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. According to researcher Jerome Clark, airship reports were made worldwide from the 1880s to 1890s. Mystery airship reports are seen as a cultural predecessor to modern extraterrestrial-piloted flying saucer-style UFO claims. Typical airship reports involved unidentified lights, but more detailed accounts reported ships comparable to a dirigible. Reports of the alleged crewmen and pilots usually described them as human looking, although sometimes the crew claimed to be from Mars. It was popularly believed that the mystery airships were the product of some genius inventor not ready to make knowledge of his creation public. 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.
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." 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. Period journalists did not seem to take airship reports very seriously, as after the major 1896-1897 flap concluded the subject was not given further investigation. Instead, it was allowed to very quickly drop off the cultural radar. The subject only received further attention when ufologists revived studies of the airship reports as alleged early UFO sightings.
Other articles related to "mystery airship, airships":
... Times, which speculated that the airships were "a reconnoitering party from Mars" and the Saint Louis Post-Dispatch, which suggested of the airships, "these may be visitors from Mars ...
Famous quotes containing the word mystery:
“The poem is lonely. It is lonely and en route. Its author stays with it. Does this very fact not place the poem already here, at its inception, in the encounter, in the mystery of encounter?”
—Paul Celan [Paul Antschel] (19201970)