Fear of the flying creature is only one kind of terror with encounters between human and pterosaur in the United States of America. Sometimes the eyewitness is frightened not during but after the sighting and not for fear of the creature itself: It’s fear of personal insanity. After all, flying dinosaurs are not supposed to exist, are they? Yet some of the apparent modern pterosaurs are themselves frightening to at least some eyewitnesses.
The following is a partial listing, taken from the third edition of Live Pterosaurs in America: sighting reports in which we find words like “fear.”
California (page 16)
“By now my companion was getting very agitated and nervous. He wanted to be out of that part of the canyon before it became totally dark. I didn’t want to go. I guess my excitement and curiosity took over my better judgement. Maybe I should of been afraid, it certainly looked big and scary.” [Pterodactyl in a desert]
California (page 20)
“I could not stop myself from going downstairs to investigate more closely. When I got to the dining room and the door that led to the backyard, my fear got the better of me and instead I went to the front door and went out into the dark.” [terrifying sounds at night in Rancho Santa Margarita, a community near the O’Neal Canyons and the foothills of the Saddleback mountain range]
Oklahoma (page 33)
. . . near a small river, at about noon, a fourteen-year-old became terrified at the sight of a pterosaur-like creature. “I was walking to the small river where I usually caught carp fish. . . . a large animal took off into the air. At first I thought it was an eagle. Then I noticed it was a dinosaur. I went to my knees so that it would not see me. I was afraid it would eat me. [in Woodward, about 1985]
Rhode Island (pages 38-39)
. . . [The creature had] a “width” of about fifteen feet. [She] became scared after the creature had circled her house a few times. . . . “I heard a loud whooshing noise moving in the air to my right. I saw a huge pterodactyl. It circled my house six times and once it turned its head and looked at me. . . . it definitely was interested in me. I am not a nut; I’m a mother of two and work in a hospital . . . I got a good look at it, and by the last time it flew by I was scared. I backed up against the side of the house close to my sliding glass door . . . [October of 2001]
South Carolina (page 9)
“It was actually pretty scary a few times, the lights coming fearfully close to us, enough that we’d jump into our cars and leave.” [Bingham Lights]
Texas (page 25)
“Neither my brother or I was prone to being scared by anything outside at night. This night was different. . . . the creature was flying just above the phone lines. It would go one direction, turn, and swoop back. The shape was wrong for any large bird of the area, and the size was much too large to be any bat I have ever seen” . . . [in San Antonio, about 1986]
Texas (pages 35-36)
She was twelve years old, at most (around 1995), when she walked out into her backyard one morning to check on the dog . . . [She] found the poor animal cowering around the side of the house . . . and called the dog, but it would not move. . . . She turned her head and saw what it was that had terrified the dog. Next door, in the neighbor’s backyard, was what she first thought was a tall man; but he was about as tall as the house, too tall. . . . “Dracula” came to mind as [she] tried to understand what she was looking at. [It] turned, and revealed a face that terrified the child: It was non-human. [in Brownsville, ~1995]
Wisconsin (page 31)
“I grew up on a farm and picked cucumbers to make money as a kid. All of my sisters and brother did also. Anyways one late afternoon, I had just brought out the tractor to pick up the bags of cucumbers when I noticed a strange looking bird in the sky. . . . it looked like something straight out of the dinosaurs era. It scared the . . . out of me right away. I knew it was not a sand hill crane, which we have a few hundred migrating thru. What stood out was the long pointed head and the fact that there was a very long tail between the legs and with a ball shaped on the end of it.” [late 1970’s or early 1980’s]
The “Gitmo Pterosaur” (above) seen in Cuba (mid-20th century) may be related to the “American Hammerhead Ropen” of the USA (sketch by the eyewitness Patty Carson)
. . . contrary to the proclamations of some critics, the rarity of reports of eyewitnesses is from the ridicule that many of them face after telling people what they saw; it is not generally from insanity or dishonesty. In developed countries, the extinction of all species of dinosaurs and pterosaurs has been dogmatically taught to us from early childhood. This indoctrination, in the United States, makes it difficult for eyewitnesses to talk; we hear little about flying dinosaurs.
Some eyewitnesses have been plagued by thoughts of personal insanity; that critical fact is overlooked by skeptics. A common bird or bat, under uncommon conditions, might look like a pterosaur, to somebody. . . . A mentally healthy person who observes something he or she always thought impossible—that person could doubt personal sanity, but it would take a very clear observation of what was thought impossible. Just about the last thing a human wants to consider is the possibility of being crazy.
“The scientists of today think deeply instead of clearly. One must be sane to think clearly, but one can think deeply and be quite insane.” I believe Nikola Tesla was thinking clearly when he said that. I also believe that we need clear thinking in the scientists of today, at least as much as in the time of Tesla.