Tales UNEXPLAINED They came from above
What was the strange phenomenon in the skies over America in the 1890s?
Seeing flying objects in the sky is nothing unusual nowadays.
But, in the late 19th century, there were no planes or helicopters, only the occasional hot-air balloon.
And whatever first appeared in the US skies on 17 November 1896 was no hot-air balloon...
It all started that dismal, rain-soaked evening in Sacramento, California...
Suddenly, a bright light showed through the black clouds, moving westwards towards the Pacific Ocean.
From streets and rooftop, hundreds watched the mysterious light flying roughly 1,000ft above them.
According to one onlooker, it was ‘about 50ft long, of a cigar shape with two great mugs thrust out from each side’. It also had a steering sail at the back, and a long beak at the front, like a ship.
Many accounts noted rows of what looked like windows along the side, giving out smaller lights.
This mysterious ‘airship’, as it became known, caused quite a media circus.
Some papers shrugged it off as the delusions of drunkards, or foolish fantasies.
Others were more openminded – so many had seen something that night and their descriptions appeared to match.
People were left baffled. But then, five days later, the airship returned to the skies...
Thousands of witnesses, including a sheriff and a district attorney, watched this ‘electric arc light of intense power’ pass over the town for 30 minutes before it vanished.
On the same night, the airship was spotted above San Francisco, nearly 100 miles away. Hundreds of people, including the mayor, saw the object float towards the coast.
The harsh searchlight so terrified a group of seals that they plunged from their rocks into the ocean.
For months after, the sky was airship-free – but, in February 1897, the sightings kicked off again.
Thousands of reports came in from Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa, Minnesota and countless other states across the Midwest. Rumours began to spread. Some said a mysterious inventor was behind the airships – but no-one ever came forward. Then there were those who believed the airships carried visitors from other worlds, and a series of crashes seemed to confirm this... On 15 April, a ship seen over Iowa crashed into a farmer’s field. The intrigued townsfolk gathered around the smoking wreckage, as one man was lowered into the hole. Despite the horrific crash, the interior of the craft was tidy and intact, he reported. It’s also claimed that dead alien creatures were discovered inside... Two days later, another such airship crashed in Aurora, Texas. The body of one pilot was found
This mysterious ‘airship’ caused a media circus