Lighting The Flatwoods Fuse
by Alfred Lehmberg
When I awoke early on the seventh everyone had already been up for awhile moving like a platoon of Army Ants. On the previous day, after I'd retired, it had been discovered that the venue where the event had been planned was short required sound and lighting equipment! Replacement equipment provided by the furious activity of Larry Bailey's two younger sons drew too much power for the recently restored 50's type movie theatre and was blowing fuses. The sound and light boards needed to be virtually rewired, heavy klieg lights had to be procured and mounted, colored gels and masks were cut and affixed to carousels while rehearsals and run-throughs had to be completed—yesterday!
Where were the expected harsh shouts, finger-pointing, hurtful allegations, angry accusations, and exasperated capitulations? Nowhere to be found, reader! In its stead was a calmness, ready volunteerism, and sacrifice to common cause. I had other things I probably should have been doing, but I even found myself setting up Stanton Friedman's 35mm slide presentations or helping Doug Gokey, one of the event security guys, set up the boards and displays of Feschino's Flatwoods mini-museum.
Forgetting the preceding for just a moment, I report that I was treated to encounters with my fellow Homo sapiens rather adding to the unusual fellowship—fellowship so thick you could breath it like it was oxygen enriched air:
Shoot Them Down! It is an important story, reader, perhaps even the story given the remarkable genuineness of it. It deserved the best possible foot forward and everyone gravitated to that end—this story would be told, brave persons would be celebrated, and the sacrifice of departed service members would be remembered and even vindicated! That brave deceased, involved and perhaps even perishing in undeclared and secret air war with extraterrestrials—just pause a moment to breathe on that—is difficult to blow off. Everyone was spring-loaded to giving their best.
First up is John Barker. From 1950 thru 1958, Barker, an acknowledged expert in military aviation history, was a close 1952 associate of early WV radio personality Hugh McPherson. McPherson was a huge WV Personality.
Barker, now in his eighties and still tack sharp, was out to the Bailey Fisher farm, scene of the celebrated Flatwoods Monster incident, soon after the highly strange affair went down! He took reports on the acrid alien smells, saw the terror in interviewed participants, and wandered the—still fresh—landing sites. He observed the cordons restricting entry into the inexplicable "what-are-they-doing-here" military presence... forever impressed, himself, that we are not alone. Barker—still a trusted, if largely retired professional person with a long established wealth in community idiosyncratic credit regarding his honor and dependability—was there.
We spent about 90 minutes chatting about his deep and abiding interest in UFOs. and a warmer and more eloquent elder gentleman I have yet to meet. Listening to the articulate Mr. Barker, I was reminded of the depth, scope, and timelessness of the ufological milieu I suspect I could get in no other way...
Next up was Scott Ramsey. Mr. Ramsey, FYI, has focused the past 20 years tracking and documenting the facts, piece by unsettling piece, to some pretty startling conclusions regarding the so-called "Aztec Incident," a related affair. This incident remains, at least, relevant given the activity on both sides of the military/ ET equation which Frank Feschino trots out in two bulletproof current additions he can stand by. That should get juices flowing! ...But you, reader, discount what Feschino's discovered in his two decade and change sifting the data at the reader's peril. The first edition of his work, remember, was butchered by an errant publisher.
Decidedly, Feschino has separated fact from fiction regarding the alleged Aztec, New Mexico Crash/Landing of 1948. His painstaking investigative journey has taken him to 29 states and drawn interviews from some 60-plus 1st and 2nd hand witnesses. In addition, Mr. Ramsey has archived over 2200 supporting Atomic Energy Commission and US Air Force Documents, including uncovering three old and abandoned radar bases still suspiciously secret more than half a century later! What's up with that, eh?
Ramsey's been a busy man, and no less busy is his lovely wife, companion, and partner in the concise, detailed, and extensive research, Suzanne. Scott himself was very personable, had an affability provoking a comfortable friendliness. Scott was there to support Feschino.
We've never been "in Kansas," reader. The Ramsey's understand same.
Realize, reader, in a short digression, that the jury is still way out on the Aztec occurrence. MJ-12...
Flatwoods—all the cases that more
recent errant persons, fulsome skeptibunkies and crass klasskurtxians—struggling
for the unjust fame of current punditry—love to try to
discount. Denial seems the new
Though, further trying to throw a bucket of cold water on the Flatwoods affair is not the carpet-bagging stranger coming to the great state of West Virginia who doesn't really make a dime even trying to cover expenses... it is West Virginia's own, ironically enough. Based on fatuous bupkis? Some local press came not to praise "Caesar," but to cremate him!
Locked into the dreary pedantic and unable to appreciate at least one impassioned metaphor, Mr. Bill Lynch, astonishingly if predictably clueless and uninformed—but with a ready if inexplicable sneer regardless—misses the point, the chance, and the journalistic boat, eh? Missed the boat, when he knew better: follows, a link to a dead page at a
Newspaper... Charleston, WV
http://thegazz.com/gblogs/strangeplaces/2007/08/29/space-aliens-want-our-women-and-maybe-a-corndog/ The link is dead but the reader can detect the predictable cant. A "good laugh" is had all around, eh?
Relegating perhaps hundreds of brave servicemen and the sacrifices they made to an insulting joke regarding "aliens wanting our women" and perhaps as some second choice, "corndogs"... is in the poorest of taste, at best. At worst it is a stake in the heart of an honorable pecuniary opportunity for
Virginia that could not be achieved in any other way!
Famous flying saucers don't land in just
everyone's back forty. How ironic to
spit in ones own face, but Mr. Lynch seemed to have achieved same.
But the program itself. What about the program itself, minus the 12 foot Flatwoods Monster replicas, the huge saucers painted in 3D, the fog curling off the front of the stage, the red lasers, colored lights and finishing mock shuttle (of the imagination?) launches powered by twin nitrogen gas cannons? What about the program itself, minus the street closed off outside and festooned with automobiles popular in 1952—even one authentic and perfectly reconditioned Olive Drab Army Jeep looking ready enough to strike out to the crash site circa 1952—all highlighted with easel mounted placards iterating facts and figures of the affair at Flatwoods?
The program, patient reader, is a compelling multimedia presentation including a very thorough telling of an astonishing story as real as spots on apples and more relevant than football on TV! Persuasive and compelling original songs by Anthony Sica, performed live and on video, question our Government's role in the aggregate ignorance of every one of us. One of his compelling songs even channels the spirit of one of the pilots lost as a result of "Shoot Down" orders issued by the highest authority, plaintively beseeching that he be remembered for his sacrifice!
Frank Fechino gives a short talk before showing his Flatwoods documentary film and solemnly iterates the names of pilots known to be lost in the incompetently reported, poorly conducted, and childishly chronicled, if suspicious, "official records" of the time. He would honestly choke up, a little, as he recited this harrowing litany on the first night of the program. He recovered, and wouldn't blubber like I would later—forgetting he sure primed my pump—but Feschino thoughtfully mourned the memories of young men forgotten and betrayed even as they bravely sailed into the teeth of their ultimate sacrifice!
The reader is asked to imagine himself—or herself—as the pilot of an all-weather state of the art Air Force jet September, 12 1952, during a documented 21 and a half hours of sustaind UFO activity. The jet, loaded with dozens of transonic ballistic rockets sits—engines roaring—on the dark and stormy tarmac in standby with orders compelling one to launch themselves into the teeth of the complete unknown: ordered to interdict, engage, and shoot down UFOs. Such orders were issued, reader.
Last not least, Stanton Friedman, in great voice and in his usual inimitable and extremely well reasoned manner, lays out for the listener not only how possible it is for Aliens to be here, but how possible it is, based on our own well understood technology, for us... to get there! This may begin to explain an Alien's interest in our humble Earth. Enough.
Reader? I must report that the two day program, conceived in an efficacious sincerity and a tireless diligence, was a success without qualification even as it cost all the participants at the start. See? It's to become, I suspect, a dry fuse leading to an explosion of the future... for the future!
Consider, this investment of time, passion, and real dollars was supported in an unstinting and selfless camaraderie entirely bereft of ego! It was executed with imagination, intelligence, sacrifice, and bravery; the Event was a bona fide success. Smoke that, hostile punditry!
In a sidebar, this writer hopes that as a result of this success the people of West Virginia realize three things:
One, that they are top dead center on the short list of one of the most astonishing and precipitous events of modern times, two, that they owe Larry Bailey and his three fine sons, especially Gilbert Bailey... three of West Virginia's own, a hearty vote of thanks for bringing the preceding to them... and three... just how poorly they are served by what passes for some journalism in the beautiful state of West Virginia.
The Flatwoods Fuse is lit folks. Buckle in.
Eh? Oh, right. The aforementioned tears.
Larry Bailey decided at the very beginning of his initiative that he wanted to tie kids in somehow with the interesting historical aspect of the Flatwoods affair and its presentation. Consequently, when the opportunity provided by Charleston's Heritage Towers Museum presented itself, that he sponsor a Flatwoods Monster Art contest for age-grouped kids, Bailey jumped aboard without the slightest hesitation.
Well, the two-day program is finally at an end and we're shutting down the theater on the last night. Everyone is exhausted and ready for some down-time. Bailey is insistent, though, that we return to the Heritage Museum, unannounced, and congratulate the kids who'd won in their age groups. Well, at this point, we'd have done anything for old Ben Cartright, eh? We put on our spurs, and in a kind of Flatwoods Monster Posse, moseyed down the street on foot a few hundred meters to the Museum. Included was Larry and his son Gilbert, Stanton Friedman, Frank Feschino, and myself among others.
We walked in the front door of the, really, very interesting cultural museum—let me quickly digress and tell the reader about a genuine ceremonial grain door from the Ufologically famous Dogon Tribe in Africa on display! Look that up! Anyway...
The museum is all tricked out "Flatwoods monster and UFOs," the kids have been watching UFO and Science programs all afternoon and evening, and they're keyed up in a pleasant and productive sort of way, anyway. Celebrating their own very real local history, the kids wave glowing green chem-stix as the adults validate same wearing fluorescent green and bobbing antenna. Absent from these educated persons was the knowing look, the klasskurtxian sneer, or the remotest smug pellicule of same (sic). I was genuinely touched.
Well, into this themed and very pleasant exuberance of kids and adults, and a big feature of the program all day authoritatively on television anyway—walks Stanton T. Friedman! Friedman is followed by the "star of the extravaganza down the street at the theatre," followed by a merry band exploding flashes and otherwise chronicling the event, plus the event promoter.
Well, the kids were all "...oh WoW!" and "We don't believe it!"! Eyes were wide and breathing was quick and fast! I could tell that the kids appreciated this capstone to a great day for them... firing their imaginations with a future looming somehow beyond economic depressions outside, right here in their own
! I should have recognized the signs, the
thickening in the throat and itchy eyes.
I tried, successfully, for some small control. Capital
The winners of the age-grouped art contest quickly presented themselves and they all just beamed, but one little fellow fairly eclipsed the rest. He glowed with an inner light bespeaking, it seemed, that this was the absolute and uncontested high point of his short life so far; heroes and book-writers like Stanton Friedman had walked down to see him, congratulate him, and shake his hand... He looked up grinning into Feschino's face and said, "Mr. Feschino, I want to write and draw and paint, just like you someday..."
Need I go on, reader? Eyes filled right there, but with a masterful control—I'm a manly man dammit—they didn't spill until we were out of the museum into the hot night walking back to the theatre. Still, I was fine, recovering nicely... then Larry had to say, "Did you see the expression on that little kid talking to Frank?"
My tears gushed like rococo fountains. Me and anyone else with a lick of sense, a shred of intelligence, or some small brace of consciousness, eh? No apologies here. Remembering what was said earlier about necks and field stations, dare to mock me, eh?
"Son, when a man knows deep down in his heart, when he really knows, he doesn't have to argue about it, he doesn't have to prove anything. Just knowing is enough." -- Ben Cartright
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