The children reported eerily similar stories about how a silver disc came out of the sky and landed near their school — then mysterious figures with large dark eyes and small slit mouths got out and spoke to them.
In September 1994, the small rural town of Ruwa, Zimbabwe, was forever changed. For several days, people across the region reported seeing mysterious lights in the sky at night, kicking off rumors about UFO activity in the area. But while these sightings could have been attributed to any number of things, they were just precursors to one of the strangest episodes in recent history.
Around 10 a.m. on the morning of September 16, 1994, children at the Ariel School went outside for a midmorning break while their teachers were in a meeting. It was a seemingly normal day — until the children noticed something strange come out of the sky and land in a nearby field.
When the 62 children who witnessed the event were later interviewed, they all gave some variation of the same story: Each of them had seen at least one silver disc — possibly more — land in a small circle of trees. And from the disc emerged several “men” dressed all in black, with large dark eyes, small slit mouths, and odd, pale skin.
The strange beings communicated with the children, but their mouths never moved. Rather, they spoke to the children with their minds, showing them visions of an apocalyptic Earth, warning the children of the future repercussions of Earth’s continuing industrialization and environmental devastation.
In a panic, the children told their teachers what they had just witnessed — but the teachers chalked it up to nonsense or a pre-fabricated story and continued on as normal. Then, the children went home and told their parents.
The next day, the school was bombarded with calls from concerned parents demanding to know why their children had returned home in such distress. Eventually, the story was reported by ZBC radio, gaining the attention of UFO researcher Cynthia Hind and the BBC’s Zimbabwe correspondent, Tim Leach.
Leach interviewed the children on September 19, three days after the incident, and Cynthia Hind interviewed them the following day, on September 20. Both rounds of interviews garnered some truly shocking responses — responses so shocking that they attracted the attention of a Harvard psychology professor named John Mack, who had taken a deep interest in various UFO phenomena.
At the risk of tarnishing his own career, Mack interviewed the children of the Ariel School and, much to the chagrin of his colleagues and the deans of Harvard, Mack wholeheartedly believed the students.
It’s not mentioned as often as Roswell, the Phoenix Lights, or speculation about ancient aliens, but the Ariel School UFO incident is considered, by no less an authority than the BBC, to be “one of the most significant events in UFO history” — and for good reason.
Learn more about the Ariel School Phenomenon and the theories behind the incident. Then, explore the previous entry in our series, the Lake Michigan UFO, as well as the next entry, the real history of the Men in Black.