Next month brings the release of the Aaron-Eckhart-starring film Battle: Los Angeles about an alien invasion force that attacks Los Angeles. Of course such a story couldn’t be anything but pure science-fiction…right? Well, flashback to February 25, 1942 when a real event dubbed “The Battle of Los Angeles” involving a UFO and the military took place.
Sixty-nine years ago this week, early on the morning of Feb. 25, a UFO (an unidentified flying object) appeared over the Los Angeles sky. Keep in mind that the nation was at war and this was just months after the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor and less than 24 hours after a Japanese sub had launched an attack against coastal targets near Santa Barbara (remember how on edge we were in the months after 9/11 and you’ll get a sense of what it must have been like back then).
So it’s no surprise that the UFO set off sirens and sent the city into blackout mode in anticipation of an enemy attack. Anti-aircraft artillery was unsuccessfully fired at the object (over 1,400 rounds). Six people died—three from the anti-aircraft fire and three from related heart attacks—before the citywide state of emergency was lifted later that morning.
Hours after the air raid, Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox declared that the whole incident was a false alarm caused by “war nerves” and, in 1983, Air Force officials officially concluded the UFO was simply a weather balloon. However, many people don’t buy this explanation, pointing to the fact that 1,400 rounds of ammunition should’ve been enough to take out a common weather balloon.
Whatever really happened, it’s a great story and a part of Los Angeles lore, which the marketing team at Sony is using to sell their flick Battle: Los Angeles. Check out this viral video they put together detailing the event and decide for yourself what really happened over the skies of L.A. on that night 69 years ago: