Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Photo Fakery: Washington, DC Flying Saucers 1952

The DC Deception

The flying saucers reported over Washington, DC in July 1952 is one of the most famous events in UFO history. Objects tracked on radar, and Air Force planes were sent out to investigate, and reportedly, UFOs were seen by at least one pilot and radar operator. 

It's an important historical event, worthy of examination, but...
There are rumors and myths too, such as it being widely witnessed by panicking citizens or that photos exist of the event.

Weird Science Fantasy #26 from EC 

If you need a recap, it was covered at the time in the August 4, 1952 issue of LIFE magazine

The Fake

There's a photo associated with the event that accompanies almost every article of it online and has been featured in documentaries and television shows. Trouble is it's a phony.

The DC Deception

Well, the photo is real, but it is used as a fraud, then accepted and repeated as genuine by people who should know better. It was taken several years after the event, and instead of UFOs, it depicts the reflection of the Capitol's lamps- lens flares.

Many versions exist, cropped in color...

black and white for a more "historical" look...

tweaked with photoshop and so on...

Vicente-Juan Ballester Olmos reports:
FOTOCAT's input follows:
Event date: July 19, 1952
Location: Washington, D.C. (USA)
Date information: Non-event (actually dated 1965)
Event is filed as: Lens flares
Time: Between 23:40 and 06:00
Photographer: Unknown

The first known publication of the picture is in Ray Palmer's Flying Saucers No. 81, Summer 1973

This time, Flying Saucers are not real.

Exposed and Forgotten

As seen on the magazine cover above, it's often cropped to remove the lamps, the source of the "UFOs." It was exposed long ago, in a detailed analysis by Colman von Keviczky that was published in Official UFO Magazine #9, July 1976. A summary by Dr. Bruce Maccabee :
This picture which shows the Capitol dome and lights at the left side is, I believe, just a fraction of the total picture which shows the whole Capitol building, parking lot lights in front of it and numerous "UFO" lights in the sky at both the left and right sides of the dome. Colman von Kevicsky, years ago, showed the "UFO" light images were actually lens "flares"....reflections within the lens of the bright streetlights and parking lot lights in front of the Capitol. 

Reconstruction of the Official UFO Magazine analysis,
showing how the "UFOs" correspond to the lamps as lens flares.

Here's another photo analysis from 2009. 1952 Washington DC UFO (Capitol Building) photo: http://lookathimnow.wordpress.com/2009/03/27/1952-washington-dc-ufo-capitol-building-photo/

and below, a video examination by Fin Handley

The Undead

Nevertheless, once a fake gets into the UFO bloodstream it lives forever. The internet and television assured its immortality. There are even phony motion pictures of it.

Disney's Alien Encounters from New Tommorowland, 1995 features a clip 
of animated UFOs over the Capitol at 10:26.

UFO's: The Secret Evidence 2005 featured 

different animated version of the photo.

Breakdown - 1952 UFOs Over Washington DC Video
explaining the phony film version

Also recycled for Unseen Alien Files, where astonishingly, 

it was labelled a reconstruction.

Recycled in Stephen Greer's 2013 Sirius,
b&w to make it look "authentic!"

Steven Bassett uses the same phony animation in 
this Citizen Hearing on UFO Disclosure promo, seen at 1:04 

Hangar 1: is known for it's imaginative recreations.
Here, they imitate EC comics,

Hangar 1: Presidential Encounters from 2014

National Geographic produced UFO Conspiracies 
aka Invasion EarthTheir recreation from 2014.

Baloney Detection

A Google Image search returns many, many versions.

Here's Jan Harzan, director of MUFON, using this fake photo on a 2016 UFO lecture, saying, "These are visual photographs of the actual objects."
Jan Harzan, Oct. 29, 2016, lecture at the Explorers Club event Space Stories in New York.
These are just a tiny fraction of the appearances of the photo. By gathering some of this data, maybe this will show up alongside the search returns, and people can get some better information on the history. We've not seen the last of this one, but just remember that whenever you see it, you are looking at a lie, ineptitude, misinformation or disinformation on the part of whoever is presenting it. 

The DC deception's inclusion as an indicator of a high baloney content. It shows that they're not a trustworthy source. 

Thanks to Vicente-Juan Ballester Olmos, Nab Lator, Gilles Fernandez and the others mentioned above for helping straighten out the facts on this picture.

2017 Update:
In 1954, Topps issued packages of bubblegum trading cards based on famous news headlines, called "SCOOPS." Here's their colorful take on the 1952 Washington, D.C.  UFO incident. Since it's closer to the date of original incident, it qualifies as better evidence than a lens flare photo taken a decade later.


  1. While the photos may be faked, the incident was indeed real. My grandfather was one of the pilots (An Air Force Col. at the time) that flew the sortie. He has drawings & witness accounts from his colleagues at the time that would blow the average persons mind. Unfortunately, until there's proof...i guess we're all a bit nuts, right?

    1. There are some UFO historians that would be very interested in seeing those drawing and witness accounts you mention preserved and shared for the record on this historic incident. I'd be glad to put you in touch with them.
      Email me at sentry579@gmail.com

    2. Just curious...did this connection ever happen? Or is this another claim that nobody followed up on, and is likely another LARP?

    3. No. "Anonymous" has yet to produce this mind blowing evidence.

    4. The writer of this article is obviously clueless! I have located several first hand witnesses from the day of this event, and what they say is the footage shows exactly what they saw: http://ufodc.com/page%2026.html secondly I actually do UFO research and my data says your information especially the analysis, lacks scientific credibility. July 16, 1952 and July 16, 2002 http://yourshot.nationalgeographic.com/photos/386164/ ET landed, and I took pictures.

    5. I did an analysis of the 1952 foiotage and for those to say CGI: Tell me what program made this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5B0o_7n4S3o I teach Autodesk 3D in Graduate School, so for you to say its animation, you must know what program rendered it?

  2. Photos aren't real,but the event they portray did indeed happen.

  3. That's weird. I've never heard of any lens flares being caught on radar!!

    1. It almost sounds like you didn't read the article. Whatever was caught on radar, the photo is not a picture of it, since the lens flare photo was taken over a decade later. It has no value as UFO evidence.