In 1896 the idea of a powered airship had not progressed beyond that of the hot air balloons developed by the French almost a century before. But when several different states reported a quickly moving airship with a triad of lights atop it, the bizarre story was soon running through the world causing people to look up at this strange unidentified flying object which started in Washington DC and traveled the entire country.
Though the objects were technically UFOs in that they were unidentified and flying, many witnesses reported that the cigar shaped object was not of extraterrestrial origin at all, but rather the result of multiple advanced manned craft designed to be held aloft by unknown means and kept secret to avoid the stealing of the plans for the vessels. The lights emitted from such an object would have not necessarily served to illuminate the ground for the crew members, but would have more likely served as beacons so that the “chasers” on the ground could track and follow the object. But throughout the entire series of incidents there was never a single explanation as to the real origins of these strange and mysterious craft – leading some to suggest that the objects were not of Earthly origin, but rather disguised alien ships cloaked as anachronistic dirigibles.
The official story, however, does not have much in the way of evidence pointing to an alien presence. Instead, hundreds came forward suggesting that the ships would regularly stop to ask about their location and even look for ways to resupply their ships. With the constant reports of beings lowering themselves down from ships held aloft in the sky, little information as to their origin came through. What little information did come about was almost as enigmatic as the ships themselves in its mundanity and the candid manner they interacted with people.
Witnesses reported that the men were friendly, but reserved, and wore clothing that seemed typical of gentleman’s dress at the time. The figures would not explain where they were from or what the purpose of their journey was, instead simply telling those who asked that they were travelers exploring the countryside in airships. Of course this ambiguity today may seem like precisely the sort of thing an alien race would suggest if it were attempting to gather intelligence on Earthlings. The fact that the men required supplies, however, also points to another often overlooked factor.
A traditional hot air balloon lacks the capacity for much weight to be carried into the air. Such travelers would indeed have to stop quite frequently for supplies and water as a single week’s worth of supplies could in theory require as much weight as a full grown man if it were to accommodate several crew members. And if the airship were to have a mechanical system of propelling it forward against the wind, as many witnesses would suggest, the crew members would have even less weight to work with.
So were these airships spotted across the entire countryside of human origin? Perhaps it was the creation of an airship whose design would never see the light of day. Or is there something else that explains their strange behavior?