C'est l'observation du 20 novembre à San Francisco. Celle du 17 à Sacramento est encore plus remplie de détails pittoresques (les conversations de l'équipage, leurs chants...). Le
du 19 novembre 1896 reprend les témoignages dans un long article en première page :
STRANGE CRAFT OF THE SKY
Sacramento Men Describe the Airship.
Claim They Saw Its Occupants and Heard Them in Conversation.
SACRAMENTO, Cal., Nov. 18. — The one topic of conversation in this city to-day has been the reported appearance of an airship over the eastern portion of Sacramento last night. While there are hundreds of people who, failing to catch a glimpse of this mysterious visitant, are extremely skeptical, there are hundreds of others who are positive in their declaration that they did see its brilliant searchlight traveling over the city, and who will also swear that they heard the voices of its occupants and distinguished their merry song and laughter. Then there are others who declare that these aerial travelers used the English tongue, and that they plainly distinguished the words used and commands uttered for the guidance and care of the air vessel.
In investigating this mysterious visitation the local representative of The Call obtained personal interviews with scores of reputable citizens who reside along the route passed over by the air craft. Many of them lived fully a mile or two distant from each other, but their accounts all agree.
As far as can be learned from eyewitnesses, the body of the craft was oblong and egg-shaped, with fan-like wheels on either side, whose rapid revolutions, beating the air, served to propel the vessel directly against the wind, and in so doing caused the vessel to sway from side to side with a wavering motion, similar to that of a boat being forced against the rapid current of a stream.
Midway of the vessel and suspended directly beneath it was a brilliant searchlight about twice the size of an arc light, evidently so placed that the occupants could ascertain when the vessel approached too near the earth and was in danger of collision with lofty objects. Above the egg-shaped body towered a tall, indistinguishable mass, whose shape it was impossible to ascertain, owing to the fact that the onlooker's eyes were blurred by the brilliancy of the searchlight.
Such is the description of the vessel given by R. L. Lowry, who also claims to have been able to distinguish four men, who were seemingly engaged in propelling the vessel by its fanlike wheels, much after the fashion of a bicyclist driving his wheel over a boulevard. It is also claimed that a bystander in the vicinity of Mr. Lowry shouted to the men in the aerial vessel and inquired their destination, and that they replied they were bound for San Francisco and intended arriving by 12 o'clock — midnight. This, however, could not be verified, as no one appeared to know the name of the reputed interrogator.
J. H. Vogel, who claimed to have been in the same locality, also states that the vessel was egg-shaped, and that he distinctly heard the voices of its occupants, but says that as the vessel was rapidly rising he was unable to distinguish any words, and that after a brief glimpse of the body of the airship it faded from view and all that was visible was the brilliant searchlight, which moved slowly away in a southwesterly direction, going toward San Francisco, and being visible for upward of thirty minutes, growing more and more dim, until it disappeared in the distance.
E. Wenzel, who is employed at Scheld's Brewery, verifies the stories of Vogel and Lowry as to the shape of the vessel, but claims that when it passed over him the occupants were trolling a merry chorus, which, though distant, sounded sweet and clear in the evening air.
The first person who, as far as can be learned, caught a glimpse of the reputed airship was David Carl, a horse-trainer at Agricultural Park. When he first caught Bight of the craft it was within a short distance of the ground, and he states that he heard a voice saying:
"We are too low down here; send her up higher."
Then a discussion followed as to the advisability of attaining too great a height, as the occupants were evidently anxious to reach San Francisco before midnight. He stated that the vessel then started to rise, doing so on an incline and not going directly up as would be the case had ballast been cast from a balloon. He had no, idea, however, that it was anything but a balloon and had never even thought of the possibility of an airship. Hs was positive in his declaration that it contained at least two occupants, as he could clearly distinguish two voices discussing the strata of air best adapted for rapid traveling.
T. P. de Long when interviewed said: "I could not distinguish the shape of the vessel. All I could see was a brilliant light moving seemingly against the wind, but I could plainly hear the voices of its occupants, who were singing, and it sounded to me like the noise produced by a phonograph. At this time I should judge the vessel was several hundred feet high."
Frank Ross, assistant superintendent of the electric streetcar system, when interviewed said: "I did not see the form of the vessel nor did I hear the voices of its occupants, as I was not informed until it had passed my residence. All that I saw was a brilliant electric searchlight, apparently twice the size and power of an ordinary arc light, which was being propelled through the air by some mysterious force. From what I have learned from my employes — men of undoubted veracity — I am certain that this can by no possibility have been a 'fake,' but that a genuine airship passed over the city last evening. I watched the light until it passed out of sight thirty minutes later. It was traveling unevenly toward the southwest, dropping now nearer to the earth and now suddenly rising into the air again as it the force that was whirling it through space was sensible of the danger of collision with objects upon the earth. I, of course, have no idea as to its destination or purpose. I can only say that I am fully convinced by what I have heard that it was something out of the ordinary."
G. C. Snyder. foreman of the streetcar barn, states: "I am fully convinced that an aerial vessel of some description passed over this building last night about 6:30 o'clock. At the time my attention was called to it the craft was at too great an elevation for me to distinguish its form, but I distinctly saw the searchlight, which was going directly into the wind, and from its movement judged that it was attached to a vessel of some description, which was laboring as a seagoing vessel will in a heavy sea and head wind. I also find that hundreds of the residents in this portion of the city saw the light,and there are hundreds who claim that they heard the voices of the occupants of the visitor."
Charles Lusk, secretary of the company, also states that he saw the light traveling over the city.
Mayor Hubbard says that personally he failed to catch a glimpse of this aerial visitant, as he was engaged in his office downtown when it passed over, but he stated to The Call representative that upon arriving at his residence in the upper portion of the city his daughter told him that she had seen a brilliant white light, seemingly at a great elevation, which had come toward me city from the east and passed directly over it, moving in a southwesterly direction. She said if certainly was not a meteor, as it was a different shade of light and moved too slowly and unevenly, and she was at a loss to account for it.
F. E. Briggs, a motorman on one of the streetcars running to Oak Park, saw the light of the traveling airship, and at the request of the occupants of his crowded vehicle he stopped his car for a moment. He says that while they could not discern the form of the airship, yet the voices of the occupants were plainly heard. He had been informed by a man who resided in the vicinity of East Park, where the air vessel had been first teen, that it was a genuine airship, cigar or egg shaped, and that it had at least four occupants. When the vessel passed over his car he judged that the occupants were singing, but they were at such a height that neither he nor his passengers were enabled to distinguish the words or the tune, as they came in broken snatches, as though borne on gusts of the night wind.
When H. W. Marsh saw the traveling light it was at least five miles away. He thought that it was attached to some aerial vessel, owing to its wavering motion through the atmosphere.
E. Caverly saw the light, but refused to be interviewed on the subject, evidently deeming it to be uncanny.
M. T. Shelly, a gentleman of undoubted veracity, saw the airship's light, and at one time, when the craft careened somewhat so as to partially obscure the light, he caught sight of the vessel itself, which he declared to be a cigar-shaped recepticle, with what seemed to be a dark wall above it.
Hundreds of similar interviews could be obtained. In this connection the Evening Bee publishes the following account:
Startled citizens last night living at points of the city along a rough diagonal line, yet far distant from each other, declare that they not only saw the phenomenon but they also heard voices issuing from it in midair — not the whispering of angels, not the sepulchral mutterings of evil spirits, but the intelligible words and the merry laughter of humans. At those intervals where the glittering object, as if careless of its obligation to maintain a straightforward course, descended dangerously near the housetops voices were heard in the sky saying:
"'Lift her up, quick; you are making directly for that steeple.'
"Then the light in the sky would be seen obeying some mystic touch and ascending to a considerable height, from which it would take up again its southwesterly course. The light sailed along the line of K street, so it appeared from those in the eastern part of the city, although it appears that after it had passed Fourteenth street it was wafted far south of K. Laughter and words sounding strange in the distance, though fairly intelligible, fell upon the ears of pedestrians along the course or the light who had paused to look up at the novelty.
"Last night's Bee contained a. telegram from New York announcing that a man had perfected an airship and would on Friday of this week, accompanied by one or two friends, ascend from a vacant lot in the metropolis and go directly to California, which he promised to reach In two days. The description furnished in the telegram included an apparatus which was electrical, to supply light and power for the astonishing contrivance.
"It is not regarded as likely, in view of the announcement contained in the dispatch, that last night Sacramento was overswept by this aerial ship.
"But here is the incident — here the chronicle of words heard, of a strange spectacle witnessed. Whence the light, which was not a meteor all agree, came, whither it went, where it now is — these things it is not within the capacity of this article to deal with."
Then follow interviews similar to those obtained by The Call representative.
Among the eye-witnesses of last night's singular spectacle the wildest speculations are rife. As to the destination and object to be obtained by this night voyage of a reputed airship, one of these onlookers informed The Call representative that in his opinion it was the same invention which it is rumored Edison claimed to have perfected and offered to the Government at the time when the Venezuelan boundary question came up, and that now that relations were strained with Spain the Government has sent a party of engineers out in the airship to test its practicability, and that they were keeping away from populous localities, except during the night trips.
The opinion of the masses is, however, that some lucky inventor, having solved the mystery of aerial navigation, is, with his companions, testing his invention in secret, with no intent of allowing a curious public to view it until his rights are fully protected by letters patent. Tbey presume tnat he is traveling by night and laying by in desert spots during the day. Be that as it may, there can be no possible doubt that an aerial vessel of some kind passed over Sacramento last night, and hundreds of the residents of this city will so testify.
The residents of Oak Park claim to have a little mystery of their own which may possible bearing of this subject. They state that yesterday afternoon an object was seen in the sky at such a great elevation as to be almost indistinguishable. It moved slowly in a circle, leaving a volume of smoke behind it. This phenomenon was seen by many, who are unable to account for it.
A rumor is afloat in the city to-night that the airship was constructed near this city and that a trial trip was attempted last evening, a cable being used to confine the machine to a certain elevation.
It is stated that the cable parted and the vessel then drifted over the city and became the observed of all observers. This rumor cannot be confirmed at this late hour, but it is claimed that T. Allen, who formerly conducted an employment office in this city, states that such is the case and that one of the men who had made the ascension had informed him that the trial was a success and the vessel worked well, except that it was impossible to fully control its movements. In consequence the inventors had, after going toward San Francisco aways, returned and landed in a vacant field some distance from Arcade and about six miles from the city limits. This tale is not generally credited.
<Drawing of airship with 4 propellers>
The Airship That Passed Over Sacramento Tuesday Evening, as Described by Scores of Eye-Witnesses.
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