When we look into the subject of UFOs, occasionally witnesses are accused of drawing heavily from popular culture images of flying saucers. The UFO phenomenon, according to many skeptics, is derived largely from a culture that cannibalizes itself – drawing on fears that are derived from reading other reports of a similar nature. If this is the case, then what is the explanation of a ufo report from 1880 that describes in plain terms a flying saucer buzzing a seafaring vessel?
The British India Company’s Patna was a steam vessel and trading ship that ran in the latter part of the 1800’s with an experienced crew that occasionally took on passengers as well. It was one of these passengers, Lee Fore Brace, who made a report of a technological wonder that left him, the captain, and several crew members completely flabbergasted.
The craft was described as resembling a “wheel” in appearance, and hovered in the distance spinning with individual spokes along the sides. Though the “spokes” ran along the entire circumference of the massive vessel, crew members could clearly see them from all angles as they spun, almost like a helicopter. And yet despite this, the witnesses report not hearing any sound emitting from the object despite the fact that it was some 200 to 300 yards in diameter; clearly a massive vessel. The object reportedly zipped around through the sky startling the witnesses assembled on the Patna’s deck and then hovered away. The witnesses reported that they had never seen anything like it in the area or anywhere else. Additionally, the witnesses reported that the object was emitting a mysterious phosphorescent glow which could be seen reflecting on the water’s surface beneath it, but were unable to ascertain the source on the object itself.
As this is only one of several accounts unearthed of unusual encounters with extraterrestrial beings, it’s feasible to conclude that these witnesses were truly seeing something. But the lack of a unified explanation for the cause of the sightings at the time suggests there is a distinct lack of a “ufo culture” to draw from for the witnesses. And even so, what of the earliest accounts? Stories of wheels in the sky go back to the biblical story of Ezekial who witnessed a “wheel” descending from the sky with several angels onboard who came out and talked to him.
Was this UFO sighting a case of an unexplained close encounter of the first kind? It’s interesting to note the description and how it is largely different from many modern UFO accounts. Of particular interest are the “spokes” the witnesses describe, as they are very different from many modern UFO accounts. And while modern UFO accounts each carry with them the weight of their witnesses correlated with the credibility of each case individually, this older account bears a whole new perspective on the mystery and establishes it well in the realm of completely unexplainable.