A SHOOTDOWN IN INDIA?
A MiG-21 jet interceptor of the Indian Air Force crashed in that country's western desert Monday night, November 8, 2004, and some Indian researchers think it might have been shot down by a UFO.
"A MiG-21 fighter aircraft of the Indian Air Force crashed near IAF Nal air base in Bikaner on Monday night, but the pilot ejected safely, official sources" in New Delhi, India's capital, said on Tuesday, November 9, 2004.
Bikaner is a large city in Rajasthan state, on the eastern edge of the Great Indian Desert, located about 210 kilometers (126 miles) southwest of New Delhi.
"The aircraft was on a routine sortie when it crashed close to the air base at 9:40 p.m., an IAF spokesman said."
"The pilot of the aircraft, Flying Officer S. Mitra, ejected safely, he added."
"'No loss of life or injury to any person, or damage on the ground, has been reported,' he said."
"He said although a preliminary report suggests engine failure as the cause of the accident, a Court of Inquiry has been ordered to probe the case."
According to Krishnari Bai Dharapurnanda, UFO Roundup correspondent in India, ufologists there are wondering if the MiG-21 was shot down by a UFO.
"Rumours are flying about this incident," Krishnari Bai reported, adding that some believe the Indian Air Force picked up a UFO on radar as it was flying south from the Sutlej River valley in the Himalayas. The valley has been the site of many UFO sightings in recent months. (See UFO Roundup, volume 9, number 43 for October 27, 2004, "Villagers say aliens are building a base in the Himalayas," page 2.)
Mitra's MiG-21 was allegedly scrambled at IAF Nal to intercept the object. At 9:35 p.m., the Indian pilot reportedly radioed, "I have the vimana (Hindi for UFO-- J.T.) in sight."
From this point on, the rumors claim, the MiG-21 underwent a series of cascading systems failures. First the targeting system supposedly went off-line, rendering the air-to-air missiles useless. Then the electrical firing system for the aircraft's 20-millimeter cannon supposedly failed. Finally, the Mig-21's two jet engines simultaneously flamed out.
The pilot then aimed the MiG-21 at the uninhabited western desert, pulled the toggle and ejected, Krishnari Bai speculated.
"This is a very unusual incident," she added, "If this was just a simple air crash, then why is the IAF convening a Court of Inquiry?" (See The Times of India for November 12, 2004. Many thanks to Daniel Wilson and Krishnari Bai Dharapurnanda for this newspaper article.)
UFOs SEEN REPEATEDLY IN RIDGECREST, CALIFORNIA
"A bright, circular-shaped flying object was seen soaring over the skies of the Indian Wells Valley," near Ridgecrest, California (population 24,927) "late Saturday evening," November 6, 2004, "startling at least five eyewitnesses."
"At around 10:45 p.m., as each of the three friends new returning from a shared community event" looked on, "a large object allegedly moving along the western end of the valley caught their attention."
"'It was neither a plane nor a rocket,' said long- time Ridgecrest resident Bonnie Mathis Tuesday evening," November 9, 2004, "'It was very bright and diffused color within the object could be detected upon closer examination. Whatever it was, it scared the crap out of me.'"
"In the three days since the incident, Mathis said, she has been able to rule out that this was just a rocket incident" that "had occurred that night for the lack of flames or the absence of emergency support. Nor did she suspect the object to be a meteor since it was moving too slowly."
"'I've seen lots of meteor showers, and this was too big and too slow to be a meteor,' said Mathis, adding that the entire sighting lasted about a minute."
"'My husband was driving the car, so my attention was on the thing, whatever it was, for the entire time,' she said, 'Towards the end of its trajectory, it just faded. It didn't lose its intensity. It just got smaller until it crossed the horizon and got out of sight.'"
"UFO investigator Peter Davenport, director of the National UFO Reporting Center based in Seattle, Washington (state--J.T.), said in a telephone conversation Tuesday that over 100 UFO sightings for the North American continent had been reported to his organization."
"Among them was a report from a Newport Beach (California) resident, which corroborated the Ridgecrest eyewitnesses' report."
"The individual described that he had seen a large bright object moving across the skies Saturday at 10:45 p.m. and quickly made its way over the Pacific Ocean 'at speeds no man-made object could move,' said Davenport."
"Jerry Johnson, Mathis' friend, said Tuesday that she had also witnessed 'a huge bright light moving westward.'"
"Johnson added that she had perceived a greenish glow around the object, a report that was corroborated by a third friend, who produced a statement on conditions of anonymity."
"'I've seen lots of meteors in my life, and, at the time I didn't think it was one, but in hindsight I don't know what else it could be,' said Johnson."
"Sgt. John Wheeler, who commanded the Ridgecrest Police Department Sunday and Tuesday, said yesterday that no such sighting reports had been filed with the RPD."
"Naval Air Weapons Station-China Lake public affairs officer Ron Keck said that Saturday night's sighting came on the heels of at least three other instances reported by NUFORC to have occurred in the Mojave Desert since the end of September 2004."
On Saturday, September 4, 2004, at 8 p.m., "two lights were reported moving very swiftly and vertically through the skies over Red Rock Canyon State Park. Objects were moving with 90-degree turns, performing looping and circling aerobatics" and remained in view "for approximately 15 minutes. Scared, the witness quickly left the area, convinced the sighting was neither satellites nor meteors."
On Friday, September 17, 2004, at 1 a.m., "two campers, who were enroute to a camping area east of Ridgecrest on State Route 178 reported seeing two red blinking lights circling a single white light right above their vehicle. After about five minutes, the light had begun moving northward at 'an unbelievable speed and vanished.'"
On Thursday, October 28, 2004, at 3:35 a.m., "while traveling northbound, a Ridgecrest resident reported an orange object three times brighter than Venus to the northwest of her location, just above the mountains. As the witness continued northbound for another quarter of a mile, he noticed the object had moved behind a cirrus cloud, at which point 'a large brilliant flash' took place."
"When pressing further on his itinerary, the man reported that this unidentifiable object was hovering in plain sight 1,000 feet (300 meters) away for about 20 to 30 seconds. As he looked upon the object, a black dot on top of it was momentarily apparent. The witness concluded that the object 'was of a size, color and speed the likes of which' he had never seen before."
Ridgecrest, Cal. is about 140 miles (224 kilometers) north of Los Angeles. (Many thanks to Jim Hickman, executive director of Skywatch International, and Peter Davenport, director of NUFORC, for this news story.)
CYLINDRICAL UFO SEEN IN UNION HILL, NORTH CAROLINA
On Friday, November 5, 2004, at 4:45 p.m., eyewitness Robert C. "stopped by my sister's house" in Union Hill, North Carolina "to bring some cat food. While we were standing on her front porch, talking, I heard the sound of a small plane engine nearby, and I looked to see what kind it was. The sky that day was crystal clear, the weather cool, the temperature in the low 50s, with a 10-mile-per- hour breeze from the west-northwest."
"When I looked up and to the southwest, I saw what appeared to be a star. Totally motionless. What was striking about it was that it was still daylight, and there wasn't a cloud in the sky. The object had a nimbus around it like the halo that you see around a full moon in winter."
"I pointed it out to my sister, who said, 'Well, maybe it's a star.' The sun was still above the horizon, so I know it wasn't a star. I watched it for approximately one minute, and then the nimbus started to fade."
"There were power lines in front of her house, and I was using them to judge whether the object was moving. It began to turn slowly towards the south, and I could see that it was a metallic cylinder, no protuberances, dull in appearance as it didn't reflect the sun. It faded away in the south to the southwest in approximately one minute and 30 seconds."
"I had a couple of other errands to run, so by the time I started home, it was full dark. I live in a rural area, and I was traveling one of the back roads where there aren't a lot of houses. To my right, at treetop level, I saw a blue flash" at 5:52 p.m.
"I thought maybe I had seen a night light from a house hidden in the woods. I traveled for another three- quarters of a mile and saw it again. The road winds around so I couldn't be sure of the direction I was looking at. When I came around a turn, the woods opened back from the road a little, and I observed a neon blue orb crossing the road (I went back later and found the direction to be from west to east--R.C.) at treetop level and at about the speed of a small plane coming in for a landing (About stall speed, I'd guess--R.C.) It was about the size of a dime at arm's length, and I saw it for about three seconds before I lost it in the trees."
"When I got home at 6:13 p.m., I pulled my truck under the carport. As I was walking behind it, I looked to the east, and, just north of east, I saw a star that I thought was unusual. I've been an avid sky and aviation watcher since I was a child, and they just didn't look right. It appeared to be a star but it was 'shimmering.'"
"At first I dismissed it as an atmospheric distortion, and I started to go into the house, but something didn't seem right. So I went into the house and got my binoculars."
"As I watched the object, a small private plane came from the south, traveled behind the object (navigation lights occluded the object--R.C.), pretty much shooting down the star theory. The object appeared to be a cylinder with blue lights on the right, red lights on the left. I couldn't tell if its pulsating appearance came from rapid rotation or if it was multi-faceted and blinking. But even at a distance, it was quite beautiful. I went back into the house a couple of times as it was so cold and windy out."
"The third time I came out, the object was quite different in appearance. It was changing magnitude (dimmer and brighter--R.C.) and had turned a deep red color. Then it went back to its first (dull silver) coloration. I went back inside, and when I came out, it was gone."
"I was looking northeast in the general direction of (the constellation) Cassiopeia when a bright flash occurred at 6:33 p.m., and it was much like a lightning strike close by. But unlike lightning, it was in a small section of the sky (two inches at arm's length--R.C.) The only thing I could see, for lack of a better term, was a plasma cloud. It was pale but distinctive and looked like an elongated disk, kind of like looking at a spiral nebula edge-on. It disappeared almost immediately. (Email Form Report)
STAR-LIKE UFO SIGHTED IN KENTWOOD, MICHIGAN
On Tuesday, November 9, 2004, at 6:45 p.m., Mark S. was outdoors in his hometown of Kentwood, Michigan (population 45,255), five miles (8 kilometers) southeast of Grand Rapids, when he spotted something strange in the southern sky.
"It was an object almost identical to the North Star (Polaris--J.T.)," Mark reported, "It wasn't in the same location. It just had the same characteristics. This thing was very high! It was moving way too fast to be a plane. There were no blinking lights. The entire sighting lasted from three to six seconds. On the whole, it looked like a star going out of sight."
"I just saw it a few minutes ago!" (Email Form Report)
TWO UFOs SIGHTED IN FORT WORTH, TEXAS
On Friday, October 29, 2004, during the evening, Janet Richey was driving on Eighth Street, near Interstate Highways I-30 and I-35W, in Fort Worth, Texas (population 534,694) when "two big lights that were not blinking or moving appeared."
"The bright light on the left moved down in line with the second light," Janet reported, "The second light on the right then blinked like a strobe light, then disappeared."
"The other light moved along with my car as I turned south and west," past the Greyhound Trailways bus depot and the Terrant County Convention Center. "The object was outside my left window. As I turned toward the right, the object accelerated and moved from the back left of my window to the front left. It seemed like it was following me."
"I parked my car and watched the light. It did not move. I got out of my car and walked behind a building toward my work facility. When I came out from behind the building on the other side, the object was gone."
"The objects were bright lights. They did not have any blinking lights. They were not planets. I know what Venus looks like, and it was not Venus. They were too bright and clear. The objects were not airplanes because they could remain still and then accelerate quickly. Their shape is unknown--they were too bright to tell." (Email Form Report)
FALLING ICE DEMOLISHES ROOF IN KENT, WASH.
"Investigators are trying to identify the source of chunks of ice that smashed through the roof of a house in the Seattle suburb of Kent, Wash. (population 79,524) last week, landing on the bed of a seven-year-old girl."
"They believe the ice formed on an aircraft and then broke free, potentially indicating a structural or design problem. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) spokesman Michael Fergus told the King County Journal."
"'It's a safety issue,' Fergus said."
"Investigators are certain it was not 'blue ice,' which comes from leaking airplane lavatories, he added."
"Troy Halte said he and his wife, Rachel Halte, returned home (Thursday) November 4 (2004) to find a hole in the ceiling of their daughter's bedroom and five chunks of ice on the bed, three of them 'the size of grapefruit.'"
"Three more chunks were in the back yard, all having landed between 4 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. while the family was away."
"Fergus said FAA officials are reviewing tapes of images that air traffic controllers were following on their radar screens to track aircraft. They'll check for planes passing over the neighborhood that afternoon, especially at altitudes where icing might have occurred."
"Boeing Co. officials say ice comes from the leading edges of airplanes in certain weather conditions, but a company official said she had never heard of such ice falling off and hitting structures on the ground."
Kent, Wash. is on Routes 181 and 167, approximately 10 miles (16 kilometers) south of Seattle. (See the King County Journal for November 12, 2004, "FAA tries to identify source of mystery ice that struck house." Many thanks to Michael Strainic for forwarding this newspaper article.)
ACTOR NICOLAS CAGE WANTS TO SEE A YETI
Movie actor "Nicolas Cage is on the hunt for a mythical red-haired apeman who lives in the mountains surrounding Tibet."
The actor, whose new film National Treasure premieres on Friday, November 19, 2004, "boasts he is fascinated by modern myths" and, having seen films about the yeti, "wants to meet the beast."
(Editor's Note: The yeti, sometimes called "the Abominable Snowman," lives on the glaciers of the high Himalayas. The name "Yeti" is a corruption of the Sherpa phrase meteh kangmi, meaning snow creature.)
Cage was quoted as saying, "'These scientists are convinced that somewhere in the Asian mountains of Tibet, there is a short, red-haired, two-legged ape man. They've seen it, and they're trying to get it. Now, that's fascinating to me. I'd like to meet the guy. I want to look at him. I want to say 'Hi' to him.'"
"Cage admitted his interest in all things beastly and hairy has been spiked after coming face-to-face with wild dogs in Africa."
"He adds, 'We had dogs around us every day, but seeing a wild dog in its own nature is like seeing a cave man. It's kind of like I know you but I don't and you're interesting.'"
"'I'm fascinated by this kind of thing; fascinated by the as-yet undiscovered but possible. I like anything that makes you wonder; that isn't totally spelled out for you.'"
In National Treasure, Cage plays the role of Benjamin Franklin Gates, a paranormal investigator trying to unearth a fabulous treasure by looking for Masonic clues planted around Philadelphia, Pa. and Washington, D.C. (See The Anomalist for November 13, 2004, "Cage on the hunt for Tibetan apeman." Many thanks to Loren Coleman for this article.)
TANKS MAKE SURPRISE APPEARANCE IN L.A.
"An estimated 400 to 500 people came to the Federal Building," at the corner of Wilshire Boulevard and Veteran Avenue in the Westwood district of Los Angeles, California's largest city, "on Tuesday, November 9, 2004, to protest the start of the U.S. attack on Fallujah," a city in central Iraq that was the stronghold of Sunni Muslim rebels.
"Most of the group stood on the sidewalk along Wilshire Boulevard, waving signs and shouting to oncoming commuters. Smaller groups were standing on each of the other three corners at the intersection of Wilshire and Veteran."
"At 7:30 p.m., two tanks," thought to be M-1A2 Abrams main battle tanks, "barreled past, going east on Wilshire and rounded the corner onto Veteran, going south, and disappeared."
"About 10 to 15 minutes later, two tanks (probably the same ones--E.B.) appeared again, going east on Wilshire and stopped for the (traffic) light there. Demonstrators immediately stepped in front of the lead tank, blocking its path and starting to chant, 'U.S. out!'"
Demonstrators and the soldiers driving the tanks reportedly exchanged comments for several minutes. "Both tanks were surrounded on three sides by protestors for about three to four minutes until the LAPD (Los Angeles Police Department--J.T.) showed up and placed themselves between the tanks and the protestors and cleared the protestors who were blocking the front of the tank out of the road. The tanks then proceeded to the right onto Veteran and disappeared."
"It is unknown as to why the tanks were deployed to this location."
(Editor's Comment: As near as I can tell, the tanks must have come from the U.S. Army Depot in Los Alamitos, on the south side of L.A. But that's almost twenty miles from Westwood. Were they pre-positioned in the area? If so, why?)
In other news, a family living just west of Bethel, Vermont (population 970) saw a flight of black helicopters on Tuesday, November 2, 2004, Election Day, the same day a column of mysterious white vehicles closed off traffic on Interstate Highways I-89 and I-91 in nearby White River Junction.
"We noticed the black helicopters flying in and out of the mountain (Rochester Mountain--J.T.) behind our home," one of the witnesses reported. "They were heading northeast. There have been quite a few over the past few weeks."
Bethel is on Route 12, approximately 22 miles (35 kilometers) northwest of White River Junction, Vt. (Many thanks to Ed Barner for the Westwood report. The Bethel report was an emailed letter.)
(Editor's Note: For more on the mysterious roadblocks in White River Junction, see UFO Roundup, volume 9, number 45 for November 10, 2004, "Mystery NWO vehicles spotted in Vermont," page 3.)
MYSTERY BOOMS RESUME IN FORT WAYNE, INDIANA
"Loud booming noises are being reported again in Fort Wayne, Indiana (population 205,727), after months of relatively few complaints about the mysterious sounds."
"John Perlich, a spokesman for Mayor Graham Richard, said the city received a spike of phone calls with complaints about loud booming noises. He said the calls were similar to those reporting noises that shook homes last summer (2004)."
"Ben Eisbart, executive vice president of administration at the scrap metal processing plant OmniSource, said the company's process of recycling metal from cans and appliances sometimes generates loud noises. He said the company is investigating a boom heard Wednesday," November 10, 2004, "but doesn't know what caused the noises earlier this summer."
"Perlich said the city is not ready to place blame because it is still seeking answers. 'Our police department is continuing to aggressively investigate this case, and they will until they find an answer,' he said."
"Officials began investigating loud booms on the city's northeast side last August (2004). The booms reportedly shook homes and residents complained that they felt like tremors and occurred at the same time of the day." (See the Indianapolis Star for November 11, 2004. Many thanks to Steve Wilson Sr. for this newspaper article.)
(Editor's Note: For more on the mystery booms of Fort Wayne, see UFO Roundup , volume 9, number 39, for September 29, 2004, "Mystery booms heard in Fort Wayne, Indiana," page 13.)
"COPYCAT EFFECT" SPURS RISE IN BEHEADINGS
"It was called 'Operation Baghdad' and, to be sure, the headless bodies of three police officers recalled the violence in that city. But these attacks happened in Haiti, not Iraq."
"Beheadings are on the rise around the world, as militants in other causes take note of the shock and publicity the brutal tactic has generated in Iraq."
"Thailand and the Netherlands are two other countries where suspected extremists recently beheaded or slit the throats of their victims in what appear to be copycat attacks."
"Rime Allaf, associate fellow of the Royal Institute of International Affairs, said beheadings are increasing because the practice 'has so horrified us in the West.'"
"'It achieves results, and it makes the headlines,' Allaf added, 'People are talking about groups that we've never heard about before.'"
"The horrifying tactic has spread as far the Caribbean island nation of Haiti, where loyalists of ousted President Jean-Bertrand Aristide sieze on the Iraqi beheadings as a symbol of strength and intimidation."
"The headless bodies of three police officers were found in Port-au-Prince (Haiti's capital--J.T.) last month (October 2004), and authorities said the militants had launched a terrorist campaign called 'Operation Baghdad.'"
"In Thailand last week, a Buddhist village leader was beheaded after being shot in the chest. A note was left on his body saying his slaying was to avenge the killing of Muslim rioters by (Thai) government forces."
"And in Amsterdam," capital of the Netherlands, "a suspected Islamic extremist shot and killed Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh, then slit his throat. A note was left impaled by a knife on his body quoting from al-Quran (the Koran--J.T.) and threatening more killings."
"'It's an ideal terrorist tool,' said Jonathan Stevenson, senior fellow at the International Institute for Strategic Studies in Washington, D.C. 'It is a horrifying image, and I would say it is disproportionately frightening.'"
"The first beheading by Islamic militants in Iraq was the slaying in May (2004) of American civilian Nicholas Berg. The killers posted a video on the Internet showing them pushing a bound Berg to his side, putting a large knife to his neck and cutting off his head as a scream sounded and the killers shouted, 'Allahu akbar!' (Arabic for God is great!--J.T.)."
"A month later, an al-Qaeda-linked Saudi group beheaded an American engineer in Saudi Arabia. The group did not mention Iraq, but the executioners called themselves 'the Fallujah Brigade.' after the city in Iraq that U.S. forces had been besieging."
"Since then, at least 12 foreigners, including three other Americans, have been beheaded in Iraq as part of a wave of kidnappings. Videos and the Internet were used to distribute the horrifying images across the world, compounding the shock value."
"The high-profile killings have inspired some revulsion from Muslims, and in recent days, there has been a heated debate on Web sites as to whether Islam endorses beheadings."
"Mainstream scholars and intellectuals have also spoken out against beheadings, with some saying that the bloody practice is tarnishing the name of Muslims around the world."
"'Beheadings and (the) mutilation of bodies stand against Islam,' said Egypt's foremost religious leader," the Imam Mohammed Sayed Tantawi." (See the Duluth, Minn. News-Tribune for November 7, 2004, "Shock value of Iraqi beheadings inspires militants in other lands,' page 11A. Many thanks to Loren Coleman, author of The Copycat Effect, for forwarding this newspaper article.)
MORE EVIDENCE OF WATER ON PREHISTORIC MARS
Mars rovers Spirit and Opportunity "continue to uncover evidence of a watery past on the Red Planet, NASA scientists say."
"After months of climbing, the Spirit rover reports that volcanic ash mixed with groundwater built the hills near its January (2004) landing site."
"Investigations by the rover Opportunity inside a deep crater show water has cracked rocks on the Martian surface, says mission science chief Steve Squyres of Cornell University."
"The rovers landed on Mars ten months ago to look for signs of water, which scientists say would have had to exist for life to have ever developed on the planet. Despite power losses and some glitches, both rovers are working well, mission controllers say." (See USA Today for November 8, 2004, "Mars rovers uncover more water evidence," page 6D.)
FOSSIL AMPHIBIAN FOUND IN PENNSYLVANIA
"A University of Pittsburgh student on a geology class field trip stumbled across the fossilized skull of a salamander-like creature with crocodile-like teeth that lived about 300 million years ago."
"Experts at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh, Pa. say the find represents both a new species and a new genus, a broader category in the classification of plants and animals."
"Among names being considered: 'Striegeli'...after Adam Striegeli, who made the find this past spring (April 2004) along a fresh road cut near Pittsburgh International Airport." (See USA Today for November 10, 2004, "Student finds fossil of new amphibian," page 8D.)
From the UFO Files...
1927: THE MEN WHO DREAMED OF REPTOIDS
In his book, A Culture of Conspiracy, author Michael Barkun writes, "In all likelihood, the notion of a shape- changing serpent race (popularly known as Reptoids--J.T.) came from the imagination of an obscure pulp-fiction author, Robert E. Howard (1906-1936)...In August 1929, he published a story in Weird Tales magazine called 'The Shadow Kingdom,' in which the evil power was the snake-men whose adversary, Kull, came from Atlantis."
Barkun is only partly right about that...as we shall see in a moment.
What I find most curious about "The Shadow Kingdom" is that it came to REH in a dream. As Howard's biographer, Lyon Sprague de Camp, points out in his book, Dark Valley Destiny:The Life of Robert E. Howard, "Of the three Kull stories that sold in Howard's lifetime, he (REH) reported that they 'wrote themselves, without planning on my part.' He also said he had dreamed them before he put them on paper. All this may be true."
Howard wrote "The Shadow Kingdom" in the spring of 1927, when, at age 21, he was a bookkeeping student at the Commercial School of Howard Payne College in Texas. But he did not sell the story until 1928, and Weird Tales editor Farnsworth Wright penciled it onto the schedule for an August 1929 release.
Yet, unknown to Robert, another American author was also writing about Reptoids. Here's a sample:
"Now for the first time Tarzan was able to obtain a good view of the snake-men and their equally hideous mounts. The conformation of the Horibs was almost identical to man insofar as the torso and extremities were concerned. Their three-toed feet and five-toed hands were those of reptiles. The head and face resembled a snake, but pointed ears and two short horns gave a grotesque appearance that was at the same time hideous. The arms were better proportioned than the legs, which were quite shapeless. The entire body was covered with scales, although those upon the hands, feet and face were so minute as to give the impression of bare skin, a resemblance that was further emphasized by the fact that these portions of the body were a much lighter color, approximating the shiny dead whiteness of a snake's belly."
"They wore a single apron-like garment fashioned from a piece of very heavy hide, apparently that of some gigantic reptile. This garment was really a piece of armor, its sole purpose being, as Tarzan later learned, to cover the soft white bellies of the Horibs."
"Upon the breast of each garment was a strange device--an eight-pronged cross with a circle in the center. Around his waist each Horib wore a leather belt, which supported a scabbard in which was inserted a bone knife."
That passage was from Tarzan at the Earth's Core, a novel begun in 1927 by Edgar Rice Burroughs (1875-1950) but not published until 1929.
At the time Robert E. Howard was dreaming and writing of Reptoids in Brownwood, Texas, Edgar Rice Burroughs was in the process of moving his business office to a new building on Ventura Boulevard in what was about to become the new town of Tarzana, California. He hired a new business manager, Ralph Rothmund, formerly a paymaster at an iron mine in Hibbing, Minnesota. Rothmund obtained a dictaphone for Edgar and hired a group of secretaries who turned their employer's words into finished copy.
The result was three novels--Tarzan and the Lost Empire, Tanar of Pellucidar, and a first for Edgar--a team-up book, Tarzan at the Earth's Core, which brought Lord Greystoke into the Pellucidar fantasy series.
Unless he was a reader of Weird Tales, it's unlikely that Burroughs knew who Robert E. Howard was. But Robert knew who Burroughs was. He was an avid Burroughs fan who had no fewer than 12 ERB novels in his personal library. Curiously, most of these had to do with Mars, and REH paid homage to his mentor Burroughs in his "interplanetary" novel, Almuric.
So here they were--REH in Texas and ERB in California--each unaware of what the other was writing, and they both came up with Reptoids. Weird, huh?
But not half as weird as Burroughs' links to the occult in his early life.
Edgar Rice Burroughs was born in Chicago on September 1, 1875, the fifth of six boys born to George Tyler Burroughs and Mary Evaline Zieger. The elder Burroughs was a cavalry officer who fought on the Union side in the American Civil War, a prominent Republican, a successful businessman and the inventor of a workable electric- powered automobile.
(Editor's Comment: It's a shame that Burroughs' environmentally-friendly "Electromobile" didn't catch on when it was introduced at the Chicago World's Fair in 1893. Unfortunately, the vehicle was too expensive to build and market compared to gasoline-powered models.)
"Early in 1891, when an epidemic of influenza broke out in Chicago," Edgar's "parents sent him to Idaho where his two older brothers, Harry and George, with a Yale University classmate named Lew Sweetser, owned a ranch in Cassia County," 50 miles (80 kilometers) southwest of Pocatello.
For a 15-year-old city kid like Edgar, the cowboy life in Idaho was like a dream come true. He learned to rope, brand, ride and handle a pistol. "Burroughs' lifelong love of horses and cowboys dates from this period. He became an expert bronco-buster and met such characters as 'Texas Pete,' whom he wrote into his western novel, The Bandit of Hell's Bend. (1925)
(Editor's Note: Pete had a still on the ranch, which produced a form of "mountain dew" the older Burroughs boys dubbed "Old Eli" after their alma mater.)
It was kind of exciting, too, for Edgar to ride into Rexburg or Pocatello and catch a glimpse of Butch Cassidy (birth name: Robert Leroy Parker), the Sundance Kid (birth name: Harry Longbaugh), Harvey Logan, George "Flat Nose" Curry, William "News" Carver or some other desperado of the outlaw Wild Bunch.
Many readers of Burroughs' "John Carter of Mars" series have noticed the similarity between "the Martians" and some of the prehistoric root races Madame Blavatsky (birth name: Elena Petrovna von Hahn) wrote about in The Secret Doctrine. Where and when, they ask, was ERB exposed to Madame Blavatsky?
The answer: Idaho in 1891.
Lewis H. Sweetser, the partner of George and Harry Burroughs, was an ardent Spiritualist. Most likely, Madame Blavatsky's books were part of the ranch library. "Yale classmate Lewis Hobart Sweetser later became lieutenant governor of Idaho, business executive, writer and lecturer. He authored The Alexander Talisman and The Inner Voice Reveals," wrote ERB biographer Robert W. Fenton, "Sweetser for years had been interested in psychic phenomena and revealed to Harry Burroughs in 1937 that he had been receiving written messages from his wife, who had died some years before."
"In the 1939 Yale Class Record, Harry (Burroughs) told of his own psychic experiences, which, he said, included receiving messages from his wife, who had been killed in an automobile accident."
You can imagine Mary Zieger Burroughs' surprise in August 1891 when the front door opened and in walked this teenager wearing a Stetson hat, black leather vest, Levi jeans, cowboy boots with spurs and a well-oiled .45 caliber Colt Single Action Army revolver riding low on his hip. Lifting his hatbrim, Edgar grinned and said, "Howdy, Maw!"
George Burroughs took one look and hollered, "You're going to Phillips Academy!"
Although naturally very bright and a voracious reader, Edgar managed to flunk out of the prestigious prep school in Andover, Mass. after just one semester.
(Editor's Note: Edgar's classmate at Phillips Academy was Hiram Bingham, who discovered the Incan ruins at Machu Picchu in Peru in 1911 and was later a senator from Connecticut.)
"Convinced that his son needed the discipline of military training," Burroughs sent Edgar to the Michigan Military Academy at Orchard Lake," near Pontiac, in September 1892. After a rough start, Edgar fell under the influence of the school's commandant, Captain Charles King.
Capt. King was an 1866 graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y. and had an outstanding service record in the Army. He had served with Gen. George Crook in "the Sioux War" in Montana in 1876, with Gen. Oliver O. Howard in the pursuit of the Nez Perce Indians in Oregon and Idaho in 1877, and was an aide to Gen. Nelson A. Miles in Arizona in the 1880s. He was also an author in his own right. Between 1880 and his death in 1933, King wrote 60 novels, dealing with the American Civil War and the Old West, earning the title "America's Kipling."
(Editor's Note: "Sioux" and "Nez Perce" are commonly-used names for, respectively, the Lakota and Namipu indigenous peoples of the USA.)
Inspired by Capt. King, Edgar dreamed of going to West Point and becoming an officer in the U.S. Army. Trouble was, to get into the military academy, you had to be appointed by a member of Congress. And the Illinois delegation had already used up its quota of slots. So Edgar wrote to his brothers and Lewis Sweetser in Idaho, asking if he could be appointed as a cadet from that state.
Idaho had made the appointment a competition. Slots went to the top scorers of a written exam. Edgar took the exam with 117 other Idaho teens. Only the top 14 were accepted, and Edgar wasn't one of them.
So Edgar enlisted in the Army and was assigned to B Troop of the Seventh Cavalry at Fort Grant in southern Arizona. Here he became friends with Carson Napier, a cashiered British Army officer who had served in India and was starting a new life in the USA. "Carson Napier...became the model for the hero of Burroughs' popular Venus stories, written between 1931 and 1941."
(Editor's Comment: Does anyone else think Carson was hiding out in the Arizona desert from his ex-wives?)
But then "Burroughs suffered severe dysentery and was sent to the post infirmary where, to his dismay, it was discovered that he had a heart murmur ( arrythymia--J.T.) that would disqualify him for an army commission. He obtained an honorable discharge and returned to his brother's cattle ranch in Idaho."
After trying his hand at a couple of occupations, Edgar returned to Chicago and went to work for his father. "Encouraged by a regular salary of $15 per week, he married his childhood sweetheart, Emma Centennia Hulbert, in 1900."
However, economic disaster seemed to catch the young
couple at every turn.
Asked why he had turned to writing, Edgar replied, "I had a wife and two babies, a combination that does not work well without money."
And money Edgar did not have. He "pawned his wife's jewelry to buy food, lunching daily on three ginger snaps."
However, while Edgar was down and out, at one point selling pencil sharpeners in Chicago, some very strange things were happening in the skies of the USA.
On July 2, 1907, a "torpedo-shaped object" flew over Burlington, Vermont and exploded over the downtown area.
On October 25, 1908, a "mysterious airship" was seen over the town of Ware, Massachusetts. Five days later, strange circular objects were sighted hovering over White River Junction, Vermont.
On October 31, 1908, undertakers John E. Flynn and Philip S. Prophett saw a large black spherical object hovering over a factory in Bridgewater, Massachusetts. They watched for a couple of hours as the UFO played its searchlight over the town's streets and buildings and then flew east towards Plymouth, Mass.
In July 1909, "a mysterious red light" appeared in the sky over North Leominster and Princeton, Mass.
On December 15, 1909, hundreds of people saw a silver disc hover and fly at various speeds over Marlboro, Mass. A handful saw the object land on the south shore of nearby Lake Williams, and one man claimed he had heard "nonsensical voices" coming from the craft.
On December 22, 1909, a cigar-shaped object flew over Willimantic, Connecticut, aiming its bright searchlight at the downtown buildings. It was seen by several dozen witnesses, including Mayor John Shea.
In January 1910, a very large, cigar-shaped UFO appeared over Chattanooga, Tennessee and Huntsville, Alabama.
Indeed, it was right after this "Flap of 1909," that Edgar decided to try his hand at writing. But surprisingly, it wasn't the Tarzan epic he'd been mulling over since his student days at Philips Academy. It was something else entirely--an adventure set in outer space.
"It was a Martian romance, replete with dried riverbeds (and deserts that looked suspiciously like the terrain around Fort Grant, Arizona--J.T.), the atmosphere plant, incredible flora and fauna...and a swashbuckling hero from Virginia named Captain John Carter." And co- starring Deejah Thoris, "the most beautiful woman on two worlds." (Five if you count Luna, Phobos and Deimos-- J.T.)
"'Under the Moons of Mars' or A Princess of Mars, as it was eventually titled, is the tale of a soldier who falls into a trance in Arizona and wakes up on Mars. Over the years, more than a few readers have speculated that Burroughs' characters and the plot of Princess had come to him while in a trance of his own."
As Burroughs biographer John Taliaferro pointed out, "He never denied that he was a bit odd--he even encouraged his eccentric image as beneficial to his authorial mystique. And there is no doubt that his mind was unsettled at the time he wrote Princess. 'I had worked steadily for six years without a vacation,' he said of the period, 'and for fully half of my working hours of that time I had suffered tortures from headaches.' He attributed his condition to a blow from the head, received either in Idaho or during his stint as a railroad policeman" in Utah.
"Along with the headaches came intense nightmares, 'when I would see figures standing beside my bed, usually shrouded,' (my emphasis--J.T.) he later revealed in a letter to the Boston Society of Psychic Research."
"Eventually the headaches subsided, but the nightmares never did. His children and both his wives gave up counting, but never got used to, the occasions when he woke them up with his nocturnal thrashings and fulminations. Tent and shipmates during World War II said they were regularly treated to the same alarming outbursts."
When I read about the "figures standing beside my bed, usually shrouded," the alarm bells went off. In UFO lore, Reptoids are notorious for wearing voluminous robes with oversized hoods to conceal their scaly faces
Was Edgar Rice Burroughs a contactee?
Much of A Princess of Mars reads like a contactee memoir, from John Carter closing his eyes in an Arizona cave and then waking up jaybird-naked on Mars, to the last scene where John, now inexplicably back on Earth, has a psychic vision of Deejah Thoris and his hybrid toddler son, Carthoris, in a Martian city, looking up into the vastness of space.
Now, did anyone else we know suffer from these odd fits of somnambulism that Edgar seems to have had?
Yes, indeed! None other than Robert E. Howard, who was writing about Reptoids at the same time as Edgar in 1927.
According to L. Sprague de Camp, "Tom Ray Wilson, who lived in Cross Plains (Texas) until 1924 became another intimate" of REH. "As a high school boy, Tom sometimes drove Dr. (Isaac Mordecai) Howard (Robert's father--J.T.) on his rounds while the doctor dozed in the back seat of his car. From time to time, Bob slept over at Tom's house, but later Tom reported that he had been scared of Bob because he always carried a hunting knife and often a pistol and suffered from nightmares (my emphasis--J.T.). So severe were these nightmares that Tom used to tie Bob's toe to the bedpost with a piggin string lest, in his sleep, he rise up and attack his roommate."
In addition, Robert witnessed a UFO or "mystery meteor" at the ranch of his uncle, William Oscar McClung, in Crystal City, Texas in December 1910, when he was four years old. That's about the time that Edgar Rice Burroughs began writing A Princess of Mars.
I've been trying to figure out what could have happened on Earth in 1927 that might have been of interest to Reptoids or other extraterrestrials. Charles A. Lindbergh Jr.'s solo flight across the Atlantic? Roald Amundsen's trip to the South Pole? The first "talking" motion picture?
When Al Jolson appeared onscreen and said, "You ain't seen nothing yet, folks," was he referring to the coming of the Reptoids? (See the books Tarzan at the Earth's Core by Edgar Rice Burroughs, Ace Books, New York, N.Y., 1968, pages 198 and 199; A Culture of Conspiracy by Michael Barkun, University of California Press, Los Angeles, Cal., 2003, page 121; Tarzan Forever: The Life of Edgar Rice Burroughs, Scribner, New York, N.Y., 1999, pages 39 to 48, 57 to 66, and 231 to 233; The Big Swingers by Robert W. Fenton, Prentice-Hall, New York, N.Y., 1967, pages 13, 15, 21, 144 and 145; and Dark Valley Destiny: The Life of Robert E. Howard by L. Sprague de Camp, Catherine Crook de Camp and Jane Whittington Griffin, Bluejay Books, New York, N.Y., 1983, pages 142, 143, 223, 224, 225 and 226.)
Well, that's it for this week. Join us next time for more UFO, Fortean and paranormal news from around the planet Earth, brought to you by "the paper that goes home- -UFO Roundup." See you next time.
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