Monsters and unusual creatures of almost every description have been reported over the centuries. From dinosaur-like animals to fairies to bizarre hodgepodges like the Jersey Devil, there seems to no limit to the variety of unexplained creatures people claim to have seen with their own eyes. One of the most curious types of sightings – and quite rare – are those of human-like beings that fly. “Human-like” because in most respects they look like us, except that they have wings. In most cases, these odd creatures are not assumed to be either angels or devils (as traditional depictions have them as human-like beings with wings), but as something else. Something quite unusual.
Brooklyn Batman. Over 100 years ago, a man named W. H. Smith told the New York Sun that he saw a “winged human form” flying over Brooklyn, New York on September 18, 1877. Just about three years later, there were multiple reports from Coney Island, Brooklyn, of a man with bat-like wings flying overhead at approximately 1,000 feet. The man was flying toward the New Jersey coast, witnesses told the New York Times, and that he bore a “cruel and determined expression” on his face.
Wingless Angel. It’s easy to dismiss such sightings as misidentified birds or alcohol-induced illusions when one or two people report them. When as many as 240 people, however, attest to seeing the same thing, the reports are far more difficult to discount. Such a sighting look place over several of days in June, 1905 in Voltana, Spain. The accounts consistently described a woman dressed in white flying through the air – without the aid of wings. The woman sometimes flew against the wind, and one woman said she might have heard it singing as it passed overhead.
Flying Robot. It was the winter of 1936 in the Pavlodar region of Kazakhstan in what was then the U.S.S.R. when this sighting took place. Mrs. E. E. Loznaya was a 15-year-old girl then, and one day as she was walking to school on a quiet road, her attention was caught by a strange figure above her. Flying quickly across the sky was a man-like figure dressed completely in black. Despite its speed, the girl was able to see and describe it clearly. He was “of medium height and his black clothes covered him completely, like overalls,” she said. It made a rumbling noise and appeared to her to be wearing a helmet of some kind, had a black surface where the face should have been, and wore a “rucksack” on its back.
Russian Legend. There had been legends of a flying man in the Soviet Union, but not quite like the one described above. Hunters around the Sikhote Mountains near Vladivostok claimed to have come across prints of a barefoot human that ended abruptly, as if he had taken off into the air. Such a creature was actually seen by writer V.K. Arsenyev in July, 1908. “I saw the mark on the path that was very similar to a man’s footprint… then something rushed about nearby trampling among the bushes. Then I stooped, picked up a stone and threw it towards the unknown animal. Then something happened that was quite unexpected: I heard the beating of wings. Something large and dark emerged from the fog and flew over the river.”
Brazilian Birdmen. In the early 1950s, a couple was taking an evening stroll near their home by the sea at Pelotas, Brazil. When two fast-moving shadows crossed their path, they looked up to see what they at first thought were two enormous birds flying about 30 feet above the ground. It was soon evident to the couple that these were not birds at all when the two flying creatures descended vertically and landed not far away. It was then clear that they looked like men, standing about six feet tall. Discovering they were being watched by the couple, the two “birdmen” squatted close to the ground, as if trying to hide. The female half of the couple convinced her husband to leave – and quickly.
Mad Inventors? Several people saw a flying man over Chehalis, Washington on January 6, 1948. Bernice Zaikowski was one of them. She was soon joined by some schoolchildren who asked to come into her garden to get a better view of the aerial mystery. The man, in an upright position, was hovering just 20 feet above her barn, she estimated. He was apparently kept aloft by long silver wings that were strapped to his body. He seemed to have controls of some kind on his chest, which he worked to maneuver himself with a lot of whizzing noise.
A strikingly similar case was reported eight years later in Falls City, Nebraska. On a fall afternoon in 1956, “John Hanks” saw a winged creature flying only about 15 feet above the ground. Its wings were like shiny aluminum and had multi-colored lights running along their underside. The wings, spanning 15 feet, were clearly attached to the man by means of a shoulder harness. This flying man also had some kind of control panel affixed to his chest, and he manipulated the dials as he flew. This sighting could be attributed to some remarkable invention if not for the witnesses description of the flying man himself: leathery wrinkled skin, large watery blue eyes and a face that was “very frightening, almost demonic.” The witness also attested that he was paralyzed as this “man” flew over.
In April 1948, in the city of Longview, Washington, two witnesses saw no fewer than three helmeted men flying around in a similar manner. The witnesses could see no motors or propellers, yet it seemed to them that they could hear motor-like sounds. (It’s worth noting the similarity of these last three accounts to ultralight aircraft or hang gliders; but of course, they hadn’t been invented yet.)
Flying Man Returns. In 1952, Sinclair Taylor, a young soldier on guard duty at Camp Okubu near Kyoto, Japan, likewise saw a flying thing he first thought was a bird. As it came closer and hovered above him, the guard could distinguish that it had a man’s body that, if he were standing, would be seven feet tall. Its wingspan was also estimated at seven feet. Feeling threatened, he fired at the being with his rifle, but whatever it was had vanished. Strangely, when the guard reported the incident, his sergeant revealed that another guard had a similar experience the previous year.
Fantasy Flier. Some marines got Bob Hope as entertainment during theVietnam War. Others were even luckier. Three U.S. Marines standing guard one night in Da Nang, Vietnam in 1969 were also approached by a winged creature, but this one was tantalizingly different. As the creature flew closer and closer, they could see that it had the form of a naked woman. She was completely black and had enormous bat-like wings. She glowed, they said, with an eerie greenish light.
Texas Batman. On June 18, 1953 in Houston, Texas, three people were enjoying a hot summer night on their front porch. The night turned unbelievably strange when they saw a winged creature alight in a nearby pecan tree. It was, they said, “the figure of a man with wings like a bat. He was dressed in gray or black tight-fitting clothes. He stood there for about thirty seconds, swaying on the branch of the old pecan tree.” They further described him as wearing a cape and quarter-length boots. Most oddly, one witness claimed he was enveloped in a “halo of light.”
How can we account for such sightings? Men and women flying with bat’s wings are hard to explain. Even the cases in which the people seem to be flying by some mechanical means appear to be out of time, using technology that hadn’t been invented yet… or if it had been invented by these “pilots,” is entirely unknown.