Case Directory
  Category 1, Distant Encounters 
Rating: 5  


A Hynek Classification of Distant Encounter is usually an incident involving an object more than 500 feet from the witness. At night it is classified as a "nocturnal light" (NL) and during the day as a "daylight disc" (DD). The size of the object or the viewing conditions may render the object in greater detail but yet not qualify the sighting as a Close Encounter which is an object within 500'. 

Saturn-Shaped Object Observed, Object Confirmed By Pilot
October 7, 1958
Alexandria, Virginia

Brad Sparks:
Oct. 7, 1958.  Alexandria, Virginia (at 38°47.9’N, 77° 2.6’ W).
6:02 p.m. (EDT).  John R. Townsend, Special Assistant for Research & Engineering to the Asst. Secretary of Defense, saw a large stationary sharply outlined Saturn-shaped “silvery” or “aluminum clad” oblate spherical object (with “gossamer” surface appearance) with a rim or girdle around its equator in clear sky due S azimuth about 180° at about 20° elevation for about 10 secs, which started rapidly rising at an estimated speed of 1,000 mph and disappeared due to extreme distance at about 30° to 35° elevation still due S after 40 secs, with the impression it was heading away from him to the S growing smaller until unable to be seen [apparently increased distance to at least 400 miles to drop below minimum visual resolution, at about 36,000 mph average velocity at 80 g's acceleration to an altitude of about 200 miles, terminal velocity about 72,000 mph].  Witness estimated UFO angular size as 3° and actual size 600 ft at distance of 3 nautical miles, using the passing and turning Capital [not “Capitol”] Airlines Flight 407 at 2 miles distance during the sighting as aerial distance reference point.  Townsend was familar with standard takeoff pattern of flights from Washington National Airport and said that the airliner he saw during the sighting headed S on a track about 1 mile to his left (along the Potomac River) and then turned right across his field of view of the UFO.  Pilot of Capital Flight 407 took off in a DC-4 at 5:59 p.m. (EDT) from Washington National heading S, climbed to 2,000 ft and as he was turning right to a W heading out of the traffic pattern [at about 6:02 p.m.] he saw an “unidentified aircraft” with “nose light” at about 3,000 ft heading N, seen in the direction of or over Beacon Field 3 miles to the W (at about azimuth 265° so object was in the glare of the setting sun at approximately elevation 7° azimuth 258° and may have been reflecting the sunlight so as to appear to have a “nose light”).  Thus sighting lines crossed with Townsend at right angles, establishing distance and location of object by triangulation as 2 miles S of Townsend at about 3,000 ft altitude and 1 mile W of the airliner, or at 38°46’N, 77° 3’W, and thus actual size as about 500 ft and angular elevation to Townsend about 17° in close agreement with Townsend’s 600 ft size estimate and 20° elevation measurement (done by protractor after the sighting) and in exact agreement with pilot estimate of 3,000 ft altitude of object [though distance is difficult to estimate and UFO was closer to the Capital flight than Beacon Field].  No sound.  Townsend reenacted the timing by walking the half block down the N-S running Lee Street (which runs toward 190° True azimuth).  BB proposed nonsense theory of sun reflection on cloud or ice crystals as sun set “behind the horizon” – in fact sun set 40 mins later at 6:42 p.m. EDT.  Projected target radiant of UFO at ascent angle of about 30° at about azimuth 180° is at 17 hrs Right Ascension -20° Declination in constellation Ophiuchus.  (Sparks;  Jan Aldrich; BB files)

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