Saturday, August 11, 2007

Mystery Airship of Maine 1915

Guest post by Loren Coleman!

For those that think the early 20th Century's "mysterious airship" reports only occurred in the Midwest, here's an example, via my friend Jerome Clark, for Maine.

Loren Coleman

Daily Kennebec Journal
March 2, 1915

Maine Gossip


The mysterious airship has been seen again, this time over South Portland, and the direction which it took when it left this vicinity substantiates the story relative to the craft which appeared Feb. 21 in the Portland Press.

It will be remembered it was reported that a couple of young men had built a machine that would run as well in cold weather as warm and were experimenting with it in this section, having their hangar in a secret place up the Mountain division of the Maine Central Railroad.

When the airship appeared over South Portland a respectable citizen who happened to be out of doors was attracted by the noise of the motors and it was so near to earth that he could hear two men talking. They appeared to be trying to get their bearings as they sailed about and flashed their searchlight, and finally when they had crossed the Fore river, they turned the machine and went off in the direction of the mountains at a great rate of speed.

It is interesting to note that it was a Portland, Maine, publisher (Leighton & Frey Souvenir View Co.) who produced a lithographed booklet titled "California Midwinter International Exposition San Francisco; California January 1st to June 30th 1894." Among this pamphlet's wondrous features is a curious contraption not dissimilar to that credited with the rash of "mystery airship" sightings on the West Coast in 1896, two years later. This is pointed out by Jesse Glass, who kindly provides a scan of the image inquestion on his webpage, with notes. "On page eight appears an enigmatic drawing, and an equally enigmatic title, which says, simply: 'This machine will fly.' Beneath it we see what is unmistakably a cigar-shaped dirigible with a wing-like, rotary appendage, presumably repeated on the opposite side, not visible to us (see Illustration). [Source]

This is not the only tie to Maine encountered in this peculiar saga. Early reports about the inventor of the airship included this information: "... the inventor was a wealthy native of Maine who had sought the seclusion of the West, settling at Oroville in 1891. Using parts manufactured in the East and shipped to his home, he had spent one hundred thousand dollars on his creation. He finally completed the airship and flew to Sacramento and on to San Francisco." Purportedly, this man was one Dr. E. H. Benjamin, a nonpracticing dentist. Later stories contradicted and refuted various parts of this initial announcement. [Source]

No comments: