Mar 08, 2022 I Nick Redfern

Fierce, Flying Monsters: My Top 3 Creepy Creatures of the Skies

Mothman is a bizarre, flying creature that was made famous in the 2002 movie The Mothman Prophecies that starred Richard Gere and that, in turn, was based on the book of the same name penned by the late authority on just about everything paranormal and supernatural, John Keel. Mothman researchers have suggested that Mothman may be an extraterrestrial entity. After all, when Mothman was seen in Point Pleasant, West Virginia in the late 1960s, there was a wave of UFO activity and a wealth of chilling encounters between the townsfolk and the Men in Black. But, long before Mothman dared to surface from his strange and ominous lair in Point Pleasant, West Virginia in the mid-1960s, there was yet another mysterious winged thing that struck terror into the hearts and minds of those who were unfortunate enough to cross its terrible path. 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.

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(Nick Redfern & Ken Gerhard) Creatures in the skies of the Lone Star State

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. Mrs. Walker also recalled the following: "Immediately afterwards, we heard a loud swoosh over the house tops across the street. It was like the white flash of a torpedo-shaped object… I’ve heard so much about flying saucer stories and I thought all those people telling the stories were crazy, but now I don’t know what to believe. I may be nuts, but I saw it, whatever it was… I sat there stupefied. I was amazed." Meyer added to the newspaper that: "I saw it, and nobody can say I didn’t." Phillips, meanwhile, was candid in stating the following: "I can hardly believe it. But I saw it… we looked across the street and saw a flash of light rise from another tree and take off like a jet." For her part, Walker reported the incident to local police the following morning.

As a former resident of Houston, monster-hunter Ken Gerhard made valiant attempts to locate the address on East Third Street where the event took place and discovered that it is no longer in existence. It has seemingly been overtaken by the expansion of the nearby Interstate 10. Strangely, and perhaps even appropriately, the location has apparently vanished into the void – much like the Batman did, for a while at least. Several years after he first heard about the exploits of the Batman, a close friend of Ken told him about the experience of a number of employees at Houston's Bellaire Theater, who claimed to have seen a gigantic, helmeted man, crouched down and attempting to hide on the roof of a downtown city building late one night during the 1990s. Perhaps, in view of this latter day development, we should seriously consider the possibility that the Houston Batman made a return appearance. Or, maybe, it never went away at all. Instead, possibly, it has been lurking deep within the shadows of Houston, Texas for more than half a century, carefully biding its time, and only surfacing after the sun has set, and when overwhelming darkness dominates the sprawling metropolis.

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(Nick Redfern) Nick Redfern hangs out with Mothman at Point Pleasant

There can be few people reading this who have not at least heard of the legendary Mothman of Point Pleasant, West Virginia, who so terrorized the town and the surrounding area between November 1966 and December 1967, and whose diabolical exploits were chronicled in the 2002 hit Hollywood movie starring Richard Gere: The Mothman Prophecies, so named after the book of the same title written by Mothman authority John Keel. A devil-like, winged monster with glowing, red eyes, Mothman’s appearance came quite literally out of nowhere and, some say, culminated in high tragedy and death. But what was the Mothman of Point Pleasant? And how did the legend begin?  To answer those questions we have to go back to the dark night of November 12, 1966, when five grave-diggers working in a cemetery in the nearby town of Clendenin were shocked to see what they described as a "brown human shape with wings" rise out of the thick, surrounding trees and soar off into the distance. Three days later, the unearthly beast surfaced once again. It was at the highly appropriate time of the witching-hour when Roger and Linda Scarberry and Steve and Mary Mallette – two young, married couples from Point Pleasant - were passing the time away by cruising around town in the Scarberrys' car.

As they drove around the old factory, the four were puzzled to see in the shadows what looked like two red lights pointing in their direction. These were no normal lights, however. Rather, all four were shocked and horrified to discover that, in reality, the "lights" were the glowing, self-illuminating red eyes of a huge animal that, as Roger Scarberry would later recall, was "…shaped like a Mothman, but bigger, maybe six and a half or seven feet tall, with big wings folded against its back." Not surprisingly, they fled the area at high speed. Unfortunately for the Scarberry’s and the Mallette’s, however, the beast seemingly decided to follow them: as they sped off for the safety of Point Pleasant, the winged monster took to the skies and shadowed their vehicle’s every movement until it reached the city limits. The four raced to the sheriff’s office and told their astounding story to Deputy Millard Halstead, who later stated that: "I’ve known these kids all their lives. They’d never been in any trouble and they were really scared that night. I took them seriously.” And even though a search of the area by Halstead did not result in an answer to the mystery, the Mothman would soon return."

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(Nick Redfern) From Mothman to Museum

Dr. Robert L. Smith, Associate Professor of Wildlife Biology in the West Virginia University’s Division of Forestry, expressed his firm opinion that Mothman was nothing stranger than a large sandhill crane. This hardly satisfied the witnesses, however. In response to Dr. Smith’s assertion, Thomas Ury said: “I’ve seen big birds, but I’ve never seen anything like this.” As for the local police, they offered stern warnings to any and all would-be monster hunters contemplating seeking out the mysterious creature, as the Herald Dispatch newspaper noted: “Sheriff [George] Johnson said he would arrest anybody caught with a loaded gun in the area after dark [and] warned that the scores of persons searching the abandoned powerhouse in the TNT area after dark risked possible serious injury.” In the weeks and months that followed, further encounters with the bizarre beast were reported; however, they were overshadowed by a tragic event that occurred on December 15, 1967. It was on that day that Point Pleasant’s Silver Bridge (so named after its aluminum paint) that spanned the Ohio River and connected Point Pleasant to Gallipolis, Ohio, collapsed into the river, tragically claiming forty-six lives. Interestingly, after the disaster at the Silver Bridge, encounters with the Mothman largely came to a grinding halt. And while a down-to-earth explanation most certainly circulated – namely, that a fatal flaw in a single eye-bar in a suspension chain was the chief culprit – many saw, and still continue to see to this very day, the cause as being directly linked with the ominous and brooding presence of the accursed Mothman.

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(Nick Redfern) One of today's bridges at Point Pleasant

One of the strangest, and undoubtedly, creepiest of all encounters with a Woman in Black occurred at the height of the Vietnam War, and specifically in Da Nang, a city on the south-central coast of Vietnam. It was in August 1969 that a man named Earl Morrison, along with several comrades, had the shock of his life. It was, very appropriately, in the dead of night when the menacing event occurred – and as the men were on guard-duty, keeping a careful look out for the Vietcong. Everything was quiet and normal until around 1:30 a.m. That’s when the atmosphere changed, and an eerie form made its presence known to the shocked men of the U.S. 1st Division Marine Corps. Despite being somewhat reluctant to speak out publicly, Morrison eventually changed his mind and, by 1972, was comfortable about discussing the incident, even if he wasn’t comfortable with what he encountered. His story makes for incredible reading: “We saw what looked like wings, like a bat’s, only it was gigantic compared to what a regular bat would be. After it got close enough so we could see what it was, it looked like a woman. A naked woman. She was black. Her skin was black, her body was black, the wings were back; everything was black. But it glowed. It glowed in the night, kind of [a] greenish cast to it. She started going over us, and we still didn’t hear anything. She was right above us, and when she got over the top of our heads she was maybe six or seven feet up.

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(Nick Redfern) The Women in Black phenomenon

"We watched her go straight over the top of us, and she still didn’t make any noise flapping her wings. She blotted out the moon once – that’s how close she was to us. And dark – looked like pitch black then, but we could still define her because she just glowed. Real bright, like. And she started going past us straight towards our encampment. As we watched her – she had got about ten feet or so away from us – we started hearing her wings flap. And it sounded, you know, like regular wings flapping. And she just started flying off and we watched her for quite a while." One of those who took a great deal of interest in the story of the flying woman of Da Nang was a UFO researcher named Don Worley. His personal interview with Morrison revealed additional data, such as the fact that the woman’s hair was black and straight, that the wings may have had a slight furry quality to them, that she "rippled" as she flew by, that she appeared to lack bones in her body, and that her wings seemed to be directly "molded" to her hands and arms.

The investigators Janet and Colin Bord say of this particularly odd case in their excellent book, Alien Animals: "Usually our reports of winged figures describe them as 'men,' but without any indication whether features are seen which tell the witness definitely that it is a man. In view of this we suspect that so-called ‘birdmen’ should strictly be termed ‘bird people’ or ‘bird persons,’ and that no sex attribution can honestly be made. However, the Da Nang sighting does not come into that category. The only other female winged figure we have on record is a creature from Welsh folklore, the Gwrach-y-rhibyn. She resembled the Irish banshee, moaning and wailing to foretell death in a family."

Nick Redfern

Nick Redfern works full time as a writer, lecturer, and journalist. He writes about a wide range of unsolved mysteries, including Bigfoot, UFOs, the Loch Ness Monster, alien encounters, and government conspiracies. Nick has written 41 books, writes for Mysterious Universe and has appeared on numerous television shows on the The History Channel, National Geographic Channel and SyFy Channel.

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