Last week, Gatwick Airport in London shut down runways due to suspected drone sightings in the skies around the airport. This resulted in travel chaos for many. We saw photographs of armed police patrolling the airport, and we certainly saw lots of photos of the airport itself and the chaos within being shared during the live media and social media coverage. But no photos of drones. I thought that was odd but rather than speculating, I decided to see how the situation played out before jumping to any conclusions.
I’m a paranormal researcher who rather than looking for evidence of the strange, believes the majority of things have a rational cause. It’s these I seek. As technologies develop, so too do the ways in which people act irrationally, and declare threats, monsters and spooky meaning where none exist. A case like the Gatwick Drone saga can provide rich insight into the tapestry of human response to strange, new situations as they unfold so my curiosity was piqued. I had no idea what I would actually uncover…
I watched, amused, as people on the hashtags for the drone news were calling for the Army to be called in, for the drones to be shot out of the sky. Elsewhere, others speculated if it was a Russian attack, a series of UFOs, a government cover-up… The airport has since reopened but people wanted justice for the travel and security chaos that had been caused. Soon, a married couple who lived 5 miles from the airport were arrested but then subsequently released and cleared on any involvement.
It has since been reported that there were almost 70 sightings of drones around Gatwick airport between December 19th and 21st, and a damaged drone was recovered close by, (Lo, 2018). Now, following this entire drama, we’re told that there is a good chance there were no drones after all.
This is when the terrible truth dawned on me. There was something very familiar with this, and a sudden sense of dread overcame me and I have grave news. The Mothman has come to England.
The Gatwick Drone was Mothman.
I kid, of course. As much as I love Mothman lore about the winged humanoid with fiery, red eyes which brings with it chaos and doom, I don’t believe it to be a real creature. Yet, there are some startling similarities between the case of the Gatwick Drone and the 2017 re-emergence of Mothman in Chicago.
- Both happened in city areas with lots of people living, travelling and working nearby
- Both were spotted repeatedly flying through the sky
- There are multiple eye-witness reports for both
- People were demanding answers
- The eye-witness reports prompted investigations
- These eye-witness reports have been used to support the idea that there is something in the sky that shouldn’t be
- The media have used these testimonies uncritically as evidence of something being afoot
- Some people think there’s a big governmental cover up
- If real, Mothman and the Gatwick drone are potential hazards to health and security
The main difference between the Mothman sightings and the Gatwick drone is that there was no armed police response to the Mothman sightings. Also, when Mothman was allegedly seen in Chicago, nobody was arrested resulting in their name, personal details, and photographs being published in national newspapers, only for them to be found innocent of any involvement whatsoever.
What we do know for sure is that our memories are easily influenced by external sources of information, meaning that we perceive things in ways we might not usually. It isn’t that people necessarily lie about what they’ve seen, it’s just that media reports of drones flying around Gatwick can mean that when you see a bird, you think drone instead. When you’re in a haunted house and you hear a tapping noise, you’ll likely think “ghost!” rather than pipes…
You’re more likely to see a Mothman now that you’ve thought about one…”Professor David Gallo, University of Chicago,
As a paranormal researcher, I mainly deal with eye-witness testimonies about really strange things people have witnessed and experienced. It’s an unreliable source of information to work with not only because we can be easily influenced into perceiving things in certain ways, but also because we misremember the things we experience and witness, too. I’ve written about this in further detail before in a post titled ‘The 360 Solution‘.
So, with all of this in mind, I am forced to either conclude that the media is a reactionary machine not capable of a professional, measured response to an unfolding situation, guilty of spreading fear and terror based on no evidence, with sometimes real-life consequences for innocent people who are named and shamed for no reason. Or, the Mothman has come to London. I’m not sure which is the scariest…
Brooks, T. (2018) ‘Chicagoans and University Psychologist Speculate on ‘Mothman’, Chicago Maroon [Online] Available at http://www.chicagomaroon.com/article/2018/1/30/chicagoans-university-psychologist-speculate-mothm/ (accessed 23.12.18)
Lo, H. (2018) ‘There have been 67 sightings of drone activity at Gatwick Airport’, The Argus [Online] http://www.theargus.co.uk/news/17317392.there-have-been-67-sightings-of-drone-activity-at-gatwick-airport/ (accessed 23.12.18)
Stricker, L. (2017) ‘Chicago & Regional Winged Humanoid / Flying Entity Sightings & Encounters’, Phantoms and Monsters [Online] https://www.phantomsandmonsters.com/p/chicago-phantom-sightings-2011-2017.html (accessed 24.12.18)