Monday, April 11, 2011

Peeking at Ivan's SITU files: the Flatwoods Monster.

I promised that once the scanner worked again I'd try to get a little tidbit up on the Flatwoods Monster, so here it is. Most of you don't need this but: Flatwoods was an extremely unusual case during the 1952 wave, which happened during September [well after the July peak of the flap] and in Braxton County WV. The witnesses to the main event were one adult, one almost adult, and several teen-age boys. The early sensationalization of the encounter by the press did the credibility of an already hard-to-swallow event no good. The "entity" was painted by the press as a giant monster with grotesque arms and clawed hands --- neither of which existed according to witnesses. This Hollywood Monster in a Hill-billy setting made the event laughable. Much mockery and misunderstanding ensued and does so to this day.

Recently, at least two well-known UFOlogists have taken their turns debunking the "monster" and its ignorant West Virginian witnesses. As I am from a family of West Virginians, I take a fair amount of offense at the slurs, while maintaining my objectivity about the facts of the case itself. Our little "news item" here is because Ivan Sanderson was one of the second wave of investigators to study this event [he arrived about a week and a half after the date]. Because of his involvement, we are privileged to have a still-surviving notebook containing some of his work. What did our intrepid Ivan find??

Flatwoods is a very complicated affair and I'll not deliver a "review paper" here --- someday I probably will, but this is what I can do now. Ivan interviewed several of the boys. He did this in isolation from their buddies and their parents [at least to get the initial bulk testimonies.] He found the boys to be intelligent [one of them exceptionally so] and consistent in their general descriptions. Differences when they occurred were in small details. Sanderson, therefore, "bought" the general testimony. He made drawings of elements of the case, two of which are presented here. Please give Ivan a break and don't complain about the browning of the glue that he used 50+ years ago to stick these to his notebook paper. On the drawing above, the ugly whitish blotch in the middle of the monster is my own whiting-out of the worst of a rather bad discoloration. {panic not, my purist preservationists: the whiting out is not on the original but a copy I have made}.

The drawing indicates several interesting things to me: 1). it gives the lie to the Ace-of-Spades Monster idea; 2). the Entity appears much more like a robot or a fancy protective suit than some biological form; 3).the entity turns out to be eerily like the recent descriptions given to Frank Feschino in his revisiting of the case, despite the fact that the witnesses have probably not seen Ivan's artwork for 50 years, if they ever saw it at all. That sounds like a pretty firm attestation to the validity of this report; 4). if this is as accurate as it seems, it thrashes a lot of the debunkers' arguments.

The drawing is meant to convey a solid dark green "body" and a solid red "hood". The internal sphere was "dark" and the beams [emitted from two "things" within] colored blue. Those beams never altered their relation to the body, and always focussed more-or-less levelly ahead, never down at the boys. Exactly how close anyone got to the thing is unclear, but thirty feet is a maximum --- and thirty feet is plenty close enough for a very good look indeed.


This entity may have "activated" at the shining of a flashlight upon it, and moved down the sloping path [hovering above the ground] towards a glowing object, which was, perhaps, from where it came. That object was also a bit "ace-of-spades-like" in that it was a large inverted teardrop of glowing red-hot heat. Its own color was debated by the boys, some of whom thought that it WAS red, and others thought dark, but glowing because it was heating up. This teardrop was big and investigation of the area the next day found a large dried and depressed ground-marking [15' diameter] which was still clearly in evidence when Ivan arrived.

As some people try to write the case off to a meteor/meteorite, this redhot glowing 15' diameter twenty-foot tall "meteorite" makes a dandy anomaly of its own. I wonder who had a strong enough crane to whisk that much nickel-iron out of there overnight?? That hypothesis is, of course, preposterous, and only can be mentioned with a straight face if one utterly discounts the testimonies of those ignorant hillbillies, AND assumes a grand multiple hallucination. It's the sort of thing that, frankly, xxxxxs me off. [Pardon the unprofessionalism]. I believe after having glanced at Ivan's files, and earlier at Gray Barker's files [Flatwoods was, by the way, the only case that he made an honest effort on, and it was his first one], that this encounter is a true one, despite its high strangeness. Some skeptics think that they can take heart in the comfort that the USAF didn't bother to study the case. But even there, they are wrong.


This is NOT from Ivan's files.
The USAF sent no obvious investigation team that anyone noticed anyway, but the Pentagon was very interested in it nevertheless. We know this because of the above released document [actually in the Project Blue Book OSI microfilm all along.] As you can see it is a Routing and Record Sheet which is classified "Restricted" and is asking for a soil analysis. Of What?? Of Flatwoods soil. There was a report that the entity floated down the hill towards the UFO and that "skid-marks" had been initially seen. Whether soil samples from there, the area under the tree, or the depressed-dried area were taken for analysis, this record doesn't say. But it sure DOES say that the USAF's Pentagon UFO desk officer, Dewey Fournet, was interested [see Dewey's designator "Maj.Fournet" in the upper right --- that's where you find who really wrote these documents that higher officers sign --- and Adams was Dewey's boss, and another UFO=ET believer, so this document makes sense].

One last thing: Dewey is pushing for some urgency on these tests. Why?? He tells you that there is a second case that he thinks might be the same sort of thing, and he wants to see if the soil tests are similar. Really??! What's the other case he's excited about? It's not in the document directly, but you could guess from the dates involved --- but we don't have to. Someone scrawled the name in pencil on the form: "Desvergers". [sic: should be Desverges]. Sonny Desverges. The infamous "scoutmaster" case. BUT THE ONLY LANDING TRACE CASE THAT RUPPELT COULD NEVER CRACK. Ruppelt went to his grave knowing that this one wasn't explainable no matter how flaky the witness. Microwaved soil. He even used the case when he talked to groups of new intel officers about UFOs.

Hmmm...Flatwoods. Microwaved soil from the Desverges case. Dewey Fournet pushing his analysts hard. No interest in the Pentagon, eh? Yeh...nonsense...move along...nothing to see here.

6 comments:

  1. My all-time favorite case - love those two scans from Ivan's notebook! I have Frank Feschino's book which I really enjoyed. Would love to see Ivan's full notebook on the case!

    Cuthbert

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  2. To Cuthbert: you're welcome; my pleasure on the two scans. This also gives me an opportunity to mention something about these files in general [and I'll probably have to reiterate it later].

    The files are not things that Ivan brought together with the idea that they made any "publishing" sense. They're sort of "one thing after another" in the way any of us would create a topical file. Because of that, it doesn't make any sense to just duplicate every sheet of paper in them, even if I had the time. Much of this is Ivan's own saving of duplicate copies of things, and other stuff is often of marginal interest under any grounds.

    This is why I believe that we are all best served by a). my offering to any serious person that they can come and look at the whole preserved files [about sixty library-shelf linear feet for the three-ring notebooks alone], while b). I try to extract things that I think people will be particularly interested in seeing on the internet.

    Some rather thoughtless person on the web griped about me not publishing the entire collection --- maybe if he had any experience at all with large research files, he would have seen the absurdity of that "charge".

    On Flatwoods specifically, however, I too am fascinated with the case [though I do not buy Feschino's UFO invasion scenario that he tries to build on top of it], and promise to re-visit it and see if I can find good excuse to including more of the diagrams [which are mainly about four, I think, maps ... but interesting]. Give me a bit of time friend and I'll try to deliver.

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  3. This is a nice "find" indeed. I've always thought that this incident deserved more attention that it got and apparently it did. How many such high strangeness reports have so many reliable witnesses? The treatment of the locals by the debunkers always left a bad taste with me. I grew up as a "city kid" but after getting my education have lived in rural areas (some remote) and, if anything, have found such witnesses if anything, less likely to embellish there stories.

    Thanks Prof for sharing. Your blog is about the only place I'm visiting these days for good information on the weirdness that can be found in the world. The internet is so full of useless garbage that I've pretty much quit looking.

    DocC

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  4. Thank you. The reason that I started this blog was [in major part] that I wanted to give people some hope that they were reading things that actually had a chance to be true, and could show, occasionally, the primary documents upon which such an informed faith could be based.

    The other main reason is that in the non-UFO part of the blog I have a "prejudice" that much of the Fortean {again, non-UFO} phenomena are founded in the non-material, psychic, or spiritual realities rather than the physical. I don't want them "lost" either just because of the modern bias against such ideas. Even there, however I'm trying to be as objective as possible and giving you the evidentiary basis for the experiences and the consequent hypotheses.

    The reason that the blog has been UFO heavy is that this is the area of my "expertise" of 40 years work. Maybe my ideas still don't make any sense, but at least I have good files to work with and share with you so you can make up your own minds.

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  5. Has Loren Coleman commented on this report?

    Terry W. Colvin

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  6. I actually don't know; probably, Loren has addressed almost everything in the cryptozoo fields. My main interest has been Barker and Sanderson as having an original investigatory context here. I also like the USAF and Ruppelt sources, for the same reasons. Feschino's later approach contained some follow-up interviews which make it worth noting. As far as secondary writers are concerned, I have usually found Clark and Eberhart to be informative. That seems quite a lot to me.

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