Phantom Airships of the 19th Century


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By Ben Cutmore. Discovered by Player FM and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Player FM, and audio is streamed directly from their servers. Hit the Subscribe button to track updates in Player FM, or paste the feed URL into other podcast apps.

In the winter of 1896, a spate of airship sightings spread out from California, stampeding across the United States until, in the Spring of 1897, they hit a wall in the midwest, after a brief flirtation on the East Coast. The sightings totalled in their tens of thousands and many included fantastical descriptions of both the ship and the people riding it. As the ships flew from state to state, the stories often grew bolder in their claims until they were heavily dovetailing with the science fiction of the day. With airships still incapable of sustained flight in 1896, were any of the sightings true? Or were the witnesses seeing something else in the sky? Are some of the more outrageous stories, actually far closer to the truth than they may at first seem, or was the whole affair just one big medley of lies, hoax and misidentifications?

SOURCES Evans, Hillary & Bartholomew, Robert (2009) The Encyclopedia of Extraordinary Social Behaviour. Anomalist Books, Texas, USA Cohen, Daniel (1981) The Great Airship Mystery: A UFO of the 1890s. Dodd, Mead & Co. New York, USA. The San Francisco Examiner (1896) Nations May Yet Fight In The Air. 16th Feb 1896, p.32. San Francisco, USA. The Record Union (1896) What Was It? 18 Nov 1896, p.4. Sacramento, USA. The San Francisco Call (1896) Claim They Saw A Flying Airship. 18 Nov 1896, p.3. San Francisco, USA. The San Francisco Call (1896) Strange Craft Of The Sky. 19 Nov 1896, p.3. San Francisco, USA. Sacramento Bee (1896) Air Ship Or What? 19 Nov 1896, p.1. Sacramento, USA. The San Francisco Call (1896) A Winged Ship In The Sky. 23 Nov 1896, p.1. San Francisco, USA. The San Francisco Examiner (1896) Airships Now Fly In Flocks. 25 Nov 1896, p.5. San Francisco, USA. The Evening Mail (1896) Three Strange Visitors. 27 Nov 1896, p.1. Stockton, USA. The Nebraska State Journal (1897) An Airship or Ill Omen. 23 Feb 18977, p.5. Nebraska, USA. The Leavenworth TImes (1897) Like The Sea Serpent. 28 Feb 1897, p.1. Kansas, USA. The Times Herald (1897) Not An Airship. 10 Apr 1897, p.1. Michigan, USA. The Times Herald (1897) Airship In Michigan. 13 Apr 1897, p.8. Michigan, USA. The Evening Times (1897) The Airship Coming Here. 13 Apr 1897, p.5. Washington, USA. The Boston Globe (1897) Airship Was A Hoax. 15 Apr 1897, p.6. Boston, USA. San Francisco Chronicle (1897) How The Airship Drops Letters. 19 Apr 1897, San Francisco, USA. The Dallas Morning News (1897) A Windmill Demolishes It. 19 Apr 1897, Texas, USA.


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The Dark Histories Butterfly was drawn by Courtney, who you can find on Instagram @bewildereye

Music was recorded by me © Ben Cutmore 2017

Other Outro music was Paul Whiteman & his orchestra with Mildred Bailey - All of me (1931). It's out of copyright now, but if you're interested, that was that.

118 episodes