The Great Texas Airship Mystery.
When mysterious lights appeared over Stephenville in January 2008, it became part of Texas history, was viewed and recorded in the digital files of cell phones, hard drives and on the Internet. But, Texas ' biggest mystery was recorded differently -- and was forgotten in time.
During 1897, in dozens of cities and in hundreds of published accounts, people reported seeing a strange flying machine. Something -- or someone -- was looking down on 1890's Texas .
Historian Says UFO Sightings In Texas Nothing New
Wallace Chariton spends a lot of time in libraries and halls of records, Chariton is a well-published Texas historian. He's scoured the records of a century ago and has written a book on one of the strangest chapters in the state's past called, “The Great Texas Airship Mystery.”
"It's been called the purist UFO sighting ever, ‘The Great Texas Airship Mystery'…..I think the airship mystery, as I call it, is very real…..This was before the Wright brothers. This was before any type of known flying machine.”
In fact, during the frenzy of sightings papers publish an account from Germany of the Stentzel flying bird. It was a crude, bird-shaped craft with a small motor powered by compressed carbolic acid gas. It was hailed as the machine that would first fly. There are no accounts that it ever flew. The same is true for similar designs at the time which seem vaguely similar to the descriptions of the object soaring above Texas , also the sightings all have very similar characteristics of shape, lights on the vehicle, etc.
“All persons who have had a good view of it gave about the same description, and all testify as to its carrying a large light, and a few say at times it has many. ”
(Austin American-Statesman in April of 1897)
Here are some other accounts drawn from the newspapers of the day:
"We could only gain a faint idea of its accurate size, but think it must have been 200 feet long, the sails or wings constituting nine-tenths of the whole…..There seemed to be a huge searchlight attached to the aerial machine and the light was thrown in several different directions….I was astonished by a brilliant flash from an electric search light which passed directly over my buggy. I want to tell you also I was frightened to death by it!!”
The ship was in the shape of a cigar and had two sets of wings on each side, in 1897 a lot of the cigars were not the cylindrical round shape. They came to a point, interestingly, if you look at a saucer on its side it has the same shape. They had no concept of a flying saucer. Several people report seeing the craft on the ground with crewmembers performing repairs. Many of the stories published are obvious embellishments such as the judge who told him the crew came for North Pole Land and needed an airship to get over the ice for a visit. But many more descriptions are from lawyers, shop owners, railroad workers, farmers and homemakers and seem to describe a similar experience. The reports continue for more than a month in a long list of cities: Dallas , Fort Worth , Austin , Weatherford, Beaumont , Cleburne , Bonham, Garland , Farmersville, Oak Cliff, Sherman, Waxahachie, Stephenville and more.
The sightings span the state of Texas , parts of Oklahoma , Kansas , Illinois , and even California and then they stop abruptly, Wallace Chariton says that:
"Unfortunately that's where the story ends.....What you're left with is hundreds and hundreds of plain ordinary people saying, 'I saw a flying machine!' But I will never discount the fact that so many people saw something that was foreign to them and they all basically described it the same way. So, something happened. This is Texas history. We can't ignore it."
Source: Joel Thomas (CBS 11 News)