Bat Beast of Kent
In 1963, four British teens saw a UFO land in a nearby forest, but what started happening next was much more bizzare.
On the evening of November 16, 1963, 17-year old John Flaxton, 18-year old Mervyn Hutchinson and two other friends were walking home from a party on Sandling Road in the county of Kent — a region apparently full of cryptozoological and paranormal activity — when they saw a silent, glowing, orb-like object descending from the sky.
The unusual, self illuminated, ovoid object, which was described as being just a few meters in diameter, hovered above a field. It eventually made its way behind the trees and settled into the woods at Sandling Park.
While the teenagers were still stunned, because of the encounter, something much more unsettling would soon grab their attention. Moments after the extraordinary craft apparently landed behind the trees, the teens noticed a shaking in the brush and what came out was one of the most unique “varmints” ever to be mentioned in ufology.
Later the four eyewitnesses would explain that an erratic, shambling, quasi-humanoid figure emerged from the woods and waddled towards them. The beast apparently looked like a headless bat that was approximately 5-feet tall, with large webbed feet and wings protruding from its back.
In Hutchinson’s own words:
“It didn’t seem to have any head. There were huge wings on its back… like bat wings.”
The group of friends, understandably overwhelmed with terror and adrenaline, sprinted away from the freakish bat-thing and made their way to the nearest police station. Once there they related their tale to what one must assume were highly skeptical officers. Flaxton would later state that he had “felt cold all over” during the episode.
Less than a week later, on the 21st of November, a young man named Keith Croucher confirmed the teens’ claim of an object soaring over Kent, when announced that he too had seen a oddly shaped craft hovering over the local soccer field, not far from where Flaxton and his friends had claimed to have their encounter with a UFO and its occupant .
On November 23rd, John McGoldrick decided that the reports coming from Sandling Park were simply too outrageous to be ignored. So, after soliciting the help of an unnamed friend, McGoldrick and his cohort made their way to the site of all the unusual goings on, hoping perchance to have a face to face encounter with the strange alien creature.
Once inside the wooded area, McGoldrick claimed that he and his companion discovered no less than three “footprints” — each 24-inches long and nine inches across. He also stated that they had stumbled across a area where the foliage bracken had been flattened, as if by some tremendous weight.
McGoldrick’s claims caught the ear of the local press, who were no doubt eager to feed the public’s ever growing appetite for new information regarding this strange phenomenon. To that end, the newsmen accompanied McGoldrick back to the scene of the “weirdness” on December 11th.
While the reporters did not manage to turn up any new evidence, it was stated that thickets were still bathed in an eerie glow, which continued for some days before subsiding. The case was reported in scads of newspapers as well as a 1971 issue of “Flying Saucer Review,” under the title the “Saltwood Mystery,” due to its proximity to the area.
In the 1970s, ufologist Chris Wolfe also re-opened the case of this almost avian anomaly. According to records, he interviewed Flaxton and also inspected the scene of the unearthly encounter.
Following his investigation, Wolfe came to the dubious conclusion that what Flaxton, Hutchinson and their chums actually saw was an ordinary crow oddly illuminated by the flashing of an electric train passing not far away in the chilled autumnal air. He apparently did not attempt to explain, however, how the crow managed to appear to be nearly 5-feet in height, web footed or headless. Other skeptics have even more dubiously suggested that the quartet saw nothing more than a scarecrow.
Thus ends the apparent saga of the Bat Beast of Kent, but it has been pointed out by numerous investigators that — as unusual as this creature’s description was — it bears an uncanny resemblance to its British crypto-cousin (and Cornwall’s most famous monster) the Owlman.
The headless, bat-like description also begs comparison to a bizarre, yet eerily common, breed of cryptid that includes West Virginia’s Mothman, Germany’s Freiburg Shreiker, China’s Man-Dragon and the former Soviet Union’s Black Bird of Chernobyl —
While, admittedly, none of the young eyewitnesses saw the thing actually exit the UFO, one would be hard pressed to deny at least some connection between the unusual aircraft seen landing in the woods at Sandling Park and the monster that soon was sighted… and ever after into the lore of both ufology and cryptozoology.