On Saturday, July 19, 1952, at 11:40 p.m., while working at Washington National Airport, air traffic controller Edward Nugent noticed seven separate blips on his radar. The unidentified crafts were 15 south-southwest of the nation’s capital. At the time that Nugent noticed the blips there were no known aircrafts in the area. Upon further observation Nugent noticed that the objects on radar were not following any established flight patterns. Edward Nugent immediately notified his superior, senior air-traffic controller Harry Barnes. Barnes and Nugent collectively watched and logged the movements on Nugent’s radarscope.
Barnes later wrote in his official report, “We knew immediately that a very strange situation existed… their movements were completely radical compared to those of ordinary aircraft.”
Mr. Barnes immediately had two technicians check Nugent’s radar for technical malfunctions. After a thorough systems check, they found nothing to be wrong with the radar. Almost simultaneously with the technicians finishing the system check, other unidentified objects began to appear in all sectors of Nugent’s radarscope. Within seconds the objects had positioned themselves directly over the White House and the U.S. Capital. Barnes immediately notified Andrews Air Force Base which is located just 17 miles southwest from the Washington National Airport.
At the time of being notified Andrews did not have any unidentified objects on their radars to coincide with what Nugent and Barnes radar was showing. However, shortly after Barnes contacted the base an airman soon contacted the base’s control tower to report the sighting of an unidentified object in the sky.
The officer in the tower at Andrews was Airman William Brady. Brady reported that he saw an “object which appeared to be like an orange ball of fire, trailing a tail . . . unlike anything I had ever seen before.” As soon as Brady attempted to alert the others working in the tower, he later reported that the UFO’s “took off at an unbelievable speed.”
Capital Airlines pilot S.C. Pierman was one of the many runways at Washington National Airport. Pierman was on standby for departure when he spotted what he thought was a meteor. He was contacted by the control tower at National to let him know that they had picked up unknown objects on the tower radar that were closing in on Pierman’s position. Pierman later reported identifying six separate objects that were “white, tailless, and fast-moving lights” over the duration of a 14 minute period. Pierman and Barnes were in radio contact during his sighting of the UFO’s. Barnes later relayed that “ every sighting coincided with a pop we could see close to his aircraft. When Pierman would let the tower know that the light had streaked off at a high-speed, it had also disappeared on the scope in the tower.
While Washington National was tracking the original UFOs they had spotted, Andrews Air Force Bases tower personnel were debating if they were observing UFOs or stars and meteors falling to earth.
Staff Sgt. Charles Davenport was one of the personnel in the tower at Andrews. Davenport reported that he had observed an orangish-redish light to the south. He stated that the light “would appear to stand still for long periods of time, then make an abrupt change in direction and altitude”. He stated that he witnessed this happen several different times.
During one point in the evening Washington National and Andrews began tracking objects hovering directly over radio beacons.
When these objects finally vanished, they vanished from the radars at all three centers at the same exact time. As two US Air Force F-94 Starfire fighter jets arrived at Andrews, on their way from New Castle AFB in Delaware, The objects vanished from the radars at Washington National. As soon as the jets began running low on fuel and left the airspace, the objects returned. This convinced Barnes that “the UFOs were monitoring radio traffic and behaving accordingly.” The last time that the objects were detected on radar was at 5:30 a.m. EST.