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Date:A few days before November 17, 1896
Time:Between 08:00 p.m. and 09:00 p.m.
Place:Woodland, California

Was It An Airship?

Curious Phenomenon Witnessed by Two Reputable Citizens of Woodland

Three Bright Lights Followed by a Brilliant Train Passed Directly Over This City

That there is a mysterious light moving in the upper atmosphere does not seem to be any doubt. So many reputable and honest people saw it in various times and places that it does not seem reasonable that they are all victims of an hallucination.

We do not agree blindly, however, with the generally accepted theory that the mysterious visitor is an air ship. It is more reasonable to suppose that it is an aerial phenomenon occurring in a way perfectly natural manner and likely to be explained in a rational and scientific way.

In the Examiner today is a story of a mysterious light seen sailing in the airs in the vicinity of Woodland at an uncertain date. The Democrat can to shed some light on this story.

Three weeks ago approximately, and several days before the phenomenon was reported for the first time in Sacramento, L. Charmak and a gentleman who asked us not to tell his name stood in front of Mr. Charmak's workplace. It was between 8 and 9 o'clock in the evening. Suddenly a moving light, or, more accurately, lights, appeared in the south-western portion of the city. The attention of Mr. Charmak was drawn above. The unusual visitor moved in the north-eastern direction, and when it was seen for the first time it was apparently above A. D. Porter's residence.

Whereas it reached main street it suddenly rose of 100 feet or more, but its movement continued in the same direction. It moved very slowly and 30 seconds ran out between the moment when it was in sight and where the Capital Hotel hid it out of sight.

While it moved amply, Mr. Charmak and his friend had the oooportunity to have a good sight of it. There were three distinct lights, resembling much a light with an arc. They were close one another and were spaced of a constant distance, and were followed of a long trail of light as that which generally follows behind a shooting star, except it was white.

Their first thought was that it was a meteor, but its proximity to the earth, its weird movements and its unusual shape sustained this theory with difficulty. The pore they thought about it more their doubt increased. The occurrence was not mentioned at the time except by the gentleman who was with Mr. Charmak. In the family, where it was discussed, the opinion was voiced that if it was a meteor, it was the most extraordinary phenomenon of this kind that he ever observed.

None of these gentlemen claims that the mysterious light that they saw was an airship. They do not have any theory to explain it. They told what they saw, and people can draw their own conclusions from that.

"The cities where observations of the airship were reported after the 23 [of November 1896] include... Woodland... " [2]

November 24, 1896
Woodland (CA) Daily Democrat
"WAS IT AN AIRSHIP? / Curious Phenomenon Witnessed by Two Reputable Citizens of Woodland. / Three Bright Lights Followed by a Brilliant Train Passed Directly Over This City." [3]


  • [1] Article in the newspaper "Woodland Daily Democrat", Woodland, California, November 24, 1896.
  • [2] Article by Loren Gross in "The mammoth encyclopedia of extraterrestrial encounters", compiled by Ronald D. Story, Robinson publisher, 2001.
  • [3] "The mystery airship log", newspapers article listing,
Notes:See discussion.
Explanation:Triple meteor.


Although ufology sources list a sighting in Woodland on November 23, 1896, the article in the Woodland Daily Democrates locates it three weeks before November 24, 1896, or a few days before the famous Sacramento sighting of November 17, 1896.

The witnesses have described a triple meteor and not an airship. It is also their interpretation that the phenomenon was a weird meteor event. They note its weirdness, but this only means that they did not see a meteor event as exceptional as this one, as they said, and maybe they never saw a meteor event at all, so it is only natural that they were amazed. They nevertheless did not "invent" or elaborate airship features.

It is interesting that another sighting of the beginning of December, 1896, in Deal's Knight Ferry, also in California, refers to three lights also.


Type of report:Newspaper.
Number of witnesses:2.
Number of named witnesses:1.
Witnesses occupations:Not indicated.
Type of location:Not indicated.
Coordinates:Lat. 38.68 Long. -121.77
Coordinates precision:5 kilometers.
Description of "UFO":Three bright lights followed by a luminous trail.
Description of "manoeuvers":Straight line flight.
Reactions:Interest. Discussion. Late report.
Occupants keywords:N/A
Weather:Not indicated.
Observation devices:None.
Strangeness:Insufficient information.
Explanation(s) at the time:Exceptional meteor.

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