Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Flying Saucers of Washington, D.C. - The Weird

For whatever damn reason I've studied a lot of different conspiracy theories all my life. Reading a lot of wacky material like that hasn't helped me too much. For all the material my brain has been exposed to about the Kennedy Assassination, I still can't honestly tell you who I think shot JFK.

The publisher of Skinnie Entertainment Magazine was a big fan of the weird, so he told the editor to ask me if I wanted to write a column for them called "Conspiracy Corner." All I'd have to do is write about a new theory every month. We even had a rating system, where every theory got between one to five tin foil hats.

I've often been asked, "Do you believe in conspiracy theories?" Well, you really can't. It's just a theory. You can believe in Jesus, a brick wall, the computer you're staring at or that you are going to have lunch with your mother on Sunday. Belief is just that, or, as Ice Cube might say, "It is what it is."

This theory isn't really a theory. It all actually happened. This was 1952, people. The government was still honest, Americans trusted their leaders, and stories about flying saucers weren't taboo.

Personally, I prefer the wacky conspiracy theories. Roswell is such a cosmic bore for me (pun intended) because it's just a crash in the desert. Who cares?

I want to hear about Bigfoot walking out of a flying saucer that's landed in a crop circle shaped like Scarlett Johansson's right boob. If he's a neon green or purple color, that's bonus points. I'd give that three tin foil hats, at least.

My theory? It was the surviving Nazi's that fled Germany after WWII to hide out in the North and South Poles. They got tired of the U.S. trying to explore those regions, and displayed a show of force in order to create a secret peace treaty between their new country and the U.S. government.

Either that, or it was those kooky hollow-earth Vril people Helena Blavatsky and the Thule Society were always talking about. You know, the evolved descendants of the dinosaurs that are intelligent, walk upright, utilize crazy gravity-based zero-point energy as a resource and probably influenced ancient civilizations, like the Olmecs or the Toltecs? Yeah, it was totally them.

Like I said, I prefer the wacky conspiracy theories. I give this one three tin foil hats.


When was the last time you heard about a really paradigm-altering UFO sighting? Not some farmer in a pickup truck in Iowa seeing bright lights while he was pouring a jug of moonshine down his throat. I’m talking about a serious appearance of an unknown, possible alien craft, in a major metropolitan area, with the air force having kittens over the whole affair while the press flips the funk out, and fighter planes are dispatched to bring E.T. down…have you heard about anything like that, lately?

Probably not.

We just don’t get them, today. Most of our news media is consumed with the task of finding the next O.J. trial, like corporations marketing some hot new product, while the UFO stories get regulated to The National Enquirer, not The Washington Post.

But 54 years ago during the month of July flying saucers streaked across the US capitol, pursued by our air force and military officials did their utmost to figure out what was going on in the face of widespread civilian panic, while newspaper headlines reported nothing else but the growing threat of UFO’s.


Just after WWII, during the height of the freezing cold standoff between the U.S. and the U.S.S.R., when there was a commie under every coffee table. The situation was set for some serious out-of-this-world paranoia.

Near midnight on July 19, 1952, radar operators at both the Washington National Airport and Andrews Air Force Base noticed the radar signatures of unknown aircraft over Washington, D.C. The mysterious objects were traveling at 100 m.p.h., but would suddenly accelerate to nearly 7,200 m.p.h., a technological feat completely impossible for anything on the planet at the time.

After confirming that the objects were not the result of a glitch in the radar, Andrews Air Force Base notified U.S. Air Force Defense Command, who dispatched two F-94 fighter planes.


The F-94’s finally arrived only to find that as they came in sight of the objects (which eyewitnesses describes as glowing white-blue disks, surrounded by red and orange lights) the UFO’s would vanish, simultaneously disappearing from the view of the radar operators on the ground.

Meanwhile, the strange disks were not only seen by eyewitnesses on the streets below, but also by traveling commercial flights, as well as the crews of B-29’s in the skies above.

The UFO’s returned on July 26, when they buzzed the airspace above the nations capitol, again. Fighters were dispatched, but the saucers easily evaded the F-94’s once again, even going so far as to surround a terrified pilot before once again vanishing from view.


Hundreds of people saw the UFO’s, including many reliable military personnel. Front page newspaper headlines covering the sightings were legion: “’Saucer’ Outran Jet, Pilot Reveals, “ The Washington Post. “JETS CHASE D.C. SKY GHOSTS,” The New York Daily News. “AERIAL WHATZITS BUZZ D.C. AGAIN!” The Washington Daily News. “SAUCERS SWARM OVER CAPITOL,” Iowa’s The Cedar Rapids Gazette.

The headlines included many pictures of the mysterious bright lights, including one of a ring of the UFO’s surrounding the dome of the capitol building like a halo. As you could imagine, the newspapers did little to help people feel safe, so they began to pressure their politicians for answers.


President Harry S Truman was as baffled as everyone else. There were many rumors of what the lights might be, but nothing substantial. One rumor was that the objects were top-secret aircraft manufactured by the Air Force. Another was that the aircraft were the flying saucers of aliens who had crashed on Earth, which were later repaired by the military.

Another was that the lights were beings not from this planet, testing the reactions of humanity by appearing over the capitol of the most powerful nation on the planet.

President Truman was advised by one of his aides, Robert L. Farnsworth, who was the leader of the U.S. Rocket Society, to not attack the U.F.O.’s. “Should they be extra-terrestrial, such actions might result in the gravest consequences, as well as possibly alienating us from beings of far superior powers,”            Farnsworth said. “Friendly contact should be sought as long as possible.

Finally, Truman ordered Brigadier General Robert B. Laudry, his Air Force aide, to come up with some answers. A press conference was scheduled.


Hundreds of reporters from across the country showed up for the event, which was to be given by Major General John Samford, the Air Force’s director of intelligence. Samford performed a political tap dance of such extreme bureaucratic B.S. that would make our own obfuscating G.O.P. ashamed.

Samford gave a long, disjointed description of the sightings of U.F.O.’s since the dawn of history. He never once discussed the current-day sightings, however. He thwarted the attempts of reporters to discover the facts by reiterating talking points, dissecting the meaning of words like, “simultaneous,” or, “material object,” or, “qualified observer.” He finally blamed the lights on “temperature inversions,” which radar operators later dismissed as an improbable excuse.

Finally, the Air Force director of intelligence concluded the press conference with a stream of psychobabble so profoundly confusing that it can only go down in history as the best example of complete garbage.

“That very likely is one that sits apart and says insufficient measurement, insufficient association with other things, insufficient association with other probabilities for it to do any more than to join that group of sightings that we still hold in front of us as saying no.”

I’m not making it up. That’s what he said. Totally confused, reporters seized on the one phrase they could make out during the whole affair, “temperature inversions,” and blamed the sightings on that. When the U.F.O.’s did not appear again, the whole event subsided from public memory, or at least from discussion by the major news media.

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