In 1994 Over 60 Kids Claimed To Have Seen Aliens. Here's The Story

Imagine you get into a friendly conversation with a stranger and that person eventually says, "So you know, I saw Bigfoot on Saturday." Depending on the person, this might come across as anything from absurd to credibly awe-inspiring. So how about if a second person jumps in and corroborates the story? And then a third, a fourth, and before you know it a full 62 different people confirm the same exact tale? Did every single one of them conspire to lie? What if these witnesses were children? Sure, kids are young enough to be ultra impressionable and easily mislead, but what if none of them — not a single one — fesses up and admits to making the story up?

As it turns out, this is exactly what happened at Ariel School in Ruwa, Zimbabwe in 1994. Except the kids weren't claiming to have seen Bigfoot, but aliens. And not just aliens, but two aliens plus a spacecraft parked off of the school grounds. The aliens walked around, spoke to the kids telepathically, delivered a message about impending environmental catastrophe, and took off. All the kids — aged 6 to 12 — sat down and drew what they saw, and all the pictures more or less lined up. Interviews with them demonstrate sincerity in the way that only children could deliver. To this day some people believe it was all a hoax or a mass delusion. Others, however, are convinced it actually happened.

62 witnesses in the middle of nowhere

It would be easy to dismiss one kid running inside the house and yelling, "Mommy, mommy, I saw an alien!" It would even be easy to handwave five or six kids, especially if they're a band of friends or just mischief makers. But 62? Sure, kids believe in Santa Claus, but only because adults tell them he's real. But no one — not one single human — could possibly coerce, teach, or wrangle 62 kids into not only remembering and confessing the same story, but sticking to it. If anyone thinks differently, we'd like you to speak with any grade school teacher ever.

More to the point, the kids at Ariel School in Ruwa, Zimbabwe didn't have any adults around when they say they saw the aliens and UFO in question. As IFLScience explains, the 62 students were outside during recess playing on September 16, 1994, while the school faculty were inside having a meeting. It bears noting that Ariel School is located in the middle of nowhere, with nothing around it. The kids "live[d] in the country" with farmers for parents, as IFL Science says, in some cases not even having exposure to movies that might kindle visions of aliens. And in that short time outside during recess they either all saw the same thing and ran into the school screaming, or conspired to confuse the adults with a tale of silver UFO discs and telepathic aliens. 

A telepathic message for Earth

Per the Daily Mail, a map of the Ariel School grounds and the location of the 1994 sighting places the UFO and aliens along a patch of grass between the school and a nearby road. Pictures of the school grounds show marks left in hard dirt supposedly left behind by the alien craft, as well as grass flattened in a way similar to crop circles. Kids' drawings show artistic variations, but they are generally consistent in their depiction of a UFO in the trees with aliens around it. 

Journalist and film critic Victor Stiff goes into the kids' descriptions in more detail. They said the craft descended to the ground while they were outside. Two "child-sized creatures" wearing "skin-tight black suits" and with big heads and bug eyes got out of the craft and locked minds with the kids. Some kinds described the aliens as floaty and wavering around or "blinking in and out of existence." The aliens, as the story goes, delivered a message to the kids telling them that humans needed to do a better job taking care of Earth before getting back in the craft and flying off.

As IFLScience explains, some adults thought the kids had seen magical figures from tribal folklore, including Zvikwambo — described in rather unsavory terms in "Karanga Indigenous Religion in Zimbabwe" as spirits of the once-living brought back to life obsessed with "money, sex, and blood." Or the aliens were tokoloshes, evil little goblin-like creatures that Astonishing Legends says love terrifying children.

Somewhat credible research and researchers

In short time, the kids of Ariel School got a lot of attention from multiple sources. First on the scene was Cynthia Hind, a local UFO researcher who got the children to draw their pictures while things were still fresh in their minds — and presumably before the kids could collaborate on a story behind the scenes. Hind went to the school and interviewed the children in small groups the day after their UFO sighting. She found the reports credible, in part because they were consistent across cultural and economic backgrounds, even when she reasoned such backgrounds should have produced very different visions of "alien encounters."

Without a doubt, though, the biggest name on the scene was John Mack, a Harvard psychiatrist and Pulitzer Prize-winning author (picture above). Mack, like Hinds, had a vested interest in believing the kids' stories because he'd recently turned his attention to studying UFO phenomena. IFLScience explains that Mack's interviewing techniques might have biased the kids' stories, however, or even implanted the aliens' environmentalist message in the kids' heads. And yet, Mack stuck to his research despite the damage to his credibility. An article on The Lancet describes how his 1994 book "Abduction: Human Encounters with Aliens" — released the same year as the Ariel School incident — all but ruined his career, not just because of his interest in interviewing alien abductees but because of his reliance on hypnotic regression.

The truth is still out there

The Ariel School UFO-alien encounter came to greater global prominence through the 2022 documentary "Ariel Phenomenon," told through the narrative of the aforementioned John Mack and his assistant, BBC cameraman Tim Leach. Despite being a "war photographer," as journalist and film critic Victor Stiff puts it, Leach's time spent with the 62 child witnesses of Ariel School "left him rattled" — which admittedly says a lot in and of itself. Besides this documentary, various YouTube channels like the excellent The Why Files have covered the incident in detail, while "Ariel Phenomenon" director Randall Nickerson has spoken up in interviews with channels like Den of Geek.

Of course, no matter the unlikelihood of 62 children drawing and describing the same alien encounter story, the tale itself remains hard to believe. Even aside from interview bias, there are obvious questions like: Why did the aliens deliver their message of environmental conservation to some school kids hanging around outside at recess? Plus, the stories don't perfectly align. But then again, two adults telling the same story about an evening at Red Lobster would probably deliver two different accounts. 

As for Ruwa, Zimbabwe, home of the sighting, the 1994 Ariel School alien encounter incident is something of a local legend. The Google Maps entry for the school shows what's either an alien statue or a dude in an alien costume. There's even a tagged spot nearby at the location where the kids allegedly saw the UFO and aliens in 1994.