4 - Take the Train


“From Bad Axe to Bethesda the happy news comes in,” wrote an anonymous “Talk of the Town” contributor in The New Yorker, April 9, 1966. “Flying saucers! ... We read the official explanations with sheer delight, marveling at their stupendous inadequacy. Marsh gas, indeed! ... Our theory is that flying saucers are not of this earth. The beings who control them are attempting to make contact with man in the gentlest possible fashion ....“

Dr. Isaac Asimov, dean of science writers, commented:

“I am told, though, that so many people have seen objects that looked like spaceships that ‘there must be something in it’ .... Maybe there is, but think of all the people in the history of the world who have seen ghosts and spirits and angels. It’s not what you see that is suspect, but how you interpret what you see.“

At a scientific convention held in Baltimore in 1966, Dr. Edward C. Walsh, executive secretary of the National Aeronautics and Space Council, remarked:

“So many airline pilots report seeing them, that’s why I take the train.“

Wherever you were in the year 1966, you must have heard about the coming of the flying saucers. The news media beat the story into a froth of ennui. The newsstands were glutted with one-shot UFO magazines and quickie paperbacks “rehashing the reported sightings from previous flap years. Everywhere great crowds of people gathered on hilltops, in swamps and cemeteries, and around reservoirs and gravel pits, their eyes turned heavenward.


Saucer-hunting became a national sport, rallying to the excited cry, “There goes one!“

That year I stood on hilltops and beaches with those crowds, watching funny lights bob around in the night. But an uneasiness was overtaking me; a dark suspicion that Dr. Asimov’s tongue-in-cheek observation may have contained more truth than even he knew.

The Year of the Garuda was at hand. A dark force was closing over a little town I had never even heard of: Point Pleasant, West Virginia. In a matter of months I would be arriving there like some black-suited exorcist, lugging my tattered briefcase, waving the golden cross of science. My life would become intertwined with the lives of the people of the Ohio valley.

In March 1966, a shapely housewife, whom I will call Mrs. Kelly because she asked that her name be withheld, was waiting in her car for her children near the Point Pleasant school when she saw an unbelievable apparition low in the sky. It looked like a glistening metal disk and was hovering directly above the school playground. A doorlike aperture was open at its rim and there was a man standing outside.


He was not standing in the doorway, he was standing outside the object in midair! He wore a silvery skin-tight costume and had very long silvery hair. He was looking down into the school yard intently. She watched him for a long moment until her children bounded up to the car. When she looked again, the man and object were gone. She decided not to tell anyone about this strange vision, attaching religious significance to it.

That summer, Mrs. Mary Hyre was driving along the Ohio side of the river when a sudden glint in the sky attracted her attention.

“At first I thought it was a plane,” she recalled. “Then I got a better look at it. It was perfectly round. I couldn’t make out what it was but I didn’t give it any thought at the time.“

Another round object chose to hover above Tiny’s restaurant just outside Point Pleasant that summer, where it was seen by a number of customers including the wife of a local police officer. Tiny’s stands on the corner of the street where the McDaniels live. The McDaniel family would later serve as the focus for many of the strange manifestations.

Not one person bothered to report a UFO sighting to the law or press in Point Pleasant, although there were many such sightings all summer long.

People in distant Salt Lake City, Utah, weren’t so squeamish, however. When a bird “about as big as a Piper Cub airplane” circled that Mormon community on July 18, 1966, some people ran for cover while others ran for their telephones.

Shortly after 2 P.M. on September 1, Mrs. James Ikart of Scott, Mississippi, grabbed her phone to call the Delta Democrat Times (Greenville). She and her neighbors were watching a whitish man-shaped flying object.

“It got down pretty low and then would go up,” Mrs. Ikart said. “I never saw anything like it.“

John Hursh, a local meteorologist, whipped out Standard Explanation No. 425.

“It’s apparently somebody’s research balloon that’s gotten away,” he announced.

Whatever it was, it bounced around Scott most of the afternoon.

Three thousand years ago a small group of brilliant men investigated and solved the mystery of unidentified flying objects. Since then a great many others have approached the same mystery from different perspectives and solved it over and over again. Unfortunately, their staggering solutions were obfuscated by intellectual extrapolations and the ponderous terminology of philosophy and theology.


Few modern UFO enthusiasts have the educational background to understand such literature. They choose, as an alternative, to deal with the phenomenon on a materialistic level, assuming that the presence of unlikely objects and entities in our atmosphere is evidence of some extraterrestrial civilization.

Xenophanes, one of the first great philosophers (sixth century B.C.), observed that the Ethiopians thought their gods were black and snub-nosed like themselves. Today many of us no longer believe in direct visits with our God, so we have shaped a new mythology based upon the belief in spacemen carved in our own image. When the ancients sighted giant, shambling bipeds covered with hair, their eyes blazing like fierce coals, they assumed they were confronting demons. Early investigators eventually concluded that such demons did not really exist, even though they often left footprints behind and caused physical damage.


They coined the word khimaira (chimera) to describe them. Others noted that the eerie aerial lights changed colors up and down the visual spectrum and the word specter was born. Several times each year tall, hairy creatures with red eyes are still seen throughout the United States and, in fact, throughout the world. Like many forms of chimeras, they are usually accompanied by the smell of rotten eggs—hydrogen sulfide.


The “fire and brimstone” of the ancients. The same odor frequently surrounds the fabled flying saucers and their space-suited pilots.

Seeing a spaceman disembark from a flying saucer is no more remarkable than seeing an angel descend in a luminous cloud (and angels are still reported hundreds of tunes each year). The report of a nine-foot-tall humanoid strolling down the main street of Buffalo Mills, Pennsylvania, on August 19, 1973, was no more outlandish than the dinosaurs who appear from time to time to terrify witnesses and baffle police posses. In 1969 there were dinosaur reports in Texas. In 1970 the police in Italy scoured a mountain range after several witnesses reported seeing a saurian.

To the regret of the true believers, the majority of the witnesses to chimerical events were alone at the time of their experience. While the amateur investigators tend to Concentrate on the very subjective descriptions of the observers, I probed deeper and studied the witnesses themselves. Many, I found, suffered certain medical symptoms such as temporary amnesia, severe headaches, muscular spasms, excessive thirst and other effects, all of which have been observed throughout history in religious miracles (the appearances of religious apparitions), demonology, occult phenomena, and contacts with fairies.


All of these manifestations clearly share a common source or cause. While chimeras can come in all sizes and shapes, ranging from twenty-foot giants to animated tin cans only a few inches in height, the most fascinating type is one who has appeared in almost every country on earth. In other ages he was regarded as the devil incarnate. He dressed in black and rode a black horse. Later he arrived in black horse-drawn carriages, even in hearses. Today he steps out of flying saucers in remote farm fields.


He is built exactly like us, stands from five feet six inches to six feet tall, looks very human but has high cheekbones, unusually long fingers, and an Oriental cast to his features. His complexion is olive or reddish. He speaks every language, sometimes mechanically as if he is reciting a memorized speech, sometimes fluently. He has trouble breathing, often wheezing and gasping between words. Like our dinosaurs and hairy bipeds, he often leaves a few footprints behind ... footprints which suddenly end as if he had vanished into thin air.

I have been chasing these critters for twenty-five years and have traveled from Tibet, the land of the Abominable Snowman, to West Virginia, home of the strangest unknown “Bird.” In the course of all these adventures and frenetic activities I have come to reject outright the popular extraterrestrial hypothesis.

My long and very expensive excursions into the borderland where the real and unreal merge have failed to produce any evidence of any kind to support the idea that we are entertaining shy strangers from some other galaxy. Rather, I have come to realize that we have been observing complex forces which have always been an essential part of our immediate environment. Instead of thinking in terms of extraterrestrials, I have adopted the concept of ultraterrestrialsbeings and forces which coexist with us but are on another time frame; that is, they operate outside the limits of our space-time continuum yet have the ability to cross over into our reality.


This other world is not a place, however as Mars or Andromeda are places, but is a state of energy.

The UFO phenomenon itself is only one trivial fragment of a much larger phenomenon. It can be divided into two main parts.

  • The first and most important part consists of the mysterious aerial lights which appear to have an intelligence of their own. They have been observed throughout history. Often they project powerful searchlight-like beams toward the ground. Persons caught in these beams undergo remarkable changes of personality.


    Their IQ sky-rockets, they change their jobs, divorce their wives, and in any number of well-documented instances they suddenly rise above their previous mediocre lives and become out-standing statesmen, scientists, poets and writers, even soldiers. In religious lore, being belted by one of these light beams causes “mystical illumination.” When Saul, a Jewish tent-maker, was zapped by one of these beams on the road to Damascus it blinded him for three days and he was converted to Christianity on the spot and became St. Paul.


  • The second part of the phenomenon consists of the cover or camouflage for the first part, the “meandering nocturnal lights” as the air force has labeled them. If these lights appeared in cycles, year after year, century after century without any accompanying explanatory manifestations they would cause much greater fear and concern. But explanatory manifestations have accompanied them always, and these manifestations have always been adjusted to the psychology and beliefs of each particular period in time.

The flying saucer/extraterrestrial visitants are not real in the sense that a 747 airliner is real. They are transmogrifications of energy under the control of some unknown extra-dimensional intelligence. This intelligence controls important events by manipulating specific human beings through the phenomenon of mystical illumination.


Our religions are based upon our longtime awareness of this intelligence and our struggle to reduce it to humanly acceptable terms.

The ancient Ethiopians viewed their gods as black, snub-nosed entities. The Greeks and Romans populated their mountaintops with longhaired, handsome gods and goddesses. The Indians of South America worshiped bearded gods who traveled the night skies in luminous discs of light, as did the ancient Egyptians. But religious views were modified in the nineteenth century with the coming of the Industrial Age. The lights were still there but a new frame of reference was needed to cover their activities.

Somebody somewhere does not want us to understand the true nature of this phenomenon and its true purpose. For years the UFO enthusiasts believed the U.S. Air Force was the culprit and that government agents were tapping the phones of teen-agers and little old ladies, tampering with their mail, and following them around in black Cadillacs. I wish the answer was that simple.

We have been victimized by this phenomenon, not just since 1947 but since ever! It is the foundation of all our religious and occult beliefs, of our philosophies, and our cultures. The ancient Chinese marked out the routes of the lights in the sky (LITS) and called them “dragon tracks” because, apparently, fearsome dragons appeared along with the mysterious lights. In a later age, these became fairy lights and were associated with the little people who actually plagued whole generations not only in Europe but also in North America ... for the American Indians were telling stories about the little people long before the Europeans arrived here.

During the witchcraft craze a few hundred years ago, people really thought they saw witches flying through the air ... with lanterns hanging from the front of the brooms. The vampire legends of middle Europe are almost identical to the modern UFO lore. As late as the nineteenth century the devil existed as a physical personage to many people.

If you saw a strange light in the sky in 1475 you knew it had to be a witch on a broom because you had heard of others who had seen witches on brooms skirting the tree-tops. Now in 1975 you might decide it is attached to a spacecraft from some other planet. This conclusion is not a qualified deduction on your part. It is the result of years of propaganda and even brainwashing. If you are under thirty, you grew up on a diet of comic books, motion pictures, and television programs which educated you to believe in the extraterrestrial hypothesis.


A small knot of nuts has talked to you year after year on interview programs, telling you how the sinister air force has been keeping the truth about flying saucers from the public; that truth being that UFOs are the product of a superior intelligence with an advanced technology, and that the flying saucers have come to save us from ourselves.


The gods of ancient Greece are among us again, in a new guise but still handing out the old line. Believe.

Belief is the enemy.

The people of the Middle Ages were as convinced of the reality of the little people and their underground palaces as you might be of an extraterrestrial civilization with gleaming cities of glass on some far-off planet. One hundred years from now the phenomenon may be playing some new game with us. The whole interplanetary bag may be forgotten. But those lights—and that damnable procession of strange critters and nine-foot humanoids— will still be marching in our midst.


Isolated individuals on lonely back roads will still be getting caught in sudden beams of energy from the sky, then shuck their families, quit their jobs, and rocket into notoriety or plunge into the hell of insanity and bankruptcy.


“While driving toward New Cumberland, we saw a light hovering near a hillside,“ John Vujnovic, an attorney from Weirton, West Virginia, said, describing his experience on the evening of October 7, 1966. “The light started coming toward the car and I guess my son was frightened and I slowed the car so that we were a good distance behind the object.

“The object had an outer circular light that glowed, but there was no sound at all. I stopped the car for a better look and the thing started coming down over the highway. I think it was about four hundred feet in the air.“

Mr. Vujnovic was driving south on State Route 66 from Chester, West Virginia, to Weirton in the northernmost tip of the state. His was one of the first important sightings in West Virginia that October ... a month that would produce sensational incidents all up and down the eastern seaboard.

“At one time, it looked as if there were windows in the craft and after it got past we could see a revolving light. The outer glow of the light made a fast-flickering type of light as the object was hovering.“

It eventually disappeared as Mr. Vujnovic went on his way.

In the weeks that followed, the lights and some dark objects of awesome size were seen from one end of the state to another. In Sistersville, a town mentioned in the 1897 “airship” reports, local UFO fans organized an informal warning system, calling each other on party lines to announce curtly, “UFO—northeast,” etc. The town’s newspaper did not bother to publish a single report.

Every night at approximately 8 P.M. one of these brilliant flashing lights would cruise majestically over the Ohio River, traversing Point Pleasant from north to south. Those who bothered to notice it at all assumed it was an airplane.

Mrs. Kelly, the lady who had seen the longhaired man standing in the sky seven months earlier, lived in a house on the edge of a deep gully. She and her children were seeing blinding globes of light traveling close to the ground along that gully nightly. And her telephone was behaving strangely, ringing when there was no one on the line, and sometimes emitting beeps like Morse code.

Early in November, an elderly man walked into Mary Hyre’s newspaper office.

“I’ve just got to tell somebody,” he began nervously.

The story he unfolded seemed totally unbelievable to Mrs. Hyre, who knew nothing of UFOs at the time, but she knew the man and was impressed by his sincerity.

On November 2, 1966, he said, he and another workman were driving home to Point Pleasant from their job near Marietta, Ohio, on Interstate 77. As they neared Parkersburg, West Virginia, an elongated object appeared low in the sky and descended directly in front of them. They stopped their car and a man emerged from the object and walked over to them. He looked like a normal man and was grinning broadly.


He wore a black coat and kept his arms folded with his hands out of sight under his armpits. The witness rolled his window down and there was a very brief conversation. The stranger asked the pair who they were, where they were from, where they were going, and what time was it? Then he strolled back to the dark cylinder and it rose quickly into the chill, drizzling sky.

The two men had a strong emotional reaction to the seemingly pointless encounter. They debated whether they should tell anybody, deciding against it. But the Point Pleasant resident found himself suffering from from insomnia. And when he finally slept he had strange nightmares. He started to hit the bottle, something very unusual for him.

Mrs. Hyre listened to his story, nonplused, and made a few notes. A day or so later the man’s son called on her and asked her not to print the story. Several weeks later she repeated the story to me and we called the man on her office phone.


He verified the details and then said,

 “Look, don’t use my name. I don’t want to get involved in this thing. That scientist fellow told me—“

“What scientist?” I asked.

“A couple of weeks after this thing happened, a scientist from Ohio came to see us. He told us it would be better if we forgot the whole thing.“

“How did he hear about it? How did he find you?“

“Damned if I know.“

“Did he identify himself?“

“Sure ... but I can’t remember his name. But he seemed to know what he was talking about.“

I couldn’t get much else out of him.


I would have ignored the whole story except for one jarring fact. The same thing had happened that same night on the same road to another West Virginian. Unlike the two Point Pleasant residents, he had gone to the police with his story.


A press conference was held and he was catapulted into the never-never land of the UFO contactees, the center of one of the biggest UFO stories of 1966.

Back to Contents