I’m sad to report the passing of the World War II veteran Duane Neil Hodgkinson, who took his big flight home on September 19, 2014. Our condolences go to his family and friends. He will be missed.
I began communicating with Duane around the beginning of August, 2004, a few weeks before my expedition on Umboi Island, Papua New Guinea. He was always happy to tell us about his encounter with the “pterodactyl” that he and his army buddy saw in a small jungle clearing just west of Finschhafen. He helped me to find the courage I so desperately needed in 2004, the courage to travel alone to Papua New Guinea, where I would get the help I needed in searching for the ropen and interviewing natives.
Within the past twelve years or so, the testimony of Mr. Hodgkinson has been vindicated by reports from other eyewitnesses in the southwest Pacific, many others. For the moment, however, let’s concentrate on what this World War II veteran has given to us.
Email to Jonathan Whitcomb in August of 2004
[some punctuation added]
I tried calling today but this being Sunday I really didn’t expect an answer. Anyway, as I remember, it was in 1944 that I was stationed in Finschafen [often spelled Finschhafen], New Guinea, with the U.S. Military. While there, I made several trips into some of the surrounding native villages with a friend of mine and a native guide (provided by the Australian government.)
On this one particular trip we had the wonderful opportunity to witness a pterodactyl take off from the ground and then circle back overhead and to the side, giving us a perfect side view which clearly showed the long beak and appendage protruding from the back of its head (just like the ones that Fuzzy used to ride in the comic strip Ally Oop). It was a big one! I have a Piper Tri-Pacer airplane which has a wing spread of 26 feet [He later corrected that, for 29 feet is the wingspan of that airplane] and it appeared to be about that size.
The frequency of its wing flaps was estimated about 1 or 2 seconds. With each flap, we could hear a loud “swish, swish,” and the plants and brush immediately beneath its take off path were deflected by the down rush of air. I have not told many people about this as, of course, prehistoric creatures simply don’t exist! I did tell the owner of the company that manufactures the Pterodactyl ultra-light aircraft and to my surprise his only comment was, “Now tell me what you were drinking?” [Mr. Hodgkinson has never been a drinker.]
Duane Hodgkinson (1925-2014)
About the Piper Tri-Pacer comparison
In the above email, he mentioned owning a Piper Tri-Pacer. I assume this means he still owned it in mid-2004. As I understand, the PA-22 Piper Tri-Pacer was manufactured from 1950 to 1964. In his videotaped interview with Garth Guessman, in 2005, he said, “At that time, I owned a Piper Tri-Pacer.” I assume he was referring to that general time in his life, as a young man, not to the precise time he was serving in the armed forces in 1944.
The point, however, is the size, and that aircraft has a wingspan of about twenty-nine feet, far more than the wingspan of any bird or bat classified as extant by Western zoologists.
From a published scientific paper
I had a peer-reviewed scientific paper published in the journal Creation Research Society Quarterly: “Reports of Living Pterosaurs in the Southwest Pacific.” Here is a brief summary of some of what I there mentioned about the sighting by Mr. Hodgkinson:
In 2004 I interviewed Duane Hodgkinson, of Montana, by e-mail, survey form, and telephone. He was then videotaped by Guessman in 2005. . . .
The creature ran to their left, taking six to ten steps to get airborne and ascended at an angle of about 30 degrees (similar to an airplane taking off). It then disappeared over the dense brush but soon returned and flew over the clearing, presenting a “perfect side view” of its features before again flying out of view. . . .
The girth of the body at the chest was about 2 ft (0.6 m). He estimated the legs to be 3–4 ft (1–1.2 m) long. The top of the back was 5–6 ft (1.5–1.8 m) above the ground just before takeoff. Although he did not notice details of the tail, he estimated it was “at least” 10–15 ft (3–4.6 m) long.
[CRSQ, Volume 45, Number 3, Winter of 2009]
Hodgkinson was hiking up into the interior, away from Finschhafen, with an army buddy, when the two soldiers encountered the strange flying creature. In a jungle clearing with moderately high grass, a clearing about a hundred feet in diameter, the two men saw something at the far side, something astonishing.
. . . passed away Friday, September 19, 2014, at Livingston Health and Rehabilitation Center. The family appreciates the personal care the staff provided during his stay.
The above images relate to four sightings, two in Cuba and two in Papua New Guinea. Brian Hennessy saw a “prehistoric” flying creature on Bougainville Island, in 1971. About twenty-three years later, the Umboi Island native Gideon Koro saw a similar creature, many miles to the west of Hennessy’s ropen sighting.
“People between the United States—right now—towards South America, over in New Guinea believe that the pterodactyl is still alive and that they are breeding. . . . This is why tonight we’ve brought Jonathan Whitcomb aboard. He’s a cryptozoologist and he’s on the hunt for the pterodactyl.”