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Classic Mysteries—Alternate Perceptions Magazine, June 2020

The little known “flying creature” flap of 1948

by: Albert S. Rosales

We all (meaning Ufologists and UFO historians and enthusiasts) remember the famous “Mothman” flap and encounters of 1966-1967, which brought to light a new type of “humanoid” to the public eye:

The winged or flying humanoid.

There had been other cases before of course, not well known. I will be exploring a little-known flap of flying creatures, humanoids, etc., from 1948. Something besides UFOs and flying saucers was intruding in our skies. Following is a list of cases describing all kinds of flying weirdos in 1948.

The first report has no specific date but involves sighting of strange flying creatures (and other phenomena) in Mexico. These creatures apparently were using some type of apparatus to fly through the air and were called the “Ikal”, by the locals.

Location. Tenejapa Yucatan, Mexico
Date: 1948
Time: various

It was reported by the Tzeltal Indians that there were many sightings of a creature called the “ikal” 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. Locals had been paralyzed by the little beings that were thought to live in caves. The strange little beings are believed to be from another world, and some have been seen flying with some kind of rocket like thing attached to their back. With this rocket they are said to occasionally have carried off people. Some are described as black and hairy. Another man apparently inebriated encountered one of the short hairy creatures that jumped all around him and kept tickling him. He tried to hit it with a stick but couldn’t. Finally, he was exhausted and fell to the ground. The creature left soon after.

Source: Chris Aubeck, Return to Magonia, quoting anthropologist Brian Stross Type E

Our second case seems to describe what Native Americans or First Nations peoples called a “Thunderbird”, perhaps not so mythical in nature.

Location. Glendale, Illinois
Date: January 1948
Time: sunset
12-year-old James Trares was playing outside his parent’s home; it was just before sunset when he saw something that sent him running inside to his mother, Mrs. J. J. Trares. “There’s a bird outside as big as a B-29!” he exclaimed breathlessly. He said he knew it was not a plane because he saw its wings flapping. The creature was gray green in color and flying toward the sun. Source: Loren Coleman & Jerome Clark, Fate March 1972

Next, we have the well-known case of a man wearing “silvery wings” and flying above the town of Chehalis, Washington:

Location. Chehalis, Washington
Date: January 6 1948
Time: 1500
Mrs. Bernice Zaikowski, hearing a “sizzling and whizzing,” sound, looked up to see a “birdman” 200 feet above her barn. She saw “a man equipped with long silver wings fastened over the shoulders with a strap” ascend rapidly, hover, bank, then fly on. “He flew in an upright position and appeared to be manipulating controls strapped to his chest.” The wings did not flap; they retracted close to his body during ascent, and then were extended to hover and proceed in level flight. Mrs Zaikowski said 5 other adult witnesses and a number of children had also seen the birdman.

Humcat 1948-5
Source: Humcat quoting Newspaper source, & John Keel

In April, the mythical Thunderbirds made a triumphant return to Illinois:
Location. Alton Illinois
Date: April 4, 1948
Time: afternoon
A former Army Colonel related that a gigantic bird had passed above him at an altitude of about 4000 feet while he stood talking with Col. Ralph Jackson, head of Western Military Academy, and a farmer near Alton. He did not point it out to his companions. He said, “It looked too incredible.” “I thought there was something wrong with my eyesight,” Walter Seigmund said, “but it was definitely a bird and not a glider or jet plane. It appeared to be flying northeast. Two army planes had just flown over in the same direction and I thought it was a pursuit craft following them. But from the movements of the object and its size, I figured it could only be a bird of some tremendous size.”

Source: Jerome Clark & Loren Coleman, Fate Magazine March 1972

We then go back to Washington State where three men were seeing flying leisurely in the air:

Location. Longview Washington
Date: April 7, 1948
Time: 1500
Mrs Viola Johnson and James Pittman, laundry employees, saw “3 men in dark drab flying suits flying through the air---about 250 ft high, circling the city, going about as fast as a freight train. I couldn’t see any motors or propellers on them, but I could hear motors like airplane motors, but not as loud. They had apparatus on their sides which looked like guns.” The flying men were gone before others could get outside, but “other residents reported hearing plane motors and seeing three planes circle at a high altitude.”

Humcat 1948-7

Source: Humcat quoting News INS story

However, the Thunderbirds kept visiting Illinois:

Location. Caledonia, Illinois
Date: April 7, 1948
Time: daytime
Mr. and Mrs. Robert Price saw what they called “a monster bird…longer than an airplane”. It had a long neck, huge powerful wings and in Price’s words, “what I supposed were its feet trailing behind it.” It flew out of sight towards the northeast. Shortly afterwards a Freeport, Illinois truck driver came forth with corroborating testimony admitting that he had seen the ‘vulture’ from a different location the same day. “I saw the bird” Veryl Babb said, “but at first I didn’t say anything because I thought people would laugh at me. When I read that Price had seen it, I decided to report all about it.”

Source: Jerome Clark & Loren Coleman, Fate March 1972

Location. Overland, Illinois
Date: April 10, 1948
Time: noon
Mr. and Mrs. Clyde C. Smith reported seeing a gigantic bird that they at first thought was a pursuit plane until it began to flap its wings furiously. The creature appeared to be dark gray in color from where they viewed it in the Smith’s backyard just before noon. As it happened it was Smith’s second sighting of the day. “I first saw it when I was out in the yard that morning,” he said later, “and I thought it was a type of plane I had never seen before. It was circling and banking in a way I had never seen a plane perform and I kept waiting for it to fall.”

Source: Loren Coleman & Jerome Clark Fate March 1972

Location. Richmond Heights, Illinois
Date: April 18, 1948
Time: daytime
Chet Burke reported that a strange bird passed over his house. But this one was much smaller than a plane and resembled an albatross, a seabird that does not fly as far inland as western Illinois.
Source: Loren Coleman & Jerome Clark Fate March 1972

Location. Alton, Illinois
Date: April 24, 1948
Time: daytime
E. M. Coleman and his 15-year-old son James gazed on an astonishing sight. “It was an enormous, incredible thing with a body that looked like a naval torpedo,” Coleman said. “It was flying at about 500 feet and cast a shadow the same size as that of a Piper Cub at the same height.” Cpl. Clarence Johnson and Patrolman Francis Hennelly of the St. Louis police force got a look at the bird as it flew silhouetted against the moon that night. “The thing was as big as a small airplane,” Hennelly said. “Its wings were flapping, and it was headed southwest, flying at an altitude of several hundred feet. I thought it was a large eagle, but I’ve never seen one that big before.”
Source: Loren Coleman & Jerome Clark Fate March 1972

Location. St. Louis, Illinois
Date: April 26, 1948
Time: 08:40 a.m.
Chiropractor Dr. Kristine Dolezal just had finished breakfasting in her second-floor apartment. She got up from the table and started across the kitchen. Suddenly the sounds of a nearby airplane flying low over the house broke the silence. “It sounded like something was wrong with the motor,” Dr. Dolezal commented later. “It sort of roared and sputtered.” She stepped out onto the porch to see what was wrong but was hardly prepared for what greeted her. “I looked at the plane, and then I glanced over the way,” she reported. “I saw this bird just come from nowhere it seemed like. It thought, ‘What is it? Is it a big bird, or what?’” As the creature came nearer it seemed inexplicably to grow larger. Dr. Dolezal at first thought her eyes were playing tricks on her but then realized it had spread its wings which previously had been folded back. In the meantime, the plane changed course and for a moment it looked as if the bird would crash into its side. But it flapped its wings lazily three times and both bird and plane vanished into the clouds. Source: Loren Coleman & Jerome Clark Fate 3-1972

Location. Lambert, Illinois
Date: April 27, 1948
Time: daytime
Instructors at the Mississippi School of Aeronautics at Lambert-St Louis Field sighted an “awfully big bird” at an altitude of about 1,200 feet. Little more than 24 hours later salesman Harry Bradford, while in the process of turning off the Red Feather Express Highway stopped his car and turned a spotlight on it. The creature circled for a moment or two, then streaked northward. “I’ve seen it three times in the last four days and that’s too much tomfoolery for a man of 50 to take,” Bradford told the papers.

Source: Loren Coleman & Jerome Clark March 1972

Location. St Louis, Illinois
Date: May 1, 1948
Time: 2200
Charles Dunn, an inspector for U.S. Steel, his wife Mary and Clifford Warden, reported seeing what was described as a “self-illuminated flying monster”. Said Dunn, “I thought people who reported seeing the thing were ‘bugs’ until I investigated the sky last night. It was flapping its wings and moving quite fast at about 3000 feet altitude and appeared to be illuminated by a dull glow. It looked about the size of a Piper Cub plane but there was no engine sound and it was not a plane. I could hardly believe my eyes.” At this juncture the Civil Air Patrol offered to make aerial searches for the bird whose appearances attracted national attention.
Source: Loren Coleman & Jerome Clark Fate March 1972
Comments: To the Indians in the area the giant mystery bird was really nothing new. Their traditions are full of stories about the ‘Piasa’ “an enormous bird with horns, terrifying red eyes, scales, a tiger’s head and a long griffon-like tail.” So, when they heard the white man’s reports the Indians merely nodded their heads.

Next, another flying weirdo is seen. This time in Detroit, Michigan.

Location: Utica, Michigan
Date: May 22, 1948
Time: evening
People have quit seeing flying saucers. Now it’s flying mystery men, and two of them have been reported near Detroit within five days. On May 22, Mrs. Lile Connor, of 5638 Frederick, Utica, reported a man-sized, bat-like thing, flapping its wings and going south. Last Thursday Bruce Falls, 22, sighted a flying object shaped like a bird over Livernois and Eight Mile.
“It was too big for a hawk,” Falls said, “and travelling too fast. It was up about 2,000 feet and going straight east faster than any bird you ever saw, only it wasn’t flapping its wings. It didn’t make any noise, but it sure moved fast. I’ve never seen anything like it, and neither had the other two men who were watching it with me.”
From a description by Falls, a Detroit Times artist drew the silhouette resembling the mystery flier. Army, Navy and civilian air patrol officials admit it’s possible, but they deny knowledge of it.

Source: Detroit Times, Sunday May 30, 1948, Detroit Michigan

Next a giant bird-like creature visited Selma, Alabama.

Location. Selma Alabama
Date: Summer 1948
Time: evening

One of the largest families in town was having their annual reunion when one family member looked up and saw a giant bird-like creature land next to a tree. Looking closer he saw that the bird had human form. Others gathered around and watched the creature. It appeared more human than animal and just stared at the group with gleaming red eyes. As more people gathered around, it suddenly flew off without flapping its wings.

Source: Ron Schaffner
If 1948 wasn’t strange enough already now we get a report of winged beings coming out of a saucer!

Location. Northwest of Springfield, Missouri
Date: July 9, 1948
Time: evening
A saucer-shaped object made a landing in a farmer’s field northwest of Springfield, as told by a relative of the deceased witness who encountered the UFO. There was a possible close observation of ‘winged beings’ that came out of the UFO and took soil samples. The farmer was reputed to have watched activities for several minutes, but when seen, the extraterrestrials left quickly with their samples and flew away. Source: Leo Prosser, “UFOs in Missouri” p. 98
But this was not over yet! More flying “persons” were seen in Oregon next.

Location. Near Grassy Butte, Oregon
Date: September 18, 1948
Time: before dawn
Fred Scott, 63, walking from Antelope to Rome, Oregon, was walking around Grassy Mountain just before dawn when he looked up and saw two “flying persons” to the south of him. They were 150-250 feet up, one following the other at a distance of 8-10 feet, flying west to east. Their wings, which were narrow and rounded at the tip, did not flap. Their legs were unusually short, almost as if cut off at the knees. They were moving quite slowly and remained visible while Scott walked for ½-1 mile.

Humcat 1948-9
Source: Kenneth Arnold, Jerome Clark and Ted Bloecher

That was it for flying weirdos in 1948. Evidently something strange had invaded our skies. It was not just UFOs and flying discs.

Albert S Rosales can be contacted at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Also please check out his books in Amazon, Humanoid Encounters the Others among us series.

Wednesday, May 31, 2023