More Of A Hoax Than An Air Ship
From Frank Warren

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
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 staggers?"
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.


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