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Encounters of the Unknown—Alternate Perceptions Magazine, October 2019

When “Birdmen” Invaded Washington State in 1948

by: Rick Hilberg

During the past twenty years or so, reports and smart phone videos of “flying humanoids” have popped up on various internet sites. Speculations as to whether these bizarre “beings” are associated with the UFO phenomenon has led in many instances to hearty and heated debate within the UFO community. Some even associate their frequent appearance with being the advent of some new and strange phase of the UFO enigma.

However, as the two following cases will prove, these reports are nothing new indeed. And as a matter of fact, similar reports can be found in the Fortean literature going as far back as the late 19th century, long before the dawning of the modern UFO age.

CHEHALIS, Wash., Jan. 20 – A birdman who went “sizzing and whizzing” above her barn on January 6 was reported Tuesday by Mrs. Bernice Zaikowski, 61, a long-time Chelalis resident.

Her report was received with a certain amount of skepticism. Police Chief Tom Murray declined to investigate. An army official at McChord field commented that it “sounds like one of those saucer deals – I just can’t put any stock in it at all.”

Fliers at the Chehalis county-city airport said they could find no record of a transient birdman making a refueling stop, although they conceded January 6 was a good day for flying and ordinary, old-fashioned pilots piled up a lot of flying time.

Undaunted by doubters, Mrs. Zaikowski, whose veracity is not questioned by acquaintances, said she “heard a sizzing and whizzing and there he was, just about 200 feet above my barn.”

She insisted she could see him clearly, that he was equipped with big, silver wings and appeared to be manipulating controls strapped to his chest. The wings appeared to be fastened over his shoulders by a strap arrangement and he flew in an upright position, she said.

Polish-born Mrs. Zaikowski, whose descriptive powers occasionally failed as she attempted to explain the birdman’s maneuvers, said the wings appeared to retract close to his body as he ascended “very rapidly,” then were extended to hover, bank and proceed in level flight. She could not tell what motive power was used, but saw no propeller. The wings did not flap, she added.

She was certain it was not a one-man open helicopter, such as the army has at McChord field, because the “wings did not rotate.” “I know most people don’t believe me,” said Mrs. Zaikowski, “but I have talked to some people in Chehalis that tell me they saw the man, too, and that he flew south from Chehalis and apparently came in from the north or west.

“It was about 3 p.m. on the Tuesday after New Year’s Day (January 6) and there were a lot of small children coming home from school at the time. They saw the man, too, and asked me if they could go into my back yard so that they could watch him longer as he flew toward the south end of the city.” Mrs. Zaikowski asserted at least five other Chehalis residents, none of whom she knew by name, told her they also had seen the birdman. One, a soldier she met at church, told her the army had been experimenting with birdmen for some time, she said. McChord officials said that if it had, it was news to them.

One other explanation remained. Mrs. Zailkowski said one man she talked with suggested it must have been an angel predicting the coming of a third world war.

Source: The Oregonian, Portland, OR. Jan. 21, 1948.

LONGVIEW, April 9 – Residents of this Columbia River city were agog Friday at the report of Mrs. Viola Johnson, a laundry worker, and James Pittman, janitor, that they had seen three men hovering about 250 feet in the air over Longview.

“They looked like three men in flying suits flying through the air,” Mrs. Johnson recalled. “They wore dark drab flying suits and as far as I can judge – I’m not very good at judging distance – they were about 250 feet high, circling the city.”

Mrs. Johnson said: “They were going at about the same speed as a freight train and had some kind of apparatus on their sides which looked like guns, but I know it couldn’t have been guns.

“I couldn’t see any propellers or any motors tied on them, but I could hear motors which sounded about like airplane motors, only not so loud. “When they first came into sight, I thought they looked like gulls, but as they got closer I could make out that they were not gulls and I knew they were men. I could see it plain that they were men.

“I couldn’t make out their arms, but I could see their feet dangling down and they kept moving their heads like they were looking around. I couldn’t tell if they had goggles on, but their heads looked like they had helmets on. I couldn’t see their faces.” Source: The Oregonian, Portland, OR. April 10, 1948.


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