Cracking the 1896/97 Airships Mystery? Toward a Psycho-Sociocultural Explanation (Long Version) - Part I
By Gilles Fernandez
It is currently a draft format, and corrections, remarks, format, as fixing my bad English is under way.
The goal of this paper is to present the first elements toward a Psycho-Sociocultural Explanation for the famous airship wave of 1896-97; in other words, an explanation without resorting to mysterious or Fortean entities, and in accordance with the economy of hypotheses principle (Occam's Razor).
Note: the bibliography is available at the end of this document when it concerns paper sources. When the source or help is available online, we use hypertext links or notes.
Introduction and Problematic
The first and probably most famous of the so-called Airships waves is the great one of 1896/1897. The problematic is that there is a large number of testimonies, mainly in newspapers, of sightings of such aircraft. However, until scientific evidence to the contrary comes to light, man-made airship flights at this time and place are unknown to aeronautical history.
In other words, there are no historic or scientific evidence of the realization(s) and flight(s) of 1896/97 of such designs explaining what was observed. The historiographical material for the investigator consists in contemporary gazettes and newspapers. Despite some earlier press announcements, the wave really started with the mass sighting of November 17, 1896 around 6-7 PM. A strange light is alleged to have overflown above the city of Sacramento in California, and dozens of individuals seem to have observed, allegedly, an airship of egg-shape/cigar-shape design. The second foremost sighting occurred at Oakland/San Francisco (California again), the 20 November 1896. The narratives are also describing an airship. Such news were published by newspapers daily, and reports of airship sightings came from about twenty states by the end of the spring 1897. . . .
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