Most saucerians are familiar with the 1952 Washington DC Merry-Go-Round, a two weekend event in which flying saucers were sighted over the US capital, chiefly on July 19–20 and July 26–27. Historians consider it the climax of the 1952 flap.
Perhaps the strangest part if this tale is that a 1950s comic apparently predicted these events. Weird Science #13 (#2) [which is actually the second issue of the series and the first of two issues to bear the #13] features cover art showing flying saucers over Washington DC. Odd numbering aside, the most important thing to note here is that this is the July/August 1950 issue , so before you start thinking, “Oh, they made a comic based on the Washington Merry-Go-Round,” remember that this comic came out 2 years prior to these events! According to Comics.org, this issue went on sale April 4, 1950.
Weirdly enough, the comic purports to show the events leading up to a flying saucer invasion and a subsequent systematic government debunking that disarms the public and leaves us exposed to said invasion… to keep the public from panicking over the possibility of that very thing (read it here online).
That turns out to be an important distinction: the comic shows the events leading up to an actual invasion, not an alarming fly-by. It’s not about the Washington Merry-Go-Round; however, it does show flying saucers over Washington DC and these events did inspire the Robertson Panel to recommend:
“That the national security agencies take immediate steps to strip the Unidentified Flying Objects of the special status they have been given and the aura of mystery they have unfortunately acquired.
We suggest that this may be achieved by an integrated program designed to reassure the public of the total lack if evidence of inimical forces behind the phenomenon.”
In other words, it was time to start debunking flying saucers from official sources.
But what are we to make of the prophetic comic book? If we’re honest here, I think we can admit that the comic was meant as a cautionary tale. So it was meant to anticipate a possible future scenario in which flying saucers flew over the nation’s capitol while the public was kept in the dark to avoid a panic.
Of course, then we also have to admit the obvious: UFOs were seen over Washington DC but the sighting did not herald an alien invasion, so the comic fell well short of being truly prophetic. We think of it now as more in the category of strangely coincidental.
The Washington Merry-Go-Round remains as mysterious today as it was then. The official explanation involved temperature inversions causing optical illusions and false radar signals. Not everybody was satisfied with that answer obviously.