Chapters Three and Four

Michael D. Winkle

The page numbers below refer to the 2001 TOR Books reprinting of Mothman Prophecies by John Alva Keel, the version most easily obtainable by the general public.


Page 26: New York Sun and New York Times "batmen": Mentioned often in fortean books. The Times article ends with some political sniping and satire, but that doesn't mean the story was imaginary.

Page 27: Winged beings: A short notice appeared in The Zoologist, Vol. 26, p. 1295 (July 1868), of a creature seen flying over a mine at Copiapo, Chile, in April of that year. It was observed at about five PM one evening, "and all the workmen were together awaiting their supper." Suddenly a monstrous bird approached, flying from the northwest to the southeast. "As it was passing a short distance above our heads we could mark the strange formation of its body. Its immense wings were clothed with a grayish plumage, its monstrous head was like that of a locust, its eyes were wide open and shone like burning coals; it seemed to be covered with something resembling the thick and stout bristles of a boar . . ."

Page 28: Angels without wings: Genesis (19:1-3):

And there came two angels to Sodom at even; and Lot sat in the gate of Sodom: and Lot seeing them rose up to meet them; and he bowed himself with his face toward the ground;

And he said, Behold now, my lords, turn in, I pray you, into your servant's house, and tarry all night, and wash your feet, and ye shall rise up early, and go on your ways. And they said, Nay; but we will abide in the street all night.

And he pressed upon them greatly; and they turned in unto him, and entered into his house; and he made them a feast, and did bake unleavened bread, and they did eat.

Thus also the famous warning in "The Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Hebrews" (13:1-1): "Let brotherly love continue. Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares."

Page 28: "the famous Russian traveler V. K. Arsenyev. . ."

In a different translation, the footprint Arsenyev describes is identified as a bear's, as opposed to the flying creature's.

Paul Stonehill, Director of the Russian Ufology Research Center in California, has kept in close contact with his colleagues in the former Soviet Union. In the early 1990s he received news about the legendary Letayuschiy Chelovek, the Flying Man of Vladivostok, from Alexander Rempel, a leading ufologist in the far eastern sections of Russia.

Most reports of the Flying Man describe only its strange call, a womanlike scream that ends in a drawn out howl. The cry is accompanied by sounds as if something large is approaching through the forest, but nothing is seen. Otherwise fearless hunting dogs flee the creature. The howls of the Flying Man were reported in the 1930s and '40s, and from 1989 on they have come again.

Could it be some more mundane bird making these noises? "Yen Vanshen [a witness] is offended. Having spent all his life in the taiga, he knows every bird there is. No, it was the devil, according to the Chinese man." [Stonehill, p. 50]

In recent times, there have been more sightings of the Flying Man. One A. I. Kurentsov, camping near the site of Arsenyev's encounter, awoke in the night with an inexplicable feeling of fear. He rolled onto all fours and checked the large bonfire by which he slept.

Suddenly his lateral vision registered something huge and dark that was swiftly falling onto the bonfire. Falling on his back to eschew any impact, the hunter saw a creature that had a humanoid shape. He discerned webbed, batlike wings. The hunter got up quickly, hid himself behind the trunk of the nearest tree, and did not leave it until daybreak. [Stonehill, p.52]

The reports from eastern Russia stirred a memory of Stonehill's own. Many years ago his father had been a soldier in the Soviet Army, stationed in the Far East. One day his unit came upon a severely wounded Chinese man lying in the snow, several wolves shot dead around him. He claimed to be a hunter who had been attacked by gold-smugglers, but the unusual make of his pistol convinced the commanding Soviet officer that he was a spy. The man was given some local "moonshine" for his pain, then "the man told them in perfect, Muskovite-accented Russian language to be aware of a 'flying creature, sounding like a human female (zhenschina-samka) in extreme pain.'" [p. 49] The man was left to die, and the men did indeed hear strange noises from the taiga for several nights thereafter.

Ikals: Jacques Vallee, in Passport to Magonia, mentions Brian Stross, an American anthropologist working with the Tzeltal Indians of Mexico. After they spotted a strange light in the sky, Stross and his Tzeltal assistant discussed the ?ihk'als or ikals:

The ikals are three-foot tall, hairy, black humanoids whom the natives encounter frequently, and Stross learned:

"About twenty years ago, or less, there were many sightings of this creature or creatures, and several people apparently tried to fight it with machetes. One man also saw a small sphere following him from about five feet. After many attempts he finally hit it with his machete and it disintegrated, leaving only an ash-like substance."

The beings were observed in ancient times. They fly, they attack people, and, in the modern reports, they carry a kind of rocket on their backs and kidnap Indians. Occasionally, Stross was told, people have been "paralyzed" when they came upon the ikals, who are said to live in caves.

Page 29: Garuda: As Peter Costello points out in The Magic Zoo:

Garuda was the symbol of strength and swiftness. In the temples dedicated to Vishnu images of the garuda were set up and worshipped as well. It seems that the garuda was an older god than Vishnu, perhaps one of the aboriginal animistic gods which were taken over by the invading Hindus. [p. 81]

Eventually, humans being what they are, Garuda became less important than Vishnu and ended up as little more than a flying mount. At the same time, he became more manlike. He is usually depicted as having a human body, a beaked, birdlike head, and wings sprouting from his shoulders.

Thunderbird: Several old articles about this Native American legend can be found here.

Piasa: And more information about this terrible creature can be found here.

Louisville, Kentucky: Charles Fort writes in LO! (1931): "I found accounts in the Louisville Courier-Journal, July 29, Aug. 6, 1880 . . . The story is that, between 6 and 7 o'clock, evening of July 28th, people in Louisville saw in the sky 'an object like a man, surrounded by machinery, which he seemed to be working with his hands and feet.' The object moved in various directions, ascending and descending, seemingly under control. When darkness came, it disappeared." [Complete Books, p. 641]

Jim Brandon adds that "a tall and thin weirdo" appeared in the Louisville vicinity that very day:

He wore a sort of uniform, made of shiny fabric, and with a long cape and metallic helmet. On his chest under the cape was a large, bright light. His big thing seemed to be scaring people -- particularly women -- sometimes getting so familiar as to pull their clothing off. His favorite method of escape was by springing smoothly over high objects like haystacks or wagons, then vanishing on the other side. [Weird America, page 92]

In other words, the "weirdo" was England's favorite bogey Springheeled Jack down to the last detail. I have not, however, come across any other mention of the "Jack" appearance when the Louisville incident is mentioned -- it, too, appears in many fortean books.

Page 30: December 30, 1946 Batplane: This report also comes from Wilkins' Flying Saucers on the Attack. Miss Young's story was corroborated by a second woman. The "Batplane" was also reported on October 9 over San Diego by a Mr. Mark Probert, a youth named Fernando Esevano, and several others. A "clairvoyant" told Probert the winged vessel was called a Kareeta, from "some planet west of the moon." [?] See also Doubt #17 (1947), p. 251.

Crow: Dr. Harris' letter is reprinted in William Corliss' Mysterious Universe (Glen Arm, MD: Sourcebook Project, 1979), p. 165.

Lines of "birds"/Palermo: See Fort's Book of the Damned, chapter 16.

Page 31: 1947 wave: As its title suggests, Ted Bloecher's Report on the UFO Wave of 1947 (Washington: NICAP, 1967), is a whole book on the subject.

"Mystics and quacks": To read Keel, just about everyone who studies the subject of UFOs is a quack, cultist, amateur, or crackpot. His statements to this effect should be taken with a grain of salt, though ufology does attract a lot of "fringe" people.

People from space: I heard somewhere that the first person to suggest seriously that flying saucers were spaceships from other worlds was Major Donald E. Keyhoe in his seminal article "Flying Saucers Are Real," in True magazine (January 1950), but I can't be sure. Certainly Charles Fort suggested that we had had visitors from elsewhere, and the concept of alien invaders was popular in science fiction since Wells' War of the Worlds (1897).

Flying men: Mrs. Zaikowski [first name actually Bernice]: Portland [Oregon] Journal, January 21, 1948. Viola Johnson: See Strange Creatures from Time and Space, p. 207, and Clark and Coleman's "Winged Weirdies."

"Meanwhile, Kenneth Arnold, who investigated some UFO sightings after his own flying saucer encounter, heard of two more flying men sightings from Butte, Oregon, seen at dawn on September 16, 1948." Coleman, Mothman, p. 30.

Page 32: Clark and Coleman's article is indispensible. Nearly all later publications concerning "winged weirdos" draws from it, including later books by Clark and Coleman. In case you think they made the phenomenon up, Vance Randolph mentions some of the same big bird stories in his book We Always Lie to Strangers (1951), over two decades earlier.

Page 33: Houston Bat-Man: "1953, June 18/Hilda Walker/118 E. 3d St. William C. Thompson, 'Houston Bat Man,' Fate 6 (Oct. 1953): 26-27, quoting Houston Chronicle (undated)," according to the Geo-Bibliography. Coleman's Mysterious America (1983) gives more information.

1961 **

Page 34: Vallee **

Page 34: Winged lady of Viet Nam: Witness Earl Morrison is a step-nephew of investigator Don Worley, which is how this case came to light.

Page 36: Kent England **

Page 37: Spectrum, Odor, flying freaks **

Page 38: Loch Ness: Monster-hunter F. W. "Ted" Holiday noted that the lake monsters of Great Britain seemed to avoid cameras deliberately -- their presence even making cameras malfunction. "If this is an actual effect -- and it certainly seems to be -- then it quite removes monster phenomena from the world of ordinary organic wildlife," he writes in Creatures from the Inner Sphere. As an example, he mentions two women who photographed a pair of monsters at Fort Augustus in 1970:

While strolling near Borlum Bay they decided to photograph each other. While they were choosing a suitable background, a large long-necked animal came into view round a headland out in the loch. Presently, it was joined by a similar but smaller creature. Portraits were forgotten as a number of pictures were shot of these creatures until they sank from view. The ladies hurried home and sent a message up to the Bureau's camp.

This film turned out a complete blank. The mechanism had failed to wind the film into frame and the shutter had simply been clicking on a piece of static backing-paper. [pp. 191-192]

There were some interesting winged being reports in the year 1922. See "Twenty-Two Skiddoo".


Page 41: Salt Lake City: Deseret News, July 18, 1966. See also "Winged Weirdies."

Page 43: "Dinosaur reports." In 1975 a book called Extraterrestrial Intervention: The Evidence was published by "Jacques Bergier and the Editors of INFO." On page 105 there appears the following, under the title "Dinosaurs on the Loose Again."

In the summer of 1969 I received a couple of letters passing along rumors that a dinosaur was roaming about Texas. According to one story, said saurian had hauled a car 200 feet off the road and killed its driver. Attempts to track these tales down proved futile, so the Texas dinosaur was entered into our "hearsay" file and forgotten.

The above supposedly came from Strange Creatures from Time and Space -- but I've read that book many times, and there's nothing like it in there! In Fate Magazine for March 1991, Keel expands on dinosaurs:

There is a place in Massachusetts where people have been seeing dinosaurs in recent years. (I'm not going to tell you exactly where. There's no sense starting a stampede to the spot which is on private property anyway.) These huge animals seem to melt into nothingness in a small, wooded area. Other events in the same area suggest that some kind of time warp may exist there. . . We have dinosaur reports from France, Italy, Switzerland, Texas, Ohio, Illinois and many other places over the past three decades. [pp. 22, 26]

As long as we're digressing into modern dinosaurs, here's a strange excerpt by Bob Rickard from Fortean Times #40:

The following tantalizing letter appeared in Empire Magazine (Denver, Colorado) 22 Aug. 1982, from a Myrtle Snow, of Pagosa Springs, Colorado, who was convinced she had seen "five baby dinosaurs" there in May 1935, when she was three years old. Some months later, she says, a farmer, John Martinez, shot one which he claimed had taken some of his sheep. "My grandfather took us to see it the next morning. It was about seven feet tall, was grey, had a head like a snake, short front legs with claws that resembled chicken feet, large stout back legs and a long tail." [p. 8]

Ms. Snow also claims to have seen a green "dinosaur" in a cave in 1937, and, decades later, yet another, while driving between Chama, New Mexico and Pagosa Springs (October 23, 1978). Believe it or not, reports of Velociraptor-like "river dinosaurs" have been growing in number in the Colorado area.

Page 46: "Belief is the enemy." Keel has been called "professionally gullible" and "Occam's Magnet," accepting (apparently) almost any weird story and giving a paranormal twist to simple coincidences. Yet his warning against accepting belief-systems is one that all investigators should take to heart.

This is an attitude shared by the grandaddy anomalist Charles Fort. "I believe in nothing," he announces in Chapter Three of LO! "I have shut myself away from the rocks and wisdoms of ages, and from the so-called great teachers of all time, and perhaps because of that isolationism I am given to bizarre hospitalities."

But Fort, Keel, and all other thinking human beings tend to speculate and theorize. I think that anomalous phenomena may give, let us say, vectors that point toward certain theories -- but I doubt we will ever prove these theories beyond the shadow of a doubt. Thus one should never crush a theory or a doctrine to one's chest and believe in it 100 percent.

By the way, wasn't anyone else annoyed by that poster in Fox Mulder's office that proclaimed, I WANT TO BELIEVE?

Page 48: Sistersville Airship: "1897, April 18/[witnessed by] W. E. Roe/Marietta (O.) Daily Register, 19 Apr. 1897," according to the Geo-Bibliography.

Page 48: "Early in November, an elderly man. . ." In Jerome Clark's otherwise impeccable UFO Encyclopedia, 2nd Edition, Clark writes that "This story, significant if true, does not appear in the extended and sympathetic treatment Keel accords Derenberger in The Mothman Prophecies." (Second Edition, Volume One, p. 329) Obviously it does.

Bergier, Jacques, et. al. Extraterrestrial Intervention: The Evidence (New York: New American Library, 1975).

Brandon, Jim. Weird America (New York: E. P. Dutton, 1978).

Clark, Jerome. UFO Encyclopedia 2nd Edition: The Phenomenon from the Beginning (Detroit, MI: Omnigraphics, Inc., 1998).

Clark, Jerome, and Loren Coleman. "Winged Weirdies," in Fate 25:3 (March 1972), pp. 80-89.

Coleman, Loren. Mothman and Other Curious Encounters (New York: Paraview Press, 2002).

Costello, Peter. The Magic Zoo (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1979).

Eberhart, George M. Geo-Bibliography of Anomalies (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1980).

Fort, Charles H. Complete Books of Charles Fort (New York, NY: Dover Books, 1974 [1941]).

Holiday, F. W. Creatures from the Inner Sphere [alternate title: The Dragon and the Disc] (New York: Popular Library, 1973).

Keel, John. "Beyond the Known," in Fate Magazine Vol. 44 No. 3 (March 1991), pp. 19-28.

Keel, John A. Strange Creatures from Time and Space (Greenwich, CT: Fawcett, 1970).

Rickard, Bob. "A Reprise for 'Living Wonders,'" in Fortean Times No. 40 (Summer 1983), pp. 4-15.

Stonehill, Paul. "Return of the Flying Man," in Fate Magazine Vol. 45 No. 11 (November 1992), pp. 48-53.

Vallee, Jacques. Passport to Magonia (Chicago: Henry Regnery Co., 1969).

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