1973 UFO incident turned my life upside down - witness

2013-10-11 13:26
Clouds can be misidentified as UFOs. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

Clouds can be misidentified as UFOs. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Pascagoula - Charles Hickson never regretted the notoriety that came his way after he told authorities he encountered an unidentified flying object and its occupants 40 years ago on the banks of the Pascagoula River. Until his death in 2011, Hickson told his story to anyone who would listen.

But Calvin Parker jnr, the other man present for one of the most high-profile UFO cases in American history, said his encounter with gray, crab-clawed creatures from somewhere else on 11 October 1973, turned his life upside down.

"This is something I really didn't want to happen," Parker said as the 40th anniversary of the encounter approached.

Parker was unnerved by the initial crush of attention, with reporters and UFO enthusiasts overrunning Walker Shipyard, where he and Hickson worked. Parker tried to dodge the spotlight for decades.

The incident sparked a wave of UFO sightings nationwide and became one of the most widely examined cases on record. Sceptics ranged from the deputies who first interviewed the men to an author who sought to poke holes in the story. Parker himself has had conflicting thoughts about whether he was visited by aliens or demons.


There's no historical marker on the river bank noting the encounter, and stores don't sell UFO souvenirs. But local people remember - though often with scepticism and jokes.

Parker was 18 when he went fishing with Hickson on a tranquil Thursday night after work. The two said a UFO with blue lights swooped down, making a zipping noise.

Hickson, then 42, said three creatures with leathery gray skin and crab-like claws - he thought they were robots - took them by the forearms and levitated them aboard the craft. He said something that looked like a large floating eye appeared to examine him.

Parker said he was conscious but paralysed. "They gave a thorough, I mean a thorough, examination to me just like any doctor would," he said.

And then they were back on the shore, where it all began. Hickson reported needing three shots of liquor from a bottle in his car to calm his nerves before reporting what happened.

Officers at the Jackson County Sheriff's Department initially suspected both men were drunk, but they stuck to their story. After then-Captain Glenn Ryder conducted a formal interview, deputies left Hickson and Parker in a room with a hidden tape recorder, hoping to catch them in a lie.

On the tape, Hickson is heard telling Parker, "It scared me to death too, son. You can't get over it in a lifetime. Jesus Christ have mercy."

"I don't know what happened to them," Ryder said. "I wasn't there with them, but I know you don't fake fear, and they were fearful."

Lie-detector test

Overnight, Pascagoula became a magnet for news reporters and UFO investigators. In south Mississippi, hundreds of reports overwhelmed authorities in the two weeks after the Hickson-Parker encounter.

In his book UFOs Explained, UFO sceptic Philip Klass noted Hickson changed some details of his story and Klass also questioned the competence of a polygraph operator whose test Hickson passed. Parker later passed a lie-detector test himself.

Hickson went on to appear on talk shows, give lectures and interviews, and self-publish a book in 1983 titled UFO Contact at Pascagoula. He reported three more encounters in 1974.

"The only thing he wanted to do was let everybody know we were not alone," said Eddie Hickson, his son. "He didn't care if you believed him or not. If you wanted to listen, by gum, he'd tell you."
Read more on:    technology

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.