Washington National Sightings
Washington, DC Area
July 19/20, 1952
Washington National's Control Tower radar room
few days prior to the incident, a scientist, from an agency
that I can't name and I were talking about the build-up
of reports along the east coast of the United States".
At the end of the two hour conversation, the scientist
made a prediction: "From his study of the UFO reports
that he was getting from Air Force HQ, and from discussions
with his colleagues, he said that he thought that we were
sitting right on top of a big keg full of loaded saucers.
'Within the next few days,' he told me, and I remember
that he punctuated his slow, deliberate remarks by hitting
the desk with his fist, 'they're going to blow up and
you're going to have the granddaddy of all UFO sightings.
The sighting will occur in Washington or New York,' he
predicted, 'probably Washington.'"
the full story of 1952 UFO sighting wave be sure and visit
1952 UFO Chronology.
National's Control Tower radar room (see above photo)
was an exceptionally busy place the night UFOs visited
Washington. Personnel on duty that night, using limited-range
radar, verified on numerous occasions the radar sightings
of UFOs reported by senior ATC controller Harry Barnes.
This case is Item 23 on a list of 51 items, 41 of which
are Air Technical Intelligence UFO sighting reports cleared
for Donald Keyhoe by Albert M. Chop, Air Force Press Desk.
This particular case is one of two incidents, the other
being the radar/visual of July 26/27, 1952, and even more
The radar room where Barnes and his men tracked the unknowns
was July 19/20, 1952 - The scene was the Air Traffic Control
Center at Washington National Airport, Washington, D.C.
At 11:00 PM eight traffic experts, headed by Senior Controller
Harry G. Barnes, entered the radar room and took over
the 8-hour shift. The night was clear.
radar system used had a main scope, 24" in diameter.
The range was 100 miles and the sweep-rate was 10-seconds.
Traffic was light. They were tracking an airliner a few
miles from the airport. Every ten seconds the sweep painted
the airliner's new position, so that there were seven
"blips" on the screen before the first one faded.
Recognizing the targets and where they were, and what
they were doing was what these men did every day. Many
lives hung in the balance, especially when traffic was
11:30, Barnes went to the supervisor's desk, leaving Controller
Ed Nugent at the main scope. Two other controllers, Jim
Ritchey and James Copeland, were standing a few feet away.
exactly 11:40, seven sharp blips suddenly appeared on
the scope. They either came in from above or flew in between
the ten second sweeps, but there they were, in the southwest
quadrant, just east and a little south of Andrews AFB.
Nugent ordered Copeland to get Barnes. Both consoles showed
the strange blips. Barnes buzzed the tower and got ahold
of Howard Cocklin. Cocklin said their scope showed the
same targets and he reported that he could actually see
one of the objects in the night sky as a bright orange
of July 20, 1952 UFOs Over DC
really alarmed, Barnes notified the Air Defense Command.
When he got back to the main scope the objects had separated.
Can you imagine what went through these men's minds? A
cluster of unidentified targets drops in out of nowhere,
then stop, then fan out to prohibited flying areas! Two
were over the White House, another was near the Capitol.
Barnes, without taking his eyes off the screen, contacted
Andrews Air Force Base, across the Potomac in Maryland.
Andrews confirmed the targets, in the same locations.
Barnes asked if they were scrambling some jets. Andrews'
jets were at Newcastle, Delaware (near Wilmington) while
their runway was under repair. Barnes told the other controllers
that the jets had to come from Delaware, which meant at
least a half hour.
several minutes they tracked the objects. Jim Ritchey
noticed one was pacing a Capital airliner which had just
taken off. The pilot, Captain "Casey" Pierman,
was vectored toward the object. Until then, the object's
tracked speed had been about 130 mph. Suddenly, to all
the controllers' amazement, its track came to an abrupt
end. Where the next blip should have been was only a blank
after that Pierman called back. He said he saw the thing,
but it streaked off out of sight in 3-5 seconds. Apparently,
the object had zoomed completely out of the radar beam
between sweeps. That indicates the object went from 130
to around 500 mph in that short period.
few minutes later it got even more interesting. One blip
track showed an abrupt 90-degree turn, something WE could
not do. Then, when the sweep came around, another object
suddenly reversed, its new blip "blossoming"
on top of the one it had just made. From over 100 mph,
the mystery object had stopped dead and completely reversed
its direction, all in about 5-seconds. (I've seen this
myself while on SKYWATCH)
top of that, a startling report came in from the tower.
Operator Joe Zacko had been watching the ASR scope, built
to track high-speed objects. One of the objects was traveling
at a fantastic rate across the screen and was racing over
Andrews Field toward Riverdale. Zacko called Cocklin and
they both computed the speed, 2-miles per second, 7,200
mph! From the trail it was plain that the object had descended
vertically into the ASR beam, leveled off for a few seconds,
then climbed at tremendous speed out of the beam again.
jets had still not arrived. The objects had been circling
Washington, D.C. for almost two hours, and controllers
nerves were getting taut. Tower men and pilots were reporting
visual sightings. Two or three times Barnes noted that
the objects darted away the instant he gave pilots directions
for interception. Not once did a pilot get close enough
to see behind the mysterious lights.
was almost 2:00 AM when the Air Force jets arrived in
Washington. Just before that, the UFOs had vanished. Five
minutes after the jets left, the UFOs were back, all over
Washington. One of them followed a Capital airliner close
to the airport, then raced away.
one point during the night all three radars had picked
up a target 3 miles north of the Riverdale Radio beacon,
north of Washington. For thirty seconds the three radar
operators compared notes about the target over the intercom,
then suddenly the target was gone, and it left all three
an ARTC controller called Andrews AFB and told them they
had a target south of their tower, directly over the Andrews
Radio range station. The operators looked and saw a "huge
fiery-orange sphere" hovering in the sky directly
over their range station.
sun-up, the UFOs ended their 5-hours of maneuvering over
Washington. But before they left, at 4:30 AM a radio engineer
by the name of E. W. Chambers was leaving the WRC transmitter
station when he saw five huge discs circling in loose
formation. The objects tilted upward and climbed steeply
into the sky.
Air Force tried hard to play the Washington sightings
down. First they denied Andrews Field had tracked the
UFOs. One spokesman insisted the Control Center scope
was defective. And then another spokesman denied fighters
were scrambled. At Dayton, Ohio, the HQ for Project Blue
Book, teletypes were churning out 30 reports a day! And
Captain Ruppelt said that many were as good, if not better,
than the Washington sightings.
part of the Washington National Sightings is mysteriously
missing from the Project Blue Book's 701 UNKNOWNS. The
only sighting listed by the Air Force as UNKNOWN for that
period was Case #1504, July 20th, Lavalette, New Jersey!
to the Air Force rose to 40 per day, about a third of
them were UNKNOWNS!
find it odd that, when the UFOs returned to Washington,
one week later, those WERE listed as UNKNOWNS! Maybe it
was because there were so many good UFO sightings during
that week. To name a few:
there were twenty-two unknowns listed from July 21 to
the 28th, which covered the period of both Washington
National sightings incidents (July 19/20 & 26/27).
As mentioned in the beginning of this report, the following
is the updated list of ALL the sightings, which includes
the unknowns, for the entire 1952
UFO Sighting Wave.
on the 26th of July, UFOs were up to something over military
1588 - July 26. Travis AFB, California (military)
BBU 1628 - Kansas City, Missouri (military)
BBU 1637 - Kirtland AFB, New Mexico (military)
that evening the UFOs were back over Washington! Click
here ......Go to directory below and proceed to July 26/27.