If people can see non-existent airplanes certainly this contains a potential explanation why people also can see non-existent UFO’s isn’t it ? It is a matter of historical record that  although no German air bomber ever flew over Canada during World  War I, many people indeed saw them.  For example on February 14,1915, the biggest air-raid scare of the war occurred when German planes were "detected" crossing the New York state border in the direction of Ottawa. As word of the sightings spread, Parliament Hill was blacked out, and marksmen were deployed to counter the expected attack. (National Archives of Canada RD 254)

The sightings became intensified the following morning, when the Toronto Globe implied that an attack had actually happened. Its banner, front-page headlines stated: "Ottawa in Darkness Awaits Aeroplane Raid. Several Aeroplanes Make a Raid into the Dominion of Canada. Entire City of Ottawa in Darkness, Fearing Bomb-Droppers. Machines Crossed St. Lawrence River ... Seen by Many Citizens Heading for the Capital - One Was Equipped with Powerful Searchlights- Fire Balls Dropped.” On the American side, the New York Times description of the incident the next morning was much more cautious, with its headlines stating in part, "Scare in Ottawa Over Air Raid ... but Police Chief's Report Is Vague." The Times also noted that the police chief in Ogdensburg, New York, just twelve miles down the St. Lawrence River from Brockville, stated that no one had reported seeing or hearing anything at the time the airplanes were said to have passed near Brockville. In addition, flying machines were also sighted at Gananoque, Ontario. Other observations of unusual aerial objects were redefined. For instance, once the news of the sightings spread, an Ogdensburg farmer told police that he had seen an airplane on February 12 flying toward Canada.

One press account stated, "the fact that the country is at war and the Germans and pro-Germans abound across the border renders it quite within the bounds of possibility, if not probability, that such a raid might occur.

On the night of February 15 and the early morning hours of February 16, the Parliament buildings again remained dark, and marksmen were posted at strategic locations. This appears to have been both a precautionary and a face-saving measure. Information was rapidly coming to hand indicating that a series of toy balloons mistaken for enemy airplanes, had been sent aloft the previous night on the American side. Prime Minister Borden was defensive. When asked for information about the "invasion," he replied that when informed of the reports, he had left the matter to the judgment of the chief of staff and chief of Dominion Police.

The Canadian press, such as the Toronto Globe, was also embarrassed, as it had reported the aerial incursion as a certainty in its previous edition. However, in the paper's next edition, it blamed the affair on "hysterical" residents in Brockville. Meanwhile, the charred remains of two large toy balloons 7 had been found in the vicinity of Brockville. Local residents blamed the balloons on boys from nearby Morristown. A number of toy balloons in other locations had also been sent aloft by Americans on February 14 and 15, in commemoration of the centenary of peace. An adviser for the Canadian Aviation Corps, J.D. McCurdy, stated that a mission by German sympathizers from northern New York was highly improbable, especially given the difficulty of night flying.

In the first week of the month, an airplane reportedly landed in a field near Nolan Junction, Quebec. It was claimed that two men carrying plans and papers disembarked, then shortly after flew off toward Montreal. 11 On July 16, an illuminated airplane was seen by blacksmith Silvanus Edworthy in London. On the morning of July 17, a craft was seen near Massena, Ontario. During mid-July, airplanes were widely reported flying in the vicinity of Quebec City and Montreal. When aircraft were seen near a factory in Rigaud, the lights were extinguished and precautions "taken to protect the place from possible attack." On the night July 18, a military guard at the Point Edward wireless station fired five shots at what he took to be airplanes, and two large paper balloons plummeted to earth.

At 11 P.M. on July 20, when a mysterious aircraft was sighted by several citizens of Chateauguay near Montreal, speculation was rife that a German resident of that town for the past five years had secretly flown across the border to the United States. The man had been closely watched since the outbreak of hostilities, and he disappeared the night the plane was sighted.

Widely scattered nocturnal airplane sightings continued, including sightings at Tillsongburg on July 22 and London on August 8, 1915. On February 5, 1916, a railway worker spotted two airplanes near Montreal. There was thought to be a connection between this sighting and a suspicious man who was seen at about the same time under the Victoria Bridge. Fearing an attempt to blow up the bridge, guards on the structure opened fire on the figure, who fled. On February 13, a rare configuration of Venus and Jupiter resulted in a brilliant light in the western sky that was mistaken by hundreds of residents of London as an airplane about to attack. 22 Finally, the last known scare during the war occurred at Windsor, when a biplane was sighted by hundreds of anxious residents for about thirty minutes on July 6, 1916. Several people using binoculars actually claimed "to distinguish the figure of the aviator."

There have been many other occurrences like this before and after, however let us take another example next that indeed comes even closer to the sightings of UFO’s, during the 19th century.

No less than some of the largest UFO sightings during the 20th century, hundreds of witnesses in Sacramento, California, on November 17, ‘saw’  a non-existent Airship. One typical press report began as follows: "A vast amount of excitement was created among residents in the outskirts of the city tonight by the appearance of what they claim to have been an airship" (The San Francisco Call, November 18, 1896, p. 3). Ten days later, as the sightings continued, the same newspaper reported, "The subject of the airship and lights seen by the people of half a dozen counties has not lost any of the interest in the public mind" (The Call, November 27, 1896, p. 14).

As the sightings spread across the rest of the country between January and May 1897, considerable excitement was also in evidence. In Nebraska, it was reported that "Kearney is the latest town that is involved in the throes of excitement over the mysterious light" (York Daily Times, February 23, 1897, p. 3). When a strange light was spotted near Mansfield, Texas, the Dallas Morning News of April 18 published a report by a telegraph operator who wrote, "Great excitement prevails here." On the evening of April 12, the residents of Jewell, Iowa, "were greatly excited ... by the appearance of the so-called airship" (Iowa State Register, April 14, 1897, p. 5), while in Cedar Rapids, another airship report caused "consid­erable excitement" (Waterloo Daily Courier, April 14, 1897, p. 14). After the craft was rumored to have floated over Cripple Creek, Colorado, the community was described as "wildly excited over the affair, and it is the general talk" (Denver Times, April 19, 1897, p. 1). When the vessel was sighted in West Virginia, it was reported that "the mysterious air ship seems to be the all-absorbing topic at present" (Parkersburg Sentinel, April 21, 1897, p. 1).

Following the image of an airship with birdlike “wings” reported by California residents in November 1896. (San Francisco Call, November 23, 1896, p. 1.)

An alien spaceship crashes to Earth, killing its occupants. Roswell, New Mexico, 1947? No, a remote Indian Ocean island, 1862. Another ship plunges from the sky above a small town in the southwestern United States, extinguishing the life of its extraterrestrial pilot. Roswell? No, Aurora, Texas, 1897.

But even many authority figures such as police officers, politicians, and prominent business people were cited as airship believers. Groups of witnesses in communities across the country commonly signed or offered to sign affidavits to this effect. In Cincinnati, Ohio, police officer John Ringer saw a mysterious aerial light and stated emphatically, "I believe it was the airship" (Toledo Evening Blade, April 30, 1897, p. 2). In Farmersville, Texas, the city marshal spotted the mysterious vessel and claimed to discern the figures of two men inside (Austin Daily Statesman, April 19, 1897, p. 7). One witness was the mayor of Hermann, Missouri (Herman Advertiser-Courier, April 21,1897, p. 3). Among a large number of citizens who report edly observed the vessel in Albert Lea, Minnesota, was "ex-mayor Gillrup" (St. Paul Pioneer Press, April 12, 1897, p. 4.). When Russellville, Kentucky, residents observed the airship "plainly and distinctly," witnesses included Mayor Andrews and prominent merchant James McCutchens (Louisville Evening Post, April 16, 1897, p. 5). Among several prominent citizens who observed the airship at Storm Lake, Iowa, was Justice Lot Thomas and his wife (Evening Times-Republican, April 9, 1897, p. 9). Some people even organized themselves to watch for the vessel. For instance, in Belton, Texas, a crowd of respected citizens "assembled for the purpose of watching for that much-talked-of airship" (Houston Post, April 22, 1897, p. 9).

History is a valuable tool  because it distances observers from events, allowing for a less emotional, more contextual perspective in evaluating incredible claims. For instance, between 1900 and 1950, humanlike aliens typically landed in saucers with protruding exhaust pipes and clumsy disembarking ladders, wore Buck Rogers-style space suits, carried pistol ray guns, and usually hailed from Mars. This caricature is laughable in comparison to present-day aliens, who have large heads and bulbous eyes, float from their ship, and can communicate telepathically. The same comparative historical approach can be applied fruit fully to crashed-saucer claims to show that they are part of a broader myth.

In a letter to the Houston Post of May 2, 1897, John Leander wrote that an elderly sailor from El Campo, Texas- identified only as "Mr. Oleson"-claimed to have been shipwrecked on a tiny, uncharted Indian Ocean island in 1862. He said that during his ordeal, an immense airship sporting gigantic wings crashed into a rock cliff. Inside were the bodies of twelve-foot-tall creatures with dark, bronze skin: "Their hair and beard were also long and as soft and silky as the hair of an infant." The surviving sailors lived inside the wrecked airship and eventually "summoned courage to drag the gigantic bodies to the cliff and tumble them over." After building a raft and being rescued by a passing Russian vessel, Oleson retained a ring from the thumb of one of the creatures as the only proof of the events. Two and one-quarter inches in diameter, it was "made of a compound of metals unknown to any jeweler ... and [was] set with two reddish stones." As luck would have it, by the time the vessel reached port, the remaining airship sailors died, leaving Oleson as the sole survivor.

This story bears an uncanny resemblance to Roswell. The account is a secondhand narrative 6f alien creatures in a space vessel crashing in a remote location. The craft was destroyed, and foreign writing was found inside. The alien bodies were disposed of and the debris lost. A piece of confirming evidence was retained (in the form of an immense ring with unknown properties), but the witness failed to allow public scrutiny. It is important to remember that our interest in such accounts is in their narrative content and not in their truth or falsity per se.

During a wave of phantom-airship sightings in the United States between 1896 and 1897, there were several crashed-UFO claims. On the night of December 3, 1896, a wrecked airship was found in the gully of a cow pasture in a San Francisco suburb after dairy farmers heard a loud bang followed by cries for help. Rushing to the scene, they found two dazed occupants staggering near a forty-foot-long, cone-shaped tube of galva­nized iron with broken wings and propellers. After causing a local sensa­tion, and under questioning by those inspecting the "wreckage," the alleged pilot, J.D. deGear, confessed that the "ship" had been pulled to the hilltop on a wagon and pushed over . The spot was chosen for its proximity to a nearby saloon, which enjoyed a brisk business during the spectacle.'

On the night of April 4, 1897, an airship supposedly crashed on the J.D. Sims farm near Bethany, Missouri, killing its pilot.' Within a week, a flying machine reportedly plunged into a reservoir near Rhodes, Iowa.' No debris was ever found. On April 16, another vessel allegedly crash-landed outside Waterloo, Iowa .  In Tennessee, it was rumored that a craft had plunged to Earth in the middle of the night, sinking without a trace into the Sycamore Creek.'

Finally, there was the Aurora, Texas, hoax. A craft carrying what appeared to be a Martian allegedly crashed there, and its pilot was sup­posedly buried nearby.' In UFOs - Explained, the former senior editor of the respected publication Aviation Week and Space Technology, Philip J. Klass, demonstrated that this was undoubtedly a hoax. Yet scores of UFO researchers have traveled and continue to travel to the community of Aurora, armed with cameras, Geiger counters, metal detectors, pickaxes, and shovels in hopes of locating the purported grave of the unfortunate alien.

It is also notable that there were theories of government cover-ups during the airship wave. The Galveston Daily News of April 29, 1897, argued that airship reports were secret U.S. government experiments, noting that "A profound secrecy has been maintained as to what has been accom­plished, even army officers themselves only getting vague inklings of what is going on."" There were also claims of airships being constructed and hidden in U.S. military installations, including Fort Sheridan near Chicago and Fort Logan in Colorado."

Pre-Roswell crashed-UFO claims have also occurred outside the United States. In 1909, a wave of phantom-zeppelin sightings spread across New Zealand amid rumors that Germany was planning an aerial attack. Within this context, a zeppelin reportedly crashed at Waikaka, killing those on board.12 In Scandinavia during the 1930s, mysterious "ghost aeroplanes" were frequently spotted. On February 5, 1933, several Norwegians became convinced that the "ghost flier" had crashed into Mount Fagar. A police search party revealed nothing." During World War II, the British gov­ernment was reported to have captured a crashed saucer and tiny aliens." In 1946, dozens of UFOs reportedly crashed in Scandinavia after rumors that the Soviets were test-firing V-rockets. No confirming evidence was ever found despite intense military investigations."

Thus if there is any mystery surrounding accounts of crashed UFOs, its solution lies not in examining some secret military hangar but in examining the human mind. We need to ask ourselves, what makes this myth so appealing? Folklorist Jan Brunvand contends that for legends to persist in modern society "as living narrative folklore," they must contain three key elements: "a strong basic story appeal, a foundation in actual belief, and a meaningful message or 'moral."

 Accounts of crashed saucers and government cover-ups easily meet each of these criteria. They make for fascinating reading and discussion. They are rendered plausible in the many dubious books, pseudoscientific "docudramas," and speculative movies that suggest their existence. These narratives contain a poignant message about a secular age that has used science and reason to expel gods, ghosts, and demons from our minds. These haunting images have been replaced with more plausible contemporary themes: a world of government mistrust, nefarious conspiracies, and alien abductors. Ironically, as scientists delve deeper into the mysteries of our universe, they generate more questions. New scientific discoveries continue to reveal a world that is every bit as fascinating as that any pseudoscientist could imagine.

One could argue however that preferable to the seductive, idealized social world of religion, wish manias, and pseudoscience, a similar degree of psychological satisfaction and fulfillment can be obtained by adhering to a philosophical outlook that includes basic principles of logic and reason that have contributed to  progress for humanity.


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