By Paul Sampson, Post Reporter
Military secrecy veils an investigation of the mysterious, glowing aerial objects that showed up on radar screens in the Washington area Saturday night for the second consecutive week.
A jet pilot sent up by the Air Defense Command to investigate the objects reported he was unable to overtake the glowing lights moving near Andrews Air Force Base.
The CAA reported reported the objects traveled at "predominantly lower levels"-about 1700 feet. July 19.
Air Force spokesmen said yesterday only that an investigation was being made into the sighting of the objects on the radar screen in the CAA Air Route Traffic Control Center at Washington National Airport, and on two other radar screens. Methods of the investigations were classified as secret, a spoken said.
"We have no evidence they are flying saucers; conversely we have no evidence they are not flying saucers. We don't know what they are," a spokesman added.
The same source reported an expert from the Air Technical Intelligence Center at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Dayton Ohio, was here last week investigating the objects sighted July 19.
The expert has been identified as Capt. E.J. Ruppelt. Reached by telephone at his home in Dayton yesterday, Ruppelt said he could make no comment on his activity in Washington.
Capt. Ruppelt confirmed he was in Washington last week but said he had not come here to investigate the mysterious objects. He recalled he did make an investigation after hearing of the objects, but could not say what he investigated.
Another Air Force spokesman said here yesterday the Air Force is taking all steps necessary to evaluate the sightings. "The intelligence people," this spokesman explained, "sent someone over to the control center at the time of the sightings and did whatever necessary to make the proper evaluation.
Asked whether the radar equipment might have been mis-functioning, the spokesman said, "radar, like the compass is not a perfect instrument and is subject to error." He thought, however, persons acquainted with the problems of radar would make the investigation.
Two other radar screens in the area picked up the objects.An employee of the National Airport control tower said the radar scope there picked up very weak "blips" of the objects. The tower radar's for "short range" and is not so powerful as that at the center. Radar at Andrews Air Force Base also registered the objects from about seven miles south of the base.
A traffic control center spokesman said the nature of the signals on the radar screen ruled out any possibility they were from clouds or any other "weather" disturbance.
"The returns we received from the unidentified objects were similar and analagous to targets representing aircraft in flight," he said.
The objects, "flying saucer or what have you, appeared on the radar scope at the airport center at 9:08 PM. Varying from 4 to 12 in number,the objects appeared on the screen until 3:00 AM., when they diappeared.
At 11:25 PM., two F-94 jet fighters fro Air Defense Command squadron, at New CAstle Delaware, capable of 600 hundred mph speeds, took off to investigate the objects.
Airline, civil and military pilots described the objects as looking like the lit end of a cigarette or a cluster of orange and red lights.
One jet pilot observed 4 lights in the vicinity of Andrews Air Force Base, but was not able to over-take them, and they disappeared in about two minutes.
The same pilot observed a steady white light in the vicinity of Mt Vernon at 11:49 PM. The light, about 5 miles from him, faded in a minute. The lights were also observed in the Beltsville, MD., vicinity. At 1:40 AM two-other F-94 jet fighters took off and scanned the area until 2:20 AM., but did not make any sightings.
Although "unidentified objects" have been picked up on radar before, the incidents of the last two Saturdays are believed to be the first time the objects have been picked up on radar-while visible to the human eye.
Besides the pilots, who last saturday saw the lights, a woman living on Mississippi Ave., told the Post she saw a very "bright light streaking across the sky towards Andrews Air Force Base about 11:45 PM. Then a second object with a tail like a comet whizzed by, and a few seconds later, a third passed in a different direction toward Suntland, she said.
Radar operators plotted the speed of "Saturday night's visitors" at from 38 to 90 mph, but one jet pilot reported faster speeds for the light he saw.
The jet pilot reported he had no apparent "closing speed" when he attempted to reach the lights he saw near Andrews Air Force Base. That means the lights were moving at least as fast as his top speed-a maximum of 600 mph.
One person who saw the lights when they first appeared in this area did not see them last night. He is E.W. Chambers, an engineer at Radio Station WRC, who spotted the lights while working early the morning of July 20 at station's Hyattsville tower.
Chamber's said he was sorry he had seen the lights because he had been skeptical about "flying saucers" before. Now he said, he sort of "wonders" and worries about the whole thing.
Leon Davidson, 804 South Irving St. Arlington, a chemical engineer who made an exhaustive study of "flying saucers" as a hobby, said yesterday reports of saucers in the East, have been relatively rare.
Davidson has studied the official report on the saucers, including some of the secret portions never made public, and analyzed all the data in the report.
Davidson, whose study of saucers is impressively detailed and scientific, said he believes the lights are American "aviation products"- probably "circular flying wings," using new type jet engines that permit rapid acceleration and relatively low speeds. He believes, they are either "new fighter," guided missiles, or piloted guided missiles.
He cited some of the recent jet fighters, including the Navy's new " F-4-D, which has a radical "bat-wing," as examples of what the objects might resemble.
Davidson thinks the fact that the lights have been seen in this area indicates the authorities may be ready to disclose the "new aircraft" in the near future. Previously, most of the "verified saucers" have been seen over sparsely inhabited areas, Davidson explained, and now, when they appear here, it may indicate that "secrecy" is not so important any more.
He added ominously: "With this evidence, the mystery thickens."
A comic book narrative of the time came down on the side of believers. "SAUCERS OVER WASHINGTON, D.C.," blared its bold black headline. It dismissed the military's "glib" explanation of radar blips seen that July by National Airport flight controllers. Simply a case of temperature inversion or reflections of ground objects, insisted the Air Force brass. But what about the pilot, the cartoonist countered, who described "a bright light moving faster, at times, than a shooting star"?
This work was incendiary enough to be classified. But the government bestowed a bureaucratic name just the same: "Project Blue Book". It went on until 1969. That year, the United States Air Force declared itself out of the UFO business, but not before concluding that 701 sightings remained "unidentified."
Just to be clear: Should anyone feel threatened by something he or she sees, the Air Force advised, "contact a local law enforcement agency."
And one last thing:
Did Project Blue Book really lead to such a disappointing end?