Forgive me for stating the obvious regarding the hoax explanation for pterosaur sightings, but no hoax, no matter what the subject, can prove that everything else of that subject is also a hoax. One boy crying “wolf!” (when he did not really see any wolf) does not prove that wolves do not exist or that all persons who cry “wolf!” are hoaxers. When a malicious hoaxer makes a phone call warning a school official that a bomb has been planted in that school, and careful searches reveal the absence of any bomb, that does not mean that all bombs are fictional or that everybody who makes a phone call is telling a lie.
Likewise, when a newspaper publishes an article, in the nineteenth century, about a living pterosaur, and that story is later declared a hoax, that does not mean that everybody, in whatever century, who cries “pterodactyl!” is a hoaxer. How we need clear thinking!
Evelyn Cheesman was a biologist who searched for insects and small animals in remote areas, including New Guinea, in the 1920’s and 1930’s. In fact, some of her discoveries put her name to some of those creatures, including Lipinia cheesmanae—a skink (lizard), and Litoria cheesmani—a treefrog. To biologists, she is less well known for her observations and writing about strange flying lights on the mainland of what is now Papua New Guinea. Those flying lights now, long after Cheesman’s passing, appear to be related to the ropen lights. Nobody suggests Cheesman ever played a hoax.
I explored Umboi Island in 2004 (many miles east of where Cheesman saw strange lights). I interviewed many eyewitnesses, most of whom saw only the strange flying light that they call “ropen.” No form or features were visible in those many sightings (like Cheesman’s observations).
I myself stayed up on some nights, watching the sky with Luke Paina and Mark Kau. Those two men saw the ropen light once during my stay on Umboi Island, but I was asleep in bed at the time and so have never witnessed a ropen light. During the seven years since my expedition, a few skeptics occasionally label me as a liar; I am grateful it is only occasionally. But why would a hoaxer travel to a faraway tropical island and then come back home to proclaim to the world that he saw nothing?
What I encountered on Umboi Island were many eyewitnesses, of few of whom had encountered the ropen at a much closer distance; those few eyewitnesses describe features that make the ropen stand out as a huge flying creature very unlike any bird or bat. My interviews with most of those few critical eyewitnesses were videotaped and those videos are available on YouTube. Why insinuate a hoax? Examine the words of those skeptics and you will find bulverism.
I interviewed Hodgkinson sixty years later, by phone, emails, and mail . . . I continued interviewing him, on occasion, and my associate in cryptozoology, Garth Guessman, also interviewed Hodgkinson. Over a period of eight years, we have found no indication of any hoax. Besides that, Hodgkinson has been a flight instructor for years; he would not risk his reputation by playing a live-pterodactyl hoax for decades.
“Did hoaxes play any significant role in these many reports?” That question can be answered decisively: “No.” It comes from careful analysis of the data of ninety-eight sighting reports, compiled in late-2011, and it confirms an earlier analysis.
Gideon Koro, on Umboi Island, Papua New Guinea, told the American cryptozoologist Jonathan Whitcomb, “It came down.” He also described the huge flying creature: The tail length Gideon estimated to be seven meters (about 23 feet). It was no fruit bat.