Wednesday, September 2, 2009


Shoot Them Down
by Frank Feschino

Reviewed by
Art Campbell

At the centre of “Shoot Them Down” lurk two incidents concerning the so-called Flatwoods Monster, one of the most spectacular UFO events of the 1950s. The first occurred Friday evening, September 12,1952, when a group of West Virginian teenage boys and one of their aunts ran into what can only be described as a 12 foot high fire breathing, stinking monster of a horror show. The second followed the very next evening a few dozen miles away to the south. These two events culminated three months of very active UFO activity along the Eastern Seaboard of the United States, especially over and around Washington DC. During this period UFOs – singly and in groups – were a fact of life day and night over the Capitol area.

Feschino’s introductory chapter, “The Space Ships of Summer”, describes monitoring activities at the U.S. Air Force’s Air Intelligence Centre at Dayton, Ohio's Wright Patterson Air Force Base in June 1952. Run by Edward J Ruppelt of Project Bluebook, it was a somewhat chaotic and probably understaffed central clearing house for UFO sightings across the country. That month 39 cases were listed as “Unknown” of which 25 were military sightings. Unknown craft had been sighted over sensitive installations like the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee. July proved just as interesting. Among other UFO-related events, two F-94 Starfighter jet interceptors pursued a UFO over Massachusetts and a brilliant formation of 10 or 12 lights was filmed over Tremonton, Utah. Bluebook reported 42 unknown cases in total between July 15 and 30.

Then comes the famous July 19th and 20th Washington, DC sightings in which numerous unknown craft were observed over the Capitol by both radar and visual means. Saucers were also over Boston and Los Angeles. In the latter, 25 people over four nights saw what the press termed “audacious flying machines”. Elsewhere in US air space two Air Force jets encountered three cylindrical objects in a vertical stack formation at 50,000 to 80,000 feet.

The next weekend the UFOs returned. Feschino captures the mood perfectly when he relates a remarkable highlight: a celebrated World War 11 fighter pilot, Lt. Colonel “Black Mac” Magruder, was roused from his bed and hurriedly taken to a Pentagon situation room on the night of July 26th. Magruder joined a group of air force officers watching as their jets entered Capitol air space to intercept unidentified radar blips. The jets had been ordered to shoot down the alien craft if possible. At least one jet was lost when it “just disappeared from screen”. At a Pentagon press conference a few days later senior air force officers said that about 20 percent sightings across the U.S. were of “relatively incredible things”

Such relatively incredible things continued. For example, in June and July of 1952, 235 USAF fighter aircraft were involved in major accidents, including 94 fighter aircraft destroyed with 51 fatalities. Coincidentally, in June, 148 reports were received by Blue Book, followed by 536 in July. Feschino writes that this was highest number in Blue Book’s 17-year history. The two-month total of UFO reports was 684. He also notes that three fighter jets just disappeared into thin air, never to be seen again. A further sober note: Feschino’s contacts told him that there were many more incidents unreported by the official agencies.

August continued busy. On the 5th, over Westover Air Base and Washington, sightings beginning just after midnight continued into early afternoon. In the early evening returning UFOs were chased by fighter jets over DC. Quoting earlier UFO researcher Donald Keyhoe, Feschino adds that UFOs appeared often over Atomic energy plants, USAF bases, US Naval Airbases, Naval Air Service locations and major cities. In Chicago, for example, 54 UFOs were sighted by at least 14 observers.

Fleeing The Flatwoods Monster

Chapter 11 spotlights the real gem at the heart of Feschino’s work – the Flatwoods Monster itself. At dusk on Friday evening, September 12, 1952, teenage boys playing football in a Flatwoods, West Virginia schoolyard saw a bright light making its somewhat unsteady way across the sky.

It landed east of the hamlet on a hilltop field of the abandoned Fisher Farm. Led by Kathleen May (32 years old and the May boys’ aunt), seven boys – Gene Lemon (18), Neal Nunley (14), Eddie May (13), Theodore Neal (13), Fred May (11), Ronnie Shaver (10) and Tommy Hyes (6) – went onto the abandoned farm in search of the light.

As the group cautiously moved up the trail in the deepening dusk, an unusually thick mist began to cover the ground. The group also smelled a very strong, quite repulsive odor. Then – terror! According to the eight witnesses, they were scared out of their wits when they encountered a 12-foot tall “thing,” which “floated” toward them from under an oak tree beside the pathway. It appeared to have a cowl- like collar behind a “helmet” containing two light-emitting “eyes” and, on its lower half, some kind of “hanging drapery”. The eight panicked at the sight and, jumping over, under and through gates, ran down the hill until they were safe in the May home. Afterwards some of the boys experienced extreme vomiting and Kathleen May noted “oil stains” on her uniform.

The news spread rapidly and, within an hour or so of the encounter, a follow-up armed incursion took place. Bolstered by a shotgun and revolvers, a group of men and boys, led by local news photographer A. Lee Stewart Jr., (who also doubled as a kind of sheriff’s deputy) were guided to the site by Lemon and Nunley. They noted a lingering odor and, as well, two “skid marks".

The air force certainly seemed aware of the incident, exhibiting a definite interest in it and the dozens of strange lights traveling American skies that night. And so, military officialdom was next arriving on the scene. At 1 am the following morning about 50 National Guard members were dispatched to the scene. More than four decades later, Feschino tracked down their commander, former Flatwoods resident Colonel Charles Leavitt. The colonel confirmed that, on orders from Washington, his group had arrived at the Fisher Farm by a back road.

Subsequently Kathleen May and Gene Lemon appeared on the nationally broadcast television show “We the People”, and as usual in most media treatments of the question of UFOs and their occupants, unfriendly humour and ridicule replaced serious commentary. The television show hired an “artist” whose real task seemed to be to take May’s and Lemon’s sincere attempts to describe something very real and very frightening, and to distort it into a cartoon-like “monster” with stick arms and a frowning face. (A few years later another skeptic suggested the group had simply seen the light-reflecting eyes of a barn owl sitting on the branch of the Oak Tree).

Feschino devotes most of Chapters 27 and 28 to detailing the descriptions of 13 UFOs seen descending over Washington DC, Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania between 8 pm and 8:10 pm, Friday evening September 12, 1952. Categorizing the craft and the various sightings into three kinds of objects – three mid-Atlantic UFOs, one jet-shaped UFO and five southeast North Carolina Rescue UFOs – he attempts to describe where they were and where they were heading.

The Flatwoods encounter on September 12th was frightening enough but the next one was altogether bewildering – a real nightmare. Feschino next very graphically describes an encounter the Snitowsky family – a young couple with a baby – experienced the very next evening. Around 8 pm Saturday, September 13, 1952 George and Edith Snitowsky and their 18-month-old son were driving from Ohio to New York. Somewhere in Braxton County, between Frametown and Sutton, and a few miles south of Flatwoods on Highway 79, the Snitowsky family had what was likely the most terrifying night of their life. As Feschino describes it, their car stalled and then:

“As George continued trying to start the car, the fresh mountain air became filled with a sickening odor, something [described by George Snitowsky as] ‘like a mixture of ether and burnt sulfur.’ …suddenly the car was bathed ‘in a dazzling flash of light with a wavering, unsteady beam’. The light was emanating from a wooded area bordering the road.”

Snitowsky ventured into the woods to investigate. After going some distance he decided to return after experiencing a kind of electric shock that buckled his knees. With some difficulty, he staggered back onto the road. No sooner was he on the shoulder in the dark when things became even more disturbing. Looking toward his car, he saw his terrified wife leaning out the window. Speechless with terror, she was staring over his shoulder at something behind him. Feschino writes that when George Snitowsky turned around to look, about 30 feet behind him he saw:

“[A] figure …standing immobile, on the fringe of the road, about 30 feet off to my right.” He described the figure as “a good eight or nine feet tall, and in the general shape of a man.” He further described it as having a head and shoulders and a bloated body.”

Snitowsky baled into the car, grabbed his wife and child and all of them huddled on the floor as a tentacled reptilian inspected the hood of their car. Then it returned into the woods and, a few minutes later, a bright light ascended into the nighttime sky.

As summed up by Mannix Porterfield of the Beckley West Virginia Register Herald, Feschino believes that, on that evening and the preceding days, a series of dogfights between UFOs and USAF jet interceptors took place. Most of the time the air force jets were outmaneuvered but, according to Feschino, three UFOs were damaged off the east coast of America as they descended from the mother ship.

Porterfield, who interviewed Feschino in late 2006 at a UFO conference, said the author’s work shows that the American military engaged a convoy of alien aircraft in a pitched air battle right off the Atlantic Coast. Following the engagements these damaged alien craft headed inland and one of them landed on the Fisher Farm in West Virginia. Feschino repeated what he claims in his book:

"There are tons of documents right there, intelligence reports, talking about pilots chasing these things, going after them,'' Feschino told the journalist, citing the once-hidden reports on the Air Force's so-called Project Blue Book.

Based on his in-depth research and numerous interviews with witnesses, Feschino is convinced the “monster” was indeed an alien inside a metallic probe, or small shuttlecraft, not unlike the lunar modules used by America astronauts, explaining why it appeared to “float” along the ground. According to Porterfield, Feschino thinks the aliens were likely conducting reconnaissance flights over America and were especially interested in atomic plants and Air Force installations. Regarding the Flatwoods incident, Feschino found that “In all of that night in 1952, there were about 18 and one-half hours of sightings.”

The Blue Book actually devoted an official case report to the Flatwoods incident, he learned.

“Besides that one page, there were about 200 other pages of UFO sightings that occurred throughout the night,” he said. “Flatwoods was not an isolated incident. This was not just one little incident. The one in Flatwoods was only 5 percent of the story.”

Art Campbell

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The Encyclopedia of Religious Phenomena

Excerpt from book review by Stephen Wagner,

THE FIRST THING that struck me when I picked up J. Gordon Melton’s book The Encyclopedia of Religious Phenomena was one of the pictures on the cover. It depicts a statue of the Mahayana Buddhist goddess Kuan Yin (see photos at left), and I immediately thought of the artist renderings of the Flatwoods Monster reportedly encountered during a 1952 UFO sighting in Braxton County, West Virginia. It has the same flowing gown and distinctive spade-shaped hood, collar, cowling (or whatever it is) behind the head. In my search for other images of Kuan Yin, only a few others include the spade shape; most do not, indicating that this is not a feature that is necessarily associated with her. So I concluded to my satisfaction that the similarities in the images of the goddess and the Flatwoods “alien” were mere coincidence. I don’t think the Buddhist goddess was making a Fatima-like appearance to the three children of Braxton County. (Although other similarities to Fatima include the sighting of lights in association with the apparitions, and that the being initially appeared to three children, two of which, in both cases, were brother and sister. Other researchers have noted the parallels between the Fatima phenomena and some UFO experiences.)

Early 19th Century Virginia Alien???
FROM the "Roswell Proof" website by David Rudiak

The legend on the picture below states that according to oral tradition, this 1858 western
Virginia pie safe from Washington or Wythe County, supposedly depicts an earlier 19th century alien visitation. When I first put this page up around Aug. 1, 2003, I wrote was still trying to contact the author for more information.

On Aug. 9, 2003 I finally spoke by phone to the author, historian J. Roderick Moore. Amazingly he claimed that he made up the statement about the oral tradition and alien visitation as a "practical joke" on the editors of the magazine, thinking they would immediately call him on it and take it out. When there was no comment, he said he didn't bother to correct the statement. I have to take him at his word, but I don't understand why this well-respected Virginia historian didn't simply call up the editors when his alleged prank failed and have the false information quickly removed. Historians usually try very hard to be accurate. Even an innocent hoax like this could hurt his professional reputation. (In fact Moore told me he had received some "grief" about it from a few fellow historians over the years). Nonetheless, the following, earlier commentary by me should be considered in light of Moore's disavowal.
For what it's worth, this large-eyed "alien" predates the first TV "bug-eyed" aliens of the 1950s by 100 years. Yet psycho-social debunkers claim that the first reports of seeing such aliens came only after the TV shows and were inspired if not definitely caused by them. The following picture could disprove that theory in at least this one instance (assuming this really was supposed to depict an alien, as Moore's article orginally stated).

COMMENTS: Overall the artwork looks very stylized. Five and six-sided stars were commonly used in American folk artwork. Therefore, the six-sided star below the alien head may not have any special significance (however, see new discussion below for other possibilities). The alien "robe" reminds me of stylized cornstalks I have also seen in southwestern U.S. Indian artwork.. (One reader noted that the figure could be nothing more than a stylized plant with the "head" simply being a pistil and stamen of a flower. I can't argue with that interpretation, except for the folk story that originally went along with the figure, which Moore now disavows)
If anybody has any further information, please contact me:
(Thanks to my wife who stumbled across this photo and made me aware of it.)

Relation to 1952 "Flatwoods Monster?"

When I posted a link to this page on UFO Updates August 4, 2003, researcher Kenny Young quickly wrote back that the above image reminded him of drawings of the famous West Virginia "Flatwoods Monster" UFO sighting of September 12, 1952. I've included a side-by-side comparison of the the two beings below. There are indeed some similarities (and differences). Both critters have a rather unusual "skirt" below and an arced, pointed "hood" or "collar" above. Both are large-eyed and round-headed.

However, what I am most struck by is the round, glowing area below the head in this rendition of the Flat- wood's monster. The corresponding area in the other image is also depicted as round, but with a 6-pointed "Star-of-David" inside. Although normally thought of as the symbol of Judaism, a true Star-of- David is composed of two flat triangles, whereas there are indications that the artist meant to depict two interlocking triangles. SPECULATION: If the latter is the case, then the hexagram could represent an ancient occult symbol for Satan or demons. The red-headed Flatwoods Monster certainly scared the wits out of the witnesses who saw it and a similar being one hundred years earlier could easily have been interpreted as an agent of the devil or a product of witchcraft. The hexagam could also conceivably be some sort of "hex sign" to ward off evil. An expert in the symbols and religious beliefs of the people of that region and time would be very useful here in interpreting what the artist might have been trying to convey. (Note: Roderick Moore stated that the six-sided star was indeed a common symbol and geometric design. Furthermore, the area was so culturally diverse, that it would be virtually impossible to deduce if the figure had any special signficance unless the artist had actually written something down about it.)

It is also interesting to note that Flatwoods, West Virginia. is only about 100 miles north of Washington County, Virginia.

Posted at Irish UFOlogy Dot Net
Jul 29 2007

Edited/Summarized by ‘Sweeps’ Fox

*’Sweeps’ NOTE:
There is ‘a bunch’ of credible documentation to support many of the assertions in the following book…as to ‘Air Battles’ between UFO’s and U.S. Aircraft. I differ with the author’s conclusions on ‘many fronts’. But, the book is worth reading for the ‘feel of the times’.

**Read about this ‘Strange’ alien encounter which occurred in Braxton County, WV on September 13, 1952, in Frank Feschino's new book.
The 55th Anniversary…with eye witnesses is this year…check it out on ‘GOOGLE’/’S’


The January 2003 issue of the MUFON UFO Journal # 417 features a story about the Flatwoods Monster. The article writen by Stanton T. Friedman appears in his column ‘Perceptions’ and is titled "Flatwoods Monster UFO Event."

The following are excerpts from that two page article concerning Friedman's trip to Flatwoods For the 50th anniversary event. "I was truly amazed at how much effort Frank had put into his investigation. He found news clippings from all over the East Coast talking of UFOs and supposed meteors seen that weekend, though more likely burning or plasma surrounded UFOs. There are NO meteor showers during the month of September".

’Frank Feschino Jr. has done most of his work very quietly, and has been almost obsessive about secrecry. I feel particularly privileged to be able to read a copy of his manuscript about the case’.
‘There is far more evidence relating to the Flatwoods Monster case with regard to that other West Virginia monster…’THE MOTHMAN’.

In 1952…just five years after the famed Roswell, New Mexico incident…the American military engaged a convoy of alien aircraft with orders to destroy them in a pitched air battle right off the Atlantic Coast…says Frank Feschino, author of ;The Flatwoods Monster’, a phenomenon that rocked a tiny West Virginia town that year.

An illustrator and writer, Feschino has produced a follow-up book, this one titled ‘Shoot Them Down,…an effort produced after years of painstaking research of the U.S. Air Force's once-classified files on unidentified flying saucers and digesting countless magazine articles on the matter.

His years of exhaustive study have convinced Feschino that American jet fighters did indeed make contact -- at the point of their guns.
‘Shoot Them Down'… draws its name from orders Feschino says President Truman gave military commanders while an American public was growing increasingly jittery over coast-to-coast UFO sightings.

Two years earlier, Truman had remarked at a news conference, ‘I can assure you that flying saucers, given that they exist, are not constructed by any power on earth’.

‘There are TONS of documents right there…intelligence reports, talking about pilots chasing these things, going after them,’, Feschino said…citing the once-hidden reports on the Air Force's so-called Project Blue Book.

‘That's when it hit the fan, and the government stepped up. That is when they had to simmer the whole country down. The whole country was in an uproar. Everybody was panicking. The job of the government is to keep things under control, and they couldn't let the country panic.’.

UFOs were buzzing the entire country that year, ‘and a good chunk of them were over military installations, and power plants, like Oak Ridge,’, the author says.

Feschino pulls his theory largely from the writings of Air Force Capt. Edward Ruppelt…a decorated World War II veteran who was recalled to duty when hostilities broke out in Korea.

Roswell might stand out as the mother of all UFO stories, but 1952 was the most prolific year by far for aircraft sightings -- by one account, some 30,000 alone in the United States, many of them reported in local newspapers around the country.

The ‘Craft’ ranged from discs to round balls to elongated…cigar-shaped ships, the Port Orange, Fla., resident said.

‘Capt. Ruppelt was dropping clues throughout his book’, Feschino said. ‘And that's the premise of my book. During that time of 1952 we had the highest amount of sightings.’.

In his book, Ruppelt said ‘other assorted historians have pointed out that normally the UFOs are peaceful,’, but he alluded to a chase in which one of two pilots engaging unidentified aircraft perished.

‘They just weren't ready to be observed closely’. he wrote.
‘If the Air Force hadn't slapped down the security lid, these writers might not have reached this conclusion…about peaceful aliens. There have been other and more lurid duels of death. That's what everybody missed.

Feschino flatly says the Air Force took on alien aircraft just off the coast with orders to destroy them in a move to pacify a public growing ever restless over bizarre sightings. In the battle, apparently one craft hobbled back inland, resting on a knoll in a West Virginia community known as Flatwoods. And it was there on Sept. 12 a group of boys, accompanied by some adults, scampered up the hillside and saw a metallic, 12-foot object emitting a
sulfuric odor. Locals dubbed it ‘THE FLATWOODS MONSTER’.

‘I have no idea who they were’, Feschino said.

Based on his interviews with some 200 residents of Flatwoods…however…the author believes the aliens remain interested in rural West Virginia.
‘There are people in West Virginia who have been seeing UFOs for the past 50 years, and there are key locations where they are being seen -- Wheeling, Huntington, and quite a few south of Charleston, around Cabin Creek, even down in the Beckley area’, he said.

Feschino is a headliner for a Sept. 7-8 UFO summit in Charleston, organized by promoter Larry Bailey. Joining him will be Freddie May, a witness to the Flatwoods incident, and nuclear physicist Stanton Friedman, considered the leading UFO researcher in the world. Friedman has appeared on numerous cable TV shows with his belief that extraterrestrials are frequent flyers to planet Earth.

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