The Nash-Fortenberry UFO sighting happened on July 14, 1952, when two commercial pilots namely William B. Nash and William H. Fortenberry reported seeing eight unidentified flying objects flying in a close echelon formation right above the Chesapeake Bay in Virginia.
According to Ufologists, the pilot’s observation enabled extremely accurate measurements of the ufos’ velocity and size according to known landmarks, and the experience was validated by many groups of credible and independent ground eyewitnesses. The case was reported as unknown and unidentified in the Project Blue Book of the United States Air Force.
In his book The World of Flying Saucers, which was written in 1963, Donald Howard Menzel proposed naturalistic answers. He hypothesized that the commercial pilots may have seen distorted lights on the land due to haze. Later, he speculated that they may have seen fireflies between the panes of glass in their cockpit window. Steuart Campbell, a skeptic researcher, stated that the pilot’s UFO sighting was just an illusion.
The Nash-Fortenberry UFO Sighting Of 1952
On the evening of July 14, 1952, at the Chesapeake Bay, Captain William B. Nash, and his co-pilot, First Officer William H. Fortenberry, observed six red dots at 30 degrees. The mysterious dots which allegedly were UFOs, speeding in their direction, were at an altitude of 2,000 feet, nearly one mile below the airliner. As they approached, they appeared to be reddish-orange circles with well-defined edges, 100 feet in diameter and 15 feet thick. Later, Nash commented about the incident:
“Were holding a narrow echelon formation – a stepped-up line tilted slightly to our right, with the leader at the lowest point and each following craft slightly higher.”
The leading object abruptly slowed too abruptly enough, that the two other two objects chasing it nearly overtook it. Within moments, the objects were practically beneath the DC-4 and slightly to the right, and they “flipped on edge” simultaneously. In the words of Nash:
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. While all were in the edgewise position, the last five slid over and past the leader so that the echelon was now tail foremost, so the speak, the top or last craft now being nearest to our position. Then, without any arc or swerve at all, they all flipped back together to the flat and darted off in a direction that formed a sharp angle with their first course, holding their new formation.
Immediately after these six lined away, two more objects just like them darted out from behind and under our airplane at the same altitude as the others”.
Two UFOs that were considerably brighter in comparison to the others joined the symmetry that was formed by the other objects, and all the unidentified objects stopped blinking. Together, they rocketed westward above Newport News, Virginia, and then ascended in a smooth 45-degree arc above the airliner’s altitude.
At that point, the lights of each building turned out in random order. The entire sighting lasted only fifteen seconds. Using maps and navigational tools, Nash and Fortenberry determined that the UFOs had gone fifty kilometers in that time. They estimated that the objects were traveling at 12,000 mph. Nash radioed in a report of the occurrence.
Several hours later, a plane landed in Miami which consisted of a team from the nearest Air Force Office of Special Investigations detachment at McDill Air Force Base, Tampa, and later the commercial pilots were examined. Initially, they were interrogated together, however, later in order to bring more credibility they were interviewed separately. Nash recalled:
“The investigators advised us that they already had seven other reports. One was from a lieutenant commander and his wife. They described a formation of red discs traveling at high speed and making immediate direction changes without turn radius.”
The case was considered inexplicable upon completion of the Air Force’s inquiry. Donald H. Menzel’s attempt to understand the occurrence as the result of city lights reflecting off “stratified clouds or inversion layers of temperature and/or humidity” was refuted by weather data attesting to the absence of stratified clouds, inversions, and mist.
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