From July 12 to July 29, 1952, there were a series of UFO sightings over Washington D.C. with the most publicized sightings took place on consecutive weekends, July 19–20 and July 26–27.
Events of July 19–20
At 11:40 p.m. on Saturday, July 19, 1952, Edward Nugent, an air-traffic controller at Washington National Airport, spotted seven objects on his radar. The objects were located 15 miles south-southwest of the city; no known aircraft were in the area and the objects were not following any established flight paths. Nugent's superior, Harry Barnes, a senior air-traffic controller at the airport, watched the objects on Nugent's radarscope.
He later wrote: "We knew immediately that a very strange situation existed . . . their movements were completely radical compared to those of ordinary aircraft"
Barnes had two controllers check Nugent's radar; they found that it was working normally. Barnes then called National Airport's other radar center; the controller there, Howard Cocklin, told Barnes that he also had the objects on his radarscope. Furthermore, Cocklin said that by looking out of the control tower window he could see one of the objects: "a bright orange light. I can't tell what's behind it"
At this point, other objects appeared in all sectors of the radarscope; when they moved over the White House and the United States Capitol, Barnes called Andrews Air Force Base, located 10 miles from National Airport.
Although Andrews reported that they had no unusual objects on their radar, an airman soon called the base's control tower to report the sighting of a strange object. Airman William Brady, who was in the tower, then saw an "object which appeared to be like an orange ball of fire, trailing a tail . . . [it was] unlike anything I had ever seen before."
As Brady tried to alert the other personnel in the tower, the strange object "took off at an unbelievable speed" and vanished in "a split second". He then observed a second, similar object, but it also disappeared before anyone else in the tower could see it.
At 12:30 a.m. on July 20, another person in the National Airport control tower reported seeing "an orange disk about 3,000 feet altitude". On one of the airport's runways, S.C. Pierman, a Capital Airlines pilot, was waiting in the cockpit of his DC-4 for permission to take off. After spotting what he believed to be a meteor, he was told that the control tower's radar had picked up unknown objects closing in on his position. Pierman observed six objects — "white, tailless, fast-moving lights" — over a 14-minute period Pierman was in radio contact with Barnes during his sighting, and Barnes later related that "each sighting coincided with a pip we could see near his plane. When he reported that the light streaked off at a high speed, it disappeared on our scope."
At Andrews AFB, meanwhile, the control tower personnel were tracking on radar what some thought to be unknown objects, but others suspected, and in one instance were able to prove, were simply stars and meteors. However, Staff Sgt. Charles Davenport observed an orange-red light to the south; the light "would appear to stand still, then make an abrupt change in direction and altitude . . . this happened several times"
At one point both radar centers at National Airport and the radar at Andrews AFB were tracking an object hovering over a radio beacon. The object vanished in all three radar centers at the same time
At 3 a.m., shortly before two jet fighters from Newcastle AFB in Delaware arrived over Washington, all of the objects vanished from the radar at National Airport. However, when the jets ran low on fuel and left, the objects returned, which convinced Barnes that "the UFOs were monitoring radio traffic and behaving accordingly"
The objects were last detected by radar at 5:30 a.m. Around sunrise, E.W. Chambers, a civilian radio engineer in Washington's suburbs, observed "five huge disks circling in a loose formation. They tilted upward and left on a steep ascent."
By coincidence, USAF Captain Edward J. Ruppelt, the supervisor of the Air Force's Project Blue Book investigation into the UFO mystery, was in Washington at the time. However, he did not learn about the sightings until Tuesday, July 22, when he read the headlines in a Washington-area newspaper. After talking with intelligence officers at The Pentagon about the sightings, Ruppelt spent several hours trying to obtain a staff car to investigate the sightings, but was refused as only generals and senior colonels could use staff cars. He was told that he could rent a taxicab with his own money; by this point Ruppelt was so frustrated that he left Washington and flew back to Blue Book's headquarters at Wright-Patterson AFB in Ohio. Before leaving Washington, Ruppelt did speak with an Air Force radar specialist, Captain Roy James, who felt that unusual weather conditions could have caused the unknown radar targets
Events of July 26–27
At 8:15 p.m. on Saturday, July 26, 1952, a pilot and stewardess on a National Airlines flight into Washington observed some strange objects above their plane. Within minutes, both radar centers at National Airport, and the radar at Andrews AFB, were tracking more unknown objects. A master sergeant at Andrews visually observed the objects; he later said that "these lights did not have the characteristics of shooting stars. There was [sic] no trails . . . they traveled faster than any shooting star I have ever seen"
Meanwhile, Albert M. Chop, the press spokesman for Project Blue Book, arrived at National Airport and refused several reporters' requests to photograph the radar screens. He then joined the radar center personnel. By this time (9:30 p.m.) the radar center was picking up unknown objects in every sector. At times the objects traveled slowly; at other times they reversed direction and moved across the radarscope at speeds calculated at 7,000 mph. At 11:30 p.m., two jet fighters from Newcastle AFB in Delaware arrived over Washington. Capt. John McHugo, the flight leader, was vectored towards the radar pips but saw nothing, despite repeated attempts . However, his wingman, Lt. William Patterson, did see four white "glows" and chased them. Suddenly, the "glows" turned and surrounded his fighter. Patterson asked the control tower at National Airport what he should do; according to Chop, the tower's answer was "stunned silence". The four objects then sped away from Patterson's jet and disappeared
After midnight on July 27, Major Dewey Fournet, Project Blue Book's liaison at the Pentagon, and a Lt. Holcomb, an Air Force radar specialist, arrived at the radar center at National Airport. During the night, Lt. Holcomb received a call from the Washington National Weather Station. They told him that a slight temperature inversion was present over the city, but Holcomb felt that the inversion was not "nearly strong enough to explain the 'good and solid' returns" on the radarscopes . Fournet relayed that all those present in the radar room were convinced that the targets were most likely caused by solid metallic objects. There had been weather targets on the scope too, he said, but this was a common occurrence and the controllers "were paying no attention to them."
Two more jets from Newcastle AFB were scrambled during the night. One pilot saw nothing unusual; the other pilot moved towards a white light which "vanished" when he closed in. A Capital Airlines flight leaving Washington spotted "odd lights" which remained visible for about twelve minutes. As on July 20, the sightings and unknown radar returns ended at sunrise.
The sightings of July 26–27 led President Harry Truman to call Capt. Ruppelt and ask for an explanation of the sightings. Ruppelt, remembering the conversation he had with Capt. James, told the President that the sightings might have been caused by temperature inversion, in which a layer of warm, moist air covers a layer of cool, dry air closer to the ground. This condition can cause radar signals to bend and give false returns. However, Ruppelt had not yet interviewed any of the witnesses or conducted a formal investigation
To answer the news media's questions about the sightings — and, hopefully, to slow down the numbers of UFO reports being sent to Blue Book, which were clogging normal intelligence channels — Air Force Major General John Samford held a well-attended press conference at the Pentagon on July 29, 1952. It was the largest Pentagon press conference since World War II
Samford declared that the visual sightings over Washington could be explained as misidentified aerial phenomena (such as stars or meteors). Samford also stated that the unknown radar targets could be explained by temperature inversion, which was present in the air over Washington on both nights the radar returns were reported.
Among the witnesses who supported Samford's explanation was the crew of a B-25 bomber, which had been flying over Washington during the sightings of July 26–27. The bomber was vectored several times by National Airport over unknown targets on the airport's radarscopes, yet the crew could see nothing unusual. Finally, as a crew member related, "The radar had a target [which] turned out to be the Wilson Lines steamboat trip to Mount Vernon . . . the radar was sure as hell picking up the steamboat"
Air Force Capt. Harold May was in the radar center at Andrews AFB during the sightings of July 19–20. Upon hearing that National Airport's radar had picked up an object heading in their direction, he stepped outside and saw "a light that was changing from red to orange to green to red again . . . at times it dipped suddenly and appeared to lose altitude." However, May eventually concluded that he was simply seeing a star that was distorted by the atmosphere
At 3 a.m. on July 27, an Eastern Airlines flight over Washington was told that an unknown object was in its vicinity; the crew saw nothing unusual. When they were told that the object had moved directly behind their plane, they began a sharp turn to try and see the object, but were told by the radar center that the object "disappeared" when the plane began to turn.
Project Blue Book would eventually label the Washington radar objects as "mirage effects caused by a double inversion", and the sightings as "meteors coupled with the normal excitement of witnesses"
In later years, two prominent UFO skeptics, Dr. Donald Menzel, an astronomer at Harvard University, and Philip Klass, a senior editor for Aviation Week magazine, would also argue in favor of the temperature inversion/mirage hypothesis.
However, almost from the moment of General Samford's press conference, eyewitnesses, UFO researchers, and Air Force personnel came forward to criticize the temperature inversion/mirage explanation.
Captain Ruppelt noted that Major Fournet and Lt. Holcomb, who disagreed with the Air Force's explanation, were not in attendance at Samford's press conference. Ruppelt himself discovered that "hardly a night passed in June, July, and August in 1952 that there wasn't a [temperature] inversion in Washington, yet the slow-moving, solid radar targets appeared on only a few nights"
According to a story printed by the International News Service (INS), the United States Weather Bureau also disagreed with the temperature inversion hypothesis. According to Ruppelt, when he was able to interview the radar and control tower personnel at Washington National Airport, not a single person agreed with the Air Force explanation. Michael Wertheimer, a researcher for the government-funded Condon Report, investigated the case in 1966. He found that the radar witnesses still disputed the Air Force explanation, but that did not stop the report from agreeing with the temperature inversion/mirage explanation.
Ruppelt related that on July 27 the control tower at Washington National had called the control tower at Andrews AFB and notified them that their radar had an unknown object just south of the Andrews control tower, directly over the Andrews AFB radio range station.
According to Ruppelt, when the Andrews control tower personnel looked they all saw "a huge fiery-orange sphere" hovering over the range station . When Ruppelt interviewed the tower personnel several days later, they insisted that they had been mistaken and had merely seen a bright star. However, when Ruppelt checked an astronomical chart he found that there were no bright stars over the station that night, and that he had "heard from a good source that the tower men had been 'persuaded' a bit" by superior officers to state that their sighting was merely a star.
There were also witnesses who claimed to see structured craft and not merely "glows" or bright lights. On July 19 an Army artillery officer, Joseph Gigandet, was sitting on the front porch of his home in Alexandria. At 9:30 p.m. he claimed to see "a red cigar-shaped object" which sailed slowly over his house. Gigandet estimated the object's size as comparable to a DC-7 airplane and at about 10,000 feet altitude; he also claimed that the object had a "series of lights very closely set together" on its sides. The object eventually flew back over his house a second time, which led Gigandet to assume that it was circling the area. When the object flew away a second time, it turned a deeper red color and moved over the city of Washington itself; this occurred less than two hours before Edward Nugent first spotted the unknown objects on his radar at Washington National. Gigandet claimed that his neighbor, an FBI agent, also saw the object.
Dr. James E. McDonald, a physicist at the University of Arizona and a prominent ufologist in the 1960s, did his own analysis of the Washington sightings. After interviewing four pilot eyewitnesses and five radar personnel, McDonald argued that the Air Force explanation was "physically impossible". Harry Barnes told McDonald that the radar targets "were not shapeless blobs such as one gets from ground returns under anomalous propagation", and that he was certain the unknown radar blips were solid targets; Howard Cocklin agreed with Barnes.
UFO’s OVER THE DC AREA IN THE 1950s
April 1947; Richmond, Virginia at 11 a.m., a Meteorologist named Minczewski saw a silvery disc through a theodolite while tracking a pibal weather balloon, traveling East to West at less than 15,000 ft, appeared larger than the balloon.
June 2, 1947; Rehoboth Beach, Pilot Forrest Wenyon in aircraft flying at 1400 feet
saw a silvery jar-shaped object 15 inches across cross in front of the plane at 1,000-10,000 mph heading East on a straight course at same altitude, with a silver-white fire exhaust. It is possible he saw a Daytime meteor.
July 7, 1947; Arlington, Virginia between 10:30 and 11 p.m. AAF Lt. Col. Cobb saw a "blob," the size of a small airplane, reflecting white light flying at less than 500 ft above ground to at about 1,350 mph.
Nov. 18, 1948; Andrews AFB at 9:45-10:03 p.m. ts. Jackson and Combs, 2 reserve pilots, aboard an Andrews AFB T-6 aircraft traveling 150 mph and 2 independent ground observers saw a highly maneuverable whitish-grey oval lighted object smaller than the T-6 cross over Andrews AFB from North to South and back again in a circular pattern from 4,000 ft dropping to 1,700 ft then climbing to 7,000 ft. The T-6 followed object to identify it, made 3-4 passes at the object while climbing, dove on the object at 240 mph but it dropped down and came up behind the T-6 and continued circling the base. The T-6 was able with difficulty to put object in front of city lights on the ground to try to make out details, and came within about 300-400 ft turned on landing light and object responded with a dull glow, then sped off to the northeast at 8,000+ ft and 500-600 mph disappearing. Another reserve pilot, a USAF 2nd Lt. in another aircraft over the northeast corner of Andrews at 1,000 ft saw the object directly overhead. A further independent witness, USAF Staff Sgt. John J. Kushner, observed object from the ground.
Jan. 24, 1950; Near Blackstone, Virginia at between 4:50-5:05 p.m. two USAF combat flying officers, pilot Capt. G. B. Edwards and copilot Capt. Theron C. Fehrevach, were flying with three Pentagon officials, in a C-45 transport plane at 5,000 ft, when they saw a dark 200-250 ft diameter hemispherical parachute-shaped or B-35 flying wing shaped object about 5-10 miles away with a large black smoke region below it. The UFO was darker than the cloud cover and “easy to distinguish as not being cloud.” The object moved smoothly horizontally to the right and then back again without any noticeable turn radius. Edwards put the C-45 into a climb to 7,000 ft so they would be on the same height level as the UFO and turned left slightly to 20° to head directly toward it. Army Courier Service passenger 1st Lt. John H. Van Santen was alerted by Fehrevach and now also saw the object move right then left, then they all saw the object recede at high speed radically away and disappear. About 1-1/2 mins later object reappeared to the right of their heading at the same level but at greater distance, stationary in position, then oscillating or “wiggling” about that position horizontally right-left about 1-1.5x object’s width. Object moved horizontally to dead ahead again and disappeared by receding in the distance at high speed.
May 29, 1950; A UFO was spotted about 7 miles west of Mt. Vernon, Virginia at 9:20 p.m. by Capt. Willis T. Sperry, a piliot with 10,000 flying hours, and his copilot Bill Gates, his flight engineer Robert Arnholt, a stewardess and 2-3 or 8 passengers on a DC-6 airliner headed out of D.C., en route to Nashville. They all reported a spindle-shaped 150 ft long metallic object with intense blue light on the tail, beginning with Gates who sighted blue light from their DC-6 airliner on head on collision course. Sperry made evasive 45° turn to the right, object passed from 11 o'clock to 7 o'clock position
to the left at slightly higher altitude.
March 20, 1952; In Centreville, Maryland at 10:42 p.m. A combat veteran of World War one and two, A. D. Hutchinson and his son, saw a dull orange-yellow saucer-shaped light fly straight and level very fast.
March 29, 1952; in Glen Burnie, Maryland at 10:45 p.m. Donald F. Stewart and George Tyler III, saw 50 ft flat silver disc with cupola/dome to one side, a porthole and hatch on the dome, neon-like lighting around the edges that pulsating. It hovered and "wavered slightly" for 3 minutes at several hundred feet off the ground with “whirring sound like a vacuum cleaner” The engine of a passing car died while object hovered. The two men got out of car with Thompson submachine gun considering whether to shoot the disc, but decided ot to. Object suddenly turned up on edge seeming to "roll across the sky faster than a jet” and disappeared, leaving their car wires "magnetized" and paint cracked.
April 18, 1952; in Bethesda, Maryland at 11:30 R. Poerstal and two others reported a UFO with a 7-9 circular, orange-yellow lights in a 40° V-formation fly overhead, silently
May 22, 1952; In Falls Church, between 1 and 2 a.m. A top CIA official and several dinner guests, including a retired general, noticed noiseless red light approach from West at about 5,000 ft then suddenly climb almost vertically in the SE, stop, level out for a few secs, go into near vertical dive, level off, disappear.
June 13, 1952, Fox Hill, Virginia, at 10:30 a.m. An aluminum awning salesman observed an object described as similar to a discussed in athletics, about 25 to 30 feet in diameter hovering approximately 200 feet over a group of pine trees. The object made a slight whistling sound. After approximately 10 seconds the object tilted slightly, flew upward at an angle of 45 degrees and away from him at a tremendous speed.
July 10, 1952; Near Quantico, at 8:18 p.m. The pilot of National Airlines Flight 42, a C-60 aircraft, saw a very bright amber glow, stationary then climbing slowly till disappearance.
July 12, 1952; Annapolis, at 3:30 p.m. Insurance company president William Washburn saw 4 large, elliptical-shaped objects fly very fast, stop, turn 90° and fly away. 7-8 secs.
July 13, 1952. 60 miles southwest of DC at 4 a.m. National Airline Flight 611 airline Capt. William Bruen saw round ball of bluish-white light hovering to the West then ascend to airliner altitude of 11,000 ft, then parallel course off left wing at about 2 miles distance, took off upwards at 1,000 mph when Bruen turned on all aircraft lights.
July 14, 1952; 20-25 miles North of Norfolk, at 9:12 p.m. . Pan American Airways FO William B. Nash, Second Officer William H. Fortenberry, in a DC-4 airliner at 8,000 ft sighted a total of 8 large, round, glowing red coin¬shaped objects, 100 ft diameter 15 ft thick, maneuvering in two groups of 3 then joined slightly after by another 2. Objects approached head on at high speed estimated at about 12,000 [27,000] mph at about 2,000 ft altitude. At about 10 miles S of Newport News objects ascended as a group in fixed formation in an arc to the right towards Newport News to about 10,000 ft altitude
July 16, 1952; Hampton Roads, Virginia at 8 p.m. NACA aeronautical engineer Paul R. Hill saw 2 amber-colored objects approach from the south, turn West reach overhead, begin a maneuver to revolve around a common center, change to a vertical plane after a few orbits, were joined by 2 more objects and flew off to the S. (McDonald list; Tom Tulien)
July 19, 1952; Baltimore, Maryland at 6:28 a.m. Mrs. Carolyn Smith, on duty as a volunteer ground observer aircraft spotter, observed two flying saucers heading northeast at 2000 feet altitude. The objects suddenly shot upward and went out of sight. Duration of the sighting was approximately 20 seconds. Saucers were large, round, bluish in color and emanated a blue jet exhaust.
July 19-20, 1952; Andrews AFB and Washington Nat'l Airport, Washington, D.C. (BBU) at 11:40 p.m.-6 a.m. Numerous visual, radar and radar-visual sightings by ground observers and pilots in the air. 6 hours 20 min.
Shortly after midnight civilian radar operators at National Airport began tracking a group of 7-10 unidentified targets southwest of the city, moving about 100-130 m.p.h. An individual object would disappear from the scope at intervals, then another target would appear. This continued for about 6 hours, while airline pilots in the area reported sighting unidentified lights in the positions where radar detected unexplained targets. They were not any known aircraft.
Senior air route traffic controller Harry G. Barnes:
"There is no other conclusion I can reach but that for six hours on the morning of the 20th of July there were at least 10 unidentifiable objects moving above Washington .... I can safely deduce that they performed gyrations which no known aircraft could perform. By this I mean that our scope showed that they could make right angle turns and complete reversals of flight."
July 20, 1952; Herndon, At 3:00 a.m. a Capital Airlines flight approaching Washington National Airport reported that an unidentified light was following it. Air Route Traffic Control radar tracked the UFO to within about 4 miles of the airport before it disappeared.
July 20, 1952; Andrews AFB, In mid-evening Air Force radar tracked up to 10 UFOs for 15-20 minutes. The objects approached the runway, scattered, made sharp turns and reversals of direction. (Air Force weather observer report to NICAP.)
July 23, 1952; Alexandria, at 9:00 p.m. A red object, size undetermined, was sighted southwest of Alexandria, Virginia. The object hovered for 10 minutes, then disappeared in a westerly direction at a high rate of speed. The witnesses were a County Policeman, two airmen and a civilian.
July 26, 1952; Hampton, and bet. Newport News and Langley AFB, Virginia (BBU)
12:15-12:45? a.m. Ground observers saw a brilliant luminous alternately bright silver, red and green object hovering over the James River Bridge at about 1,500 ft for 1/2 hour, then ascend towards the E where seen by Langley AFB tower. USAF crews of 2 F-94's and ground observers saw 4 round silver/bluish objects in V¬formation shoot straight up and disappear at 5,000 ft, one tracked by USN ground radar at Norfolk and by airborne radars.
July 26, 1952; Langley, at 1430 hours, Capt. Daniel G. Moore and T/Sgt Edward W. Reamer of the 1907-7 AACS Det., Langley AFB, observed an unidentified target on a radar scope approaching Langley AFB from the south from a distance of 15 miles. Speed of the target was determined to be 2,600 miles per hour at an altitude below 5,000 feet. At 1450 hours an unidentified target was observed on a radar scope. The target stopped and hovered for 2 minutes and then resumed its flight at an extremely high speed.
The spectacular radar-visual sightings at Washington, D.C., on the weekend of July 19/20 were repeated with some new twists on the following weekend.
July 26-27, 1952; Andrews AFB and Washington National Airport, Wash., D.C. (BBU 1661) 8 p.m. until after 12 midnight Radar operators at several airports, airline and F-94 fighter pilots, sighted and tracked many unidentified blips and/or lights all over Washington area, at varying speeds. 3 hrs. 10 mins.
"I saw several bright lights. I was at my maximum speed, but even then I had no closing speed....Later I chased a single bright light which I estimated about 10 miles away. I lost visual contact with it [at] about 2 miles." -- Lt. William Patterson, F-94 pilot who chased UFOs over Washington, D.C.
July 27, 1952; Washington, at 7:30 p.m. Both Air Force personnel and National Airport employees observed a large round object reflecting sunlight as it hovered over the U.S. Capitol Building. After about one minute the object ...wavered then shot straight up disappearing from sight.
July 27, 1952; The Pentagon, on July 27 and July 28, 1952, observers saw a white light immediately over the Pentagon, it made a direct descent toward the Pentagon, stopped and veered off.
July 28, Washington, D.C. Daily newspapers headlined a United Press story from Washington reporting that the Air Defense Command had ordered its pilots to pursue and, if necessary, shoot down UFOs sighted anywhere in the country.
July 28, 1952 Washington, D.C. President Harry Truman at a National Security Council meeting asked the CIA to look into the UFO question.
July 29, 1952; Washington, D.C. CAA radar in the early morning tracked 8 to 12 UFOs at a time traveling about 100-120 m.p.h. in a 10-mile arc around the Nations Capital. When an Eastern Airlines pilot tried to check on the radar targets at CAA request at 3:00 a.m., he saw nothing. The targets disappeared from CAA radar screens when the airliner approached, then came back in behind him after he passed through the area.
July 29, 1952 D.C., What was characterized as the largest Air Force press conference since the end of World War II was held, with Maj. Gen. John A. Samford, Director of Air Force Intelligence, presiding. He attributed the radar-visual UFO sightings to weather effects, temperature inversions that caused radar mirages. 41-second sound byte
July 29, 1952; Langley AFB, Virginia 2:30 p.m. USAF Capt D. G. Moore, military air traffic controller, saw an un-described object fly at about 2,600 mph, below 5,000 ft altitude, toward the air base.
July 29, 1952; Langley AFB, at 2:50 p.m. Mr. Moore and Gilfillan electronics rep W. Yhope tracked a radar target moving away, stopping for 2 mins, again moving extremely fast. 4 mins.
Aug. 5, 1952; Baltimore, Md. Experienced amateur astronomer observed two copper-like discs.
Sept. 22, 1952; Fairfax County, Police observed 3-4 UFOs maneuvering erratically.
Sept. 24, 1952; Charleston, West Virginia at 3:30 p.m. Crew of USAF B-29 bomber saw a lot of bright, metallic particles or flashes, up to 3 ft in length, stream past the B-29. 15 mins.
Nov. 24, 1952; Annandale, Virginia at 6:30 p.m. L. L. Brettner saw a round, glowing object fly very fast, make right angle turns and reverse course. 1 hr.
Nov. 30, 1952; Washington, at 12:30 a.m. Radar operators at Washington National Airport tracked UFO’s
Dec. 14, 1952; Charlottesville, Virginia at 11:45 a.m. Aeronautical engineer former test pilot saw a light orange elliptical shaped object, hovering then move NE at extreme speed, 1,000+ mph estimated. Object gave off discharge that changed brightness when object moved; debris lofted in the air apparently by the object.
Feb. 9, 1953; A Marine Corps fighter pilot, alerted by a Navy facility in Norfolk, searched for a silver, maneuvering object that had been seen from the ground near the Virginia-North Carolina border. The F9F Panther pilot at first saw nothing and was returning to the base. He then saw "what looked like an airplane with red lights which appeared below me... What caused me to look back at the object," said 1st Lt. Ed Balocco, "was the fact that it moved from below me 10,000 feet vertically in a matter of seconds." He turned to investigate and chased the object at speeds over 500 mph for 3-4 minutes, but could not close in on it.
April 7, 1954; at 3 p.m. USN pilot C. R. Allen flying F-6F for Fleet Training Center, Norfolk, Virginia, at 3,000 feet, saw 2 strange saucer-shaped discs in close formation at 3,500 ft height about 15 miles away at about 2 miles NW of Lake Drummond heading NE. Allen turned right to follow objects as they covered about 140° of arc maintaining about the same distance, disappearing near Cape Henry
May 11, 1954; Washington, at 10:45 p.m. 3 USAF air policemen at Washington National Airport saw 2 bright lights on 3 occasions fly straight and level, make 90° degree turns and fade.
June 11, 1954; near Baltimore, there were reports of a huge glowing object seen by observers; alternately hovered, moved rapidly.
June 12, 1954; A UFO was reported over Southeast DC.
Aug. 26, 1954; In Danville, Virginia at 6:15 a.m. Rev. W. L. Shelton saw 2 domed ellipses, 20 ft long, 8 ft thick, 10 ft at ends, glowing silver or orange, hover, then climb side-by-side while getting brighter.
In January of 1955; A Navy piliot over DC observed domed disc.
Feb. 10, 1955; Bethesda, at 10:03 p.m. E. J. Stein, model maker at U.S. Navy ship design facility, saw an object, shaped like a small portion of the bottom of the Moon, with a radiant yellow color, hover for 30 seconds. The bottom changed to a funnel shape.
Feb. 17, 1955; Blackstone, Virginia a USAF pilot in flight saw an extremely large light-blue object at 35,000 ft.
June 26, 1955; D. C., a brilliant round object with trail 4 or 5 times its own length approached National Airport, stopped, oscillated, and moved off at high speed. Ceiling lights at airport went out when object approached; returned to operation when UFO left.
Aug. 23, 1955; Arlington, at 10:45 a.m. G. M. Park, using a 400x telescope saw six orange lights moving singly or in groups, circling and stopping.
Sept. 7, 1955; in D.C. at 6:30 a.m. 2 photographers, one a plate maker for the Army Map Service, one named Smith, saw a glowing round object fly an arc.
Oct. 11, 1955; at Point Lookout, Maryland at 4 p.m. B. Hale and A. Ostrom saw round object, white in daylight and turning red with sparks near end of sighting, with a deep roar unlike an aircraft.
June 25, 1957; a UFO was reported over Baltimore, Maryland. Witnesses said that a car radio stopped playing and street lights went out as a formation of seven white discs with red rims passed overhead.
Oct. 7, 1958; A UFO was reported over Alexandria, Virginia at 6:02 p.m by John R. Townsend, Special Assistant for Research & Engineering to the Asst. Secretary of Defense. Townsend said he saw saw a large stationary sharply outlined Saturn-shaped "silvery" or "aluminum clad" oblate spherical object with "gossamer" surface appearance with a rim or girdle around its equator in clear sky due South. At about the same time, the pilot of Capitol Flight 407 took off in a DC-4 at 5:59 p.m. from Washington National heading and climbed to 2,000 feet and reported "unidentified aircraft" with "nose light"
Oct. 26, 1958; A UFO was reported over Loch Raven Dam, Maryland at 10:30 p.m. byPhillip Small and Alvin Cohen, who said they saw a large, flat egg-shaped object, flying low about 100-150 ft above the bridge, which affected their car's electrical system and caused a burning sensation, rose vertically and disappeared in 5-10 secs. (
June 9, 1959; Manassas, At 1:05 p.m. a number of unknown objects traveling abreast were tracked on an FPS-6 radar of the 649th Radar Squadron. The objects were detected at 62,200 feet heading northeast at 200 knots. The objects moved out of radar range and faded. The length of observation was 15 minutes. Apparently same objects were picked up northeast of Roanoke by adjacent radar sight.
Aug. 2, 1959;. UFO reported over Washington
Aug. 3, 1959; UFO reported Silver Springs
August 24, 1959; UFO reported over Emmitsburg, Maryland, said to be Planet-like , the UFO hovered and then took off, straight up.
Oct. 19, 1959; UFO reported over Langley AFB
'Saucer' Outran Jet, Pilot Reveals
Washington Post , July 28, 1952
Investigation on in secret after chase over capital
Radar spot blips like aircraft for nearly six hours - only 1.700 feet up
By Paul Sampson, Post Reporter
Military secrecy veils an investigation of the mysterious, glowing aerial objects that showed up on radar screens in the Washington area Saturday night for the second consecutive week. A jet pilot sent up by the Air Defense Command to investigate the objects reported he was unable to overtake the glowing lights moving near Andrews Air Force Base.
The CAA reported reported the objects traveled at "predominantly lower levels"-about 1700 feet. July 19. Air Force spokesmen said yesterday only that an investigation was being made into the sighting of the objects on the radar screen in the CAA Air Route Traffic Control Center at Washington National Airport, and on two other radar screens. Methods of the investigations were classified as secret, a spoken said.
"We have no evidence they are flying saucers; conversely we have no evidence they are not flying saucers. We don't know what they are," a spokesman added. The same source reported an expert from the Air Technical Intelligence Center at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Dayton Ohio, was here last week investigating the objects sighted July 19.
The expert has been identified as Capt. E. J. Ruppelt. Reached by telephone at his home in Dayton yesterday, Ruppelt said he could make no comment on his activity in Washington. Capt. Ruppelt confirmed he was in Washington last week but said he had not come here to investigate the mysterious objects. He recalled he did make an investigation after hearing of the objects, but could not say what he investigated.
Another Air Force spokesman said here yesterday the Air Force is taking all steps necessary to evaluate the sightings.
"The intelligence people," this spokesman explained, "sent someone over to the control center at the time of the sightings and did whatever necessary to make the proper evaluation. Asked whether the radar equipment might have been mis-functioning, the spokesman said, "radar, like the compass is not a perfect instrument and is subject to error." He thought, however, the investigation would be made by persons acquainted with the problems of radar.
Two other radar screens in the area picked up the objects. An employee of the National Airport control tower said the radar scope there picked up very weak "blips" of the objects. The tower radar's for "short range" and is not so powerful as that at the center. Radar at Andrews Air Force Base also registered the objects from about seven miles south of the base. A traffic control center spokesman said the nature of the signals on the radar screen ruled out any possibility they were from clouds or any other "weather" disturbance. "The returns we received from the unidentified objects were similar and analagous to targets representing aircraft in flight," he said.
The objects, "flying saucer" or what have you, appeared on the radar scope at the airport center at 9:08 PM. Varying from four to 12 in number, the objects appeared on the screen until 3:00 AM., when they diappeared. At 11:25 PM., two F-94 jet fighters fro Air Defense Command squadron, at New CAstle Delaware, capable of 600 hundred mph speeds, took off to investigate the objects. Airline, civil and military pilots described the objects as looking like the lit end of a cigarette or a cluster of orange and red lights.
One jet pilot observed four lights in the vicinity of Andrews Air Force Base, but was not able to over-take them, and they disappeared in about two minutes. The same pilot observed a steady white light in the vicinity of Mt Vernon at 11:49 PM. The light, about 5 miles from him, faded in a minute. The lights were also observed in the Beltsville, MD., vicinity. At 1:40 AM two-other F-94 jet fighters took off and scanned the area until 2:20 AM., but did not make any sightings.
Visible two days
Although "unidentified objects" have been picked up on radar before, the incidents of the last two saturdays are believed to be the first time the objects have been picked up on radar-while visible to the human eye. Besides the pilots, who last saturday saw the lights, a woman living on Mississippi Ave., told the Post she saw a very "bright light streaking across the sky towards Andrews Air Force Base about 11:45 PM. Then a second object with a tail like a comet whizzed by, and a few seconds later, a third passed in a different direction toward Suntland, she said.
Radar operators plotted the speed of "saturday night's visitors" at from 38 to 90 mph, but one jet pilot reported faster speeds for the light he saw. The jet pilot reported he had no apparent "closing speed" when he attempted to reach the lights he saw near Andrews Air Force Base. That means the lights were moving at least as fast as his top speed-a maximum of 600 mph. One person who saw the lights when they first appeared in this area did not see them last night. He is E.W. Chambers, an engineer at Radio Station WRC, who spotted the lights while working early the morning of July 20 at station's Hyattsville tower.
Chamber's said he was sorry he had seen the lights because he had been skeptical about "flying saucers" before. Now he said, he sort of "wonders" and worrys about the whole thing. Leon Davidson, 804 South Irving St. Arlington, a chemical engineer who made an exhaustive study of "flying saucers" as a hobby, said yesterday reports of saucers in the East, have been relatively rare. Davidson has studied the official report on the saucers, including some of the secret portions never made public, and analyzed all the data in the report.
Davidson, whose study of saucers is impressively detailed and scientific, said he believes the lights are American "aviation products"-probably "circular flying wings," using new type jet engines that permit rapid acceleration and relatively low speeds. He believes, they are either "new fighter," guided missiles, or piloted guided missiles. He cited some of the recent jet fighters, including the Navy's new " F-4-D, which has a radical "bat-wing," as examples of what the objects might resemble. Davidson thinks the fact that the lights have been seen in this area indicates the authorities may be ready to disclose the "new aircraft" in the near future. Previously, most of the "verified saucers" have been seen over sparsely inhabited areas, Davidson explained, and now, when they appear here, it may indicate that "secrecy" is not so important any more.
What was that bright light in Maryland's sky???
WTOP has learned that residents near Andrews Air Force base
were shaken from their beds early Friday morning by some
strange activity in the air.
"Incredible. Absolutely incredible" is what Renny Rogers of Waldorf
calls it. Just before two in the morning, Rogers says he saw a large blue
ball of light streaking across the sky. But it was the military jets that
really startled him.
"(The jets) were right on its tail. As the thing would move, a jet was
right behind it," Rogers recalls.
He is not the only one who saw it. Several people called WTOP Radio
reporting seeing a bright blue or orange ball moving very fast, being
chased by jets.
Rogers says there was no smoke coming from the object, no flashing
lights, and says it was smooth, and eerily silent.
The Air National Guard confirms they scrambled the 113th squadron.
Spokesman Sheldon Smith says they are investigating and in contact
WTOP Radio, 2002
50 Years Ago, Unidentified Flying Objects From Way
Beyond the Beltway Seized the Capital's Imagination
By Peter Carlson
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, July 21, 2002; Page F01
In the control tower at Washington National Airport, Ed Nugent saw
seven pale violet blips on his radar screen. What were they? Not planes
-- at least not any planes that were supposed to be there.
He summoned his boss, Harry G. Barnes, the head of National's air
traffic controllers. "Here's a fleet of flying saucers for you," Nugent
Upstairs, in the tower's glass-enclosed top floor, controller Joe Zacko
saw a strange blip streaking across his radar screen. It wasn't a bird.
It wasn't a plane. What was it? He looked out the window and spotted
a bright light hovering in the sky. He turned to his partner, Howard
Cocklin, who was sitting three feet away.
"Look at that bright light," Zacko said. "If you
believe in flying saucers, that could sure be one."
And then the light took off, zooming away at an incredible speed.
"Did you see that?" Cocklin remembers saying.
"What the hell was that?"
It was Saturday night, July 19, 1952 -- 50 years ago this weekend
-- one of the most famous dates in the bizarre history of UFOs. Before
the night was over, a pilot reported seeing unexplained objects, radar
at two local Air Force bases -- Andrews and Bolling -- picked up the
UFOs, and two Air Force F-94 jets streaked over Washington, searching
for flying saucers.
Then, a week later, it happened all over again -- more UFOs on the radar
screen, more jets scrambled over Washington. Across America, the story
of jets chasing UFOs over the White House knocked the Korean War and
the presidential campaign off the front pages of newspapers.