Friday, August 7, 2009

UFOs One Year at a Time: THE LOST YEARS (Pre-1947)



The first sightings occurred in November 1944, when pilots flying over Germany by night reported seeing fast-moving round glowing objects following their aircraft. The objects were variously described as fiery, and glowing red, white, or orange. Some pilots described them as resembling Christmas tree lights and reported that they seemed to toy with the aircraft, making wild turns before simply vanishing. Pilots and aircrew reported that the objects flew formation with their aircraft and behaved as if under intelligent control, but never displayed hostile behavior. However, they could not be outmaneuvered or shot down. The phenomenon was so widespread that the lights earned a name - in the European Theater of Operations they were often called "kraut fireballs" but for the most part called "foo-fighters".

The military took the sightings seriously, suspecting that the mysterious sightings might be secret German weapons, but further investigation revealed that German and Japanese pilots had reported similar sightings.[10] In its 15 January 1945 edition TIME magazine carried a story entitled "Foo-Fighter", in which it reported that the "balls of fire" had been following USAAF night fighters for over a month, and that the pilots had named it the "foo-fighter". According to TIME, descriptions of the phenomena varied, but the pilots agreed that the mysterious lights followed their aircraft closely at high speed. Some scientists at the time rationalized the sightings as an illusion probably caused by afterimages of dazzle caused by flak bursts, while others suggested St. Elmo's Fire as an explanation. The "balls of fire" phenomenon reported from the Pacific Theater of Operations differed somewhat from the foo fighters reported from Europe; the "ball of fire" resembled a large burning sphere which "just hung in the sky", though it was reported to sometimes follow aircraft. On one occasion, the gunner of a B-29 aircraft managed to hit one with gunfire, causing it to break up into several large pieces which fell on buildings below and set them on fire. As with the European foo fighters, no aircraft was reported as having been attacked by a "ball of fire."

January 1878, Denison, Texas Daylight UFO
By B J Booth
The term "flying saucer" was made popular by a journalist covering Kenneth Arnolds's sighting of nine flying disks in June of 1947. The journalist misquoted Arnold, who did not describe the objects as saucer shaped, but describes their strange movement as similar to a saucer thrown on water and bouncing several times: they "flew like a saucer would if you skipped it across the water."
But a Texan farmer, John Martin, used the term "saucer" 69 years earlier to describe the flying object he saw on a hunting expedition in the surroundings of Denison, Texas, on January 2, 1878. In this case also, "saucer" does not refer to the shape, but to the size of the observed object, as its shape was described as that of a balloon. John Martin saw the dark object high in the Southern sky. He first noticed it to be about the size of an orange, that grew in size as it got closer to him. After he had to rest his eyes, it had increased considerably in size and appeared to be going quite fast. When it was over him it was the size of a large saucer and at a great height.
Because this UFO was dark, and not a mysterious light, reflective, or silvery, many scientists believe he saw a solid object against the sky, with the light behind it.
The sighting was reported by the local newspaper Denison Daily News on January 25, 1878, with the title "A Strange Phenomenon." The article was a first-hand report from the farmer, and its full text is:

"From Mr. John Martin, a farmer who lives some six miles south of this city, we learn the following strange story: Tuesday morning while out hunting, his attention was directed to a dark object high up in the southern sky. The peculiar shape and velocity with which the object seemed to approach riveted his attention and he strained his eves to discover its character."

"When first noticed, it appeared to be about the size of an orange, which continued to grow in size. After gazing at it for some time Mr. Martin became blind from long looking and left off viewing it for a time in order to rest his eyes. On resuming his view, the object was almost overhead and had increased considerably in size, and appeared to be going through space at wonderful speed."

"When directly over him it was about the size of a large saucer and was evidently at great height. Mr. Martin thought it resembled, as well as he could judge, a balloon. It went as rapidly as it had come and was soon lost to sight in the heavenly skies. Mr. Martin is a gentleman of undoubted veracity and this strange occurrence, if it was not a balloon, deserves the attention of our scientists."

Of course, old reports somehow lack in accurate information, and no witness interview is possible to get the missing information or check the witness reliability. But these old reports exist, and even lacking of clear data, they sometimes cannot be easily interpreted in terms of commonplace phenomenon.

Who knows? Maybe some even older report can still surface, where a UFO is described as "saucer" - like in some aspect.

"A Strange Phenomenon", article in newspaper Denison Daily News, January 25, 1878.
"The flying saucers are real", book by Major Donald E. Keyhoe, ret., 1950.

The photo above is claimed to be from TIENSTEN CHINA 1942 or TIENJIN, JAPAN 1911. Note the wide avenue and no cars, the people pointing or looking skyward. China had been at war with Japan since 1931, and wracked with civil war. It is possible that there would be no cars on a major street in a Chinese city of that era. As for JAPAN, 1911, it is possible a street in 1911, in the Orient would not have any cars. Who knows where this photo was taken? With the Rikshaws, it looks like China to me. Then again, is this a superimposed photo? Are the people looking up at a World War II bomber or fighter plane that is in trouble? A photo wizard put the UFO in place of the plane? Or is it legit?

The "Battle of Los Angeles," 1942

(From WIKIPEDIA) The Battle of Los Angeles is the name given by contemporary news agencies to a sighting of one or more unidentified flying objects which took place from late February 24 to early February 25, 1942 in which eyewitness reports of an unknown object or objects over Los Angeles, California, triggered a massive anti-aircraft artillery barrage. The Los Angeles incident occurred less than three months after America's entry into World War II as a result of the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Prior to the incident in Los Angeles, the Ellwood shelling, in which the Japanese submarine I-17 surfaced and fired on an oil production facility near Santa Barbara, had occurred on February 23, 1942. Reports indicated that afterwards the submarine was heading south, the general direction of Los Angeles.

Unidentified objects were reported over Los Angeles during the night of February 24 and the early morning hours of February 25, 1942. Air raid sirens were sounded throughout Los Angeles County at 2:25 a.m. and a total blackout was ordered. Thousands of air raid wardens were summoned to their positions. At 3:16 a.m. on February 25, the 37th Coast Artillery Brigade began firing 12.8-pound anti-aircraft shells into the air at the object(s); over 1400 shells would eventually be fired [1]. Pilots of the 4th Interceptor Command were alerted but their aircraft remained grounded. The artillery fire continued sporadically until 4:14 a.m. The objects were said to have taken about 20 minutes to have moved from over Santa Monica to above Long Beach. The "all clear" was sounded and the blackout order lifted at 7:21 a.m.

In addition to several buildings damaged by friendly fire, three civilians were killed by the anti-aircraft fire, and another three died of heart attacks attributed to the stress of the hour-long bombardment.

The incident was front-page news along the U.S. Pacific coast, and earned some mass media coverage throughout the nation. One Los Angeles Herald Express writer[2] who observed some of the incident insisted that several anti-aircraft shells had struck one of the objects, and he was stunned that the object had not been downed. Reporter Bill Henry of the Los Angeles Times wrote, "I was far enough away to see an object without being able to identify it ... I would be willing to bet what shekels I have that there were a number of direct hits scored on the object."

For further reading, visit:

August, 1911 - Strange Sightings Reported

The August 18, 1911 "Reno (NV) Gazette" carried a brief item tided "Meteor From The Sea Does Strange Stunts." It is said that upon the arrival of the ocean liner "America Maru" in San Francisco from the Orient on August l7th a report was made of a meteor which "climbed out of the sea like a skyrocket, traveled through a great arc and disappeared." The captain, A.C. Stevens, said it had a great fiery head and a long trail and was seen on August 11th.

The item would normally be of minor interest except that meteors do not climb out of the sea. An effort was made to locate more from the San Francisco area from where the report had originated. Confirmation came quickly.

On the same day as the Reno item, the "San Francisco Examiner" carried a story, "Meteors And Moon Rainbows Awe Ship -A Night in Hawaiian Seas Made Brilliant for Passengers on America Maru." This report was a bit more expansive, stating that while passengers were on deck the previous Friday evening, a large meteor shot up out of the ocean, made a complete circle of the sky, and sank again into the water. At the time, the ship was two days out of Hawaii.

It was seen to be about the size of a ten-inch cannon ball and displayed a trail many miles in length. The first third of the trail was as round as a rod and glowing red. The remainder "gradually expanded in graceful proportions."

A half an hour later, the night watchman called for witnesses to view a large lunar rainbow. Shortly after this observation, another meteor rose out of the sea to a height of 20 degrees and sank again. This object was smaller than the first but the trail seemed to break away and precede the head into the sea.

What can be made of this story? I had thought of the possibility of volcanic eruptions, with the ship being two days from the volcanic Hawaiian Islands. The eruptions would hurl flaming rock high into the air, trailing hot debris and giving the appearance of a meteor shooting from the water. However there seemed to be no reports of noise or vibration from such an eruption, or no glow from the horizon from a distant volcano. We also have the "meteor" making a circuit of the sky, hardly a falling rock.

One small detail before closing this account. The Gazette concluded by adding that a copy of the ship's log with a description of the phenomenon "was forwarded to Washington." In all likelihood this was sent to the U.S. Hydrographic Office, which was known to have collected such reports for study.

Another report in the "Reno Gazette" (July 25th) told of the people of Durango, Colorado seeing a large ball about the size of the full moon moving through the sky. It sounds like an especially bright meteor, which can sometimes rival the full moon in brightness. But the report continued, "For several hours the phenomenon lasted. At first it seemed to be traveling toward the earth and gradually grew larger until it developed to a size half again as large as a full moon. Finally, it began to grow smaller and in time disappeared entirely."

The only known phenomenon of such long duration might be a display of aurora. It is a fluid phenomenon though and a single, compact display lasting several hours would be a far-fetched explanation for this report.

Mystery airships, or aeroplanes, continued on for many years after the airship flurries of 1896 and 1897. One report, in the "Winnipeg Free Press" (August 22), tells of an unknown aircraft in the vicinity of North Winnipeg between 1250 and 410 AM on the 22nd. It continually buzzed the city in the dark, leaving residents believing that it was a flyer afraid to land in darkness. It did not appear clearly to witnesses and vanished without having been identified.


1897: Aurora, Texas

On April 17, 1897, six years before the first plane was flown by the Wright brothers, an “airship” visited Aurora, Texas. After having been spotted sporadically in the Midwest, the illuminated, cigar-shaped craft was next seen in North Texas—first in Denton, and then in Weatherford, Corsicana, and Stephenville. The editor of the Stephenville newspaper claimed that the airship hovered so close to the town that he was able to yell out a request for an interview, which the extraterrestrial pilot denied.

Moving on to Aurora, the airship reportedly circled the town square, crashed into a windmill, and exploded, leaving behind the pilot’s charred body and a note written in indecipherable hieroglyphics. According to an article published in the Dallas Morning News two days later, the pilot was thought to be “a native of the planet Mars.”

Rumors about the airship persisted, and in 1973, a team of UFO buffs and television crews descended on Aurora to see if they could substantiate the story. Some Aurora elders claimed to remember the close encounter, while most of the town’s 300 residents emphatically insisted that it was an old hoax designed to revive Aurora’s declining fortunes. The incident may always remain a mystery, however, since a district court blocked an effort to exhume an Aurora grave that some believed held the pilot’s body. According to local legend, the grave was marked only by a headstone bearing a cryptic insignia: several small circles drawn inside the Greek letter delta. The stone has since disappeared.


I honestly do not see how you get a UFO out of this. It could be absolutely anything. The only "documentation" is the word of an anonymous seller on Ebay.
If this was indeed originally a "stereo" photograph, that means someone had some very specialized equipment conveniently on-site when this thing showed up. I am not a debunker, but one really doesn't have to be to look askance at this thing. I wouldn't be surprised if some mundane explanation eventually turns up. I would need a lot more than we presently have to accept this at face value. Heck, it doesn't even HAVE any face value. If I had never heard the backstory, such as it is, I could look at this picture every day for the rest of my life and never once think UFO. Dog poop on a snowdrift, maybe.
I would not be surprised if some mundane explanation eventually turns up. I would need a lot more than we presently have to accept this at face value.
And, as if all of this were not enough of a leap of logic, now someone is seeing swastikas. Perhaps this is a Nazi time machine ferrying Jack the Ripper into the future to kill Jack Kennedy...--Chuck Miller

"Photos from Erich Von Daniken's book, My World in Pictures. They show the model of the 'aircraft' found in 1898 in an ancient Egyptian tomb. There are fourteen similar models in Egyptian museums."
(Translated by Lena Turpin)

Oroville Daily Register 12-3-1896
Air Ship at Forbestown

Harry P. Stow was in town yesterday from Forbestown and said that one of his most reliable and trustworthy men at the Goldbank mine, Thos. E. Goyne, was positive that he saw the airship on Sunday evening.
It was a little after 7 o'clock when Mr. Goyne saw the bright light carried at the bow of the "aerial" and after watching it a moment observed that it to rose and fell and did not remain stationary like a star. He ran into his house and called Mrs. Anson, who came out to satisfy herself and she was so convinced that she called the Rev. Mr. Kiest, who studied the floating light attentively.
Then Mr. Goyne ran down into the town and in a few moments half the people in Forbestown were straining their eyes and craning their necks noting the position and the movements of the mysterious moving light. It seemed to have a wave-like or oscillating movement and this was observed by fully 100 people. r. Stow did not see the light himself, but said the gentleman who first observed it felt confident that it was the mysterious visitor that has been floating over Sacramento Valley.

1742, December 16, from an account by a Fellow of the Royal Society, England:

I was crossing St James park when a light rose from behind the trees and houses, from the south and west, which at first I thought was a rocket of large size. But when it rose 20 degrees, it moved parallel to the horizon, but waved like this (the speaker drew an undulating line) and went on in the direction of north-by-east. It seemed very near. Its motion was very slow. I had it for about half a mile in view. A light flame was turned backwards by the resistance the air made to it. From one of burning charcoal. That end was a frame like bars of iron, and quite opaque in my sight. At one point on the longitudinal frame, or cylinder, it issued a train in the shape of a tail of light more bright at one point on the rod or cylinder; so that it was transparent for more than half of its length. The head of this strange object seemed about a half a degree in diameter and the tail near three degrees in length.

1893, North China Sea:

In February of 1893, the ship, H.M.S. Carolina was sailing in the North China Sea, when a report from an officer of unusual light activity in the sky came to the attention of Captain J.N. Norcross. The officer told Captain Norcross that the lights appeared sometimes in a huge mass, others spread out in unusual patterns. He said that they resembled Chinese laterns set between the masts of a ship. The next night these strange lights reappeared but with a reddish glow and eminatting small amounts of smoke.

No comments: