William Lashomb, a retired police officer, sent me an email on June 9, 2016, concerning his sighting of a long-tailed featherless creature that flew (about 10-15 years ago) over the Grass River in Massena. This is near the border with Canada, about fifty miles southeast of Ottawa. Within a few days, we had a long phone conversation, and I found this eyewitness to be highly credible. I believe he witnessed a ropen.
Only more recently has he investigated what he may have observed, and he found some of my web pages.
He has no problem revealing his name (William Lashomb), although he would not have done so when he was still a police officer. He was on duty that day, at around 3:30-4:00 p.m., at the Parker Avenue Bridge, which spans the Grass River.
He had just finished talking with a driver who had parked on or near that bridge. He looked upstream at what he thought, at first, was an approaching bird, but as the creature got closer, flying downstream over the middle of the river, Officer Lashomb realized it was very strange:
- gray, bulbous head
- no feathers
- “with long spade tail”
The head had a short (“fat”) kind of parrot-like front part, NOT long like one or more of the sketches he has recently seen on one or more of my web pages. The flying creature had a light-greenish-gray color, with a wingspan of about five feet. It was nothing like any of the birds that the officer was familiar with in that area.
There was a “spade” at the end of the tail. This description I have found common, and my associates and I believe people are describing a Rhamphorhynchoid tail flange. The following are some of the words eyewitnesses use for it:
Although some skeptics have dismissed the long tails as misidentified long legs, some eyewitnesses make it clear that this is not the case, some of them even going into detail in differentiating legs that were held alongside the long tail.
I see no reason to doubt that it was a ropen that Officer Lashomb had observed on that summer afternoon in Massena, New York, years ago. It flew only about 15-20 feet high and passed him on one side, as he stood on the bridge observing the creature. It then flew down to only a few feet above the surface of the river. The sighting lasted maybe 30-40 seconds, although Lashomb admitted he cannot say exactly how long it was.
The flight was mostly gliding, not very fast but “cruising” at a good pace. It did flap its wings briefly on occasion.
One of the rivers in or near Massena, New York state (photo by Doug Kerr)
How important it is to take this sighting report in context with other sightings in this area of North America, sightings on the continent as a whole, and sightings around the world! And eyewitnesses continue to come forward with reports from many years ago, in recent years, and very recently.
From the fourth edition of my nonfiction book Searching for Ropens and Finding God (page 177):
“I saw something that I almost couldn’t believe and the pictures of pterodactyls are the only thing that comes close to what I saw last week. I live in NYC . . . Me and my cousin both saw it at 6:30 p.m. in the clear bright sky. It came very very close. We were both in shock.”
In the Northeast (east of Buffalo, New York), a “pterodactyl” was seen. I received this email in mid-2007, just weeks after the sighting . . . “a very strange creature that we had both thought to be a prehistoric bird. Immediately, I thought ‘pterodactyl.’”
The Fiery Flying Serpent of the Bible may have been a long-tailed Rhamphorhynchoid, related to the modern-day ropen. Some ancient reports of long-tailed flying dragons may be of similar species of modern pterosaur, in earlier human history. But for now let’s consider the more recent encounters with these apparent pterosaurs.
Each report used in the data compilation was considered more likely than not to have come from an actual encounter with a modern living pterosaur. If a report appeared to have been probably from something other than a sighting of an actual living pterosaur, that report was left out, and the data was never included in the database.
I was a forensic videographer in 2003, when I began investigating these eyewitness accounts of “prehistoric” flying creatures or “dragons.” I recognized, while viewing some amateur video footage, the credibility of natives who were interviewed on a tropical island in the southwest Pacific. Since 2003, I have spent well over 10,000 hours researching, interviewing, exploring, and writing—all within this narrow field of cryptozoology.