The Winged Weirdos of Our World: Paranormal Monsters of the Skies

Bigfoot, Nessie, Alien Big Cats, and Dog-Men: this week I have suggested all of them should be removed from the Cryptozoology category and placed in the domains of the paranormal and the supernatural. There’s one more category that I think should also be placed into the world of the really weird. It’s the mysterious, flying things that soar our skies. Of course, the most famous winged thing of all is the Mothman of Point Pleasant, West Virginia. Suggesting that the Mothman is just a large, winged creature won’t cut it. When the Mothman was seen soaring around the city of Point Pleasant, West Virginia, there were – as John Keel made very clear – creepy Men in Black prowling around. UFOs were seen in the skies. And, there was, of course the collapse of the city’s Silver Bridge that killed dozens of people. In my view all of this demonstrates that the Mothman was/is far more paranormal than just a big bird, as was suggested by a number of people back in the Sixties. Now, let’s move on to the U.K.’s equivalent of the Mothman. It’s the Owlman.

(Nick Redfern) The Mothman Festival, the definitive place to learn about the Mothman

In 1976 the dense trees surrounding Mawnan Old Church, Cornwall, England became a veritable magnet for a diabolical beast that was christened the Owlman. The majority of those that crossed paths with the creature asserted that it was human-like in both size and design, and possessed a pair of large wings, fiery red eyes, claws, and exuded an atmosphere of menace. No wonder people make parallels with the Mothman. It all began during the weekend of Easter 1976, when two young girls, June and Vicky Melling, had an encounter of a truly nightmarish kind in Mawnan Woods. The girls were on holiday with their parents when they saw a gigantic, feathery “bird man” hovering over the 13th Century church. It was a story that their father, Don Melling, angrily shared with a man named Tony “Doc” Shiels. I say “angrily” because Shiels was a noted, local magician who Melling came to believe had somehow instigated the whole affair. Or as Shiels, himself, worded it: “…some trick that had badly frightened his daughters.”

Shiels denied any involvement in the matter whatsoever. But that was only the start of things.  Another one to see the Owlman was Jane Greenwood, also a young girl. She wrote a letter to the local newspaper, the Falmouth Packet, during the summer of 1976 that detailed her own startling encounter: “I am on holiday in Cornwall with my sister and our mother. I, too, have seen a big bird-thing. It was Sunday morning, and the place was in the trees near Mawnan Church, above the rocky beach. It was in the trees standing like a full-grown man, but the legs bent backwards like a bird’s. It saw us, and quickly jumped up and rose straight up through the trees. How could it rise up like that?” That’s a good question. There’s one additional thing: on every occasion that Jon Downes, of the U.K.-based Center for Fortean Zoology, decided to investigate the mystery of the Owlman, he would find himself buried in bad luck and negativity. Jon – a good friend of mine – no longer has any involvement in the phenomenon.

Certainly one of the most bizarre of all the many and varied strange beings that haunts the lore and legend of Texas is that which became known, albeit very briefly, as the Houston Batman. The most famous encounter with the beast took place during the early morning hours of June 18, 1953. Given the fact that it was a hot and restless night, twenty three year old housewife Hilda Walker, and her neighbors, fourteen year old Judy Meyer and thirty three year old tool plant inspector Howard Phillips, were sitting on the porch of Walker’s home, located at 118 East Third Street in the city of Houston. Walker stated of what happened next: “…twenty five feet away I saw a huge shadow across the lawn. I thought at first it was the magnified reflection of a big moth caught in the nearby street light. Then the shadow seemed to bounce upward into a pecan tree. We all looked up. That’s when we saw it.” She went on to describe the entity as being essentially man like in shape, sporting a pair of bat style wings, dressed in a black, tight-fitting outfit, and surrounded by an eerie, glowing haze. The trio all confirmed that the monstrous form stood about six and a half feet tall and also agreed that the strange glow engulfing him was yellow in color. The Batman vanished when the light slowly faded out and right about the time that Meyer issued an ear-splitting scream. With that strange glow, bat wings and even a dark suit (!) there’s no way we can term the Houston Batman just a large bird. The thing was beyond weird!

(Nick Redfern)

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