Those in ufology circles have long pondered the Washington, D.C. UFO flap of 1952. Numerous reported sightings occurred in the vicinity of the capitol and were detected on radar, earning the chain of events its popular acceptance as one of the most significant UFO cases of all time. Much less popularly discussed is that Air Force Captain Edward Ruppelt, who directed Project Blue Book, claimed he was informed about the sightings – two days before they happened.
Blogger and UFO investigator Mark OC, who maintains the blog, 'High Strangeness', made a two-part post titled, 'Grand-daddy of All UFO Sightings'. The posts explored statements made by Captain Ruppelt in his 1956 book, 'The Report on Unidentified Flying Objects'. Ruppelt was the former director of Project Blue Book, the widely discussed and scrutinized U.S. Air Force initiative charged with investigating UFOs.
In Part One of the post, Mark OC wrote, “In Chapter 12, 'The Washington Merry-Go-Round', Ruppelt recounts the sensational 1952 UFO flap over Washington, D.C., our nation's capitol, and he drops what I think is a pretty amazing piece of information: Ruppelt claims that he was forewarned."
Ruppelt apparently wrote that he was talking with a scientist "from an agency I can't name" who had access to reports of flying saucers. The scientist stated that a major sighting was imminent in locations such as New York or Washington, going as far as to state it would be the "grand-daddy of all UFO sightings".
Mark OC continued considering the captain's claimed interaction with the scientist and the surrounding circumstances in Part Two, explaining, "Two days later, Ruppelt wrote, the Washington, D.C. flap began.”
UFO mirages and Project Palladium
It seems Captain Ruppelt was suggesting intelligence officials accurately anticipated the D.C. flap of 1952. Writer, researcher and filmmaker Mark Pilkington holds another point of view that he apparently thinks much more likely; in his book, 'Mirage Men', Mr. Pilkington suggested the D.C. flap may have involved testing a weapon designed to create false radar paints.
“The first incident took place in July,” Pilkington said during an interview with 'U.S. News'. “It was reported extensively in the newspapers that a number of unknown objects appeared on radar screens around Washington. Now, it looks very plausible to me that the Washington incident was a demonstration of a technology from the Defense Department, known as Project Palladium, which allowed the operator to project radar blips onto other radar screens. Later on, the technology became very sophisticated to the point where you could change the shape of the blip and its speed and so forth. We go on in the book at length about the evidence that suggests that the Washington radar incident was a planned operation."
Pilkington additionally explained in 'Mirage Men' how he confirmed such technology and weapons continued to be considered for use as late as 1986. U.S. officials contemplated conducting such an operation in Libya in order to create confusion and paranoia within the Khadafi regime.
Project Palladium was explored at the blog, 'The UFO Trail'. “Gene Poteat, formerly of the CIA Directorate of Science and Technology, composed a 1998 report titled, 'Stealth, Countermeasures, and ELINT, 1960-1975',” it was explained at the blog. “Poteat, who was directly involved in PALLADIUM, wrote about the project, 'I came up with a scheme to electronically generate and inject carefully calibrated false targets into the Soviet radars, deceiving them into seeing and tracking a ghost aircraft... [W]e could now simulate an aircraft of any radar cross section from an invisible stealth airplane to one that made a large blip on Soviet radar screens – and anything in between, at any speed and altitude, and fly it along any path...
“'Every PALLADIUM operation consisted of a CIA team with its ghost aircraft system, an NSA team with its special COMINT and decryption equipment, and a military operational support team.'”
The sightings reported around Washington in the summer of 1952 will no doubt continue to be sources of debate and fascination. It will be argued that some or all of the reports were the results of truly unknown phenomena. Others will argue it more likely that some of the reports could have obviously been anticipated by an intelligence community responsible for their origin. Ruppelt's claim of being seemingly accurately forewarned of an impending extraordinary and unprecedented UFO event, as well as its location, could be considered to add feasibility to Pilkington's suspicions. At the least, Ruppelt's allegations might be interpreted to have origins in Cold War intelligence games of some nature.
Whatever one may choose to make of the D.C. flap, Ruppelt's claims contained in his 1956 book and as cited by Mark OC certainly deserve mention when the case is discussed. It is relevant that the director of Blue Book made such claims, whatever the ultimate reasons may have been. It is also relevant that the existence of Project Palladium, whether or not it had anything directly to do with the D.C. reported sightings, demonstrated that the U.S. intelligence community was actively involved in manipulating perception of the UFO phenomenon and the intentional creation of false UFO events.