initial inhibiting conditions (The UFO Encyclopedia, pg 266 of Volume 1):
"Reports of UFO Occupants would come into public view only gradually after 1947, and even for the earliest Ufologists, like Donald Keyhole and Gerald Heard [opining in 1950], the existence, appearance, and nature of beings inside flying discs were questions that could be addressed only speculatively."
This resistance didn't exactly erase close encounter reports and their value in providing insight into the UFO presence, for Clark also noted (pg 267):
"A complete listing of CE3s from the early UFO era would fill a book. A sense of what these reports involved, however, can be cleaned from a review of the patterns and from summaries of representative cases. Where patterns are concerned, it should be stated at the outset that reports in which humanoids and human-like entities figure dominate the accounts, as is apparent already from the pre-1947 ones...But within the humanoid/human reports the inquirer can find both remarkable variety and striking uniformity."
Below is just a small sampling of cases that are published. See the Surveying the Databases article at this site where many of the data sources are identified.
Among the 1947 reports allegedly happening not long after the American intense press coverage of the Arnold sighting is a detailed case coming out of Italy. The witness in this case had NOT as yet heard of flying saucers on the morning of August 14 as he set out to paint scenery near a creek outside Carnia, Italy.
The earliest noted (in HUMCAT entry) publishing source for this case is a publication called "Clypeus" in its May 1964 issue (vol 2, issue 5). The Lorenzens of APRO and others subsequently published it also. Coral Lorenzen in her 1976 book "Encounters with UFO Occupants" observed that this was "the earliest report" in Europe after the Arnold sighting in the American northwest "of an unconventional craft on the ground accompanied by extraordinary beings..." (pg 115).
An artist named R. L. Johannis was setting out near Chiarso Creek at Villa Santina (near Carnia, Italy) to paint scenery when he noticed a disc or lens-shaped craft had landed some distance from him. It was about 30 feet in diameter and according to the description in the HUMCAT entry was lodged in a rock crevice at an odd angle.
Johannis first sees two small beings (3 feet tall) about 50 yards away and begins approaching them. When closer he sees more detail, as here laid out in the HUMCAT entry: They were "wearing dark-blue overalls of translucent material, with bright red belts, collars and cuffs. Their large heads were covered with brown tight-fitting caps. They had immense round yellow-green eyes with vertical-slit pupils, and a mere slit of a mouth, which kept opening and closing. Their skin was dull-greenish; they walked like robots, arms hanging"...[Finally] their hands "had eight fingers, four of them opposable like our thumbs".
At this close range he raises his pick and calls out, asking who they are. Lorenzen in her 1976 book gives a concise description of the rest of the story (pg 115): "The gesture may have been interpreted as hostile, for one of the beings touched it's belt and projected a thin vapor, which dazed the artist and he fell onto his back. The little beings then approached to within 6 feet of the artist and stood looking at his easel. Though weak, Johannis managed to roll over and saw the creatures pick up his easel which had been knocked down. He noted that it was taller than both of them, and that they were panting hard. Shortly they returned to the disc and entered it, whereupon it rose from the ground, hovered, and---disappeared."
A detail not mentioned by Lorenzen, but included in the HUMCAT entry, included the claim that when Johannis unpacked his pack later he found that his aluminum lunch-box and fork were missing.
A surveyor named Jose Higgins was northeast of Pitanga, Brazil during the daytime on July 23 1947 when he allegedly witnessed a lens-shaped craft (about 150 in diameter) land about 50 yards away as it made a whistling sound. He saw 2 beings first, watching him behind a thick window and then three nearly seven foot tall beings emerge, encased in an inflatable transparent outfit, some metal packs on their back. The beings looked identical with nearly hairless heads, large round eyes, and long legs.
He didn't understand their language but there was some communication using gestures. When they responded to his query as to their origins, they drew a representation of a solar system with seven planets and pointed to one. At one point he had the impression they wanted him to go with them, so he showed them a picture of his wife and then walked away into the woods.
From the woods he observed them for a half hour, "playing like children, jumping in the air and throwing enormous stones" before they reentered the craft and left.
This case was first published a couple weeks later, and again in 1954 in a Rio de Janeiro publication.
A 1948 case also from Brazil (no precise date) revealed a different type of being and activity. Otaviano A. Souza Bueno was out walking in the morning by a creek outside Campo Grande, Brazil when he saw a round luminous object quietly descend and land on one of the banks of the creek. He saw emerging from it three beings "of less than medium height". Making extremely rapid movements, and using tube-shaped tools, they collected soil samples. After the UFO left, the witness examined what was there, finding the holes to be perfectly square.
On April 3 1948, at 6:35 in the morning, a bus driver (Giuseppe Langiano) and a station master (Bavota) in San Martino, Italy saw a luminous orange object, inverted-bowl-shaped and 30 feet plus in diameter, hovering about 10 meters above the ground. They saw a figure float down from the bottom. It was about a meter and a half tall and was a wearing a one piece metallic suit. The witnesses ran towards this being who in turn reenters the craft and departs. This report was investigated by the OVNI Research Group of San Martino and published in "UFO in Italia".
This next case set at Wasserbillig, West Germany was investigated (according to HUMCAT entry) by ufologist Gordon Creighton and published in volume 15 issue 5 of the England-based Flying Saucer Review. The incident began at night on May 25 1948 with a young German named Hans Klotzbach jumping off a moving coal train (heading to Luxembourg) onto an embankment.
Hans badly injured his legs and fainted. When coming to, he found that he was aboard some craft with the interior bathed in an opal-bluish light. He heard a voice in German (no beings and their appearance are described in entry). He was told they saw his plight and wanted to help. Hans related that the voice shared predictions of upcoming calamities. Then he fell asleep.
He regained consciousness 4 days later, in woods several miles from where he was found. He saw that his badly broken legs had completely healed with the telling sign of dried blood in his shoes.
On August 19 1949 during the day 2 prospectors were near Death Valley in Southern California when they allegedly saw a disc-shaped object (24 feet in diameter) crash land nearby. They saw 2 very small beings, otherwise looking fairly human, emerge and then run when they saw the prospectors approach. The prospectors lost track of them and in the heat stopped their chase. The next day the story was published in the Bakersfield Californian and then other papers.
The above story was among a HUMCAT entry related to another supposed crash near Aztec, New Mexico. The originators of what turned out as hoaxed stories were a newspaper (Weekly Variety) columnist named Frank Scully and two con men (seeking investors for a scheme related to bogus oil-detecting tech). The prospectors, though, shared their story about two months before Scully reported his "find".
A story from the summer of 1950 in Liiduvere, Estonia was published by the English Flying Saucer Review in 1978 in an article titled "UFO Landings in Estonia".
The story is based on a then six year old girl's account of sighting in a clover field during the daytime an "oval-shaped, silver-grey at either end and black in the center" landed craft. (Also noted as somewhat cylindrical.) There were four beings about her size near an opening in the center and she approached them. A telepathic conversation ensued but at some point she flees when feeling the sudden onset of fear. She didn't remember what the content was in her telepathic exchange with the beings.
An incident on March 15 1950 at 6:15pm near Clearfield, Pennsylvania was actually fleshed out with a reporter William C. Baggs from Miami, Florida and the Daily News. The reporter interviewed the reporting witness, Craig Hunter, with the transcript published in the "Progress" in Clearfield, PA on March 31.
Craig Hunter had stopped his car to address some car problem when he heard a whistling sound. He saw a disc-shaped object not far up, only 300 feet, first circling then hovering. He next saw a blue-green object projected towards him, exploding 20 feet away. (Hunter thought he was photographed.) That left a bright white light lingering for over 30 seconds. When a truck driver stopped to help with Hunter's car, Hunter pointed to the craft. The truck driver (Ellis Yeager) exclaimed "oh my God" and left. The craft soon departed to the northwest.
On March 18 1950 at 6:30pm in Lago, Argentina a rancher named Wilfredo Averalo saw 2 very large disc-shaped craft, one landed and the other hovering above. He viewed entities in a transparent cabin working on instruments. From a distance of 150 yards he could make out that they were four feet tall with pallid faces and wearing cellophane-like material.
The craft hovering above shone a light on him. As it was doing so, it lit up with a blue light and with the other previously landed craft departed leaving a blue trail. The area was checked the next day with burnt grass found. Several other witnesses reported seeing these craft in flight.
On April 24 1950 in Abbiate Guazzone, Italy Bruno Facchini encountered a few beings apparently doing repairs to a landed disc-shaped craft. The description of them included pale faces noted, attire of "diving suits" and helmets with transparent face plates. They moved slowly. Facchini spoke to them which evoked some growls from them and one of them reacted by pointing an object at him that emitted a beam that knocked Facchini down and immobilized him. When apparent repairs were finished, the craft departed.