It's common knowledge that the Republic of Cascadia was home to the first modern sightings of paraterrestrial craft, colloquially known as UFOs. Although the 1947 sighting of "flying saucers" near Mount Rainier is the most famous, that was actually the second sighting following an incident three days earlier on Maury Island that also marked the operational debut of the Men in Black.
Not as commonly known though is that Cascadia was home to some of the first sightings of Unidentified Flying Humanoids (UFHs) -- mysterious individuals employing personal flying devices of unknown technology toward inscrutable ends.
It all started with a curious encounter on Jan. 6, 1948 by Chehalis, Washington resident Bernize Zaikowski (reported here from the Jan. 21 Walla Walla Union-Bulletin):
Chehalis Woman Sees 'Birdman,' Hears Whizzing
CHEHALIS, (UP)—They are seeing things in the skies in these parts again—this time a "whosit-whatzit."
Mrs. Bernice Zaikowski, 61, reported a "birdman" flipping around the roof of her barn earlier this month, could hear a "sizzing and whizzing" and added—"there he was, just 200 feet above."
She said the man had silver wings and appeared to manipulate controls strapped to his chest but there appeared to be no motive power. The wings didn't flap and there was no propeller, she said.
Chief of Police Thomas Murry has refused to investigate and McChord field army authorities, thinking of the flying saucers reports, are skeptical.
Only Mrs. Zaikowski is positive.
Here's another report with more details from the Jan. 21 Waterloo Daily Courier (I haven't been able to uncover a local report or the original UP wire report that these are presumably based on):
Saucer District Now Reporting Wings on Men
Chehalis, Wash.—(U.P.)—The state of Washington, where the first flying saucers were reported, outdid itself Wednesday.
A women reported that she had sighted a "flying man."
Mrs. Bernice Zaikowski of Chehalis said she saw a man with wings attached to his back fly over her barn at an altitude of 200 feet and disappear to the south.
Mrs. Zaikowski said the upright birdman made a "sizzing and whizzing" noise as he climbed and banked in flight, but that his wings neither flapped nor rotated.
She said she could see no motive power such as a propeller either above or in front of him.
Authorities greeted the report with an oblique "Huh?"
But the Polish-born Mrs. Zaikowski insisted she had a good view of the aerialist as he skimmed her barn on Jan. 6.
She said that some school children were with her at the time and ran to the back yard "for a better view."
Chehalis is not for from where the original "flying saucers" were reported about a year ago.
[UPDATE: 2016-01-27] A wire report from International News Service, reprinted in the Jan. 25 Fresno Bee, includes more details, as well as military denials and a refusal by the police to investigate:
Birdman Is New Aerial Mystery In Washington
CHEHALIS (Wash.), Jan 24.—(INS)—A mysterious birdman added today to the list of aerial apparitions that began with reports of "flying saucers" last Summer.
Mrs. Bertha Zaikowski, 61, insists she saw the birdman go "sizzing and whizzing" through the air 200 feet above her Chehalis barn January 6th.
An air force officer at McChord Field, near Tacoma, Wash., said the report "sounded like one of those saucers deals—I just can't put any stock in it." Police Chief Tom Murray of Chehalis refused with a chuckle to investigate.
Mrs. Zaikowski declared the birdman was equipped with big, silver wings fastened over his shoulders with straps. He seemed to handle controls strapped to his chest as he buzzed along.
Acquaintances do not question the Polish born woman's truthfulness. She claimed the "wings" drew near the man's body as he climbed and extended when he hovered, banked or flew on a level course.
She still wonders what made him go, for the "wings" did not flap and she could not see any propellor. It could not have been a one man helicopter, she declared, for the wings did not rotate.
Mrs. Zaikowski said at least five other Chehalis people told her of seeing the man. She said:
There were a lot of small children coming home from school. They saw the man, too, and asked me if they could go into my back yard so that they could watch him longer as he flew toward the south end of the city.
Three months later, more birdmen were reported over Longview, in the direction the previous birdman was seen heading. Wire report reprinted in the April 11 Cumberland Sunday Times (MD):
Motorized "Birdmen" Mystify People In Washington Town
LONGVIEW, Wash., April 10 (INS)—Reports of three motorized birdmen soaring over Longview had the lower Columbia River area agog today.
Two laundry employes said they saw the human airplanes or animated comic strip characters fly over the city without the help of parachutes. In January a similar birdman, singular then, had been reported at Chehalis.
The Longview apparition was reported by Mrs. Viola Johnson and James Pittman, both employees of a laundry. They said they saw it at the same time.
Out Of Sight First
They called other workers, but before they could get outside the flyers were out of sight.
Mrs. Johnson, a 56-year-old widow, said:
"As far as I can judge they were about 250 feet high, in dark, drab flying suits. I'm not very good at judging distance though."
Pittman could not be reached.
Mrs. Johnson went on:
"They had some kind of apparatus on their sides that looked like guns, but I know it couldn't have been guns. They were going about as fast as a freight train.
"I couldn't see any propellers or any motors tied on them, but I could hear motors which sounded about like airplane motors, but not so loud."
Saw Feet Dangling
"I couldn't make out their arms, but I could see their feet dangling, and they kept moving their heads like they were looking around. I couldn't tell if they had goggles on, but their heads looked like they had helmets. I couldn't see their faces."
Other Longview residents reported hearing plane motors about the same time and seeing three planes circle at a high altitude.
The Chehalis report was made by Mrs. Bernice Zaikowski, 61, who said she saw a flying man go "sizzing and whizzing" about 200 feet above her barn.
Mrs. Zaikowski's flying man had big, silver wings and seemed to be working controls on his chest. Neither woman saw a propellor.
Given the timing and direction of their movements, a reasonable conclusion would be that these birdmen were passengers of the paraterrestrial crafts that made their initial incursions into our space/time at Maury Island and Mt. Rainier. However, while it's tempting to assume paraterrestrial, or at the very least the NWO, involvement in these incidents, especially considering the technology involved, this conclusion isn't certain.
Individuals seemingly unaligned with the major powers of the time who use advanced technology to move about are not unheard of. Perhaps the most famous example of this phenomena was Spring-Heeled Jack, a man who gripped Victorian London in a panic over his use of regenerative gait-enhancement technology to escape the repercussions of his mischief by leaping like an oversized flea. Spring-Heeled Jack and the Cascadian birdmen may have simply been their times' versions of hyperinventor John Quincy St. Clair, who is known to teleport himself over distances through hyperspace, sometimes by accident.
[UPDATE: 2016-01-27] On Oct. 30, 1976, Daily Chronicle (Centralia) sports editor Chuck Wilfong wrote a short article about UFHs (or "winged weirdies" as he called them), in which he gives an update to the Zaikowski sighting, claiming that the identity of the birdman had been discovered:
Beware! The mothman cometh
The sighting caused a minor sensation in the region at the time, with both the Seattle PI and Portland Oregonian giving it a big play.
Such coverage, however, did not exactly delight the Zaikowski family.
"They (the newspapers) made it seem so dumb," explained Mrs. George Zaikowski this week. "She (Bernize) was old country and when she tried to explain what she saw it sounded weird, hard to understand."
Particularly irksome was the fact that, while both metropolitan dailies played up the event, they did not give equal space to the explanation.
The Zaikowskis learned later that the apparition was a man in a "parakite," forerunner to the present day hang glider.
"It was about the time they were trying to find someplace to use hang gliders," Mrs. George Zaikowski recalls. "There were those who felt this area would have been a good place for it."
To Mrs. Bernize Zaikowski, though, born in Poland and used to old country ways, the contraption was something strange.
And it was really. Any flying man is.
While a convincing explanation for the orthonoid, it doesn't explain the fact that both Zaikowski and Johnson heard motor sounds but neither saw a propeller. There is no doubt that various winged personal flying contraptions such as parasails and hang gliders were being openly developed by known parties at the time, but they all used either propeller systems or were silent gliders. None had the retractable wings or chest controls described by Zaikowski.
The mystery of the Cascadian Birdman remains.