1877 September 18, New York, MA3 102


    “Another kind of Man in Black haunted Brooklyn, New York, in 1877-80. He had wings and performed aerial acrobatics over the heads of the crowds of sunbathers at Coney Island. A Mr. W. H. Smith first reported these strange flights in a letter to the New York Sun, September 18, 1877. The creature was not a bird, but "a winged human form."

    This flying man became a local sensation and, according to the New York Times, September 12, 1880, "many reputable persons" saw him as he was "engaged in flying toward New Jersey." He maneuvered at an altitude of about one thousand feet, sporting "bat's wings" and making swimming-like movements. Witnesses claimed to have seen his face clearly. He "wore a cruel and determined expression." The entire figure was black, standing out sharply against the clear blue sky. Since he wasn't towing an advertising sign behind him, and since the primitive gliders of experimenters during that period rarely traveled far, and then usually downhill, the incidents are without explanation.

    Leonardo da Vinci studied the flights of birds in the fifteenth century and tried to build a manpowered ornithopter without success. Thousands of other basement inventors have worked on the idea since; constructing canvas wings that were moved by the muscles of the optimistic pilots. Most of these weird-looking machines became instant junk on their first test flights. And several overconfident types went crashing to their deaths when they leaped off cliffs and high buildings in their homemade wings. It was not until May 2, 1962, that a man really succeeded in flying under his own power. Mr. John C. Wimpenny flew 993 yards at an altitude of five feet in a contraption with rigid wings and a pedal-driven propeller at Hatfield, Hertfordshire, in England.

The principle of the ornithopter—propulsion through the birdlike movement of wings—has been known for centuries but no one has been able to make it work. No human, that is. Machines flying through the air with moving wings have frequently been sighted during UFO waves. But the UFO enthusiasts tend to ignore any reports which describe things other than disks or cigar-shaped objects.”

- The Mothman Prophecies, p. 27-28.