It is well-known in UFO circles that sightings of strange aerial objects appear to increase dramatically during times of war. And while many of us are familiar with the numerous sightings during the conflicts in Vietnam and the Persian Gulf, or perhaps the foo fighter sightings of the Second World War, such accounts and incidents in World War One seemingly do not enjoy such a plateau, despite there being many such incidents on record.
Perhaps one of the most intriguing of these First World War encounters is that of Baron Manfred von Richthofen – otherwise known as the Red Baron, one of the most feared fighter pilots of his era. In an account told eight decades after it occurred by a wingman who accompanied the Red Baron on the morning of the incident, it is claimed that the German fighter pilot ace not only witnessed an apparent craft from another world, but he fired and shot it down.
As we shall see, there are some who remain suspicious of the account. However, a similar incident is on record taking place around the same time but on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean in the United States. And furthermore, these are far from isolated incidents during the bloody years of the First World War.
Were these strange craft alien visitors observing yet another human war unfolding before them? Or is their presence – whoever they might be – merely coincidental to what is taking place at the time?
The account has appeared on several online platforms since it first entered the public arena, and several books, including Frank Joseph’s Military Encounters with Extraterrestrials: The Real War of the Worlds.
The Most Feared Fighter Pilot And “A Large Metallic Disc!”
The story didn’t become known until 80 years after it took place, when a wingman of the Baron, Peter Waitzrik spoke of the encounter in 1999 resulting in several articles appearing in newspapers, magazines, and the Internet.
According to Waitzrik’s account, it was shortly after dawn on the 13th March 1917 when Baron Manfred von Richthofen took off from the runway at an airfield in western Belgium, accompanied by Waitzrik as they set out on their usual morning patrol of German-held territory. At only 25 years old, Richthofen was already the leader of the Jasta 11 fighter squadron. And during his career, he is said to have been responsible for the downing of 80 enemy fighter planes in combat. He was, to many, a German national hero.
It is perhaps important to keep this in mind. And while the account didn’t come from von Richthofen himself (who was ultimately shot down and killed in April 1918) the fact that a fellow German pilot implicated him in the incident should perhaps alert us to at least a certain degree of truth to the account.
On that March morning in 1917, the patrol would unfold without incident for around an hour. Then, however, with the skies perfectly clear and with visibility good, the pilots witnessed “a large metallic disc, ringed at its perimeter by undulating orange lights”. The object was directly in front of them.
The pilots had “never seen anything like it before”. Waitzrik would later estimate that it was almost 150 feet across. This was over 100 feet wider than the wingspan of their own planes. The next thing Waitzrik realized, von Richthofen had pressed down the trigger of his gun and opened fire.
The Object Fell “Like A Rock!”
According to Waitzrik, the discharge from von Richthofen’s plane hit the disc causing it to go “down like a rock”. The object would crash into the woods below them, “shearing off tree limbs” as it did so.
Even more bizarre, as the pilots looked on at the crippled ruins of the craft below them, they would see “two little baldheaded guys” emerge from the wreckage before they disappeared into the cover of the woodland.
Upon returning to their base, both men would make an official report to their superiors. However, following this, each was informed they were to never speak of the incident to anyone. Each would adhere to these orders. Waitzrik claimed he did indeed speak of the incident privately to his wife and later to his grandchildren. Otherwise, though, he remained silent. He would serve in the military for some time, progressing to be a flight captain for the Lufthansa. However, after eight decades and no longer serving with the military, Waitzrik finally spoke of the incident.
His decision to do so would arouse suspicion from many – even in UFO circles. How could a measly machine gun of the First World War era cause such damage to a supposed advanced extraterrestrial craft, for example?
There is perhaps reason to treat the account with a pinch of salt. The details of the encounter, however, do resonate with other incidents throughout the later 20th century. And what’s more, as we shall see shortly, other sightings around the same time might offer more credibility.
“Not Doubt In My Mind” That What We Saw Was From “Another Planet!”
Waitzrik would continue that initially, they believed the object was an experimental aircraft of the United States. They themselves were only weeks away from entering the war. However, during the decades that followed and the many UFO sightings that would come with them, the wingman on the day of the incident would recall in 1999 that what they saw looked “just like those saucer-shaped spaceships that everyone has been seeing for the past 50 years”.
He would continue that there was “no doubt in my mind” that what they saw that morning was a “spacecraft from another planet”. And what’s more, the two crew that appeared shortly after were extraterrestrials looking to take cover from any further attack.
There were several points that would hurt Waitzrik’s chances of being taken seriously. Perhaps not least that the account initially appeared in a tabloid that had a history of pushing “tall tales”, the Weekly World News. This was, as Waitzrik would later explain because no other mainstream newspapers would run the account.
What’s more, as mentioned above, many would struggle with the notion that weapons at the start of the twentieth century could bring down an advanced aircraft, in just one round, to boot. However, this is not that much of a stretch of the imagination. For example, allegedly recovered alien aircraft – if we believe the abundance of leaked reports and whistleblower testimony – appear to be made from a thin foil-like material, which is undoubtedly strong beyond our imagination, but could still be compromised by a round of bullets.
Many Incidents Over The Battlefields Of Europe
There are also some researchers who believe that these crafts are essentially protected by a shield of some kind that needs to be activated by the crew themselves. As bizarre as it sounds, those who lean toward believing Waitzrik’s account wonder if the crew on this occasion were viewing the battlefields below them and simply did not activate such a shield, unaware as they were of imminent attack.
While this does stretch the imagination – and indeed the credibility of the account – it has been well documented that UFO sightings tend to increase during times of disaster or big events, including war. Furthermore, some researchers even suggest that the battlefield environments of the First World War were ideal for alien abductions to take place. Indeed, many soldiers in all wars are officially listed as “missing”.
Perhaps it is worth mentioning at this stage the Gallipoli incident of 1915. A British troop regiment would march forward into a suddenly descending “brown cloud that hugged the ground in their path”. The entire regiment was enveloped in this strange mist. However, when it “flew away against the wind” not a sign of any of the soldiers could be found.
Whatever happened to the soldiers is perhaps open to debate. Their disappearance, though, remains unsolved. Before we move on to examine another UFO sighting around the same time as the incident involving Baron von Richthofen, check out the short video below. It looks at the disappearing soldiers mystery of 1915.
The Piscataqua River Incident – The First Of Its Kind In The United States
The week after the United States officially entered World War One on the side of the Allies, and exactly a month and a day after the von Richthofen incident on 14th April 1917, three American servicemen would witness a strange aerial vehicle heading toward them as them near the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Maine on the American east coast.
It was a little after 2:30 am. And with the moon shining brightly, they could clearly see the bizarre craft cruising above the surface of the Piscataqua River. What made the three servicemen take note of the approaching craft, though, was not the strange elongated shape, but that it made no noise whatsoever. Remember, this was at a time when most aircrafts had the sound of a sputtering car engine.
The men watched the object for several more moments. However, it would suddenly change direction and head to the bridge where they were stationed for the night shift. They turned their rifles toward it and opened fire. As soon as the firing began, the craft changed direction once more. It then zipped into the night sky and disappeared.
The servicemen would report the incident immediately, prompting an investigation by the Massachusetts National Guard. They would find that no other aircraft was in the area on the night in question. And the notion that a German plane could have made it all the way to the United States was unlikely at best. Not to mention the fact that no aircraft known at the time could reach the speeds that the men were claiming the unidentified object had reached.
Despite this, though, considerable doubt remained as to what the men had actually seen. Then, other reports began to come in – both from military personnel and members of the public.
A Bizarre Wave Of Munitions Factory Explosion Across America!
The Piscataqua River incident is widely regarded as one of the first American close contact UFO encounters. However, the previous year, in January and February 1916, Frank Joseph highlights an apparent “unprecedented” wave of explosions. All at munitions and gunpowder factories throughout America which just might be of interest to us here. And just might indicate that if there is a level of authenticity to UFO sightings during times of war, they might not be here in just an observatory capacity. As Joseph writes, “though America had not yet entered World War One, many Americans sensed a need to prepare”. And much of this preparation, perhaps obviously, was in weapons and ammunition.
For example, on 10th January, a DuPont munitions factory in New Jersey was completely destroyed due to an explosion. The very next day, another DuPont factory in Delaware suffered two explosions that left several powder mills flattened. Three days after that, a factory working with acid also exploded.
On 28th January, the DuPont factory in New Jersey suffered another explosion. This would result in five buildings being wiped out. Less than a week after that came yet another. Perhaps most bizarre of all, though, was the evening of 14th February. On that night, “no less than 39 mysterious conflagrations” hit the city of Philadelphia. These apparent accidents would continue until the final days of the month.
Common sense suggests that these factories were experiencing a particularly long run of bad luck. Or, suspecting their upcoming involvement in the war, “foreign saboteurs” were behind the wave of explosions. Each of these scenarios, however, are both unlikely. Especially when we note several UFO sightings in the same areas as the explosions.
A Genuine Alien Presence On Earth In The Early 20th Century?
For example, on the evening of the initial explosion over New Jersey in January, one witness claimed to have seen a strange “airplane flying over the plant”. However, according to Frank Joseph, “no civilian or military planes even existed in western New Jersey at the time”. A similar object was reported over the plant twice more in February. On one occasion, witnesses observed it hovering over the burnt-out ruins “clearly visible” to all present. What’s more, before it disappeared out of sight, a bright light flashed from its exterior.
Another sighting occurred at the end of January only hours after an explosion at the Gibbstown plant in New Jersey. Multiple residents witnessed the strange object. Albert Parsons of the US Marine Corps described it to the press as a light that shone brightly. Furthermore, it was approximately 1,500 feet in size. It would move in circles before hovering over the burning building.
These kinds of sightings would continue for as long as the mysterious fires and explosions did. And what’s more, none were identified by authorities at the time. Were these strange crafts merely observing this sudden onslaught of explosions? Or, given how bizarre they were in the first place, were they responsible for them? And if so, why? Might these alien visitors have had a vested interest in keeping the Americans out of the war?
It is certainly food for thought.
While we have examined just a handful of sightings and incidents here – including the actual shooting down of an apparent extraterrestrial craft by arguably the most skilled fighter pilot of the First World War, Baron von Richthofen – it appears perfectly obvious that the UFO presence in the skies of our planet during this time is very credible.
The video below looks at the encounter of von Richthofen.
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