By Jay Mark
Look! Up in the sky! It's a bird! It's a plane!
It's a flying saucer dirigible! And it's over Mesa, Arizona.
Newspapers around the country dutifully followed the progress of the efforts of Clarence and Darwin Conrad, a father-and-son team who in the mid-'70s were actively engaged in reviving the age of zeppelins with modern lighter-than-air vehicles.
In the June 17, 1977, edition of the Mesa Tribune, readers were alerted to an impending UFO-like sighting.
"When people in the Valley area see an 80-foot flying saucer floating over the valley within the next few months," the paper wrote, "they won't be too alarmed or think it's an invasion from Mars."
The story begins about 1969 when Clarence Conrad, an electrical engineer and private pilot from Spokane, Wash., began to build an airship modeled on dirigibles popularized in Germany in the 1920s and '30s. It was a passion years in the making. . . .
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