It seems every time I speak to a civics group, school class or just a casual outing with some elementary school kids, the question of my stance on UFOs comes up.
During my 60-plus years of observing the heavens, I can honestly say I’ve never seen what I would consider a true UFO. But the fact I haven’t seen one doesn’t mean I don’t believe they exist just as I firmly believe there is life elsewhere. We just haven’t found it yet ... or they haven’t revealed themselves to us.
For many of my readers who feel the way I do, please consider the following unsolved news items, one of which has a local interest:
“INDEPENDENCE, KAN. — The mysterious “airship” that has been seen at various points over Kansas and Nebraska paid southeastern Kansas a visit last night.
“It is said to have passed over this city at an early hour last night, and many people whose veracity is unquestioned declared they saw it.
“The strange light appeared in the southeast about 8 o’clock.
“The first person to see it thought it was a star, but it gradually came near and increased in brilliance.
“As it approached, it was observed that it did not travel in a straight line but darted first this way and that but always keeping on the same course.
“Suddenly it veered to the south, so those who were watching it affirm, then turned and passed directly over the city in a northwest direction
“When first observed, it appeared very low, but as it approached it rose higher and higher and passed over the city at a considerable height and traveling at a high rate of speed.
“After it passed, it is said that it again descended and for five minutes appeared perfectly stationary. Then it was set it motion, darting back and forth, up and down, and after a short interval continued on its journey and disappeared gradually in the northwest.
“It was about a half hour from the time it was first seen until it disappeared.”
Ten days later, another news story appeared:
“UNDERWOOD, IOWA — A very peculiar and brilliant light was seen to pass over the city last night about 9 o’clock.
“It came down quite low until within a mile or so of here, and then it ascended. When it was over the city, it was quite high.
“After it passed over, it went down much lower and the shape of the machine could be distinctly seen.
“It was like a boat, and had something on each side, which seemed to be wings. It was brilliantly lighted and could be very easily distinguished from the stars even at its greatest height.
“At least two reputable citizens saw it, and it was watched until it disappeared in a northeasterly direction.”
Could it have been the same object seen over Underwood that was seen hovering over Independence? Perhaps.
These two stories appeared in the April 5 and April 16 editions of The Daily Nonpareil back in 1897 ... 121 years ago.