Flynn Case, March 15, 1965
Letter from Dr. James McDonald to Richard Hall
October 31, 1966:

The University of Arizona
Tucson Arizona
Institute of Atmospheric Physics

October 31, 1966

Dear Dick,

This is a summary of two phone calls concerning the sighting by James W. Flynn, of E. Ft. Myers, Fla., on Monday, March 15, 1965 at about 0100 EST in the Everglades.  On 10/29 I spoke with Mrs. Flynn for about 40 minutes (Mr. F. being unavailable) and tonight  spoke with Mr. Flynn for about a half hour.  The accounts they gave independently were in good agreement, and jibed well, in general, with the account in the APRO Bulletin.  I do not yet have the NICAP account in hand.   The accounts to be found in the recent books by Edwards and by Steiger contain some substantial errors, however.

The Flynns now live at 4112 Madison Ave., E. Ft. Myers.  Their home phone is ______.  He has sold his ranch and now operates a motel, trailer court, and bar, the businss phone being ________.  He is not, and has not been, a professional dog-trainer; that is a lifelong hobby with him, and his wife said that “he grew up in those swamps” and is an experienced woodsman.  At the time of the incident he was ranching.  He was not hunting, but “working his dogs” when he went out into the Everglades on Friday, 3/12/65 with his truck-carried swamp buggy.  He said the locale of the sighting was about 110 miles SE of Ft. Myers, the nearest town being Imokalle, but he was about halfway across the peninsula, well to the east of that town.  He goes as far as he can on the “hard road” via truck, then unloads his swamp buggy and proceeds through the swamps at an average speed of 2 mph.  (This slow sped accounts for the length of time he required to get back at the end of the episode, a point that APRO’s account leaves unanswered.)

He left home on Friday with four dogs, two old and two young.  It was Sunday night, 3/14, when his dogs had jumped a deer and ran off, that the principal episode begins.  He could hear them baying in the distance, then one came back, one of the two old dogs.  He heard a distant shot and thought someone might be shooting at his young dogs, so “cranked up” his buggy, as he put it several times, and headed off in the direction of the baying.  He first sighted the object, as a light in the sky, near 0100 EST, 3/15 (i.e. very early Monday AM).  When first spotted, it was hovering at an altitude of about 200 ft above the cypress, at a distance which he put at 1 to 1 ½ miles. Then it went NE, but came back again after 2-3 minutes.  It hovered again for 4-5 minutes, then went off to SW very fast, and was gone 2-3 minutes.  He was proceeding all this time, and when it returned the next time to his general vicinity it went down onto a small knoll among some cypress trees.  The knoll was covered with a characteristic vegetation of the Everglades, saw grass, he pointed out.  At this juncture he thought it might be a helicopter, and decided to drive over to it in case they could give him any information about his dogs.

When he got to within about ¼ mile of it he could see it through openings in the trees.  Through his 7x35 binoculars he quickly recognized that it was not a helicopter, but now thought perhaps it was some new vehicle from Cape Canaveral.  As he watched it and saw no one around it he decided it must be in distress, and felt obliged to try to see if he could be of any help.  After watching it for a time that he thought must have been about forty minutes he headed towards it.  It was making a sound like a Diesel generator and this bothered his dog as he came nearer.  Through the binoculars he said he got a very good look at its structure and shape.  He thought it was about 25 ft high and a bit larger in diameter, cone-shaped, with four tiers of windows near the top.  He saw no markings, but he could make out plates seemingly riveted at their joints.  It appeared to him to be metallic when he got closer.

As he approached, he had his buggy light on.  The object was at all times hovering above the ground, about 4 feet, and varied its height just a bit (few inches, he thought).  When within about 200 yards of it he stopped.  His dog was howling in his cage and trying to get out.  This Flynn attributed to the loud, high-pitched noise.  He did not try to take the dog out of the cage, as one account said.  He walked towards the object, waving to see if he’d get any response.  From the windows a yellow glow emanated, and this prevented him from seeing in --  if they were truly windows.  The “wind” from it was almost strong enough to blow him down, he stated.  It came out counterclockwise and made a jet-like noise.  He stood within a few yards of it, continuing to wave, for what he thinks may have been a minute.  Then from a point just below the bottom row of “windows” he recalls a flash of light coming toward him, similar to the light of a welder’s torch.  That’s all he recalls.

When he came to he could not see.  He does not know whether it was a short or a long time, but thinks it was only a few hours, inasmuch as he blacked out again (according to APRO – I got a less than ideal check on this I now realize).*

[*I got my wires crossed there: It was no Apro, but Mrs. Flynn who told me he blacked out twice.  The Apro account does not conflict with his assertion that he came to in state of blindness and just waited for what he estimates at over 24 hrs till one eye cleared.] A total time of over 24 hours reportedly elapsed between the encounter and the morning of Tuesday 3/16, when the sun came up and he could then see a bit out of his left eye, though still not out of his right eye.  His other three dogs were back there then, and he headed back out of the swamps in his buggy.  He went to an Indian’s place, Henry Osceola, who accompanied him in to where he’d left his jeep truck on the “hard road”. 

(Apro gives name as Henry Billy and indicates he offered to go all way in to Ft. Myers with Flynn.)  He said he got back to Ft. My. About noon on Wednesday (Apro said 1600).  I see now that I should have had questions ready on this timing, since it’s not clear why this took so long, unless he was proceeding extremely slowly and did not get onto the “hard road” until early Wednesday.  I did not query him as to whether he stayed overnight with the Indian, Apro does not so indicate, and he did not volunteer any such comment.  This is unsatisfactory.  Does the NICAP account confront this?  Would the Florida NICAP people have notes on this?  Part of the resolution could, of course, be that the Indian lived many hours of buggy-time from where his jeep lay, so that he was a day in getting there, and camped enroute, along with the Indian; but at the moment that’s an open point.

The rest of the account is evidently well-related in APRO’s version.  He said their account was quite well done and said the medical description that they obtained from Dr. Harvie J. Stipe (whose identity I confirmed in the AMS 1963 Directory in the Library hre).  His wife knew of no “bruise” on his forehead, a point indicated by Apro, so I queried him on it.  He stated that it was just a small spot about the size you’d make by twisting an eraser around on it.  Said it was darkened.  Said they did 2 hours of X-ray scans on his head in the hospital, found no concussions.  He and she confirmed that while still in the hospital he had one very bad day when he lost his hearing and became numb.  He has no residual symptoms related to the loss of reflexes (outlined by Apro) but still has imperfect vision in his right eye.  It is often cloudy or fuzzy in the mornings.  In our conversation he later on stated, somewhat bitterly, “If I ever find out that thing is owned by the Government, they’re going to have to pay for a good eye I used to have and don’t have now.”  His insurance did not cover the loss of vision, he said, in reply to my query.

I asked him if he had been adequately interrogated by USAF and his reply made clear that he was quite annoyed at their response. While he was still in the hospital the Air Force, he said, “made out like they were interested in it,” so he volunteered to go down there with any USAF officials when he got well.  When he was back on his feet the Sheriff’s office notified Homestead AFB that Flynn was ready to go down with them.  Some Colonel replied that they’d send someone to the site if Flynn would get down there and marked it prominently with lime (as on a football field).  So he and some others went down there (this, I presume was the occasion on which Dr. Stipe went down to look at the site – see Apro account) and marked it a big lime-circle just outside the 72-ft-diameter burned area on the ground.  They also took some soil samples within the burned area and sent these off to Homestead.  He never received any reply to the latter nor any further contacts of any sort from USAF.  He does not know whether they ever sent any helicopters down there to the site.  He made some remarks to the effect that the Air Force simply ridicules people or ignores these things.  He mentioned that someone from the FBI came to see him while he was still in the hospital, but did not follow it up.

Mrs. Flynn had told me that the first investigation from the Sheriff’s office was made by a man who did not know Flynn, and he made some remarks in the press that maybe her husband had run into a tree limb.  Then the editor of the paper (Ft. Myers News-Press, she said) ran an editorial testifying to Flynn’s solid reputation, and the Sheriff, who did know Flynn, made similar statement in the papers.  This evidently toned down local ridicule, because neither he nor she made a big point of that.  What bothered both of them, judging from the jaundiced way they remarked about it, was the casual treatment given the episode by USAF.  He said he is keeping his copies of all his letters to Homestead as evidence.

I asked him if there might be further details I could get from Stipe.  He said that he didn’t want to sound like he was trying to keep me from checking, but Stipe has been bothered a lot about this already, and he wished I’d not bother him further.  Flynn said the Apro letters from Stipe were authentic and accurate.  I’ll be interested in seeing what NICAP did by way of further checks along these lines.

I asked both of them what he now thinks of the incident, and they gave similar replies to the effect that he hasn’t tried to pursue it much further.  He indicates he thought it was something America could build (and that’s when he mentioned they’ll have to pay for his eye if it comes out that it was a Canaveral test vehicle).  He said some people say it might be from outside the earth and supposed you had to admit that as a possibility --  but he evinced no interest in pursuing that point on the phone.  In general he seemed to be a bit on the laconic side—gave business-like answers in rather concise form and then stopped talking.  Did not run on at all.  I think a good bit of his conciseness is from having had to relate this many times –he said that people are always asking him questions about it.  There was in this, a faint reminder of Laxton’s brisk and bustling replies about that Okalahoma sighting.  For the time being, I’m including to give credence to his account; but would like to see more cross-checks.  His wife was in no way evasive or sarcastic about relating the story.  I’d like to talk with Stipe.  Has NICAP?


/s/ Jim