- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 7, 2002

Many Maryland residents say they were disturbed about 1 a.m. on July 26 by loud aircraft rumblings and some insisted they saw a UFO.

The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) scrambled two D.C. Air National Guard F-16 jets out of Andrews Air Force Base to investigate an unknown aircraft picked up by radar.

Phone lines at radio stations lit up as puzzled callers wondered what exactly was going on. Renny Rogers, a Waldorf, Md., resident, said he saw a jet pursue a blue light in and out of the clouds.

NORAD explained the July 26 sighting: "The F-16s investigated, found nothing out of the ordinary, and returned to base. At no point in the mission did the fighters chase or intercept another aircraft," said Army Maj. Barry Venable, spokesman for NORAD. "Those are the facts from our perspective."

The NORAD spokesman didn't hesitate to use the phrase "UF0," but said that it merely refers to an unexplained sighting.

"Any unknown air activity is potentially threatening," said Maj. Venable. "Yes, there was a UFO an unidentified flying object momentarily spotted by radar. Does that mean it's an alien spaceship? No."

The July 26 sighting occurred 50 years after a UFO sighting over Washington that made nationwide headlines.

One hot night in July 1952, Washington National Airport radar picked up unidentified blips and there were reports of bright shapes hovering outside control-tower windows.

Air Force radar screens also detected unidentified objects, and two F-94 fighters flashed over Washington in hot pursuit, but found nothing

A week later, on July 26, there was another UFO scare. National's air-controller radar tracked a dozen unexplained objects, as did radar at Andrews Air Force Base.

F-94s were dispatched at 11 p.m. from New Castle Air Force Base in Delaware to scour the sky. When they arrived over Washington, however, the blips had disappeared but reappeared as soon as the jets returned to base. At 1:30 a.m., the Air Force jets were back above Washington. This time the pilots reported seeing strange lights, but were unable to catch up with the UFOs.

Kevin D. Randle, whose book "Investigation Washington: UFOs Over the Capitol" deals with the 1952 sightings, says it is "an amazing coincidence" that this year's reported UFO sightings occurred on the 50th anniversary of the earlier event. He noted that the two incidents involved radar contacts, jet fighter pursuits and civilian witnesses on the ground.

Mark Rodeghier, scientific director of the Center for UFO Studies, thinks that UFOs are still "an unexplained phenomena that deserves serious attention by both the scientific community and the government."

Mr. Rogers, who said he saw a jet chasing a UFO over Waldorf, believes the government doesn't want to learn more.

"Their policy is that if they don't know something, keep quiet," he said

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