The Flying Saucer Wave of 1947

A place to post up some thoughts on the flying saucer wave of 1947

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Where did the term 'Flying Saucer' come from?

– by Don Ecsedy, February 7, 2018

I have been re-reading Martin Shough's The Singular Adventure of Mr. Kenneth Arnold. Shough discusses Arnold's descriptions of the shape of the objects he reported, the 'bat-like' and the 'disc' or 'saucer' shapes. He offers that 'bat-like' refers to aircraft marshalling bats which are disc-like and which we would ourselves call 'paddles'. However he did not take the same route for 'saucer', but instead referred to 'saucer' as "tableware". He appears to accept that Arnold,a pilot, a sportsman, and a former athlete, would use crockery as a description of the objects' shape.

Below are clips from newspapers of the term 'flying saucer' and 'flying disc' prior to the summer of 1947. Citations to sources are the names of the images.

1915 Discus

1925 Hockey

1939 Trap Shooting

1944 Trap Shooting


It gets better:

1945 Sheppard Field


Mary G. Mayes and the Socorro Zamora UFO

– by Don Ecsedy, January 2018

Socorro lies outside my area of interest, but when I read Lincoln La Paz appeared in the case files I decided to see what he had to say. I don't intend to write an account of Socorro, however I am interested in the 'Mayes' story. There are many variations of it, as told by ufologists and commenters, which origin is in the correspondence of Dr. James E. McDonald; there is as well an appearance by Stanton Friedman, and Charles Moore. It has become UFO Lore.

In the absence of the correspondence, there's nothing much to be done on the basis of its contents. However, that is not a good reason not to look at it from the Mayes side. But since no one since Dr. McDonald has bothered to get her account, I'm left with nothing to do (she died ten years ago) but to identify her and present her biography

The main ingredients of the tale is that after a lecture by Stanton Friedman, a member of his audience said she had done an analysis of the plants from the Zamora site, that the report and the evidence were taken by USAF personnel who told her not to discuss it. She also said fused sand had been found at the Zamora site. It is this last which exicites the ufologists and commenters. Friedman tells McDonald and McDonald locates Mayes and has some chats with her (apparently in 1968), writes to Moore, gets an answer, then keeps in touch with her into 1970) least according to those who it seems are privy to McDonald's correspondence...or something like that.

I'm not going to add documentation at this point, although if anyone is interested, just email me for whatever and I'll send it along. Unless something turns up which necessitates a full account, I don't see any reason to go into it. The names 'Mayes', 'Mary', 'White' are common and there are various M.G. and Mary Whites and Mayeses working in similar fields and sometimes the same employer as our Mayes-White. I've cross-checked my references with known addresses, ages, locations, and associates.

According to stories in the women's section of the Albuquerque newspapers, the Journal and the Tribune, Mary G. Mayes seems to be a normal housewife and mother, active in community affairs. She was president of a PTA, and a member of various women's associations, especially garden clubs and the Campfire Girls. I'm certain of this because we have one story (and photos)) about her, her mother, and her kid sister, and a national award she had received (her mother had also received the same award in the past). She was also a member of a group of wives of men who were in the Army Corps of Engineers, locally. Her husband Bob retired after 31 years in the Corps. He attended the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology (NMIT), and may also have attended Texas A&M. In 1957 the Mayes family relocated for a year to Pakistan, I assume for a job Bob had taken, then returned to Albuquerque.

Now to the main news sections of the newspapers. By 1959 Mayes is an assistant to Dr Loren D. Potter, at the University of New Mexico (UNM). A graduate of a junior college in Texas, Mayes enrolls in UNM, completes undergrad degree, then by 1963 is in the Master of Science biology program at UNM. According to the newspapers, she was at Sandia in 1963, doing what I don't know, and then for a conference at NMIT, on April 11, 1964; she is listed as a speaker representing the Lovelace Foundation. In 1964 she completes her Masters of Science. Her thesis was "The Effects of Cobalt-60 on a Desert Root System" (Courtesty of David Rudiak).

By the time she met with McDonald she had spent several years as a federal employee of the US Public Health Service, and was either in the midst of, or had just finished work at, the Experimental Farm at the Nevada Test Site (NTS). At some point her professional focus had shifted from the radiation effects on plants to its effects on mammals. The origin of this shift may have been during her time with the Lovelace Foundation, which at that time had a project underway at Kirtland AFB concerning radiation effects on mammals. It is the possibility Mayes was at Kirtland that makes the attempt to confirm it worthwhile. If she was at Kirtland on April 24 and 25, 1964, then the odds increase in favor of her being at the Zamora site or having received materials to analyze, and that maybe there is something to fused sand being found at Socorro.

After this period she goes on to a substantial career in the nuclear field. Since this period is, so far, not part of the Socorro story, there is no immediate need to detail it. Maybe something will turn up.

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