West Virginia prides itself as a land of majestic mountains, sparkling streams, coal to feed hungry power plants, a unique place in American history and a fiercely independent people accustomed to overcoming hard times with a resiliency unrivaled by anyone else.
Now add another chapter to the 35th state’s storied history — more documented UFO activity than any other place in America.
Even eclipsing Roswell.
For proof, author-researcher Frank Feschino points to his exhaustive study that revealed three separate alien aircraft crash-landed a combined 10 times on the historic night of Sept. 12, 1952, the benchmark of the UFO phenomena, when the “Flatwoods Monster” was born.
All of the craft escaped, although heavily damaged by hopscotching across the rugged terrain of West Virginia, flying low to avoid radar detection, he says.
“They were damaged and puddle jumping, and taking off — that’s what they were doing,” Feschino says.
On a steep hillside, a bevy of youngsters drawn away from a game of sandlot football, along with some adults, were shaken out of their shoes by the spectacle of a 12-foot, metallic object that emanated a pungent odor of sulfur and made sounds that reminded one witness of bacon sizzling in a fry pan.
Feschino has two books published on the Flatwoods incident, and a third is a work in progress to be titled “The Flatwoods Monster — From Myth to Reality.”
Come Sept. 12 — the 56th anniversary of that riveting episode in Mountain State folklore — Feschino and renowned UFO researcher-lecturer Stanton Friedman plan to headline the opening of a two-day, second extravaganza, this one set in St. Albans, where the author says a craft landed in a frenzy of activity half a century ago.
This year’s show is titled “Flatwoods Monster meets Mothman,” the latter a reference to a bird-like creature said to have haunted Point Pleasant just before the 1967 collapse of the Silver Bridge. A key player will be Freddie May, one of the youngsters lured from a pickup game of football back in 1952 and a surviving witness to the “Flatwoods Monster.” An illess kept him from appearing at last summer’s first such event.
Feschino gleaned up to 70 percent of his findings in plowing through the Air Force’s official document on unknown aircraft, titled “Project Blue Book,” and finds its amazing that Roswell, N.M., for all its reputation, is covered very little in government papers.
“You have some newspaper reports that say the Army captured the saucer, but as far as the case itself, the official standing on the Roswell case is that it didn’t happen,” he says.
Based on “Blue Book,” 1952 was the high water mark for UFO activity, with 1,501 reports and 303 officially listed as “unknowns,” and the largest concentration — 1,134 reports — came in the summer months of July, August and September.
Officially, the government uses the term “flap,” describing it as “a condition, a situation or a state of being, of a group of persons, characterized by an advanced degree of confusion that has not quite reached panic proportions.”
For some reason, Feschino says, no one paid any attention to Flatwoods, but the author invested 17 years of his life digging into the story, learning of 100 different locations where suspected alien craft were spied in nine states, largely along the Eastern Seaboard.
“There were thousands of people who saw these things, up and down the East Coast,” he says.
“What I did was to figure out the flight path trajectories. I worked with all types of people — aeronautical people, pilots, astronomers, scientists, jet people, police officers, Air Force people. They helped and assisted me by putting this whole mess of sightings together.”
Using his own master map, he pinpointed the flights unearthed by exhaustive research.
“And over all the years researching the story, it just kept getting bigger and bigger and bigger,” Feschino said.
“By using the ‘Blue Book’ as my primary source, I would go into local newspapers and just pick up the trails. When I figured out what direction these UFOs were flying, I would go from the Baltimore area and through Maryland, West Virginia and Ohio, and I picked up the trail these UFOs were flying that night.”
On the critical night of Sept. 12, Feschino says, he learned of 21 hours of sustained UFO activity, and West Virginia was the hub of it all.
“There were 10 actual crash landings that night in West Virginia,” he says. “They’re all documented. This is what took 17 years to figure out.”
In order, some of those landings occurred when the first spaceship crashed at Oglebay Park near Wheeling, at St. Albans, in Charleston, then up in a suburb named South Hills, back into the Watt Powell Park area of the capital and in Cabin Creek, where the same UFO landed five times, the author says.
A second craft buzzed the nation’s capital, flew over Virginia, then landed in Flatwoods at 7:25 p.m., where the local denizens christened it the “Green Monster,” Feschino said.
Finally, a third ship hit the earth in a community called Holly, just outside Flatwoods, took off and crashed a second time in Sugar Creek along the Elk River, lifted off again and then went into a third tailspin at Frametown, the author said.
Some debris was scattered at the Flatwoods crash site and was shipped off by an Air Force officer to Washington, including pieces of metal and chunks of an unknown, plasticlike material.
“I suppose if you went digging through some of these areas, you might find something,” Feschino speculated.
Feschino cannot say if any effort was ever made by any of the alien invaders to make contact with West Virginians or other earthlings, but says their ships ranged from the standard saucer-shape model to the round ones with a flat side, to ones that resembled cigars.
Yet, his long-running and exhaustive research have convinced him that he has unearthed the truth.
“I actually re-drove and re-enacted that whole night, driving all through Braxton County,” he said.
“It took me years to do it. It was a cold case and I reconstructed it.”