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Chris Aubeck provided an 1858 airship sighting in his book with Jacques Vallee, Wonders in the Sky [Jeremy P. Tarcher/Penguin, New York, 2009, Page 325 ff.].
A Mr. Henry Wallace saw “a large and curiously constructed vessel…[with] A number of very tall people [aboard it],” which the recorder [Mr. Wallace] of the event believes was “a vessel from Venus, Mercury, or the planet Mars, on a visit of pleasure or exploration, or some other cause.” [Page 326]
Wallace elaborated: “The vessel was evidently worked by wheels and other mechanical appendages, all of which worked with a precision and a degree of beauty never yet attained by any mechanical skill upon this planet.” [ibid]
“This was no phantom that disappeared in a twinkling [Wallace continued] … but this aerial ship was guided, propelled and steered through the atmosphere with the most scientific system and regularity, about sic miles per hour, though, doubtless, from the appearance of her machinery, she was capable of going thousands of miles an hour.” [ibid]
Mr. Aubeck indicates that the source of this story was Dr. William Earl, in The Illustrated Silent Friend, embracing subjects never before scientifically discussed (New York, 1858).
Mr. Aubeck also noted that he couldn’t verify the story, “the claim rest[ing] on the veracity of names that cannot be verified today.” [ibid]
This story would be (will be) dismissed by those who need more evidentiary proof.
Imaginative types will find it intriguing, not as a true account perhaps, but as an imaginative fiction or fantasy on the part of Mr. Wallace or Mr. Earl.
What is interesting, no matter what stance one takes about the account, is how the portrayer “reported” it: from a planet in our Solar System, with tall beings on board, and an advanced machine (although it is primitive by our flying craft configurations today).
Why tall beings?
Did Mr. Wallace actually see such beings? Or was his fantasy impregnated by what persons thought outer space beings would be like….tall and imposing, not short or weak looking, as the “grays” are depicted by fictive accounts today?
What changed in the human mind-set, from 1858 to 1961 (the Hill account)? Aside from the dwarf-like entities of the 1950s (mostly in countries outside the United States), most beings were either normal size (pretty much) – the Villas Boas case – or less than tall, with exceptions, such as Voronezh .
Such reported details, as that of Wallace et al., could be used to determine what stories have a kind of veracity or indicate a made-up account, either duplicitously or because of a mental malfunction.
Is there any practical value in making such an effort?
An account of “tall beings” in 1858 can’t be proven as true, at this late stage of the game.
And reports of “grays” are besotted by the “little gray meme” now ubiquitous in the cultural consciousness so that pursuit can’t bear fruit, really.
What one ends up dealing with is the psychopathology of the cultural milieu in which being-reports accrue.
That is an anthropological query or pursuit, one which has little value, academically and no value practically.
Mr. Aubeck’s rendition titillates somewhat, that’s all.
It tells us what one person from the mid-Nineteenth Century thought about life beyond the Earth; it’s the Jules Verne approach to extraterrestrial life, which is for imaginations, not journalism or reality.
Today’s UFO reports have to be seen in the same way, as part of the collective meme, nothing more.
Beings from outer space, whether real or not (actually not), have no impact on human life, then or now.
Paying too much attention (or any attention) to such fantastic tales is not mentally healthy or imbued with human value.
Why we do it is a matter for the sociologist, not the recorder of what is meaningful for life, here and now….”meaningful” being the operative word here.