Think the Inland Empire is the last place a flying saucer would visit?

Then consider the July 6, 1947, experience of the R.V. Allen family of Riverside Drive in Ontario:

"The rancher said that while he and Mrs. Allen and their daughter Dolores were seated in their motor car about 9:30 p.m., they saw a whole `school' of the strange discs overhead from south to north and insisted that they `played about in the air just as perch do in the water,"' wrote the Ontario Daily Report the next day.

Not convinced?

How about B.A. Runner who saw, and heard, some strange things that same night on West California Street?

"Runner reported that several of the discs sailed over his house about 8 p.m., circled about and returned, one of them flying so low that the sound of an attached motor could be distinctly heard," wrote the newspaper.

And this was the day before the startling announcement in Roswell, N.M., of the recovery of a "flying disc" by the Army. That disclosure (which was quickly refuted by military officials) has helped spawn decades of UFO sightings, invaders-from-space movies and conspiracy theorists.

Whether you believe in them or not, it was obvious people locally -


fueled by fear or wonder or too many stimulants - were seeing something up there.

On July 8, a "spinning platter" was said to have crashed into an almond grove near Lancaster. Redlands truck driver H.J. Stell reported "silvery eggs in a straight line" flew over March Field near Riverside.

Jerry McAdams saw a disc "big as a house" in Beverly Hills: "It seemed to give off a low whistle as it disappeared."

On the morning of July 10, Pomona residents on West 10th Street told the Pomona Progress-Bulletin they saw three tumbling objects in the air, each sparkling as the sun reflected off them.

Now, not everyone was impressed by all the flying saucer talk - the Progress-Bulletin reported on July 8 that an irreverent skywriter drew two giant circles in the sky and spelled out the word "Saucers" to mock the frenzy.

All this uproar wasn't easy for newspapers to keep straight.

A front-page story in the July 7 Daily Report said a plane shot down a flying saucer over Montana and included quotes from the pilot and his cameraman. But on the next page of the same edition was a last-minute bulletin saying it was a hoax - the story grew from several of the pilot's friends sitting around telling tales.

On July 8, a reward of $1,000 was offered for anyone who could capture one of these flying things - an offer that only made things more crazy:

San Francisco designer Frank Borel produced a new women's hat inspired, he said, from a flying saucer he claimed he saw in a nightmare.

Newspapers and radio stations were swamped by callers, though Kansas officials bragged that none of its residents saw UFOs because as a "dry" state, it barred alcohol consumption.

A North Hollywood man planned to ask for the $1,000 prize after a 30-inch disc conveniently landed in his garden. It contained a radio tube and two exhaust pipes and spewed out a lot of smoke.

In the interest of serious science, though, I must report that a flying saucer was captured in the Inland Empire that week.

Pomona police about 10 p.m. on July 8 caught two young men atop a building under construction at Second Avenue and Gibbs Street. Two others were nabbed in the street below.

They had made a 20-pound saucer fabricated from two plow blades on which they had attached some batteries and wires to add to its look. They planned to set it afire and hurl it into the intersection below, hoping to frighten the good folks of Pomona.

The four - in their early 20s from Pomona, San Dimas and Covina - even stenciled "SBAAB" and "XP85" on the saucer to imply it was some kind of strange experimental craft that had gotten loose from the San Bernardino Army Air Base (Nevada's Area 51 was still something far in the future for that sort of thing).

They were questioned and then released, perhaps because that kind of out-of-this-world crime was something for which no law had yet been created.

Joe Blackstock writes on Inland Empire history. He can be reached by calling (909) 483-9382.