By: Patrick J. Kiger June 08, 2012

Big City Sightings: Washington, DC

UFO sighting in Washington DC area harkens back to 60-year-old historic incident

A video clip of a bright light seemingly hovering in the night sky over Reagan National Airport in Virginia on May 16, is creating a stir among UFO researchers, believers and enthusiasts on the Internet—perhaps because it revisits the scene of  one of the most famous  UFO sightings ever, which occurred at the airport almost exactly 60 years before.

The one-minute, eight second video, posted on YouTube on May 16 by a user identified only as “wowforreeel,” shows a large flickering light hovering in the sky to the north of National’s control tower.   The clip subsequently was reposted by “Greyhunter2012,” a collector of UFO and paranormal videos, and has garnered roughly 30,000 views.  It subsequently was featured on websites such as the Paranormal Searchers blog,,  The Conspiracy Index  and UFO Casebook,  and was the subject of an article on, a site where amateur journalists post their work. “This incident needs to be thoroughly investigated,” writer Jim Kane urged.

Unfortunately,  “wowforreeel,” provides little information about the video, including such key details as  time of night when it was recorded. “Watched this for several minutes trying to see if it was a plane or helicopter,” the poster notes, cryptically. Subsequently, however, “wowforreeel” posted a second, longer clip that looks at the same video footage in more detail.  He notes that the bright object in the sky appears to remain motionless in relation to the ground, and that it did not make any sound. He explains that he panned out to shoot a more expansive view of the object, so that it would be clear that it was not a streetlight, and then zoomed in to get as good of a close-up as possible.

Neither the National UFO Reporting Center’s database  nor a similar compendium of sightings maintained by the Mutual UFO Network show any similar sightings in the Washington, DC area around May 16.

Unfortunately, digital video wasn’t yet available back on July 19, 1952, when one of the most famous UFO sightings in history occurred. On that evening at about 11:40 p.m, an air traffic controller at Washington National Airport spotted seven unidentified objects on the radar screen, about 15 miles to the southwest of the nation’s capital city.

“Here’s a fleet of flying saucers for you,” he jokingly told his supervisor."

But the mood changed when a second controller at another facility reported that he not only had the objects on his screen, but could see “a bright orange light” through the window of his control tower.

Other strange occurrences ensued.  At 12:30 a.m., one of the objects buzzed a runway at National. A controller who observed the object described it as an orange disk, and said that it hovered at 3,000 feet over the airport before disappearing.

Jet fighters from a base in nearby Delaware were scrambled and sent to confront what appeared to be an intrusion into the capital’s airspace. But the objects mysteriously vanished—and then, after the fighters had returned to their base, reappeared.

After a repeat visit by similar objects on July 26, President Harry Truman asked his Air Force aide, Brig. Gen. Robert B. Landry, to find what what the UFOs were. He in turn called Capt. Edward J. Ruppelt the supervisor of the Air Force’s Project Blue Book, a secret probe of UFO reports, and asked him to investigate.  Eventually,  at a heavily-attended press conference, Air Force intelligence director John Samford told the press that the sightings may have been a false radar reading, caused by a temperature inversion in the atmosphere.  Given than eyewitnesses actually had seen the UFOs, that explanation failed to quiet speculation over the sightings, which has continued ever since.

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