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URECAT - UFO Related Entities Catalog

URECAT is a formal catalog of UFO related entities sightings reports with the goal of providing quality information for accurate studies of the topic. Additional information, corrections and reviews are welcome at patrick.gross@inbox.com, please state if you wish to be credited for your contribution or not. The main page of the URECAT catalog is here.

JANUARY 13, 1910, CHATTANOOGA, TENNESSEE, USA, RESIDENTS:

Brief summary of the event and follow-up:

The Chattanooga Times newspaper, in Chattanooga, Tennessee, USA, on January 13, 1910, reported that an unknown airship passed over Chattanooga on January 11, 1910 about 9:30 o'clock, proceeding in a northeasterly direction and in a straight course, seen by many people. Some who saw it described it as cigar-shaped, which, the newspaper said, would indicate that it was a dirigible balloon.

The newspaper said it was at least the second to pass over the region within a few weeks, and that some Chattanoogans saw a strange object in the sky recently and strongly leaned to the opinion that it was also an aerial machine.

The newspaper reported that the next day, an aerial machine again passed above the city coming from south-west, maneuvering, then moving away towards the north in a course parallel to Walden crest. It was also thought it was an airship, maybe the same as the day before. Some, according to the newspaper, thought that it was the craft of a sky pirate who would have sinister aimings on Chattanooga.

January 17, 1910, the newspaper informed that the mystery is solved: the so-called airship landed in the city and proved to be a large handcrafted paper Chinese lantern, 15 feet long, manufactured by children, including one Squire Bass. The group had released several such paper balloons in the previous weeks.

In this article, the newspaper scoffed at some witnesses who apparently stated that the aerial machine was a biplane and that they could see the man at his wheel, and even hear the chug-chug of the machinery.

But it did not end here.

Many years later, the newspaper gets a letter from nobody else that Charles Fort, and publish it on June 19, 1924. Charles Fort, who does not seem to have read the explanation of the 1910 Chattanooga sightings, explains that he is interested in information about it from the witnesses, and speculates that the Earth is visited by extraterrestrial exploration vessels.

On June 26, 1924, in answer to Charles Fort's question, the newspaper publishes a letter from a policeman of the city who asserted that he and a fellow policeman, now dead, and a salesman, set loose three balloons shortly after Christmas, 1909, and caused the excitement.

(During the US airship flaps in 1896 and 1897, in 1954 in France during the 1973 US UFO flap, it was not unusual at all that people launched self-made hot hair paper balloons to make others believe they saw an airship or a UFO. In the 2000's, very popular industry-produced Chinese lanterns sell by thousands and cause a large number of so-called UFO-sightings. So there is no reason to be astonished that maybe in Chattanooga in thise years, both those policemen around Christmas 1909 and the group of boys in January 1910 launched some of those to fool city residents.)

But it is still not over: in the modern era of the ufology, the soghtings in Chattannoga in January 1910 are still mentioned, and one of them is even described as including the observation of an occupant. Apparently, some ufologists managed to read only some sentences of the article of the Chattanooga Times for January 17, 1910 , only the sentences about a pilot, without succeeding to read the sentences giving the commonplace explanation of the mystery.

Basic information table:

Case number: URECAT-001128
Date of event: January 13, 1910
Earliest report of event: January 14, 1910
Delay of report: 1 day
Witness reported via: The local newspaper.
First alleged record by: Newspaper.
First certain record by: Ufology book.
First alleged record type: Newspaper.
First certain record type: Ufology book.
This file created on: February 20, 2013
This file last updated on: March 6, 2013
Country of event: USA
State/Department: Tennessee
Type of location: Above city.
Lighting conditions: Day
UFO observed: Yes
UFO arrival observed: Yes
UFO departure observed: Yes
UFO/Entity Relation: Certain
Witnesses numbers: Numerous
Witnesses ages: Not reported. Adults.
Witnesses types: Not reported. Residents of the city.
Photograph(s): No.
Witnesses drawing: No.
Witnesses-approved drawing: No.
Number of entities: 1
Type of entities: Human
Entities height: Not reported
Entities outfit type: Not reported.
Entities outfit color: Not reported.
Entities skin color: Not reported.
Entities body: Not reported. Man.
Entities head: Not reported.
Entities eyes: Not reported.
Entities mouth: Not reported.
Entities nose: Not reported.
Entities feet: Not reported.
Entities arms: Not reported.
Entities fingers: Not reported.
Entities fingers number: Not reported.
Entities hair: Not reported.
Entities voice: None heard.
Entities actions: Was in UFO.
Entities/witness interactions: None.
Witness(es) reactions: Observed, went.
Witness(es) feelings: Not reported.
Witness(es) interpretation: Not reported, or human-made airship or airplane.
Explanation category: Chinese lantern, no occupant..
Explanation certainty: High.

Narratives:

[Ref. ct1:] THE CHATTANOOGA TIMES:

AIRSHIP IN THE AIR

Many See Strange Craft Pass Over Chattanooga

An unknown airship passed over Chattanooga yesterday morning about 9:30 o'clock, proceeding in a northeasterly direction and in a straight course, as if on a long journey. The unusual sight was witnessed by many people in this city. Starting point or destination of the mysterious aerial craft is not known.

Some who saw it described the vessel as cigar-shaped, which would indicate that it was a dirigible balloon. These people say they did not see it through rings of cigar smoke, either, and that they were not victims of a pipe dream.

The airship seen yesterday above the city is thought to be at least the second to pass over this region within a few weeks. Some Chattanoogans saw a strange object in the sky recently and strongly leaned to the opinion that it, like the unknown visitor of yesterday, was an aerial machine.

[Ref. ct2:] THE CHATTANOOGA TIMES:

ANOTHER AIRSHIP FLYING

Wonder If Aviator Has Sinister Designs Upon Chattanooga Territory

Another flying machine, or perhaps the same one, was seen to pass over the city yesterday. Those who saw it said it came from the southwest, and after maneuvering around, sailed away toward the north, keeping parallel with Walden's ridge. From all that can be learned of the craft, it appeared to be a dirigible balloon similar to that one which passed over this section Wednesday morning. Many think it is the same one, and are at a loss to account for its visitations. Some are inclined to think that the mysterious airship is the craft of a sky pirate who has sinister designs upon Chattanooga. At any rate, the aeronautically inclined gentleman [end of article]

[Ref. ct3:] THE CHATTANOOGA TIMES:

AIRSHIP PASSES OVER CITY OF KNOXVILLE

KNOXVILLE, Tenn., Jan. 14 - Several citizens report having seen a dirigible airship which passed over the city shortly before 7 o'clock tonight [...] in a southerly direction. The outline of the air craft could plainly be seen and the noise of the motors could be heard. Fast speed was being made on its trip across the city occupied [...] few minutes time. The machine was under perfect control.

[Ref. ct4:] THE CHATTANOOGA TIMES:

"AIRSHIP" IS CAPTURED

It Alighted Yesterday in the Ninth Ward.

SQUIRE BASS AND OTHERS PERPETRATED THE JOKE

With Other Small Boys He Fooled People for Whole Week - Nothing But Paper Balloons Sent Skyward for Fun.

Airships, aeroplanes, dirigible balloons, biplanes and aerial craft of all kinds, must take a tumble in the minds of Chattanoogans for the time being. Those things in the sky which thousands of people in this city and vicinity have been accepting as the real, genuine all-wool and a yard wide airship were not real airships at all. They were no more than toys sent up as a practical joke. The perpetrator was Squire Ed Bass and some more of the small boys out in South Chattanooga.

The Squire and a very few others who must have been "on" have had lots of fun. The gullibles whose name is legion, may have enjoyed the stunt, too, but just how much they will appreciate the humor of the situation now remaineth to be seen. It will depend largely on the temperament of the victim. A joke's a joke, but when the victim gets wise the effect is more or less doubtful. Doubtless the joking 'squire's ears will burn with an exceeding warmth today, because of the many he so thoroughly fooled there will be some to express themselves plainly, forgetting the Sunday school lesson yesterday.

Murder will out, doncherknow, and other matters not as serious do not always remain a mystery. The cat has scratched and chewed her way clean out of the bag of the dirigible balloon business. Truth once more reigns supreme and sits at the tiller of the aeroplane, having ousted the spirit of humor and falsity which has been steering the airships all over the sky in the region roundabout Chattanooga. The cat got out of the bag and the genus at the steering gear gave way to the truth yesterday when a cigar-shaped paper balloon, some fifteen feet long and four feet through, at the maximum, alighted calmly, peacefully, without shame or embarrassment, in the neighborhood of the Ninth ward fire hall.

It was not long before the presence of the strange object was discovered by the natives, and they began to congregate.

There was much interest and amusement manifested, coupled with a certain form of admiration of whoever it was who had succeeded in fooling the people for so long. For it was very apparent that in the collapsed paper structure lay the secret of the airships which had been seen over the city.

Now, the good people of Highland Park who saw the paper balloon and realized its significance did not know who was back of the joke. Even before the discovery in Highland Park The Times had learned the identity of the juveniles who perpetrated the joke and was preparing to inform its readers on the subject. Then came word that the inevitable Ninth ward had come again to the fore and had material evidence of the nature of the airships which have been causing so much commotion and talk for the last few days.

My, what people in a dry town will see, and, seeing, what mountains they will make out of mole hills that come into their line of vision. Chattanooga can console itself in the knowledge that other towns, dry like Chattanooga, have been victimized lately in the matter of sky-craft. Dry Knoxville has been a seein' airships lately. Dry Huntsville has been peering aloft to the detriment of its necks and collars at strange craft in the big dome.

Amid the commotion caused by the frequent appearance of the what seemed to be an airship with a strong liking for this vicinity. 'Squire Bass and his fellow conspirators have been saying nothing and laughing up their sleeves at the mystification of their townspeople: Like Mr. Hyde, they have stood around among the wondering victims and hearing accounts of their Dr. Jekyll doings.

'Squire Bass, arch-conspirator of them all, perhaps had the biggest share of amusement in this way. It was no unusual thing for him to hear people describe the airship in the minutest detail. His amusement was in their gullibleness, and the power of their optics. Some of them declared that the craft was a biplane and that they could plainly discern the man at the steering gear, and even hear the chug-chug of the machinery.

That so many people were successfully deceived by the toy balloon was due to optical delusion. Tricks which the eye will play in certain circumstances are certainly delusions and snares.

In reality a 14-foot affair, the little balloon, perhaps a few hundred feet high, looked like a monster affair. And, then, too, like looking at the Pleiades, the more one looked the more there was to see. The man in the rigging, and other details described by some, were natural consequences.

'Squire Bass' joke was simply that and nothing more - a practical joke. It has been the opinion of many that the alleged airship, or whatever it was, would resolve itself finally into some sort of an advertising dodge. But the worthy 'squire has no brand of soap, panacea, cigar or breakfast food to hoist upon a purchasing public, so far as known. The craft which ambled into the camp of the Highland Parkers yesterday bore no advertisement. It was very inconsiderate of that balloon to land in an enlightened community like Highland Park, anyway. Had it gone further the 'squire's joke might have lasted longer. But in the midst of thousands of wide-awake and strenuous folk it could only result in discovery and limelight. It was a case of "If we're discovered we're lost," as 'Squire Bass may have said.

'Squire Bass' balloon was not made lighter than air by the use of hot air about the prison commissioner's job, either. The balloon which landed among the Parkites owed its powers of navigation to the gases arising from a bunch of waste soaked in some liquid, presumably gasoline, kerosene, benzine, or some other old sene, and ignited.

By perpetrating such a joke upon an unsuspecting public, especially as the joke was so successful, 'Squire Bass lays himself open to a variety of more or less succulent and pithy flings. Any time today it will be pertinent to eject sarcasm and hitting sentences about the airship man. There will be some to say that he was trying to get high enough up to get his grasp on the prison commissioner plum. Others may hint that he was looking around for more love-smitten couples in order that he might join their two lives in one, and get a nice fee.

The balloons of the Bass persuasion were sent up from the rear of Stong's drug store, Main street. The forests, mountains and streams of the vicinity could probably divulge the landing place of the others, the ones turned loose before that which opened the Ninth warders' eyes.

[Ref. ct5:] THE CHATTANOOGA TIMES:

THINKS OTHER WORLD AIRSHIP VISITED HERE

Charles Fort Seeks Information From Chattanoogans.

SAYS OTHER PLANETS TRY TO COMMUNICATE

Writes From London on Strange Aircraft Observed Here in January, 1910 - Author of "New Lands."

Chattanoogans who remember the "mysterious airship" reported to have hovered over this city for three days in January, 1910, will be interested in a letter received by The Times from one Charles Fort, of 39 Marchmont street, Russell Square, London, England. Mr. Fort, who has written a "spooky" book called "New Lands," suggests that the strange aircraft seen here was a visitor from some other planet. His letter to The Times follows:

To The Chattanooga Times:

Dear Sir - I don't know whether you will think that the letter which I enclose is preposterous or not. I think, myself, that it so seems. But I think you will agree with me that the effect of preposterousness, or affront to preconceptions is no criterion. Of course I do not reason in the other extreme and favor an idea simply because it seems preposterous.

I hope that you will not think that I am hoaxing. My latest book, "New Lands," which was published last October, in New York, is filled with similar data. The introduction to the book is by Booth Tarkington. Other persons, who would not be accused of being wild-minded, are interested in this new research.

If you will publish the letter, I shall be very much obliged to you. I have tried to make it interesting enough, and some new data may be forthcoming to justify considerable space, and I think that speculation upon other worlds, stimulated by the approaching opposition of the planet Mars, make the subject timely. Very truly. CHARLES FORT. 19 Marchmont Street, Russell Square, London, England, June 11, 1924.

Accompanying the above communication was the following:

According to the New York Tribune, Jan. 13, 1910, an unknown airship was seen in the sky, upon three successive days, at Chattanooga. Upon the 10th of January, it was seen traveling southward again, disappearing over Missionary ridge.

A reason for thinking that this object was no airship of terrestrial origin, is that it was reported also from Huntsville, Ala., seventy-five miles from Chattanooga. In this period, aeronautics upon this earth was of development so small that, in the middle of December, 1909, somebody won a prize for sailing in a dirigible from St. Cyr to the Eiffel tower, Paris, and back, a distance of less than twenty-five miles.

I am spending my time collecting data that indicate that there are other, inhabited worlds, perhaps not the visible planets; not inaccessibly remote; and that explorers from them have many times been seen in the sky. In the newspapers, this work has been called "epoch-making," also otherwise, according to various opinions and emotions - "rather crazy," for instance. Of many accounts of seeming explorers from other worlds, in the sky of this earth, I pick out one that is not especial for its convincingness, but that is convenient as to date, because the occurrence was at a time when dirigible airships of this earth could not have sailed even from St. Cyr to Paris.

In the Journal des Debats (Paris) April 12, 1905, is reported a luminous object, or an object bearing lights, which had been appearing every night since April 1, over the city of Cherbourg, France. In the "Bull Soc. Astro. de France," 19-243, Flammarion says that the object must have been the planet Venus; he therefore derides the descriptions of it as having sometimes moved in various directions, saying that such supposed observations were illusions. In Le Figaro, April 13, it is said that the prefet maritime, of Cherbourg, had commissioned Commander de Kerillis, of the "Chasseloup-Laubat," to investigate. The results of this officer's investigations are published; that the object was not in the position of the planet Venus, and that it did not have the cresentic disk of Venus.

The last observations upon this object, at Cherbourg, were upon the night of the 11th. There is a datum to support the idea that something had been exploring locally over Cherbourg, and had then sailed away, and had been seen sailing away. In Le Figaro, April 15, it is said that, upon the night of the eleventh, the guards of La Blanche Lighthouse had seen something like a lighted balloon in the sky, and had started to signal to it, but that it had disappeared. It is said that the lighthouse had been out of communication with the mainland, and that the guards had not heard of the object that had been exciting the people of Cherbourg.

There are data which indicate that the observations upon an unknown vessel in the sky of Tennessee and Alabama, January, 1910, were upon something that had ben exploring in various parts of the sky of this earth. To some minds the data may seem unrelated: almost everything that has even been found out has been developed by organizing the seemingly unrelated.

In the New York Tribune, Dec 21, 1909, it is said that, at 1 o'clock, morning of the 21st, Immigration Inspector Hoe, of Boston, had seen "a bright light passing over the harbor," and had concluded that he had seen an airship of some kind. In following issues of the Tribune, and other newspapers, it is said that two nights later, the streets of Worcester, Mass., were thronged with crowds, watching "a mysterious visitor" in the sky. Upon the night of the 23rd, a dark object, bearing lights moved in the sky, over Boston. "As it flew away to the north, queries began to pour into the newspaper offices and the police stations, regarding the remarkable visitations."

Upon the night of the 24th there were no such observations reported upon anything in the sky of New England.

According to data, this may be because some exploring construction from some other world had swiftly moved across the Atlantic ocean.

In the English Mechanic, 104-71, James Fergusen, a well-known writer upon scientific subjects, writes from Rossbrien, Limerick, Ireland, that, at 8:30 o'clock, night of Dec. 24, he saw a luminous object appear above the northeastern horizon, and for twenty minutes sail southward, then turning around, retracing, and, at two minutes past nine, disappearing at the point whence it had come.

I am gathering material for as extensive an investigation of this whole subject as is possible. If readers of this newspaper, who saw the object that was reported from Tennessee,in January, 1910, will send accounts to me (33 marchmont Street, Russell Square, London, England) it may be that we can learn more about these appearances than could the Aztecs, for instance, when they heard of "moving lights at sea," and probably thought the reports preposterous, or thought that nothing but torches in canoes had been seen, or thought virtually nothing upon the subject, and they did a great deal of thinking later.

[Ref. ct6:] THE CHATTANOOGA TIMES:

POLICEMAN EXPLAINS OLD AIRSHIP "MYSTERY"

A veteran Chattanooga policeman claims that he can account for the "mysterious airship" reported to have hovered over this city for a period of three days during January, 1910, referred to in a letter received by The Times and printed in the issue of Tuesday from Charles Fort, of 39 Marchmont street, Russell square, London, England. This policeman asserts that he and a fellow policeman, now dead, and a salesman set loose three balloons shortly after Christmas, 1909, and caused the excitement.

[Ref. mb1:] MICHEL BOUGARD:

The author indicates that on January 13, 1910, around 11 o'clock, a mysterious craft came towards Chattanooga, USA, and a man was even seen on board.

The craft took about 10 minutes to fly over the city northwards, and was lost in the fog of the Tennessee river.

The day before, in the same city, thousands of people had seen a huge whitish object moving above the city at 09:00, people heard "the noises of its engines" and saw "a series of small blue flames" on the bottom and all the length of the object. It flew around the city for some time, left towards the mountains, and 120 kilometers from there, at 9:15 in Hunstville, Alabama, in the sky, a similar but fast object was reported.

[Ref. js1:] JEAN SIDER:

The author indicates that on January 13, 1913 at 11:00 in Chattanooga, Tennessee, USA, there was a CE3 after a first observation the previous day.

A mysterious flying machine flew over the city during several minutes, a man was seen on board.

The craft then moved away towards the north, disappearing in the fog of the Tennessee river.

The author indicates that the source is Michel Bougard, page 217.

[Ref. pr1:] PETER ROGERSON:

January 13 1910 - 1100 hrs

CHATTANOGA (TENNESSEE : USA)

A man was seen in an aerial vehicle which was passing over the town in a northerly direction. It was soon lost to sight in the riverside fog.

Lucius Farish in Steiger and Whritenour 1969 p 41.

Points to consider:

While the case has a solution, one may wonder how in modern ufology it was published without the explanation, with a occupant sighting, whereas the only mention of a pilot is in the article giving the solution of the mystery.

List of issues:

Id: Topic: Severity: Date noted: Raised by: Noted by: Description: Proposal: Status:
None

Evaluation:

Chinese lantern, no occupant.

Sources references:

* = Source I checked.
? = Source I am told about but could not check yet. Help appreciated.

Document history:

Authoring

Main Author: Patrick Gross
Contributors: None
Reviewers: None
Editor: Patrick Gross

Changes history

Version: Created/Changed By: Date: Change Description:
0.1 Patrick Gross February 20, 2013 Creation, [ct1], [ct2], [ct3], [ct4], [ct5], [ct61], [mb1], [ar1], [js1].
1.0 Patrick Gross February 20, 2013 First published.
1.1 Patrick Gross March 6, 2013 Addition [pr1].

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This page was last updated on March 6, 2013