Alyson Draper ~ Web Editor
Everybody is aware of Pearl Harbor. Everybody knows about how that thrusted the United States (U.S.) into WWII and the ultimate feelings of having to constantly be at war. But I’m not talking about serious stuff like that.
In true Historic Hysterics fashion, I will be looking at something strange that happened in Los Angeles in 1942. A full on battle was fought in the skies over the city that night, but what the army was fighting against remains to be highly contested. On February 24th, 1942, the buildings went dark and the sky lit up with anti-air shells, all firing at… something.
The early 1940s were one of the most tension filled years of U.S. history. The west coast of California was on high alert at all times due to fears of a Japanese attack. Airfields were outfitted with the newest anti-air technology. The military had trained eyes on the ocean and the skies above. In February of 1942, those fears were realized, when a Japanese sub surfaced and shot at an oil reserve near Santa Barbara on the 23rd. The damage was minimal, but it still caused most of the California coast to go on high alert.
Tensions were high, and eventually those tensions broke when on the 24th air raid sirens filled L.A. Buildings went dark, but the sky lit up. Skylights focused onto one shape in the sky and thousands of anti-air shells were fired. But nothing was shot down. No bombs were dropped. So what was the military shooting at?
A lot of people like to say it was a UFO (Unidentified Flying Object), and as fun as that is I just can’t believe it. At the time, people thought it was actually Japanese planes, with witnesses claiming to see about 50 planes that night.
However, when people went out to check the damages the next morning, nobody saw any planes that would have been shot down. The only things on the ground were shells from the anti-aircraft guns. Others say it was a weather balloon, but weather balloons move too slowly and are too easy to shoot down.
Official military reports are mixed, but the agreement seems to be on a case of jittery nerves. This is because of the heightened tensions after Pearl Harbor and the appearance of the Japanese sub the day before it seemed that a fight would be evident. Hence, if something strange was seen over L.A. the night of February 24th, it could’ve easily been interpreted as Japanese planes. People were nervous, and they needed to expel that nervousness somehow.