On hearing of Arnold’s report, the editor of the Idaho Daily Statesman, (published in Boise, Arnold‘s home town), assigned the paper’s aviation editor, David N Johnson, who knew Arnold well, to take the paper’s aircraft and look for “the flying saucers” and photograph them. He was to conduct the patrol as long as he saw fit or until he saw “a flying disc”.
On the first sortie, on 7 July, Johnson (with Arnold as his passenger) looked in the area where Arnold had been (around Mt Rainier), but saw nothing. The following day, Johnson flew alone in an AT-6 of the 190th fighter squadron, Idaho National Guard, of which he was a member.
Searching now into northern Idaho, northwest Montana, Washington and Oregon, Johnson again saw nothing.
On 9 July, he again took the AT-6, but concentrated his search in Idaho around Boise. At about midday, flying east at about 4,260 metres, he saw a round, black object to his left (no exact direction given). At first he thought it was a weather balloon, but he was told that the last one had been released at 08.30. He opened the cockpit cover and exposed about ten seconds of 8mm cine film aimed at the object (although he could not see it in the viewfinder). With the naked eye, Johnson could see an object that alternately appeared as a thin, black line and a bright light. It seemed to perform a manoeuvre that looked like a slow barrel roll which, instead of being complete, was broken off at about the 180° point. He lost sight of it as it rolled out at the top. It was observed against a background of cumulus clouds forming over the Camas prairie, but he could estimate neither its distance nor its speed. He was certain that it was not an aircraft, and no aircraft was known to be in the area. An image of the object was not visible on the developed film.