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The 1973 Pascagoula UFO Sighting

Pascagoula, Mississippi, is a city of around 22,000 people that sits on the mouth of the Pascagoula River. The area was once home to many Indigenous groups, and the name Pascagoula means ‘bread eater.’

The city and surrounding county are filled with a deep and rich history that residents are proud of today.

For many in the US, Pascagoula was just another city in the heart of Mississippi, but in 1973, an event so shocking would bring the city to the forefront of the public’s consciousness. 

Charles Hickson (left) and Calvin Parker. Imagine via Gary Holland/AP.

Down By The Riverbank 

In 1973, 19-year-old Calvin Parker found work as a foreman in the shipyard owned by 42-year-old Charles Hickson. Being on the Pascagoula River, most business in the city revolved around the water in one way or another.

Calvin was thankful for the work and was quickly gaining a reputation as a reliable and hardworking young man. He wasn’t sure of his direction in life and valued the experience he received while working under Charles Hickson. 

The two got on well and bonded over their shared love of fishing. On October 11th 1973, the pair finished up their work day and decided to head down to the Pascagoula River for a spot of fishing.

The two men sat on an abandoned boat just off the pier and settled themselves in for a night of fishing. Day quickly turned to dusk, and the pair saw no reason to rush their trip, choosing to stay on the boat as the sun set. 

The Zipping Sound

As the sun set, Charles realised they had run out of bait. He peeled himself from his chair and returned to his bags to retrieve more.

He later told the Washington Post, “I was just getting ready to get some more bait, when I heard a kind of zipping sound. I looked up and saw a blue flashing light. Calvin turned around too.”

Charles and Calvin described seeing a bizarre 30-foot craft in the air in front of them, making a strange sound and sporting blinding blue lights. 

The craft, later described by the pair as ‘eye-like’, was over 3 metres high. It drew closer to where the men were fishing, and eventually, the craft came to a stop, hovering just above the ground.

Sketch of the craft they allegedly saw.
Sketch of the craft they allegedly saw.

In a flash, 3 aliens appeared, who, according to Charles, were also hovering. The pair looked on in fear and disbelief. Were they dreaming? Was any of this real?

Before they had the chance to assess the situation fully, the two men were paralysed, whether through fear or by the aliens in front of them. 

Little Grey Men 

Whilst paralysed in fear, Charles and Calvin managed to get a better look at the aliens.

They told the police and the media that the 3 aliens were tall, with leathery grey skin and long claws. One had no neck, while another appeared more ‘feminine’. They had no eyes, just a bizarre bump on their face and only a tiny slit for a mouth.

Calvin and Charles worked with artists to make a rendition of what they saw, and since then, there have been several differing accounts created by the media as to the aliens’ appearance. 

The aliens hastily approached the two men, grabbing them by the forearms and pulling them onto the hovering ship. Some reports indicate that Calvin fainted due to shock, leaving Charles alone to deal with the situation.

Once on board, Calvin claims that a bizarre ‘eye shaped’ object subjected him to intense examinations. The aliens did not hurt the pair, nor did they conduct any tests that would have harmed them.

After what seemed like 20 hours rather than 20 minutes, the two were carefully returned to the pier unharmed. When Charles came round from shock, he found Calvin stuck with his arms straight up, screaming for help.

One of the sketches depicting what the two men allegedly saw.

He was clearly traumatised. The pair abandoned their fishing gear, and Charles put Calvin in his car and drove to get help.

The Controversy Begins

According to WLOX, the pair first drove to the Keesler Air Force Base, naturally assuming that an alien encounter is something the military would want to know about.

Unfortunately, the officials on duty that night did not take the pair seriously, telling them that if they had a problem, they needed to speak to the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office.

So they did. From the moment the pair entered the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office, they were treated horribly. The officers on duty first tried to brush the pair off as being drunk or under the influence of other substances.

Charles insisted that he had seen something otherworldly, and eventually, officers agreed to take a statement from the pair. Captain Glen Ryder admitted, “We did everything we knew to try to break their stories.” 

The pair were subjected to lie detector tests and intense interrogations. The Sheriff’s Office even admitted to secretly recording the pair during their interview.

At one point, the officers left the room and kept the recorder rolling, hoping to catch the pair in a lie, but they didn’t. Not once did Charles and Calvin stop talking about the terror and fear that had been struck into their hearts.

Their stories remained consistent, and Charles maintained he had been examined by a large eye that emitted a loud, electronic buzzing sound.

Charles also confirmed that Calvin had been unconscious for the entire examination, but the aliens had examined him too. The aliens were extremely thorough, checking the men over as a doctor would during a physical.

The pair were unharmed but extremely shaken. They bore no physical marks to prove what had happened to them, making it all the more difficult to convince the Sheriff’s Office.

After hours of carefully observing the men, Capt Ryder began to believe the men somewhat. He saw the genuine terror and fear in Charles’ eyes, and his voice croaked every time he spoke.

The pair were even placed under hypnosis to try and break their story, but it remained the same. Unfortunately, there was little the Sheriff’s Office could do, and after taking lengthy statements, the two men were free to go.

Pascagoula Legends

The story of the Pascagoula Abduction quickly made headline news in the county and beyond. Overnight, Charles Hickson and Calvin Parker had gone from shipyard workers to local celebrities.

Alien investigators from across the country flocked to Pascagoula, hoping to interview the pair and visit the site. Being just 19, Calvin Parker felt he was not adept enough to handle the media attention like his companion was, 42-year-old Charles Hickson.

Whilst he gave a few interviews, it wouldn’t be until 2018 that he would talk openly again about his experience. On the other hand, Charles gave lectures, seminars and talks across the country to anyone who would listen.

Ufologists were extremely excited by the encounter and hoped the aliens would return. For weeks, flocks of alien enthusiasts sat on the pier over the Pascagoula River, hoping to see a bright blue light on the water, but nothing happened. 

Several days after the Pascagoula Incident, Ufologists caught wind of another possible alien encounter.

According to NBC News, “A Mobile, Alabama, television station said it would record a UFO appearance predicted by a psychic between Mobile and nearby Pascagoula. Roughly 1000 cars converged on the spot, where nothing happened.” 

Across Mississippi and her surrounding states, more stories of UFOs and alien encounters cropped up, none of which were substantiated.

In 1974, Charles Hickson reported 3 more alien encounters, although it is unclear whether these were the same aliens that abducted him on the Pascagoula River.

His son, Eddie Hickson, confirmed that the encounters were peaceful, and his father’s message to the public was clear “We are not alone in the universe.” 

UFO Contact At Pascagoula 

In 1983, Charles Hickson continued to piggyback off his UFO fame when he released his first book, ‘ UFO Contact at Pascagoula’. This book continues to be popular amongst UFOologists and alien investigators.

While Charles relished in his fame, Calvin was not so enthusiastic. Shortly after the encounter, Calvin got married and moved to a smaller town, hoping to escape the publicity, but that proved impossible.

He took work on oil fields around Mississippi, but within weeks, he would be recognised and was forced to move on elsewhere.

One report indicates that in 1993, Calvin and business partners opened a company called UFO Investigations in Louisiana. The company would interview others who had encountered aliens and make TV shows about incidents across the country. 

It wasn’t until 2018 that Calvin Parker, who was now 64 years old, was ready to go public with his side of the story. He published a book titled ‘The Closest Encounter: My Story’.

During interviews in 2018, Calvin admitted to the Sun Herald that he had told a massive lie; he had been awake for the entire abduction and not unconscious as everyone had been led to believe.

He told the paper that he was terrified following his encounter and believed he had been ‘infected’ by the aliens. 

For days, Calvin took baths in bleach and scrubbed his skin until it was raw, hoping to kill whatever germs or bacteria he had been infected with. His paranoia led him to skip town and stay out of the spotlight.

Calvin admits that this is the only lie he has ever told about the entire encounter; everything that Charles Hickson said was true. 

A New Witness 

Until his death on September 7th 2018, Charles Hickson maintained his story. Charles passed away of a heart attack, surrounded by his friends and family.

A year after his death, the Pascagoula Alien Abduction made headlines once more, but not because of Charles’ passing. Two new names had now been added to the mix, Maria and Jerry Blair of Theodore, Alabama. 

On that breezy September evening, Maria and Jerry were sitting in their 1969 Pontiac GTO overlooking the Pascagoula River, on the opposite side of where Charles and Calvin were fishing.

Jerry was waiting for the captain of the boat he was working on for Graham’s Seafood to collect him for his evening trawling shift, but for some reason, the captain was taking a very long time.

As the pair sat in the car looking at the night sky, Maria saw something. A bright blue light over where two men were fishing.

She told the Clarion Ledger, “It started moving and seemed like it was following along the Pascagoula River. I just seen the lights on. It was just going back and forth. Sometimes it would just sit there. It went on for 20 to 25 minutes.” 

Her husband, Jerry, added, “I thought it was a helicopter initially and just blew it off. It landed about 150 to 200 yards from us. I was just north of the bridge and it [the UFO] was just south of the bridge.

I was there, but stupid me didn’t pay much attention to it. I was just going offshore and thinking about other things. We heard this loud, thumping splash in the river. I looked over the side of the pier, and that’s when I thought I saw a person in the river.” 

“I was looking right down on it. It looked like a person, but there was something different about it. It only came to the surface of the water. As soon as I saw it, it just went back down in the water.”

Both Maria and Jerry independently described the ‘little grey men’, which matched the descriptions given by Charles and Calvin.

Calvin Parker photographed in 2019 at a UFO event in Phoenix, Arizona.

Other witnesses, such as Judy Branning, whose car radio went ‘haywire’ as it flew by, decided to stay in the shadows after seeing how Charles and Calvin were treated by the community and the media.

Maria, Jerry and Judy decided to come forward years later as they no longer feared repercussions nor cared what people thought of them.

After Maria and Jerry went public with their stories, they were able to meet with Calvin Parker to talk about their experiences. Calvin said this made him feel vindicated and confirmed that he wasn’t crazy or making it up. 

On August 24th 2023, Calvin Parker passed away surrounded by his friends and family following his battle with kidney cancer. The legend of the Pascagoula UFO abduction also died with him.

There are sceptics who have tried to pull the story apart, but until their deaths, Charles and Calvin stuck to their story, and there are plenty of believers out there.


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