FORTEAN UNIDENTIFIED FLYING OBJECTS

Long before Kenneth Arnold created a media sensation with his flying saucers, Charles Fort reported many UFOs in his famous Book of the Damned, we quote from Chapter 25:

    "A formation having the shape of a dirigible." It was reported from Huntington, West Virginia (Sci. Amer, 115-241). Luminous object that was seen July 19, 1916, Luminous object that was seen July 19, 1916, at about 11 P.M. Observed through "rather powerful field glasses," it looked to be about two degrees long and half a degree wide. It gradually dimmed, disappeared, reappeared, and then faded out of sight. Another person - as we say: it would be too inconvenient to hold to our intermediatist recognitions - another person who observed this phenomena suggested to the writer of the account that the object was a dirigible, but the writer says that faint stars could be seen behind it. This would seem really to oppose our notion of a dirigible visitor to this earth - except for the inconclusiveness of all things in a mode of seeming that is not final - or we suggest that behind some parts of the object, thing, construction, faint stars were seen. We find slight discussion here. Prof. H. M. Russell thinks that the phenomena was a detached cloud of aurora borealis. Upon page 369 of this volume of Scientific American, another correlator suggests that it was a light from a blast furnace - disregarding that, if there be blast furnances in or near Huntington, their reflections would be commonplace there.

    We now have several observations upon cylindrical-shaped bodies that have appeared in this earth's atmosphere: cylindrical, but pointed at both ends, or torpedo-shaped. Some of the accounts are not very detailed, but out of bits of desription my own acceptance is that super-geographical routes are traversed by torpedo-shaped super-constructions that have occasionally visited, or that have occasionally been driven into this earth's atmosphere. From data, the acceptance is that upon entering this earth's atmosphere, these vessals have been so racked that had they not sailed away, disintergration would have occured: that, before leaving this earth, they have, whether in attempted communication or not, or in mere wantoness or not, dropped objects, which did almost immediately violently disintegrate or explode. Upon general principles we think that explosives have not been purposely dropped, but that parts have been racked off, and have fallen, exploding like the things called "ball lighting." May have been objects of stone or metal with inscriptions upon them, for all we know, at present. In all instances, estimates of dimensions are valueless, but ratios of dimensions are more acceptable. A thing said to have been six feet long may have been six hundred feet long; but shape is not so subject to the illusions of distance.

Nature 40-415:
    That, Aug. 5, 1889, during a violent storm, an object that looked to be about 15 inches long and 5 inches wide, fell, rather slowly, at East Twickenham, England. It exploded. No substance from it was found.

L'Annee Scientifique, 1864-54:
    That, October 10, 1864, M. Leverrier had sent to the Academy three letters from witnesses of a long luminous body, tapering at both ends, that had been seen in the sky.

    In Thinder and Lightning, p. 87, Flammarion says that on Aug. 20, 1880, during a rather violent storm, M. A. Trecul, of the French Academy, saw a very brillant yellowish-white body, apparently 35 to 40 centimeters wide. Torpedo-shaped. Or a cylindrical body, "with slightly conical ends." It dropped something, and disappeared in the clouds. Whatever it may have been that was dropped, it fell vertically, like a heavy object, and left a luminous train. The scene of this occurence may have been far from the obsever. No sound was heard. For M. Trecul's account, see Comptes Rendus, 103-849.

Monthly Weather Review 1907, 310:
    That, July 2, 1907, in the town of Burlington, Vermont, a terrific explosion had been heard throughout the city. A ball of light, or a luminous object, had been seen to fall from the sky, or a construction that showed every sign of disrupting, had barely time to drop - whatever it did drop - and to speed away to safety above.

    The following story is told, in the Review, by Bishop John S. Michaud:

    "I was standing on the corner of Church and College Streets, just in front of the Howard Bank, and facing east, engaged in conversation with Ex-Governor Woodbury and Mr. A. A. Buell, when, without the slightest indication, or warning, we were startled by what sounded like a most unusual and terrific explosion, evidently very nearby. Raising my eyes, and looking eastward along College Street, I observed a torpedo-shaped body, some 300 feet away, stationary in appearance, and suspended in the air, about fifty feet above the tops of buildings. In size it was about 6 feet long by 8 inches in diameter, the shell, having a dark appearance, with here and there tongues of fire issuing from spots on the surface, resembling red-hot, unburnished copper. Although stationary when first noticed, this object soon began to move, rather slowly, and disappeared over Dolan Brothers' store, southward. As it moved, the covering seemed rupturing in places, and through these the intensely red flames issued."     Bishop Michaud attempts to correlate it with meteorlogical observations.

    Because of the nearby view this is perhaps the most remarkable of the new correlates, but the correlate now coming is extraordinary because of the great number of recorded observations upon it. My own acceptance is that, upon Nov. 17, 1882, a vast dirible crossed England, but by the definiteness-indefinitness of all things quasi-real, some observations upon it can be correlated with anything one pleases.

    E. W. Maunder, invited by the Editors of the Observatory to write some reminiscences for the 500th number of their magazine, gives one that he says stands out (Observatory, 39-214). It is upon something that he terms "a strange celestial visitor." Maunder was at the Royal Observatory, Greenwich, Nov. 17, 1882, at night. There was an aurora, without features of special interest. In the midst of the aurora, a great circular disk of greenish light appeared and moved smoothly across the sky. But the circularity was evidently the effect of foreshortening. The thing passed above the moon, and was, by other observers, described as "cigar-shaped," "like a torpedo," "a spindle," "a shuttle." The idea of foreshortening is not mine: Maunder says this. He says: "Had the incident occured a third of a century later, beyond everyone would have selected the same simile - it would have been 'just like a Zeppelin.' " The duration was about two minutes. Color said to have been the same as that of the auroral glow in the north. Nevertheless, Maunder says that this thing had no relation to auroral phenomena. "It appeared to be a definite body." Motion too fast for a cloud, but "nothing could be more unlike the rush of a meteor." In the Philoshical Magazine, 5-15-318, J. Rand Capron, in a lengthy paper,alludes throughout to this phenomenon as an "auroral beam," but he listsmany observations upon its "torpedo-shape," and one observation upon a "dark nucleus" in it - host of most confusing observations - estimates of height between 40 and 200 miles - observations in Holland and Belgium. We are told that according to Capron's spectro-auroral light. In the Observatory, 6-192, is Maunder's contemporaneous account. He gives apparent approximate length and breadth at twenty-seven degrees and three degrees and a half. He gives other observations seeming to indicate structure - "remarkable dark marking down the center."

    In Nature, 24-84, Capron says that because of the moonlight he had been able to do little with the spectroscope.

    Color white, but aurora rosy (Nature, 27-87).     Bright stars seen through it, but not at the zenith, where it looked opaque. This is the only assertion of transparency (Nature, 27-87). Too slow for a meteor, but too fast for a cloud (Nature, 27-86). "Surface had a mottled appearance" (Nature,27-87). "Very definite in shape in form, like a torpedo" (Nature, 27-100). "Probably a meteoric object" (Dr. Groneman, Nature, 27-296). Technicle demonstration by Dr. Groneman, that it was a cloud of meteoric matter (Nature, 28-105). Se Nature, 27-315, 338, 365, 388,412,434.

    "Very little doubt it was an electric phenomena" (Proctor, Knowledge, 2-419).

    In the London Times, Nov. 20, 1882, the Editor says that he had received a great number of letters upon this phenomenon. He publishes two. One correspondent describes it as "well-defined and shaped like a fish...extraordinary and alarming." The other correspondent writes of it as "a most magnificent luminous mass, shaped somewhat like a torpedo."