In the summer of 1952, Captain S.C. “Casey” Pierman was set for takeoff at Washington National Airport when he noticed highlights of the UFO Craze on the horizon. He saw a bright light that appeared, and then miraculously disappeared seconds later. His thought regarding the light was fleeting until he was on his way to Detroit. During the flight, an air-traffic controller warned him of three UFOs, or unidentified flying objects, on the radar flying at intense speeds. Pierman stated he saw “as many as seven bluish-white lights that looked like falling stars without tails.” The sighting generated much buzz as the world was confused, yet intrigued by what the Captain had seen that frightful morning.

In years since the incident, UFOs and extraterrestrial objects have been adopted into our cultural society. Movies and television series have been created about the ideas and alien stereotypes and their aircraft are now universal. E.T., the popular movie character from the 1982 film E.T. has created an idea in our minds of what we see when we think of these beings. However, we are not fully aware of what they may look like, should they exist. This proves mass media and entertainment have shaped what we believe to be true about extraterrestrial life and UFOs.

The year 1952, however, was a large year for UFO sightings and research development. Throughout the year, multiple sightings were noted nationwide and many were beginning to panic. This was also the year “Project Blue Book” was created to further investigate the crafts in the atmosphere. The project lasted almost twenty years, ending in 1969. In April of 1952, Life Magazine debuted a story in which they stated the disc-shaped sighting was real and that the AirForce was secretly investigating it. In the months following the story, an increase in sightings was documented.

On July 26, 1952, lights were spotted once again at the Washington National Airport and officials were ordered to arrive as quickly as possible. Albert Chop, a former Pentagon spokesperson, was called to the scene. It was reported that each time a jet attempted to come closer to a disc, the craft would disappear, then reappear when the jet retreated. The “things” stayed throughout the night, leaving all witnesses confused and alarmed. No one had answers as to what was flying above, even President at the time, Harry Truman. 

The strange events of 1952 existed contemporaneously with the Cold War, leaving US officials worried that the Soviet Union would take advantage of the US hysteria and “launch an attack.” The US attempted to debunk the theories of extraterrestrial life and deem the crafts as harmless, but the nation was not quite convinced. The search for answers has continued into modern life.

In 2007, the US government founded the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program to further research and investigate UFO sightings and data surrounding them. It is important to be noted that UFOs do not necessarily constitute a craft manned by an extraterrestrial being, but rather an object that is not scientifically explained. In more recent years, UFO sightings have not slowed and are a part of pop culture.

What are these crafts, and what do they want with life on earth? As years progress without conclusions or slowing of sightings, we grow restless for answers.

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