Invasion Washington: UFOs Over The Capitol

By Kevin Randle

Harper Torch Books, New York, 2001 published, 312 pages, price $7.50.

This book is about the July 1952 sightings over Washington DC over two consecutive Saturdays, July 19 and July 26. The title is misleading in that the book covers UFO sightings elsewhere than Washington that summer.
This newsletter has reviewed several previous books by Randle. He is a Captain in the US Air Force Reserves and also holds a Doctorate in Psychology. His most famous book is UFO Crash at Roswell. Currently Randle lives in Iowa.
It is interesting to note that in 1952 UFO reporting by mainstream media sources was still even handed.  Newspapers didn't always ridicule eyewitnesses as they were to do later or else totally ignore the subject as they often do now. In April 1952, the widely circulated magazine "LIFE" had a favorable article on UFOs.
The DC sightings involved images on radar being seen.  Air Force jets were scrambled to intercept. In some cases, the pilots saw nothing and in other cases, there were visual sightings from the sky. Newspapers across the county screamed sensational headlines like "Saucers Swarm over Capital". The government couldn't just ignore this and hope it would go away. The Pentagon held a press conference. Generals John Samford and Roger Ramey fielded questions from reporters.  The entire transcript of this conference is in Chapter Seven of the book.  Basically, the Air Force stuck to the "temperature inversion" explanation. The extremely hot weather in DC caused the radars to get a false blip the military claims. The press somewhat reluctantly went along with this explanation. The media neglected to interview any military eyewitnesses. Remember this was in the days before episodes like Watergate, Vietnam and Iran-Contra made both the public and the media cynical about government explanations. The conference pointed out the fact that a temperature inversion in 1943 during World War II involved blips appearing on our Navy's radar and causing an incident in which a thousands rounds of shells were fired at a false image thought to be enemy Japanese ships attacking The Aleutian Islands.
Other 1952 UFO cases are chronicled in the book. The first alien entity case was the Flatwoods, West Virginia "monster" on September 12, 1952. The official explanation was that a meteor crested mass hysteria and caused deluded eyewitnesses to think they saw a strange creature.
The August 1, 1952 Bellefontaine, Ohio case involving a radar detection and a jet intercept by a F-86 which took film footage of the craft is mentioned on page 155. The official explanation was a weather balloon even though there are problems with that theory. As Randle states (page 162). "The Air Force, however, has a thing about balloons. They blame them for everything."
There are ten pages of photographs in the book. Some are of authentic UFOs while others are believed to be hoaxes.
Of local Ohio interest is the appendix of Summer of 1952 sightings which includes two Ohio cases. One was on July 17 and another on July 18. Unfortunately, the details are scarce. Both cases are mentioned as "Lockbourne AFB" now Rickenbacker Air National Guard base but it is unclear if the UFOs were seen there or reported there. Randle is a professional author and I believe he sometimes gets "sloppy" with his research and facts in order to rush another book out to the publisher.
It must be noted that the Pickaway County Bruce Stevenson February 1, 1948 close encounter case was reported during the summer of 1952 when it looked like acceptance of UFOs was growing.