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UFOs in the daily Press:

The "mysterious airship" wave in the New Zealand Press, 1909:

The article below was published in the daily newspaper Marlborough Express, New Zealand, Volume XLIII, Issue 183, page 5, on August 2, 1909.



During the whole of last week, reports were circulated, throughout the Dominion concerning the appearance of a strange light in the heavens in different parts of the South Island, and consequently a considerable amount of interest was created in the presence of the peculiar object. People who are supposed to know of what they are talking, claimed the title of an "airship" for this object in the sky, and the wires were set in motion, and the populace of New Zealand was informed that an object, presumably an airship or a fireballoon, was hovering over "God's Own Country." From day to day it was reported as having been seen in various parts of the Island. The subject soon took hold of the people in this district as elsewhere, and curious inquiries were made by sceptics as to the authenticity of the reports which chronicled its appearance, and many were inclined to the opinion that the press messages were a hoax. However, they had not long to wait for a reply to their inquiries, for on Saturday evening, in the direction of the Wairau Bar, the "light" put in its appearance just about ten o'clock. As soon as it was discovered, the news that the "airship" was in Blenheim spread like wildfire, and in a very short space of time numbers of those who had not gone to their homes congregated on the Criterion Hotel corner to view the strange light that had so unceremoniously and suddenly made its appearance. At first sight it looked not unlike a big star, and some of those assembled (who were astronomers for the time being) pronounced it to be one. A glass was procured, and that theory was soon exploded. As a matter of fact, the object was easily seen, without a glass, to change its position. At first it seemed to take a steady course to the right, and then it worked over to the left. By the means of glasses it was clearly seen that there were several small lights, which at times formed the shape of "the Southern Cross," only that the light was ever so much more brilliant.

During the course of its manoeuvres there appeared to be something suspended from it in the form of a long black object, and then again, as it changed its position, there seemed to be one light high above the others. Of course, that was only noticeable per the medium of a strong pair of glasses. The light, or airship, or burning balloon, as it was called, continued to hover round, now and then side on to the spectators, when the lights would become very small, and then full on, when the object was like unto a huge ball of fire, until shortly after midnight, when it gradually disappeared, and was not seen again. It is stated that a similar object was seen in Blenheim several nights ago.

A local seafaring man announces that he has noticed for some nights past that a very red star rises over the Straits every evening at about 8 o'clock, and that local residents have at length seen it. Capt. Fisk, pilot at the bar, says that at about 3.30 a.m. on Saturday a light certainly passed over the pilot station, going from the north-eastward towards Kaikoura. He says that he is now keeping a look-out for the light every night.

The mysterious light, now puzzling the people of Otago, did not escape observation in Christchurch (says Thursday's Press). At intervals during the last three weeks there appeared to several Christchurch people at night what seemed to be a swaying light in the air. The matter excited little comment at the time, the beholders of the spectacle imagining that the light was from a lantern suspended from the tail of a kite, a trick familiar to most fun-loving schoolboys. However, in view of the southern news, the phenomenon assumes some importance, and if the light seen in Otago is from an airship it would seem that the vessel was stealthily hovering over this city before leaving for the south. One gentleman, who professes to have seen the strange light, was interviewed by a Press reporter last night. "The light appeared about three weeks ago," he said, "and I imagined at the time that it was suspended from a kite. It was obviously swaying, and seemed to be attached to some object moving gently across the line of sight. I could make out no outline of any larger body above." The Dunedin correspondent of The Press, telegraphing on Wednesday, says: -— There seems no reason to doubt that the mysterious airship was floating over Dunedin last night. John McNeill, living at North-east Valley, was awakened in the early hours, long before daybreak, by a peculiar noise, which he at first took to be an earthquake. On going outside, he saw a light coming from some dark body suspended in the air. He says: "I was aroused by a horrible noise at about two o'clock this morning. The noise was like a ship dragging her anchor up, or the windlass of a steamer working. I got up and went round the back to the front of the house. I saw something floating up past Knox College." In reply to a question as to how far away that would be, he said he took the distance to be half a mile or less. He could not tell what height it was, but he was certain it was detached from the ground. It seemed to be just floating over the place; it was a sort of great, big, black thing, with a searchlight attached. Mr McNeill did not previously know of the rumours that an airship had been reported to have been seen at various places in Otago and Southland. He told his wife what he had seen, and it was not until later to-day that she informed him that there had been something about it in the newspapers.

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