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We know what it is, but how did mystery object take flight?

The thin plate that hit a home seems to be from a dishwasher, but how it took flight is still up in the air.

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By Bill Sheets
Herald Writer
MOUNTLAKE TERRACE -- Mystery solved. Part of it, anyway.
The metal plate that seemed to fall from the sky and hit a Mountlake Terrace fourplex recently appears to be the thin front panel of a dishwasher.
How it got high enough in the air to hit the second-floor roof with the noise and force the residents say it did, however, is not readily apparent.
"Dishwashers don't fly. At least I'm pretty sure of that," said Mark Kauffmann, who was sitting in the living room around 7 p.m. Feb. 9 with his wife, Theresa, when the object hit the roof.
The Kauffmanns believed it must have come from an aircraft, so they called Paine Field immediately after the object hit. Officials took it seriously, showing up quickly to pick up the panel, she said.
Their subsequent investigation, however, determined the object did not come from a plane, airport director Dave Waggoner said.
The piece of metal, 23 ¼ inches long by 18 ¾ inches wide, is thin enough to wobble when shaken. It's glossy black on one side, glossy white on the other and its edges are straight.
After a story about the object ran in Tuesday's Herald, several readers said it appeared to be the reversible front panel from a dishwasher.
When two employees at Appliance Recycling Outlet in Snohomish saw photos of the object, they agreed.
"That's a dishwasher panel," manager Dave Wilson said.
Kevin Eggan, a dishwasher technician at the business, also recognized it instantly.
Whirlpool and Kenmore are two brands that use the panels in at least some of their dishwashers.
Wilson provided a panel for comparison purposes. When taken to Paine Field and set next to the object that hit the house, it perfectly matched.
The question is how the panel got into the air. Test throws showed it does not get high into the air easily and has a tendency to dive.
The Kauffmanns don't believe the panel was tossed by kids.
"It sounded like it was coming straight down," Mark Kauffmann said. "I'll bet we heard it coming from at least 100 yards."
Another apartment complex is about 100 yards away and up a hill, he said. That would be an outrageously long throw, however; NFL quarterbacks do well to throw a football 70 yards.
"It had a lot of velocity when it hit," Theresa Kauffman said.
Paine Field officials reviewed weather records for that evening and found the wind to be less than 6 mph.
Eggan at Appliance Recycling Outlet said sometimes people use the panels for other purposes, such as to patch holes on buildings, vehicles or equipment.
"I've seen 'em used just about for everything," he said.
The Kauffmanns live not quite a quarter-mile from I-5.
The object has no holes or significant glue marks.
Other readers had more otherworldly theories, one claiming that the object is a fan blade from a motor powered by laser light.
Either way, the truth is out there.
Bill Sheets: 425-339-3439;
Story tags » Mountlake TerraceMysteries

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