Monday, July 7, 1997
Flying saucers here?
Fifty years ago, UFO sightings were everywhere

The Cincinnati Enquirer

The July 7, 1947, Enquirer reported numerous UFO sightings around the country.
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No. Not here, too? Not aliens buzzing oh so serene Cincinnati? Yep. But we are talking 1947. July 7, 1947. The same week as the Roswell, N.M., UFO crash (or non-crash, depending on whom you believe).

Within the next week, The Enquirer reported, there were sightings in 40 of the then 48 states, including:

  • Massachusetts: "White, flying saucers whirling around and going at a tremendous speed."

  • Washington: "An object about the size of a five bedroom house."

  • Vermont: "A brilliant object in the night sky . . . stationary."

  • And, gasp, Cincinnati.

An honest-to-goodness series of UFO sightings that sent all three local papers into a frenzy:

  • "FLYING SAUCERS OVER CINCINNATI," said the all-caps headline on Page 1 of The Enquirer.

  • "More and more Greater Cincinnatians tell of seeing mystery discs in air," said the now defunct Times Star's front page.

  • "Discs soar over Cincinnati several persons report," said the Cincinnati Post's Page 1 story. It included a sidebar explaining that more than 100 people at a ballgame near Hyde Park reported sightings.

According to The Enquirer's story: "Flying discs were reported coursing through the sky over Greater Cincinnati last night. They were observed moving northward in an even flight at 6 p.m. by a Terrace Park housewife."

That would be Mrs. Arthur C. Stollmaier, then of 908 Elm Ave. She described the objects "as shiny silver plates" with surfaces that "gave off brilliant reflected light" but with "no sign of flame associated with jet propulsion."

Mrs. Stollmaier lives in a Cincinnati nursing home now and couldn't be reached for comment. But her son, Tom Stollmaier of Columbia, S.C., remembers the story:

"Oh, the flying saucer again? This is the first time I thought about it in 30 years," he said. "I was only 5 and don't remember if I saw it or not. I remember hearing about it. . . . The story came up from time to time, but it was never a really big topic in the house." He said his mother was upset about the story appearing in the paper. "She had made an offhand comment at a party, I guess to one of your reporters, and he went back and printed it."

Upset? Because people would think she was, well, wigged out?

"No, I don't think that. She just didn't want to see it in the paper," Mr. Stollmaier said. "But she knew something had happened. She wasn't always sure what she saw; she just knew she saw something."

Unlike Roswell, there was no national hype accompanying the local sightings. Nor, apparently, was there an official investigation. Maybe that's because pilots landing at Lunken and what was then Greater Cincinnati Airport said they saw nothing unusual. Ditto control tower personnel.

TriState Advocates for Scientific Knowledge (TASK), the local group that investigates UFO sightings, wasn't formed until 1993.

The U.S. Air Force wasn't called in because it didn't exist as the U.S. Air Force until September 1947, said Lt. Kim Devereux in Wright-Patterson's public affairs office.

"If there was an investigation," she said, "it would have been done by the Army Air Corps (the Air Force's predecessor)."

"Ooooh, that's a tough question," said Major Ed Worley, an Army spokesman in Washington, D.C. "If it wasn't reported to us, we wouldn't have investigated." Finding out if they did, if it's even possible to find out, would take some time, Major Worley said.

Which is to say that if aliens did a flyby on July 7, 1947, it's their dirty little secret and theirs alone.