Early in the summer of 1947, an amateur pilot from Idaho named Kenneth Arnold spotted something in the Washington skies that kind of blew his mind.

Despite the skies being clear that day, he saw a series of nine flashes of horizontal light. He landed, told others what he saw, and his story spread through the popular consciousness, taking on a life on its own, as well as a name—the flying saucer.

Two weeks later, a much more famous incident in Roswell, New Mexico, involving a weather balloon (if you believe what the government tells you), further cemented the idea of the flying saucer in the public consciousness.

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