The Flying Saucer Museum

Adamski, GeorgeAdamski, GeorgeLeslie, Desmond, 1953

We shall not go back too far at first. A.D. 1290 is as good a place to begin as any. We have on our right, Ladies and Gentlemen, an old manuscript discovered at Ampleforth Abbey in January 1953, which gives a very clear account of a flying saucer passing over the startled community of Byland Abbey in Yorkshire.

‘oves a Wilfredo susceptos die festo sanctissimorum Simonis atque Judae assaverunt. Cum autem Henricus abbas gratias redditurus erat, frater quidam Joannes introivit, magnam portentem foris esse referebat. Turn vero omnes ecuccurrerunt, et ecce res grandis, circumcircularis argentea, disco quodam hand dissimilis, lente e super eos volans atque maximam terrorem exitans. Quo tempore Henricus abbas exclamavit Wilfredum adulteravisse (qua) de causa impius esse de .. .’

A. X. Chumley, who supplied this information, gives the following translation:

‘Took the sheep from Wilfred and roasted them on the feast of S.S. Simon and Jude. But when Henry the Abbott was about to say grace, John, one of the brethren, came in and said there was a great portent outside. Then they all ran out, and Lo ! a large round silver thing like a disk flew slowly over them and excited the greatest terror. Whereat Henry the Abbot immediately cried that Wilfred was an adulterer, wherefore it was impious to...’ 3

3/ These seven incidents are reprinted with the kind permission of the Editors of Time and Life International, published 5 May 1952, copyright Time Inc., with acknowledgments to H. B. Darrack, jnr., and Robert Ginna.

There is a remarkable similarity in this report to that sent to the Editor of the London Observer on 23 March 1953 by Bruce Angrave, m.s.i.a., who also saw a large round silver thing like a disk pass slowly over Milan Cathedral on 2 November 1952. And there are several hundred other modern reports that use exactly the same phrase for describing the appearance of a flying saucer—’ a large silver round thing.’ And in December of 1952 a photograph of one was taken in Bulawayo, Southern Rhodesia, that certainly fills the description given by the terrified and sex-scandalised monks of Byland in 1290. It is a pity the rest of the manuscript is missing. I long to hear what Brother Wilfred had been up to, and what the Abbot thought would be impious.

What probably happened is that a flying saucer did, in fact, pass over Byland Abbey at the close of the thirteenth century and that the astute Abbot Henry seized the opportunity to admonish Wilfred for his carryings-on, and the community for their lack of piety. Whenever something inexplicable happens, the zealots of each age take it as a sign of celestial umbrage and hasten to warn their erring brethren; just as the Dutch Pastors were swift to declare the recent catastrophe a direct retribution for the sins of their sheep. Whereas, had they suggested it could have been the inevitable result of nuclear necromancy in another part of the Globe they might have come nearer to the truth.

Our next exhibit is an old print showing the startled inhabitants of Devon gazing skywards at a neat V-shaped formation of dark elliptical objects (rather like tadpoles) with fins or streaming exhausts, that passed over Devon in 1704. These things are not meteors, ‘Northern Lights’, nor comets. They are shown as dark solid objects, flying in formation, in broad daylight.

And now, please, step into the seventeenth and eighteenth century galleries of the Flying Saucer Museum where we have an assembly of space-craft of all different shapes, hues and sizes, few of which can be glibly dismissed as meteors, aurora or other natural phenomena.


1619 Flüelen, Switzerland. Enormous long fiery object seen flying along a lake by Prefect Christopher Schere.

1661 Huge flaming things seen over Worcester, England.

1704 January 8th. Strange lights over England.

November 4th. Switzerland. Luminous cloud, moving at high velocity, disappearing behind the horizon.

1731 December 9th. Florence, Italy. Strange globes of light in the sky.

1750 June. Edinburgh, Scotland. Vast ball of fire, moving slowly.

1752 April 15th. Stavanger, Norway. Strange, bright, octagonal object.

1752 Augermannland. Spheres of fire emanating from a long, bright tubular object.

1755 October 15th. Lisbon, Portugal. Immense bright flying globes seen many times.

1761 November 2nd. Procession of ‘immense globes’ cross Switzerland.

1762 August 9th. Basle, Switzerland. An enormous dark spindle-shaped object, surrounded by a glowing outer ring, seen slowly crossing the sun’s disk, by astronomers, de Rostan at Basle, and Croste at Sole.

1777 June 17th. The French astronomer Charles Messier observes large number of dark round disks in sky.

1779 June 7th. Boulogne, France. Flight of numerous glowing disks pass over the city.


This vast hall, Ladies and Gentlemen, which you now see stretching away as far as the eye can see, is the Nineteenth Century Gallery. Enter, if you will, and see saucers that came in such numbers to observe the Victorian Age and Industrial Revolution. Exhibit One is dated:

1802 February 7th. A dark disk crossing the sun, seen by the Astronomer Fritsch at Magdeburg in central Germany.

October 10th. Another dark disk seen by Herr Fritsch.

1808 October 12th. Pinerolo, Piedmont. Luminous disks pass over the town.

1813 July 31st. Tottenham, Middlesex. Flashing lights in the sky.

1816 Lisbon, Portugal. Strange objects seen in sky after an earthquake.

Autumn. Edinburgh, Scotland. Large luminous crescent-or heel-shaped aircraft crossing the horizon.

1817 Palermo, Italy. Dark flying object that howled.

1818 January 16th. Astronomer Loft of Ipswich, England, observed strange object near the sun, visible for three hours and a half.

1819 Spring. Two dark bodies cross the sun together, observes Astronomer Gruithuisen.

1820 February 12th and April 27th. Unknown bodies in the sky.

September 7th. Embrun, S.E. France. Wonderfully even formations of flying objects cross the town in straight lines, turn ninety degrees, then fly away again, keeping perfect formation.

1821 November 22nd. Luminous disk crosses the Channel.

1822 October 23rd. Astronomer Pastorff observes, two unknown objects pass across the sun’s disk.

1823 May 22nd. Astronomer Webb sees bright shining thing near Venus.

1826 April 1st. Saarbrücken, France. A grey torpedo-shaped object seen rapidly approaching the earth.

July 31st. Unknown object seen by astronomers.

1828 May 26th. Disk crossing the sun, seen through telescope.

1831 September 6th to November 1st. Geneva, Switzerland. Dr. Wartmann and his observatory staff see strange luminous body, night after night. Not seen anywhere else on Earth.

November 29th. Thuringia, Germany. Fiery disk seen ‘the apparent size of the moon’..

1833 Toland, Ohio. Very brilliant object shaped like a hook.

November’ 13th. Niagara Falls, U.S.A. A large square luminous aircraft was seen for over an hour.

November 5th. Chile. Bright disk passes near the sun.

1834 Astronomer Pastorff reports two round objects of different size. He sees them again in 1836 and 1837.

1835 May 11th. Luminous disk seen by Cociatore, a Sicilian astronomer.

1836 January 12th. Cherbourg, France. A large luminous vessel hangs over the city. It rotates on its own axis and seems to have a hole in the centre like a doughnut.

May 15th. Professor Auber sees a number of luminous objects move away from the sun in different directions.

1837 February 16th. Pastorff sees more strange things flying around.

1838 India. A flying disk with a long glowing orange appendage.

1844 October 4th. Astronomer Glaisher reports luminous disk ‘sending out quick flickering waves of light’.

1845 March 29th. London, England. Stationary orange object like a luminous mist, supported by four bright lights, like stars.

May 11th. Signor Capocci, of Capodimonte Observatory, Naples, sees number of shining disks flying west to east, some are star-shaped, others have luminous tails.

June 18th. Three luminous disks rise from the sea and remain visible ten minutes, half a mile from the ship Victoria (36° 40’ N. Latitude, 13° 44’ E. Longitude). They are described as being five times as big as the moon and appear to be connected by some kind of glowing streamers. They are seen simultaneously by many different observers as far apart as nine hundred miles.

July 25th. Florence, Italy. An enormous fiery disk riding overhead, ‘many times larger than the moon’.

December 2nd. Flaming lights seen far out to sea off Ryook Phyoo, China.

1846 October 26th. Lowell, Mass., U.S.A. A luminous flying disk from which fell a lump of most fetid-smelling jelly which was found to weigh four hundred and forty-two pounds, and was four feet in diameter.

1847 March 19th. Holloway, London, England. Blazing spherical craft rises vertically into clouds.

1848 September 19th. Inverness, Scotland. Two large objects, ‘as bright as stars’, sometimes stationary, sometimes moving at high speed.

1849 Gais, Switzerland. Thousand upon thousand of luminous objects seen by Astronomer Inglis crossing a clear sky. Some had what appeared to be wings, or a coronal glow. Autumn. Deal, England. ‘Dark bodies in the sky.’

1850 February 5th. Sandwich, Kent, England. A ‘speck of light slowly approaches on a straight course until it has become one-third the size of the moon; it then remains stationary for three minutes’.

June 6th. Côte d’Azur, France. A red globe crosses the sky, leaving a hail of sparks; it drops a dark object.

1851 September 4th. England. As if interested by the Great Exhibition in Hyde Park, a vast host of luminous disks stream from the East and from the North. The procession lasts from 9.30 a.m. till 3.30 p.m., and are observed through the telescope of the Rev. W. Read.

1852 September 11th. Fair Oak, Staffs, England. Between 4.15 a.m. and 4.45 a.m. several early-morning risers see a strange luminous disk, surrounded by a haze of corona, near the planet Venus. Venus is at the point of closest approach to Earth at the time.

1853 May 22nd. Three luminous objects near Mercury. One large and round, one cigar-shaped, and one small disk; reported by a Mr. R. P. Gregg.

June 15th. A Lieutenant Gazette reports seeing a ‘flying machine’ fifty years before the Wright Brothers’ first successful flight.

July 9th. Société Météorlogique de France report ‘a great number of red points in the sky—like small suns’.

October 26th. Ragusa, Sicily. A large luminous disk seen moving from East to West at 2 a.m.; visible two minutes.

1855 June 11th. Large dark aerial body seen without telescope by Astronomers Ritter and Schmidt.

August 11th. Petworth, Sussex. A glowing red disk ‘like a red moon’ rises slowly, crosses the sky, and disappears in the distance. It has spokes like a wheel; ‘stationary rays’ projecting from it. Visible for ninety minutes. Venus again near to Earth.

1856 April 6th. Colmar, France. Dr. Dussort saw a black flying ‘torpedo’. Round one end and pointed at the other. As it passed overhead it gave off a low melodious whistling sound.

1857 October 8th. Illinois, U.S.A. Just before an earthquake a brilliant flashing light passes slowly across the sky to be followed by a loud explosion.

1859 September 1st. Astronomer Richard Carrington sees two moving luminous bodies— ’not meteors’ , he says. His observatory was at Redhill, Surrey.

1860 Spring. Large flights of small black disks seen by astronomers Herrick, Buys-Barllot and de Cuppis.

July 20th. Lights in the sky that’ appeared, then went out’, following the fall of the Dhurmsalla meteors.

1863 April 27th. Zurich Observatory. Dr. Wolf sees large number of shining disks coming from the East. Some have tails, others are star-shaped.

1864 March 20th. S. England. ‘Unknown object of vast size.’

October 10th. M. Leverrier reports witnessed flight of a long luminous cigar-shaped body, tapered at both ends.

1866 November 6th. A red glowing disk seen for three minutes before it disappeared below the skyline; seen by the British Consul at Cartagena, Colombia.

1868 A shaft of light seen to leave Venus on 15 March. Something similar seen by Webb on 6 April.

June 8th. Radcliffe Observatory, Oxford. Observers see a luminous object that moves in the sky, halts, changes course to westwards, then to south, then makes off to the north after four minutes’ observation. Venus near to Earth. Blazing red spot seen on Venus.

1870 March 22nd. Captain Banner and the crew of the Lady of the Lake at Latitude 50° 47’ N., Longitude 27° 52’ W., see an amazing object flying along under the clouds. It is circular. The rear hemisphere or trailing edge is surrounded by a fuzz or luminous band, divided into four equal sectors. From the centre extends a long curved tail. The object appeared flying against the wind, and was visible until the dusk or clouds obscured it. Captain Banner made a drawing.

1871 August 1st. A tremendous red disk hovers over Marseilles, France, at 10.43 p.m., stationary until 10.52 p.m. Then it moves North for seven minutes, halts again, then moves East, disappearing at 11.3 p.m. Venus again near inferior conjunction.

August 29th. France. Astronomer Trouvelet reports formations of highly complex objects; some triangular, some round, others many-sided. Some of them hover, then move off One appears to go wrong, to fall, to crash. As it falls it oscillates from side to side like a disk falling through water, or like a flying disc that has suddenly lost its motive power.

1873 June 17th. Fantastic glowing projectile shoots out from the planet Mars and explodes on reaching Earth. Seen in Austria, Hungary and Silesia simultaneously. Astronomer Galle, who observed it by telescope, said it was seen ‘to emerge and separate itself from the disk of the planet Mars’. Dr. Sage at Rybnik, Poland, said that an object of some kind did in fact issue from Mars and explode in our upper atmosphere. He was observing the planet ‘attentively at the time’.

August 30th. Bright, star-like vessel rises over Brussels, gains height continually for ten minutes, before disappear ing.

1874 April 24th. Professor Schafarick, of Prague, sees a dazz-lingly bright object rapidly leave the moon, and speed away into space.

We are now about midway through our Victorian Gallery. The Great Exhibition has been closed some twenty years and the Crystal Palace re-erected on Sydenham Hill. Germany has invaded France and set its clumping boot inside Paris. Steaml transport is at its zenith. Crawling railways are covering Europ like busy spiders. Speeds of eighty miles an hour have been reached on the London-Scotland run. Speeches are made against the monstrousness of this scandalous velocity; the human body is not made to withstand such speeds. Fifty years earlier it was said it would disintegrate from the pressure of air if it exceeded twenty miles an hour. Meanwhile in Heaven, a huge projectile, super-rocket, flying disk or electric thunderbolt makes the journey from Mars to Earth in a matter of seconds. A blazing thing leaves the Planet Venus at time of close conjunction, and something tremendous, white and glowing leaves the Moon and speeds off into space.

1874 April 10th. A travelling luminous object explodes over Kuttenberg, Bohemia, lighting up the sky with a glare equal to the sun.

July 6th. Oaxaca, Mexico. An immense ‘trumpet-shaped object, estimated by observers to be four hundred and twenty-five feet long, hangs in the sky for six minutes, swaying gently.

L’Annee Scientifique reports a vast number of flying bodies passing and crossing the moon. There was much ado in Heaven in 1874.

1876 April 10th. Rosenau, Hungary. Another violent explosion and glare in the sky.

1877 September 7th. Bloomington, Indiana. Flashing lights move through the sky, flashing at three- to four-second intervals.

March 23rd. Vence, France. Fiery spheres of dazzling brightness emerge from a peculiar-looking cloud and move slowly northwards for an hour. Inhabitants recall similar event ten years previously.

October 5th. Towyn, Wales. Eight peculiar luminous bodies fly around Wales in perfect formation for several nights in succession. They appear to be inspecting or charting the coastline. Inevitably they end their activities by speeding out to sea.

1878 August. Professors Swift and Watson report two luminous spheres moving between Mercury and the sun.

1879 April 13th. Astronomer Harrison and associate see large luminous body, the size of a comet, but ‘too rapid for a comet’—visible for six hours.

May 15th. Persian Gulf. Admiralty report by H.M.S. Vulture of two colossal rotating luminous wheels which sink slowly down from just above the surface till they disappear in the depths.

1880 August 20th. Brilliant white-gold cigar with pointed ends observed by M. Trecul, of the French Academy. A smaller object is later seen to leave the parent craft, creating a trail of sparks in its wake.

July 30th. St. Petersburg, Russia. Large circular luminous vessel followed by two smaller ones moving nimbly along a ravine. Visible for three minutes, disappearing silently.

1882 July 3rd. Lebanon, Connecticut. Two luminous triangles on Moon’s upper limb. Three minutes later, two dark triangles appear on lower limb; approach each other; meet; disappear.

November 11th. Greenwich Observatory, England. ‘A tremendous green disk, estimated at forty to two hundred miles height, with remarkable dark markings down the centre.’ ‘Mottled appearance’, ‘definite in form, like a torpedo’, ‘magnificent luminous mass shaped like a torpedo’, ‘dark nucleus’, ‘definite structure’, ‘appeared to be a definite body’, ‘too fast for a cloud, but nothing could be more unlike the rush of a meteor’, say various observers. Seen also in Holland and Belgium.

1883 August 12th. Observatory of Zacatecas, Mexico. Astronomer Bonilla sees 143 circular objects with projecting streamers, or rays, crossing the sun obliquely to its poles. The next day he looks again and the procession is continuing. He manages to obtain a photograph of one as it streams past.

August 29th. 10.35 p.m. Captain Noble sees a blazing object ‘like a new and glorious comet’ with a beam like a searchlight shining out from the nucleus.

August 29th. 12.40 p.m. Liverpool. It is seen again looking like a large planet with a ray of light shining from it.

September 12th and 13th. It is seen by Professor Swift at Rochester, New York, U.S.A.

September 21st. It appears over Yeovil, England.

November 2nd. Similar object over Porto Rico moving to Ohio, U.S.A.

April 15th and 25th. Formations crossing the Sun, seen at Marseilles, France.

November 5th. Chile. Glowing disk the size of a full moon passes slowly over Chile, visible half an hour.

November 12th. Reports of comet-like object with two tails or beams of light projecting forward and astern. Visible three nights running. No known comet.

1884 February 7th. Brussels Observatory. Extremely bright point of light on planet Venus. Nine days later it moves out from the planet.

July 3rd. A bright globe the size of the moon with structural features seen moving slowly over Norwood, N.Y., U.S.A. It is surrounded by a coronal ring and had two dark lines crossing the nucleus.

July 26th. The same, or a similar, vessel remains stationary over Cologne, Germany, then rises vertically till it disappears.

1885 February 24th. Latitude 37° N., Longitude 170° E. Captain of the ship Innerwich sees huge fiery mass appear immediately overhead, ‘completely blinding spectators’. It falls into the sea alongside the ship with a ‘deafening noise’, casting up huge waterspouts and practically capsizing the ship.

August 22nd. Saigon, Cochin, China. Bright red disk moving slowly at even speed for eight minutes, disappearing behind cloud.

1886 September 30th. Yloilo. A huge glowing disk the size of a full moon floats serenely northwards, closely followed by a formation of smaller ones.

November 3rd. Hamar, Norway. Bright, round, cloud-like object passes across sky emitting streaks of fire and flashes of light. It’ retained throughout its original form’.

1887 August 19th. Marseilles, France. Round vessel one-tenth sun’s diameter near sun’s limb observed independently by astronomers Codde and Payan, during solar eclipse. Observers in other places did not see it, indicating object was nearer to Earth than the sun.

March 9th. Two flying round bodies appear over the Dutch ship J.P.A. One was luminous, the other dark. One ‘fell into the sea with a roar and a tremendous splash’.

November 12th. Huge fiery sphere disk rises from the sea near Cape Race, moves against the wind, close to the British ship Siberian, then moves away again. Visible five minutes. Captain says he has seen a similar occurrence at the same spot some time before.

1888 November 3rd. Something passes over Reading and Berkshire causing sheep to panic and break loose over a 200-square mile area. Highspeed sound waves have a similar effect on animals.

1889 Twickenham, England. Cigar-shaped object descends slowly in a storm and explodes. No traces.

1890 October 27th. Grahamstown, South Africa. ‘Body of cometary brightness’ moves through a hundred degrees in forty-five minutes, observed by Astronomer Eddie.

1891 September 10th. Similar object seen by Professor Copeland, again by Dryer at Armagh Observatory, Northern Ireland.

October. China Sea. More revolving shafts of light, or wheels, seen on the sea.

1892 April 4th. Large black disk slowly crosses the moon, seen by Dutch Astronomer Muller.

1893 March 7th. Val de la Haye, France. Luminous streamlined construction, shaped like an elongated pear, seen by Astronomer Raymond Coulon.

May 25th. H.M.S. Caroline, between Shanghai and Japan, sees formation of flying disks flying slowly northwards. They pass between the ship and a mountain 6,000 feet high. Observation through telescope shows them to be reddish coloured and emitting brown smoke trails. Seen for two hours.

May 26th. Seen again by the same ship. At one time the disks pass low behind a small island. H.M.S. Leander also sees them and alters course to investigate. Visible for over seven hours.

1894 January 25th. Llanthomas, Wales. A disk passes overhead, lighting up the countryside with a glare like daylight. Loud explosion follows. Seen and heard in Hereford, Worcester and Shropshire.

August 26th. North Wales. Admiral Ommanney reports a large glowing flying disk from which projected an orange exhaust flame the shape of an ‘elongated flatfish’.

1895 May 6th. Venus again. Dazzling bright spot on planet’s disk.

August 13th. Professor Barnard sees that spot has moved out from Venus and is travelling away in space.

August 24th. Venus close to Earth. Luminous disk seen over Donegal, Ireland.

August 31st. Dr. Murray writes from Oxford of a bright disk, brighter and considerably larger than Venus, rising over some treetops and flying eastwards.

September 3rd. The same object is seen at Scarborough, Yorks. It moves evenly and leisurely.

1896 June 27th. Long black torpedo seen to cross moon’s disk in four seconds.

July 13th. Luminous body moving towards Saturn ‘at a good rate’ after passing several other stars. Reported by an amateur astronomer in England.

July 31st. Smith Observatory reports dark circular disk crosses moon in four seconds.

December 11th. Luminous disk travels over Worcester, lighting up the area so one could have ‘picked up a pin’, reports Dr. Charles Davidson.

1897 February 10th. Something explodes in the air over Madrid, Spain. Debris falls, windows smashed, walls cracked. For five hours a glowing cloud of debris hangs over the city where the thing exploded. Panic in the streets.

April. ‘Airship‘ over Kansas City. Huge searchlight shining downwards. Seen over Chicago on 11th. Seen at Benton, Texas, on 16th, with green and red tail-lights. From other Texas towns it is reported as cigar-shaped, with enormous projections, brilliantly illuminated by the beams of two powerful searchlights. Venus again near to Earth.

1897 April 20th. ‘Airship’ is over Sistersville, Virginia, flashing bright red, green and white lights. Described as a ‘huge conical ship, 180 feet long, with fins on either side’. No balloons known to be airborne at any of these times or places.

July 29th. Strange object photographed at Ohio.

September 12th. Aerial explosion over Yarnell, Arizona.

1898 June 3rd. England. Two luminous disks united or flying close together. Visible six minutes.

1899 March 2nd. Luminous disk over El Paso, Texas.

March 8th. It is seen at Prescott, Arizona, travelling with the moon all day. Seen, earlier on, very near the moon.

October 28th. Luzarches, France. Luminous disk the size of the moon rises over the horizon. Watched for fifteen minutes before it diminishes to a bright speck.

November 15th. Enormous star or disk over the Dordogne France, changing colour, red, white, red, then blue; moves majestically, and sails away.

And that, Ladies and Gentlemen, brings us to the end of the nineteenth century gallery. Before entering the ‘Edwardian Hall’ you may sit down and rest your feet while the guide says a few words. Forgive him if he points out that all these objects seen tally in every respect with the things we make so much fuss about today and call flying saucers. Which brings us to the conclusion that saucers are not a new phenomenon. All that is new is our improved method of transmitting news; we get quicker, better reports, and more of them.


1901 April 4th. Persian Gulf. Revolving luminous wheels seen near the surface by the ship Kilwa.

1902 May 10th. South Devon. Large number of highly-coloured objects like ‘small suns’, reported by a Colonel Markwick.

1904 February 24th. The s.s Supply sighted three luminous disks four times the sun’s area. They flew in accurate formation, first below some clouds, estimated at 5,000 feet. Later they rose into the cloud-layer and disappeared.

1905 September 2nd. Llangollen, North Wales. Intensely dark object flying at an estimated height of two miles.

March 29th. Cardiff, Wales. A vertical tube of light appears in the sky ‘like an iron bar heated to an orange-coloured glow’, say witnesses.

April 1st. Cherbourg, France. Glowing disk, with corona, seen over the town several nights in succession.

February 1st. Daily Mail reports brilliant disk over Wales, which hung motionless for a time and later moved off.

1906 June 2nd. Gulf of Oman. Revolving spokes of light seen on water near a ship, reports a Mr. Carnegie, of Blackheath, Kent.

1907 March 14th. Malacca Strait. ‘Shafts which seemed to move round a centre like the spokes of a wheel—about three hundred yards long’, reports the P. & O. s.s. Orient.

July 2nd. Burlington, Vermont. A huge dark torpedo hovers over the city. From holes down its side issue tongues of fire and shooting sparks. It is first seen stationary over College and Church Streets, following a loud report. Then the flames brighten and it moves off. A small luminous disk is seen to detach itself from the parent craft and disappear.

1908 May 1st. Vittel, France. A luminous disk as large as the moon appears. It has a coronal band round it. After some time a black band appears obliquely across the disk.

1909 March 11th. Peterborough, England. Noisy object carrying lights moves over the town. Police report.

May 18th. Caerphilly, Wales. A Cardiff man named Lithbridge says he was walking through the mountains when he came across a large cylindrical construction parked beside a lonely road. Inside it he saw two peculiar looking men dressed in some kind of fur coats. On seeing him they gabbled excitedly in a foreign language. The next minute the machine rose in the air and flew away. It had no wings and made little noise. A depression was found in the grass at the place he indicated—the first report in this century of one of these things seen on the ground.

June 10th. Straits of Malacca. Another luminous revolving wheel seen on the water.

September 8th. Luminous object crosses New England with noise of machinery.

October 31st. Searchlight stabs down from the sky over Bridgewater, New England, then flashes up again.

December 20th. Luminous object seen over Boston, Mass.

December 23rd. It is seen over Worcester, Mass.; ‘sweeping the heavens with a searchlight of tremendous power’. Two hours later it returns, and is seen by thousands in the streets. It hovers, heads South, then moves off East to the sea.

December 24th. It comes back to Boston. Many reports.

December 24th. Limerick, Ireland. Luminous disk seen over north-east horizon, moving slowly southwards, turning about and moving off in the opposite direction. Visible thirty-two minutes.

December 31st. Huntingdon, W. Virginia. Three huge luminous disks of equal size appear in the early-morning sky.

1910 August 12th. South China Sea. Dutch steamer Valentijn: ‘Horizontal glowing wheel turning rapidly just above the water’.

January 13th. Chattanooga, Tennessee. ‘For the third day running a mysterious white aircraft passed over Chattanooga, about noon today. It came from the north, and was travelling south-east... on Wednesday it came south, and on Thursday it returned north’. The longest dirigible flight then recorded was from St. Cyr to the Eiffel Tower—a few miles.

1912 January 27th. A Dr. Harris observes a dark bird-shaped object, poised over the moon, estimates it to be 250 miles long, at least.

March 6th. Warmley, near Bristol, England. A ‘splendidly illuminated’ object travels towards Gloucester. ‘Tremendous !’, ‘Like a triple-headed fireball’, say breath-taken spectators.

April 8th. Tisbury, Wilts. England. Clouds moving rapidly. Two stationary dark shadows on the clouds. Clouds scamper on, but the two dark patches remain still for half an hour.

1913 January 4th. Dover, England. Unknown ‘airship’ with lights.

January 11th. Cardiff, Wales. Huge airship leaving dense smoke trail seen by Chief Constable of Glamorganshire.

January 24th. Totterdown, near Bristol. Sweeping brilliant lights pouring down from the sky, illuminating distant hills.

January 31st. Aerial tube with sweeping lights over many parts of South Wales.

January 28th. Lighted airship seen over Liverpool.

February 5th. Dowlais Valley, South Wales.

1914 August 13th, nine days after the outbreak of the Great War, horrible bunching, dumb-bell-like things seen over Elstree, Herts.

October 10th. A black torpedo crosses the sun. Reported as ‘extraordinarily clear cut’. Surrounded by corona or halo ‘like a ship throwing up white-foamed waves’.

1915 July 31st. Ballinasloe, Ireland. Large luminous body moving north-west, remaining stationary for forty-five minutes, moving off and disappearing five hours after it first appeared. Venus again near to Earth.

July 19th. Huntingdon, W. Virginia. Luminous cigar-shaped object or formation.

1917 August 20th. Luminous disk seen crossing the moon.

1923 North Carolina. Reports of brilliant spheres or disks appearing from time to time during the three years, moving in leisurely formation, or singly, in the neighbourhood of the Brown Mountains. Much talk. Official investigation draws blank.

1929 August 29th. 400 miles off Virginia Coast. Luminous body travelling at 100 miles per hour, seen by the steamship Coldwater. No Atlantic flights at that time. ‘Enough, enough !’

* * * *

‘Our feet are weary. The museum guide is hoarse. How much farther do you want us to walk ? How many more saucers are you going to give us ? Must we continue right up to the present day; till our eyes grow dim from looking at the sky ?’

To which I answer:

‘If you are by now convinced to your own satisfaction (not to mine) that flying saucers have been visiting our planet for the past three centuries and that few of them can be explained as weather balloons, secret weapons, illusions, meteors, ionised air and the rest, then by all means turn to Chapter Six and read on from there.

But if you believe, like Dr. Donald Menzel, of Harvard Observatory, that all these things can be readily explained within our own atmosphere, then I shall drive you ruthlessly on to the bitter end.

However, we shall not bother with Dr. Menzel for the moment, but shall concern ourselves with some other scientists who, unlike Menzel, have not written a book to prove that flying saucers are the result of human ignorance in misinterpreting ordinary phenomena.

‘Incident 1. At 9.10 p.m. on 25 August 1951 Dr. W. I. Robinson, Professor of Geology at the Texas Technological College, stood in the back yard of his home in Lubbock, Texas, and chatted with two colleagues. The other men were Dr. A. G. Oberg, a Professor of Chemical Engineering, and Professor W. L. Ducker, Head of the Department of Petroleum Engineering. The night was clear and dark. Suddenly all three men saw a number of lights race noiselessly across the sky, from horizon to horizon, in a few seconds. They gave the impression of about thirty luminous beads, arranged in a crescent shape. A few moments later another similar formation flashed across the night. This time the scientists were able to judge that the lights moved through thirty degrees of arc in a second. A check the next day with the Air Force showed that no planes had been over the area at the time. This was but the beginning: Professor Ducker observed twelve flights of the luminous objects between August and November of last year. Some of his colleagues observed as many as ten. Hundreds of non-scientific observers in a wide vicinity around Lubbock have seen as many as three flights of the mysterious crescents in one night. On the night of 30 August an attempt to photograph the lights was made by eighteen-year-old Carl Hart, Jr. He used a Kodak 35mm. camera, at f.3.5 1/10 of a second. Working rapidly, Hart managed to get five exposures of the flights. One of the pictures exhibited by Hart as a result of this effort shows eighteen to twenty luminous objects, more intense than the planet Venus, arranged in one or a pair of crescents. In several photographs, off to one side of the main flight, a larger luminosity is visible—like a mother craft hovering near its aerial brood.’

‘Evaluation. The observations have been too numerous and too similar to be doubted. In addition, the Air Force, after the closest examination, has found nothing fraudulent about Hart’s pictures. The lights are much too bright to be reflections, and, therefore, must be bodies containing sources of light. Since Professors Ducker, Oberg and Robinson could not measure the size and distance of the formations, they could form no precise estimate of their speed. However, they calculated that if the lights were flying at an altitude of 5,000 feet they must then have been travelling about 1,800 m.p.h. The Professors, along with other scientists, agree that in order to explain the silence of the objects it must be assumed that they were at least 50,000 feet in the air; in which case they were going not 1,800, but 18,000 m.p.h.’ Similar lines of light were seen in the skies of ancient Persia, usually before some national catastrophe, so that they became omens of disaster.

‘Incident 2. On 10 July 1947 at 4.47 p.m. one of the United States’ top astronomers was driving from Clovis to Clines Corner, New Mexico. His wife and his teen-aged daughters were also in the car. (For professional reasons he had asked Life to withhold identity). It was a bright sunny day, but the whole western half of the sky was a "confused cloud sea". All at once, as the car headed towards these clouds, "all four of us almost simultaneously became aware of a curious bright object almost motionless " among the clouds. Instantly, from long habit in dealing with celestial phenomena, he began to make calculations with what crude materials he had at hand. He held a pencil at arm’s length, measured the size of the object against the windshield of the car, measured the distance between his eyes and the windshield, etc., etc. His wife and two daughters did the same, each making independent calculations.

‘"The object", says the scientist," showed a sharp and firm regular outline, namely one of a smooth elliptical character much harder and sharper than the edges of the cloudlets…The hue of the luminous object was somewhat less white than the light of Jupiter in a dark sky, not aluminium or, silver-coloured... The object clearly exhibited a sort of wobbling motion... This wobbling motion served to set off the object as a rigid, if not solid, body." After thirty seconds in plain view, the ellipsoid moved slowly behind a cloud (273° azimuth, elevation 1°), " and we thought we had lost it." But approximately five seconds later it reappeared (275° azimuth, elevation 2°).

‘"This remarkably sudden ascent thoroughly convinced me that we were dealing with an absolutely novel airborne device." After reappearing, the object moved slowly from south to north across the clouds. "As seen projected against these dark clouds, the object gave the strongest impression of self-luminosity." About two-and-a-half minutes after it came into view, the thing disappeared finally behind a cloudbank.’

‘Evaluation. The astronomer vouches for the approximate accuracy of his observations and computations. He determined that the object was not less than twenty nor more than thirty miles from his viewing point; that it was ellipsoidal and rigid; that it was 160 feet long and sixty-five feet thick, if seen at minimum distance, or 245 feet long and 100 feet thick if at a maximum; and that its horizontal speed ranged between 120 and 180 m.p.h., and its vertical rise between 600 and 900 m.p.h. He also observed that the object moved with a wobble, no sound, and left no exhaust or vapour trail. His wife and daughters supported his observations.

The object’s appearance and behaviour answer to that of no known optical or celestial phenomenon. No known or projected aircraft, rocket or guided missile can make such a rapid vertical ascent without leaving an exhaust or vapour trail.’

‘Incident 3. On 24 April 1949 at 10.20 a.m. a group of five technicians under the general supervision of J. Gordon Vaeth, an aeronautical engineer employed by the Office of Naval Research, were preparing to launch a skyhook balloon near Arrey, New Mexico. A small balloon was sent up first to check the weather. Charles B. Moore, Jr., an aerologist of General Mills Inc. (pioneers in cosmic ray research), was tracing the weather balloon through a theodolite—a twenty-five power telescopic instrument which gives degrees of azimuth and elevation (horizontal and vertical position) for any object it is sighted on. At 10.30 a.m. Moore leaned back from the theodolite to glance at the balloon with his naked eye. Suddenly he saw a whitish elliptical object, apparently much higher than the balloon, and moving in the opposite direction. At once he picked the object up in his theodolite at 45° of elevation and 210° of azimuth, and tracked it east at the phenomenal rate of 4° of azimuth-change per second as it dropped swiftly to an elevation of 25°. The object appeared to be an ellipsoid roughly two-and-a-half times as long as it was wide. Suddenly it swung abruptly upward and rushed out of sight in a few seconds. Moore had tracked it for about sixty seconds altogether. The other members of his crew confirmed this report. No sound was heard, no vapour trail was seen. The object, according to rough estimations by Moore and his colleagues, was about fifty-six miles above the earth, 100 feet long and was travelling at seven miles per second.’

‘Evaluation. No known optical or atmospheric phenomenon fits the facts. No natural object travelling at seven miles per second has ever been seen to make a sudden upward turn. There is no known or projected source of silent, vapour-less power for such a machine. No human being could have borne the tremendous " G " load brought to bear on the craft during its abrupt vertical veer.’

‘Incident 4. On 29 May 1951 at 3.48 p.m. three technical writers for the aerophysics department of North American Aviation’s plant at Downey, outside Los Angeles, were chatting on the factory grounds. They were Victor Black, Werner Eichler and Ed. J. Sullivan. All at once they stared at the sky. Sullivan describes what they saw:

‘“Approximately thirty glowing, meteor-like objects sprayed out of the east at a point about 45° above the horizon, executed a right-angle turn and swept across the sky in an undulating vertical formation... that resembled a tuning fork on edge. It took each of them about twenty-five seconds to cross 90° of the horizon before performing another right-angle turn westward toward downtown Los Angeles.... We estimated their diameter at thirty feet and their speed to be 1,700 m.p.h. Each appeared as an intense electric blue light, round and without length. They moved with the motion of flat stones skipping across a smooth pond ".’

‘Evaluation. No known natural or optical phenomenon makes the peculiar light, in bright day, attributed to these objects by Sullivan and his colleagues; nor can any natural object, hurtling at such speed, execute a right-angle turn. As in the Moore theodolite sighting, the execution of such a turn would have crushed any human crew under the impact of "G" forces. Finally, of course, no known machine travels at 1,700 m.p.h. without making a sound or leaving an exhaust or vapour trail.’

‘Incident 5. On 20 January 1951 at 8.30 p.m. Captain Lawrence W. Vinther, of Mid-Continent Airlines, was ordered by the control tower at the Sioux City airport to investigate a " very bright light" above the field. He took off in his D.C.3 with his co-pilot, James F. Bachmeier, and followed the light. All at once the light dived at the D.C.3 almost head on; it passed silently and at great speed about 200 feet above its nose. Both pilots wrenched their heads back to see where it had gone, only to discover that the thing had somehow reversed direction in a split second, and was now flying parallel to the airliner, about 200 feet away, heading in the same direction. It was a clear moonlight night and both men got a good look at the object. It was as big as, or bigger than, a B.29, had a cigar-shaped fuselage and a glider-type wing, set well forward, without sweepback and without engine nacelles or jet pods. There was no exhaust glow. The white light appeared to be recessed in the bottom of the plane. After a few seconds the object lost altitude, passed under the D.C.3 and disappeared. A civilian employee of Air Intelligence was a passenger on the flight, saw the object and confirms the description by the pilots.’

‘Evaluation. The conditions for observation were excellent. One fact alone—the astonishing reversal of direction performed by the object—suffices to classify it as a device far beyond the known capacities of aeronautical science. Although its shape is different, the soundlessness of the object and the absence of observable means of propulsion relate it to the saucer class of phenomena.’

‘Incident No. 6. On 29 January 1952 just before midnight a B.29 was on solo mission over Wonsan, North Korea. It was flying at a speed somewhat less than 200 m.p.h., at an altitude of somewhat above 20,000 feet. Simultaneously the tail gunner and the fire-control man in the waist saw a bright round orange object in the sky near the plane. Both said it was about three feet in diameter, flew with a revolving motion on a course parallel to theirs and wore a halo of bluish flame. It also appeared to pulsate. The object followed the B.29 for about five minutes, then pulled ahead and shot away at a sharp angle. On the same night a similar globe was seen by the tail gunner and waist man of another B.29, eighty miles away over Sunchon, but flying at about the same height. The globe followed the plane for about a minute, then disappeared.’

‘Evaluation. Theoreticians in the Air Force believe the fireballs were not natural phenomena but propelled objects. They bear some similarity to the balls of so-called " fireball fighters " or " foo fighters " which flew wing on Allied aircraft over Germany and Japan during 1944-45 and which have never been satisfactorily explained. In the Korean incidents the fireballs seem—on the evidence of their sharp acceleration, their blue light and the abrupt, angular swerve—to resemble the saucers described earlier.’

‘Incident No. 7. On the night of 2 November 1951 a ball of kelly-green fire, larger than the moon and blazing several times more brightly, flashed eastward across the skies of Arizona. It raced, straight as a bullet, parallel to the ground, and then exploded in a frightful paroxysm of light—without making a sound. At least 165 people saw the incredible thing; hundreds more witnessed the similar flight of countless other fireballs that since December 1945 have bathed the hills of the southwest in their lunar glare. In the last year they have been seen as far afield as Pennsylvania, Maryland and Puerto Rico. Reports came so thick and fast during 1948 that in 1949 the Air Force established " Project Twinkle " to investigate them. " Project Twinkle" established a triple photo-theodolite post at Vaughn, North Mexico, to obtain scientific data on the fireballs. Day and night, week in, week out, for three months, a crew kept vigil. Ironically, while fireballs continued flashing everywhere else in the south-west, they saw nothing until the project was transferred to the Holloman Air Force base at Alamgordo, North Mexico. There, during another three-month siege, they saw a few but were unable to make satisfactory computations because of the fireballs’ great speed. Search parties have had no better luck. They have combed in vain the countryside beneath the point of disappearance; not a trace of tell-tale substance has been found on the ground.’

‘Evaluation. The popular south-west belief that a strange meteor shower was underway has been blasted by Dr. Lincoln La Paz, mathematician, astronomer and director of the Institute of Meteorites at the University of New Mexico. He points out that normal fireballs do not appear green; they fall in the trajectory forced on them by gravity, are generally as noisy as a freight train and leave meteorites where they hit. The green New Mexican species does none of these things. Neither do the green fireballs appear to be electrostatic phenomena—they move too regularly and too fast.

‘If the fireballs are the product of a United States weapons project, as some south-westerns believe, it is a very secret one indeed: the Atomic Energy Commission and every other government agency connected with weapons development has denied to Life any responsibility for the fireballs. Could they be self-destroying Russian reconnaissance devices ? Not likely. While the United States believes the Russians have an intercontinental guided missile, there is no intelligence that indicates they have developed silent power plants or objects capable of moving nearly as fast as meteors (twelve miles a second). Yet—for whatever it may be worth—the only reports of green fireballs prior to 1945 came from the Baltic area.

‘The extreme greenness of the fireballs has impressed most witnesses. When asked to indicate the approximate colour on a spectrum chart, most of them have touched the band at 5,200 angstroms—close to the green of burning copper. Copper is almost never found in meteorites; the friction of the air oxidises it shortly after he meteor enters the upper atmosphere. However, a curious fact has been recorded by aerologists. Concentrations of copper particles are now present in the air of Arizona and New Mexico, particularly in "fireball areas ". These were not encountered in air samples made before 1948.’ 4

4/ These seven incidents are reprinted with the kind permission of the Editors of Time and Life International, published 5 May 1952, copyright Time Inc., with acknowledgments to H. B. Darrack, jnr., and Robert Ginna.

In 1934 I was at school in the south of England and, one November evening after ‘lights out’, our dormitory was suddenly lit by a brilliant green glare. With yells of delight we rushed to the windows, in time to see an immense green fireball move slowly across the sky and disappear behind the Sussex Downs. It was so bright that all the school grounds were lit up in this unearthly green glow. The walls of a white cottage half a mile away reflected the light almost as brightly as a green neon sign. Our speculations, however, were interrupted by the appearance of an angry master, who had come to investigate the commotion.

Phenomena as reported in these recent incidents are not new. In 1619 Christopher Scherer, Prefect of a Swiss Canton, wrote to his friend, Fr. Kircher: 5

5/ De Mirville, Des Esprits, Tome II.

‘Having remained on the balcony to contemplate the perfect purity of the firmament, I saw a fiery shining dragon rise from one of the caves on Mount Pilatus and direct himself rapidly towards Flüelen to the other end of the lake. Enormous in size, his tail was longer and his neck stretched out.... In flying he emitted on his way numerous sparks.... I thought at first I was seeing a meteor, but soon, looking more attentively, I was convinced by his flight... that I saw a veritable dragon.’

Did fiery flying dragons really exist in Switzerland during the seventeenth century, or did the Prefect, while contemplating ‘the purity of the firmament’, see something similar to the objects disturbing our skies today ? What is the strange attraction of our planet ? Is it a kind of ‘cosmic beauty spot, freak or curiosity—a Solar Niagara Falls— that lures tourists and sightseers from all over the Universe, not in ones and twos but in hundreds of thousands ? Streams of mysterious objects flowed through space for six days on end. Processions clogged the highways round our globe that would make the holiday main roads seem empty by comparison. The nineteenth century was a record season for stellar tourists. Millions of extra-terrestrial beings apparently peered, probed, gaped at and recorded our planet as they cruised by on their mammoth outings.

In September 1851 a clergyman and amateur astronomer named Read reported that he saw through his telescope a host of luminous bodies passing by very high up. Some moved swiftly; others slowly. Most of them moved from east to west, while others moved off towards the south. The whole fantastic cascade went on for six hours, flight after flight, thousand upon thousand (he calculated several hundred per minute); as if the entire air fleet of another system was on manœuvres in the stratosphere we like to think of as our own.

C. B. Chalmers, f.r.a.s., commenting, said he had seen a similar procession but that the bodies he had seen appeared to be oval in shape. This was probably due to the angle at which they had been observed. From directly below, a disk would appear circular. From an acute angle they would resemble ellipses.

On 27 April 1863 Henry Waldner saw a similar procession which he reported to Dr. Wolf, of the Zurich Observatory, who told him that a similar performance had been witnessed by Signor Capocci, of the Capodimonte Observatory, Naples, on 11 May 1845.

1849, 8 August, 3 p.m., Gais, Switzerland. A Mr. Inglis sees thousands of luminous disks stream by for twenty-five minutes continuously. His servant, who had better eyesight, said he saw a corona or luminous fuzziness around them. Then in India, 17 to 18 October, the sun was being observed by Lieutenant Herschel at Bangalore. Into his field of vision came a stream of small dark objects, silhouetted against the sun. When they had moved past the orb they appeared as luminous dots, or disks. Herschel tried different focussings with his telescope that suggested the objects to be very high up. He thought he saw a corona or fuzziness around them but he could not be sure. One paused obligingly for him to inspect it thoroughly. He noticed some kind of exhaust or wispy appendage. Then it shot off with a sudden burst of speed. There was nothing very strange about this marathon stream except that it went on and on for two whole days !

Across to Mexico—the Observatory of Zacatecas, Mexico, 12 August, 1883. M. Bonilla is taking telescopic photos of the sun when the show commences. A large stream of glowing bodies begin to cross the sun’s disk diagonally, taking between three to four seconds to complete the transit. M. Bonilla watched them for an hour before clouds hid the sun. He looked again the next day, 13 August, and to his amazement the procession was still in progress. When seen against the sun the objects appeared as small dark ovals with five ray-like projections. One paused and hovered for a few seconds, enabling Bonilla to obtain a photo which is possibly the first photo of a flying saucer ever taken.

I eventually traced a copy of this photo to an attic in Paris and made a special journey to see it. Unfortunately it was old and faded, and attempts to reproduce it were unsuccessful.

Bonilla telegraphed the Observatory in Mexico City to have a look. They replied that they could see them but that to them they appeared a little way from the sun owing to parallax. Doubtless this enabled them to calculate the height by triangulation, but Bonilla says ambiguously that they were ‘relatively near to the Earth’, which he qualifies with ‘less than the distance to the moon’. I suppose for astronomers, 240,000 odd miles is relatively near.

Signor Ricco, of Palermo Observatory, saw straight lines of similar objects slowly cross the sun on 30 November 1880 at 8.30 a.m. From the data and calculations given it is evident that these things were flying very high.

One of the best processions took place on 21 September 1910. For three hours without pause, flights of round shiny things streamed across New York City. Traffic was held up and people thronged the streets to gaze at them. Possibly about a million people saw them on that occasion.

But why, we ask, out of all that host did not one more enterprising than the rest come down and land ?

We can only conclude that our planet has a bad name in the stellar year books and travel brochures: like those signs on the roads running through jungles, which caution tourists not to tarry nor leave the safety of their cars.

‘Warning-Do not land on Earth ‘

‘The Natives are Dangerous !’

Stop Press

Since the above was written, Boris de Rachewiltz has found this ancient Egyptian saucer among the papers of the late Professor Alberto Tulli, former Director of the Egyptian section of the Vatican Museum. It is a fragment from the Royal Annals of Thuthmosis III (circa 1504-1450 B.C.) and when translated reads as follows:

‘In the year 22 third month of winter, sixth hour of the day... the scribes of the House of Life found it was a circle of fire that was coming in the sky (Though) it had no head, the breadth of its mouth (had) a foul odour. Its body one rod ,about 150 feet) long and one rod large. It had no voice.... Now, after some days had passed over these things, Lo ! they were more numerous than anything. They were shining in the sky more than the sun to the limits of... heaven... Powerful was the position of the fire circles. The army of the king looked on and His Majesty was in the midst of it. It was after supper. Thereupon, they (the fire circles) went up higher directed towards the South.’

Many cases of an unusual odour, possibly due to ionisation or to actual waste products of the saucers will be found in the later chapter, ‘Waste Products’, Chapter 15. Notice also that the circles ‘had no voice’, i.e. were silent.

Acknowledgment for the above is made to Tiffany Thayer, Editor of Doubt and to Boris Rachewiltz for his translation.