Keep an Eye on the Sky in Spokane: City Ranks Number 1 for UFO Sightings

Spokane UFO History
Kenneth Arnold, shown in 1966 had this drawing of a flying saucer created, after having reportedly spent “many long hours of fruitless flying with a camera, trying and failing to find anything like his saucers again." He is were the term flying saucer comes from. Photo courtesy: Associated Press

It’s well known that Washington is known for everyone’s favorite hairy, creepy cryptid, Bigfoot, but did you know the state is known for even more paranormal activity? The unidentified flying kind, that is.

The year was 1947, and the states were about to make history with the first-ever well-known UFO sighting after businessman Kenneth Arnold looked up into the sky one night to see a group of nine unidentified, high-speed flying objects near Mount Rainier.

Now, nearly eight decades after that fateful day and just over 300 miles away, Spokane has ranked number one for the most UFO sightings in the U.S. per capita.

Spokane UFO History
The Western United States seems to experience more UFO Activity than the rest of the nation, with pictures like this one capturing UFO activity in Riverside, California, on November 23, 1951. Photo courtesy: U.S. Air Force National Archives

The Data Suggests You Should Keep Your Eyes on the Skies in Spokane

On average, the city has about 52 UFO sightings per 100,000 residents, according to collections of recorded sightings from the National UFO Reporting Center (NUFORC). Ranking cities with the highest possibility of encountering a UFO puts the city at number seven, scoring 63.27 out of 100. The list’s score is calculated by the sightings per 100,000 people, the artificial brightness rating, average cloud cover, the amount of interest in extraterrestrials in the area, nearby aviation facilities, and various other impacting factors.

Neighbors Boise and Portland were also on the list, with Boise ranked fourth and Portland in eighth. Washington alone is the third U.S. state with the most reported UFO visits, with 6,889 reported sightings, each with an average duration per sighting of more than 53 minutes.

Among these recorded sightings, descriptions of these unidentifiable aircraft vary widely across the state and here in Spokane, ranging from formations of blinking lights to unknown objects soaring through the sky. Most of these sightings reported seeing circles, spheres, or triangle shapes in the sky.

Spokane UFO History
Eight crafts similar to that Arnold saw in Washington in 1947, only these objects were photographed over Tulsa, Oklahoma on July 12, 1947. Photo courtesy: Tulsa Daily World

The National UFO Reporting Center Keeps Detailed Accounts of All Encounters in Spokane and Across the Globe

Records of these sightings, as well as those across the nation, can all be found on NUFORC’s official website. Curious minds can explore the official list of sightings categorized by state. Eastern Washington’s Peter Davenport, who currently directs the National UFO Reporting Center, has had a lifelong interest in UFOs since first seeing one in the state during a family outing to a drive-in theater in 1954. Since being appointed director, he has moved the center to his home near Davenport, about 30 miles west of Spokane.

The earliest sightings within the city on the list appear in 1951, just days apart. On July 1, a cigar-shaped disc was reportedly darting back and forth over the western shores of Liberty Lake. Just two weeks later, on July 15, another UFO was spotted over Spokane Valley.

Spokane UFO History
While detailed photographs of UFOs remain stubbornly elusive, many witnesses have submitted drawings or computer renderings of the strange craft they have seen to NUFORC, such as this craft seen in Odessa, Washington, in 1969. Photo courtesy: National UFO Reporting Center

Spokane Becomes a Hub for Extraterrestrial Activity Throughout the Decades

Though Spokane wouldn’t have another report of an unidentified flying object until a radio announcement on June 14, 1974, they suddenly seemed to start literally flying in from then on out. An unnamed submitter reported to NUFORC on June 4, 2004, that they and their mom had witnessed a bullet-shaped craft with flames coming out of the rear while traveling in their car on August 9, 1974. A second submission four years later, on July 7, 2008, seems to confirm the sighting of this aircraft decades earlier. Another unidentified resident attests that there were no drugs or alcohol involved when they saw this same craft on the same day in 1974 for a total of 10 to 15 seconds.

“It was a clear, sunny afternoon, and I was at Fairchild AFB. As I was rounding the corner of the supply building, I noticed a cigar-shaped craft with a flame about twice as long as the craft. It was approximately ten miles to the south and traveling north-northwest at about the same speed as an airliner, which I thought it was, except for the single flame from the back, and there were no discernible wings or tail,” they wrote.

The city’s next sighting was a year later, on June 20, 1975, with reports of a disc-shaped object with a large light and strobe in the center flying overhead at approximately 100 feet in the air. Later that year, on July 19, an orange glowing sphere was reportedly seen in the Spokane sky that summer.

Spokane UFO History
Spokane seems to embrace its UFO status like that of Washington’s beloved Bigfoot, with local spots like Pinot’s Palette offering unique experiences related to extraterrestrials, like a painting-specific class on the subject. Photo courtesy: Pinot’s Palette

E.T. Continues to Phone Home from Spokane as the City Ranks Number One in UFO Sightings

In November, Spokane currently has 23 reported UFO sightings on NUFORC’s list for 2023. This is slightly lower than the previous year when there were 28 reported sightings submitted to the center. This past October seemed to witness the height of this year’s activity, with five reported sightings for the month.

Whether this increase in activity is the result of more and more curious extraterrestrials entering our planet’s atmosphere or the result of more Earth-bound, open minds looking more and more towards the sky as the government becomes increasingly open about its investigations into Unidentified Anomalous Phenomena, otherwise known as UAPs — it’s hard to say.

What does seem safe to say, however, is that Spokane has definitely become a must-watch location for UFO enthusiasts and curious onlookers as more information continues to come forward and shed light on these mysterious spectacles that have more and more people looking toward the sky, not just here in Spokane, but across the globe.