The Wing Thing: Mothman’s Stranger Aspects, Sans-Wings?

The idea of there being a six-foot tall headless humanoid with glowing red eyes mounted in it’s chest region is a pretty strange one for most people to have to grasp. Add to that the fact that the curious monster in question had wings mounted on it’s back, and you’ve got a genuine aberration of nature. This description, of course, fits almost exactly the majority of reports of West Virginia’s Winged Weirdo, the infamous Mothman of Point Pleasant.

But if the idea of a Mothman actually existing seems a little hard to swallow, could the critter’s existence become any more palatable if we were to subtract one of his stranger aspects from the equation… namely the wings? Doing so might be rather difficult, since there are so many reports of this creature taking off straight up into the air (often described as lifting like a helicopter) and gliding along at tremendous speeds with its wings outstretched (albeit very small wings for its body size… for more on this, see John Keel’s The Mothman Prophecies). The notion that we might remove wings from the equation altogether might seem irrational with regard to a beast the likes of Mothman… and besides, wouldn’t this make him a “worm-man” or something similar instead?

As strange and even downright heretical as this may sound, when examining a number of the reports lumped in with the Mothman flap that took place in Point Pleasant, West Virginia in the late 1960s, many seem to describe what could have been something altogether different… and yes, something that traveled by land, rather than by air.

Indeed, some strange reports do exist, especially among those pertaining to early reports of the Mothman in newspaper articles. One notable dispatch, which described the initial encounter with the creature that occurred on November 15, 1966, appeared on the front page of the Pacific Stars and Stripes newspaper under the title, “Red Eyed Creature Reported in W. Va.”. Digging up a copy of this paper, one will find that it contained at least one rather odd quote from witness Steve Mallette, then only 18 years old, where he described that the thing, “took off, making a flapping noise, and travelled at high speeds, ‘at about 100 miles an hour.’ Mallette added “it was a clumsy runner.’  ”

What are we to make of Mallette asserting that he had seen the Mothman creature running? It is odd indeed that Mallette was quoted describing the monster’s locomotion as being ground-based, rather than airborne like in the later reports where he, along with his wife and his companions the Scarberrys had noted. Strangely, this also appears in conjunction with references to the car traveling at high speed, as though the creature had been chasing he and his company on foot (under which circumstances the report seems vaguely reminiscent of Christopher Davis’ encounter with a “Lizardman” in June, 1988, several states away in South Carolina).

Of course, later descriptions of this event would include references to “large wings folded against it’s back” and reports of the creature traveling while airborne, following the car at high speeds; this was described by the witnesses themselves, and later quoted by Keel and others. But this may not be the case with other similar encounters. The following night, another frightening encounter was famously reported by Mr. and Mrs. Raymond Wamsley and Mrs. Marcella Bennett, who had her infant daughter Teena with her at the time. Here, the “thing” had been lounging nearby on the ground as the party arrived at a friend’s home, and when it stood up, its motion was described as “shuffling.” Again, the consistent features described were red eyes and a large, human-like frame, rather than wings or their apparent use.

Given the context of the last encounter mentioned, it seems almost as though a few of the early sightings could, at very least, bear as much similarity to reports of Bigfoot creatures as any presumed winged-weirdo. In addition to this, we know that John Keel himself had mentioned red-eyed hairy monsters being seen in the area in The Mothman Prophecies… but that’s not all the famous Fortean had said. In fact, Keel later noted that some of the Point Pleasant “monster” reports did indeed seem to have to do with what he called an “Abominable Swamp Slob” (i.e. a Bigfoot):

During our five lengthy visits to Point Pleasant we interviewed over one hundred monster witnesses, plus scores of UFO sighters. We began to suspect that “Mothman” was represented i only a small percentage of the incidents. It seemed that an Abominable Swamp Slob was also loose in the area. The witnesses to the real “Mothman” never saw any arms on the creature and their descriptions were impressively consistent. Others had been surprised by a giant, hair-covered, headless thing with broad shoulders.

Also, Mary Hyre included the following Point Pleasant monster encounter in an article from the Athens Messenger on September 18, 1968:

One teenager said that he saw a “big thing” recently that he could not identify. He said he was in the TNT Area. He turned a curve and on the bank was a creature about six feet tall. It was white and had red eyes. He said he stopped his car but the creature ran. Others have reported seeing similar creatures in the area.

Both these instances note that the creatures seen with glowing red eyes around the Point Pleasant area almost certainly included those of the bipedal terrestrial kind, as well as whatever the Mothman thing may have been.

Granted, there were obviously a number of instances where a creature with wings (or several) were being reported with certain reliability, but perhaps it’s worth considering now whether at least a few of the encounters with a “beast” in the area could be related to the more prolific appearances of Sasquatch and similar creatures over the years.


Micah Hanks is a writer, podcaster, and researcher whose interests cover a variety of subjects. His areas of focus include history, science, philosophy, current events, cultural studies, technology, unexplained phenomena, and ways the future of humankind may be influenced by science and innovation in the coming decades. In addition to writing, Micah hosts the Middle Theory and Gralien Report podcasts.
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