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The Battle of Los Angeles, 1942: The True Story Behind the World’s Largest UFO Sighting

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The Battle of Los Angeles, 1942: The True Story Behind the World's Largest UFO Sighting

For all you UFO enthusiasts out there, this news article is for you. It covers the story of an unidentified flying object (UFO) sighting that allegedly occurred in 1942.

The military has long denied its existence, but skeptics and believers alike still remember that spring day in 1942 when “an object with a diameter of forty feet and was shaped like two inverted saucers,” dropped from the sky, causing panic to ensue.

This may have been the first-ever mass UFO sighting in human history where thousands of civilians and soldiers alike witnessed unidentified flying objects in the skies above Los Angeles. Below are images of these UFOs obtained for the historic event that took place.

An anti-aircraft bombardment of over 1,440 rounds is unleashed on the evening of February 24, 1942, in response to what is initially assumed to be a Japanese aerial attack on the City of Angels.

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Five individuals are killed, three as a result of automobile accidents caused by the turmoil, and two as a result of heart attacks.

Despite continued speculation today, there is no evidence that these lights were man-made. Sure, some people have tried to shoot them out of the sky, but they’ve never been successful.

120 miles west of Los Angeles, radars picked up an unidentified target. At 2:15 a.m., antiaircraft batteries were notified, and a few minutes later, they were placed on Green Alert, ready to fire. Before committing its meager fighter force, the (Army Air Force) kept its chase planes on the ground, preferring to wait for signs of the extent and direction of any attack.

The incoming target was monitored to within a few miles of the coast, and the regional controller ordered a blackout at 2:21 a.m. Even though the odd object tracked in from the sea appears to have departed, the information center was inundated with reports of “enemy planes.”

Planes were reported near Long Beach at 2:43 a.m., and a coast artillery colonel sighted ‘approximately 25 planes at 12,000 feet above Los Angeles a few minutes later. A balloon with a red flare was observed over Santa Monica at 3:06 a.m., prompting four batteries of anti-aircraft artillery to commence fire, causing “the air over Los Angeles to erupt like a volcano.” From that point forward, accounts were hopelessly inconsistent.

The media reports aren’t the only thing that differs. The Los Angeles Herald Examiner reports that a witness estimates the number of planes to be 50. Three people are killed in a plane crash over the ocean. Another is knocked out by a battery along Vermont Ave.

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The headline of the Examiner’s “War Extra” is “Air Battles Rages Over Los Angeles.” The Los Angeles Times, which is usually more reserved, says: “Roaring out of a brilliant moonlit western sky, foreign aircraft flying both in large formation and singly flew over Southern California early today and drew heavy barrages of anti-aircraft fire – the first ever to sound over United States continental soil against an enemy invader.”

“As far as I know the whole raid was a false alarm and could be attributed to jittery nerves,” says Navy Secretary Frank Knox in Washington, D.C.

15 unidentified aircraft were spotted over Los Angeles, according to Secretary of War Henry Stimson, probably commercial planes operated by the enemy from secret bases in California or Mexico, or light planes fired from Japanese submarines. According to Stimson, their purpose is to locate anti-aircraft defenses or to harm civilian morale.

Full Video: The Battle of Los Angeles

In the below short film, a reporter at a CBS station gives viewers what is likely the first live news broadcast about an alien invasion.

The military released information that two flying saucers were shot down during a battle in Los Angeles, California.

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It may be hard to believe today when alien invasions are common fictional tropes in movies and television shows, but this was the first time such a story broke into mainstream culture.

Who knows: maybe one day aliens will make their presence known to us officially.

Anti-aircraft shell bursts captured by searchlights were probably mistaken for enemy planes, causing a lot of confusion.

In any case, the next three hours produced some of the most imaginative reporting of the war: “swarms” of planes (or, occasionally, balloons) of all sizes, ranging from one to several hundred, flying at altitudes ranging from a few thousand feet to more than 20,000, and at speeds ranging from “very slow” to more than 200 miles per hour, were observed to parade across the skies.

Despite the fact that 1,440 rounds of anti-aircraft ammunition were aimed at them, these unknown troops dropped no bombs and suffered no losses.

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Japan claims that there were no planes in the area at the time of the “attack” after the war. Weather balloons are the most likely explanation, according to The Army Air Forces in World War II, Vol. 1. To “prove” it is an extraterrestrial craft, a shot from the Los Angeles Times was utilized.

Another explanation can be found in an article by veteran Los Angeles journalist Matt Weinstock, in which he interviews a man who claims to have served in one of the anti-aircraft batteries:

“Early in the war things were pretty scary and the Army was setting up coastal defenses. At one of the new radar stations near Santa Monica, the crew tried in vain to arrange for some planes to fly by so that they could test the system. As no one could spare the planes at the time, they hit upon a novel way to test the radar. One of the guys bought a bag of nickel balloons and then filled them with hydrogen, attached metal wires, and let them go. Catching the offshore breeze, the balloons had the desired effect of showing up on the screens, proving the equipment was working. But after traveling a good distance offshore and to the south, the nightly onshore breeze started to push the balloons back towards the coastal cities. The coastal radar’s picked up the metal wires and the searchlights swung automatically on the targets, looking on the screens as aircraft heading for the city. The ACK-ACK started firing and the rest was history.”

This is a story about the first modern era sighting of UFOs in the United States, and the media circus that erupted afterward. It was a phenomenon that transformed popular attitudes about flying saucers, inspired fearful reactions in some military and political circles, and helped make UFOs household names by the end of the year.

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Heathcliff Spencer Peters, born and raised in the Netherlands, has worked with Dutch and American artists as creative artist for over 10 years. From 2000 - 2001 he was the main character in a popular Dutch television docu-soap-travel program. He has also worked as a cameraman and video producer for over 11 years. In addition to his work experience, he has been practicing journalism and fact-checking since 2007 for Lions Ground, nowadays known as Astral Citizens.

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