The 71st ANNIVERSARY
OF THE JULY 19,
1952 UFO INTRUSION
OVER WASHINGTON, D.C.
The "Summer of the Saucers" UFO events were part of the "wave" of saucer sightings occurring over the United States in 1952. This happened, is the better understanding.
These UFO sightings, which began during the beginning of the 1952 summer are also known as the "Big Flap." This is according to Project Blue Book Chief Captain Edward Ruppelt, who stated, "In early June 1952 the Air Force was unknowingly in the initial stages of a flap—a flying saucer flap—the flying saucer flap of 1952." He continued, "If you can pin down a date that the Big Flap started, it would probably be about June 1st."
The year 1952 had a record amount of UFO cases reported to Bluebook during its 17-year existence, which began in 1952 and ended in 1969. In 1952, Blue Book recorded 1,501 UFO reports, and 301 of those reports were evaluated as "UNKNOWNS."
Quickly, the writer reminds the reader that by "unknown," it is meant that these are sightings of objects... "physicalities," actually, where atmospheric clearness and a certain closeness of proximity were sufficient that these objects SHOULD have been known! These were not birds, bolides, booster rockets, or balloons, reader! Truly, a zebra, seen up close at noon, will not be taken for a horse.
During the summer of 1952, the months of June, July, August, and September would account for an astounding 1,134 UFO reports of the 1,501 total annual reports in 1952. Moreover, those four summer months accounted for 111 unknowns (there's that word, again!} reports of the year's total of 303 "unknowns." Enter, the "Summer of the Saucers."
The famous and most publicized "flying saucer" events during the 1952 summer affair occurred on the consecutive weekends of July 19-20 and July 26-27! Astonishingly, UFOs flew boldly over the nation's very Capital, including restricted areas and in nearby States! These well-known "Washington sightings" involved numerous reports of both radar and visual observations of unidentified flying objects!
That first intrusion of UFOs over Washington, D.C. began late Saturday night, July 1952! Genuine UFOs were assiduously tracked on radar by top officials at Andrews AFB, Maryland as well as on civilian radars at Washington National Airport! This series of UFO events occurring that Saturday night into Sunday morning also displayed the confusion and communication breakdown demonstrably occurring between military and civilian officials in the affair. This happened, remember!
At Washington National Airport, Senior Air Traffic Controller Harry Barnes (look for him later in this piece) first detected UFOs moving slowly across his radar screens at 11:40 pm. Andrews AFB radar controllers also picked up the objects on radar and simultaneously tracked them as well! Captain Ruppelt states in his book, The Report on Unidentified Flying Objects that, "...By now the targets had moved into every sector of the scope and had flown through the prohibited flying areas of the White House and Capitol." This happened, remember!
On July 23, 1952, the Washington Daily News article, "Jets Couldn't Find Them-Air Force After D.C. 'Saucers'," covered this UFO event in detail. It was reported, "The Air Force announced last night that: seven to ten objects appeared on the radar screen in the Air Route Traffic Control Center at National Airport. They appeared to be over Andrews. They appeared on one section of the screen, then showed up seconds later on another part, traveling in an entirely different direction." These objects were traveling between "100 to 135 miles per hour—very slow for saucers." Additionally, visual sightings were also made by the crews of several commercial airliner crews and many witnesses on the ground. This happened, remember!
National Airport officials called on Andrews AFB to send up their all-weather fighter jets from the 121st FIS after the intruding UFOs, but... there was a problem! It was reported by the Air Force that "no jets were available."
Andrews AFB officials explained, "The 121st Fighter Interceptor Squadron has been moved to a base at Newcastle, Del., while Andrew's runways are being repaired."
The article also gave information about another scramble and intercept attempt, "...the Navy sent jets up from Norfolk [Virginia] when Andrews couldn't make it. But they failed to make (sic) with the mysterious objects, the Navy man said."
The Air Force's lack of information concerning this Navy scramble was explained in the same article. It reported, "An Air Force press information man said the Air Force so far has only a preliminary telephone report on the Sunday visitors." It continued, "He said the report that Navy jets went up from Norfolk, 'is news to me.'"
...Seems a pretty hapless response than one might expect from your more brave and curious human, nes't ce pas? ...What is it with we humans and just not running into the arms of the future promising more good than harm is this writer's intuition. Good or bad it's still just us, we individual humans, making the choice. We digress...
Back at the ranch and shortly before 3:00 A.M. on Sunday morning, July 20, the USAF finally stepped into action when two F-94 Starfire Fighters of the 142nd FIS were scrambled from Newcastle AFB towards the UFOs over Washington, D.C! Being guided by Andrews' radar controllers the jets arrived into the area... and the UFOs mysteriously vanished from the scopes!
With no targets towards which to steer the jets, the jets had to circle the sky burning gas until low fuel levels forced them to return back to Newcastle. Michael Hall and Wendy Conners reported in their book Captain Edward J. Ruppelt, "Barnes (the RADAR controller from above) later told newspapers that he thought the UFOs were monitoring their transmissions because by 3:00 A.M. all the targets had disappeared, just as Newcastle's jet interceptors finally arrived, hours late! The two F-94s searched the skies over Washington but were already too low on fuel! They soon had to return to Delaware.
By 3:30 A.M. the UFOs reappeared." Andrews AFB Tower log reported the following information, "...03:30 WASH CENTER ADVISED THE TARGETS (UFOs) SEEMED TO MOVE MORE FREQUENTLY WHEN THERE WERE AIRCRAFT MOVING." These are some curious communications... and this happened, remember!
Major Donald Keyhoe reported, "As the sky began to lighten, the saucers ended their five-hour survey of Washington." ...Pause to laugh! True enough, UFOs had their way with our most sensitive National airspaces...
He continued and added, "...At about 5:30 a Radio engineer named E.W. Chamberlain was leaving WRC transmitter station when he saw five huge discs circling in loose formation. As he watched, dumbfounded, the discs tilted upward and climbed steeply into the sky." This happened, remember? ...Only once... True UFOs only have to happen once, reader, and the eventual path forward is cast!
Project Blue Book recorded this last case as #1661... an, "UNKNOWN." The reader will remember what THEY are.
This article is only the tip of the iceberg concerning the UFO events occurring on July 19/20, 1952. The entire series of events as they unfolded can be read in Frank Feschino's ground-breaking book, Shoot Them Down-The Flying Saucer Air Wars of 1952. Closing, please watch the following video which includes interviews with Major General Samford and Major Donald Keyhoe.