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Mystery Airships Wave of 1896

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Mystery Airships Wave of 1896

Post  AstroCamel on Mon May 23, 2011 11:14 am

Mystery airships or phantom airships are a class of unidentified flying objects best known from a series of newspaper reports originating in the western United States and spreading east during 1896 and 1897.[1] According to fringe researcher Jerome Clark, airship reports were made worldwide, early as the 1880s, and late as the 1890s.[2] Mystery airship reports are seen as a cultural predecessor to modern extraterrestrial-piloted flying saucer-style UFO claims.[3] Typical airship reports involved unidentified lights, but more detailed accounts reported ships comparable to a dirigible.[4] Reports of the alleged crewmen and pilots usually described them as human looking, although sometimes the crew claimed to be from Mars.[4] It was popularly believed that the mystery airships were the product of some genius inventor not ready to make knowledge of his creation public.[5] Thomas Edison was so widely speculated to be the mind behind the alleged airships that in 1897 he "was forced to issue a strongly worded statement" denying his responsibility.[6]

Mystery airships are unlikely to represent test flights of real human-manufactured dirigibles as no record of successful airship flights are known from the period and "it would have been impossible, not to mention irrational, to keep such a thing secret."[3] Contemporary American newspapers were more likely to print manufactured stories and hoaxes than modern ones are and newspapers often would have expected the reader to be in on the fact that the outlandish stories were hoaxes.[3] Period journalists didn't seem to take airship reports very seriously, as after the major 1896-1897 flap concluded the subject was not given further investigation.[3] Instead, it was allowed to very quickly drop off the cultural radar.[3] The subject only received further attention when ufologists revived studies of the airship reports as alleged early UFO sightings.

source - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mystery_airship


Airships in America

Between the fall of 1896 and the spring of 1897 people began sighting "airships," first in California and then across most of the rest of the United States. Most people (though not all) thought the airships were machines built by secret inventors who would soon dazzle the world with a public announcement of a break-through in aviation technology leading to a heavier-than-air flying machine.

More than a few hoaxers and sensation-seeking journalists were all too happy to play on this popular expectation. Newspaper stories quoted "witnesses" who claimed to have seen the airships land and to have communicated with the pilots. The pilots themselves were quoted word for word boasting of their aeronautical exploits and, in some instances, of their intention to drop "several tons of dynamite" on Spanish fortresses in Cuba. Any reader with access to more than one newspaper account could have seen that the stories conflicted wildly and were inherently unbelievable. We now know that no such ships existed in human technology, and no standard history of aviation ever mentions these tall tales.



But other UFO sightings appear to have been quite real. Most descriptions were of a cylindrical object with a headlight, lights along the side, and a brilliant searchlight that swept the ground. Sometimes the objects were said to have huge wings. An "airship" was observed over Oakland, California, just after 8 P.M. on November 26. One witness said the object resembled "a great black cigar. . . . The body was at least 100 feet long and attached to it was a triangular tail, one apex being attached to the main body. The surface of the airship looked as if it were made of aluminum, which exposure to wind and weather had turned dark. . . . The airship went at tremendous speed" (Oakland Tribune, December 1, 1896). Witnesses in California numbered in the thousands, partly due to the objects' appearances -- sometimes in broad daylight -- over such major cities as Sacramento and San Francisco.

By February 1897 meandering nocturnal lights were also sighted in rural Nebraska. One of these lights swooped low over a group of worshippers leaving a prayer meeting: It turned out to be a cone-shaped structure with a head-light, three smaller lights along each side, and two wings. Such reports became the subject of newspaper articles around the state, leading the Kearney Hub on February 18 to remark that the "now famous California airship inventor is in our vicinity." In short order sightings were logged in Kansas, and by April across a broad band of middle America -- from the Dakotas and Texas in the west to Ohio and Tennessee in the east-the skies were full of UFOs.

­But the skies were also full of planets, stars, lighted balloons, and kites, which impressionable observers mistook for airships. Newspapers were full of outrageous yarns: A Martian perished in an airship crash in Texas. "Hideous" creatures lassoed a calf and flew off over Kansas with it. A "bellowing" giant broke the hip of a farmer who got too close to his airship after it landed in Michigan. These stories reflect a powerful undercurrent of speculation about extraterrestrial visitors.

source - http://science.howstuffworks.com/space/aliens-ufos/ufo-history5.htm

google search results - Mystery Airships Wave of 1896


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AstroCamel

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