point just opposite where he'd seen the lights.
I stopped him at this point to find out a little bit more about why he'd decided to go back. People normally didn't go running off into palmetto thickets infested with rattlesnakes at night. He had a logical answer. The lights looked like an airplane crashing into the woods some distance away. He didn't believe that was what he saw, but the thought that this could be a possibility bothered him. After all, he had said, he was a scoutmaster, and if somebody was in trouble, his conscience would have bothered him the rest of his life if he hadn't investigated and it had been somebody in need of help.
A fifteen-minute radio program had just started, and he told the boys that he was going to go into the woods, and that if he wasn't back by the time the program ended they should run down the road to a farmhouse that they had passed and get help. He got out and started directly into the woods, wearing a faded denim billed cap and carrying machete and two flashlights. One of the lights was a spare he carried in his back pocket.
He had traveled about 50 yards off the road when he ran into a palmetto thicket, so he stopped and looked for a clear path. But finding none, he started pushing his way through the waist-high tangle of brush.
When he stopped, he recalled later, he had first become aware of an odd odor. He couldn't exactly describe it to us, except to say that it was "sharp" or "pungent." It was very faint, actually more like a subconscious awareness at first. Another sensation he recalled after the incident was a very slight difference in temperature, hardly perceivable, like walking by a brick building in the evening after the sun has set. He hadn't thought anything about either the odor or the heat at the time but later, when they became important, he remembered them.
Paying no attention to these sensations then, he pushed on through the brush, looking up occasionally to check the north star, so that he could keep traveling straight east. After struggling through about 30 yards of palmetto undergrowth, he noticed a change in the shadows ahead of him and stopped to shine the flashlight farther ahead of him to find out if he was walking into a clearing or into one of the many ponds that dot that particular Florida area. It was a clearing.
The boy scouts in the car had been watching the scoutmaster's progress since they could see his light bobbing around. Occasionally he would shine it up at a tree or across the landscape for an instant, so they knew where he was in relation to the trees and thickets. They saw him stop at the edge of the open, shadowed area and shine his light ahead of him.
The scoutmaster then told us that when he stopped this second time he first became consciously aware of the odor and the heat. Both became much more
noticeable as he stepped into the clearing. In fact, the heat became almost unbearable or, as he put it, "oppressively moist, making it hard to breathe."
He walked a few more paces and suddenly got a horrible feeling that somebody was watching him. He took another step, stopped, and looked up to find the north star. But he couldn't see the north star, or any stars. Then he suddenly saw that almost the whole sky was blanked out by a large dark shape about 30 feet above him.
He said that he had stood in this position for several seconds, or minutes--he didn't know how long--because now the feeling of being watched had overcome any power of reasoning he had. He managed to step back a few paces, and apparently got out from under the object, because he could see the edge of it silhouetted against the sky.
As he backed up, he said, the air became much cooler and fresher, helping him to think more clearly. He shone his light up at the edge of the object and got a quick but good look. It was circular-shaped and slightly concave on the bottom. The surface was smooth and a grayish color. He pointed to a gray linoleum-topped desk in the intelligence officer's room. "Just like that," he said. The upper part had a dome in the middle, like a turret. The edge of the saucer- shaped object was thick and had vanes spaced about every foot, like buckets on a turbine wheel. Between each vane was a small opening, like a nozzle.
The next reaction that the scoutmaster recalled was one of fury. He wanted to harm or destroy whatever it was that he saw. All he had was a machete, but he wanted to try to jump up and strike at whatever he was looking at. No sooner did he get this idea than he noticed the shadows on the turret change ever so slightly and heard a sound, "like the opening of a well-oiled safe door." He froze where he stood and noticed a small ball of red fire begin to drift toward him. As it floated down it expanded into a cloud of red mist. He dropped his fight and machete, and put his arms over his face. As the mist enveloped him, he passed out.
The boy scouts, in the car, estimated that their scoutmaster had been gone about five minutes when they saw him stop at the edge of the clearing, then walk on in. They saw him stop seconds later, hesitate a few more seconds, then shine the light up in the air. They thought he was just looking at the trees again. The next thing they said they saw was a big red ball of fire engulfing him. They saw him fall, so they spilled out of the car and took off down the road toward the farmhouse.
The farmer and his wife had a little difficulty getting the story out of the boys, they were so excited. All they could get was something about the boys'