The Enigma of the Flatwoods Monster: Fact or Folklore?

Randy Quill

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The realm of folklore is teeming with tales that captivate our imaginations and leave us questioning the line between reality and myth.

One such story that has intrigued and mystified people for decades is that of the Flatwoods Monster.

On that fateful night of September 12, 1952, in the small town of Flatwoods, West Virginia, an entity was reportedly sighted after a bright object streaked across the night sky.

Over 50 years later, the incident continues to spark debates and investigations, with some attributing the sighting to a meteor and the creature to a misidentified barn owl.

In this blog post, we delve into the history, conventional explanations, and enduring legacy of the Flatwoods Monster.

A Startling Encounter:

At 7:15 p.m. on September 12, 1952, two brothers, Edward and Fred May, along with their friend Tommy Hyer, were startled when a bright object traversed the sky and landed on the property of local farmer G. Bailey Fisher. Eager to unravel the mystery, the boys sought refuge at the home of Kathleen May, where they shared their extraordinary encounter.

Determined to investigate further, May, accompanied by the three boys, local children Neil Nunley and Ronnie Shaver, and West Virginia National Guardsman Eugene Lemon, ventured to the Fisher farm.

Climbing a hill, they witnessed a pulsating red light, and Lemon’s flashlight briefly illuminated a towering figure with a round, red face ensconced by a pointed, hood-like shape.

Descriptions and Perceptions:

Various accounts of the creature’s appearance emerged from the eyewitnesses. UFO writer Gray Barker described a 10-foot tall figure with a round blood-red face, emitting greenish-orange light from eye-like shapes, and a dark black or green body.

May’s description detailed a being with “small, claw-like hands,” folds resembling clothing, and a head resembling the ace of spades.

As the figure hissed and glided toward the group, terror overcame them, prompting Lemon to drop his flashlight and the entire group to flee in fear.

Some insights to be gained from the incident:

Deep InsightExplanation
The Flatwoods Monster incident gained significant national attention and became a prominent UFO case.The incident’s widespread coverage in newspapers, radio broadcasts, and investigations by prominent researchers such as Gray Barker and Ivan T. Sanderson contributed to its notoriety, ranking it as one of the most notable UFO-related events of the time.
Witnesses’ perceptions and descriptions of the creature were likely influenced by heightened anxiety.Joe Nickell’s investigation suggests that witnesses’ heightened state of anxiety may have distorted their perceptions, leading them to interpret natural phenomena, such as a meteor and a barn owl, as an extraordinary creature with unusual features and behavior.
Conventional explanations, such as meteors and barn owls, align with the reported events and evidence.Joe Nickell’s conclusions, supported by the Air Force and other investigators, propose that the bright light was likely a meteor, the pulsating red light was an aircraft beacon, and the creature’s characteristics closely resembled those of a startled barn owl perched on a tree limb.
The legend of the Flatwoods Monster continues to inspire local events, tourism, and media adaptations.Flatwoods, West Virginia, capitalizes on the legend by hosting an annual “Flatwoods Days” festival, erecting a welcome sign designating the town as the “Home of the Green Monster,” and establishing the Flatwoods Monster Museum to explore and celebrate the legend.
The Flatwoods Monster has left a cultural legacy beyond West Virginia, influencing media and popular culture.The creature’s presence can be seen in various forms of media, including video games like Fallout 76 and Everybody’s Golf 4, a 2018 documentary titled The Flatwoods Monster: A Legacy of Fear, and the television series Project Blue Book, which dedicated an episode to the Flatwoods incident.
This table highlights the deeper insights derived from the Flatwoods Monster incident, shedding light on the historical and cultural significance of the event and its enduring impact on popular culture.

Conventional Explanations Emerge:

In 2000, Joe Nickell of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry conducted a thorough investigation into the Flatwoods Monster incident. He concluded that the bright light observed by witnesses was likely a meteor, while the pulsating red light corresponded to an aircraft navigation or hazard beacon.

Nickell further asserted that the creature closely resembled a barn owl, positing that heightened anxiety distorted the witnesses’ perceptions. His conclusions align with those of the Air Force and other investigators who question the supernatural nature of the encounter.

Challenging the Narrative

On the night of September 12, 1952, a meteor had been observed across three states, coinciding with the sighting. Additionally, flashing red aircraft beacons were visible in the area, potentially explaining the descriptions of a pulsating red light and the red tint on the creature’s face.

The silhouette, flight pattern, and call of a startled barn owl perched on a tree limb also aligned with the reported shape, movement, and sounds described by witnesses. The presence of foliage beneath the owl may have created an illusion of the creature’s lower portions, including the described pleated green skirt.

Furthermore, discrepancies among witnesses regarding the presence of arms were reconciled by May’s account of “small, claw-like hands,” which resemble a barn owl’s talons gripping a tree branch.

Legacy and Cultural Impact:

Despite the skepticism surrounding the Flatwoods Monster incident, it has left an indelible mark on the town of Flatwoods and its surrounding areas. The town proudly designates itself as the “Home of the Green Monster,” and it hosts an annual “Flatwoods Days” festival to commemorate the legend.

The Flatwoods Monster Museum in nearby Sutton serves as a dedicated space to explore and learn about the incident.

Furthermore, the legend has found its way into various forms of media, including video games, documentaries, and television shows, ensuring that the enigma of the Flatwoods Monster lives on in popular culture.

Key info from the Flatwoods Monster Incident

The Flatwoods Monster incident of 1952 continues to be a source of fascination, with its allure lying in the interplay between folklore and scientific inquiry.

While conventional explanations attribute the sighting to natural phenomena and misperceptions, the enduring legacy of the Flatwoods Monster persists, captivating the imagination of those who ponder the mysteries that lie beyond our everyday experiences.

September 12, 1952Bright object crosses the sky and lands on G. Bailey Fisher’s property in Flatwoods, West Virginia. Eyewitnesses report seeing a tall figure with a round, red face surrounded by a pointed, hood-like shape.
Group of witnesses experiences a pulsating red light and a creature described as 10 feet tall with a round blood-red face and greenish-orange emitting eye-like shapes.
Witnesses also describe the creature as having small, claw-like hands, clothing-like folds, and a head resembling the ace of spades.
Witnesses flee in fear when the creature hisses and glides towards them.
Local sheriff and deputy investigate reports of a crashed aircraft but find no evidence.
A. Lee Stewart Jr. discovers skid marks and an odd gummy deposit, later attributed by UFO enthusiasts as evidence of a “saucer” landing.
Newspaper stories and radio broadcasts spread the news across the country, attracting national attention.
Researchers and investigators, including Gray Barker and Ivan T. Sanderson, arrive to examine the incident.
Conventional explanationsJoe Nickell concludes that the bright light was likely a meteor, the pulsating red light was an aircraft beacon, and the creature closely resembled a barn owl.
Nickell suggests that witnesses’ perceptions were influenced by heightened anxiety.
The presence of a meteor and flashing aircraft beacons coincides with the reported events.
The creature’s characteristics align with the silhouette, flight pattern, and call of a startled barn owl.
LegacyFlatwoods, West Virginia designates itself as the “Home of the Green Monster” and holds an annual “Flatwoods Days” festival.
The Flatwoods Monster Museum in Sutton explores the legend and its cultural impact.
Media, including video games, documentaries, and television shows, reference the Flatwoods Monster.
Please note that the table has been condensed for clarity and may not include every detail mentioned in the blog post.

Whether fact or folklore, the tale of the Flatwoods Monster reminds us of the enduring power of stories to captivate our minds and keep us questioning the unknown.

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