On January 7, 1970, two men by the names of Aarno Heinonen and Esko Viljo were out for a leisurely day of cross-country skiing at a quaint forest near Imjarvi Finland, training for an upcoming competition. The day had been calm and relaxing, and the two of them had chatted about their lives, and when dusk came, they stopped to admire the clear night sky and its stars. They watched the sun dipping beyond the horizon even as it grew very cold, and as they watched the darkening sky there was something rather bizarre that demanded their attention. It started as a strange buzzing sound that filled their ears and heads, and as they looked about trying to ascertain where it was coming from, they allegedly saw a bright light in the sky rapidly moving towards them, which seemed to be a metallic craft of some sort. This would mark the beginning of a rather bizarre ordeal, which has gone on to become one of the most famous and weirdest UFO cases Finland has ever seen.

As the mystery light approached, that alien buzzing sensation became more acute, until it was nearly deafening, and the object seemed to be rounded and disc-shaped, around 10 feet in diameter. It came in to hover over the ground, and they could see that is seemed to be surrounded by a strange reddish gray mist. It was all a very unusual sight, and Heinonen would say of it:

The huge disk began to descend as it was enveloped with the red gray fog, which became more thin and transparent. It began to hover at a height of 10 to 13 ft, so near I could have touched it with my ski stick. The craft was completely round. When it came down obliquely towards us we saw it had a dome on the upper side. Along the lower edge was a kind of raised part on which were three spheres or domes spaced equidistantly.

Just when things couldn’t have possibly been any weirder, an opening suddenly appeared in the bottom of the craft, from which extended a tube that burst forth an intense bright light, which created a delineated circle of black-tinged light on the snow. The bright was so bright as to be almost blinding, with the men squinting and trying to get their bearings. It was about then that Heinonen felt as if he had been yanked backwards by some invisible force, and he then saw some sort of being ahead. He would explain of this:

I don’t think we said anything to each other at all. We were completely amazed. We saw the light move a couple of times before stopping and intensely illuminating a patch of snow about a meter in diameter, with round it a dark edge, almost coal-black and 1 cm wide. I was standing completely still. Suddenly I felt as if somebody had seized my waist from behind and pulled me backwards. I think I took a step backwards, and in the same second I caught sight of the creature. It was standing in the middle of the light beam with a black box in its hands. Out of a round opening in the box there came a yellow light, pulsating. It was about 3 ft tall, with very thin arms and legs. Its face was like pale wax. The nose was a hook rather than a nose. The ears were very small and narrowed toward the head. The creature wore some kind of overall in a light green material and a conical helmet shining like metal. The creature stood in the middle of the bright light and was luminous like phosphorus, but its face was very pale. Its shoulders were very thin and slanting, with thin arms like a child’s. There were also white gauntlets going up to the elbows, and the fingers were bent like claws around the black box.

This mysterious being stood there in the light with its black box, which was illuminated by an eerie yellow glow, and the red mist was suddenly everywhere again, obscuring their view of it and becoming so thick that they could barely see each other anymore. Throughout the mist could be seen dancing purple sparks, and the whole scene was at the same time frightening, surreal, and beautiful. The entity then whipped the box upward to point it right at the startled men, and both mist and sparks flew in their direction, which caused them to feel nauseous and for their legs to go numb. Heinonen would say:

The pulsating light was very bright, almost blinding. It was very silent in the forest. Suddenly a red-grey mist came flowing down from the object and large sparks started to fly from the illuminated circle of snow. The sparks were like tapers, about 10 cm long, red, green and violet. They floated out in long curves, rather slowly; many of them hit me, but though I expected them to burn me, At first I did not feel anything. My right leg had been nearest the light. The whole leg was stiff and aching. My foot was as if anaesthetized.

The strange fog got thicker and thicker until suddenly both the humanoid and its bizarre craft just seemed to disappear. The two men managed to stumble out of there, feeling nauseous, numb, and vomiting the whole way. They would later be plagued by health problems afterwards, including what they describe as black urine like 'black coffee,” facial swelling, headaches and vision and memory problems. A doctor who examined them, a Dr Pauli Kajanoja, would say:

l think the men have suffered a great shock. Viljo was very red in the face and seemed a little swollen. Both seemed absent-minded. They talked quickly and incoherently. I could not find anything clinically wrong with Heinonen. He did not feel well, but that could have been his stomach reacting to the shock. The symptoms he described are like those after being exposed to radioactivity. Unfortunately, I had no instrument to measure that. As to the black urine, it seems inexplicable. Possibly it could have been blood in it, but this cannot go on for several months. If blood samples had been taken, they might have revealed changes in his blood. Both men seemed sincere, and I don’t think they had made the thing up. I’m sure they were in a state of shock when they came to me; something must have frightened them.

It is all very harrowing and inexplicable, indeed, and since both men were known as being honest and reliable the case was treated as very promising by ufologists at the time. Yet, Heinonen would muddy the waters in later years, when he claimed that between 1970 and 1972 he had over two dozen further UFO experiences, sometimes involving a beautiful blonde alien who would appear and talk to him. This humanoid was described as possessing some sort of spherical object and claimed to be over 180 years old, and was sometimes accompanied by a dwarfish creature about 3 feet tall and wearing a grey suit with white stripes. He also claimed that he had received a green pen from her at some point, but would say that it had gone missing, and he also complained that every time he tried to take a picture of the creatures his camera would vanish into thin air or be knocked out of his hand by an unseen force. Convenient.

The case is so orbited by bizarreness that it is really rather hard to know what to make of it. Heinonen's later oddball comments would certainly shed skepticism on what was originally taken to be a possibly genuine report, leaving us to wonder what is going on here. What happened out there in that frigid wilderness? Was this a real alien encounter or just delusional ranting? It remains unknown.

Brent Swancer

Brent Swancer is an author and crypto expert living in Japan. Biology, nature, and cryptozoology still remain Brent Swancer’s first intellectual loves. He's written articles for MU and Daily Grail and has been a guest on Coast to Coast AM and Binnal of America.

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