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Sighting Reports 2003

White House Evacuated Due to Discovery of Unknown Target on Radar

F16 Aircraft Scrambling After Anomalous Radar Echo

Map of Downtown Washington D.C.
(Including Reagan National Airport & Andrews AFB)

Description: On November 20, 2003 radar from the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) and NORAD (North American Air Defense Command) detected an unknown radar target within restricted air space around the Whitehouse.  Although the exact time that the radar blip was discovered is not known, the time was likely between 9 and 9:20 AM E.S.T.  Upon discovery of the anomalous radar echo preparations were made to evacuate the Whitehouse.  NORAD immediately scrambled two fighter aircraft to the area where the radar blip was seen.  Once no target was discovered the Whitehouse evacuation was called off.  The newscasts describing the sighting can be read from the Fox News article, Reuters News article, or CNN News article

Investigator Notes: Upon learning of this sighting I collected information from newscasts (see above).  I submitted a Freedom Of Information Act Request (FOIA) to Andrews Air Force Base and to the FAA Eastern Region.  I requested a map of restricted air space around the Whitehouse, all radar data in a 30 mile radius of the Whitehouse, and tower logs from Reagan National Airport and Dulles International Airport.  Reagan National Airport is in downtown Washington, D.C. while Dulles International Airport is in Chantilly, Virginia.  My FOIA was forwarded from Andrews Air Force Base to the FAA.  None of my questions was answered by Andrews Air Force Base (location from which the two F16 fighter aircraft were scrambled).  After nearly five months I received a response to a small portion of my FOIA from the FAA.  The radar data was denied based on national security and a portion of the tower log was blacked out at the time the UFO (anomalous target) was seen on radar.  (See Reagan Airport tower log.)  The times on the log are listed in UTC (universal time) in the left hand column.  To compute Eastern Standard Time (EST) subtract 5 hours from UTC.  The entry between 14:00 and 14:26 UTC (9:00 and 9:26 AM EST) is blacked out.  This “blackout” encompasses the time (9:20 AM EST) when the Reuters and Fox News articles said that the anomalous radar echo was detected and the Whitehouse was prepared for evacuation.  Now we have to ask the question:  Why was the entry blacked out?

1.      For reasons of National Security?

2.      To cover up military maneuvers?

3.      A UFO was spotted on radar and we don’t want to excite the public?

Obviously we will never know for sure why the entry was blacked out.  The official reason for the portion of the FOIA denial was expressed in somewhat confusing terms.  Several court cases were referenced in the denial.  The FOIA response from the FAA describes the reason for the denial.  The response says that the tower log entry is protected from release under "Exemption(2) High".

The same reason for the denial was given by FAA for not releasing the radar data.  Again we have to ask the question?  Why should radar data showing an echo resulting from birds be a security issue?  Could it be that the radar data is restricted because of the military scramble?  FAA could have easily removed the returns resulting from the military aircraft and then released the remainder of the data.

Through discussions with NORAD I have learned that NORAD will institute an aircraft scramble after any unknown aircraft that approach Canadian or American airspace.  We do not know if the radar return in this case "approached" airspace or just appeared in the area.  We do know that the radar return appeared in restricted airspace near the Whitehouse (see above map).  Obviously NORAD was concerned enough to begin evacuation of the Whitehouse and scramble two aircraft from Andrews Air Force Base.  According to the Fox and Reuters news articles the scramble was called off and NORAD concluded that the radar echo was due to birds. 

Further Thoughts: It is my belief that UFOs navigate by distorting time and space.  Obviously if they are coming here from distant star systems they must have mastered traveling long distances by "shortcuts" through time and space.  For this reason I think that some anomalous echoes that are seen by FAA and NORAD radar may in fact be UFOs skipping through time and space.  Because the craft are not seen approaching U.S. or Canadian airspace, NORAD does not begin a scramble.  It is interesting to note that NORAD has responded to nearly 1,600 alerts nationwide since 9/11.  (See CNN article.) We don't know how many of these alerts resulted in scramble of aircraft, but we can probably assume that several incidents did result in scrambles.  Why have we only heard about a "handful" of these alerts?

Acknowledgement of FAA:  Although UFOs Northwest disagrees with the FAA decision to not release the radar data, we wish to thank the FAA for providing the remainder of the information.  We recognize that the FAA operates under strict Federal statutes in the release of information.

Concluding Thoughts: We will never exactly what happened on the morning of November 20, 2003 that caused NORAD sufficient concern to begin evacuation of the Whitehouse and scramble two aircraft.  Radar is a complicated instrument and anomalous echoes can result from several phenomena not related to aircraft.  However, newer radars are designed to minimize these "anomalous" effects. Sometimes weather may cause anomalous radar echoes.  This can happen in the nighttime or early morning hours due to temperature inversions.  Precipitation may also contribute to anomalous radar returns.  However, we know neither of these weather effects could have caused the return because the detection occurred in the daytime and weather data showed that no precipitation occurred on November 20 in Washington, D.C.  We are therefore left with NORAD's explanation of birds.

It is my belief that some of these anomalous radar returns may in fact be unidentified aircraft (UFOs).  This is especially true when combined with eye witness accounts.  Since the end of World War II radar has had widespread use.  There are several instances of radar-visual sightings of UFOs in UFO literature.  Some of these cases have been extensively studied by scientists.