The Ariel School UFO: A Dust Devil?

My article on the Ariel School UFO incident was recently published in SUNlite (Smith, 2023).


Although I am the first to explain the Ariel School UFO incident by the misperception of a dust devil, the Socorro UFO incident (which is also categorised as a close encounter of the third kind) was suggested by Donald Menzel to be a dust devil. However, in my opinion, a fire whirl seems more probable. On July 3, 1970, Menzel debated Raymond Fowler on the Socorro UFO. Menzel argued what the eyewitness, Lonnie Zamora observed was in fact, a dust devil, but he made a misidentification because his glasses had fallen off during the observation (Zamora had a 20/100 vision) and he initially reported seeing the UFO from a long distance of about a mile away, while driving; later from 450-600 feet. Fowler (1974) quotes Menzel:

In 1966, I was in Peru to observe an eclipse of the sun. I was driving along a road with a native driver, and all of a sudden, in front of me, I saw an object that looked almost identical with what they described – the little legs, the two little men in white around it – and I was fascinated and surprised. I recognized it immediately from the Socorro case, and, ah, my driver did not stop at all! And this thing moved across the road, and then as we went past it, I saw it take off and go up in the atmosphere. It was what we call a dust devil of a very sharply defined character. And dust devils are very frequency out in this area of Socorro, and I think that could have been what he saw. The two little men in the white suits were just part of the dust devil around the bottom of it, where you are looking through the edges of the places where the dust was being picked up from the dusty road.


  • Fowler, Raymond. UFOs: Interplanetary Visitors (New York: Exposition Press, 1974).
  • Smith, Oliver D. “The Ariel School UFO: A Dust Devil?,” SUNlite 15, no. 3 (2023): 7-10.

Supplement and Errata

The Wildman of China: The Search for the Yeren


I planned to add a table documenting modern sightings of the Chinese wildman (yeren) as an appendix to my scholarly monograph (Smith, 2021). I did not finish it in time when I sent my manuscript to Sino-Platonic Papers – the table (of 31 reported sightings from 1940-2007) is reproduced below with sources.

Date of sightingLocationApprox. distance of eyewitness(es)NotesReferences
1940Gansu Province?Yeren corpse was reported to have been lying beside road in Qinling.Green, 1984: 88-90; Dong, 1984: 175.
1942Hubei Province?A child eyewitness claims soldiers supposedly captured a yeren.Jaivin, 1985: 30.
1947Hubei Province?Wren, 1984; Shackley, 1986: 86.
1950Shaanxi Province650 feet (200 meters)No clear line of sight to yeren because of the dense forest.Dong, 1984: 177.
1950Shaanxi Province?Yeren infant and mother came “very close” to eyewitnesses.Dong, 1984: 177.
October 1964 Sichuan Province100 feet (30 meters)Mute eyewitness; report was made by hand-signalling. Unreliable.Greenwell & Poirier, 1989: 49.
October 1964 Sichuan Province 300 feet (90 meters)Greenwell & Poirier, 1989: 49.
1970Hunan Province?Bord & Bord, 1984: 63.
May 1975 Hubei Province30 feet? (10 meters)Eyewitness says yeren was “standing not far” away.Bord & Bord, 1984: 64.
May 1976Hubei Province6 feet (2 meters)Six eyewitnesses (Shennongjia forestry workers) reported seeing a yeren at very close distance.Greenwell & Poirier, 1989: 48.
June 1976 Hubei Province20 feet (6 meters)Green, 1984: 90; Dong, 1984: 180.
October 1976 Hubei Province100 feet? (30 meters)Yeren spotted walking “dozens of meters” away.Dong, 1984: 181.
June 1977Shaanxi Province5-6 feet (1-2 meters)Green, 1984: 90-91; Dong, 1984: 190.
July 1977 Shaanxi Province12 feet (3-4 meters)A ditch seperated the yeren and eyewitness.Green, 1984: 91; Janet & Bord, 1984: 66.
August 1977Sichuan Province50 feet (15 meters)Dong, 1984: 186-187.
August 1977Sichuan Province130 feet (40 meters)Unreliable eyewitnesses, reported only hearing a strange sound.Dong, 1984: 187.
March 1978Guizhou Province?Yeren threw wood on a campfire.Wren, 1984.
September 1979Hubei Province1-3 feet (1 meter)Yeren grabbed the eyewitness.Wren, 1984.
1980Hubei Province4-5 feet (1-2 meters)Green, 1984: 91.
February 1980 Hubei Province200 feet (60 meters)Jaivin, 1985: 38.
Februrary 1980 Guizhou Province?Yeren caught a in a hunters trap.Wren, 1984.
May 1981Sichuan Province25-30 feet (8-10 meters)Two eyewitnesses; both young children (about 8 years old).Greenwell & Poirier, 1989: 49.
April 1981 Sichuan Province10 feet (3 meters)Greenwell & Poirier, 1989: 49.
September 1981Hubei Province3300 feet (1000 meters)Long distance sighting of a yeren; from the peak of a mountain.Jaivin, 1985: 38.
September 1993Hubei Province90 feet (27 meters)Zan, 2007.
1995Guangxi7-10 feet (2-3 meters)Krantz, 1997-1998.
1995Guangxi20 feet? (6 meters)Yeren observed “somewhat farther away” than two or three meters.Krantz, 1997-1998.
April 1995Hubei Province1600 feet (500 meters)Eyewitness had used binoculars.Meldrum & Zhou, 2012: 58.
June 2003Hubei Province?Eyewitnesses claimed to have seen a yeren run quickly across road.Zan, 2007.
September 2005Hubei Province50 feet (15 meters)Meldrum & Zhou, 2012: 58.
November 2007 Hubei Province164 feet (50 meters)No clear line of sight; two yerens observed behind shrubbery.Zan, 2007.


On page 7, “50 percent” should read “over 50 percent” (Poirier estimated 52%).

On pages 2, 10 and 16, “A Brief History…” should read “A Brief Bestiary…”.

On page 16 there is a slightly incorrect title for a Grover Krantz paper (corrected below).


  • Bord, Janet and Bord, Colin. The Evidence for Bigfoot and Other Man-Beasts, The Evidence Series in collaboration with ASSAP (Wellingborough: The Aquarian Press, 1984).
  • Dong, Paul. The Four Major Mysteries of Mainland China (NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1984).
  • Green, John. “The Search in China for Unknown Hominoids,” in Markotic, Victor (ed.), The Sasquatch and Other Unknown Hominoids (Calgary: Western Pub., 1984), 87-99.
  • Greenwell, Richard and Poirier, Frank. “Further Investigations into the Reported Yeren: The Wildman of China,” Cryptozoology 8 (1989): 47-57.
  • Krantz, Grover S. “A New Yeren Investigation in China [1995]”, Cryptozoology 13 (1997-1998): 88-93; Bigfoot Sasquatch Evidence (Surrey BC: Hancock House, 1999).
  • Jaivin, Linda. “Is There a Wildman?,” Asiaweek (May 24, 1985): 26-39.
  • Meldrum, Jeff and Zhou, Guoxing. “Footprint Evidence of the Chinese Yeren,” The Relict Hominoid Inquiry 1 (2012): 57-66.
  • Shackley, Myra. Still Living? Yeti, Sasquatch and the Neanderthal Enigma (New York: Thames and Hudson, 1986), see also Wildmen (New York: Thames and Hudson, 1983).
  • Smith, Oliver D. “The Wildman of China: The Search for the Yeren,” Sino-Platonic Papers 309 (2021): 1-17.
  • Zan, Jifang. “Hubei Bigfoot–Fact or Fiction?,” Beijing Review (December 20, 2007).