The reports of humanoids with strange flying machines in America seem to start with report from W.H. smith published in New York Sun on September 18th 1877. The sightings concerned a 'Winged human form' flying over Coney Island, Brooklyn, New York.

A few years later we find an analogous story in July 29, 1880 issue of the Kentucky 'Louisville Courier Journal'. The story reported that two local residents, C.A. Youngman and Ben Flexner, had seen what they at first took to be the wreck of a toy balloon in the sky the night before. But when the flying contraption came closer, the witnesses saw that it was really 'a man surrounded by machinery which he seemed to be working with his hands.' Wings or fins were protruding from his back, they reported, and the apparatus seemed to be propelled by their flapping. When the contraption began to descend, the flier would make the wings move faster and he would then ascend and continue flying along a horizontal path. Eventually he passed out of view and into the twilight.


A month and a half later, a similar but more grotesque flying humanoid was seen over New York. 'One day later week,' The New York Times announced to its readers on September 12th, 'a marvelous apparition was seen near Coney Island. At the height of at least 1000 feet in the air a strange object was in the act of flying toward the New Jersey coast. It was apparently a man with bat's wings and improved frog's legs. The face of the man could be distinctly seen and it wore a cruel and determined expression. The movements made by object closely resembled those of a frog in the act of swimming with his hind legs and flying with his front legs... when we add that his monster waved his wings in answer to the whistle of a locomotive and was of a deep black color, the alarming nature of the apparition can be imagined. The object was seen by many reputable persons and they all agree that it was a man engaged in flying toward New Jersey.'

The creature apparently returned to the American skyways several years later. On April 16th 1897, a weird apparition sailed over Mount Vernon, Illinois According to the Saginaw Courier Herald, more than a hundred people saw the gargoyle. 'It as first observed about 8:30,' reports the paper, 'and continued in sight for half an hour. Mayor Wells, who had an excellent view of the mysterious visitor from the observatory attached to his residence, says it resembled the body of a huge man swimming through the air with an electric light on his back'.  

In the early part of 1948, Army officials at McChord Field in Washington state were approached by sixty one year old Mrs. Bernice Zaikowski. She claimed that she had seen a man-bird from her backyard in nearby Chehalis, Washington. 'I know most people don't believe me,' she told the officers, 'but I have talked to some people in Chehalis that tell me they saw the man, too and he flew south from Chehalis and apparently came from the north or east.' As she spoke, Mrs. Zaikowski repeatedly emphasized that the creature she had seen was not a figment of her imagination. Other people had seen it also, she kept telling the officials. 'It was about 3:00 PM on the Tuesday after New Year's Day (January 6th 1948), and there were a lot of small children coming home from school at the time," she reported to the McChord officials. 'They saw the man, too, and asked me if they could go into my backyard so they could watch him longer as he flew toward the south end of the city.'

Mrs. Zaikowski went on to say that she only went outside to see what the children were talking about when she heard 'a sizzling and whizzing' sound coming from outdoors. When she went outside to trace the source of the sound she spotted the creature hovering about twenty feet above her barn. The flying weirdie seemed obviously to be a man but was equipped with long silver wings fastened over his shoulder with a strap. The figure hovered, banked, ascended, and then continued on his flight. He flew in an upright position and appeared to manipulate his wings by toying with controls strapped to his chest. The flier did not appear to be equipped with a propeller or any other source of motive power, added Mrs. Zaikowski.

Needless to say, the officials at McChord Field who interviewed Mrs. Zaikowski didn't know what to make of her report. 'I just can't put any stock in it at all' the officials commented. And so ends the bizarre story of the Chehali, Washington flying birdman. But just who was he? On the one hand, the creature appears to have been simply a man who had devised a new method of flying. For hundreds of years people have been attempting to fly with the aid of makeshift wings attached to the arms. Even the great Italian inventor and scholar, Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519), played with the idea that man might be able to propel himself through the air by strapping artificial wings to his body. Could one man, who lived somewhere in rural Washington, have finally succeeded? While this is possible, it seems unlikely. Surely such an ingenious inventor would have patented his discovery, or at least would have been observed making many test flights. But the Chehalis flying man never made his discovery known, never sought to patent it, and apparently never told anyone about it. In fact, we don't really known what the Washington birdman was at all. Mrs. Zaikowski and the other witnesses who watched in astonishment as the birdman performed his aerial acrobatics saw something, but what it was, we may never know.

Whatever his nature, the birdman soon vanished He was apparently never seen during January of 1948, over any towns neighboring Chehalis, which presumably lay in his flight path. He just disappeared as mysteriously as he had come. But this wasn't of course, the first time in history that a birdman had winged his way over rural America. Nor was it to be the last in the Chehalis area.

By April of 1948 most of Washington's citizens had no doubt forgotten about Mrs. Zaikowski's claims. But our bizarre flying men had certainly not put in their final appearance, even if no one was taking their existence very seriously. On April 9th 1948, two longview Washington state residents watched in amazement as the Washington birdman put on an encore performance. Mrs. Viola Johnson, a laundry worker, and James Pittman, a janitor, told newsmen that they had seen several of the bizarre fliers.


'They looked like three men in flying suits flying through the air.' Mrs. Johnson reported. 'They wore dark drab flying suits and as far as I can judge - I'm not very good at judging distance - they were 250 feet high, circling the city. 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 like airplane motors, only not so loud. When they first came into sight I thought they looked like gulls but as they got closed I could see plainly 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 look like they had helmets on. I couldn't see their faces.'


Mrs. Johnson and Mr. Pittman soon called to some of their fellow laundry workers, who, unfortunately, arrived on the scene too late to witness the birdmen's performance. Nevertheless, several longview resident did admit to reporters that they had heard sounds of airplane motors at the very time of the Johnson-Pittman sighting. Other witnesses in the area claimed that they had seen three aircraft circling high in the skies that day.

Meanwhile, investigator Kenneth Arnold, heard of two more flying men sightings from near Butte, Oregon, seen at dawn on September 16th 1948. It seems another one of these creatures landed in a pecan tree right in the center of Houston, Texas. The incident occurred on July 18th 1953, while Mrs. Hilda Walker was standing outside her home at 2:30 in the morning. She was talking with a teenage girl at the time when they both spotted an odd figure flying towards them. As it came closer, these witnesses were able to see that the figure was actually a man with bat wings growing out of his back. The creature landed in Mrs. Walker's pecan tree, during which time the witnesses were able to get a better look at their otherworldly visitor. Mrs. Walker subsequently described him as 'A man with wings like a bat' dressed 'in grey or black tight fitting clothes.' The figure was about six and a half feet tall and remained perched for about half a minute. A halo or "aura" seemed to radiate about him. The flow faded, reported the witnesses, and the batman gradually appeared to vanished into thin air.


John Keel, writer of The Mothman Prophecies, wrote of an account from an Arlington, Virginia, businessman saw something in the company of three friends in the winter of 1968-69. In Prince William County, on a farm near Haymarket they investigated an unusual whoozing noise. Coming upon a dark figure over eight feet tall standing by a tree, the group retreated and turned on their automobile lights: 'All we saw was this huge thing with large red-orange eyeballs and wing-like arms. We couldn't get out of there fast enough.'

Mothman As A Time Traveler?

An interesting idea that could be gathered from these sightings and reports of men in flying machines, is that perhaps they come from a time when mankind has perfected Leonardo da Vinci's dream of a winged flight apparatus. Maybe through some way we've yet to understand they traveled back in time either by their own will or by accident. A question to be asked is, What if Mothman is a Time Traveler? Simply a man wearing some sort of flying suit being mistaken as apart of his anatomy. What if the red glowing eyes are lights mounted upon a helmet made to shine his path through the dark? These sightings of 'Flying Machines' even include 'large red-orange eyeballs' so whose to say that these are not a sort of spotlight; there to help the flier see. The suits description has certain aspects that match up with Mothman, such as being compared to a bird or bat and the coloring being grey or black. Sightings of these machines were seen in 1968 Virginia, a neighboring state to West Virginia where the Mothman was seen in 1966. John Keel, the main investigator of Mothman, was even involved in discovering these sightings, maybe he recognized this possibility. Perhaps these flying men came from another dimension instead, one of the dimensions where winged human flight is the norm. Could these lost outsiders have found themselves in our strange reality to wander aimlessly until they eventually return home? All of this is just another intresting explanation for West Virginia's Unexplainable Mothman.
Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.