Few Australians call it a “dragon,” when they see a giant flying creature, or a large one, with no sign of feathers but with a long tail. I know of one American who declared seeing a dragon in Australia decades ago. But that word is unpopular with Australians who consider reporting their encounters, for they usually prefer “pterodactyl” or “pterosaur.”
Over the past few years, sightings of pterosaurs flying, or something like that, have been reported by Australians, and those sightings have been in diverse areas, mostly coastal, especially in the west, south, and east. You would think they would be mostly on the north coast, being closer to Papua New Guinea and the ropen habitat, but there it is.
Excerpts from an email to the American cryptopterosaurist Jonathan Whitcomb:
After many misgivings about going “public” as it were, I have decided to contact you with my experience of sighting what I believe to have been a Pterodactyl.
I live in Australia in the state of Victoria near the Dandenong Ranges about 25 klms east of Melbourne.
I was standing outside about nine o’clock one night. It was full moon and very bright with a cloud bank to the south east extending to and over the Ranges. Mt. Dandenong is about 2000 feet high and the clouds were much higher than this.
I glanced to the south and [saw] . . . something flying that appeared to be at the height of light planes that fly around here as Moorabbin Airport is not far away. This thing was at least as large as a light plane, say a Cesna. It was about 5 klms away and was lazily flapping it’s wings . . . It appeared to be lit up by the moonlight and shining as if it had no feathers. . . . I could see it quite clearly.
“In the early 1990s I was living in . . . South Australia . . . drove from Perth out to Western Australia . . . wanted to . . . see the outback. . . . stopped at about 6PM, ate, set up the tent, and . . . I was up still and wanted to see the sun go down . . . [something] looked like an airplane, far away. . . . maybe a couple hundred feet [high]. . . . it got nearer to me, I noticed that the wings were actually flapping gently. . . . color was a dark tan. . . . no sound. It was getting closer . . . [I thought] maybe this is some kind of weird outback bird . . . had a wingspan [of about] 15 or 20 feet. It got close . . . leathery . . . no feathers at all.”
They were mostly done with flying from Australia to Indonesia . . . at 6500 feet altitude and over the sea, when the pilot saw something coming straight at him, on a collision course. He thought it must have been another plane, somehow at the wrong altitude for that heading. He put his plane into a dive, catching the attention of the copilot, who had been looking down at a chart or something. The approaching flyer also dived, so the pilot banked to the left, saving them all from disaster.
The two men saw it flap its wings; obviously it was no plane.
Are all fictional stories based upon people or animals that never existed? Let’s be careful not to rush to conclusions about dragons, for fantasies, though fictional, are often based upon some truth. The story of Little Red Riding Hood is fictional, but grandmothers and wolves are both real.