Le crash prétendu d'Aurora

(Texas): April 17, 1897

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In order to provide some background to the analysis that follows, it is interesting to note that allegations of extraterrestrial "crashes" are nothing new and did not even begin in the present century.

In the course of a survey of early aerial phenomena in the United States, Donald Hanlon and the author found numerous reports of sightings in the period 1896-1897, which has become known in the literature as the "airship wave" (Hanlon & Vallee, 1967). One of the most remarkable cases had been reported on April 17, 1897, in the small town of Aurora (Texas). The story, as told in a local newspaper, stated that an unidentified object "sailed over the public square and when it reached the north part of town collided with the tower of Judge Proctor's windmill and went to pieces with a terrific explosion, scattering debris over several acres."

Although Hanlon and this author regarded the story as an instance of early Americana and a probable hoax (in a context remarkably similar to that of Roswell, the press went on to state that the pilot of the ship, who "was not an inhabitant of this world," had died in the accident and that undecipherable papers were "found on his person"), our article re-awakened interest in the case. It was investigated again in 1973 by William Case, a journalist with the Dallas Time-Herald, and by personnel from the McDonnell Douglas aircraft company. While the 1897 story reported that the airship was "built of an unknown metal resembling somewhat a mixture of aluminum and silver," the fragment found by Case and his co-workers was determined to consist of aluminum (83%) and zinc (about 16%) with possible traces of manganese and copper. The combination could originate with numerous common aluminum alloys, according to the McDonnell scientists, but not prior to 1908 n1[Holliday, J.E.: McDonnell report on the Aurora case, unpublished, 13 August 1973. The on-site investigators were Ronald A. and N. Joseph Gurney (12 May 1973)].

While we cite this case for completeness it is not included in the overall analysis.

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