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In 1895, the first distinctly rigid airship was built by German David Schwarz. His design led to the successful development of the zeppelin, a rigid airship built by Count zeppelin.
In 1909 airship technology was still at an experimental stage and even Zeppelins at that stage could not have reached our shores. Yet in 1909 many in Australia and New Zealand claimed they saw airships in the skies. The flap began in New Zealand and quickly moved over the Tasman.
The Rev. B. Cozens, of the Port Melbourne Seamen’s Mission, tells an interesting story regarding the mysterious lights which appeared in the air over the Dandenong Ranges on Saturday night.
“Going outside at 10 o’clock, he saw, half a mile up in the air, two revolving lights moving over the ranges. They slowed down, dipped, and rose up again, then changed from white to red and to blue. Mr. Cozens called his wife and three neighbours. They all watched the lights until midnight, by which time one had almost moved out of sight over the ranges. Again at 2 o’clock Mr. Cozens saw the second one, which almost crossed the ranges. Five more appeared in the distance, moving in the direction taken by the other two.”
“A good deal of excitement was occasioned tonight by the appearance of a mysterious light or an illuminated body to the south-east of the town [of Moss Vale]. Quite a number of people gathered in the main street, and speculation was rife as to the meaning of the strange illumination. Above the large light some large body was distinctly visible, as the rays of light were reflected upon its surface.”
On 19 August 1909, The Mercury reported on The Mysterious Lights: “Goulburn has had a week’s display, during which the light has, according to report, been observed to move ‘up and down and sideways,’ and once gave a pyrotechnic exhibition, several stars falling about it.”
The report went on to add that: “Mittagong and Moss Vale also saw the strange light on several nights, and Narrabri, in the north-west, watched it perform a series of evolutions on three successive nights, moving with the rapidity of an airship, at a high altitude, and eventually disappearing south. “Nearer Sydney, an Ashfield resident watched a light in the eastern sky with glasses last Thursday night.
There was an ‘explosion like a rocket,’ and it became extinguished.
Like many of the modern UFO waves, there were some striking cases set against a background of misinterpretations, sensationalism and, to a lesser extent, outright fraud.
"Mrs Russell, evidently the only adult who saw the phenomena, said she was going down towards the station about 12 o'clock when she saw a streak of blackness shoot over the hill on the left and apparently come straight towards her. Then it suddenly turned and swerved away over some trees out of her sight. She was very frightened when she saw it, as she had been ill. In appearance it was just like a boat. It was black in colour. She saw it for just a few minutes. It was travelling very fast at first, but when it turned, it came lower and went somewhat slower. She was very flustered as she thought the end of the world had come."
Years later some of the children reported that the story was a hoax that had got out of hand. It is difficult to assess these apparent recantations, since in part they looked like attempts to deflect persistent media interest, and yet other statements suggest fabrication or embellishments by the journalist who originally wrote the story. Most of information reported years after the incident tends to point towards the Kelso airship being a lot of hot air kept aloft by contemporary fascination with the concurrent "urban myths" of "secret inventors" and "invasion" by the German or "yellow" peril. Confirmed pioneer aircraft flights did not get of the ground for the first time until 1909 in Australia.
Two men working on the Syndicate No. 2 dredge on a river in the Waikaka Valley, a few miles north of Gore, in New Zealand, got an excellent view of what was dubbed "the nocturnal mystery of the air." At 5 am, on July 30th, the men saw it descend out of the mist. The object had a light at both ends. Inside two figures could be plainly observed. The dredge winchman, Mr. F. Green, said the object rose and fell like a bird. It appeared to be a narrow boat-shaped aerial craft, that circled the dredge several times quite closely over a period of several minutes. The "airship" made "curious and seemingly impossible manoeuvres", apparently travelling at speed, then suddenly decelerating. Eventually it disappeared into the mist, in the direction of Otakarama, leaving behind a curious yellow glare.
During the height of the “scareship” flap the Australian Government actually offered a 10,000 pounds prize to the first Australian inventor who demonstrated a flying machine suitable for use in war. The Hobart Mercury of August 23 noted, “That announcement disclosed the fact that an astonishing number of inventors in these States were at work upon aviation. These inventors doubtless are working in secret, and possibly many of the objects seen in the air at night have relation to their experiments. It has been playfully suggested that the Martians are endeavouring to send signals to the earth.”
The reward was never claimed.
In Australia “aerialitis” ended as abruptly as it had begun but continued in New Zealand until mid September 1909.
On 11 March 1911 several members of the public reported seeing a heavily-armed airship flying eastwards over Sebastopol in Ballarat, Victoria to descend behind Mt Warrenheip.
Similar instances were reported in Kyneton and Portland. These stories were a common feature of newspaper reports during World War I. Far from being simply dismissed, though the more outlandish stories were met with considerable ridicule in some sections of the press, these sightings were taken very seriously as potential threat to Australian security.
The newspapers of Australia were filled with reports of mysterious aircraft, abductions and German airships. They were also filled with horrific depictions of what future wars would be like in the advent of this new technology.
Airmindedness pertains to the cultural fixations and representations air travel and air technology. In the positive sense, it relates to wonder at the freedom and exploration of air flight. In its negative connation, it represented fear of an aerial assault.
Interestingly, Holman’s research indicated that the Australian government at the time was happy to support these anxieties given the support they engendered to the war effort.
This remains a little known but fascinating part of Australia’s World War I heritage which led directly to the phenomenon which we would now call today UFOs and flying saucers.
originally posted by: AdmireTheDistance
originally posted by: Urantia1111
a reply to: cuckooold
That illustration looks like a Viana.
Described in Indian texts from 30,000 years ago.
Which specific Indian texts would those be?