The Washington, D.C. UFO incident of 1952, commonly known as the “Washington National Airport Sightings” or the “1952 Washington D.C. UFO Flap,” was a series of multiple UFO sightings over a two-day period in July 1952. The event is considered one of the most significant and well-documented UFO encounters in U.S. history.
The sightings began on the night of July 19, 1952, when air traffic controllers at Washington National Airport (now Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport) and nearby Andrews Air Force Base detected unknown objects on their radar screens. The objects were observed moving at high speeds, performing sudden maneuvers, and exhibiting characteristics that defied the capabilities of known aircraft at the time.
Air traffic controllers, along with military personnel and pilots, reported visual sightings of the objects as well. Witnesses described seeing bright lights that appeared to hover, move erratically, and change direction abruptly. Some witnesses claimed to see multiple objects flying in formation.
The incident garnered significant media attention, prompting the U.S. Air Force to launch an official investigation. Project Blue Book, the Air Force’s program dedicated to studying UFO sightings, sent personnel to investigate the Washington, D.C. incident. They conducted interviews, collected witness statements, and reviewed radar data.
On the night of July 26, 1952, a week after the initial sightings, the UFOs returned to the area, prompting a heightened state of alert. Several military aircraft were scrambled to intercept the objects, but they were unable to make visual contact.