Ever since I was a wee lad reading and rereading all the books I could find at my local library on cryptozoology, I have been fascinated by tales of flying humanoids. Mothman always fascinated me, yet he seemed to be more beast than man. But once I read about the flying humanoid that was seen here in Brooklyn, well, I was hooked. As the story goes, back in 1880, a man with bat’s wings and a “cruel and determined expression” on his face was seen flying about 1,000 feet above Coney Island, heading towards New Jersey. Of course my first thought was that hey, it’s Coney Island, and back then, the place was known for freakshows and other eccentric performers, so perhaps this was just a part of that. Part of me also wondered if it was the infamous Jersey Devil, heading back to the Pine Barrens. But perhaps it was something else, some sort of cryptid that we don’t see too often? My first hunch is the most practical and probably the right one, but it is fun to think about the other possibilities. Which brings me to today’s story, about pilots in England seeing – you guessed it – a man flying through the air. And frighteningly close to their planes.
Imagine this situation for a moment. You are a pilot preparing for landing. You’ve checked airspeed, alerted cabin and crew, and are all set to make your final descent when all of a sudden you see a guy flying right outside the cockpit window.
However surreal, that’s what the pilots of one early summer flight have reported seeing high above the town of Macclesfield, in the United Kingdom; now tentatively dubbed by the public as the “Superman of Macclesfield.”
According to the UK’s Daily Mail, the mystery man soared within 320 feet of the massive Airbus A320 on June 13; though at no point during visual contact did he ever appear on radar or deploy a parachute of any sort.
The UK’s Airprox Board, which investigates airborne near misses, claims the pilots “first sighted the object a few hundred meters in the 11 o’clock position 200 to 300ft above.” The unidentified flying man then proceeded to descend beneath the plane, within 300 to 600 feet of the fuselage, with other crew members glimpsing the spectacle for only a moment while cruising 3,500 feet above terra firma.
Subsequent flight data for the day revealed no paragliders, hot-air balloons, or skydivers in the immediate area, which suggests that the airborne man used some sort of wing suit. The official report for the close call found there was “no way of corroborating what they had reported,” though if it was an extreme sports wingsuiter – we’ll probably see footage on YouTube eventually.
Pretty certain there’s nothing paranormal or cryptozoological going on here, but any way you slice it, it’s a bit odd to have a man skydiving or using a wing suit that close to a commercial airliner.