- Note-Interesting to see that "skepticism" was
as rampant a hundred years ago as it is today when events happen that don't
fall between the lines of conventional thinking, even when there are numerous
eye witnesses to such.
- San Francisco Chronicle November 20th, 1896
- MORE OF A HOAX THAN AN AIR SHIP
- THE SACRAMENTO ENIGMA
- PROFESSOR DAVIDSON A STRONG SKEPTIC
- Some Think That a Clever Kite Flyer Was Having Fun
- Are there up in the sky four jolly and intrepid human
travelers, paying their respects to Mars, singing quartets to Venus, and
saluting the planets generally within hailing distance, or are the people
of Sacramento affected with the disease known in polite society as "illuminated
- That is the question.
- The flying machine with it's wonderful arc-light attachment,
has not yet paid its respect to San Francisco. Its occupants have either
decided, like some strolling actors, that this is a jay town, anyhow, and
too materialistic to be regarded with a sight of anything so uncommon,
or they have made up their minds to drop in at Yokohama or Sidney for a
few hours before steering for this locality.
- Those dispatches from Sacramento created intense interest
here in the mystery, and it was the principal topic of conversation on
the streets all day yesterday. No matter how important the subject under
discussion , business men would glance furtively at the sky every few moments
and try to make their friends believe that they were simply looking at
the weather. But the black oval speck with outstretched wings and mysterious
wheels that they expected to see failed to show up above the horizon.
- The police, who, when their duties become monotonous
in the late night watches, are generally supposed to gaze steadily skyward,
saw nothing in the nature of a moving light or a quarter speed meteor yesterday
morning. Up at headquarters they smiled disdainfully at the story and characterized
it as a "sweet little fake," but never the less when the night
squads went out at 5:30 P.M. every man had about made up his mind to do
a little amateur astronomy in addition to other duties. They were not the
only people infected with the fever, either. A smart peddler, who keeps
strictly up to date, paraded Market street all afternoon with a bundle
of cheap telescopes and a sign, "Watch out for the great New York
air ship." He was sold out before nightfall.
- Professor George Davidson is righteously indignant. When
these wild-eyed stories confine themselves to mundane affairs he doesn't
mind, but when they invade the heavens and interfere with order of the
stars he considers the affair a personal insult. "What do I think
about it?" he said yesterday. "I think it's the outcome of a
sort of free-masonry of liars. Half a dozen fellows have got together,
sent up a balloon with some electric light attachment, and imagination
has done the rest. It is a pure fake. Why, if I were to get up on top of
the Chronicle tower and sing "Yankee Doodle" or the "Marseillaise,"
do you think anyone down the street could here me?
- "Just look at the story from that statement about
the singing alone; it's enough to explode it. Then again, these illusionists
declare that the machine had propellers on the sides. It was finally decided
about ten years ago by expert aeronauts that no side mechanism of that
kind could possibly help an air ship, but would, if anything, retard it's
progress. I expect a couple of thousand fools will be craning their necks
and wearying their eyeballs tonight, looking through every kind of telescope
and binocular that they can lay their hands on. I can tell you one thing,
I'm not going to be one of them."
- Weather Observer Hammon thinks that the whole affair
is a practical joke, played by some clever kite flyer who has attached
a lantern with powerful reflector to his kite, and dragged it over Sacramento.
Hammon says that Maxim and Langley have long ago exploded the theory that
anything but an aeroplane will fly, and he doesn't believe that an object
such has been designed to be hovering over Sacramento would have any more
chance to keep above the ground than a leaden coffin.