Jul 30, 2022 I Nick Redfern

A Strange UFO Incident That Was Never, Ever Solved: And Two Men Who Vanished

Today's article is focused on a UFO case that was beyond strange and that, also, were never solved. So, let's get going. We'll begin with the strange saga of two men: Wilbur Wilkinson and Karl Hunrath. The vast majority of all alien abduction cases have one thing in common: the abductee is returned to their home or vehicle after the experience. In a few cases, however, the person is never seen again. They’re gone. As in forever. A perfect example is the weird and complicated saga of two men whose UFO research ended with them vanishing off the face of the planet. They were Karl Hunrath and Wilbur Wilkinson, relatively minor cogs in the UFO research wheel of the early 1950s, but whose story is highly relevant to the world of extraterrestrial abductions today. To government files, also.

Both Hunrath and Wilkinson lived in Racine, Wisconsin. The former was a loner, someone who was known for his hair-trigger character and his unfathomable loathing of women. Wilkinson, meanwhile, was very different: he was a laidback character and had a wife and kids; they absolutely defined what it was to be a family in 1950s-era America. Wilkinson and Hunrath, then, were poles apart in terms of their lives and their characters, but they had one thing which bonded them: a fascination for the growing Flying Saucer phenomenon. Hunrath, at the time, worked for a Racine-based company called the John Oster Manufacturing Company, which made kitchen appliances. It was a job that paid the bills, but that was nowhere near enough for Hunrath. He wanted out, he wanted excitement, and he wanted to be the man who solved the UFO riddle. Wilkinson was as interested in the Saucer phenomenon as Hunrath, but he lacked his friend’s drive and “get up and go” attitude. 

(Nick Redfern) George Van Tassel's Integratron where both Hunrath and Wilkinson hung out...until they vanished

While Wilkinson just wanted answers as to what the aliens were, where they were from, and what they wanted from us, Hunrath wanted to uncover the truths surrounding their technology: what was it that powered Flying Saucers? How could those same craft perform left- and right-hand turns at hundreds of miles per hour? Maybe, even at thousands of miles per hour? Did they possess destructive weapons far beyond our atomic arsenals? If he was to stand even a small chance of getting the answers, Hunrath knew he had to make a move to UFO Central: California. So, Hunrath – a ticking time-bomb at the best of times – gave his boss the finger, quit his job, emptied his bank account, and hit the road to Los Angeles. And, he told meek Wilbur that if he really wanted to find the truth of alien visitations, then he better move to California, too. For a while, Wilkinson dithered, but eventually, and just like a dutiful puppy, followed his master across the country. Fortunately for Wilkinson, his family was quite enthused about a move to the West Coast. In no time, one and all were settled in Los Angeles apartments. The lives of Hunrath and Wilkinson were just about to change in the strangest way possible.

The first thing that happened was that the two men hooked up with just about all of the ufological players in California, which included George Adamski and George Van Tassel – two men who, as we have seen, had secret files opened on them by the FBI. They also became friendly with another of the Contactees: George Hunt Williamson, of Arizona, who was also the subject of scrutiny by J. Edgar Hoover’s finest. It’s hardly surprising, then, that the FBI soon opened records on Hunrath and Wilkinson. But, let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves: let’s see how things started out. The FBI’s papers on Wilkinson are far less intriguing than those on Hunrath. A few biographical notes and background checks aside, that’s about it. The Hunrath file, however, is a very different kettle of fish. It’s packed with odd nuggets of material – all of it saucer-themed. The papers reveal something very weird: in January 1952, and just before the two men headed off for California, Hunrath had a strange, close encounter in his bedroom and in the twilight hours. There was not a bug-eyed alien in sight, though. What there was, however, was a very human-looking being, who appeared to have broken into Hunrath’s home and, as he slept, injected him with an armful of chemicals. Not surprisingly, he was very quickly wide awake. God knows what those chemicals were, but they had a major effect on Hunrath.

Hunrath may have been wide awake, but there was something wrong, something very wrong: he felt spaced out and his head spun. And he couldn’t move. All he could see was a tall, thin man dressed in a dark suit, looming over the bed. In a fashion that echoed the experiences of Adamski and Van Tassel, Hunrath’s intruder said something along the lines of: “I am Bosco. You have been chosen to enter our brotherhood of galaxies.” Hunrath noted that the alien had a curious accent; it was not unlike that of a European. Just like every Contactee under the Sun, Hunrath was warned that our warlike ways would very soon get us into a catastrophic confrontation with the Soviets. Atomic annihilation, in other words, was just about on the doorsteps of everyone. The suit-and-tie-wearing Mr. Bosco – who came across like actor Michael Rennie’s character, Klaatu, in the 20th Century Fox movie, The Day the Earth Stood Still – told Hunrath that he, along with many others, had been chosen to help the aliens prevent the end of the world from coming – and from coming very soon. That is, if nothing was done about it. Supposedly, the aliens had “noticed” Hunrath’s interest in UFOs – although how they knew was anyone’s guess. 

(Nick Redfern) How things were in 1950s Ufology

According to what was referred to in the FBI files as “occult techniques,” Hunrath’s mind was filled with data on UFOs, their technologies and their mission on our planet. And, for what was said to be a benign, peaceful race, Bosco chose to share with Hunrath information on how to destroy Russian aircraft! But, that was not enough for Bosco: he told Hunrath that the technology could also be used to bring down American military planes, too. For Bosco, Hunrath was to be his vessel, so to speak. Supposedly, Hunrath’s mind was immediately flooded with all manner of technical- and science-based imagery designed to help Hunrath create his very own weapons of mass destruction. With that, Bosco retreated to the shadows of the bedroom, opened the window, climbed out, and vanished into the night!     Hunrath was now a man on a mission – hence the quick decision to move to California. It never happened. Wilkinson and Hunrath vanished. Forever.

November 10, 1953 was the date on which Hunrath and Wilkinson disappeared – never to be seen again. In the weeks leading up to their vanishing act, the two had allegedly contacted an extraterrestrial entity that, in essence, was downloading information into the minds of both men. George Hunt Williamson claimed to have personally seen this – late one night in his own Prescott, Arizona home - and said it was downright eerie. It was, said Williamson, as if the pair, in almost complete darkness, was receiving messages from the great beyond, as one might when using a Ouija-board. In one such session, in which Wilkinson and Hunrath almost appeared to be tripped-out, said Williamson, they received directions that were destined to take them to a small airstrip near Gardena, Los Angeles County. The final curtain was about to come down on Hunrath and Wilkinson. According to Williamson, Hunrath and Wilkinson were soon to meet with aliens at a remote location in California – but where, exactly, he never knew.

On the morning of the day in question, the two men rented a car and headed to the airstrip. Why they didn’t take one of their own cars we don’t know. Anticipation and excitement-levels were rising quickly. Those levels increased as the airstrip finally came into view. Hunrath was a skilled pilot, someone who had been flying for several years. They had rented a plane just a couple of days earlier and, on arrival at the airstrip, filled out all of the necessary paperwork; it was all going just fine. It failed to stay that way. One of the staff recalled, later, that Hunrath had told him they were headed out to a specific area in the California desert, to meet with “friends.” That same employee said that the plane had enough gas for around three hours of flight-time and that the pair had planned to be back by late afternoon. He told the Feds there didn’t seem to be anything unusual and that everything seemed in order. It was clearly not in order, though. Wilkinson and Hunrath got in the plane and took to the skies, with that same employee looking on – at least, until he was sure all was good, which it seemed to be. “Seemed” being the important word.

When, however, no further word was heard from either man by late afternoon - and with the staff at the airstrip getting panicky about their overdue plane and missing customers - the emergency services were called. After all, a missing aircraft was no small affair. Two missing men was even worse. Local pilots – chiefly, friends of the staff at the airstrip – offered to scour the area from above, and in just about every direction. No luck. No distress calls. No signs of billowing smoke or flames. No wreckage. There was nothing at all. Hunrath and Wilkinson had allegedly headed out to the desert and, in the process, had seemingly vanished into oblivion. Both the FBI and the local police dug into the matter. They too came up completely blank. Abducted from the skies? That was the rumor in the local UFO community. 

On November 20, ten days after the incident occurred, the Los Angeles Mirror newspaper ran a story on the missing men, the vanished plane, and the UFO connection. Since Hunrath was a bachelor, there was no-one for the press to speak with. But, it was a very different story when it came to Wilkinson. The media came knocking on the door of the Wilkinson home, looking to speak to Mrs. Wilkinson. Obviously concerned about the whereabouts of her husband – she didn’t care too much at all for Hunrath – she agreed to have the story splashed across the pages of the newspaper, in the event that it might shed some light on things. It didn’t. It just added to the mystery and the intrigue.

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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