1952 Salem UFO Photo

July 1952
This photo was taken by U.S. Coast Guard photographer, Shell Alpert. He spotted four luminous objects in a
This photo was taken by U.S. Coast Guard photographer, Shell Alpert. He spotted four luminous objects in a "V" formation outside of his photo lab window in Salem, Massachusetts.

On July 16, 1952, Shell R. Alpert, a photographer with the U.S. Coast Guard, took a famous photograph of four bright objects in a "V" formation in the sky. This iconic photo was part of a wave of UFO sightings and awareness in the early 1950s.

Alpert recounted the sighting, "I was sitting in the photo office filing negatives with my back toward the window when I turned slightly in the direction of the window and noticed something bright outside. I observed the sky and saw what appeared to be several bright, almost brilliant lights slightly on the starboard side of the power plant smokestacks." He described them as "wavering" for a few seconds, only to have them dim down by the time he had focused his camera."[1]

He then called over a colleague, Thomas Flaherty, and the two observed that the lights were bright again. At this point he took the photograph. Right after, according to Alpert, there was a "momentary flash" and the objects were no longer visible.[1]

The photographic print was given to Alpert's superior and flown to Coast Guard Headquarters in Washington, D.C., and then to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base for analysis. Alpert was reportedly interviewed by numerous governmental officials.

The photo and news of the incident was picked up by newspapers all over North America. Alpert subsequently shifted his description of his experience in a news release from the Coast Guard. He stated that the object was "a quick flash...I actually could not say it was anything - it could have been reflections from passing cars or from the ocean."[1]


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Official Explanation

Cloud, reflections on window, weather phenomena.

Counter Argument

Flying Saucers in "V" formation.


Eyewitness accounts (two people); photograph.

Incident Map


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Related People


5 months ago » Opinion
This is a famous photo. It's believed that this is a reflection from the lights inside the diner.

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