While reports of alien encounters seem to be a dime a dozen, there are very few photographs of what eyewitnesses purport to be the actual extraterrestrial beings that they made contact with. The case of the Falkville Metal Man is one of those rare exceptions; and, to make matters even more intriguing, the pictures were taken by none other than the police chief who had been sent out to investigate a reported UFO landing and got much more than he bargained for!
On the soft, autumn evening of October 17, 1973, Jeff Greenhaw — then 26-year old chief of police of Falkville, Alabama — was just settling in with his wife for a well deserved night of rest when he received an emergency call just after 10 pm. Little could he have imagined at the time that this phone call would change his life forever.
The call was from a nearly hysterical — and to this day anonymous — woman who claimed that a Unidentified Flying Object had landed just outside of town in a field that was owned by Bobby Summerford. Thus began arguably the second most bizarre case of an alien encounter to come out of the American South — in that very same month! The first one, of course, being the infamous case of the freakish and ostensibly inter-galactic kidnappers known as the PASCAGOULA ALIEN ABDUCTORS.
Although he was off duty, Greenhaw — abiding by his sworn duty to protect and serve — jumped up, snagged his keys, cuffs, revolver and, almost as an afterthought, his trusty Polaroid camera on the off chance that there might be something worth taking a shot of. He then hopped into his truck, radioed the call in and flew to the location of the alleged flying saucer landing.
When Greenhaw arrived on the scene he got out of his truck and patrolled the area, but claimed to find nothing out of the ordinary. The chief then returned to his vehicle and decided to take drive around the field before returning home. Greenhaw cruised around the perimeter of Summerford’s property, scanning the darkness for anything unusual, but saw nothing of note in the murky blackness. He then turned down a narrow, gravel path for one final pass… that was when he came face to face with the unthinkable.
After traveling down the trail for about a hundred yards, Greenhaw saw an entity that he described as a “humanoid figure” standing next to the road, about 75-feet away. The chief got out of his truck and carefully approached the the figure, thinking that it may be someone in need of assistance.
Greenhaw shouted to his strange companion, but it did not respond. As he got to within 15-feet of the being that was now brilliantly illuminated in his truck’s high-beams, the chief realized that something was very wrong. The entity appeared to be wearing some kind of silvery, metallic suit that resembled thick aluminum foil.
Some reports also indicate that the Metal Man’s stature was somewhat small and child-like or even simian; not unlike a monkey in a spacesuit. Greenhaw described what he saw:
“It looked like his head and neck were kind of made together… he was real bright, something like rubbing mercury on nickel, but just as smooth as glass. different angles give different lighting… when I saw him standing in the middle of the road I immediately stopped the car and asked if he was a foreigner, but no sound came out of his mouth.”
Greenhaw also noted that the thing had an antenna sticking out from the top of its head and that its movements were jerky and mechanical. It’s worth noting that the description of this apparently neck-less, wrinkled skin, antenna bearing, “robotic” entity is not unlike Charles Hickson’s observation of the aforementioned PASCAGOULA ALIEN ABDUCTORS, who according to eyewitness testimony snatched Hickson and his young friend Calvin Parker from a quiet riverside in Mississippi, just days before the Falkville event.
Is it possible that Greenhaw encountered the same extraterrestrial entities that allegedly abducted the two Mississippi dock workers on the evening of Thursday October 11, 1973? It would be curious to note whether or not Parker or Hickson had ever seen the Falkville photos and what their opinions of them were if indeed they had.
It didn’t take long for the shocked Greenhaw realized that he was dealing with something completely beyond his experience and — pushing his panic aside with great effort aided by years of police training — he had the presence of mind to pick up his instant camera and shoot four photographs of the entity in question.
The first Polaroid shows nothing but inky darkness and a flash of silver, but the next three images hit the jackpot. In the photos one can clearly see a humanoid figure wearing a wrinkly, metallic suit — or outer casing — which reflected the flash from the Polaroid’s bulb.
Perhaps believing that it was being attacked by a human with some kind of “light-beam” weapon, the creature instantaneously turned and began sprinting across the field at speeds far in excess of those capable by human beings. Greenhaw noted that it seemed to be heading in the general direction of Lacon, which is about three miles away from Falkville. The chief reacted swiftly, darted back to his truck and took off in hot pursuit of the metal man.
Greenhaw would state that he managed to accelerate his truck only to about 35 MPH due to the rough terrain of the field, but that he was still completely outrun by this unusual entity, which — not unlike Finland’s KINNULA HUMANOID, West Virginia’s VEGETABLE MAN or even London’s notorious SPRING HEELED JACK — seemed to be able to defy the laws of gravity with its speed and and spectacular, logic-defying leaps. According to Greenhaw:
“(He) ran in a bizarre way… seemed to have springs in the feet for propulsion, could cover about three meters in every way… He was running faster than any human I ever saw.”
During this frantic off-road pursuit, Greenhaw claims he lost control of his truck and slid into a ditch. At which point he watched as the creature slipped into the darkness never to be seen again; leaving Greenhaw with only his haunting memories and a series of controversial Polaroid photos.
Unlike Hickson and Parker, who seemed (for better or worse) to be destined for fame following their alien encounter in Pascagoula, Greenhaw’s experience was instantly met with skepticism, derision and, at times, outright ridicule.
Within months of revealing his bizarre encounter, the Chief or police was terminated by the town council, his marriage fell apart and — just when it must have seemed as if matters couldn’t get any worse — his home was burned to the ground.
All of the above factors — along with the usual spate of UFO conspiracy theories — have thrown kerosene on the already brightly burning flames of controversy surrounding this event and, more to the point, give a clear indication as to why most contactees and eyewitnesses remain silent regarding their unusual experiences.
Some ufologists believe that the Metal Man was a robotic scout for what may have been an extraterrestrial landing craft; while skeptics maintain that it was all a hoax perpetrated by Greenhaw and an unknown accomplice — perhaps a child, due to the apparent height of the entity — who was clad in a tin foil costume or, perhaps more ambitiously, an asbestos fire suit (which are coated in a layer of reflective aluminum) was used to create the unusual look of the creature.
The images that Greenhaw snapped were collected and sent for analysis by Walt Andrus, a director of MUFON (Mutual UFO Network). The conclusion drawn by the analysts was that the encounter was most likely a fabrication probably inspired by all the furor surrounding the recent Pascagoula case.
Interestingly the negatives of the Greenhaw pictures that were studied by MUFON seem to show images of a “flying saucer” among them, although Greenhaw never claimed to have photographed the object initially reported. Perhaps the pictures on the contact sheet represent another MUFON case unrelated to the Falville incident; or (as so often seems to be the case in both authentically unexplained events or outright hoaxes) maybe there’s more to this story than has been previously told.
While it is virtually impossible to ascertain whether or not this is a real close encounter or a fraud, it seems clear that Chief Greenhaw garnered no financial gain or positive notoriety (even though the encounter has been mention in numerous books detailing alleged alien encounters) due to his experience and, while he has managed to rebuild some semblance of a normal life, all reports indicate that he continues to regret his encounter with this unknown.
To this day, however, Greenhaw and his supporters insist that the images in question represent a genuine non-human entity and that whatever it was the Chief of police encountered on that autumn evening back in 1973 was not of this world.
© Copyright Rob Morphy 2002 — 2016
Rob Morphy is an artist / journalist / filmmaker / designer / crypto historian / podcaster / co-founder of American Monsters and Cryptopia