On July 19th, 1952 an air traffic controller at the National Airport in Washing D.C. spotted some peculiar blips on radar. The air traffic controller immediately notified his boss, Harry G. Barnes, due to the proximity of the capital and that no craft should be in this area around midnight.
Barnes in an interview a few days later stated that “we knew immediately that a very strange situation existed because their movements were completely radical compared to those of ordinary aircraft.” Barnes went on to explain that the objects moved in short and sudden bursts with intense speed. As a result, their radar could not track the objects continuously, only when they came to a stop for a brief period.
After a few minutes of tracking with long range radar, Tower Central began tracking the objects on short range radar. It was at this point that Andrews Air Force Base was alerted as well as Air Force personnel visually spotted the bright orange objects in the southern sky. Andrews Air Force Base radar systems also began tracking these objects when visual contact was made.
Intermittent radar tracking continued to occur until around 3:00am when the objects simply sped off into the distance and not returning for the night. At various points throughout the night all three radar tracking stations were able to track the objects simultaneously.
The next night however the objects returned and continued to perform extreme maneuvers. The maneuvers described by one air force weather observer was “gyrations and reversals they had never seen before.” At times the objects moved at speeds over 900 miles per hour and emitted radar echoes exactly like those of an aircraft or other solid object in the sky.
Throughout the coming week sightings continued and were tracked intermittently, all culminating in one large sighting over the weekend. An F-94 was dispatched to intercept the objects, only to have the experience turn from offensive to defensive in an instant. As the F-94 approached the objects, approximately ten miles out, the objects suddenly and deliberately swarmed the F-94. the Pilot, Lt. William Patterson, radioed Andrews Air Force Base for instructions on how to proceed and whether he should engage. Patterson received only stunned silence. After a few moments the objects pulled away and left the area.
This weekend sighting and engagement brought an end to this wave of sightings, however was only the beginning of the publicity. Newspapers, Politicians, and the public all demanded answers from the Air Force as to what was going on and what was intruding into restricted air space.
The Air Force hosted an extremely large press conference where Captain Roy James offered up an explanation that simply did not suffice. He suggested that the objects were caused as a result of temperature inversion and that what people were seeing was in fact ground based lights.
For those who are not aware of Temperature Inversion, it is a phenomenon where a warm and less-dense air mass moves over a cooler, denser air mass. This results in odd illusions on the horizon that looks like mountains or even entire cities appearing far out on the horizon. An example of this phenomenon is pictured below. The “clouds” in the distance are not actually clouds, but an optical illusion as a result of Temperature Inversion.
Based on the fact that the military attempted to cover this up by offering up a temperature inversion theory leads me to believe this was a legitimate series of sightings. Interviews with Lt. William Patterson, the F-94 pilot, shows that he was badly shaken by the experience and truly frightened. He had no explanation for what he had encountered and confirmed that they were in fact physical objects and not just a figment of everyone’s imagination.
Additionally the fact that three separate radar stations tracked these objects simultaneously does not lead me to believe they are optical illusions. The simple fact is that radar does not detect objects that do not exist. This explanation would imply that all three radar stations, located miles apart from one another, were all tracking the same illusion. I’ve been hard pressed to find other examples of where this has occurred.
Lastly, the Air Forced explanation did not get supported by any of the witnesses of the event, including Air Force personnel. Everyone who saw the objects over the course of a week agreed that the objects were real and did have mass. I believe this to be an authentic encounter with UFO’s. Whether they are piloted by aliens is unknown, however these objects are unidentified as of today.