Flight X. A giant beetle. Its green shiny body opened up to show a pair of four feet veiny wings, flapping up and down at an incredibly slow speed.
That’s what Marco Gessati, a 32-year-old doctor, said he and about ten other people saw during a flight from Rome to Boston. For privacy reasons, the flight number and the airline have been omitted. Let’s just name it “Flight X.”
“I know it’s hard to believe,” explained Gessati, loudly over the phone with a strong Italian accent. “I know what I saw, you know? I have never seen anything like this. Big, big insect. Out of this world.” He had finally agreed to a phone interview after a copious e-mail correspondence. But there was too much information to be shared and he had something else to share with me: Sketches of the creature. We decided to meet at a restaurant in Boston.
Scientific literature often refers to giant insect fossils that existed during the Carboniferous period, approximately 300 million years ago. The Meganeura, extinct dragongflies with a wingspan of 26 inches, would be tiny next to what witnesses described happened during Flight X.
Gauthier Chapelle and Lloyd S. Peck (May 1999) wrote an article on this subject “Polar gigantism dictated by oxygen availability”. Nature 399 (6732): 114–115. doi:10.1038/20099. They explained that gigantism during the Carboniferous period could have been possible due to the atmospheric oxygen being as hight as 35%. A giant insect could not survive today’s decreased oxygen levels. They speculate that’s what probably happened that lead to their extinction.
To think of an insect of these dimensions existing today, would turn any scientist into a heretic.
My flight wasn’t too comfortable; I had kept my eyes open most of the time, hoping to catch a glimpse of the Boston’s bug.
I met Dr Gessati at the airport. A short, fair skinned man stood next to a vending machine. He was sipping from a bottle of water when I noticed his big glasses. His hair reminded me of George Costanza from the Seinfeld TV show. This seemed to add more interest to the crazy entomological adventure I had just got myself in.
The restaurant was clean but loud, and the cold-artificial air felt good when we stepped inside the black and white tiled floor; The high summer temperature had taken a toll on us trying to catch a cab back at the airport. We sat and ordered some food.
“What I saw is not normal Michael,” said Gessati in a nervous tone, tapping the table with his chubby fingers.
He kept silent every time the waiter came by; it was obvious the doctor wasn’t looking for unnecessary fame. Perhaps -I thought- every man of Science feels this urge to tell others what they can’t explain with microscopes and other machines.
“I fly quite often, and quite honestly I hate it,” he explained, “but you gotta do what you gotta do when you are a doctor. You have to keep up with updates, conferences, etc”. His demeanor had suddenly become somber. “It was a different type of flight, the food was incredibly bad, at some points the air got so hot that I would have difficulty breathing. Funny a doctor saying that uh?” .
The waiter came back to bring the food and Gessati became nervous once again. I began thinking I wasn’t going to get anything out of this. In this line of work, it is very common to come across strange behaviors, and there is a 50% chance that the information received is not exactly what one would call accurate. I knew he was a reliable witness though, but he was visibly disturbed, afraid of talking somehow. I thought maybe his brain was playing games with him as he was trying to reconcile his scientific mind with the sight of a giant beetle flying 30,000 feet over the Atlantic Ocean.
The waiter left. “I think I got a panic attack. Interesting thing is the two people behind my seat and eight others in front of me were showing similar symptoms too. If it was just me, I don’t believe panic attacks are contagious right?” He said, lifting his glasses with his middle finger, back to where they belonged . “It felt as if time had stopped, I don’t know how to explain it. That’s when I saw it. Bam! against the window. Some people turned their heads towards the noise, while others were oblivious to it. But I saw it. It had attached to the window with a clawlike structure on its big black legs. There were hairs and hooks and some sort of adhesive pad that apparently helped the animal stay on the plane.”
He finished his pasta salad, vegetarian, and the waiter came back and took the plate. I ordered some coffee and ice cream. He asked for more water and some sugar. To this day I have no idea why he wanted the sugar for.
“Then it unfastened its legs from the glass and his green, metallic body opened up. Two wings came out, I should say “rolled out”, like a rug. They were translucent and I could see it full of red veins. It looked like tree branches, or a leaf. The thing glided for about 2 seconds then it started flapping its wings, slowly. It was incredibly slow, not like a regular insect where you can’t even see the shape of the wings. His eyes stared at us, looked like a red flashlight” He stopped.
There was an old man siting on a table next to us. He was wearing a black suit and he had a suitcase at his feet. He had been listening to us, and he seemed interested in the subject. This made the doctor more timid than before. I didn’t care much while eating my ice cream. He switched subjects for a while and he told me about new medical advances and some tidbits of Italian culture. Then we went back to the creature.
“The sighting lasted, I’d say…maybe less than 50 seconds. After it, the bug flew away. Then those ten people and I began talking about what happened. I exchanged e-mails with one of them that claimed to have taken a picture, but he never replied. I never liked the way e-mail addresses work, you get a letter wrong, and that’s that. Or maybe he doesn’t want to send it to me, I don’t know.”
Gessati asked the waiter for a pen and paper and he began to draw what he saw (excuse the lack of color, but the waiter didn’t have crayons handy):
I paid for both meals and we said goodbye.
Marco Gessati is an intelligent man. Why anyone would make up something like this is beyond me, specially when the story comes from a doctor. I wasn’t able to contact other witnesses from Flight X.
What doesn’t make any sense is, according to the gigantism-oxygen relationship theory, the higher you go up in the atmosphere, the less oxygen there is. How could a big bug like that survive the high altitude levels? Could it be some of the giant insects living during the Carboniferous period survived extinction? Maybe they evolved at a fast pace and were able to adapt to the decreasing oxygen levels present in today’s atmosphere? But if this was true, where do they live? In caves? Up in the mountains?
Gremlins have been reported throughout war and peace. True or fiction, there are reports all over the world that speak of these creatures.
Do you believe Dr Gessati’s testimony?
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