September 12, 1952
Location: Flatwoods, West Virginia, United States
before dark on September 12, 1952, at Flatwoods, WV, some
young school boys saw a fiery UFO streak across the sky
and apparently land on a nearby hilltop. Rushing to the
site, and gathering a few others along the way, they saw
a pulsating red light, encountered a nauseating mist,
and turned a flashlight on a pair of shining eyes, revealing
a huge creature. As it hissed and glided at them, the
group panicked and fled. The next day investigators discovered
skid marks and an oil-like substance that presumably came
from the UFO.
Kathleen May, one of the key witnesses, holding the drawing
an artist for "We the People" TV show, aired
on September 19, 1952.
On the left, four of the Flatwoods boys who witnessed
the 'monster.' Left to right: Tommy
Hyer, Freddie May, Edison May (front), and Neil Nunley
(rear). Eleven-year-old Freddie May
drew a picture (right) of the Flatwoods Monster shortly
after the incident.
This depiction (shown here as a composite with background
terrain) of the Flatwoods
Monster was drawn by a New York TV show staff artist and
broadcast on national television
during Mrs. Kathleen May's live appearance on "We
The People" on September 19, 1952.
September 12, 1952, a small group of boys spotted a pulsating,
reddish sphere float around a hill, hover briefly and
then drop behind the crest of another in the small town
of Flatwoods, West Virginia (population 300). From the
far side of the hill, a bright glow shone, as if from
a landed object. On their way to see what had landed,
the boys were joined by others that had witnessed the
flying spectacle, including beautician Kathleen May, her
two sons and their friend Tommy Hyer, seventeen-year-old
Eugeen Lemon and his dog. The dog ran ahead of the group
and was briefly out of sight as it ran around the hill.
Suddenly, it was heard barking furiously and then came
running back, fleeing with its tail between its legs,
apparently in fear. A foul smelling mist covered the ground,
making the searchers' eyes water. The two leading the
group, Lemon and Neil Nunley, got to the top of the hill
first and observed a "big ball of fire"
fifty feet to their right. Others in the group said it
was the size of a house.
the group's left, on the hilltop just under the branches
of a large oak tree, were two small, blue lights. At Mrs.
May's suggestion, Lemon pointed his flashlight in their
direction. To everybody's horror, the flashlight highlighted
a grotesque-looking creature with a head shaped like the
"ace of spades," as several of the witnesses
independently described it. Inside the head was a circular
"window," dark except for the two lights
from which pale blue beams extended straight ahead. In
their quick observation of the being, they could see nothing
that resembled arms or legs. The creature, which seemed
to be over six feet tall, moved towards the witnesses.
It seemed to be gliding rather than walking. Seconds later,
it changed direction and began heading for the glowing
sphere from which it apparently had come from.
of this took place in the matter of a few moments, during
which time, Lemon fainted. The others dragged him with
them as they ran from the scene. When interviewed about
a half an hour later, by A. Lee Stewart Jr., a reporter
for the Braxton Democrat, the witnesses were barely able
to speak. Some sought first aid. Stewart felt that there
was no question that they had seen something that had
badly frightened them. Soon afterwards, after Lemon had
recovered, Stewart and Lemon went to the spot where they
had seen the creature and the strange craft. Stewart also
noted that there was an acrid odor in the air that irritated
his nose and throat. He returned alone to the site, first
thing the next morning. He found "skid marks"
going down the hill towards a large area of recently matted
grass, which seemed to indicated that a large object had
encounter, which the newspapers quickly dubbed "The
Flatwoods Monster" sighting. It took place during
a flurry of sightings of unusual flying objects in the
region. Bailey Frame, a resident of nearby Birch River,
reported seeing a bright orange ball circling over the
area where the monster was spotted. It was visible for
around fifteen minutes before veering off towards the
airport at Sutton, where the object was also reported.
According to an account, one week before the Flatwoods
event, a Weston woman and her mother encountered the same
or similar creature. The younger woman was so frightened
that she needed hospitilization after the event. Both
also reported the noxious odor.
later, writer John Keel interviewed a couple who claimed
that, on the evening following the original sighting,
and ten to fifteen miles to the southwest of it, they
encountered a ten-foot-tall creature emitting a foul odor.
It approached their stalled car, then returned to the
woods. Moments later, a luminous, pulsating sphere arose
from the trees and ascended into the sky.
skeptics have claimed that what May and her companions
had seen was a meteor and an owl, and had mistaken these
for the strange things that they reported. Nonetheless,
when interviewed shortly after the incident, the witnesses
told a story that investigators found strikingly consistent.
When interviewed in the early part of the 1990's, Kathleen
May Horner recalled that two men, first identifying themselves
as reporters, then acknowledging they were employees of
the government, interviewed her. This is not hard to believe;
it is a fact that the U.S. Air Force dispatched two plainclothes
investigators to the scene. Like the skeptics, they laid
the incident down to hysteria inflamed by an owl and a