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One of the radar targets was positively identified as a steamboat, which would only happen if the radar signals were bouncing off a thermal inversion layer so some of the other radar targets could have also been on the ground or in the water but we don't really know because they weren't identified. One witness thought he saw a UFO moving around in the sky but he finally figured out the apparent movement was caused by something like atmospheric distortion. There was unusual weather at the time so things like unusual inversion layers and unusual atmospheric distortion are plausible and this is why the official report and Samford's statement mentioning these things seems credible to me.
originally posted by: 808Funk
So what where the UFO's that flew over Washington in 1952...from other another planet or country or was it some sort of natural phenomena.
The radar operators objected to this explanation but they have zero credibility with me and they apparently didn't even realize they could be picking up a steamship on radar that looked like it was flying, but the radar systems they used could and obviously did do that.
Samford declared that the visual sightings over Washington could be explained as misidentified aerial phenomena (such as stars or meteors). Samford also stated that the unknown radar targets could be explained by temperature inversion, which was present in the air over Washington on both nights the radar returns were reported....
Among the witnesses who supported Samford's explanation was the crew of a B-25 bomber, which had been flying over Washington during the sightings of July 26–27. The bomber was vectored several times by National Airport over unknown targets on the airport's radarscopes, yet the crew could see nothing unusual. Finally, as a crew member related, "the radar had a target which turned out to be the Wilson Lines steamboat trip to Mount Vernon...the radar was sure as hell picking up the steamboat." Air Force Captain Harold May was in the radar center at Andrews AFB during the sightings of July 19–20. Upon hearing that National Airport's radar had picked up an unknown object heading in his direction, May stepped outside and saw "a light that was changing from red to orange to green to red again...at times it dipped suddenly and appeared to lose altitude." However, May eventually concluded that he was simply seeing a star that was distorted by the atmosphere, and that its "movement" was an illusion. At 3 a.m. on July 27, an Eastern Airlines flight over Washington was told that an unknown object was in its vicinity; the crew could see nothing unusual. When they were told that the object had moved directly behind their plane, they began a sharp turn to try to see the object, but were told by National Airport's radar center that the object had "disappeared" when they began their turn. At the request of the Air Force, the CAA's Technical Development and Evaluation Center did an analysis of the radar sightings. Their conclusion was that "a temperature inversion had been indicated in almost every instance when the unidentified radar targets or visual objects had been reported." Project Blue Book would eventually label the unknown Washington radar blips as false images caused by temperature inversion, and the visual sightings as misindentified meteors, stars, and city lights...
the introduction of digital filters in the 1970s led to a steep decline in UFO sightings on radar.