The Unexplained: Flight of the Mysterious Balloons

Mystery airship illustrated in the San Francisco Call, November 22, 1896

A wave of mysterious airship sightings swept across the land from 1896-1897.  Witnesses began seeing objects in the sky with pilots and passengers inside. 

One of the biggest unsolved mysteries right now is the mystery of the errant balloons, and unknown objects of curious shapes, that are traveling un-invited over various countries now, including the USA.  We know the origins of some, but do we know anything believable about the others?

The  first manned hot-air balloon was launched in 1783 by two young French brothers, the Mongolfiers.  Their success was launched on the backs of others–from all over the world–who had tried such feats before.

China actually claimed to have invented  unmanned hot air balloons, sometime around 80 A.D.  They were first created as lanterns used for military signals.

After it was known that constructed craft could actually travel in the sky, odd things began to happen in America.  There was a wave of mysterious airship sightings across the land from 1896-1897.  It seemed to start in California and the reports of similar sightings moved eastward across the country.  Witnesses began seeing objects in the sky, some mechanical, with pilots and passengers inside.  Some of the witnesses claimed the pilots had yelled down and communicated with them.

On November 18, 1896, The Sacramento Bee and the San Francisco newspapers all reported sightings of a mystery airship.  A dark shape was seen in the sky, with loud voices coming from inside.  Some heard voices shouting commands to the occupants.

During another area sighting the craft was powered by two beings operating bicycle-like pedals to propel a bat-winged craft.  Some of the airships beamed lights down on the countryside and the witnesses.  The newspapers printed shocking illustrations of what people had seen from the ground.

Sara Marie Hogg

On November 19, a man in Stockton discovered a landed spacecraft – this was after an area sighting.  The craft was metallic with a rudder.  The man said that three 7 foot tall extraterrestrials emerged and uttered warbling noises.  They made an unsuccessful try to force the man into the airship – the first recorded alien abduction attempt.

The reports continued across the country.  In Arkansas, a former state senator was told by an airship pilot that his spacecraft was headed toward Cuba to use its Hotchkiss Gun to kill Spaniards.

In Texas sightings, three Texans had an encounter with five oddly attired beings that claimed to be descendants of the lost tribe of Israel and they had learned English from members of a North Pole expedition.

In February of 1897 there was a sighting over Hastings, Nebraska, as reported in the Omaha Bee.

The Albion Weekly News reported that the pilot of a crashed vessel had shown witnesses a shrinking device that could make his airship pocket-sized.

On April 10, 1897, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch ran a story about a man in Springfield who encountered a grounded airship with three propellers.  The pilots were a beautiful nude woman and a nude man served as co-pilot.  The Springfield man tried to communicate with the pilots and it seemed like they muttered, “Mars.”

On April 16, 1887, the Table Rock Argus reported an aircraft had been seen with a lot of passengers on board.  It disappeared when witnesses ran to get authorities.

It was around this same time that a spacecraft crashed into a windmill in Aurora, Texas.  The April 19th event resulted in the death of the alien pilot who was buried in the Aurora cemetery.  The wreckage had something that resembled hieroglyphs on it.

In another location a farmer reported seeing an aircraft with a cable hanging from it.  The cable. snagged a cow and took it aloft.

The airship wave of 1896 and 1897 was so intriguing that over 1500 U. S. newspapers were combed to ferret out all of the airship stories.  Some accounts were declared definite hoaxes.  Some were labeled as confused mis-identifications.  There are still many that are unexplained puzzles.

There were other airship waves before 1896, and there was an airship wave on the east coast in 1897.

Please click HERE to find Sara’s collection of true stories of the bizarre and unexplained.


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