By the living pterosaur expert Jonathan Whitcomb
One of the first detailed pterosaur sighting reports that I received from a state of the USA was the encounter by Susan Wooten in South Carolina. It seems to have been a large ropen. The following is from the first chapter of the third edition of my nonfiction book Live Pterosaurs in America:
Susan Wooten was driving east on Highway 20, to the town of Florence, on a clear mid-afternoon in the fall of about 1989 . . . [In a forested swampy area] Wooten saw something flying from her left, then passing in front of her, behind her friend’s car. “It swooped down over the highway and back up gracefully over the pines,” but its appearance was shocking: “It looked as big as any car . . . NO feathers, not like a huge crane or egret, but like a humongous bat.”
Local libraries revealed other sighting accounts in the area, but not until 2007 did Wooten find much more: accounts on web sites, including my own pages. We started an online interview that continued into 2008.
Q: How many feet above the highway was it?
A: Probably 20 feet or so. It started out above pine treetops and swooped lower . . . and up again to fly up above treetops on the other side [right].
Q: Were the wings flapping?
A: One or two slow flaps, to the best of my recollection.
Q: What was the approximate distance from wingtip to wingtip?
A: My best guess is 12-15 feet.
North Carolina Pterosaur Sighting
[Responding to another pterosaur eyewitness] . . . I think you know what you saw. . . . pterodactyl. I think . . . it is a VERY RARE sight, but how can you mistake a pterodactyl? I have [researched this] . . . because I too have seen one, or what I believe to have been one, and there are many people who claim they have seen them. When I was around [ten years old] and on the way to a camp in North Carolina, I saw one soaring high in the sky. It was an amazing sight. . . . It looked like a pterodactyl!
Luray Lake, North Carolina
Introduction in the book “Searching for Ropens” (second edition)
Yes, I did search for giant living pterosaurs in Papua New Guinea, and I criticize the philosophy that causes Westerners to thoughtlessly dismiss any eyewitness report that suggests a living pterosaur; I censure nobody, however, for simply doubting such creatures still fly, for the idea defies an entrenched Western belief. About the ropen, believe what you will; what do I think about this creature? Such is the power of the testimonies of the eyewitnesses I’ve encountered, that it’s as real to me, almost, as if I had stared it in the face. How can I deny the credibility of the eyewitnesses I’ve interviewed? With no other reasonable interpretation of these testimonies, I believe the ropen is a living pterosaur.
The men who are included here are Paul Nation, Carl Baugh, David Woetzel, and Josh Gates
How could huge long-tailed pterosaurs be living here in the United States? Rephrase that question: “How could ropens with wingspans as great as twenty-five to fifty feet be prevented from reaching the Western Hemisphere?”
If apparent pterosaurs observed in Virginia are not the same species as the flying creature called “Gitmo Pterosaur” or “American Hammerhead Ropen,” it may at least be a closely-related species.