According to UFO expert Jerome Clark, one of the most remarkable encounters with the third kind happened on September 16, 1994, at the Ariel School, Ruwa, Zimbabwe. 62 students, whose average age was 10, saw mysterious objects in the sky at 10:15 local time. They later described them as round structures with a metal surface and red lights. Their lights were flashing. The UFOs seemed to dissolve several times, and then reappear in another place.
The Day of UFO Encounter
One of the three UFOs began to descend at a leisurely pace and finally landed on the ground behind trees, 100 meters from the school. This incident frightened the children and they called the teachers. Just at the time of the UFO landing, all the teachers of the school were attending a meeting and did not immediately take the children’s cries seriously.
As the students later said, they ran to the landing site in front of the Ariel school and saw a bunch of light hovering or standing on the ground behind a small grove. This light turned out to be a giant round UFO with a metallic surface. Some children claimed to have seen humanoid figures standing near the flying object.
According to the children, the humanoids were short, wore black overalls, and had a pale complexion. Their eyes were oval and black (similar to the descriptions of Greys). The schoolchildren described the hair of aliens as long and black. The aliens reportedly did not speak.
However, several children claimed to have heard fragmentary phrases that dealt with the topic of environmental pollution on Earth. Most of the students at Ariel Elementary School got scared and ran back to the school to tell the teachers about their encounter. The teachers confirmed that there was a panic among the children.
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Just a few minutes after the landing in the field of the Ariel school, the UFO took off again. The teachers also approached the object’s landing site but found no trace of the flying saucer there. The stories of the schoolchildren differed in some details regarding the UFO itself, the aliens, and the sequence of events.
Four days after the incident, local reporter Cynthia Hind analyzed it by first having the students writing down their impressions on paper and then asking them what exactly had happened there. In addition, Hind conducted interviews with the teachers and parents of schoolchildren.
The journalist believed that the children were telling the truth, although their stories sounded bizarre. Hind, who died in 2000, had publicly acknowledged her own experiences with otherwordly beings in the past, and had dedicated a decade and a half of her life to investigating UFO sightings on the African continent on behalf of the Mutual UFO Network, and then publishing her findings in the very collectible newsletter, UFO Afrinews.
In September 1994, people in the rural town of Ruwa in Zimbabwe reported a “strange craft” and lights in the sky. Around 60 children said they’d seen “aliens” land near their school playground
— BBC World Service (@bbcworldservice) July 10, 2021
“I had brought along a printout of Issue 11, which I opened on the bar counter before Sarah on Hind’s article “UFO flap in Zimbabwe: Case No 95”. It begins: “Wednesday, 14th September 1994, was an exciting night for Southern Africa. Roundabout 20:50 to 21:05 hours, a pyrotechnic display of some magnificence appeared in the almost clear night skies of this part of the continent.”
Some thought that the figures were Zvikwambo (spirits of humans, raised by magic) or tokoloshe (evil goblin creatures of Shona and Ndebele folklore). Hind believed these different interpretations, accompanied by similar drawings and descriptions, gave more credibility to the idea that the children had all seen a similar event.
She also believed that the kids would not have had access to the media about UFOs which could have tainted their testimony or planted similar images in their imaginations, telling the TV show Sightings “a lot of these children don’t go to the movies. They live in the country. Parents are farmers”. The argument that if they had not encountered these images before and then described something similar gives more credibility to their alien encounter being real.
Two months later, in November 1994, Dr. John E. Mack, a Pulitzer prize-winning author (awarded for his 1977 study of Lawrence of Arabia, A Prince of Our Disorder: The Life of TE Lawrence) and a professor of psychiatry at the Harvard Medical School performed his analysis, which lasted for 48 hours. And, based on the results of the interviews, he came to the conclusion that the students had really experienced the event and perceived it exactly as they described it.
“It looked like it was glinting in the trees. It looked like a disc. Like a round disc,” one child witness told the BBC a few days after the incident. “I saw something silver on the ground amongst the trees. And a person in black,” another child said.
Mack has recently been investigated by Harvard for giving credence to the idea of the witnesses who had “reported a ‘close encounter’ with an Extraterrestrial life form that this experience might well have been real.”
In 2022, the documentary “Ariel Phenomenon,” directed by Randall Nickerson, was released although he began work on the film in 2008. He interviewed many former students who witnessed the visit of aliens near the Ariel school, and they all insisted that everything happened exactly as they described it.
Based on the descriptions of the students who witnessed the incident near the Ariel School, the humanoid alien figures are very similar to typical Greys. At the same time, one detail differs from the classic image of the grey: the creatures that were seen near the Ariel school in Zimbabwe had long black hair on their heads.
Nickerson believes he himself is a victim of UFO abduction, suggesting it on The Oprah Winfrey Show. This will lead some to believe that his work is biased to reinforce his own preconceptions of what UFOs might be.
Recently, Dailymail has published photographs of wedge-shaped impressions in the “rock-hard” soil and an oval indentation in the long grass allegedly left by the craft on the ground. Photographer Gunter Hofer was one of the first on the scene to document what happened, and shared his photos with DailyMail.com.
Hofer realized some of the children had also seen UFOs the day before on the other end of the campus, which led him to discover the physical evidence.
“We noticed some of the kids drew two objects. One object looked like a cigar, and they labeled that ‘Thursday. Then they drew what they saw on Friday the 16th which is more of a disc-like, oval-shaped object,” Hofer told to Dailymail.
Hofer said two boys had told him that on Thursday, September 15, 1994, they saw a craft with flashing lights flying above the power lines at the other end of the playground.
“It was moving, disappeared, instantly reappeared somewhere else, and then vanished,” he said.
He further added: “It was in that location he found the flattened grass and wedge markings. The earth there was rock-solid due to a long drought in Zimbabwe.
So whatever made that mark really dug in hard.”
The Ariel school report takes its place among a number of other prominent mass sightings of strange UFOs involving schoolchildren. In 1966, approximately 200 students and staff reported seeing a cigar-shaped UFO, landing near their school in Melbourne, Australia. A similar witness report came from a school in Miami, Florida, in 1967. So did children in Britain report a UFO landing near their school in 1977, some also claiming to have seen strange beings outside the craft.