11 - If This
Is Wednesday, It Must Be a Venusian
James Lilly stood on his lawn surrounded by reporters from
Charleston and Huntington newspapers, Sheriff George Johnson and his
wife, and a host of others. Hundreds of automobiles lined the Camp
Conley Road, dark and silent except for the glows of cigarettes.
Other cars cruised in slow streams along the rutted roads of the TNT
area to the north.
“It’s just about
that time,” Jim Lilly announced, glancing at his watch. It was
exactly 8:30 P.M. “They come over every night right about now.“
Horns suddenly began to
bleat and excited shouts echoed through the trees.
“Right on time,”
Lilly chuckled. “You can set your watch by “em,“
“My God! What is it?” A reporter and novice UFO-watcher cried
out as a brilliant white light slowly glided into view.
It arched gracefully
overhead about one hundred feet above the trees. Car doors slammed
up and down the road as families scrambled out of their vehicles to
watch. Newsmen floundered with their expensive cameras.
“What in hell is the
matter with this? The shutter didn’t trip!“
The light passed slowly
toward Point Pleasant, the ground below lighting up in its glow as
“Where’s that guy
Keel?” someone asked.
“He’s probably up there riding in that damned thing,” someone
A light plane suddenly
circled over the TNT area, all its lights ablaze.
“Here comes Doc Shaw
again,” Jim Lilly laughed. “Who does he think he’s fooling?“
But voices were crying
out in the dark,
“There goes another
The plane cut its engine
for a moment and glided. George Johnson turned to his wife.
“Well, you wanted to
see a UFO.“
“It was like seeing a ghost,” she shuddered.
The air was filled with
the sounds of auto engines grinding away impotently and drivers
snarling and cursing because their cars wouldn’t start.
The light traveled on to the ravine that passed behind North Park
Road, then it dipped down and moved low along the bottom of the
ravine. Betty Kelly, thirteen, looked out the kitchen window of the
Kelly house and screamed.
“Ma ... it’s back!“
The glowing thing was
appearing nightly behind the Kelly home. It seemed to settle in
their backyard at times and the glow faded slightly so they could
see a definite object. They even thought they saw a triangular
doorway in it and what appeared to be frosted glass windows. Their
neighbors had all been watching, too, but had wisely avoided
publicity. They didn’t want their street to become another Camp
Conley Road or TNT area.
When Betty cried out, Bill Kelly, her father, grumbled in the living
room. He was an electronics engineer and he had just taken the back
off the family’s brand-new color TV set. The set had blown out the
night before when the object had paid a visit.
“Somebody should do
something about these things,” he complained.
The object began to glow more intensely and then it vanished.
“Where did it go?”
Mrs. Kelly asked her daughter.
“I don’t know—it—it just went.”
She started to cry. She
would be so nervous and upset that she wouldn’t go to school the
The phone rang. Bill Kelly looked at it as if it were a snake. He
picked it up slowly, listened and scowled, then replaced the
receiver. His wife glanced at him expectantly.
“Another one of
those calls ... beep, beep, beep,” he nodded.
On top of a hill east of
Point Pleasant Mary Hyre and I stood by our cars looking down at the
“Where did it go,
I was straining my
eyesight through a cheap telescope.
“I think it went
down that ravine by North Park. But I can’t see it now.“
“At least it was right on schedule.“
Flickering red and green
lights suddenly appeared.
“A plane,” I noted.
“Probably Doctor Shaw. He told me he’s been spooking the people
at the TNT area.“
“It’s hard to mistake an airplane for one of those UFO lights.“
“Look!” she called out sharply. “Something is following that
A few hundred feet
behind the plane I could see a large black object, almost as big as
the plane itself but completely without lights.
“Mothman! Is it
I fumbled with my
telescope. It’s very difficult to zero in on an object in the night
sky with a handheld telescope. I couldn’t even locate the plane.
The plane crossed the river and headed for the Gallipolis airport.
The thing following him was quickly lost in the black sky.
We returned to Mary’s office and found all the phones ringing.
People were seeing flying objects all up and down the valley. Some
had probably just seen the good doctor’s nocturnal sortie, but
others described what sounded like genuine UFOs.
That was April 5, 1967, a Wednesday. I had collected and analyzed
some seven hundred UFO reports from 1966 and discovered that the
greatest number of sightings, 20 percent, took place on Wednesdays.
I called this “the Wednesday phenomenon.” The events of 1967
conformed to this curious pattern, as have the sightings of later
flaps. The major events of October 1973 were concentrated around
Wednesdays, particularly Wednesday, October 17.
So here was another curious contradiction. The entities professed to
be ignorant of our time frame; yet the objects managed to fly to a
rigid schedule that could be measured by our clocks and calendars.
When I interviewed attorney Robert Wright in Sistersville, West
Virginia, he told me the things have turned up every Wednesday
throughout the summer of 1966, “like clockwork.“
No one except the U.S. Air Force had attempted even a superficial
statistical analysis of UFO sightings before, so my findings were
greeted with howls of derision by the scientists who posed as
experts on the phenomenon. Then Dr. David Saunders of Colorado
University fed several thousand sightings into a computer and found
the Wednesday phenomenon remained stable. That day produced the
largest number of sightings, well beyond the laws of chance and
In March 1967, Ralph Jarrett talked me into violating my
“low-profile” policy and I appeared with him on the Jackie Oberlinger show on WCHS-TV in Charleston. In the course of our
discussion I mentioned that the best time to see a UFO was 10 P.M.
on a Wednesday. Mrs. Oberlinger, a vivacious blond lady and very
much a local celebrity, took me at my word. On Wednesday, March 29,
she and a group of her friends gathered in her backyard in
Charleston and, sure enough, at exactly 10 P.M. three globes of
brilliant white light passed directly overhead in a V-formation.
The Wednesday phenomenon works. I’ve been studying it for years and
I still can’t say why it works. Researchers in other parts of the
world have now followed my example and found similar time patterns
in the sightings of their own countries. The table below is a
breakdown of sightings recorded in 1950, as analyzed by Saunders,
United States; Ballester-Orlando, Spain; Bonabot, Belgium.
[Insert pic p123]
Soon after arriving in Point Pleasant and getting a handle on the
scope of the situation, I phoned the Lockburn Air Force Base in Ohio
and outlined what was happening to a Lieutenant Hoffman, the base
UFO officer. He was very polite, but he was also disinterested and
it was clear the air force was not going to launch any kind of
Perhaps an investigation was already underway. As I wandered around
Main Street in early April I noticed a surprising number of
strangers who just didn’t seem to fit in. They had the indelible
look of federal officers ... conservative ties, square clothes,
There must have been
fifteen or twenty of them. I saw them in the local restaurants and
“Is there a
convention in town?” I asked Mary Hyre.
“So you noticed them, too?” She smiled. “Everybody’s been asking
me about them. But so far I haven’t found out a thing.“
I decided to trap one of
them into a conversation, but they all vanished before I could do
One night Roger Scarberry, Steve Mallette, and myself were driving
around the TNT area when we came upon a large black Cadillac parked
in the shadows. I slammed on the brakes, got out of our car, and
walked over to the other vehicle. A well-dressed,
distinguished-looking man was sitting behind the wheel holding a
microphone in his hand. I tried to engage him in a conversation but
he would only grunt. Obviously he wanted to be left alone. I never
saw him again.
My days were spent tracking down witnesses and in early evening I
would cruise through the TNT area before going to Five Mile Creek
Road for skywatches that usually lasted until 3 or 4 A.M. Then I
would drive back to Point Pleasant, cross the rickety old Silver
Bridge into Ohio, and grab a few hours sleep at the Blue Fountain.
Three or four miles south of my secret hilltop there was a heavily
forested ridge. The object with the reddish “window” which Mary and
I had seen on our first night seemed to have come from there. Each
night at exactly 10 P.M. a bright red glow would appear on that
ridge, as if someone had just turned on a powerful light. Thinking
there might be a house there, or a road (and we were watching auto
taillights), I returned in daylight but found it would have been a
very long hike to reach it. No buildings were visible there.
I drove through the
roads in the Chief Cornstalk Hunting Grounds, hoping to find a road
up that particular ridge but apparently it was inaccessible.
On Thursday, April 6, Mrs. Hyre accompanied me to Five Mile Creek
Road and we watched as the light came on, right on schedule.
Suddenly we saw an identical-type light behind the trees north of
our position in the very spot where I had seen the glowing disc
descend. I knew there were no houses or roads in that
We divided our attention
between the two lights. Both seemed to be moving through the trees
very slowly. I got out of the car with my flashlight and flashed it
three times in the direction of the southern ridge. An instant later
there were three extremely bright flashes.
Mary nearly jumped out
of her skin.
“They answered you!”
The red light rose
upward until it was a hundred feet or so above the trees. Then it
went out, as if someone had turned off a switch. Then the light in
the north dipped down behind the trees and disappeared.
To whom it may concern:
I, Mrs. Mary Hyre of 219-Sixth Street, Point Pleasant, W. Va., a
reporter for the Athens (Ohio) Messenger, hereby swear that I
was present at the following event and personally witnessed it
On the evening of April 6, 1967, I accompanied Mr. John A. Keel
of New York City to an isolated hilltop on Five Mile Creek Road
south of Gallipolis Ferry, W. Va. Shortly after 11 p.m. I
observed a pale red object of undetermined size moving in a
controlled manner slightly above tree-top level over a hill
about 500 yards south of our position. There are no houses or
roads on that hill. The object appeared to move cautiously and
slowly through the sky to the far end of the sloping field, the
light flickering on and off in an irregular pattern.
As the object drew closer, Mr. Keel got out of the car and
flashed a powerful flashlight directly at it three times.
The object immediately returned the signal by flashing a
brilliant white light three times. Then it rose upwards and the
pale red light went completely out.
[Insert pic p126]
This day personally appeared before me in my office, county and
state, Mary Hyre, known to me personally, and acknowledged the
above statement to be true and that she personally signed her
signature in my presence. Given under my hand this 21 day of
June 1967. My commission expires June 12 1977
Mrs. Mabel McDaniel and
two other women went to the hill with me the following night. About
10:15 the usual reddish glow appeared on the southern hill. Then a
second one popped up a short distance from the first. I flashed my
light at them but nothing happened. So I climbed a fence and walked
into a field to try to get a closer look.
The two objects slowly
came together. As I crossed the field I suddenly noticed something
new ... a pale bluish ball of light hovering high in the trees of an
orchard behind the nearby farmhouse. The light moved about from tree
to tree as though it were following my movements. I flashed my light
at it and it flared with dazzling brilliance, dimmed, and vanished.
Simultaneously, the lights on the southern ridge grew brighter for a
moment and then also went out. I slowly made my way back across the
field in the dark, climbed the fence, and returned to Mrs.
I was surprised to find
all three women in a very frightened state.
“I think we’d better
leave,” Mrs. McDaniel said nervously.
They drove off quickly.
Five minutes later, as I sat alone in my car, the reddish glow
flared up again on the ridge. For the first time, it changed color
from red to a glaring white and rose slowly upward, bobbing like a
Yo-Yo toward the river in the west.
Apparently some boatmen on the river saw the object also, for a
bright searchlight suddenly shot up from behind the hills, aimed
directly at the luminous thing. When the searchlight appeared, the
object halted in midflight, dropped downward, and went out. The
searchlight continued to scan the sky.
The next day I talked with Mrs. McDaniel and told her what I had
“Too bad you didn’t
stick around,” I remarked.
“We were pretty scared,” she began. “We ... oh, you’ll probably
think we were being silly.“
“Did that blue light frighten you?“
“It wasn’t the light,” she said hesitantly. “We saw that. And
then we saw a tall man in the field. We all saw him climb over
the fence and cross behind our car. We thought it was you coming
back. Then your flashlight went on way out in the field and we
knew it wasn’t you. We ran the windows up and locked the doors
and waited for you to come back.“
I had certainly not seen
anyone else in that field. Had their eyes been playing tricks? Or
were there phantoms on that hilltop?
That weekend I drove into Ohio to check out some of the many weird
events happening there. One of my all-time favorites happened in the
little village of Duncan Falls.
Here is the verbatim entry from my
Sometime in late
October 1966 (witness does not remember exact date) Mr. Leonard
“Shy” Elmore, 72, Duncan Falls, Ohio, was taking a stroll around
4 A.M. when he encountered a strange “building” which frightened
him badly. Like many elderly people, Mr. Elmore does not sleep
well and often takes long walks late at night.
On this particular morning, he was walking along a road two
blocks from his home when he saw a strange “L-shaped building
that looked like a galvanized iron shed” sitting in the middle
of a large field. Since he had never noticed this “shed” before
he walked closer to take a better look. Something about it
frightened him ... later he could not explain why it had scared
him ... and he turned and started to hurry away. Although it was
dark and he could see no windows or doors in the “shed,” he
claims that he distinctly heard a normal male voice come from it
“Don’t run ... don’t run,” the voice called. “I didn’t ‘sactly
run,” Mr. Elmore told me, “but I walked pretty fast”
He hurried home and got his rifle and returned to the site. To
his astonishment, the “shed” was gone. This incident upset him
very much and, according to his wife, he was a nervous wreck for
several days afterwards. He decided to call the sheriff and
report what he’d seen. The sheriff promised to come out and take
a look ... but never did. Mr. Elmore told me his story in a
direct manner without embellishments or wandering speculations.
No Men in Black came around to bother Mr. Elmore. I was the
first reporter to talk to him. When he showed me the field I was
perturbed to find that it was right next to the Duncan Falls
Elementary School. An unusual number of sightings and Fortean
events seem to be concentrated around schools and the largest
percentage of witnesses consists of children between the ages of
seven and eighteen.
Another statistical oddity is that the
majority of the adults who claim their autos were pursued by
UFOs or monsters are school-teachers, especially teachers
specializing in abnormal children—the very bright or the
mentally deficient. This is why I was so interested in the West
Virginia “census takers” who were mainly concerned with the
numbers and ages of the children living in the Ohio valley.
A Fortean event is any
event which does not have a rational scientific explanation. The
word was coined after Charles Fort. There is even an International
Fortean Organization (INFO), Box 367, Arlington, Virginia.