Chehalis Flying Saucer Party Coming for 75th Anniversary of Famous Washington UFO Sighting


On June 24, 1947, Idaho-based pilot Kenneth Arnold took off from the Chehalis airport on what was supposed to be a simple business trip to Yakima.

That routine flight made history when Arnold, approaching Mineral at an altitude of 9,200 feet just before 3 p.m. that day, looked toward Mount Rainier and saw nine large metallic-looking objects flying at incredible speeds in a chain formation.

He reported what he saw to the U.S. military, but the flying objects remain unidentified 75 years later.

Arnold’s sighting of those nine unidentified flying objects (UFOs), which occurred weeks before rumors swirled that a flying saucer was found in Roswell, New Mexico, has since been credited as the first major UFO sighting in America.

To honor the 75-year anniversary of Arnold’s UFO sighting, three venues in Chehalis — City Farm Chehalis, McFiler’s Chehalis Theater and the Lewis County Historical Museum — will play host to the Chehalis Flying Saucer Party on Sept. 17.

“It should be really fun,” said Lewis County Historical Museum Director Jason Mattson.

Mattson, alongside Rochester resident and Pacific NorthWEIRD producer Vince Ynzuna, banded together to organize the first Chehalis Flying Saucer Party in 2019, according to previous Chronicle reporting. That event was a success, but organizers were unable to hold it for the last two years due to COVID-19 restrictions, Mattson said.

“It’s kind of a big one because it’s the 75th anniversary (of Kenneth Arnold’s UFO sighting),” Mattson said of this year’s Flying Saucer Party.

The museum will be free to enter during the Flying Saucer Party and will host multiple UFO-themed exhibits, including a new permanent Kenneth Arnold exhibit that will be unveiled Saturday morning. The museum will also showcase an exhibit celebrating the 75th anniversary of Yard Birds Mall & Storage opening in Chehalis, which happened to coincide with the anniversary of Arnold’s UFO sighting, Mattson said.

At 1 p.m., the museum will host a free Saucer Drop, a reimagining of an old Chehalis Krazy Days’ tradition of tossing toy discs from the museum’s gazebo. Kids then try to catch the falling saucers and win the prizes, donated by local Chehalis businesses, attached to each one.

Over at the McFiler’s Chehalis Theater, free flying saucer cartoons will be playing all day. For $5, attendees can view “The Day the Earth Stood Still” at 8 p.m. McFilers will also host free live music by Kirby Swatosh at 4 p.m., The Jacked Lords at 6 p.m. and Tinkham Road at 8 p.m.

Renowned UFO experts will give presentations throughout the day at City Farm and will join for a questions and answers panel, moderated by Ynzuna, at 6:30 p.m.

Each of the presentations costs $10 to attend. VIP passes — which include admission to all seven presentations, a movie pass, 20% off food at McFilers, an event T-shirt, a goodie bag and a one-year membership to the Lewis County Historical Museum — are available for $60 each.

VIP passes are available for purchase in-person at the museum or online at through Friday.

Individual presentation passes and movie tickets can be purchased at the museum the day of the event.

All proceeds will benefit the Lewis County Historical Museum.

Following are brief descriptions of each of the scheduled speakers, provided by event organizers. A full schedule of events is available at

• Shanelle Shanz and Vince Ynzunza, 9:30 a.m.: Shanz is the granddaughter of Kenneth Arnold and will give a speech “about her grandfather’s sighting and how it changed the world.” Ynzuna is the producer of the video web series Pacific NorthWEIRD and will present an update on his research into “a cryptic letter sent to Kenneth Arnold by a mysterious cult leader named Everett H. Lea.” Shanz and Ynzuna have collaborated on “a fascinating presentation.” Shanz will additionally be available during the Saucer Toss for meet-and-greets.

• Bob Antone, 10 a.m.: Co-operator of Hidden Northwest Tours who has been collecting folk tales since 1989. Antone will give a presentation “discussing a cultural history of the unexplained from ancient times to recent developments” and will “discuss a variety of angles drawing upon historical knowledge, folkloric observation and scientific analysis.

• Maureen Morgan, 11:30 a.m.: Director of the Washington Mutual UFO Network and a member of the network’s research team, Morgan will present on “the mystery of why the Northwest holds such an attraction to these strange visitors.” Morgan will additionally be available from Friday evening to closing time on Saturday for anyone who wishes to report “UFO sightings, close encounters or other anomalous phenomena.” Reports can be made confidentially.

• Liminal Earth, 1:30 p.m.: A paranormal investigation team that maintains an online, crowdsourced map of “weird, amazing and paranormal stories” and hosts weekly Wednesday UFO Watch Parties. Liminal Earth will host a town hall and a live contact session via the Estes Method to “call out to any aerial entities who may be passing overhead or swimming in the air around us.”

• James and Joanne Clarkson, 3 p.m.: James is a UFO investigator with 2,000 UFO cases under his belt and Joanne is a trained psychic medium. The two will give a joint presentation titled “Women and UFOS: The Psychic and the Detective” in which they re-enact the stories of four women “whose life stories illustrate diverse aspects of the UFO encounter experience.

Greg Long, 4:30 p.m.: A researcher and writer, Long will give a “lively presentation” on Kenneth Arnold “based on little-known facts about his roots, character and his obsession to know the truth.”