9. The Phantom Airships of the 1880'sOkay, I lied. I admit it. I lied. And I don't feel bad about it either. I promised to jump right up to the second quarter of the 20th century, but I just can't do it. Because that wouldn't be fair. It wouldn't be fair to all you paranoid, conspiracy hungry, culture junkies out there, thirsty for that little bit of mystery and wonder amidst your workaday world. Before getting into the strange events that happened during World War II, or the bizarre phenomena which basically started the modern Ufology movement, I must first address the thing that came before it. The thing that, some say, started it all. It was an international marvel of the unexplained, and at the height of the industrial revolution, and more than 20 years before the Great War, the world was both shaken and stirred. Reports of mystery airships were popping up everywhere. In the United States the sightings began in the west and spread eastward. The first major case happened in New Mexico on March 26th 1880 in the skies above a small town called Galisteo Junction, now known as Lamy. Voices were heard, voices which seemed to be coming from the sky above. When the people looked up they saw a circular ship, "monstrous in size". It's movements were described as approaching rapidly and then slowed to an elegant waltz across the sky. It is said that the occupants of these ships were human, but their clothing and behaviour was bizarre. The occupants of these ships, when spoken too, claimed to be from Mars. A few artefacts, a cup and a beautiful flower wrapped in silk-like paper, were said to have fallen from the ship. The following day, an unknown, well dressed, stranger, identified only as a "collector of curiosities" came into town. He told the local authorities that the artefacts were of Asiatic origin. He offered a large some of money for the finds. So large a sum that the depot agent who had found them couldn't resist. The collector and the artefacts were never seen again. On November 18th, 1896, a Californian man by the name of Colonel H.G. Shaw told reporters he had seen what appeared to be a landed space craft. It had a diameter of 25 feet and was around 150 feet in total length. Three slender 7ft tall beings of unknown origin are said to have stepped off the ship. They attempted to kidnap Shaw, and he narrowly escaped. The ship then lifted off the ground and sped off, out of sight. There are several more mystery airship sightings, each one more complex and convoluted then the next. From the members of the secret "Aero Club" to the reported uses of an unknown "N.B. gas", a substance, people claimed, made objects lighter than air. An April 24th, 1897 report of Harper's Weekly sums up the Phantom Airship phenomenon of the 1800's nicely. It states: "The airship as a practical invention is believed to be so nearly ripe that a story of its appearance in the sky is not necessarily to be received with disrespect, not unless you assumed that thousands of Americans had lost their senses, a discomforting notion which some scientists, editors and skeptics seem to embrace."