Ake Franzen: When a Swedish Ufologist looked into West Virginia’s Mothman
By Brent Raynes
In chapter 7 of John Keel’s UFOs: Operations Trojan Horse (1970), entitled Unidentified Airplanes, John provided details on the “forgotten Scandinavian flap of 1932-38,” involving curious “ghost fliers” who were presumably never identified. (1) He described how a Swedish researcher named Ake Franzen (1936-1995) had been most helpful to him in uncovering details of this wave of early sightings, how Mr. Franzen had retrieved more than ninety detailed reports from the Stockholm newspapers of the 1930s and had tediously translated them into English for him.
In 1978, I had both the pleasure and honor of briefly engaging in an exchange of written correspondence with Ake Franzen of Stochholm, the humble and old fashioned way, which is not at all quick and efficient like our modern internet! We didn’t chat about that old Scandinavian wave, as interesting as that might have been. Instead a fellow Swedish ufologist and friend of his named Hakan Blomqvist, who I had already exchanged some transatlantic postal communications with on UFOs, pointed out, when our exchanges touched upon America’s very own Mothman, that I needed to get in touch with his friend Ake.
In a letter dated May 26, 1978, Ake wrote me his first letter:
My name is Ake Franzen and I’m a member of A.F.U. [Archive for UFO Research] and I am also a very good friend of Hakan Blomqvist. I’ve heard from him that you belong to the few of us that really are seeking the truth behind the curtain of the unexplained.
It’s a fascinating task to try to reveal just a little of the giant jigsaw which lies in the Twilight Zone. I’ve tried several times to do it but it seems to be more complex when you try to dig.
Nevertheless, in 1969 and 1970, I tried to get as much information about the Mothman as I could get. This birdman of Point Pleasant took, at that time, all my interest, and I decided to investigate the whole case.
I started from scratch, almost. The only person I had been in contact with was John Keel and he told me a lot about research and the difficulties I had to face in a foreign country. He gave me also a letter, which later on opened almost every door in Point Pleasant for me. You see, I think I got this help from him partly because I had been helping him with a chapter in his book, The Trojan Horse.
When I started my research work I had in mind it could be a hoax and if it turned out to be, I had to take the whole thing then as a pleasant holiday. But to my astonishment I found out that there was more behind that than I could have dreamed of.
I met Mary Hyre, at the time a reporter in the Daily Messenger, and she was that person which everything in Point Pleasant circulated. Through her I got a lot of names of witnesses around the area and also a lot of help with transportation. I also met Linda Scarberry and her parents the McDaniels, Connie Carpenter, Marcella Bennett and a lot of others too. I stayed almost four weeks the first time and a little less the next time.
And I can tell you Brent, the stories about the Mothman they told me convinced me that something strange was going on.”
In his second letter, dated September 9, 1978, Ake wrote again of his visits to West Virginia and of what he learned first-hand from the good citizens of Point Pleasant. He wrote:
“For myself, West Virginia’s Mothman was the first case that turned me on. Before this I was the passive reader of UFO books and other publications. So I wrote to John Keel and asked for more details about Mothman and his appearances. I got a nice answer and also an inquiry about helping him with material about the ghost fliers over Sweden in the 30’s.
I decided to try to get to the bottom of the Mothman story, to see if there was any truth behind it. So after eight months I had saved enough money and started my journey to the distant exotic Point Pleasant.
And in October 1969 I began my search for the winged creature. I also had plans to buy a net of some kind to catch him but soon abandoned those plans. Late on the evening of my first day in Point Pleasant, I knocked on the door to the Athens Messenger and I stepped in to my first meeting with Mary Hyre. She was indeed a nice person and we got to be really good friends at once. She was also that person who everything of interest in Point Pleasant circled around.
Mary introduced me to the McDaniel family and they in turn told me about others. And I was lucky. Just a couple of days before I arrived in town another person had come too. She had lived with her husband in Ohio, but she had taken her baby Danny and left the misery behind. Linda Scarberry.
Next day I was invited to dinner in the McDaniel home and it turned out to be an unforgettable evening. A lot of fun and also serious talk. Mrs. McDaniel told me her story about the grey shape over Tiny’s and the visiting of the mysterious Mr. Brown with his needled socks. And later on they told me about a very strange story. It was only Linda and her mother in the house and they were sitting in the livingroom when suddenly somebody was moving on the front porch and the door opened. But nobody entered. Instead the sound of steps was heard. Both Linda and Mabel got very terrified and was sitting almost paralyzed. The steps seemed to take a turn to the kitchen and then to the bedrooms. A few minutes later the sound came back in the livingroom, the door out to the front porch was opened again and closed.
Almost the same story has been told to me by a Swedish couple, years later, so there must be something to it. Later on in the evening we took a trip to the Power Plant, a really eerie place in the TNT area.
That time nothing unusual happened, but some weeks later when we visited the Plant again, something strange happened to me. It was Mary, Linda, Connie Carpenter and me. When we was standing with the car on the small road beside the Plant they suddenly refused to leave the car. My intention was to explore the building, but Linda and Mary told me not to go in, they could feel that something was wrong. I must admit I got scared, but my curiosity was a little stronger so I got out of the car and approached the ruin.
It was then when I noticed the change. Earlier, when we had been there before, a lot of noises was heard from all directions. A bark for instance from a dog nearby, crickets in the grass and a lot of different sounds from the woods. But now…..it was complete silence! Not a single sound from anywhere. I can’t understand it because there should be something!
Well, I continued through the opening in the building, where it had been a door one time n the past. I searched with my flashlight around the walls and the inner room, but found nothing. But the whole time the air felt thick in a strange way. On my return to the car Linda screamed that something was moving in the ruin and I turned my body. But there was nothing to be seen and I came back to the car. Mary and Linda told me that my hair had been raised when I turned my back to them and it’s possible but I didn’t feel it.
But both Mary and Linda had seen something move in a windowless window in the building after my search. I can’t explain that either, but my opinion is that both of them are able to see things others can’t.
I had also several meetings with Marcella and Connie and they told me their stories, which you already know of. They have, Mary, Linda, Marcella, Connie, and Mabel, something in common. They are every one highly sensitive persons and perhaps very susceptible for this sort of experience. Linda even suffered from hearing heartbeat sounds from the cellar now and then. Louder and louder until they suddenly disappeared.
Perhaps our enigmatic friends from The Twilight Zone need sensitive people to make themselves known. We discussed these and other explanations many times, but as usual it can only be speculations, as you know.
Another thing that I found interesting was the highly developed children. Marcella Bennett’s daughter Tina and Linda’s Dany. They did start to talk very early and could follow the adult’s conversations easily. They learn new things very quickly and appeared more elder than their real age.
Perhaps it’s nothing important, but you can never know.”
Ake’s good friend, Swedish ufologist Hakan Blomqvist, also shared in correspondence with me back then his own personal thoughts and observations on things Mothman and Keelian related. In one letter (May 18, 1978) he described how during a wave of UFO sightings over Sweden back on the night of October 30, 1965, a couple there described seeing “several small humanoids floating around their car.” He added: “The creatures had big, hypnotic red eyes, just like Mothman.”
This same couple had had, Hakan stated, “hundreds of UFO and ESP experiences.” He also added: “The woman is clairvoyant and when out in nature claims to see the little people. ...The woman has also met an Adamski-type humanoid on a boat in Norway. He was wearing a one-piece uniform and gave her several predictions about the death of Martin Luther King and some personal things.”
“This couple, who have since become very good friends, have had so many experiences that it would take a book to cover them all. Strange phone calls, invisible entities in their apartment, and furniture moving of itself. You name it they got it. John Keel met them when he was here in 1976. The latest development has involved the man who has become a trance medium. They are now cruising all over Sweden giving ‘teachings’ from an old Arab called Simeno! I would favor the hypothesis that the teachings come from their/his subconscious as the philosophy presented is really their own, a combination of theosophy and spiritualism.”
“Besides my UFO study, I’m very interested in parapsychology and all things occult. As Keel and Vallee pointed out and as you probably have found yourself there are many striking similarities between UFO humanoids and the devas, elementals and fairies described in the occult literature. It’s like some energy zeroes in on certain individuals under certain conditions and this energy can manifest itself in many ways. Sometimes the contactee can partly control it himself like Uri Geller and his metal bending.”
“In 1974, I investigated an abduction case which happened at Valletuna, north of Stockholm. A man, an electrician, got an impression to walk a certain route. There he saw a very intense light. He threw himself to the ground but claims he never reached it but was instead sucked up in the light. Then he remembered nothing more until he was at home again. During hypnosis though he described the usual abduction tale, how he was examined by some strange entities. He wasn’t sure of their appearance, but they seemed transparent. After this experience he became very sensitive to electrical and ‘other’ energies. He also had several ESP experiences and said he had met and talked to an ape creature in a dream calling itself Hanuman. This is odd as he knew nothing of the Hindu ape god Hanuman. What to think of it? Brad Steiger mentions several encounters with old gods in Gods of Aquarius. Archetypes of the subconscious?”
1. For more information on Ake’s “ghost fliers” of the 1930s and a more conventional explanation for these sightings, go to: http://www.ufologie.net/ce3/1933-Sweden-langtrask.htm.