Newport News, Virginia, July 14, 1952
About a week before the famous Washington, D.C., radar-visual UFO sightings, a Pan American Airways DC-4 airliner was flying southward along the East Coast at 8,000 feet. It was a clear night with unlimited visibility. About 8:10 p.m., Capt. William B. Nash and Second Officer William Fortenberry suddenly saw six bright red objects rapidly approaching the plane, but at a lower altitude. "Their shape was clearly outlined and evidently circular," Nash reported. "The edges were well-defined, not phosphorescent or fuzzy in the least."
The upper surfaces of the discs were glowing red-orange. Within seconds the pilots saw that the objects were in echelon formation, "a stepped-up line tilted slightly to our right, with the leader at the lowest point and each following craft slightly higher." Abruptly, the lead disc seemed to slow and the next two discs in line wavered slightly, almost overrunning the leader. The discs were about a mile below the plane, at about 2,000 feet altitude, and about 100 feet in diameter.
When they reached a point almost directly beneath the plane and slightly to the right, the discs dimmed slightly, abruptly tilted on edge in unison, and reversed course. Capt. Nash reported that "...they flipped on edge, the sides to the left of us going up and the glowing surfaces facing right. Though the bottom surfaces did not become clearly visible, we had the impression that they were unlighted. The exposed edges, also unlighted, appeared to be about 15 feet thick, and the top surface, at least seemed flat. In shape and proportion, they were much like coins."
When the maneuver was completed the objects brightened again, and "...without any arc or swerve at all, they all flipped back together to the flat attitude and [still in-line] darted off in a direction that formed a sharp angle with their first course." Immediately, two more objects just like them darted out from beneath and behind the plane and sped after the departing formation.
They radioed a report of the sighting to be forwarded to the Air Force. Early the following morning, Nash and Fortenberry were thoroughly interrogated by Air Force special investigators. At that time, Nash said, "The investigators also advised us that they already had seven other reports [which] described a formation of red discs travelling at high speed and making immediate direction changes without turn radius...."
A careful computation of the times and distances involved indicated that the UFOs were travelling at about 12,000 m.p.h.
Two days later in the same vicinity, aeronautical engineer Paul R. Hill had a similar sighting from the ground of four amber-colored maneuvering objects joining up in formation. "Their ability to make tight circling turns was amazing," he stated.