While disc-shaped flying objects have been interpreted as being sporadically recorded since the Middle Ages, the first recorded use of the term "flying saucer" for an unidentified flying object was to describe a probable meteor that fell over Texas and Oklahoma on June 17, 1930. "Some who saw the weird light described it as a huge comet, a flaming flying saucer, a great red glow, a ball of fire." The highly publicised sighting by Kenneth Arnold on June 24, 1947, resulted in the popularity of the term "flying saucer" by U.S. newspapers.
Although Arnold never specifically used the term "flying saucer", he was quoted at the time saying the shape of the objects he saw was like a "saucer", "disc", or "pie-plate", and several years later added he had also said "the objects moved like saucers skipping across the water." Both the terms flying saucer and flying disc were used commonly and interchangeably in the media until the early 1950s.
Arnold's sighting was followed by thousands of similar sightings across the world. Such sightings were once very common, to such an extent that "flying saucer" was a synonym for UFO through the 1960s before it began to fall out of favour.
A lot of sightings of the cigar-shaped UFO were reported following it. More recently, the flying saucer has been largely supplanted by other alleged UFO-related vehicles, such as the black triangle. The term UFO was, in fact, invented in 1952, to try to reflect the wider diversity of shapes being seen. However, unknown saucer-like objects are still reported, such as in the widely publicised 2006 sighting over Chicago-O'Hare airport.
Many of the alleged flying saucer photographs of the era are now believed to be hoaxes. The flying saucer is now considered largely an icon of the 1950s and of B-movies in particular and is a popular subject in comic science fiction.
Beyond the common usage of the phrase, there have also been man-made saucer-like craft. The first flying disc craft was called the Discopter and was patented by Alexander Weygers in 1944. Other designs have followed, such as the American Vought V-173 / XF5U "Flying Flapjack", the British GFS Projects flying saucer, or the British "S.A.U.C.E.R." ("Saucer Aircraft Utilising Coanda Effect Reactions") flying saucer, by inventor Alf Beharie.