Was it a UFO? Or something else?
The most famous D.C.-area UFO sightings were during July 1952, when air traffic control at National Airport picked up some unusual “radar blips.” The sightings increased during the month as did the public intrigue. One U.S. Air Force official, at a press conference trying to explain what may have happened, said the lights were likely a “temperature inversion.”
According to How Stuff Works, “[t]his ‘explanation’ got absolutely no support from those who had seen the objects either in the air or on the radar screens, and the U.S. Weather Bureau, in a little-noted statement, rejected the theory. In fact, the official Air Force position, which it had successfully obscured, was that the objects were ‘unknowns.’”
On July 28, 1952, The Washington Post ran with the headline, “‘Saucer’ Outran Jet, Pilot Reveals,” reporting that “a jet pilot sent up by the Air Defense Command to investigate the objects reported he was unable to overtake the glowing lights moving near Andrews Air Force Base.”
The Post‘s Paul Sampson wrote at the time:
Although “unidentified objects” have been picked up on radar before, the incidents of the last two [S]aturdays are believed to be the first time the objects have been picked up on radar-while visible to the human eye.
Besides the pilots, who last [S]aturday saw the lights, a woman living on Mississippi Ave., told the Post she saw a very “bright light streaking across the sky towards Andrews Air Force Base about 11:45 PM. Then a second object with a tail like a comet whizzed by, and a few seconds later, a third passed in a different direction toward Suntland [sic], she said.
Radar operators plotted the speed of “saturday night’s visitors” at from 38 to 90 mph, but one jet pilot reported faster speeds for the light he saw.
The jet pilot reported he had no apparent “closing speed” when he attempted to reach the lights he saw near Andrews Air Force Base. That means the lights were moving atleast as fast as his top speed-a maximum of 600 mph.
One person who saw the lights when they first appeared in this area did not see them last night. He is E.W. Chambers, an engineer at Radio Station WRC, who spotted the lights while working early the morning of July 20 at station’s Hyattsville tower.
Chamber’s said he was sorry he had seen the lights because he had been skeptical about “flying saucers” before. Now he said, he sort of “wonders” and worrys [sic] about the whole thing.
Are they back? Are UFOs subject to Fortress Washington’s protected airspace? Or is that why the sighting was out in Centreville?
Maybe UFO in Centreville Was a ‘Temperature Inversion’? was originally published by Washington City Paper on Nov 5, 2010