News from PNG

Heard from my contact in Papua New Guinea.  He is recovering from dengue fever. This his second round with this fever.  As of right now there is no preventive medicine you and take to prevent this.  It is another mosquito borne virus that attacks humans.  Since I will be traveling a couple of days through this hot spot of dengue fever I will have to be very cautious and prepare as much as possible to prevent the mosquitoes biting.  This like repellant, long sleeve shirts, gloves, everything that makes wearing them in the high heat and humidity miserable.  Fortunately my main time will be up in the mountains and the mosquito is not a problem.

What does the Indava look like?

I have been asked…What does this creature look like?  Since I have only seen the bioluminesence of this creature and no morphology.  I can only give descriptions as reported by those who have seen this creature.

The year is 1875. British explorers were steaming up a newly discovered river in Papua New Guinea they call the Baxter River. ” We often heard the natives speak of a large bird which could fly away with a kangaroo or a large turtle, but I scarcely credited the statement until I saw two of the birds myself. One was seated on the truck of a large tree, and rose as we approached. The noise caused by the flapping of its wing resembled the sound of the locomotive pulling a long train very slowly. When it had flown away we heard another coming, with just the sound of an approaching goods (freight) train. I had a good opportunity of observing it, and it appeared to be sixteen or eighteen feet across the wings as it flew; the body dark brown, the breast white, neck long, and beak long and straight. Our guns had no effect on it. I feel sure I struck it, but flew on as unconcernedly as ever.”

Now advance to August 1944. The war with Japan was ending and Dwayne Hodgkinson, a 19-year-old soldier, was hiking with his friends on a path which led to a local village near the town of Finschaven, Papua New Guinea. As they were walking, they heard the sound of a large animal crashing through the bush. Moments later, a wild hog came out of the dense jungle and began running through tall grass in the adjacent field. The hog’s commotion led to a scene that was permanently burned into Dwayne’s memory. To his amazement, Dwayne watched as a huge “bird” took flight less than 200 feet in front of him and his friends. When this creature rose into the air, Dwayne vividly remembers the tall grass and brush swaying violently from the down rush of air as the creature gained altitude.

Dwayne watched in awe as the creature circled and flew back to where they were, giving them a perfect side view of this unique creature. He estimated that the creature was flying at no more than 100 feet high at that time. What amazed him most was the crest on the creature’s head! Dwayne knew that no birds today have such a crest. He noted the long beak and head crest were each about three feet long. Dwayne said that the creature looked exactly like pictures he had seen of a prehistoric flying reptile only found in the fossil record. He estimated that the tail of the creature was about 15 feet long and the color of the body was dark, “not black, but dark brown.” Before being drafted, Dwayne was a private pilot and flew a small aircraft called the Piper Tri-Pacer which has a 29-foot wingspan. The creature that flew before his eyes had about the same wingspan as his plane back home! We now know from the fossil record that pteranadons had a 30-foot or even greater wingspan. After returning to camp and telling about his “discovery,” Dwayne quickly realized there is a price to pay for seeing something no one else has seen. After being teased by his follow soldiers, he quickly realized it was best not to talk about such things because people will think you are unstable or have been drinking. It was the result of Dwayne’s story that led to the first expedition into Papua New Guinea in 1994.

(Please see a YouTube of an interview with Dwayne about his eyewitness account of the creature.)

Now let’s stop in August 1994. I, Paul Nation, was sitting in the men’s hut in Garu Village, Papua New Guinea, listening to natives tell of creatures they have seen that exhibit the same characteristics as the one Dwayne sighted. One group of hunters told about a similar creature that flew into their camp one night to steal the game they had killed. It landed by clinging to a nearby tree trunk and the men could see a “glow” coming from this creature. It terrified these normally fearless hunters to the point that they could not even move! To simulate the creature’s clinging to the tree trunk, one hunter jumped up next to a large support post in the hut, tightly gripped the post with his legs, and then grabbed the top of the post with his hands. This caught my attention because no known birds have “hands” to grip the trunk of a tree. Local fruit bats are plentiful and have claws on their wings, but they land on tree limbs and never on the trunks of trees. The bats will land on a limb and immediately swing down into an inverted, hanging position. But they never land upright on the trunk of a tree. What flying creature would have this ability to land upright on a tree trunk and grip the trunk with both feet and wing claws?

On my expeditions, I have taken a set of silhouettes of flying creatures, both present-day birds and those known from the fossil record. I ask eyewitnesses to pick silhouettes from the head, wing and body types of the one that resembles the creatures they have seen. Without fail, 100% of the natives will pick a pterosaur silhouette. Then to my amazement, 80% will choose the Sordes Pilosus out of all the pterosaur silhouettes!

This brings up a question: How do these natives know to pick this particular creature if they have never seen one?

March 2007 Return to Bianu

Chapter 3 March 2007 Return to Bainu and the High Garden Site

My heart is having a race in competition with my excitement as my plane is on final approach to land on the grass strip in Tawa, Papua New Guinea. Late one evening only five months ago, I was here at this very spot videoing the bioluminescence of a mysterious, rare, and unique flying creature. The weather has been cloudy so I have waited over three days and two aborted attempts for good enough flying conditions for the pilot to safely navigate the plane through the valleys and around mountains to land here.

That clear strip in the center is the grass airstrip at Tawa

That clear strip in the center is the grass airstrip at Tawa

The bush plane landed, let me off, and was barely out of sight before questions saturated my mind. The most urgent of these troubling questions was, “Why did you pay the girls so much?” I would never have thought that such a trifling matter would weigh so heavily on my mind. Planning for what I was to accomplish in my research here should not have to take a backseat in my thinking for such a minor thing. Please let me explain.

My last trip here was in October 2006. We left the airstrip at Tawa to hike about eight more miles up into the mountains to reach Bainu. Two heavy duffel bags of supplies and equipment were brought to last me through the month I would be conducting research. In this culture the men do not carry things, but that labor is left for the women and young girls. Many times I have seen women loaded down with seventy-five to a hundred pounds of firewood or coconuts as they transport their burden.

On my last time here, I had asked my guide, Joseph, to find people to help carry my bags to Bainu. I was surprised when I realized that Joseph hired two girls about fifteen-years-old to carry the bags. The girls slung those bags around their backs, placed a shoulder strap across their forehead, and were ready to go. Those girls climbed steep, muddy hills with little effort, always waiting for me to catch up with them at the top of each ridge. They giggled each time I approached the top and needed to pause and rest while they easily traversed the top and started on down. (I can see the humor in this even today.)

Kids playing

Kids playing around my site at the “high garden”

After an eight-hour hike, I paid them fifty Kina, equivalent to about twenty US dollars, which I thought was a fair price for carrying the duffel bags. No! Little did I know about the going wages in the area. I later discovered that I had paid them about a week’s wages for one day’s work. Because the girls had received so much money, their “wantoks” (relatives) came by for their share of the profits. In the end, the girls received almost nothing after the relatives claimed their share. In this culture, if a relative asks another relative for anything, that relative who is asked must give if within their power to do so. If relatives want to room in your hut, you will let them live in your hut until they decide to leave. It works for them, but I could see many problems arising from such arrangements.

I have seen women carry amazing loads for considerable distances and not seem fazed by the effort. I remember while on Umboi Island, Mark Kau’s wife, Deliah, was carrying about forty-five pounds of coconuts to sell at Bunsil Station. When Deliah realized that the person carrying my heavy bag had gotten tired, she took the bag’s shoulder strap by one hand, swung the bag up on the top of her load, and kept walking and talking for another five miles. It is really amazing to see the strength and endurance of these women who are tempered by the constant, hard work they do daily.

It took only four hours to arrive at the high garden site on this trip, cutting my time from the first trip almost in half. On this trip I gave money to Joseph to pay a fair wage, so the girls were happy and able to keep and spend all they earned at the “general Store.” A hard lesson was learned by me. I discovered that a fair wage is three Kina, about 96 cents in US money, for those two girls to carry the heavy duffel bags for eight miles up and down the mountain ridges.

Finally the end of my hike for today

Finally the end of my hike for today

Now I am back at my “high garden” site. The tent is pitched and a sunshade is placed over the tent since I have to sleep during the day and stay awake at night. Let me regress for a moment and recall what happened the last time I set up my tent on this spot.

Natives inspection my tent at Bainu village

Natives inspection my tent at Bainu village

Even though we are close to seven thousand feet above sea level, days this close to the equator are very intense and hot. The nights cool off nicely and make for a comfortable time to watch and do research. One afternoon, I was trying to get to sleep and sweating profusely in the unbearable heat. All of a sudden it became darker in the tent due to a shade cloth being thrown over the top of the tent. I looked outside and saw Zion and six local natives around the tent, staking down the shade cloth so it would not touch the tent or blow away. The inside of my tent was made considerably cooler by the nice shade they provided. This unexpected deed of kindness allowed me to sleep for the entire time I was there without sweating during the heat of the day. This was one memorable act of kindness the local natives showed me while I was with them. Many other times they brought food from the garden and also delivered fresh water to me.

Mt.Hamiya  Coming out of the mist

Mt.Hamiya Coming out of the mist

The first night I eagerly sat and watched intently all night long although my diligence was not rewarded at all. Nothing of interest happened, nothing at all. In fact, during the entire three weeks I spent watching the night skies, I saw no bioluminescence of any kind. The Indava creature must have moved out of this area for some reason. October is springtime in Papua New Guinea. If this creature had young to care for and feed, I should have seen more activity during those fruitless nights. I surmised that if the young were five-months-old or older, perhaps the creatures moved on to other territories and would again return to this region in the springtime.

I have not had enough time in the bush to be able to educate myself about the comings and goings of the flying creatures. I do not yet have an explanation for why their bioluminescence was hidden from me on this trip. Only spending much more time, diligence, and research in this remote and dangerous part of the world will shed more light on the activities of these enigmatic night fliers of Papua New Guinea.

October 2006 A Grass Airstrip at Tawa

Above…Preparing to cross a stream deep in the jungle


October 2006    A Grass Airstrip at Tawa,  Papua New Guinea   

Located just north of Australia, the island of Papua New Guinea is the second largest island on planet Earth. It has been called the Lost World and previously unknown species of  birds and other animals have been discovered within the last ten years.

It’s Friday. Tomorrow the bush plane is scheduled to return and take me back to Wau, Papua New Guinea.  The weather has not looked good over the last couple of days, and with all the mountains and valleys we must fly over before reaching Wau, it could be very tricky. Jim Blume, the bush pilot, has been flying in these jungles since 1969. It is safe to say there is no one better than Jim who knows this area and its weather dangers. In the early 70s, Jim worked hard to put this grass strip in place to serve the people in this region of Papua New Guinea.

Crowds form every time the bush plane lands

I am fortunate to be staying right next to the grass strip in an old abandoned hut next to the “general store.” The cracks in the walls are big enough for the locals to peek in and see what I am doing. Regardless of whether I am sleeping, sitting, reading, or eating, I always have an audience.

My guide Joseph and translator Jacob are with me but have gone into the main village of Tawa to visit people they know. This allows some time for me to cook up a little dinner from my supplies of rice and canned tuna bought next door at the general store. The “general store” is just a better built hut with a locking door and iron screens to separate customer from the merchandise. You point to what you want and then you buy it. All stock is displayed on the shelves….if you don’t see it, they don’t have it. Very simple. When supplies are exhausted, it could be weeks before someone makes a trip to a town, such as Aseki, Wau, or Lae, and returns with another supply of goods.

This will be my last night out in the bush. For three weeks I have lived and visited with the natives in this region. This has given me time to ask them many questions about the creature that flies and glows in the dark. Here in this area of the country, the creature is called Indava. The name Indava in the local language means, “Bird that flies at night, and brings message of death.” Many stories exist about this  animal, stories from the realistic to the absurd. Many of the stories are firsthand accounts, but more include secondhand accounts and others farther removed from the original sightings.

According to the best source I met, sightings of the Indava were more prevalent in the sixties and seventies. On nights the villagers would hear the Indavas coming, they would run outside their huts waving, screaming, and making as much noise as possible in trying to prevent the Indavas from landing. This was a fearsome creature that would attack humans, even attacking small children and carrying them off. On one occasion, a seven-year-old boy was caught and taken away, with the Indava dropping him some distance from where he was caught. However, when the villagers were able to reach the child, they discovered that he was dead. My sources told me that nothing like this has happened in this region since the seventies.

After finishing my supper of rice and tuna, it was time to go outside and start watching the skies for more sightings of the “glow.” Six times over the last weeks I have seen this bioluminescence, but the distance was too great for the camera to be effective. For all those nights of watching, I have nothing to show for my efforts to collect evidence, but just seeing the bioluminescence made my pulse race. However, the most dramatic sighting of the “glow” was one that came floating in the air through the river valley below me.

At this point, I need to explain where I was for my observation point to be high enough that I was able to look down on the bioluminescence that was moving through the valley below me.

The area seen from high garden site

I had traveled from the village of Bianu up higher to what I call the “high garden” site. A local native named Zion had offered me his garden site for an observation point that was a much higher altitude than the main village.

Grass huts at "high garden" site

The grass hut at garden site

The garden site had three round grass huts for shelter and a nicely cleared area with few trees, so I could actually see for many miles over some of the lower mountaintops and into other valleys around this area. I never saw the river that ran its course below me because of the tree canopy that completely covered it. However, the lay of the land let me know the river’s path because the mountains rise sharply from aside the river’s channel.

One night as I was scanning the skies, I saw a “glow” coming from the west that appeared to be following the river channel. As I watched for about a minute, the “glow” traveled smoothly on a level course below me until suddenly increasing its altitude and heading straight for a rocky point on Mt. Hamiya, the closest mountain ridge east of my location. Just as it appeared to be about fifty feet from landing on the rocky outcropping, the “glow” suddenly disappeared, almost like someone shutting off power to a light bulb.

At the time, the distance seemed too great for the camera to be of any use, so I did not even try to video the event. Later I learned from experience that the “glow” will be caught on video at even a greater distance. I had over six sightings of the mysterious “glow” during my night’s observations, but nothing was captured on video.

While back at the grass strip in Tawa, I prepared myself to watch the mountain ridges around the strip, which was about five hundred feet lower in altitude than the surrounding ridges.

There was never a chair for me to use while on watch. Many times, I would be so tired from hiking on the water-soaked, muddy ground, that all I wanted to do was relax in a chair. Not to be! Usually nothing could be found but a log, and I felt lucky if it was a big log. The natives would just squat and sit on their heels by the hours while I struggled to find something more comfortable. But why no chairs?

In the sixties, many customs and traditions in this culture were changing and some had radical changes from the way things had been. For example, people would be killed for various reasons and then eaten by the other villagers! Apparently, the last man who suffered this fate was Zion’s father, who, for his only “crime” of accepting Christianity, was killed and eaten in the sixties. Thankfully, that custom has been abandoned!

Now back to the chairs. I learned why there were no chairs for my use. Possibly, chairs bring to the natives’ minds another one of the old, outdated customs of this area. When a highly respected leader or tribal elder died, the villagers would build a chair, tie the body to this chair with vines, and then set the body and chair inside a hut. Then for about six months, the villagers would keep a smoky fire going 24/7 in the hut which would dry out the body until it was like meat jerky. Once or twice a day someone would enter the smoky hut and wipe off the body fluids until the body became completely dried. After the process was completed, the person of honor was memorialized by being mounted to a large rock overhang while still seated in the chair. There was one such rock ledge with a couple of bodies not far from where I was standing. What was left of the bodies and chairs had a grotesque appearance with the bones and teeth shining white against the leathery, blackened, and dried skin. This practice has since been banned because some say that many people got sick and died after several times of entering the hut and wiping off the body during the drying process.

While back on watch as the night continued to grow blacker and blacker, I kept a constant vigil by scanning the horizon and the tops of the mountain ridges close by for any type of luminescence. Suddenly a “fire” seemed to be ignited, and it rapidly bloomed into a “flame.” I remember thinking, “Wow, someone just threw some gasoline on that fire.” As it grew in intensity, a second “fire” started to glow. That’s when I thought my heart would jump through my chest as I realized what I was seeing was not  a “fire” at all.   Seeing what I thought was a fire seemed strange because I had never seen a fire outside the huts in this area. At this high elevation and thin atmosphere, we are constantly in a cloud cover and the rains and mist make it very difficult to keep a fire going. On my expeditions, all the fires I had ever seen were inside grass huts.

Fire in the center of a grass hut on a split bamboo floor.

(Being inside a grass hut having a split bamboo floor with a fire in the middle of the floor causing smoke to fill the hut from the roof down to two feet off the floor left me wondering what to do if the floor catches fire and the grass hut goes aflame in seconds. But after being in the huts around the fires for weeks with nothing tragic happening, I had come to accept the fire inside a grass hut as a normal part of their lifestyle. If placing a fire outside, one would constantly be fighting the rain and mist to keep the fire alive.)

I threw the video camera into action, knowing the objects seemed too far away to get good video, but also knowing this was my last chance to capture any video of this bioluminescence I had witnessed over the last several weeks. Nothing showed in the viewfinder so I just carefully pointed the camera and started to record. A few seconds later the first “fire” died away and the second “fire” flew up and over, then down the back side of the mountain I had been viewing.

Later that night, about 10 pm, Jacob and Joseph saw a single bioluminescence returning.  It flew along a ridge to the east of us heading back to the same general area I had seen the two “glows” appear earlier.

After twelve years of hearing about this bioluminescence or “glow,” and how bright, how big, and the colors look, I have  become an eyewitness to this mystery. But what kind of flying creature is it?

Two of the Indava’s bioluminescence or “glows” magnified when both intensities are the same. Shortly after this, the (1) source, on left, starts reducing in intensity.

After arriving back in the United States, Cliff Paiva, with BSM Research Associates, did a computer enhanced analysis of the video.  His enhancement was done with computer programs, checking edge gradients and radiation intensity.  The plates which follow are the results of Cliff’s analyses.  The first plate below shows the radiation intensity for both objects. The whiter the color the more intense is the radiation, so farther away from the body naturally shows a weaker intensity. The absence of radiation intensity in the “body” is certainly unique.  If this had been a fire, flashlight, or any type of artificial light source, the center would have the most radiation intensity and not be devoid of radiation intensity as this analysis demonstrates.

Computer enhanced radiation gradients.       White is intense and blue is cool.

This confirms the light sources are not from an artificial source. (Neither a car, airplane, flashlight, nor any other man-made light source would be expected in this area because of its remoteness, ruggedness, and lack of any human population or facilities.) Also, two distinct sources of radiation with different intensities are demonstrated. This further indicates that the two sources of light are two separate entities.

What kind of flying creatures can generate such visual radiation?


August 2002 Return to Umboi Island

Chapter 2 August 2002

Gomlongong Village, Umboi Island , Papua New Guinea

After eight years, I have returned to Gomlongong Village. This expedition includes only me and my oldest son Nathanael. We have traveled 27 hours by bus, 19 hours by plane, and finally, a slow, 17-hour boat ride to arrive on Umboi Island.

This time the ferryboat was an old rusty freighter called “Total,” which was placed into service because mechanical problems had disabled the newer ferry. There was only a single, open, seatless, and constantly-flushing toilet to serve all the passengers. When it rains,  passengers spread a large blue tarp over themselves and everyone hangs onto the fabric to keep it from blowing away. There was no way all the people could get out of the weather.

Arriving on pier at Lablab Mission

Arriving on pier at Lablab Mission

Plowing through the water at barely six knots, the rust bucket slowly makes it way to Umboi. Food and water are what you brought with you and since we did not know about the ferry’s lack of conveniences for its passengers, we suffered. With us was our translator, Harry Bonjo. Fortunately for us there were several  men from Gomlongong village riding with us. After some time together on the ferry, they and Harry started talking together and remembering us from our other expeditions, which also stirred my memory of them. It was through Harry that we found this common link because he was able to speak their language and explain to the people the reason these two foreigners were going to Umboi. They offered us some of the food and water they had brought along and it helped to offset our hunger and thirst. Through Harry’s translation of our conversations, we had an interesting time of visiting with the men and reminiscing about the last expedition of eight years ago.


Dancers of the “Pig Clan”

After seventeen exhausting hours, we finally landed at the concrete pier at Lablab Mission. The best thing about this boat ride was that the seas were very calm! As we were unloading, we noticed a large crowd already on the pier. As we got closer we saw it was a local dance group from the “Pig Clan.” Dressed in the old traditional dress with pig-tusk-necklaces and shells, they performed nearly all the dance in the squat position, bouncing up and down to the rhythm of the drums. This was quite an exciting welcome for us, even though no one knew we were coming. Thankfully, it was because of coincidental timing that we were able to be entertained by this group.

On arriving at Umboi, we needed to find a way of transport to Gomlongong Village. Since the lumber company  left the island, the road became unusable, and we discovered that no rental trucks were available for us. Well, when traveling in this part of the world, it is imperative to always have a plan “B.” That plan resulted in Harry’s finding a banana boat we could rent that would take us one-quarter of the way around the island to Bunsil Station. From there it is about a ten-mile hike uphill to Gomlongong. Soon we discovered that several passengers wanted to travel with us to Busil Station. The plan was for each of the passengers to pay a little for the ride. However, as it turned out, I covered the whole expense and these people received a free ride. This gesture did open up a couple of friendships which would later prove useful in Gomlongong.


Unloading banana boat on beach at Bunsil Station

One fuel stop and a four-hour ride in the banana boat placed us on the beach at Bunsil Station. From there, we unloaded and started our hike to Gomlongong Village. The first day is always the hardest, getting our packs settled in and our bodies used to carrying those heavy packs. We spent the first night in Mize Camp. This was a new camp of people from the interior who were cutting out land to build huts and be closer to the beach at Bunsil Station in hopes of finding a better life. Mr.Mize was a hustler and tried to get me to do things with and through the United States Consulate for his new camp. I had no connections and had never talked with the Consulate but he believed that as an American I could pull many strings for him. (Later I discovered that he actually traveled to the U.S. Consulate Office and made inquiry about me and the earlier expedition in hopes of using that information to his advantage. Of course, nothing resulted from that as we had no influence.) Because there is no postal service on the island, he actually sent me a hand-carried letter in a white envelope while I was in Gomlongong. He tried to make the letter sound official and that I was required to come back to his camp and photograph as much as I did in Gomlongong! Needless to say, we were glad to leave the Mize camp the next morning and travel on to Gomlongong.

Once in Gomlongong, we immediately learned we would not be allowed to climb Mt. Bel because it was off-limits to us. That was strange because we had not come with the intention of climbing Mt. Bel again. There was nothing on the mountain we wanted to reinvestigate. Now that I think about it, there was a “large-sounding” waterfall about halfway up the mountain. I say “large-sounding” as we were never able to see it. While we walked up a ridgeback, the sound was close below us, but with all the trees and dense foliage, we could see no more than fifty feet in front of us. Our time was too precious to stop and spend time looking at a waterfall. My thought was that the waterfall would have a plunge pool large enough for a flying creature to land and drink freshwater. Perhaps a cave would be close by in which the creatures could stay and rest. Now we may never know.

Back to the reason we were banned from the mountain. The story got to us that while we were on the mountain eight years ago, the villagers heard two loud explosions from Mt. Bel. To them, this was proof that we had found something of great value, gold or diamonds. They never would believe that we were looking for a bird! They are now convinced that we had found “the mother lode” and they wanted to know what it was and where we found it. The problem with this story is that we never returned to claim the supposed “gold or diamonds” and eight years later I show up again. It was a story I had to refute over and over again. There was no explosion on our part and those of us on the mountain never heard anything. My thinking is that a jet plane broke the sound barrier and produced that double “explosion” everyone heard. Many times I had to say that “I am not a geologist or a prospector!”

The reason we got an order not to climb Mt.Bel was that eight years ago, the first expedition had paid a high price for the “rights to the cave” on the mountain. Eight years later, they still thought something of value was on the mountain but they did not know what it was. It was all about the money. If I had come up with enough money, I could have gone back up the mountain. But on this trip I had other plans for research.

With this stigma of my having some knowledge about the mountain’s supposed riches, we could hardly go anywhere without having to hire some local landowners’ “representative” to walk with us. This was just to make sure that any “discovery” was made known to the landowners.

Interestingly, it was this situation that played a main role in allowing me to contract malaria. Please let me explain. Since our research was to be for about two weeks in and around Gomlongong village, I had decided not to buy malaria pills in order to save some money. In the mountain area malaria is not much of a problem and mosquitoes are rarely seen, or so I believed.

Large "walking stick" bug on trail

Large “walking stick” bug on trail

Everything was arranged for us to go investigate a small lake at the base of Mt. Bel which I thought could possibly be another source of freshwater for this creature. The lake increased in size with rains and decreased with no rain, so it was not fed by a river or spring, but rather existed as a large pond of water at certain times of the year.

With me, my son, Harry, and two representatives of the landowners I had arranged to go with us, that would be five people going. I had agreed to the payment price for the five of us. When I showed up at the main lodge the next morning, there were nine people ready to go and obviously I had not paid for the unexpected four others. I tried to explain that I had already agreed on five and not nine. Besides having to pay extra, the noise the natives made while traveling in the bush was very loud and I was trying to keep things stealthy. It turns out that I would be crossing other landowners’ property in the jungle and needed to pay for the right to cross that clan’s land.

After about an hour of discussion and seeing no change in their attitude, I decided to accept an offer I had been given from some natives to visit the beach down from Opai Village. From that point we headed down to the beach. That night the mosquitoes were plentiful and from the bite of just one of the females, I came back to the States with the kind of malaria that can be fatal. Fortunately, I was in the States when the full-blown symptoms hit and I received excellent hospital care in Trinidad, Colorado. The malaria incident happened during the very last days of our time on the island. Had I been able to conduct the research I had prepared for at the higher elevation, it is doubtful I would have contracted malaria.

On our way back  from the beach, going to Opai Village, I had an opportunity to interview one the strangest eyewitness reports.

A local native named Jefferons had reported to Harry that he had seen a bioluminescence flying from Mt. Bel to the ocean. I asked Harry to question Jefferons about his sighting but to do it in Jefferons’ mother tongue.

Jefferons saw “sparks” falling off as the creature flew

My thought was that I would get much better descriptions and details if Jefferons spoke in his mother tongue and not have to search for words to describe what he saw. I could get this interview translated once I got back to the States.

Later in 2002, I got this interview translated and I thought what a disaster it was! Jefferons spoke of seeing this creature fly from Mt. Bel to the ocean with “sparks falling off the tail” of the creature. He said this creature was “bright and had lots of fire.” I was so disappointed with these seemingly outlandish statements that for several years I left this testimony on tape never thinking anymore about it.

Three years later as I was reading about more creatures with possible bioluminescence, I came across the following:

“A German Jesuit monk, Athanasius Kircher is very much respected for the work he accomplished on classifying and collecting data on the flora and fauna of medieval Europe. The prolific 17th century writer Athanasius Kircher’s record tells how the noble man, Christopher Schorerum, prefect of the entire territory, “wrote a true history summarizing there all, for by that way, he was able to confirm the truth of the things experienced, and indeed the things truly seen by the eye, written in his own words: “On a warm night in 1619, while contemplating the serenity of the heavens, I saw a shining dragon of great size in front of Mt. Pilatus, coming from the opposite side of the lake [or ‘hollow’], a cave that is named Flue [Hogarth-near Lucerne] moving rapidly in an agitated way, seen flying across; It was of a large size, with a long tail, a long neck, a reptile’s head, and ferocious gaping jaws. As it flew it was like iron struck in a forge when pressed together that scatters sparks. At first I thought it was a meteor from what I saw. But after I diligently observed it alone, I understood it was indeed a dragon from the motion of the limbs of the entire body.” From the writings of a respected clergyman, in fact a dragon truely exists in nature it is amply established.” (Kircher, Athanasius, Mundus Subterraneus, 1664, tr. by Hogarth, Dragons, 1979, pp. 179-180.)

“As it flew it was like iron struck in a forge when pressed together that scatters sparks….”

How coincidental! These two descriptions of a flying creature with sparks! Two men separated by 10,00 miles and over 650 years! Two men describe something flying with “sparks falling off”! Is this creature a legendary dragon of medieval times that is still alive? If it still exists, it has chosen the most remote, less populated region of the world. Imagine if “dragons” were flying today, attacking cattle, flocks, and young children. The first thing humans would do is have someone hunt and destroy this “menace to society.” This would effectively chase this creature away from any civilization.

Am I saying this is a flying “dragon” or that flying “dragons” actually exist today? Just some intriguing food for thought concerning this mystery.

Modern Sightings of the Flying Bioluminescence

Mark Kau, the Ward Counselor for Ward 7, a respected man in the community, has seen this bioluminescence flying from Mt. Bel to the ocean, or from the ocean to Mt. Bel.

Kau has only seen the big light "glow" only flying--- no shape of creature

Kau has only seen the big light “glow” only flying— no shape of creature

Mark’s hut sits on a nice clear ridge just outside of the main village of Gomlongong. This situation allows for viewing of Mt. Bel without any obstructions. Kau has seen the “bright light, plenty of light” but admits he does not know what the actual flying creature looks like. All he has seen is the bioluminescence flying to and from Mt. Bel.

After my visit in 2002, I left Kau with a tablet of paper and a pen. This was to keep a journal of the times the bioluminescence was seen flying to or from Mt. Bel. I heard back from one other explorer who visited a couple of years later that he had only seen two occurrences for a year. This was not enough consistency of sightings to make it worth my time to continue researching  Umboi Island.


Big tree grubs eaten as a delicacy

During one of our hikes, we came upon natives building a new hut. While cutting down trees, they found huge grub worms inside the bark. These grubs were the size or a little bigger than my thumbs. They had collected a bunch on a leaf and were going to sell them at market in the next village, Taraway.


Tree grubs

I took pictures of them eating those monster grubs. Then they challenged me to eat one. After much discussion, I chewed one down and they all laughed. Not bad. It was crunchy with very little flavor, almost disappointing.

We headed back to Lablab and waited for the ferry to arrive on Sunday afternoon. Wow, we were thrilled to see the passenger ferry back in service! The ferry ride took only twelve hours back and had a bunk bed for resting! With food and water we could purchase, the trip seemed so much faster.


Passenger ferry arriving

Once back on the mainland, we found out about the ferries’ schedules. Yes, the week we had traveled over to Umboi, the passenger ferry was down for maintenance. However, each ferry alternated weeks. One week the passenger ferry made its trip and the next week was the the cargo ferry’s time. People who often rode the ferry could wait for the right week to ride the faster and more comfortable passenger ferry.

August 1994 Mystery

Chapter One: August 1994

Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea

The overwhelming stench of humanity is the first to reach your nostrils. Not being used to tropical heat and humidity, the strong smell of decomposing waste insults the nostrils almost anywhere one goes. Much of the odor is from organic waste that is decaying. This natural process is one that we who live in drier climates do not experience very often. The public toilets at the airport in Port Moresby, were just open holes in the concrete floor. For a greenhorn, the smells were very impressionable on my first time to leave the States and experience a foreign country. Combine this with all the unwashed humanity crowding together in the airport, and I was totally immersed in this moment’s experience.

Everything reminded me of what a 1940s airport in the States was probably like. Simple and straight forward. Long before the days of security and regulations. We, a group of five from the States, have a thousand pounds of gear and equipment to move from the international gates to the domestic gates before we can continue our flight deeper into the land of Papua New Guinea. Our group is lead by Carl Baugh and includes Koby Brown, M.E. Clark, Robert Summers, and me, Paul Nation.

I had been asked to come and be “veterinarian support.” At this time in my life I was raising ostriches and emus, both large flightless birds of the ratite family. I could go into a pasture, catch and load a 300-pound male ostrich, incubate eggs, and raise the chicks. This experience should come in handy if we should encounter our objective, a large flying creature that we know little about.

Several hours later we were landing on the island of Umboi in a Twin Islander aircraft. It would take two trips from Lae to Umboi Island to bring all our group and equipment. We grew to eight people once we arrived. In Lae, we connected with Jim Blume, a missionary bush pilot, who has lived in Papua New Guinea since 1969, a national from Lae named Paul for our translator, and also a government representative named Sam who would also translate for us.

In 1994, a Malaysian lumber company had paid for the lumber rights to much of the timber on the island. Because the lumber vehicles needed an adequate road for use in their work, this helped in our being able to travel about the island where the research took us. The road was a dirt track that made a ring around most of the island. Although the road was accessible, the problem remained of our being able to find a vehicle that was sufficient to take us and all our gear and equipment close to the research area. We finally found a small Toyota-type truck available for the day, so we loaded up everything and everyone and traveled as far as we could on the road before we had to stop. We could not carry all the gear by ourselves so we split the team into two groups. We rented a banana boat and loaded all the gear and one group onto the boat which then traveled around the island to link up with the other group. To reach our rendezvous point, some of us had to hike several hours to get back together with the banana boat, our equipment, and the ones who stayed on the boat.

Afterwards, we spent our first night in Gomlongong Village. It was on the jungle bush track, or trail, or path, while traveling to Gomlongong Village that I first heard of the bioluminescence  from this creature. The purpose of this expedition was to look for the creature called “ropen” by the locals. Judging by what the eyewitnesses said they had seen in the daylight, their descriptions of the ropen exactly fit what we know to be a pterosaur, a supposedly extinct flying reptile. As we walked the jungle track, we would encounter small clusters of huts off the trail. When occasionally stopping and allowing our translators to talk with the natives about what we were looking for and our purpose for being on the track, we would hear stories about this creature.

It was in a small four- or five-hut clearing that we first heard a report of the creatures being able to generate a bioluminescence on their own. We left the clearing and chuckled about the ridiculous claim that it “has fire when it flies, a yellow fire.” However, this report of an amazing characteristic of bioluminescence, continued throughout all the eyewitnesses’ reports who saw it at night, regardless of which language group they were part of or whether they lived on the island or the mainland. At Gomlongong Village, we were told about a cave on top of Mt. Bel in which this creature lives.

After paying for the rights to climb and do research on Mt. Bel, we spent a week high up in a cloud cover, camping and watching, while searching for the elusive cave. We had nothing to show for the seven days of effort expended on Mt. Bel. No cave was found. Nothing, only clouds, rain, and mist for a week.

Mt. Bel,the top covered in clouds, like the week we spent up on top

Many years later I remembered an event that puzzled us for a while on the top of Mt. Bel. The very top of the mountain was treeless and covered in tall grasses. Tall trees do not grow beyond about 100 feet below the top of the mountain. This left the top of the mountain mostly flat and covered with grass that is three to four feet tall. While searching around the top, we came upon a “bed” in the grass where something very large had settled and packed the grass down in an area of about four to five feet across. What could do this?​ At the time we considered that perhaps a large python snake had coiled and made a bed there. No other animal we knew about in the area could have made such an impression in the grass. This discovery was on one of the first days up on the top. Now after spending a week in the weather and climate, I now know that no cold-blooded animal would have been able to survive at that altitude and temperature. The temperature would drop into the lower fifties and be wet and cold enough that any cold-blooded animal would definitely live at a lower and warmer altitude. Could this bed have been made by a flying creature that used the top of Mt. Bel as a resting spot?

School teacher saw creature flying with “glow”

When we interviewed people, most spoke of seeing the “glow” fly from the ocean to Mt. Bel or from Mt. Bel to the ocean. We traveled back to Lablab Mission where the ferryboat would come once a week and take people and supplies to and from the city of Lae. We had a couple of days to spend before the ferry arrived, so news of our inquiry had spread. We spoke with a lady high school teacher who told us about her seeing the bioluminescence in 1993. She was at a funeral in a village on the northeast side of the island, an area we had not investigated. About 2:00 AM during the night of the wake, a glowing creature came flying in from the ocean. The glow was red, red like the red hot rocks they cook with. The people all screamed and yelled and the creature flew over the group and into the mangrove swamp just behind the village. The “glow” was able to be seen for several minutes after the creature landed in the mangrove swamp.

Girls playing basketball saw “glow” coming from the ocean

A group of  high school girls spoke with us about their experience of seeing a similar bird “glowing” and flying in from the ocean while they played basketball late one night. As the creature got close to the basketball court’s lights, the “glow” stopped. The creature circled the court twice, then flew off toward the interior toward Mt. Bel, and as it left the area the girls saw the “glow” reappear.

Before arriving on Umboi Island, I really did not know what to believe about this creature. However, now after seeing and hearing from so many people with their descriptions of this unique creature, I am convinced that they are really seeing a living, flying animal of a unique type that can produce its own bioluminescence.

What type of flying creature is this that needs to be scientifically analyzed and documented? I must continue this important research to help solve this mystery.