1942 Duane Hodgkinson Sighting

During World War II, an American soldier walked into a clearing near Finschhafen (New Guinea) with his buddy. Duane Hodgkinson and his army buddy had obtained permission to visit a village west of Finschhafen. On the way, the local native guide had gone ahead as the two Americans looked at some large ants in a jungle clearing. Soon after entering the clearing, a wild pig (probably startled by the men) ran through the grass. That pig running through the jungle clearing was probably what startled a creature that then starting running and flapping its wings. It flew up out of the clearing and away over the trees. The two soldiers were talking about what it could have been when it flew back over the clearing, giving them another chance to look it over. Hodgkinson was fascinated by the long horn- like appendage coming out of the back of the head of the huge flying creature. He centered his attention on the head of the “pterodactyl,” so he did not notice what other eyewitnesses have seen: a diamond-shaped flange at the end of the tail. During interviews, years after the sighting, the American World War II veteran gave an estimate of the wingspan of the apparent pterosaur: similar to that of a Piper-Tri Pacer airplane (about 29 feet).

Duane Hodgkinson was a weather observer during his military service in 1944. He had lived on a farm in the midwestern United
States, during his teenage years, before World War II. As he and his army buddy entered the jungle clearing, just west of
Finschhafen (on the mainland of what was then called New Guinea), on a clear day, nothing much looked strange. The grass was
about two feet high and some large ants were crawling on a nearby log; the two men were looking at those ants, for they were
bigger than any seen back in the States. The point is that nothing prevented Hodgkinson from getting a feel for the size of that
clearing: the other side was about 100 feet away: an ordinary little clearing. . . . almost.
What happened next was not, at first, extraordinary: A wild pig, probably startled by the human intrusion, ran through the grass
nearby. Then followed the epitome of strangeness: On the far side of that clearing, something was startled by that pig, something
that flew up into the air, revealing a wingspan of close to thirty feet. Hodgkinson was fascinated by the long horn-like appendage
at the back of the creature’s head, yes, “creature,” for it was obviously not a bird taking flight. It flew out of view briefly, but
returned, perhaps to gaze at the two strange beings who gazed back from the clearing.
Many interviews, many years later, have gleaned more details from Hodgkinson’s experience: the “pterodactyl” (labeled so, right
after it flew away) was dark and had a long pointed beak and a long neck; the tail was long, too: at least ten or fifteen feet; there
was no evidence of feathers. But how critical is the distance between the men and the creature, and how! At 100 feet away, the
farm boy could hardly have badly mistaken the size of the creature. Besides, without feathers it was no bird, and with a very long
tail it was no bat: very strange.
What could be more extraordinary than this 1944 sighting? It is that many eyewitnesses relate encounters with a large or giant
pterosaur-like creature around the Southwest Pacific. These accounts come not from hallucination, for eyewitnesses come from
different countries, from different cultures, and from different educational backgrounds (they would not all hallucinate the same
thing). Accounts come not from hoaxes, for most of those who have spent the most time searching for a modern pterosaur
(commonly called “ropen”) have seen little or nothing that would directly show that what they had seen was a pterosaur (hoaxes
normally involve maybe one or two proponents who lie that they saw what they did not; many explorers who say they saw almost
nothing–those are not hoaxers). Accounts come not from any mental health issues, for insanity does not cause persons of different
backgrounds to describe similar appearances and activities of an animal; besides, one of those eyewitnesses is Mr. Brian Hennessy,
a professional psychologist who works at a medical university:a poor candidate for insanity.
Could Hodgkinson have exaggerated the length of the tail of the “pterodactyl?” Half a century after this encounter on the mainland
of New Guinea, on a small island to the north, seven boys (around ten to fourteen years old) climbed up to a  crater lake near their
village on Umboi Island. Soon after they had arrived, a giant “ropen” flew over the lake, and the boys ran home in terror. About
ten years later (in 2004), in their own village, I interviewed three of those young men. Gideon Koro told me about the tail of the
ropen: seven meters long (22 feet). Even if this was greatly exaggerated, the tail of the creature he saw was extraordinarily long. In
addition, Gideon told me that the ropen had no feathers. (No bird, no bat.)