Duane Hodgkinson was interviewed a number of times between 2004 and 2007. My communications with him in 2004 were by telephone, email, and snail mail. My friend and associate, Garth Guessman, interviewed the World War II veteran in person, in 2005, and the interview was videotaped (on Youtube as “ropen-pterodactyl American eyewitness”). I have not the slightest doubt that he saw a ropen.
The astonishing experience of two American soldiers, in that jungle clearing just west of Finschhafen, New Guinea, in 1944—that can be read in many places. But let’s now look at this man Duane Hodgkinson, and learn what we can about him.
Like most American soldiers who began serving in World War II, Duane was hardly more than a boy. But he had been a farm boy in his teenaged years in Ohio. His experience with the animals and farm yard probably helped him to have a feel for distance and size in the outdoors. I don’t know the responsibilities of a weather observer for the field artillery in 1944, but Duane was trusted with that assignment. When he and his army buddy saw something fly up into the air, on the other side of the field where they stood, they could not very easily make any big mistake in estimating the size of the field: about 100 feet across. With no obstruction, Duane was able to make an estimate of the size of the strange creature that flew up and out of the field: The wingspan was about that of a small private airplane. Sometime after his military service, Duane was able to obtain a Piper Tri-Pacer and he later compared the wingspan of the “pterodactyl” with that plane’s wingpan; it was similar.
Some time after World War II had ended, Duane became a flight instructor. He has accumulated thousands of hours of flying time. The point? He would never have continued his declaration of seeing a giant “pterodactyl” unless he was serious about his experience; it would have been bad for business. The only reasonable explanation is that he saw something at least close to what he described, for he was not drinking or on drugs at the time (he has never been a drinker).