The Truth About 1952's Alien Invasion Of Washington, DC

UFO scandals and alleged sightings are a huge part of American pop culture. The vast, open lights of outer space fuel all sorts of fascinations. One of the most common questions we ask when staring out into the cosmic universe is, "are we really alone out here?" This is understandable. But, is it true?

In mid-summer of 1952, Washington, D.C. was abuzz with rumors of visitors (via Travel Channel). No, not the kind of visitors who gape at the Capitol Building in awe and then return home to foreign lands. Rather, these rumors hinted at the kind of visitors who swoop through space from foreign planets to gape at Earthlings and perhaps even plot chilling invasions.

Yes, it is rumored that July of that year marks a time when the Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport was hijacked by otherworldly beings. Did the alien-like events air traffic controllers claim occurred really transpire? The answer remains unclear.

Startling testimonials of UFOs in the capital

According to the Travel Channel, air traffic controller Edward Nugent was the first to spy what he perceived as seven UFOs flying in a southwest direction over the capital. Historical accounts reveal that several other air traffic controllers in D.C. and adjacent states like Delaware agreed and that the events happened repeatedly, over the course of two consecutive weekends. During each event, the aircraft would appear and disappear in an equally mysterious fashion, leading some bystanders to speculate that the alien beings had a firm grasp of radar detection and radio traffic. Perhaps, they even knew how to manipulate sophisticated equipment.

Eventually, this series of events came to be known as "the Big Flap" (via History). Newspapers remarked on flying saucers, claiming they had swarmed the capital. This rumor became so widespread that the U.S. government, fearing mass hysteria, was forced to offer the public an explanation. In the end, the government chose to blame it on the rain, claiming weather-related events created optical illusions in the sky.

There is a blip in the radar regarding this explanation, however. UFO expert and Air Force officer Captain Edward Ruppelt officially denounced the idea that the unexplained patterns were weather related. Indeed, this matter is still up in the air.