The Great Panic of 1896-1897. Examination of UFO sightings

The Great Panic of 1896-1897. Examination of UFO sightings

The term "flying saucer" came into use in 1947, and it is associated with Kenneth Arnold. But for the first time the word "saucer" in reference to UFOs was used in the American newspaper "Denison Daily News", Denison, Texas, on January 25, 1878, in an article about an unusual incident with farmer John Martin from Dallas, who observed an orange object "the size of a large saucer" high in the sky.

Only two decades after this incident, the first real "plate" boom broke out — the great panic of 1896-1897. The most complete chronicle of these extraordinary events can be found in the books "The UFO Controversy In America" by David Michael Jacobs and "UFO Exist!" by Paris Flammond.

UFO sightings. The Great Panic 1896-1897

According to Flemmond, the prelude to the epic was the testimony of Miss Hurston of San Francisco, who, late in October 1896, noticed a bright light in the sky. But the most important events unfolded on November 1, when a rock climber and hunter named Brown told a reporter about an unusual vision: in the morning, over the Bolinas ridge near the city, he saw an "airship".

Soon there was a report of a bright white fire floating across the sky on the evening of November 17, which was noticed by hundreds of people. One witness stated that although he was not sure that it was a ship, clearly saw that the object was moving definitely against the wind at an altitude of 100-120 meters.

Another witness confirmed that the "saucer" was flying against the wind, it was quite far away to be able to judge its shape, but it had controlled searchlights and moved like a sea vessel in a rough sea. Numerous witnesses also told about the wandering light, which was clearly controlled by someone.

UFO incident

Those who could make out the outline of a certain ship, emitting a bright light, reported that it was either a large oblong object, flattened at the ends, or an object that looked like an egg. Opinions differ on the location of the passenger cabin: some claimed it was from the bottom, others from the top. Some eyewitnesses even claimed to have seen the ship's crew or heard voices.

As expected, these testimonies caused a surge in newspaper publications, where the most incredible guesses, misleading contradictory conjectures, crazy fantasies were expressed, and not without outright lies.

But based on the most plausible evidence, the huge airship was moving in a southerly direction, and on November 20, thousands of people watched as it sailed over Oakland, California.

One witness claimed that in addition to the large searchlight, the ship had "wings or wing-like propellers" and was moving through the bay. This seems to be true since the searchlight from the ship flying over Twin Peaks was also noticed by the residents of the Misha region. Other witnesses the next day and night observed a "light" or "huge flying device" heading south.

While imaginative journalists wrote fantastic Jules Verne-style stories, the witnesses were accurate in their descriptions: what they saw looked like an egg, a cigar, or something like that.

UFO sightings

The nature of the flight is undulating or up and down, the cabin was located on top or suspended from below, the light, often compared to the light from an arc lamp, glided over hills and settlements. All the witnesses agreed on one thing: the object was undoubtedly controllable.

Not without hoaxes. A lawyer from Alameda, George D. Collins, stated that he was the authorized representative of "the inventor of the said vessel." But after the news broke, Collins retracted what he had said, and the man he called the inventor, dentist E. H. Benjamin, insisted that he had nothing to do with the construction of flying machines.

Less than 24 hours after this announcement, former California Attorney General Hart announced that he knew about the fate of this ship, that the discrepancy was due to "Collins' inability to show prudence in dealing with the press", that the real inventor of the ship was Dr. Kathleen, and that the dentist Benjamin, despite his rebuff, was the doctor's assistant.

Finally, he said that although the United States was not at war with Cuba at the time, this aircraft, operated by only two or three people, was designed to destroy Havana in just 48 hours. Not satisfied with this, Hart said that the aircraft designer is "a cousin of the electrical engineer General Antonio Marco, commander of the patriotic forces in Cuba."

And the "saucers" continued to plow the sky from Tacoma, Washington, to Southern California. The first recorded contact with the ship's inhabitants occurred on December 2 on the beach near Pacific Grove, a village located north of San Francisco. According to witnesses, there were three passengers in the ship, it was a cigar-shaped 18 meters long and had wings that pressed against the fuselage.

UFO sightings

At the end of 1896, there was a lull that lasted until the beginning of 1897. But in April, there was even more startling news that once again swept the whole country. The huge ship appeared over Kansas City, Missouri, at approximately 8 p.m. on April Fools ' Day, April 1, 1897, as if purposely timed to coincide with this day.

For more than an hour, the spotlight swept through the streets, rooftops, and high ground, where many people were gathered, including the manager and other officials. Witnesses said that it was a large dark object that maneuvered or hovered motionless in the air.

As the New York Sun newspaper wrote on April 3, 1897, " the light from the powerful searchlights on board was reflected from the clouds, and the outline of the ship was clearly visible about 9 meters long." The mysterious ship remained over Kansas City for an hour and a half, then soared up and departed in a northwesterly direction. Soon after, a strange light was seen in the city of Everest, which is 90 kilometers from Kansas City.

The next night, the phenomenon was observed over Omaha, Nebraska, and many recognized it as a real aeronautical vessel. By the next evening, the UFO reached Topeka, where it was visible for several evenings, then it turned back to Omaha, where, according to the New York newspaper "World", "for the first time, the outlines of the ship were clearly discernible."

The mysterious ship was observed by thousands of people, and the descriptions of the appearance of the ship became more and more similar. According to most accounts, it looked like a balloon about 10 meters long with folding wings on the sides, with a cockpit, a directional spotlight, and small green, red, and white lights.

UFO incident 1897-1897

Most of the witnesses also testified that the ship made "whistling" sounds, and all of them insisted that the ship was controllable and could maneuver in the air. Almost every report said that the pilots used searchlights to illuminate the area below.

The saucer continued on its way. On April 10, newsagent Walter McCann managed to take two pictures of the ship as it flew over Rogers Park in Illinois. This phenomenon was also observed by three men, and further confirmation was received from people who lived nearby.

The pictures were reproduced in two newspapers — the Chicago Times-Herald and the New York Times. The images showed an egg-shaped oblong object that, according to Flemmond, " resembled a large silk balloon with a light cabin suspended from below, apparently made of white metal."

Shortly after this incident, the newspapers reported that a strange flying machine had crashed near Kalamazoo, Michigan. The crash occurred in front of "two old soldiers", the incident was confirmed by a local resident, Mrs. Wallace, who said that her family heard a noise that was like a strong blow when falling or an explosion.

It was also reported that the wreckage of the car was scattered around the neighborhood, some were found even at a distance of three kilometers from each other. By April 15, another ship appeared over Chicago, which, according to one eyewitness, descended and hovered at an altitude of 200 meters above the ground.

The lower part of the ship was thin, probably made of a light white metal, similar to aluminum. The upper part was dark and long, like a large cigar, narrowed at the front, with some sort of contraption at the back, to which a cable was attached. The pilot pulled on this cable, changing course from south to north-east… I could have sworn I saw a real ship.

The New York "Herald" of April 15, 1897, quoted the testimony of G. A. Overoker:

Over the next few days, there were quite a few reports of strange objects in the sky, but some of them were undoubtedly false. And on April 30, early in the morning, at about 3 o'clock, three people saw a ship over Yonkers, New York, which flew in a northerly direction to the sea and then disappeared in the dark, and this was the last case that marked the end of the great panic of 1896-1897.

Scientists, of course, tried to debunk the myth of the saucers, explaining the mysterious incidents of optical illusion caused by atmospheric phenomena, or hoaxes, however, their arguments did not look very convincing, given the nature of these phenomena, because people saw not just "lights", "ghost ships" or" flying saucers".All of these were, without a doubt, manned motor aircraft, the construction of which at that time was in its infancy in Europe, and the capabilities of these ships were very limited: the largest — they could hover in the air or slowly fly a short distance. In the United States, such aircraft were not in sight.

If we assume that such an aeronautical vessel was secretly designed in the United States by 1896, then who invented it? Tellingly, during the great panic, aircraft typically shaped like cigars would often land, and their pilots would speak to witnesses, usually asking for water for their ships. One of the most amazing stories is related to a certain man named Wilson.

UFO sightings

The first incident occurred in Beaumont, Texas, on April 19, 1897, when a man named J. B. Ligon and his son Charles noticed lights in a pasture a few hundred yards away and went to see what was wrong. They came upon four people standing near a large, dark object that was hard to see. One of these men asked Ligon for a bucket of water.

The man introduced himself as Mr. Wilson and said that they had flown to the bay in a flying car, and now they were returning to the town in Iowa, where this and four other airships were designed. Wilson, at Ligon's request, explained that the propellers and wings were driven by electricity, then he and his companions climbed on board the ship, and Ligon saw it rise into the air.

The next day, 20 April, the Sheriff of Uvalde Baylor, Texas, went outside the house where he heard a strange noise and voices. There he saw a flying machine and three people. One of them said his name was Wilson, and he was from Goshen, New York. He inquired about a certain Eckers, a former sheriff of Zavala County, whom he met in Fort Worth in 1877 and wants to see again.

Surprised, Sheriff Baylor replied that Captain Eckere now lived in Eagle Pass. Wilson was disappointed and asked if he could remind Eckers of him. Baylor also recalled that Wilson asked for water, and also told him not to tell the townspeople about the meeting with him. Then they all boarded the ship, which rose into the air and flew away in the direction of San Angelo. The county clerk also saw the ship take off.

Two days later, in Josserand, TX, machine noise woke up the farmer Frank Nichols. He looked out of the window and saw a bright light coming from a heavy machine with strange proportions flying over his cornfield. Nichols went outside, and two men were walking toward him, asking for water.

UFO sightings

Nichols allowed them to draw water, and the men invited him to their ship, which housed a crew of 6-7 people. One of them told Nichols that the ship was powered by highly condensed electricity, that there were four other such machines in a small town in Iowa, and that a large New York stock company had financed their construction.

On April 27, the "Galveston Daily News" published a letter from the aforementioned Eckers, who claimed to have actually known a man named Wilson in Fort Worth. This Wilson is from New York, he was about twenty-five years old at the time, he had a technical mind, and he was working in the field of air navigation on something that should shake the world.

Finally, in the early evening of April 30, in Deadwood, Texas, a farmer named Legrone heard that his horses were panicking. When he went outside, he noticed a bright light, some glowing object circled over a nearby field and then landed. Legrone approached the landing site and saw five people, three of them talking to him, while the others were filling rubber bags with water.

The crew members told Legrone that their ship was one of five that had cruised the country recently, the same one that had landed in Biemont five days earlier and that all the ships had been built in a small town in Illinois. By May, the five airships had disappeared, along with the mysterious Mr. Wilson.

It must be admitted that the existence of Mr. Wilson has not been proved, since there are no facts other than the above-mentioned evidence, and nothing has been heard of him since 1897. In connection with this story, the question arises: could such an advanced aeronautical device, which plowed the American sky from November 1896 to May 1897, have been secretly designed and launched?

Discovery of evidence

Ufologist Lionel Beer is of the opinion that a controlled aircraft is involved in "the great panic". Beer also refers to the fact that Dr. Geoffrey Doel, former president of the British UFO Research Association (BUFORA), suggests that Edward Joel Pennington of Racine, Wisconsin, is responsible for this hype.

In 1890, Pennington began a campaign called the Mount Carmel Air Navigation Company, obtaining patents for a four-cylinder radial engine for an airship. In 1891, he demonstrated a 10-meter ship with a propeller-driven by electricity supplied by cable.

By 1895, after announcing that he was going to make passenger flights by air from Chicago to New York, he filed patents with the American Patent Office for an aeronautical ship. According to Lionel Vere, the mysterious celestial wanderer in two pictures taken by Walter McCann in 1897, very much resembled Pennington's invention.

David Michael Jacobs, in the book "Controversy in America about UFOs," writes that his brainchild "with a cigar-shaped gas cylinder, with wings on the sides, a large cabin like a railroad car suspended from below, and batteries for lighting devices" is very similar to the strange ship that made so much noise in America in 1896-1897.

On April 15, 1897, shortly after a newspaper report of a plane crash, farmers Jeremiah Collier and William York claimed to have stumbled upon a wrecked ship on Wood Patch Hill, Brown County, Indiana. These gentlemen reported that the ship was damaged, and the crew who were engaged in repairing it claimed that it belonged to Pennington.

UFO sightings

On April 19, in an interview, Pennington confirmed that it was his ship. He also said that three of his cars were in the air over the central states, and while one was on display in Tennessee, he would use the other to go to Cuba to " join the patriots and help them fight for freedom."

In fact, at the May exhibition in Tennessee, not a single motor aircraft was presented, but a device with a foot drive (bicycle) was demonstrated, which flies well over short distances. If you turn to authoritative sources, the first motor airship was built in the United States in 1900 by A. Leo Stevens.

Cuba is mentioned in another incident. On the evening of April 14, in Springfield, Illinois, farmer John Halley, along with Adolph Wenke, watched as a ship landed in a country field, the pilot informing local residents that his device would be used in Cuba when Congress declared war on it.

Pennington did not send his plane to Cuba and did not open passenger traffic. As far as we know, he gave up aircraft construction and disappeared from view shortly after the great panic. According to David Michael Jacobs, Pennington was unable to find sponsors.

Vere says that it is impossible to say exactly why he did not complete his project, perhaps he finally realized that the aeronauts in France and Germany have gone far ahead and that the zeppelins will not be long in coming. Well, we may never know the truth about who was the inventor of the flying machine that startled America during the great panic.

About author:

Ufologist, PhD, blogger, I go on my own expeditions for UFOs. I use scientific methods to investigate the UAP phenomenon

Serg Toporkov

Ufologist, Ph.D., blogger, I go on my own expeditions for UFOs. I use scientific methods to investigate the UAP phenomenon. Write to me

Related tags:

Great Panic  UFO  UFO sightings  1896  1897  USA  UFO assesment  assesment  assessment  ufo expertise  expert assessment  flying saucer

Random UFO or conspiracy article

Antarctica - restricted area

Antarctica - restricted areaIt would seem that Antarctica is well studied, research is still being conducted to this day. However, is this really the case? Can you get there? Why don't they just let you in? Let's figure it out

See more...