Today, we equate gremlins with the tiny, sharp-toothed, never-to-be-fed-after-midnight creatures created by Hollywood, but back in the early 20th century people were actually afraid of them. Usually sighted by pilots with aircraft issues, the descriptions were surprisingly uniform: the gremlins were 3-4 feet tall with too many teeth, disproportionately long arms, and occasionally sporting red, glowing eyes.
So, who were these people who claimed to have been harassed (or nearly killed) by gremlin? The answer may surprise you…
#7. The tale of Captain Wikner.
Experienced pilot Captain Wikner was delivering an Avro Lancaster bomber from one U.K. air base to another in 1944 when the engines suddenly cut out. He managed to gain control of the plane and execute an emergency landing, but the strangest thing happened as soon as the wheels touched down – the engines roared back to life.
Wikner also claims that the plane was immediately and without explanation put under armed guard, and that he was replaced before the plane took off again. According to the shaken pilot, there had been several unexplained crashes in the area at the time.
#6. The Alien of Brown Mountain
Jump forward a few years, to 1961. A man named Ralph Lael was investigating the Brown Mountain lights when he stumbled upon a 10-12 foot orb. He followed it into the caves ( he would definitely be the first to die in a horror movie), winding his way through tunnels and ending up in a large chamber.
The orb spoke to him, revealed cosmic information, and on another occasion took him to Venus for some sex parties or something. After he returned (must have been a bummer), he found the mummified remains of what he thought were aliens, but that looked remarkably similar to the creatures described by WWII-era pilots.
The corpses were (in)conveniently destroyed in a fire.
#5. The pilot who was forced to abandon his plane…
A Royal Air Force pilot crashed into the sea off the English coast in 1923, but he returned home safe and sound. The weirdness arose during his de-brief, when he claimed that some “little people” had jumped out of his beer bottle the evening before the crash and followed him onto the flight, where they continued to torment him.
They caused mischief with the controls and navigation equipment – to the point he had to abandon the plane.
So I mean, sure. Gremlins. Or maybe you effed up and needed someone to blame for losing an expensive piece of government machinery.
#4. The Hopkinsville Goblin Incident
This is the story of the night when two visiting families found themselves under attack by strange, glowing beings that they described exactly like the WWII pilots described their gremlins: short, with long ears and arms and lots of teeth. The families opened fire on the creatures (and possibly hit them), but the bullets simply bounced off.
Police were called to the scene and did note signs of a disturbance, but the incident was never fully explained.
#3. Attack on a B-17
An English pilot known as L.W. was out on a mission with his B-17 Flying Fortress when, out of nowhere, a menacing creature appeared…outside of the plane. Then there was a second, perched right on the nose of his bomber. He began to fly erratically in an attempt to knock them loose. It seemed to work, as they disappeared and he did not see them again during the flight.
It wasn’t until he heard a fellow pilot give a similar account that he made a report to his superiors.
#2. This pilot had to leap from his falling plane…
Pilot Chris Jarrett was the sole survivor of a wartime mission after his plane crashed in northern France in 1942. In keeping with the trend, their Lancaster’s engine began to fail, and then all three went out at once (something that just shouldn’t have happened).
He jumped out of the front hatch, landing just in time to see the plane crash over a hill and burst into flames. The cause of the crash is unknown, but it was, of course, blamed on gremlins.
#1. Even Charles Lindbergh saw them.
Several hours into his record-breaking flight from New York to Paris in 1927, Lindbergh claimed that “transparent-like creatures” that “looked grim and menacing” joined him on his plane. Unlike several of the other accounts, he wasn’t frightened by them.
They also didn’t cause trouble for him – they just wanted to talk. Lindbergh wrote about his spiritual and mystical conversations with the beings, who kept him company on his trip.
Probably nothing to do with altitude or oxygen deprivation at all, right?
Want more spooky reading for the season? You’ve come to the right place!