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Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Nick Redfern - Washington, D.C.-1952

UFOs: A True Unknown

Feb 28th by


What constitutes a good, solid and credible UFO incident? That’s a very good question, and one I get asked now and again. Well, my answer would be that such a case would, ideally, have the support of a number of witnesses, some form of evidence that can be analyzed, and on the record individuals whose words we can refer to and study. And, for me, this is typified by a highly notable affair that falls into this particular category, and which will be celebrating its 60th anniversary in just a few months from now…
On both July 19 and 20, 1952, there were repeated sightings of unknown aerial objects in the Washington, D.C., airspace, something that, on July 24, led USAF Major General John A. Samford to state in a Secret memorandum for the attention of the Deputy Chief of Staff, Operations: “We are interested in these reports in that we must always on the alert for any threat or indication of a threat to the United States. We cannot ignore these reports but the mild hysteria subsequent to publicity given this subject causes an influx of reports which since the 19th of July has almost saturated our ‘Emergency’ procedures.”
The situation really escalated after the weekend of July 26-27. A two-page USAF document, prepared only days later, related the facts: “This incident involved unidentified targets observed on the radar scopes at the Air Route Traffic Control Center and the tower, both at Washington National Airport, and the Approach Control Radar at Andrews Air Force Base. In addition, visual observations were reported to Andrews and Bolling AFB and to ARTC Center, the latter by pilots of commercial aircraft and one CAA aircraft…”
The report continues:
“Varying numbers (up to 12 simultaneously) of u/i targets on ARTC radar scope. Termed by CAA personnel as ‘generally solid returns’, similar to a/c except slower. Mr. Bill Schreve, flying a/c NC-12 reported at 2246 EDT that he had visually spotted 5 objects giving off a light glow ranging from orange to white; his altitude at time was 2,200’. Some commercial pilots reported visuals ranging from ‘cigarette glow’ to a ‘light…”
And the deep strangeness only continued, as the USAF noted:
“ARTC crew commented that, as compared with u/i returns picked up in early hours of 20 July 52, these returns appeared to be more haphazard in their actions, i.e. they did not follow a/c around nor did they cross scope consistently on same general heading. Some commented that the returns appeared to be from objects ‘capable of dropping out of the pattern at will’. Also that returns had ‘creeping appearance’. One member of crew commented that one object to which F-94 was vectored just ‘disappeared from Scope’ shortly after F-94 started pursuing. All crew members emphatic that most u/i returns have been picked up from time to time over the past few months but never before had they appeared in such quantities over such a prolonged period and with such definition as was experienced on the nights of 19/20 and 26/27 July 1952.”
Although the portions extracted from this report speak for themselves, let us now examine an official transcript of a conversation, dated July 26, between staff at Washington National Airport and personnel from Andrews Air Force Base at the time of the sightings:
Wash: “Andrews Tower, do you read? Did you have an airplane in sight west-northwest or east of your airport eastbound?”
Andr: “No, but we just got a call from the Center. We’re looking for it.”
Wash: “We’ve got a big target showing up on our scope. He’s just coming in on the west edge of your airport – the northwest edge of it eastbound. He’ll be passing right through the northern portion of your field on an east heading. He’s about a quarter of a mile from the northwest runway – right over the edge of your runway now.”
Andr: “This is Andrews. Our radar tracking says he’s got a big fat target out here northwest of Andrews. He says he’s got two more south of the field.”
Wash: “Yes, well the Center has about four or five around the Andrews Range Station. The Center is working a National Airlines – the Center is working him and vectoring him around his target. He went around Andrews. He saw one of them – looks like a meteor…went by him…or something. He said he’s got one about three miles off his right wing right now. There are so many targets around here it is hard to tell as they are not moving very fast.”
Within a matter of hours of hearing of the events of July 26-27, FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover instructed N.W. Philcox, the FBI’s Air Force liaison representative, to determine what had taken place and to ascertain the Air Force’s opinions on the UFO subject as a whole.
On July 29, Philcox made arrangements through the office of the Director of Air Intelligence, Major General John A. Samford, to meet with Commander Randall Boyd of the Current Intelligence Branch, Estimates Division, Air Intelligence, regarding “the present status of Air Intelligence research into the numerous reports regarding flying saucers and flying discs.”
Although the Air Force was publicly playing down the possibility that UFOs were anything truly extraordinary, Philcox was advised that “at the present time the Air Force has failed to arrive at any satisfactory conclusion in its research regarding numerous reports of flying saucers and flying discs sighted throughout the United States.”
Philcox was further informed that Air Intelligence had set up at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, the Air Technical Intelligence Center, which had been established in part for the purpose of “coordinating, correlating and making research into all reports regarding flying saucers and flying discs.”
As Philcox listened very carefully to what Boyd had to say on the matter, he noted that the Air Force had placed their UFO reports into three definable categories. In the first instance there were those sightings “which are reported by citizens who claim they have seen flying saucers from the ground. These sightings vary in description, color and speeds. Very little credence is given to these sightings inasmuch as in most instances they are believed to be imaginative or some explainable object which actually crossed through the sky.”
Philcox then learned that the second category of encounters proved to be of greater significance: “Sightings reported by commercial or military pilots. These sightings are considered more credible by the Air Force inasmuch as commercial or military pilots are experienced in the air and are not expected to see objects which are entirely imaginative. In each of these instances, the individual who reports the sightings is thoroughly interviewed by a representative of Air Intelligence so that a complete description of the object can be obtained.”
The third category of encounters, Boyd advised Philcox, were those where, in addition to a visual sighting by a pilot, there was corroboration either from a ground-based source or by radar. Philcox wrote to Hoover: “Commander Boyd advised that this latter classification constitutes two or three per cent of the total number of sightings, but that they are the most credible reports received and are difficult to explain.”
“In these instances,” Philcox was told, “there is no doubt that these individuals reporting the sightings actually did see something in the sky.” And to demonstrate that Boyd was well acquainted with the UFO issue on a worldwide scale, he confided in Philcox that “sightings have also recently been reported as far distant as Acapulco, Mexico, Korea and French Morocco… the sightings reported in the last classification have never been satisfactorily explained.”
The commander then came out with a true bombshell, as Philcox noted in his report on the meeting: “[Boyd] advised that it is not entirely impossible that the objects may possibly be ships from another planet such as Mars.”
Clearly, within both the military and the Intelligence community of the day, there was deep concern about the Washington events – something which led to the development of startling and intriguing theories, and the analysis of countless data. So, collectively, this is why – in my opinion – the July 1952 encounters over the nation’s capital were evidence of true unknowns in our very midst…

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