Years ago, back in the late 1950s and early 1960s, I use to stay up with my mother late into the night and listen to WOR out of New York City and Long John Nebel's provocative and freewheeling radio talk show. The various and sundry characters (personalities, novelists, and numerous ‘crackpots’) he interviewed over the years made for a very entertaining and enlightening show.
One of the many and frequent paranormal topics he explored was Unidentified Flying Objects (UFOs). Though he was obviously intrigued by certain UFO reports and sightings, he called himself a “non-believer” – a curious skeptic. He was not someone who suffered fools willingly. His questions were always piercing and to the point, revealing fallacies of logic and inconsistencies.
I remember the night that Long John and his guests discussed (argued about) a close encounter of the third kind – 'The Flatwoods Phantom’. As some of you may know, on the evening of September 12, 1952, three young boys, ages 13, 12, and 10, witnessed a bright object streak cross the West Virginia sky.
The boys immediately ran to the home of Kathleen May (the mother of two of the boys) and told her that they had seen a UFO crash land on a hillside on a nearby farm. Soon there after, Mrs. May accompanied by the three boys, along with several other children and a 17-year-old West Virginia National Guardsman, Eugene (‘Gene’) Lemon, and his dog hiked over to the farm to see if they could locate what the boys had seen.
Later they would report that after nearing the crest of a hill Gene’s dog ran ahead into the night. Suddenly, they heard barking. Moments later the dog returned with its tail between its legs.
When they reached the top of the hill they saw what they described as a “large pulsating ball of fire". They also reported smelling a pungent odor that made their eyes and noses burn.
They then observed beneath an old oak tree two small lights to the left of the ball of fire. Directing his flashlight towards them, Lemon exposed the phantom. According to their account, the creature released a shrill hissing sound and then glided towards them.
At that point the group turned and fled in fear.
When Mrs. May returned home she contacted the local Sheriff, Robert Carr, and a local newspaperman, A. L. Stewart. Before returning to the site that night with the Sheriff, Mr. Stewart interviewed a number of the eyewitnesses.
He later reported that when he and the Sheriff arrived at the site they experienced, "a sickening, burnt, metallic odor still prevailing". Though Sheriff Carr and his deputy thoroughly searched the area, they reported finding no trace of the mysterious creature or the unidentified flying object.
Many years later, UFO investigators learned that on the night of the Flatwoods sighting, September 12, 1952, a meteor had been observed over the states of Maryland, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. The meteor smashed into the side of a hill near Elk River, West Virginia, roughly 10 miles southwest of the Flatwoods sighting. The pulsating red light seen by the group, was most likely one of several flashing red aircraft navigation beacons that were visible from the area of the sighting. As for the mysterious creature, investigators believe that it was most likely a barn owl.
Every year around the 12th of September there is a three day festival in Flatwoods, West Virginia, to celebrate what they called the “Green Monster”.