18th Century
UFO Sighting Chronology

Popular Mechanics, September 1930, #3 depicts an 1897 craft
Credit: (Jim Klotz)

Released, Dec. 17, 2006; updated 14 Jan 2015
This 6-page report is derived primarily from the Magonia Database, sightings catalogued by Jacques Vallee and presented in his great work, Passport to Magonia. No doubt some of these came from Charles Fort. This report deals only with sightings prior to the 20th Century. Four entries, at the time of this writing that is, were taken from the UFO Evidence, 1964 (Hall). The illustration used above came from Jim Klotz' wonderful web site,

Our thanks for ALL these chronologies must go to our documentation team: Richard Hall (the original 1968 chronology from UFOE II), William Wise (Project Blue Book Archive), Dan Wilson (archive researcher), and Brad Sparks (Comprehensive Catalog of Project Blue Book Unknowns). Last, but not least, our thanks to Jean Waskiewicz who created the online NICAP DBase (NSID) that helped make it possible to link from the cases to the reports themselves. .

In regard to the "airship sightings" (particularly the 1897 incidents), on June 23 of this year (2006) I received an email from Thomas Eddie Bullard, the leading expert on these events. His email is presented in its entirety in the link given. To summarize, there are two sentences that say it all:  "I've come to the conclusion that there are no genuine UFOs among the 1897 airships, though the matter is more complicated that just hoaxes."......"The reliable airship stories are not spectacular and the spectacular airship stories are not reliable.  This pattern repeats throughout the two thousand or more reports until there is nothing left that I would want to stand up and defend as a genuine UFO.  There are some impressive UFOs pre-1947, but they are not to be found in the various sightings waves of UFO prehistory."

In December of 2006 Dr. Eddie Bullard provided a report by a medical doctor/amateur astronomer that looks like the first incident that can be classified as an actual UFO. See Brad Sparks' report, April 15, 1897; St. Louis, MO.

Francis Ridge
NICAP Site Coordinator

Aug. 6, 1860; Norfolk, Virginia
Two objects, one red and one green, flew overhead together, moving with an undulating motion.
 (NICAP UFO Evidence, 1964, Hall)

July 1868; Copiago, Chile
A strange "aerial construction" bearing lights and making engine noises flew low over this town. Local people also described it as a giant bird covered with large scales producing a metallic noise. Although not an actual landing, this is the first instance of close observation of an unknown object at low altitude in the nineteenth century. (Magonia #1, Fort 638; Anatomy 11)

Dec. 7, 1872; Banbury, Great Britain
1:00 a.m. At King's Sutton an object resembling a haystack flew on an irregular course. Sometimes high, sometimes very low it was accompanied by fire and dense smoke. It produced the same effect as a tornado, felling trees and walls. It suddenly vanished. (Magonia #2, Fort 189)

1877; England
Three meteor-like objects moving together with "remarkable slowness" flew across the sky, visible about three minutes, "moving with the same velocity and grade of regularity. . [as] a flock of wild geese." [Credit: Charles Fort, from Report of the British Association, 1877-152]

1880; Aldershot, Great Britain
A strange being dressed in tight-fitting clothes and shining helmet soared over the heads of two sentries, who fired without result. The apparition stunned them with something described as "blue fire." (Magonia #3, FSR 61, 3; Magonia)

May 15, 1879; Persian Gulf
9:40 p.m. Two very large "wheels" were seen spinning in the air and slowly coming to the surface of the sea. Estimated diameter: 40 m. Distance between the objects: 150 m. Speed: 80 km/h/ Duration: 35 min. Witnesses aboard the ship "Vultur" (Magonia #4, Round up 17; Anatomy 12)

1880; Eastern Venezuela
A 14-year-old boy saw a luminous ball descending from the sky and hovering near him. He felt somehow "drawn" to it, but succeeded in backing away in spite of his terror. (Magonia #5, Lor. III 2O6)

March 26, 1880; Lamy, New Mexico
Evening. Four men walking near Galisteo Junction were surprised as they heard voices coming from a "strange balloon," which flew over them. It was shaped like a fish and seemed to be guided by a large fanlike device. There were eight to ten figures aboard. Their language was not understood. The object flew low over Galisteo Junction and rose rapidly toward the east. (Magonia #6, FSR 65, 3)

June 11, 1881; Between Melbourne and Sydney at sea, Australia
4:00 a.m. The two sons of the Prince of Wales, one of them the future king of England, were cruising aboard "LaBacchante" when an object resembling a fully lighted ship was seen ("a phantom vessel all aglow"). (Magonia #7, Fort 637; Anatomy 12)

July 3, 1884; Norwood, N.Y.
Saturn-shaped UFO (globe with central ring) flew slowly overhead. [Credit: Charles Fort, from Science Monthly, 2-136]

Nov. 2, 1885; Scutari, Turkey
Dawn. A luminous object circled the harbor. Altitude: 5-6 m. Illuminated the whole town. Duration: 1 1/2 min, as a bluish-green flame. Then plunged into the sea. Made several circles above the ferry-boat pier. (Magonia #8, LDLN 48; Anatomy 14)

Oct. 24, 1886; Maracaibo, Venezuela
During the night, which was rainy and tempestuous, a family of nine persons, sleeping in a hut a few leagues from Maracaibo, were awakened by a loud humming noise and a vivid, dazzling light, which brilliantly illuminated the interior of the house. The occupants completely terror stricken, and believing, as they relate, that the end of the world had come, threw themselves on their knees and commenced to pray, but their devotions were almost immediately interrupted by violent vomiting, and extensive swellings commenced to appear in the upper part of their bodies, this being particularly noticeable about the face and lips. It is to be noted that the brilliant lights was not accompanied by a sensation of heat, although there was a smoky appearance and a peculiar smell. The next morning, the swellings had subsided, leaving upon the face and body large black blotches. No trace of lightning could afterward by observed in any part of the building, and all the sufferers unite in saying that there was no detonation, but only the loud humming already mentioned. Another curious attendant circumstance is that the trees around the house showed no signs of injury until the ninth day, when they suddenly withered. (From Warner Cowgill, U. S. Consulate, Maracaibo, Venezuela in a letter posted in Scientific American).
Nov. 12, 1887  Cape Race, Atlantic Ocean
Midnight. A huge sphere of fire was observed rising out of the ocean by witnesses aboard the "Siberian." It rose to an altitude of 16 m, flew against the wind, and came close to the ship, then "dashed oft" toward the southeast. Duration:  5 min. (Magonia #9, LDLN 48; Anatomy 14)

1896-1897--Mysterious "Airship" reported all across United States.

1896; Arolla, near Zermatt,  Swiss Alps
Aleister Crowley was walking in the mountains when he suddenly saw two little men. He made a gesture to them, but they did not seem to pay attention and disappeared among the rocks. (Magonia #10, Magic Without Tears, by A. Crowley) (Note: Crowley was the notorious Satanist.)

March 26, 1897;  Sioux City, Iowa
Approximate date. Robert Hibnight bard was caught by an anchor dropped from an unknown flying machine 22 km north of the town. He was dragged over 10 m and fell as his clothes were torn. (Magonia #11, FSR 66, 4)

March 28, 1897; Omaha, Nebraska
10:30 p.m. The majority of the population observed an object arriving from the southeast. It  looked like a huge light, flew northwestward slowly, came to low altitude. A crowd gathered at a street corner to watch it. (Magonia #12, 185)

April 1, 1897; Everest, Kansas
9:00 p.m. The whole town saw an object fly under the cloud ceiling. It came down slowly, then flew away very fast to the southeast. When directly over the town it swept the ground with its powerful light. It was seen to rise up at fantastic speed until barely discernible, then to come down again and sweep low over the witnesses. At one point it remained stationary for 5 min at the edge of a low cloud, which it illuminated. All could clearly see the silhouette of the craft. (Magonia #13, FSR 66, 4)

April 12, 1897; Nilwood, Illinois
2:30 p.m. On the property of Z. Thacker, 19 km north of Carlinville, an unknown object landed. Before the three witnesses could reach it, the craft, which was shaped like a cigar with a dome, rose slowly and left majestically toward the north. Witnesses: Edward Teeples, William Street and Franklin Metcalf. (Magonia #14, 186; Anatomy 12)

Apr. 12, 1897  Girard, near Green Ridge, Illinois
6:00 p.m. A large crowd of miners saw an unknown object land 3 km north of Green Ridge and 4 km south of Girard. The night operator of the Chicago-and-Alton Railroad, Paul McCramer, stated that he came sufficiently close to the craft to see a man emerge from it to repair the machinery. Traces were found over a large area. The object itself was elongated like a ship with a roof and a double canopy. It left toward the north. (Magonia #15, 186,187)

April 14, 1897; Gas City, Indiana
3:00 p.m. An object landed 2 km south of Gas City on the property of John Roush, terrifying the farmers and causing the horses and cattle to stampede. Six occupants of the ship came out and  seemed to make some repairs. Before the crowd could approach the object, it rose rapidly and flew toward the east. (Magonia #16, 188)

April 14, 1897; Cleveland, Ohio
Joseph Singler, captain of the "Sea Wing," was fishing with S. H. Davis, of Detroit, when they saw on the lake what they thought was a  ship, about 13 m long, with a canopy. A man, about 25 years old, wearing a hunting jacket and a cap, was fishing from the deck of the object. Near him were a woman and a 10-year old child. When the "Sea Wing" came close to the craft, a large, colored balloon rose from the object, which flew up with it to an altitude of about 150 m and circled "like a hawk" before flying away. (Magonia #17, 189)

April 15, 1897; Linn Grove, Iowa
Morning. A large object was seen to fly slowly toward the north. It seemed ready to land and five men (F. G. Ellis, James Evans, David Evans, Joe Croaskey, Benjamin Buland) drove toward it. About 7 km north of Linn Grove, they found the craft on the ground, came within 700 m of it but it "spread its four giant wings and rose towards the North." Two strange figures aboard the craft made efforts to conceal themselves. Witnesses were surprised at the length of their hair. Most residents of Linn Grove saw the craft in flight. (Magonia #18, 190)

April 15, 1897; Howard-Artesian, South Dakota
Nightfall. A flying object coming closer and closer to the ground followed a train, as reported by the engineer, Joe Wright (Magonia #19, FSR 66,4)

April 15, 1897; St. Louis, MO
7:45 p.m. This is the first report from the entire period to be declared a possible UFO. Dr. Eddie Bullard provided this report to Brad Sparks in Dec. 2006. A Medical doctor/amateur astronomer observed a cigar shaped object with a telescope.
9:00 p.m. A passenger train on the Wabash line, going toward Quincy, was followed by a low-flying object for 15 min between Perry Springs and Hersman. All the passengers saw the craft, which had a red and white light. After Hersman it flew ahead of the train and disappeared rapidly, although the train was then running at 65 km/h. (Magonia #20, 190)

April 15, 1897; Springfield, Illinois
Two farm workers, Adolph Winkle and John Hulle, saw a strange craft in a field. They had a discussion with its occupants, a woman and two men, and were told the ship-had flown from Quincy to Springfield in 30 min and that the crew was making electrical repairs. (Magonia #21, FSR 65,1)

April 16, 1897; Downs Township, Illinois
Approximate date. While working in his field, Haney Savidge saw an aerial craft land near him. Six people emerged from it and spoke to him for a few minutes before leaving again. (Magonia #22, 191)

April 16, 1897; Vincennes, IN
9:00 p.m. A mysterious airship passed over the city twice on the night of Friday, April 16. According to the Vincennes Morning Commercial, the airship first appeared about nine o'clock, traveling along the extreme eastern portion of the horizon: A sphere of golden light was first seen in the vicinity of the Union Depot, from down in the city. Those near the ship claimed they could clearly see the dark lines of its car, although no passengers were observed. (The Valley Advance, Vincennes, Indiana, March 18, 1980 Vol. 16, No. 28. Taken from Vincennes Morning Commercial April 16, 1897)

April 17, 1897; Williamston, Michigan
Morning. At least a dozen farmers saw an object maneuver in the sky for an hour before it landed. A strange man near 3 m tall, almost naked and suffering from the heat, was the pilot of the craft. "His talk, while musical, seemed to be a repetition of bellowings." One farmer went near him and received a blow that broke his hip. (Magonia #23; 196)

April 19, 1897; Leroy, Kansas
10:30 p.m. Alexander Hamilton was awakened by a noise among the cattle and went out with his son and his tenant. They saw an elongated cigar-shaped object, about 100 m long with a transparent cabin underneath showing narrow reddish bands, hovering 10 m above ground. They approached within 50 m of it. It was illuminated and equipped with a searchlight. Inside it were "six of the strangest beings" the witness had seen, also described as "hideous." They spoke a language no witness could understand. A cow was dragged away by the object with the help of a strong red cable; it was found butchered in a field the next day. (Magonia #24, Anatomy 16)

April 20, 1897; Homan, Arkansas
6:00 p.m. Capt. James Hooton was hunting in the vicinity of Homan when he heard the noise of a steam engine and found an object in a clearing. It looked like a cylinder with pointed ends, lateral wheels, and horizontal blade over it. Hooton spoke with a man who wore dark glasses and walked behind the craft. There were three or four occupants. The witness was told this was indeed "The Airship" and that it used compressed air for propulsion. Hooton saw the wheels spin as the craft rose and flew away. (Magonia #25, FSR 66, 4)

April 22, 1897; Rockland, Texas
John M. Barclay was intrigued when his dog barked furiously and a high-pitched noise was heard. He went out, saw a flying object circling 5 m above ground. Elongated with protrusions and blinding lights, it went dark when it landed. Barclay was met by a man who told him his purpose was peaceful and requested some common hardware items to repair the craft. He paid with a ten-dollar bill and took off "like a bullet out of a gun."  (Magonia #26, 192)

April 22, 1897; Josserand, Texas
Midnight. Frank Nichols, who lived 3 km east of Josserand and was one of its most respected citizens, was awakened by a machine noise. Looking outside, he saw a heavy, lighted object land in his wheat field. He walked toward it, was stopped by two men who asked permission to draw water from his well. He then had a discussion with a half-dozen men, the crew of the strange machine. He was told how it worked but could not follow the explanation. (Magonia #27, 193)

April 23, 1897; McKinney Bayou, Arkansas
Judge Lawrence A. Byrne of Texarkana, Arkansas, was surveying a tract of land when he saw a peculiar object anchored on the ground. "It was manned by three men who spoke a foreign language, but judging from their looks one would take them to be Japs." (Farish, in Allende Letters (Magonia #28, Award Special, 1968) )

April 25, 1897; Merkel, Texas
Evening. People returning from church observed a heavy object being dragged along the ground by a rope attached to a flying craft. The rope got caught in a railroad track. The craft was too high for its structure to be visible but protrusions and a light could be distinguished. After about 10 min a man came down along the rope cut the end free, and went back aboard the craft, which flew away toward the northeast. The man was small and dressed in a light-blue uniform. (Magonia #29, 194)

April 26, 1897; Aquila-Hillsboro, Texas
Approximate date. A lawyer was surprised to see a lighted object fly over. His horse was scared and nearly toppled the carriage. When the main light was turned off, a number of smaller lights became visible on the underside of the dark object, which supported an elongated canopy. It went down toward a hill to the south, 5 km from Aquila. When the witness was on his way back one hour later he saw the object rising. It reached the altitude of the cloud ceiling and flew to the northeast at a fantastic speed with periodic flashes of light. (Magonia #30, 195)

May. 6, 1897; Hot Springs, Arkansas
Two policemen, Sumpter and McLenore, were riding northwest of Hot Springs when they saw a bright light in the sky. About 7 km farther they saw the light again coming down to the ground. One km farther the horses refused to walk. Two men were seen carrying lights. The lawmen took their rifles, called the strangers, and were told that they crossed the country with a flying craft. The silhouette of the machine, about 20 m long, could be seen in the clearing. There was a woman with an umbrella nearby. It was raining, and the younger of the men was filling a large container with water. The elder man had a beard and suggested that the policemen fly with them "to a place where it does not rain." The same witness went back through the same spot 40 min later and found nothing. (Magonia #31, FSR 66, 4)

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