1952 UFO Eyewitness Howard Cocklin
Eyewitness to the Historic Sightings that Took Place over Washington D.C.

1952 UFO Eyewitness Howard Cocklin
Eyewitness to the Historic Sightings that Took Place over Washington D.C.

Reality TV meets the X-Files in the new HD series First Contact. This Special Edition of First Contact includes highlights from our interview with Howard Cocklin, eyewitness to the historic sightings that took place over Washington D.C. in 1952.

On the night of July 19, 1952 the phones in the Pentagon rang nonstop with reports of flying saucers hovering over the U.S. Capitol. The objects, witnessed by pilots in the area, were tracked for hours by both military and commercial radar personnel.

Howard Cocklin was in charge of the control tower at Washington International Airport that very night to witness the events first hand -- a UFO encounter that made newspaper headlines around the world.

At age 90, Howard tells his story for the first time for TV. Listening to him describe the UFO he and his crew saw out the window of the control tower helped seal the deal for us regarding what really happened that night.

Little did we know ours would be his last interview.

The summer 1952 UFO sighting wave was one of the largest of all time, and arguably the most significant of all time in terms of the credible reports and hardcore scientific data obtained.

The sightings of July 19th–20th, 1952, made front-page headlines in newspapers around the nation.

A typical example was the headline from the Cedar Rapids Gazette in Iowa. It read "SAUCERS SWARM OVER CAPITAL" in large black type.

By coincidence, USAF Captain Edward J. Ruppelt, the supervisor of the Air Force's Project Blue Book investigation into the UFO mystery, was in Washington at the time.

However, he did not learn about the sightings until Tuesday, July 22nd, when he read the headlines in a Washington-area newspaper.

On July 19th an Army artillery officer, Joseph Gigandet, was sitting on the front porch of his home in Alexandria, Virginia, across the Potomac River from Washington.

At 9:30 p.m. he claimed to see "a red cigar-shaped object" which sailed slowly over his house.

Gigandet estimated the object's size as comparable to a DC-7 airplane and at about 10,000 feet altitude; he also claimed that the object had a "series of lights very closely set together" on its sides.

The object eventually flew back over his house a second time, which led Gigandet to assume that it was circling the area.

When the object flew away a second time, it turned a deeper red color and moved over the city of Washington itself; this occurred less than two hours before Edward Nugent first spotted the unknown objects on his radar at Washington National.

Gigandet claimed that his neighbor, an FBI agent, also saw the object.

Dr. James E. McDonald, a physicist at the University of Arizona and a prominent ufologist in the 1960s, did his own analysis of the Washington sightings.

After interviewing four pilot eyewitnesses and five radar personnel, McDonald argued that the Air Force explanation was "physically impossible".

Harry Barnes told McDonald that the radar targets "were not shapeless blobs such as one gets from ground returns under anomalous propagation", and that he was certain the unknown radar blips were solid targets; Howard Cocklin agreed with Barnes.

The 1952 Washington D.C. UFO incident, also known as the Washington flap or the Washington National Airport Sightings, was a series of unidentified flying object reports from July 12 to July 29, 1952, over Washington D.C.

The most publicized sightings took place on consecutive weekends, July 19–20 and July 26–27.