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The Pascagoula abduction:

"Some things just have the look and feel of truth, that incident was one such. I was living in eastern Tennessee at the time of the "activity" of 73, and nearly our entire community witnessed a dozen or more indisputable sightings, including one by myself, my wife, one of our employees, and a very startled teenage boy, who watched an object for a full ten minutes or so."

"I'm not going to try to qualify myself to anyone, because frankly I'm not interested in what others think concerning that incident, but the minute I heard Hickson's story I recognized it as being a factual account of a genuine experience."

"I sincerely hope that the "voice" he purports to have later heard, was telling him the truth concerning helping us."

Above: private email to the author of this website, 2003.

"Meanwhile, the eastern United States had exploded into the great fall UFO flap of 1973. Not a day went by without newspaper and television coverage of UFO sightings. An enormous and persistent high-pressure system created clear skies and balmy nights for most of the month, creating obvious opportunities for sky gazing. The two outstanding cases in the news were Pascagoula and Coyne and they vied for attention – even front-page attention – with bulletins from the Middle East. (...) I picked up Hynek and drove him to Columbus. I had never seen him in such mental distress."
Jennie Zeidman, Allen Hynek long time collaborator.

One motive of distress for Dr. J. Allen Hynek was the Pascagoula abduction case. Although Allen Hynek did not like the idea that extra-terrestrial beings really abducted people, he studied this case and he could do nothing but believe in the obvious sincerity of the two witnesses.

The events:

On October 10, 1973, fifteen different people, including two policemen reported seeing a large, silver UFO slowly fly over a housing project in St. Tammany Parish, New Orleans, Louisiana. This was just one more UFO sighting, except that on the next day another event would reach national attention, ninety miles to the East.

Mr. Charles Hickson, age 45, was raised on a farm, graduated from high school and attended junior college. He became interested in carpenter work and then cabinet making. He spent 8 years or probably more as a ship builder and ship fitter, working eventually as a supervisor. He is also a certified welder and burner. He was married and has three children and one step-child. On the night of October 11, 1973 he went fishing with 18 years old Calvin Parker, also from the town of Gautier, Mississippi, from a pier at Shaupeter Shipyard. The place was an abandoned shipyard along the Pascagoula River, at the South Eastern tip of Mississippi. The two men intended to test some new fishing equipment, but had little success and were about to look for better place.

It was 7:00pm and the night was dark, when they first had their attention caught by a "loud zipping sound" coming from behind them. They turned around to see the source of the sound, and were amazed and also terrified to see a gray domed football shaped or egg-shaped object surrounded by a blue gloom hovering towards them. The object was estimated to have 30 to 40 feet of length, 8 to 10 feet high, "the size of a big truck" but "without any bolts, as if made in one piece." It had two windows and two blue lights at its fronts. It hovered just a few feet above the ground about forty feet from the river bank, on a junkyard covered with dismantled car carcasses.

As they watched, a hatchway opened, or appeared, and a brilliant light poured out. Moments later three strange entities floated out just above the water and straight to the men.

Description of the beings:

Though the beings had legs, they did not move them, they simply floated across the river with their legs stuck together. Later exaggerations from the media have stated that the beings had only one leg, but the witness did not state this.

Parker and Hickson described the beings as:

"...about five feet tall, had bullet-shaped heads without necks, slits for mouths, and where their noses or ears would be, they had thin, conical objects sticking out, like carrots from a snowman's head. They had no eyes, grey, wrinkled skin, round feet, and claw-like hands."

Hickson made this statement also:

"They didn't have clothes. But they had feet shape... it was more or less a round like thing on a leg, if you'd call it a leg... Ghostlike and pale with wrinkled skin, and conical projections where nose and ears would normally be... Calvin done went hysterical on me."


Here are some more sketches of the beings.

And Hickson later gave this more detailed description:

"Their heads came directly to the shoulders, they had no neck, and their noses came out to a point about 2 inches long. For ears they had something similar to the nose. The mouth was just a slit. The arms looked like human arms but long compared to body proportions. The hands were like mittens, and there was a thumb (Hickson also compared the hands to claws, a little bit like crab claws, and exaggeration and confusions by the media transformed the claws in robotic claws). The legs remained together and the feet looked like elephant feet. The entire body was wrinkled, and Hickson stated that they could have had eyes but he could not tell because of the wrinkly skin. The beings were a little over 5 feet tall."

Hickson also indicated that the "mouths" of the creature did not move even when they seemed to communicate together with buzzing sounds.


The three beings approached the men at a stunning speed, two of them grabbed Hickson and he felt a stinging sensation in his left arm. When they put their arms under both sides of his body to support him he felt paralyzed and numb. He lost all feeling, including that of weight, and quickly fainted, when the two entities carried him inside the ship. Before fainting he could see the third one grabbing Parker, and the teenager also fainting with fright brought towards the object.

He was floated to a bare, brightly-lit room in the UFO's interior. He could not see where the light came from. He still could not move, although he remained conscious.

The entities placed him in a 45 degrees reclining position, still "floating” in air, and an instrument that resembled a "big eye" appeared from the UFO's wall, floated in mid-air towards to 6 inches in front of Hickson's face and scanned back and forth across his body with thoroughness, as if it were examining or photographing him. The beings turned his body from side to side several times, as if to make sure that the scanning eye can "photograph" his body entirely. The "eye" then disappeared again in the wall, where it could not be seen anymore.

At this point Hickson could not see the beings who he thought was behind him, he could not get his mouth to function. Hickson was left floating, while the beings left the room, probably to examine Parker.

This episode lasted somewhere between 15 and 40 minutes, Hickson is not at all sure about the time. Hickson was quite convinced that they went to some other room to examine Parker. Then the beings entered Hickson's line of vision again. Two of them dragged Hickson back out of the object, with his feet dragging on the ground, to where they had picked him up on the river bank and let him fall carelessly on the ground: his legs gave out and he fell. Looking up Hickson saw Parker, who was standing motionless with his arms outstretched, as if in shock.

Parker who had lapsed in and out of consciences, remembered being taken toward the ship, hearing a whistling noise and a click, then seeing the interior lights just before he was floated outside. He was left standing not being able to move, and looking out onto the river.

Hickson crawled towards Parker, who was weeping and seemed very shocked, but then he realised that he could stand. Hickson heard the "zipping sound" again and turned to see the blue flashing lights that first caught his attention. He saw the object shoot upwards and vanish at about 50 feet "in less than a second."

Hickson and Parker sat in a car for the next 45 minutes calming their shattered nerves, trying to decide what to do next. Hickson drank whiskey during this conversation in the car. As the two men began to regain their composure, they were uncertain as to what they should do. Reluctant to report their harrowing experience, they felt obligated to tell someone: they were truly convinced that the government might want, or ought, to know about what they understood as a state of the art lien invasion of our planet. Parker suggested they contact the military. So despite fearing ridicule, Hickson located a pay phone and called Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi, 30 miles west of Pascagoula. A sergeant there told him that the Airforce did not handle UFO reports, and advised them to report their problem to their local sheriff's office. Afraid of what reaction they might get from law enforcement, they opted instead to drive to their local newspaper the Mississippi Press Register. Parker who was driving got out and explained to Hickson that there was a clock in the building and he wanted to know what time it was. Finding the office closed, they decided to take their bizarre story to the sheriff after all. They called the Jackson County Sheriff's Office, led by Fred Diamond, where the deputy Captain Ryder, who took the call urged them to come in to the station and talk in person as he realised something important had happened because of the alarmed tone of their voices. They were interrogated exhaustively.

Related events:

As the men were still in the Sheriff's office, a former pilot called and stated he saw a UFO at about 08:00pm near the Pascagoula River. A city former city counsellor and several other people also reported later to report their sighting.

Three different people have phoned the Sheriff's office to report their observation of a strange blue light in the area where the two men were abducted. These people remained anonymous, they were driving on the Interstate 90 a few hundred yards from the abduction's location that night.

28 years later a witness comes forward, according to the newspaper "Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal" of October 21, 2001. It even seems reasonable to think that this witness is one of the three people in the car on Route 90 as mentioned above, this time the witness gave his name.

Two days after the events, a meteorologist of Columbia reported that he had a strange radar echo the same day: He first thought it was a plane, but started to winder about that when the echo remains stationary and his radar was completely jammed moments later.

There has been another possible independent confirmation: at 9:00pm after watching TV, Larry Booth of Pascagoula got up to check the front door prior to going to bed. He noticed a huge object with red revolving lights hovering 8-10 feet over the street lamp. He thought it was an experimental craft run out of the local military base.

Five days after the Pascagoula abduction, a man reported to police that he was driving on Interstate 10 between Mobile, Alabama and Pensacola, Florida, just about sixty or seventy miles east of Pascagoula, when his pickup truck was attacked by an object from the sky and sucked inside a UFO where he was examined by six small entities.

Just a few weeks after Parker and Hickson's experience, fishermen and coast guardsmen reportedly played "hide and seek" with some sort of underwater metallic object with an amber light on it at the mouth of the Pascagoula River. They tried to poke the object; which was close enough to touch with a boat hook, but it would turn off its light, move away to a safe distance, and then turn on the light again. It disappeared after about forty minutes. The US Navy studied the case without reaching a clear conclusion of finding a clear explanation.

Also subsequently, ancient Indian tales from an old 17th century explorer journal were mentioned: spirits of Pascagoula Indians who drowned in the river sere supposed to be heard singing and walking on the water, they were supposed to be those of a group of Indians led by a river goddess who was angry with the conversion of the tribe to christianity in the 16th century. She made the whole tribe march into the river and drown themselves, singing all the while.


The two men showed up at the Sheriff's desk at 10:30pm. They brought with them two catfish, apparently to prove as much of the story as they could, which was that they had been fishing earlier in the evening. Hearing that one of the men was drinking, Sheriff Fred Diamond ordered his deputies to administer breath analysis tests. Quite naturally the sheriff who first heard the witnesses story felt it was some kind of hoax, and to get to the truth, he put Hickson and Parker into a room which was wired for sound, hoping that they would slip up, and reveal why they were perpetuating such a strange tale. The recording of their conversation at that time reveals that both men were quite frightened by their experience, the emotional trauma having been so great to Parker that, after Hickson left the room, he began to pray. Ultimately he suffered a nervous breakdown as a result of this experience.

Deputy Sheriff Captain Ryder stated: "after I heard the tape, I believed them. If they lied, they should become Hollywood actors, because they then are stunning comedians." On the tape, Hickson was crying "Oh my God what has happened to me? I never saw anything like that in my entire life ... I am going insane... Why does this happen to me? I was in the war and I have never been so frightened!"

Two hours of grilling followed, but Hickson and Parker stuck to their story, saying they both wanted to take a polygraph test. They also insisted that they wanted no publicity. Parker who was trembling, barely coherent, seemed extremely shaken by the interrogation.

Hickson said that he felt the beings were acting "like robots", performing actions on them that were precisely programmed. He felt that the creature had no intention to make them suffer, but he was afraid that they were going to take them away. He was convinced that he experienced the prelude of a full scale alien invasion of the planet and that the creatures were going to return or continue to observe the planet and study its people.

Hickson, though plagued with nightmares, and continuing feelings of terror about the experience, came through it better, and was able to work with investigators who wished to ascertain the truth about his experience. A 2 1/2 hour lie detector test, given by a highly skeptical polygraph operator, revealed that Hickson was telling the truth. Later, debunker Philip Klass said the operator of the lie detector was not certified and had not completed his training. A notable point to credit to Philip Klass is that the test lasted only half an hour when nowadays this kind of test last at least a whole day. But Klass overlooks the fact that it is the two men that willingly insisted to pass such as test, and that as popular belief was, they were persuaded that lie detector tests really do work and can establish truth or lie. They had no reason to envisage an inexperienced manipulator or an unreliable test protocol.

Hickson and Parker went to work the next day. While at work they got a phone call from the Sheriff's Office, telling them to come down to the station because the place was crawling with reporters. Hickson asked the sheriff about his promise not to leak the story. The sheriff replied he didn't leak the story but someone in his dept. must have. While on the phone with the sheriff, Hickson's foreman, Johnny Walker, overheard the phone conversation and told Hickson to get a lawyer because he may get some money for his story. Walker took the liberty of contacting the company lawyer who also was his brother in law an attorney by the name of Joe Colingo. Colingo arrived to accompany his new clients to the sheriffs office. Sheriff Diamond told Colingo that his department did not have a polygraph machine. Meanwhile Hickson was concerned that himself and Parker might have gotten radiation poisoning from the object. They were taken by Colingo and Detective Tom Huntley to the hospital, where they were informed that the hospital did not have the equipment to test for radiation exposure.

Detective Huntley then contacted Keesler, and the group headed off to the Air Base where a group of doctors under security conditions examined Hickson and Parker. Their medical report indicates that both men were in a severe state of mental stress, due to a traumatic experience, and that the men's report is probably correct, and that no radiation exposure was found. Then the two were interrogated by the entire Base Command about the encounter. Later on that same afternoon Hickson, Parker, and Parkers father met Colingo in his office and drew up a contract. Debunkers later claimed this fact is proof that the story was a hoax, but to the contrary Hickson soon after fired Colingo for the reason the lawyer was only in on this to win some money, and they both did not approved.

The Aerial Phenomena Research Organisation (APRO), founded in 1952, sent University of California engineering professor James Harder to Mississippi to investigate; J. Allen Hynek, who just resigned from his UFO consultant job for the Air Force because he did not want to lie to the public about UFOs anymore, also arrived. Together they interviewed the witnesses. Then Harder used the controversial technique of time regression hypnosis on Hickson, but he had to terminate the session when Hickson became too frightened to continue. He too felt that Hickson was telling the truth about the experience, he said "a strong feeling of terror is practically impossible to fake under hypnosis." Both Hynek and Harder believed the two men's story. And Hynek was later quoted as saying "There was definitely something here that was not terrestrial".

The next day Pascagoula was swarming with reporters, and Within 36 hours two scientists had flown in separately. One was James A Harder, a professor of engineering at the University of California Berkeley. Harder was also a consultant for Aerial Phenomena Research Organisation (APRO). The other was J. Allen Hynek, Northwestern University astronomer for 20 years (until 1969) the principle scientific consultant to the Air Force's Project Blue Book. They first both interviewed the men, later Harder would try to hypnotize the two, who were to shaken and distracted for the procedure to work. They had to interrupt the seance with Hickson because he showed an unbearable terror. Harder, a highly experimenter hypnotist, stated "I believe their story because of the absolute panic they showed during hypnotic regression. It is impossible that they could fake such a terror during hypnosis." All who dealt with Hickson and Parker in the aftermath of the encounter believed that the two men were in fact telling what they believed to be the truth. Before J. Allen Hynek left the next day, he told the press that the men were "absolutely honest... They have had a fantastic experience." At a later date, Hynek stated; "There was definitely something here that was not terrestrial".

Media attention:

The local press reported their tale; the wire services picked it up; and within several days the Pascagoula Encounter was major news all over the country.

Here is the UPI newswire that prompted journalists from all the country to visit Pascagoula.

Here is one article from the press of that time.

Hickson later revealed that he had turned down a huge sum of money for a book and movie based on the experience.

The case received national TV exposure, and Hickson appeared on the Dick Cavett Show and both were on the Mike Douglas Show. On 10.15.1973, the Monday NBC TV news covered the events in a 5 minutes news item, under the title "rash of UFO sightings, including a film of a UFO shot in Ohio by TV cameraman John Getter WKTF-TV in Dayton, and reporter John Chancellor covered the Pascagoula encounter: he recalled the men's story as "3 spacemen took Hickson & friend inside spaceship." Calvin Parker was interviewed and he described sounds from one of the being. Hickson described their physical features, and Dr Harder stated he believes that their experience was real. The TV news report concluded that the truth of story is unknown and that viewers should judge for themselves.

TV frame

In 1976, three years later, Dr. Bast of the Harvard Hospital of Detroit conducted further psychological tests with both men. He concluded that neither of them suffers from any psychotic behaviour, hysteria or brain damage. He could not find any evidence of a twin-madness syndrome, a behaviour in which a subject of madness can exert some contamination on another person.

Subsequent investigation by Joe Eszterhas of Rolling Stone uncovered some additional information. The UFO landing site was in full view of two twenty-four hour toll booths, and neither operator saw anything. Also, the site was in range of security cameras from nearby Ingalls Shipyard, and the cameras showed nothing that night. But serious doubts can be cast on this late investigation: for example, it is also claimed that motorists from the nearby highway should have seen the blue light in the night and did not. This is plainly wrong, and Sherrif Diamond did respond to that, his office actually received three unnamed reports of motorists who did see the blue light where the two men were abducted, a few hundred yards from the highway.

When I looked for information about reporter Joe Eszterhas, I first found these comments about him: "You all remember Joe Eszterhas, don't you? Child of poor Hungarian immigrants in Cleveland, '60s radical, former gonzo reporter for Rolling Stone, National Book Award nominee and once the highest-paid screenwriter in Hollywood." (1) Not quite a qualified ufologist profile.

The case was all but closed Charles Hickson. Years after, he explained that he was still in contact with aliens beings. His son Eddie, at the age of 36, explained that Charles Hickson had a flat object, gray, the size of a coin, which warmed up before he received telepathic messages. Hickson continued to undergo psychological testing as he had experienced at least two serious mental crises. He had the opportunity to undergo hypnotic regressions again, this time new images went up to the surface: apparently, there were beings which seemed human, behind a glass pane in the craft, they passively looked at the three strange creatures which scanned Hickson. It is at this point that he interpreted the three strange beings as sorts of robots, directed by the human like creatures who would have been the real occupants of the craft. But the investigations at this time were very discrete, Hickson did not reach for media attention and it seems difficult to make all the light on these after-effects.

He told his whole experience in a book, and participated as speaker in a ufology congress in his area. He explained: " I know that these strange things are and I do not expect to be believed, but I hope that one day people will believe in it." Eddie Hickson never thought that his father was insane. He testifies that his father did often refuse substantial amounts of money over the years, because he was afraid that if he accepted money, nobody would believe him anymore. "I know deep in my heart and in my intelligence that daddy did not make it up."


The Pascagoula case is presented in many skeptics book as a definite hoax. The explanation is mainly based on the fact that there were other people in that area near to the Pascagoula River at the abduction time but no one else saw or heard anything unusual and it is proposed that if there was really such an object with a bright light, more people than only Hickson and Parker would have seen it.

Dr. Robert O'Connell, an LSU astrophysicist, disagreed with Hynek. "There's probably some mundane explanation for the ones right now and for probably any UFOs," he said. O'Connell said he was skeptical of most UFO reports, especially the Pascagoula case. "I don't necessarily dispute what they're saying," he said. "It could be a hoax. The hoax could be on two levels: the people themselves or somebody else carrying out a hoax. "This (kind of UFO reports) is notorious for hoaxes." The argument here is that because there are UFO hoaxes of "this kind," the Pascagoula affair is also a hoax.

However, the hoax theory fails or is weak on several aspects:

Also, some basic things have been forgotten by the promoters of the hoax theory. First, known UFO hoaxes such as the Adamski stories, for example, did not completely convince the people familiar with the hoaxer, the hoaxed stories are changing over time, new elements being added and other elements being subtracted to the story by its author, something that does not occur in the Pascagoula case. Second, hoaxers such as Adamski or "Bill" Meier tend to promote their hoax in a very active manner, they practically "tour" their story, write books, letters, articles about it, which is eventually understandable, but they will also travel around to "convert" people to what quickly becomes almost a small religion in which they hold a central position. None of these indications of hoax applies to the Pascagoula case. Clearly Hickson was later involved in ufology, but did not seek personal advantage or media stardom; he was interested in learning more about the UFO phenomenon and in collaborating with ufologists in total openness.

This statement by some unconvinced person can also be immediately dismissed: "Their ufological-cum-alien garb can reasonably be ascribed to the set and setting of the hypnotic sessions themselves, fertilized by the Hill and Pascagoula cases." Indeed in the Pascagoula case, the witness reported their abduction without any help of hypnotic regression. Hypnotic regression was performed after they reported the story with full detailed, and added no supplemental information. Hypnotic regression only made clear that the two men felt an extreme terror when the hypnotizer tried to revive their memories of the events. But it should then made clear that alien abduction stories based only on hypnotic regressions are dubious, and emphasis should be made on the case where hypnotic regression is not the source of the account. It should also be noted that the aliens morphology in the Pascagoula case bear little resemblance with the much publicized short greys with almond shaped eyes and thin necks from numerous "post hypnotic" cases.

The appearance of the beings raised several confused comments:

The two men were so shocked that they referred to the beings as "the things" on occasion, which media later sometimes exaggerated into "robots," and impression reinforced by the "claws" they had as hands. The wrinkles of the skins were also later sometimes exaggerated, several books by skeptics or UFO investigators tending to a "sociological" approach to the phenomenon referred to the creatures as "space mummies" in the intend of paralleling the event with "return-of-the-mummy" type B movies.

Moreover, because the witness stated that the two legs remained together, other "sociological phenomenon" promoters exaggerated it into "beings with only one leg," sometimes proposing that the story is a hoax "because extraterrestrial beings with one leg is a morphological nonsense." "Unipeds have been reported on at least four occasions - Pascagoula; (...) The diversity of imagination and the use of dramatic licence seen in the form of the UFO phenomenon supports a view of it as theatre" writes one author.

One skeptical comment for example reads "The question returns for Pascagoula ... why did Charles Hickson opt for space mummies?" But Charles Hickson never mentioned any space mummies. The imagery has been added later by commentators of the case.

Joe Eszterhas also exhumed a less than glorious episode in the career of Charles Hickson: he has been seemingly fired from his foreman position at Ingalls Shipyards, when colleagues revealed that on several occasions, when unable to give borrowed money back he offered promotions instead. For Klass and Eszterhas it is sufficient proof that the two men made their abduction story up.

I also located a German commentator who attacked the case in an unexpected manner: he wrote that Dr. J. Allen Hynek was in no way an official representative when he studied the case, but merely a UFO hobbyist who just started his "UFO Club" CUFOS. An hilarious statement indeed: the author simply fails to mention some other items: Dr. J. Allen Hynek WAS the scientist appointed by the USAF to "explain" UFOs as astronomical natural phenomenon, and he was NOT ANYMORE in this official position because he did found out that UFOs are not always natural phenomenon, a conclusion that obviously he could not promote as long as he was the USAF "official debunker". As for Dr. Harder, the German critic claims that ufologist make him a professor of some official stature. The simple truth is that Dr. James Harder is indeed a University of California engineering professor, and that I could not find any ufological literature introducing him as anything more or less than a member of the private UFO investigation group APRO, which he is. I found absolutely no ufologist false claim that these two investigators were in charge of any official mission.

Martin Kottmeyer, in his sociological approach of the UFO phenomenon, wonders if the story could have been made up by Hickson to publicly promote himself: "Independent of the creative elements of the Pascagoula account itself there is nothing in either the background or psychological profiles of Charles Hickson and Calvin Parker to suggest they were possessed of creative fervour. Hickson's psychological profile showed only average levels of intelligence and imaginativeness. Unless, on no authorization, we read significance into the moderately radical aspect of his personality shown on the conservative-experimental scale, there is nothing in his oil worker/outdoorsman background to indicate a compelling need for self-expression."

Temporary conclusion:

Skepticism in this case reduces to personal attacks, presentation of partial data, speculations based on distorted knowledge of the witnesses account, and a will to make the case fit a pre established theory, preferably not involving any kind of extra-terrestrial aspect. It is obvious that investigators, police officers, Air Force doctors, scientists who were there and talked with the witnesses were all convinced that they reported events that they believed true, and that none of the skeptics confronted the witness or had any of the necessary qualification to pass judgment.

A study to show that 3rd kind encounters are fantasies quotes: "There are no verified dual or multiple witness abductions on record in which it has been demonstrated beyond reasonable question that the percipients shared an identical experience." The Pascagoula case is indeed one such record. Whatever happened, there has never been the slightest discrepancy between both men's accounts.

The Pascagoula encounter is an interesting UFO report. Though the sighting and abduction involved only two witnesses, there were several other sightings of unusual flying objects on the same night. The two men have held to their story, and no credible other explanation has been offered for the strange events of the night of October, 11, 1973, which indicates that there is reasonable possibility that what happened is exactly what they reported.

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This page was last updated on December 21, 2004.