The sky still holds many secrets that man has not been able to solve in spite of his achievements in science. This account relates various phenomena observed in American skies. Many of them are perhaps figments of the imagination, creations of mass hysteria. Perhaps they are merely attempts of the human mind to solve the mystery of his surroundings. Some of them are actual occurrences hitherto unexplained by science. As people in their ignorance speculate about them, they offer explanations often as fantastic (but as interesting) as the myths of ancient peoples.
Read to have an insight into the unlimited field of knowledge still undiscovered by man. Aim further to develop a healthy attitude of questioning in regard to unproved reports:
When “flying saucers” captured the public’s eye and imagination, one more chapter was added to the endless book of secrets of the sky. In scientific journals, newspapers and magazines of the past 100 years, flying animals and even flying humans have had their brief fling of glory. Like “saucers,” all have been seen soaring mysteriously through the heavens, leaving a trail of public excitement and mystery.
Thousands of people crowded the streets and roof tops of Chattanooga, Tennessee, on January morning in 1910, gaping at a mysterious white aircraft that flew over the city, its engine chugging audibly. Later they read that the mystery craft had been seen over Hunsville, Alabama, 75 miles southwest.
In the broad light of next day, crowds saw the sky prowler again, this time sailing north over Chattanooga. After a fruitless night’s watching, the mystified citizens saw the final appearance of the craft at noon next day as it coursed to the southeast and disappeared, forever, over Missionary Ridge.
Today such an event would cause little comment. But in 1910 the airship was an infant. How was the mystery explained? It never was. It remains, to this day, one of the secrets of the sky.
The summer of 1908 brought many reports of mysterious bright lights cruising the skies over Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont. At first thought to be lights from balloons, the lights were placed on the “unknown” list when investigations accounted for all known airships. People gossiped about the strange lights for months, then reach a new pitch of excitement when they heard the story of two undertakers.
At 4 on the morning of October 31, the undertakers saw a bizarre sight in the sky over Bridgewater, Massachusetts. It appeared to be a searchlight , they said, stabbing its beam on the earth as though it were a celestial prowler looking for a means of entry. After a time the light flashed upward, then vanished.
Again authorities tried to link the light with a cavorting balloon, but none had been near Bridgewater. Public curiosity gradually settled back to normal. Then it happened again–this time with sound effects and a humorous touch.
On the night of September 8, 1909, countless people in New England saw a luminous object riding overhead and heard what seemed to be an aircraft engine. Again the East seethed with excitement. Then Wallace Tillinghast of Worcester, Massachusetts, entered the picture. Calling in the press, he “explained” the nocturnal sky voyageur.
“I did it,” Tillinghast told the reporters modestly, “with my little secret airplane.”
Carrying a lighted lamp, he said, he had flown his “secret airplane” from Boston to New York and back. Because the longest flight record at the time was 111 miles, whereas Boston and New York were 188 air-line miles apart, the gullible New England public acclaimed Tillinghast the new air hero.
Then the night-flying object was seen again, this time when Tillinghast was at home.
Three months later, a few days before Christmas, a Boston immigration inspector reported seeing a bright light passing over the harbor. Two days later, a mysterious sky ship appeared over Worcester, “sweeping the heavens with a searchlight of tremendous power.”
Next night, Bostonians saw sky searchlights, and swamped police and newspaper offices with phone calls. Similar reports soon came from other towns. But by Christmas Eve, whatever had been nosing the New England sky had gone back to wherever it had come from.
One possible clue came from across the sea. An Irish astronomer writing in a British scientific journal, reported seeing a luminous object appear from the northeast at 8:30 p.m. on December 24. It moved slowly south for 20 minutes, turned and retraced its course, then disappeared in the northeast.
Was this the same object that Massachusetts had gaped at? Was there a relation between the New England sky objects of 1908 and 1909? Could the same mysterious “airship” have appeared a year later over Chattanooga? No one has ever supplied the answers.
The objects seen last year in American and Canadian skies have been variously described as “saucers,” “washtubs.” But the sky’s book of secrets contains stranger objects than these. Today’s flying “saucers” are yesterday’s flying cigars, torpedoes, trumpets, flying horses, pigs, serpents, and just plain monsters.
A farmer of Parkersburg, West Virginia, saw the horse, a white one, in 1878. He said it swam in the clear atmosphere about half a mile overhead. The pig seen by many Welshmen in 1905 was described as ten feet long, with four legs, short wings, and webbed feet.
In the summer of 1873, farm workers at Bonham, Texas, were frightened by the daytime appearance in the sky of a huge, serpent like form. A New York paper called this story the first case of delirium tremens ever recorded. But next day the same paper carried a report from Ft. Scott, Kansas, that a sky serpent had been seen there. Mass hysteria was minimized in this case because communication was slow in the days before the telephone.
In 1881, people of Virginia and Delaware reported seeing uniformed soldiers and white-robed, helmeted angels in the night sky. Modern psychologists would probably explain these sights as optical illusions, but the open-minded student of sky mystery would shrug the murmur, “Who knows?”
One of the sky’s most successful shows had a sensational, seven day run through the Midwest and Southwest. Opening in Chicago on April 9, 1897, the show featured a large cigar-shaped object, bearing great wings and carrying green, white, and red lights. Soon the entire Midwest was seeing it, then Texas and Colorado.
Scientific observers saw it, too, and one claimed the object was a star, Alpha Orionis, which through atmospheric effects gave a changing red and green appearance. The savant did not explain why or how this one star happened to be singled out for special effects.
Other explainers were jokers who reported landings of strange craft, letters dropped from airships and boats rising from Lake Erie to sail in the sky. But neither joker nor scientist could make a definite, conclusive identification.
The sequel perhaps, came on April 19 in Sisterville, West Virginia. About 9 p.m. the northwest sky showed an approaching visitor, flashing brilliant white, red, and green lights. Examined through powerful glasses, the object was described as “huge cone-shaped arrangement 180 feet long, with large fins on either side.”
What were these strange sky-crafts? What were the flying discs? Where did they come from? To these questions, the sky’s book of secrets gives but one answer: mystery unsolved as yet.