Military Shocked By Real UFO Invasion Above Washington, D. C.

In the summer of 1952, a series of strange  sightings took place in Washington, D.C.. From   July 19 to July 27, authorities were inundated  with reports of unexplained objects in the sky   and extraterrestrial craft. The people observing  these unidentified flying objects, or UFOs,   weren’t just ordinary citizens; air traffic  controllers and pilots were among the first to   detect strange craft and even stranger phenomena  – ranging from weird white glows to orange balls   of fire – repeatedly over those few weeks. These  events panicked everyone from local D.C. citizens   all the way up to President Harry Truman, who  called the Air Force to demand an explanation   for what was occurring. Was Washington, D.C. truly  experiencing…(narrator pause)…an alien invasion? Imagine you’re a reporter working  at the Washington Post in 1952.   You’re a journalist reporting on  breaking news and current events   for one of the most prestigious publications in  the country, and you are still blissfully unaware   of what terms like “clickbait” and “Buzzfeed” mean  and how they will ruin your entire profession.

On Saturday, July 19, just before midnight, you  get a tip that air traffic controller Edward   Nugent has spotted seven suspicious blips on  his radar located 15 miles south-southwest   of the city. It can’t be a case of human  error as his superior, senior air traffic   controller Harry Barnes, saw and confirmed  the objects on the radarscope himself.

Nugent started the night by joking about the  “fleet of flying saucers” that seemed to be   on his screen. Soon, however, he sees  the unidentified objects streaking by   near the White House and Capitol  building. The situation now seems   to be less of a joke and more of a  “national security threat” situation.

The controllers desperately try to  confirm what the blips could be,   but there are no aircraft in the vicinity of  the objects on the radar, and the objects aren’t   following any known flight paths. Barnes adds  an even stranger observation, confiding in you,   “we knew immediately that a very strange  situation existed . . . their movements   were completely radical compared  to those of ordinary aircraft”.

Perhaps it’s a machine malfunction,   you wonder. After all, there has to be  some kind of reasonable explanation.

Barnes insists that’s impossible. Two  controllers double checked Nugent’s radar   and found it to be in perfect  working order. Furthermore,   Barnes called yet another two controllers  in a separate tower of the National Airport,   who also saw seven unidentified objects  moving erratically on their screen.

Or as one of the controllers,  Howard Cocklin, succinctly put it:   “Did you see that? What the hell was that?” Cocklin and his coworker Joe Zacko – yes,  that’s his real name – also report seeing an   incredibly bright white light zoom away at top  speed. Not on the radar; with their own eyes.

At that moment, Barnes suddenly stops talking,  stunned. UFOs are multiplying all over the   radarscope, converging over the White House  and the Capitol. There is a heightened sense of   urgency as the UFOs approach high value targets.  Andrews Air Force Base – around ten miles away   from the National Airport – confirms that the  strange objects have appeared on their radar   as well. You call the base to hear that Airman  William Brady also personally witnessed an object   like an orange ball of fire with a tail  that “took off at an unbelievable speed”.

What are these erratic balls of  light doing, and how are they   moving at more than hypersonic speeds? Are  they the objects showing up on the radar? Later in the night, you get confirmation that  the balls of light are exactly what the radar   is detecting. Capital Airlines pilot S.C. Pierman,  waiting on the runway for permission to take off,   spots what he believes to be a meteor, but  then spots a series of white, tailless,   fast-moving lights – six in total, over a  14 minute period. Those can’t be meteors.   He is in communication with Barnes, who  confirms that the objects on radar correspond   with the appearance and direction  of the lights Pierman is seeing.

Some of those observing the lights are  convinced they are stars and meteors;   in fact, they are even able to prove it for a few  of the lights spotted, though not all. This must   be the explanation, you think. Perhaps it was  an especially active night for meteor showers.

However, that doesn’t line up with the behavior  and speed of the lights seen in person.   Staff Sergeant Charles Davenport at Andrews  Air Force Base sighted an orange-red ball   that “would appear to stand still, then make  an abrupt change in direction and altitude”.   You know no meteor in the  universe moves like that.

Barnes sends you a tip, his last communication  of the night. He thinks whatever the lights are,   they are aware they are being watched.  That’s right; he is actually sitting here   telling you the lights are sentient.

Why does he think this? Well, earlier that  night, two F-94 Starfire jet fighters deployed   from Delaware to try to get a closer look at  the phenomena. The pilots fly all over D.C.   searching for the lights, but it’s  all in vain; the creepy lights that   have baffled the city have disappeared.  Realizing they are running low on fuel,   the pilots head unwillingly back to base….at  which point the lights mysteriously reappear! Barnes’ conclusion is at  once logical and frightening:   “the UFOs were monitoring radio  traffic and behaving accordingly”.

You note the last sighting of the UFOs –  5:30 AM. Still no closer to an explanation   as to what may be happening to cause these  increasingly strange phenomena, you make a   mental note to communicate with the Air Force  Base tomorrow and see if they have any ideas.

The next day, you wake up and see the most  exaggerated headlines you can imagine:   “Saucers Swarm Over Capital”, according  to the Cedar Rapids Gazette. You write   a much more nuanced article explaining  the events of last night to the public,   and exploring possible theories – admittedly,  none of which sound that convincing,   even to you. But an alien invasion seems too  far fetched a story to run with at this time.

On Monday, July 21, you get a call from  USAF Captain Edward J. Ruppelt. He announces   himself as the supervisor of the Air Force’s  Project Blue Book research into UFO Sightings.   Frustrated by the fact that he only learned of  the sightings from your article two days later,   he is now seething at the Pentagon’s lack of  support as he tries to obtain a staff car to   drive around Washington, D.C. and investigate  the sightings. You ask him if between his   dealings with the Air Force and the Pentagon  he has any idea of what may have happened.

Ruppelt says Air Force radar specialist  Captain Roy James thought unusual weather   conditions may have occurred. What  kind of weather creates orange balls   of fire streaking through the sky  at lightning speeds, you wonder? The rest of the week passes by mostly  uneventfully. You’re working late in   the office again on Saturday, July  26, because you really need a life.   You suddenly notice another call from  the National Airport has come in.   Finally! Perhaps they have finally figured  out some sort of terrestrial explanation.

Instead, the night is about  to take an even stranger turn.

The man on the other end of the line  sounds distrubed. At around 8:15 PM,   a pilot and flight attendant on a  National Airlines flight in the air   observed some strange lights above the plane.  Within seconds, unidentified objects similar   to those a week ago suddenly appeared on the  radar screen at National Airport and Andrews   base. At the base, USAF master sergeant Charles  E. Cummings frustratedly denies any theories by   those around him that these might be natural  phenomena. Later, to an inquiring press,   he would state, "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." You decide you need to be where the action  is this time. You head right over to the   National Airport and are granted access to  the control rooms with the radar screens.   The press spokesman for Project Blue Book,  Albert M. Chop, also decides he has to arrive   on the scene himself to get a better idea  of what’s happening. It is now 9:30 PM,   and everyone is preparing for a night  of chaos, just like the Saturday before.

The UFOs don’t disappoint. The visuals  on the radar screen are astounding:   unknown objects are showing up in every single  sector (emphasis) of the screen. No one knows what   to make of the situation. Sometimes the objects  travel slowly, other times they reverse course,   and at times, they move at speeds calculated to  be up to 7,000 mph (11,250 km/h). Since it’s 1952,   you don’t know this yet, but that speed  record won’t be reached by humans until 2010,   when NASA’s X-43A scramjet hits speeds of  Mach 9.6, just under 7,000 mph. There is no   man-made object in the world that can fly that  fast in a world where “I Love Lucy” has just   wrapped up its first season. In fact, sound  itself moves at only 767 mph (1,234 km/h).

The atmosphere in the room is one of extreme  confusion. In an attempt to get a better look   at the lights, the Air Force decides to  scramble two F-94 Starfire jet fighters   one more time from Delaware. Captain John  McHugo attempts to approach the radar blips   but sees absolutely nothing. The other pilot,  Lieutenant William Patterson, has better luck.

While flying over Washington, Patterson identifies  four white “glows”. He starts to chase them,   but eventually reaches his maximum speed and  realizes he doesn’t have a shot at catching   up to the glowing UFOs. However, it appears he  might not need to catch up to them after all.   Because suddenly, Patterson looks around  and realizes he is surrounded by the glows.

He quickly informs ground control, “I see them now  and they’re all around me. What should I do?”. You   look around the room to see who’s going to answer  Patterson’s command. After a few tense moments of   everyone staring at each other, ground control  responds with…(maybe insert sounds of crickets   chirping)…absolutely nothing. Because truly,  no one on the ground has any idea what to do.

A week after the original bizarre UFO  sightings, these objects have come back.   How is this possible? And why are  they showing up on a Saturday again,   and again at the nation’s capitol?  Is flying over Washington D.C. and   terrifying locals some kind of bizarre  weekend road trip for these aliens? The situation has escalated to the point where it  has now alarmed the President of the United States   himself, Harry Truman. The entire US has caught  UFO fever, and people are calling the events of   the past couple of weeks “The Big Flap” – because  the 50s were a boring time for naming things.

In an attempt to understand what  is happening in his country,   Truman has his Air Force aide call Ruppelt, the  aforementioned supervisor of Project Blue Book.   He listens in on the two mens’  conversation without interrupting.

Ruppelt’s best theory at the moment? A  temperature inversion made radar signals   bend and show irregularities on the screen. An  inversion occurs when a layer of warm air forms in   the lower atmosphere, trapping cool air beneath.  This can cause radar to bounce off this low layer,   and show objects that are near the ground  as appearing high up in the sky instead.

However, Ruppelt himself admits he has not yet  interviewed any witnesses or investigated the   security issue in depth. How can a temperature  inversion explain several eyewitness accounts,   including those of Air Force personnel,  control tower employees, and pilots,   which all corroborate each other,  as well as the blips on the radar? As a responsible journalist, you know you owe it  to your readers to put forth another account of   this weekend’s events, as well as the possible  explanation, even though it makes little sense.   You decide to give your readers a little hope for  a future explanation by including the fact that   the CIA would be working alongside the Office  of Scientific Intelligence and the Οffice of   Current Intelligence to review the two weekends’  events and monitor any future developments.

On July 29, Air Force Major Generals John Samford  along with USAF Director of Operations Roger Ramey   hold a press conference with representatives from  almost every newspaper in the US in attendance.   When people with such long official  sounding titles are stepping up to talk,   you know the situation is serious. The room is  absolutely packed; it is the most well-attended   press conference held by the Pentagon since  World War II. Everyone is looking for answers.

The Air Force insists the most likely explanation  is a combination of misidentified stars or meteors   to explain in-person sightings, and temperature  inversion explaining the numerous radar blips.   Reports did confirm that a temperature inversion  phenomena was present the nights the UFOs were   seen on the radar. Samford reassured the  press that since the observed blips did   not seem to be “solid material objects”, they  did not pose a threat to national security.  Some eyewitness accounts actually seem  to reinforce the Air Force’s explanation.   The entire crew of a B-25 bomber flying over  Washington had been told they were surrounded   by these strange radar blips, but never saw  anything to confirm an actual object. The same   thing happened with an Eastern Airlines flight. Others remained unconvinced, including most of   the radar and control tower personnel who observed  the UFOs. They insisted that the repeated strange   phenomena over a period of hours that multiple  people witnessed could not simply have been   misidentified meteors and temperature inversion. Ruppelt himself, standing next to you,   tells you he doesn’t believe the original  temperature inversion theory anymore,   and trusts his colleagues’ eyewitness accounts  instead over this government theory. During the   conference, you notice that Samford keeps dodging  questions regarding specific eyewitness accounts.   It looks to you like he doesn’t have  much of an answer for these questions.  Collecting all the data and stories,  you publish both the Air Force account   and the contradicting eyewitness accounts,  completely lost as to what conclusion to draw.   You decide to let readers sort through the  facts and draw a conclusion themselves.  As life goes on, you check in on developments  relating to that July in 1952 from time to time.   In later years, as the Air Force’s  explanation would be more critically examined,   two knowledgeable men on the topic came out  strongly in favor of the official explanation.   Harvard astronomer Dr. Donald Menzel believed  most of the in-person sightings were the result   of a mirage effect, partly thanks to the  strange atmospheric conditions those nights.  Philip Klass, the senior editor of  “Aviation Week” magazine, also pointed out   that radar technology in 1952 was relatively  primitive. The radarscope would have had trouble   differentiating common objects such as weather  balloons, birds, or temperature inversion,   from UFOs. He also threw some shade  at the controllers on duty that night,   stating that perhaps, “we had two dumb controllers  at National Airport on those nights.” Burn.  However, as to Klass’ less offensive  point regarding radar technology,   he brings up the logical argument that UFO  sightings on radar have rapidly declined   after digital filters were introduced in the  70s. Or perhaps the aliens operating these   UFOs took one look at 70s fashion and decided  there was no need to visit the Earth again.  One day, you hear from a surprising person  regarding the UFO case. It’s Faith McClory,   the daughter of Captain Pierman, the  National Airlines pilot who saw the   white-bluish lights with his own eyes. McClory insists, as did her father,   that what he saw that night could not have been  weather-related. She is disgusted by what she   sees as a government attempt to deflect  real questions about the events of 1952.   Her stance is clear: “I don’t want to use  the words ‘cover up’. But it was very clear.   He saw it. Everything was seen on radar”. The truth is, we may never know what occurred   those strange summer nights in Washington, D.C.,  but while waiting on the next alien invasion,   make sure to pass the time by clicking  on this video here, or this one!

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