By Douglas Larsen
Source: Albuquerque (NM) Tribune 7/31/52 P11
WASHINGTON (NEA) – The flying saucers are back.
And their return to the headlines has been the result of a startling new development.
For the first time, numerous and simultaneous visual sightings have been positively confirmed by official Civil Aeronautics administration radar observations. This has happened twice under almost identical circumstances on two successive Saturday nights.
Up until now official and unofficial saucer debunkers have produced credible theories to explain away reports of visual sightings as natural phenomena. They have done the same for individual radar sighting reports.
But none of this reasoning satisfactorily explains away visual sightings absolutely confirmed by radar.
This remarkable new chapter in the weird flying saucer story was written in the skies over Washington for six hours before dawn on Sunday, July 20, and again one week later. The details and the implications of what took place are now confirmed by CAA and the Air Force.
Since then the Air Force has quietly said it was closing to the press its special section at Wright Field in Dayton, O., which has been studying flying saucer reports. In addition, all information concerning that group’s personnel, activities and budget is now strictly classified.
Full details of what happened the first night are being revealed for the first time by NEA Service.
These are the facts:
Beginning shortly after midnight, and continuing until dawn, eight experienced CAA radar operators and technicians, manning the air route traffic control center in hanger No. 6 at National Airport, tracked from seven to ten unidentifiable and mysterious objects performing strange gyrations in the skies in a 30-mile radius above Washington.
Harry G. Barnes, who has been with CAA for nine years, mostly in radar work, was in charge of the group. After making sure that the objects were not known aircraft and that the radar was operating perfectly, he checked his findings with the radar operators in the control tower. They instantly confirmed what he saw, and continued to do so. The two radars are completely separate units.
Later the radar at nearby Andrews Air Force base also confirmed the sightings.
When the center radar showed one of the unidentified objects in a low position in the northwest sky, the operators in the tower were able to see it. One of then, Howard Cocklin, who has been with CAA for five years, describes it:
“It was a good-sized light, yellow to orange in color. At first it looked like a great big star. Then it began to move in a manner which made you realize it couldn’t be a star. There was no unusual high speed about its movements and at times it seemed to hover. We could see it moving around like that for about 15 minutes. It just disappeared into the northwest sky.”
There are no windows in the center Barnes was operating. None of the eight men could leave to go outside to try to check their own radar sightings visually.
As is normal at that time air traffic was very light. But at the first opportunity an operator in Barnes’ office contacted Capital Airlines pilot Capt. S. C. Pierman shortly after he took off and asked him to look for the objects.
For about 14 minutes, Pierman was in direct, two-way communication with Barnes. While he was within radar range, Pierman was able to see six objects which showed up on the path indicated by the center’s radar. Pierman’s sightings reported to Barnes coincided exactly with the radar sightings Barnes reports.
Pierman is a 17-year veteran of commercial flying and is described by Capital Airlines officials as very level-headed and “taciturn.” After he landed in Detroit Pierman had this to say about the sightings:
“In my years of flying I’ve seen a lot of falling or shooting stars – whatever you call them – but these were much faster than anything like that I’ve ever seen. They were moving too fast for that. They were about the same size as the brighter stars. And they were much higher than our 6,000-foot altitude. I couldn’t estimate the speed accurately. Please remember I didn’t speak of them as flying saucers – only very fast moving lights.”
Charles Wheaton, first officer on the flight with Pierman, a veteran of 12 years of flying confirms Pierman’s sightings and adds:
“Before the other night, I always discounted alleged flying saucers as atmospheric phenomenon. But now I feel I have actually seen some active strange objects which defy explanation.”
Another Capital Airlines pilot also reported seeing a light off his wing, which showed up in that position on the radar scope. Other pilots in the air that night, Barnes reveals, appeared to be reluctant to discuss the subject with him on the radio.
The mystery of the flying saucers had its start on June 24, 1947, when a Boise, Idaho, businessman, Kenneth Arnold, flew his private plane over the jagged peaks of Washington’s Mt. Rainer. When he landed, he breathlessly reported having seen “a chain of nine saucer-like objects playing tag at fantastic speeds.”
Since then there have been thousands of sightings all over the world, many obviously reported by crackpots. But a substantial number have been so strange and reliably described, even the Air Force has had to admit that they were unexplainable.
Many books have been written on the subject. Hundreds of magazine articles have treated all aspects of the question. However, a review of most of what has been written and officially reported on the subject points up several unique aspects to the recent Washington sightings:
It’s the first time that three separate radar sets have reported identical sightings.
It’s the first time they have remained under observation in one area for so long a time.
It’s the first time so many completely responsible men, including radar operators and pilots, all observed and reported the same thing at the same time, with all reports checking so accurately.