Copyright 2013, InterAmerica, Inc.
Readers/visitors here know (or should) about the Airship
sightings of the mid-1890s in The United States.
Most also know something about the odd, maybe fictive Sonora
Aero Club of California, which I referenced in my earlier piece on the Airship
Let me make clear that I am not advocating the idea that the
Sonora Aero Club was the progenitor of the 1896 or other Airship sightings that
have been recounted in UFO lore.
The possibility is there – possibilities lying everywhere –
but that’s not my point here.
In my previous outing about the Airship sightings, I tried
to make clear that the excitable mind-set(s) of the 18th and 19th
century balloonists could account for some creative ballooning in the 1800s
that explain the Airship sightings in the literature, some of them anyway.
First, let me sum up what I know or think about the Sonora
Aero Club, that I’ve referenced early on here, at this blog and others, which a
Google search will provide access to.
But a pithy source, recently read by me, comes from David
Richie’s UFO book [ibid], Pages 192-193, quoted and paraphrased:
The Sonora Aero Club was manifest in the 1800s in and around Sonora, California, known mostly from
the writings of C.A.A. Dellschau, pictured here:
Photo provided by Jose Antonio Caravaca
Dellschau wrote about the Club and offered exotic drawings
of the alleged aircraft developed by
its 60 members (of German and English descent primarily).
Portions of Dellschau’s discovered manuscript, Richie
states, were written in “a cryptic manner.”
Funding was by a group known only as NYZMA.
Dellschau indicated that the “club’s bizarre machines”
(Richie writes) were made operational
“by a gas called ‘NB’ or ‘Supe’ which reportedly had the potential to
neutralize gravitation (or weight, as Dellschau put it).” [Page 193]
“Dellschau claimed that several airships actually were built
and flown, then taken apart so that their workings would remain secret. Two of
the craft, he wrote, were destroyed in a fire that swept the community of
Columbia, California, some miles from Sonora.” [op cit.]
(That alleged fire could be traced, if anyone cares to try
and confirm the story; no date is given however…RR)
Dellschau wrote that “Supe” was the creation of one Peter
Mennis, with the manufacturing technique being lost in the 1860s when Mennis
died, or was murdered by Club members. [op cit.]
“Dellschau moved to Texas in the 1870s and settled around
1880 in Houston. He left Houston for several months in 1890, on his return,
exhibited a changed personality, characterized by fear and anxiety.” [op cit.]
“During this last period of his life, Richie writes,
[Dellschau] composed the written accounts of the club’s airships. He attributed
the the deaths pf some members of the club to careless talk or to use their
knowledge of the airships for personal gain.” [op cit]
Here are a few examples of the drawings Dellschau made of
the aircraft the club supposedly created and flew. (More can be found online by
a Google image search):
Jose Carvaca provides this, as part of his upcoming December
report on the Sonora Club and the Airship wave:
"The story begins when Albert Dellschau arrives at
Texas in 1895, one of the epicenters of the wave future, and decides to retake
the idea of the Aeroclub in the company of former members as Charles A. Smith
and Willard Willson. The financier of the whole operation, according to Busby,
was George Hearst, son of former benefactor the group, and newspaper magnate
William Randolph Hearst. On this occasion the group join Samuel E. Tillman and
Professor Amos Emerson Dolbearthat curiously are cited at a meeting of the
AirShip happened in Stephenville, and witnesses claimed that the project was
funded by the people of New York. Michael Busby follows this track and confirms
that Dolbear was a professor at the University of Massachusetts, being a
specialty electric motors."
Photos provided by Jose Caravaca
The Dellschau tale is fantastical, isn’t it? So one wouldn’t
be remiss in discounting it.
It reeks of a schizophrenic savant.
However, in the time period – the 1800s to 1900 – human
creativity was resplendent in its imaginative and fecund productions, in music
(Wagner, Mahler, et al.), science (Darwin, Freud, Einstein), literature
(Dostoyevsky, Melville, Poe et al.), Engineering (Edison, Wheeler, Tesla) and
other geniuses, some wild and wooly (like the balloonists mentioned in my
previous piece), some sedate and thoughtful.
So I contend that, perhaps – perhaps – the Airships of the
1890s were creations by a dedicated raft of engineering or inventive
individuals who took ballooning, reconfigured it, and flew brief unwarlike
sorties over populated areas.
Yes, the Airship wave could be the result of a kind of mass
hysteria created by newspaper accounts that may have been fraudulent in their
reportage (to accrue readers and revenue), but certainly not misperceptions of
the planet Venus as one rabid skeptic proposed recently.
But I should like to think that some wildly adventurous
humans tried to soar in the heavens, before the time when air flight was said
to be possible, and some observers got to see their adventurous rides and
aircraft, even if the Sonora Aero Club’s airships were only the imaginative
ramblings of a man at the edge of insanity.
For me, it’s not out of the realm of possibility that the
Airships of the 1890s were as they were reported.
RR (and JAC)