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UFOs in the daily Press:

The airship stories in the 1896 US Press:

This article was published in the daily newspaper Sacramento Daily Record-Union, Sacramento, California, page 4, colums 1-4, on November 23, 1896.

Warning: the airship stories must not be taken at face value as "UFO sightings." Evaluation of such stories is under way here.


So Says the Inventor's Attorney
Its Lights Seen Last Night
Said to be an Oroville Invention
It Was Seen Over Oakland on Saturday
Statement of a San Francisco Lawyer
The Inventor is His Client
Only the Lights Could be Seen Last Night

The mysterious aerial visitor that has been causing so much discussion and agitation since Tuesday last again gave Sacramento a call last evening, and the reputation of the whisky dispensed here bids fair to be vindicated.

About 6 o'clock the air-ship (which it now seems to be) passed over this city, or the southern end of it, and slowly sailed away and disappeared in the mists and darkness of the southeastern sky. That is, a large and bright electric light was seen by any number of persons, including those of the "Record-Union" office. It was not near enough, and the sky was too black to enable anyone to distinguish anything more than the large bright light carried by the air-ship, and which is evidently produced by an electric battery. It is unlike any other light, being clear and sharp.

The light came from the east at an elevation apparently of 500 or 600 feet, going in a southeasterly direction. It was in sight for over an hour, except that for intervals of a few minutes it would suddenly disappear, as if being obscured by some part of the flying machine to which it is supposed to be attached.

Ed Carragher of the Saddle Rock Restaurant states that by the aid of a night glass he was able to make out a dark object above the light, and the outline of the supposed air-ship.

All sorts of jokes have been made at the expense of Sacramentans since last Wednesday's publication of the stories of an air-ship passing over Sacramento, but it now seems the thing has been seen in Alameda and even in San Francisco. The San Francisco "Chronicle" of yesterday publishes the following statement made by George D. Collins, a reputable lawyer of that city, who says it was a flying machine that passed over Sacramento, that the inventor of it is his client, and that he made the trip last Tuesday evening from Oroville to a point in Alameda County. Says the "Chronicle":


The mystery of the airship which has been amusing the State and puzzling some worthy citizens of Sacramento has made a change of base, and now there are plenty of reputable people in and about San Francisco ready to make oath that they have seen the strange thing in the heavens, and that in appearance and motion it was identical with the ship lights and buzzing machinery which menaced a church spire of the capital.

More than that, there is a San Francisco attorney, George D. Collins, who asserts that the airship exists, that the inventor is his client; that the strange craft sailed without mishap from Oroville to San Francisco; that it did pass over Sacramento on its way to the Bay, and that within a few days this invention, which is the solution of one of the world's oldest and toughest problems, will be navigated in daylight, so that all San Francisco may see it, and that it will circle and rise and sink over the central part of the city.

And yet there are wicked skeptics who chuckle and make rude jests about an epidemic of humbug, and who poke all manner of fun at the good people who think they saw an airship in the sky.

Attorney Collins, who occupies offices on the second floor of the Crocker building, was seen about the matter at his home in Alameda last night. He said:

"It is perfectly true that there is at last a successful airship in existence, and that California will have the honor of bringing it before the world. I have known of this affair for some time and am acting as attorney for the inventor. He is a very wealthy man, who has been studying the subject of flying machines for fifteen years, and who came here seven years ago from the State of Maine in order to be able to perfect his ideas away from the eyes of other inventors. During the last five years he has spent at least $100,000 on his work. He has not yet secured his patent, but his application is now in Washington. I cannot say much about the machine he has perfected, because he is my client, and besides he fears that the application will be stolen from the Patent Office if people come to know that his invention is practicable.

"I saw the machine one night last week at the inventor's invitation. It is made of metal, is about 150 feet long and is built to carry fifteen persons. There is no motive power so far as I could see; certainly no steam.

"It is built on the aeroplane system and has two canvas wings eighteen feet wide and a rudder shaped like a bird's tail. The inventor climbed into the machine, and after he had been moving some of the mechanism for a moment I saw the thing begin to ascend from the earth very gently. The wings flapped slowly as it rose and then a little faster as it began to move against the wind. The machine was under perfect control all the time.

"When it got to a height of about ninety feet the inventor shouted to me that he was going to make a series of circles and then descend. He immediately did so, beginning by making a circle about 100 yards in diameter, and gradually narrowing in till the machine got within thirty feet of the ground. It then fell straight down, very gracefully, touching the earth as lightly as a falling leaf.

"The reports from Sacramento the other night were true. It was my client's airship that the people saw. It started from Oroville, in Butte County, that evening and flew sixty-five miles in a straight line directly over Sacramento. After running up and down once or twice over the Capital my friend came right on, a distance of another seventy miles and landed at a spot on this side of the bay, where the machine now lies, guarded by three men. The inventor found during this trial trip that his ship had a wave-like motion that made him seasick. It is this defect that he is now remedying.

"In another six days the trouble will be done away with and it is then his intention to immediately give the people of San Francisco a chance to see his machine. He will fly right over the city and cross Market street a dozen times. I cannot tell you where he is housing the ship or what his name is, as I am under a pledge of secrecy, but it is a fact that the machine does its work perfectly and will astound the world and revolutionize travel when it has been displayed before the public. The inventor can fly with it to New York to-morrow if he wants to.

"He has forsaken the ideas of Maxim and Langley entirely in building the machine, and has constructed it on an absolutely new theory."

The Strange Visitor Seen There on Saturday Evening.

Yesterday's San Francisco "Call" has the following account of the airship having been seen over Oakland on Saturday evening:

Last night a little after 5 o'clock, as a crowded car was going out toward Piedmont, the attention of the passengers was attracted to a peculiar looking contrivance high up in the sky. The most peculiar feature of it was a powerful headlight and another light which seemed to be in the bottom of the machine and to shine directly on the earth. It came into view from the direction of East Oakland, passed over Piedmont and according to the story of the passengers seemed to descend in such a manner as to indicate that it would land somewhere in San Francisco.

Many of the passengers took up their morning newspapers today expecting to see a full description of the peculiar object that had been seen so plainly, and were surprised and disappointed to find no report whatever in it.

They were so convinced that it must have landed across the bay that some of them telephoned to San Francisco last night and made inquiries regarding it. As nothing was known of it it is presumed that it must have changed its course and landed somewhere else, for nothing can persuade those who saw it that it was not a genuine airship under full control.

All those who saw this strange object agree in its description and declare that it closely resembles the illustration that appeared in the "Call" last Thursday of the airship that scores of people witnessed as it passed over Sacramento last Wednesday night. Some of them distinctly saw the propelling arms and declare that they were in motion, but all are positive that the machine was brilliantly lighted, and that the lower light shed a large arc on the earth as it passed over, while the headlight could be seen for a great distance ahead of the machine.

One of the most mystified observers of the airship was Charles H. Ellis, the armorer of Companies A and F. Mr. Ellis is a middle aged man and very deliberate in his manner of expression, and one not likely to be easily deceived. He declared this evening that he was as skeptical as a man could be when he first read about the Sacramento airship. He also declares that he had no alternative but to believe his own eyesight.

"I was going home to my dinner about half-past 5 last night," he said, "and was in the neighborhood of Twenty-fourth street and New Broadway, when I saw a strange-looking thing in the sky. It was coming from the eastward and at first I could see nothing but a bright light. When I first saw it the two lights appeared to be one, and I thought it was a brilliant meteor. It was getting dusk, but the sky was clouded and just dark enough to permit any one to see plainly. The sky was sufficiently dark to make a background which would render any such object visible.

"As it came nearer I could see that there was, some dark object along with the light. When it was nearly overhead I could clearly distinguish that it somewhat resembled a balloon traveling end on, with a bright light ahead, another beneath it, and with what appeared to be wings both before and behind the light. It was at a great height above the earth probably a thousand feet, but not so high as to make it impossible to distinguish what it was. I did not want to believe that it was an airship, as I had regarded the previous report of one in the light of a Joke. This time, however, I had no alternative. I had to believe what I saw.

"As soon as it passed over St. Mary's College it appeared to descend gradually, but regularly, as though under perfect control, and it disappeared in the direction of San Francisco. Of course it was too dark and the machine was too far away to distinguish anything like people or to hear any sounds such as were heard in Sacramento. But there is no doubt in my mind that it was an airship supplied with electric lights and well-manned."

Another witness to the visit of the airship is Selby Yost, a motorman of the Piedmont road and a member of the Oakland Guard. He was a little behind time and was taking his car toward Piedmont, trying to recover the few minutes he was behind. As he passed Thirtieth street a little boy stood in the road and cried: "Jee, whiz, what's that?" The passengers heard it and immediately looked at the direction in the sky toward which the boy was pointing. They had no difficulty in seeing the airship.

"When I looked ahead," said Mr. Yost to-day, "I was mystified and I may as well confess I was. I didn't like to admit to myself that I had suddenly gone crazy, but really for a moment I did wonder if my senses had deserted me. The passengers all reached out to look overhead, and those inside wanted to see what those outside were gazing at; so when they requested me to stop the car that they might all look. I was practically forced to oblige them. They got out in the road and looked up at the airship, the most surprised crowd I ever saw in my life. There it was, sure enough, right overhead, and traveling on at a good rate, with its light blazing away, and the most uncanny looking thing I ever saw.

"Airship or anything else, it was the most remarkable looking object, and I am at a loss now to convince myself that I actually saw it. It was altogether a wonderful sight, and nobody could have ever made me believe that I would ever see such a thing. It was perfectly clear, and not only I, but all, the passengers saw it and watched it till it disappeared. I thought it must have landed across the bay, and I was somewhat surprised this morning to see that no mention was made of it in the papers. I would really like to have that thing found so that I could satisfy myself as to how it worked, for a more interesting thing I have never seen."

Miss Hagstrom, who resides on Telegraph avenue, saw the same object about six weeks ago. The feature that impressed her most was the bright light which she distinctly saw. On returning home she told her brother of what she had seen, but nothing more was thought of it until she read recently that a similar object had been seen in another part of the State.

Charles Hagstrom, the brother of the young lady who witnessed this queer object in the sky, is also in the employ of the Piedmont and Mountain View Railways.

"When my sister first told me what she had seen I treated it as a joke," he said this evening, "and placed little credence in her story, believing that she had seen nothing more mysterious than a falling star or meteor. When I heard the same thing had been seen elsewhere, last week, and heard again last night of what was seen in this part of town, I am now convinced that my sister saw the same thing. I have talked to several people to-day who witnessed the object last night, and they are all confident that it was nothing more nor less than a genuine airship."

W. J. Rodda and his wife, who reside at a grocery store at 2042 Broadway, were also witnesses to the strange aerial visitor.

"When we first saw it," said Mrs. Rodda to-night, "we thought it was a balloon, and if it were not for the bright light I should still be inclined to think it was a peculiarly shaped balloon, but I never knew of a balloon to carry bright lights and travel at nighttime the way that did. I could not see any fans myself, but others say that they most undoubtedly saw the propellers which sent the thing along. As it passed over it angled downward, and if it kept on in the same direction it should have landed somewhere across the bay. I at once concluded that it was the same machine that had been seen in Sacramento. I believe that airships will be brought to perfection, and I wouldn't be the least bit surprised to hear that some one had already built a practical machine of that kind and was operating with it in this neighborhood."

Many of the passengers on Yost's car live out at Piedmont, and all are of the opinion that they saw a real airship.

An Oakland artist who crosses to San Francisco every day said this evening that the airship was seen from Golden Gate Park yesterday afternoon. "I was coming home last night," he said, "in company with a friend who had been out to Golden Gate Park. He told me that he and others had seen an airship during the evening and that it closely resembled the picture of the one published in the 'Call.' He said that they tried to explain it by all kinds of means, but they came to the conclusion that it was the same machine. It was dusk when they saw it and the remarkable brilliancy on it attracted their attention. I shouldn't have thought any more of it, but today in this city I heard several people discussing it."

It is the prevalent opinion that some one in Alameda or neighboring counties has solved the problem of flying in the air, and has been for some weeks putting his experiment to a practical test.


Some kind of Air Craft Seen by a Man near Tulare

TULARE, Cal., Nov 21. -- That airship is cavorting through the atmosphere that overhangs this vicinity. D.H. Risdon, who was working in an orchard near Tagus, four miles north of this place, sighted a mysterious object passing over at a considerable elevation yesterday afternoon.

A tramp was near at the time, and remarked that he never saw a balloon sail against the wind. But while the object overhead seemed to be sailing into the teeth of the wind, it may have found an opposite current in an upper stratum.

It was passing to the northwest and Risdon declares it was like an immense sheet spread out in the air. It soon passed out of sight. Risdon had not previously read or heard of the strange visitor said to have been seen at Sacramento, and as his reputation for veracity is excellent, his story is generally believed.

The Aerial Tourists Took a Shy at the Big Dam

A telephone message from

Folsom last evening stated that the air-ship also passed near that town between 6 and 7 o'clock, going in a southerly direction. Afterward it tacked to the southeast and disappeared in a dense cloud.

When seen at Folsom it seemed to be only a few hundred feet above the earth, but the night was so dark that the body of the ship could not be distinguished - nothing but one bright light.

It Passed There About 9 O'clock Last Night.

It was long after 7 o'clock last night when the air-ship became lost to view here, but a message from Oakland said it passed over there a few minutes after 9 o'clock. The people there plainly saw the headlight and several smaller ones behind it.

The air-ship seemed to those who saw it at Oakland to go gently down across the bay in San Francisco, but it probably passed behind the hills of that city, as the inventor is not yet, apparently, prepared to let the public view his machine.

Heading for Mount Hamilton

Late last night the last report from the air-ship was that it passed over San Jose at 11:30 o'clock, and was going in the direction of the Lick Observatory.

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