south, excitedly called the control tower to report that a light was following him at " eight o'clock level." The tower checked their radar-scope and there was a target behind and to the left of the airliner. The ARTC radar also had the airliner and the UFO target. The UFO tagged along behind and to the left of the airliner until it was within four miles of touchdown on the runway. When the pilot reported the light was leaving, the two radarscopes showed that the target was pulling away from the airliner.
Once during the night all three radars, the two at Washington and the one at Andrews AFB, picked up a target three miles north of the Riverdale Radio beacon, north of Washington. For thirty seconds the three radar operators compared notes about the target over the intercom, then suddenly the target was gone -- and it left all three radarscopes simultaneously.
But the clincher came in the wee hours of the morning, when an ARTC traffic controller called the control tower at Andrews AFB and told the tower operators that ARTC had a target just south of their tower, directly over the Andrews Radio range station. The tower operators looked and there was a "huge fiery-orange sphere" hovering in the sky directly over their range station.
Not too long after this excitement had started, in fact just after the technician had checked the radar and found that the targets weren't caused by a radar malfunction, ARTC had called for Air Force interceptors to come in and look around. But they didn't show, and finally ARTC called again -- then again. Finally, just about daylight, an F-94 arrived, but by that time the targets were gone. The F-94 crew searched the area for a few minutes but they couldn't find anything unusual so they returned to their base.
So ended phase one of the Washington National Sightings.
The Bolling AFB intelligence officer said he would write up the complete report and forward it to ATIC.
That afternoon things bustled in the Pentagon. Down on the first floor Al Chop was doing his best to stave off the press while up on the fourth floor intelligence officers were holding some serious conferences. There was talk of temperature inversions and the false targets they could cause; but the consensus was that a good radar operator could spot inversion-caused targets, and the traffic controllers who operated the radar at Washington National Airport weren't just out of radar school. Every day the lives of thousands of people depended upon their interpretation of the radar targets they saw on their scopes. And you don't get a job like this unless you've spent a good many years watching a luminous line paint targets on a good many radarscopes. Targets caused by inversions aren't rare -- in the years that these men had been working with radar
they had undoubtedly seen every kind of target, real or false, that radar can detect. They had told the Bolling AFB intelligence officer that the targets they saw were caused by the radar waves' bouncing off a hard, solid object. The Air Force radar operator at Andrews backed them up; so did two veteran airline pilots who saw lights right where the radar showed a UFO to be.
Then on top of all this there were the reports from the Washington area during the previous two weeks -- all good -- all from airline pilots or equally reliable people.
To say the least, the sighting at Washington National was a jolt.
Besides trying to figure out what the Washington National UFO's were, we had the problem of what to tell the press. They were now beginning to put on a squeeze by threatening to call a congressman -- and nothing chills blood faster in the military. They wanted some kind of an official statement and they wanted it soon. Some people in intelligence wanted to say just, "We don't know," but others held out for a more thorough investigation. I happened to be in this latter category. Many times in the past I had seen what first seemed to be a good UFO report completely fall apart under a thorough investigation. I was for stalling the press and working all night if necessary to go into every aspect of the sighting. But to go along with the theme of the Washington National Sightings -- confusion -- there was a lot of talk but no action and the afternoon passed with no further investigation.
Finally about 4:00P.M. it was decided that the press, who still wanted an official comment, would get an official "No comment" and that I would stay in Washington and make a more detailed investigation.
I called Lieutenant Andy Flues, who was in charge of Project Blue Book while I was gone, to tell him that I was staying over and I found out that they were in a de luxe flap back in Dayton. Reports were pouring out of the teletype machines at the rate of thirty a day and many were as good, if not better, than the Washington incident. I talked this over with Colonel Bower and we decided that even though things were popping back at ATIC the Washington sighting, from the standpoint of national interest, was more important.
Feeling like a national martyr because I planned to work all night if necessary, I laid the course of my investigation. I would go to Washington National Airport, Andrews AFB, airlines offices, the weather bureau, and a half dozen other places scattered all over the capital city. I called the transportation section at the Pentagon to get a staff car but it took me only seconds to find out that the regulations said no staff cars except for senior colonels or generals. Colonel Bower tried -- same thing. General Samford and General Garland were gone, so