New photos show imprints in a field left by an alleged UFO that was seen by over 60 witnesses in a famous 1994 sighting in Zimbabwe.
A whole class of children at the Ariel School in Ruwa drew media attention nearly 30 years ago after they said they had seen a disc-shaped craft land in a field behind their playground one Friday morning in September 1994 – and some even said they saw humanoid beings come out from the craft and communicate with them.
A Pulitzer Prize-winning head of psychiatry at Harvard interviewed many of the 62 children at length shortly after, and concluded they were telling the truth. Now adults, they have all stuck to their stories for decades.
Previously unseen photo evidence has been shared with DailyMail.com ahead of the release of a new documentary, Ariel Phenomenon, about the astonishing incident.
The stunning revelation also comes as interest in UFOs is growing in the United States.
Over five dozen school children at the Ariel School in Ruwa, Zimbabwe claimed to have witnessed a unidentified flying craft land in a field behind their playground in September 1994
Researchers traveled to the school where they asked the kids to draw what they’d seen ‘while it was fresh in their minds’
Photographer Gunter Hofer, who was one of the first on the scene documenting the incident, shared his photos which show wedge-shaped impressions allegedly left by the UFO in the grass field. He is seen posing near the ‘flattened’ grass
Hofer would later realize that some of the children had seen UFOs on two different days, Thursday September 15, 1994 and Friday, September 16
The kids claimed the first alleged landing took place on the other end of the campus, which led Hofer to discover the physical evidence
A marked photo illustrates the wedge-shaped impressions found in the dry soil within the grass after the alleged UFO sighting
On Tuesday a congressional sub committee held the first public hearings into ‘unidentified aerial phenomena’ (UAP) for over 50 years, prompted by continued reports of incursions by strange and highly sophisticated craft in US airspace, including near aircraft carriers and nuclear weapon silos.
In December, Congress passed a new law mandating a government UFO office to investigate such incidents.
The Ariel incident is one of the most prized UFO cases among researchers, who say that the scores of witnesses, their contemporaneous accounts and even striking drawings of the alleged craft and beings drawn the same day make for a very compelling – if unsettling– story.
The one element that had been lacking in the extraordinary case was physical evidence that something had landed in the schoolyard that morning.
But now DailyMail.com can reveal photographs of wedge-shaped impressions in the ‘rock-hard’ soil and an oval indentation in the long grass allegedly left by the craft.
Photographer Gunter Hofer was one of the first on the scene to document what happened, and shared his photos with DailyMail.com.
A map of Ariel School illustrates the two landing sites where the UFOs are said to have touched down on two consecutive days in September 1994
The site of the alleged second landing on Friday, September 16. Hofer explained he didn’t find any evidence of a landing in this area where the ground was ‘already flat, there was no grass and the surface was hard’
Students Farrayi and Guy Gibbon at Ariel School showing Hofer and the crew around the grounds beyond the playground where the UFO was seen
‘I couldn’t find anything in the area where many of the children had seen a craft. It was difficult, as the ground was already flat, there was no grass and the surface was hard,’ he said.
‘But some of the children described seeing a craft in a separate location on the savanna, which is where I found impressions in the grass.
‘I found two oval shapes, one smaller and one larger. I also found what looked like a wedge-shaped marking in the ground, something had pushed in,’ he said.
Hofer was first alerted to the incident the day it occurred by the BBC’s man in Zimbabwe, journalist Tim Leech.
Leech accompanied him and local UFO researcher Cynthia Hind to interview the children the following Tuesday.
‘Cynthia asked the headmaster if the kids could draw what they’d seen while it was fresh in their minds,’ Hofer said.
‘There was a very palpable atmosphere of excitement, of course, and also confusion over what it could be.
‘Most of the descriptions we got from the kids were very consistent, of a short-looking being,’ he added. ‘A lot of them described very large eyes.
‘They couldn’t describe the clothing exactly. But one of them said it reminded them of a diving suit because it was tight-fitting.’
When the schoolchildren were asked to draw their observations, some produced drawings containing two objects, one which was cigar-shaped labeled ‘Thursday’ and another which was disc-like or oval-shaped, labeled ‘Friday’
As for the humanoids some claimed to see emerge from the craft, Hofer said that most of the students’ descriptions were ‘very consistent of a short-looking being’ and ‘a lot of them described very large eyes’
One student drew a picture of an alien that allegedly came out of the UFO in front of the group of school children
A drawing of the craft that the students said shone like water in the sun
News of the strange encounter spread and media flocked to the school to cover the story.
Subsequent retellings focused on the children’s accounts of four craft hovering and landing at the far end of the schoolyard, beings emerging and even telepathically communicating with them.
But Hofer realized some of the children had also seen UFOs the day before on the other end of the campus, which led him to discover the physical evidence.
‘We noticed some of the kids drew two objects. One object looked like a cigar, and they labeled that ‘Thursday’,’ he told DailyMail.com.
‘Then they drew what they saw on Friday the 16th which is more of a disc-like, oval-shaped object.’
Hofer said two boys told him that on Thursday September 15 they saw a craft with flashing lights flying above the power lines at the other end of the playground.
‘It was moving, disappeared, instantly reappeared somewhere else, and then vanished,’ he said.
It was in that location he found the flattened grass and wedge markings.
‘The earth there was rock-solid due to a long drought in Zimbabwe,’ he said. ‘So whatever made that mark really dug in hard.’
In the weeks after the incident, head of the Harvard Department of Psychiatry John Mack flew to Zimbabwe to interview the children. He is pictured above with Ariel School headmaster Colin Mackie in 1994
Dr Mack interviewed many of the 62 children at length shortly after, and concluded they were telling the truth
The area where the two oval impressions were spotted was inaccessible to vehicles.
Although cattle could access the area, the largest shape was about 30 ft long and there were no imprints to suggest cows walking through.
Hofer said that while he and Leech were interviewing the boys, they were distracted by a bright light shining from the nearby hills.
‘On top of a nearby hill, we saw an extremely bright intense light, like someone was reflecting sunlight,’ he said.
‘I went to investigate later on and could find no apparent source from where it originated from. It actually interfered with filming.’
Several of the children, now adults, were interviewed by documentary director Randall Nickerson for his new movie on the incident, Ariel Phenomenon, released Thursday
The footage featuring the bright light has never been released and Hofer has tried to obtain it from the BBC without success. Leech, a former head of the Foreign Correspondents Association, died in 2011.
According to Hofer, the children who saw the beings described them as ‘moving in slow motion like they were on the moon’ and speculated there may have been ‘an intense gravitational field created by the craft.’
The children stand by their story to this day. Several were interviewed by documentary director Randall Nickerson for his new movie on the incident, Ariel Phenomenon, released Thursday.
Nickerson told DailyMail.com the witnesses are still impacted as adults and have suffered from PTSD.
Lisil Field, who was in Grade 4 at the time, told the documentary: ‘I remember seeing two flashing lights and I saw a big silver saucer thing that was hovering, and then it landed or hovered on a stone, then I saw two figures come out, really black but their face, you could actually see not much of their face, but it was really white in color.’
Another witness, Robert Medcalf, who was in Grade 2 at the time, said: ‘I suddenly realized that he’s not quite normal. I didn’t actually know about UFOs or aliens at the time, I just thought it was a strange person…[the being’s eyes] were almost like rugby balls or American footballs, with huge eyes on the side of his face.’
Nickerson told DailyMail.com that a UFO was tracked on radar twice a day before the encounter.
An unidentified object traveling across the Atlantic at high speed was pinged first by Mexican radar, then shortly after by commercial radar operators from Johannesburg in South Africa, he said, adding that radar contact was eventually tracked to a location ‘near the Zimbabwean border with Botswana.’
All of the children stand by their story to this day. In a still from the documentary above, one of the students is seen returning to the school and the site of the landing in 2015
Witness Emily Trim is seen returning to Ariel School 20 years after the famous UFO sighting
Documentary director Randall Nickerson is a UFO experiencer himself and appeared on the Oprah Winfrey show in 1994, together with his sister, claiming they had been abducted by alien beings as children
In the weeks after the incident, the head of the Harvard Department of Psychiatry John Mack flew to Zimbabwe to interview the children.
In videotaped sessions included in Nickerson’s documentary, several of the children said they received psychic messages from the beings they encountered warning them of environmental damage by humans to the planet.
Lisil Field told Mack the being didn’t speak but sent her a message ‘through the eyes’.
‘It was like in the world all the trees would just go down and there would be no air and people will be dying. I think that in space there is no love, but down here there is,’ Field said in the session with the psychiatrist.
Nickerson is a UFO experiencer himself. He appeared on the Oprah Winfrey show in 1994, together with his sister, claiming they had been abducted by alien beings as children.
He declined to comment on the alleged abduction in an interview with DailyMail.com.
The Ariel School case resurfaced in 2020, following the release of UFO documentary The Phenomenon.
Its director, James Fox, said he was tipped off about the incident by Steven Spielberg, the director of alien movie Close Encounters of the Third Kind.
Nickerson told DailyMail.com that he hopes his movie will make people question whether alien beings are visiting Earth.
‘There is a species that’s out there that’s more evolved,’ he said. ‘The big question is, what are they doing? Because that’s what we need to know. So we understand where we fall in their plan or whatever their ideas of the universe are.’
Ariel Phenomenon is out now and can be viewed at Arielphenomenon.com.