For the people of North America, 1896 was remembered as a strange phenomenon that thousands of people saw from San Francisco to Chicago. Bright lights appeared in the sky and moved across the continent from east to west.
It all began on November 17, 1896 in Sacramento (California). On this rainy and gloomy evening, a bright ray of light erupted through dark clouds. He slowly moved to the west at an altitude of 300 m above the rooftops. Hundreds of people watched the lights, including California Assistant Secretary of State George Scott. It seemed to him that he had seen three spheres above which another oblong dark form was located.
The next day, the local newspaper will publish an article with a detailed description of the former railway employee R. L. Lowry. He will tell you that he saw not only lights, but also an object in the shape of a cigar with wheels on the sides. Experts began to say that this is most likely the first successful model of the airship, so the idea has spread in all the following articles. Some have argued that this is the effect of swamp gas or some kind of natural phenomenon.
A sketch of an eyewitness depicting the “airship” seen over Sacramento on November 17, 1896.
After 5 days, the lights returned. It was a Sunday evening with the same gloomy and rainy sky. Light originated from the northwest and moved over the city, resisting the wind. Jacob Zemansky took with him a small telescope and reported that the light did not fly in a straight line, but rocked up and down. Again, they noticed a dark spot above the light. The object managed to fly over the entire city in 30 minutes and disappeared in a southwesterly direction. He was seen by thousands of people, including the deputy sheriff of the city and the district attorney. That night lights appeared over San Francisco and advanced towards the Pacific Ocean. Near the shore, witnesses noticed how the beam startled seals, which rushed into the water.
During the following weeks, the mysterious object was seen not only in California, but in Washington and even Canada. Newspapers described amazing stories that terrified, or frankly ridiculed everyone who believes that aliens fly over the city.
Many were inclined to think that a mysterious inventor was hiding somewhere, who managed to create an aerial vehicle, and he is testing it at night. This idea was accepted by many, since almost 100 balloons transported people, and this was something natural.
One lawyer in San Francisco began telling that the object really represents a new airship, created by its client-inventor, who wants to remain anonymous. He claimed that he himself saw “how this thing rose by 27 m and was perfectly controllable”. Time passed, but the inventor did not appear, so the lawyer admitted that he invented everything.
After that, a short pause reigned, but the object returned on February 2, 1897 over the city of Hastings (Nebraska). Then he was seen near the city of Invale and in Omaha. One of the farmers claimed that he had seen the structure on the ground when it was being repaired:
“It resembles a cigar, drawn out to 60 m in length and 15 m in width, gradually tapering at both ends”.
On April 15, it was rumored that the “airship” had crashed and exploded. However, no one found fragments or a crash site. But after this message strange lights in the sky no one else saw.
What was that? At that time there were no aircraft. The Wright brothers made their first short flight only in 1903. In addition, there was no official operating model of the airship.
Astronomers have argued that most observations concern the appearance of the planet Venus in the sky. This is the brightest object after the Sun and the Moon, so its glow could be confused with the lights. Moreover, under unusual atmospheric conditions, the planet glows, flashes and changes colors.
Ufologists are convinced that this could be an alien spacecraft. They probed the terrain, studied the people, and chose rainy weather to be out of people's sight (which they didn’t do very well). Proponents of this idea point to witnesses who allegedly saw the mechanism on the ground.
But let's not forget that in those days, journalists allowed themselves to write stories to attract more readers, and the witnesses themselves did not always seem reliable. It also remains the idea that in those days there lived a great inventor, who was ahead of his time and created a working airship. Why did not declare yourself? Perhaps all this time he tested the technology, but one of the flights ended in an accident. What do you think?