In 1965, deep in the Everglades, Florida, James Flynn claimed to see a metallic UFO in the sky, upon approaching the object he recalled how a strong gust of wind almost knocked him from his feet, before a bright beam of light struck him in the forehead, rendering him unconscious and partially blind.
James Flynn of East Fort Myers, Florida set out on Friday, March 12, 1965, on an expedition deep into the Everglades, taking with him his four hunting dogs. Late on the evening of the fourteenth, the dogs spotted a deer and took off after it disappeared from sight, though Flynn could still hear their barking. One returned, and he put it back in its cage. The others remained out of sight. Then Flynn heard what sounded like a shot. Alarmed, he got on his swamp buggy and drove as quickly as possible - in other words, slowly - toward the animals. It was now around 1am on Monday, March 15.
Flynn suddenly spotted a hovering object, shaped like a broad, upside-down cone, about 200 feet above cypress trees, slightly over a mile away. After a short time, it headed off in a northeasterly direction. Two or three minutes later, it returned to its original position, hovered for five minutes, then went southwest at a rapid rate of speed. By the time it returned not long afterward, Flynn was a quarter-mile away. He watched it disappear into a small knoll among the trees.
After glimpsing the object through the dense vegetation, Flynn picked up binoculars to get a better look. The enhanced view revealed it to be 25 feet high and twice that in diameter. Near the top four tiers of two-foot-square square windows emitted a yellowish glow. The UFO was metallic, made up of four-by-four plates that appeared to be held together with rivets. Around its base, an orange-red glow extended downward and illuminated the ground some 75 feet around the rim.
Flynn wondered if this was a secret device from Cape Canaveral. Finally, 40 minutes into the sighting, he decided to approach the craft and offer its presumed crew his assistance. As he walked toward it, he heard a deafening ringing sound. The dog howled in its cage and tried frantically to get out.
The object, he now could see, was hovering four feet off the ground. Two hundred yards away from it, he stopped the buggy and moved forward, waving his arms. A blast of counterclockwise-moving "wind" from the UFO nearly knocked him off his feet. Undeterred, Flynn resumed his trek. Seventy-five feet from the object, he waved his arms once more. They were still in the air when, from just under one of the windows, the UFO beamed a light like a "welders torch." When it hit his forehead, it felt like a "sledgehammer blow". Flynn blacked out a moment later.
At some point he regained consciousness. He was blind. He lay there for a considerable period of time until he recovered a small amount of his vision in his left eye. By this time the sun was shining, and it was Tuesday morning. The ground above which the object had hovered was burned in a perfectly symmetrical circle. Around the edges of the circle, several of the cypress trees had scorch marks on them.
Flynn managed to get his dogs together, boarded the buggy, and made his way to the home of Henry Osceola, a Seminole Indian who lived in the swamp. Flynn arrived at home in East Fort Myers around noon on Wednesday. With his wife, he went to the office of an ophthalmologist, Paul R. Brown. Dr Brown would report:
"Mr Flynn seemed to be in quite an agitated state of mind at that particular time. He kept repeating over and over 'I know you won't believe me, but this is what happened' and then he would begin to relate the same story. When I examined him on 3/17/65 vision was 20/800 in the right eye and 20/60 in the left eye. Intraocular tension was 2 on the right and 6 on the left using the 5.5 gm weight on the Schiotz tonometer. Examination revealed a slight bruise over the right brow and right upper lid and there was some gross hyphemia on the right. I could not see the retina on the right. The left eye appeared to be normal."
Flynn was sent to Lee Memorial Hospital in Fort Myers, where he would remain for five days. Forty-eight hours after he had been admitted to the hospital, he was examined by Harvie J. Stipe, a physician who had known him for 25 years. Because Flynn's eyes were bandaged, Dr Stipe was unable to look at them, but he did conduct a comprehensive physical examination. He wrote:
"The only abnormal findings were neurological. No paralysis was noted, but the deep tendon reflexes of the biceps, triceps, patellas, and achilles were absent. Plantars and abdominal were absent, but cremaseterics were present. Mr Flynn was observed carefully for several weeks. His reflexes gradually returned over a 5-day to 1-week period, but returned irregularly. The forehead was finally examined and presented a thickened area just above and medial to the right eye; in the center of this area was a depressed, slightly abraded spot about 1 centimeter in diameter. Very small amount of haematoma was noted across the right upper eyelid. There was never any mental confusion or evidence of hallucination. About the fourth day in the hospital, Mr Flynn complained of hearing reduction and numbness in his arms and hands. This cleared in about 24 hours. When last seen about 16 April 1965, approximately 4 weeks after the injury, Mr Flynn was again checked. The abdominal reflexes were normal. The depressed area over the right eye was still present and prominent. He still has a cloudy vision of the right eye."
Deputy Robert Daubenspeck of the Lee County Sherrif's Department interviewed Flynn Late Wednesday, March 17. He told the Fort Myers News-Press that Flynn possibly sustained the injury when he ran into an overhanging tree limb in his swamp buggy - a theory both Sherrif Flanders Thompson and News-press editor William R Spear rejected. In an editorial in the Friday edition of the newspaper, Spear had this to say:
"Jimmy Flynn is a substantial citizen, a practical, down-to-earth type who has never been subject to hallucinations. When he says that a "sledge-hammer blow" between the eyes that bruised his eyebrow and caused a vision impairment that now has him under treatment in the hospital came somehow from a huge cone-shaped object making a whirring noise and emitting a dazzling light that he encountered in a remote Everglades prairie, it is certain that he believes it; that he didn't consciously make it up."
The sheriff's office notified nearby Homestead Air Force Base. The base's intelligence officer, Colonel Robin Lewis, promised an investigation. When Flynn was released from the hospital, the sheriff informed Homestead that Flynn would willingly accompany an Air Force investigator to the site. An unnamed officer said that first Flynn should go there himself and mark off the spot with lime so that it would be readily detectable.
On March 26 Flynn, accompanied by Stipe and Johnny, and Eugene Prevatt, went to the site. The group found a burned circle 72 feet in diameter. The circle looked as if it had been swept completely clean; there were no leaves, twigs, limbs, or other matter inside it. Eight cypress trees were scorched from the top half to the ground. Two other cypress trees, though not burned, displayed fresh damage to bark 10 feet up. As Stipe recalled, "The marks were as if a heavy object in a straight line had slid down the trees about two feet and there stopped." The trees were "12 or 15 feet apart in the area underneath the burned circle of the trees."
Though Flynn and his friends took soil and plant samples and sent them to Homestead, they were never acknowledged. To the best of Flynn's knowledge, the Air Force conducted no follow-up investigation. In 1967 Captain Jon H Adams, Homestead's chief information officer asserted that the base had no record of the incident.
On October 31, 1966, University of Arizona atmospheric physicist James E Mcdonald interviewed Flynn by phone. Flynn expressed the view that the object he had encountered was probably a secret aircraft developed by the American military. "If I ever find out that thing is owned by the government," he said, "they're going to have to pay for a good eye I used to have and don't have now."