WILLIS T. SPERRY
Captain, American Airlines
Captain Willis T. Sperry - May 29, 1950
During the evening of May 29th, about 50 miles southeast of Washington D.C., an American Airlines DC-6, piloted by a Captain Willis T. Sperry, cruised along at 6,000 feet.
The airliner had just taken off from Washington Airport and was passing over Mt. Vernon, Virginia.
The sky was dark since it was after 9 o'clock.
attention was temporarily diverted as he
fumbled with a map.
grabbed the controls and jerked the airliner into an abrupt turn as the strange glow zoomed toward his
When first seen the UFO appeared to be a light about 25 times the magnitude of the brightest star.
Later during a brief moment the blue light passed in front of what appeared to be a smooth surfaced spindle.
Some 30 seconds went by as the object hovered motionless and then the cigar-like shape resumed its forward motion.
radioed Washington Tower but the controllers had not seen anything unusual.  Tower personnel alerted the press and the next day in Tulsa reporters questioned Captain Sperry
Instead of being ridiculed by his
fellow pilots, Captain Sperry
was approached by other airline flying officers who insisted on having "serious discussions" about the flying saucer problem.
One flyer was even able to provide information that seemed to lend support to Captain Sperry's
Captain Sperry heard from a pilot who had been flying another American Airlines plane over Virginia, some 400 miles to the south, a pilot named Henry H. Myers, President Franklin Roosevelt's personal pilot during World War II.
The "shooting star" dropped down out of the night sky off to the north of him where Captain Sperry's
plane was at the time.
To Myer's astonishment the "shooting star" fell a distance and then moved horizontally .
own UFO encounter, Captain Sperry
told the press the Air Force was interested but had kept their agents at a distance.
The press reported:
made no report to the Air Force but answered questions posed by a major who called him at Tulsa long distance from the Pentagon on 30 May.
INTERVIEW WITH CAPTAIN WILLIS T. SPERRY
Captain Sperry has been a pilot with American Airlines since 1939, for 16 years.
flies all types of commercial airplanes.
Presently, he is on regular DC-6 coach service between Los Angeles and Chicago.
has about 15,000 flight hours, accumulated at the rate of approximately 1000 per year.
is considered extremely reliable and experienced.
During the war he
flew DC-4s regularly between New York and England. (In 1945 I met him at Preswick, Scotland.
I have known Willis Sperry
since when he
was a high school boy in Talmadge, Ohio, in the late twenties; I knew his
parents well, and his
older brother was one of my closest friends, I taught Willis
a few things about gliding in those days).
has traveled a great deal, also flies light airplanes on vacation trips with his
wife within the USA as well as into Central and South America.
related from memory, which is still vivid, his
experience of an encounter with an UFO on 29 May 1950.
was flying (in the left seat of the cockpit of) a DC-6.
The airplane had left Washington Airport at about 9:10 p.m. and was steadily climbing towards a 20,000' level.
The weather was clear aloft but the ground was covered by haze.
There was a full moon about 25 degrees above the horizon.
was headed 240 degrees (mag.) for Nashville, TN.
At about 9:30 p.m., some seven miles west of Mt. Vernon (while Sperry was fishing for a map), the copilot, William Gates, suddenly shouted, "Watch it, watch it!
then banked to the right again for a better view but the UFO streaked across towards the East behind them… Capt. Sperry
saw it once more through the pilot's window to the rear as it went off into the distance towards the Atlantic.
Two or three passengers also saw a light pass by and one stewardess "saw something go by.
reported the observations to Washington tower by radio but neither the tower personnel nor the Washington radar picked up anything significant to confirm the sighting.
Much later, Sperry
learned that "Hank Myers, later pilot of President Truman's plane, was flying on AAL airplane on the same evening and observed a brilliant bluish object between Nashville and Knoxville at such a time that it could well have been the same UFO."
The possibility that the UFO seen by Sperry
copilot was a meteor was emphatically discounted by both.
does not believe that the seemingly erratic apparent movement of the object could have been an illusion produced solely by the three veering maneuvers of their own aircraft.
KABC-TV Interview with AAL Capt. Willis Sperry, 1964.
: The first UFO that I saw that I couldn't identify was on May 29, 1950.
Ward: Yesterday Captain Willis Sperry, an American Airlines jet pilot, told us about a UFO sighting he made about 12 years ago.
The captain is a veteran pilot with more than 30 years' experience.
Today part 16 of our look at the flying saucer phenomenon, and the second part of our visit with the captain, in the cockpit of a 707 jetliner.
: ...Chicago in a DC-7, and we were at 21,000 ft, and prior to our descent we were over Moline, Illinois, I believe, at the time, and we all of a sudden picked up considerable static, unrecognizable talking or noise in our radio.
So we switched frequencies and tried it on another frequency, and it was just as loud and just as garbled as the one that we had tried previously.
So we tried every frequency we had in transmitting to our ground controller, the radio tower operator, and the Company radio operator on the ground in Chicago, and we couldn't get anybody, so we kept hearing this very fast (gibberish) It sounded very much like a high-speed record; in other words, a record being turned at much higher speed than the normal rpm.
When we landed at Chicago, or may I say after about 10 minutes, we started hearing other airline pilots in the vicinity of Chicago saying that they were getting reception now; and one TWA pilot said that whatever he
was watching for the last ten minutes had disappeared to the west.
And we got on the ground and started correlating our experience with others' experiences, and nine different air-planes had lost their radio communications in that particular ten-minute time.
It was about four-thirty in the afternoon, the 14th of February, and, in fact, reception had dissipated to the point where there was one plane that had taken off for Milwaukee and returned and landed because he
couldn't get any reception.