There’s so much amazing about this “Miss Flying Saucer” artwork by Bill Randall, but let’s stick with what makes us psychosocial pelicanists cheer. You see, the sexy space cadet is on top of an actual saucer. Not an alien spaceship, but a plain simple, pink saucer dinnerware. It’s either a giant saucer, or Miss Flying Saucer is a tiny fairy-like being. Either way, that makes psychosocial pelicanists happy.
Why, would one ask. Is it a fetish of sorts? Not exactly. This has in fact a lot to say about the origin of ufology and in particular, the term “flying saucer”.
In “Saucer Expansion” Martin Kottmeyer remarks how, surprisingly, most reports from the 1947 wave of flying saucers in Canada and the USA had them of a very small size, of 3 feet or less. In the graphic above, Kottmeyer illustrates how the reported size for flying saucers, which would soon be called UFOs, increased gradually, and nowadays it’s actually rare to read description of very tiny objects.
Why, would one ask. Is it an alien fashion of sorts? Probably not. Kottmeyer quotes Ed Stewart suggestion that “Saucer descriptions in the news stories made reference to table top cups and saucers which could have implanted a small size in the readers mind when they read the initial stories.”
That is, people were seeing actual flying dinnerware in the sky. Only with later sci-fi movies which depicted large (Day Earth Stood Still) and then gigantic (Close Encounters) alien spaceships would people come to report larger UFOs.
There’s corroborating evidence for this psychosocial pelicanist interpretation. In Brazil, the term “flying saucer” was translated as “disco voador”, or “flying disk”, no one here speaks in terms of dinnerware when referring to aliens. On the other hand, “flying disk” would immediately remind people of the late 1940s and early 1950s of vinyl records.
And that’s exactly what they reported. Historian Rodolpho Gauthier also collected some news clippings of the first UFO waves in Brazil, and though no detailed statistical analysis was conducted, from Gauthier’s work one can find several references to small flying disks and even funny cartoons comparing flying disks with small vinyl records thrown in the air.
Well, back to Miss Flying Saucer. Unfortunately I couldn’t find when exactly did Bill Randall created that amazing illustration, the closest was this commentary from The Pinup Blog (NSFW) that “I could only guess that these pinups were painted between 1946 and the 1960’s”.
Here’s one prediction from the Psychosocial Hypothesis: given that Randall referenced an actual saucer, I would guess it was made shortly after Arnold’s sighting in 1947 and before 1952, when the term UFO would enter the mainstream.
Whatever flies in the sky, whether there are aliens visiting us or not, everything that we see, we see through our cultural lenses. Those can be quite funny just a few decades later. A few decades from now, people may laugh about our reports of giant spaceships.
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