Friday, June 7, 2019

It Is to Be Used to Destroy the City of Havana -- June 7, 2019

San Francisco Call, 27-November-1896
There were many sightings of unidentified flying objects in the United States during the late 1890s. I wonder what people saw. The Cuban junta may have been the Cuban Revolutionary Party, founded by José Martí. Martí was killed in battle in 1896. No one seems very concerned about the inventor proposing to destroy Havana. The "Normal student" who was at Mrs Young's house was studying to be a teacher at what is now San Jose State University.  A "boniface" is someone who runs a restaurant or a hotel.

This is our sixth report from the San Francisco Call.

18-November-1895: "Claim They Saw a Flying Airship"
23-November-1896: "The Great Airship That is Startling the People of Many Cities"
24-November-1896: "The Apparition of the Air"
25-November-1896: "Mission of the Aerial Ship"
26-November-1896: "The Mystery Again Seen at the Capital"

W. H. H. Hart Tells of the Length of the Airship.
It Is to Be Used to Destroy the City of Havana For the Junta.
No Trouble to Navigate the Sky Now That a Perfect Storage Battery Is Invented.

The subject of the airship and lights seen by the people of half a dozen counties has not lost any of the interest in the public mind. Notwithstanding the fact that the weather was very cold last evening hundreds of people on both sides of the bay spent considerable time out of doors looking for the mysterious lights to reappear and skip across the sky.

Up to a late hour no lights were seen, and the impression was that the inventor and his assistants were taking a night off and enjoying a Thanksgiving dinner and a little rest.

The legal representative, however, says that the men never rest, but are hard at work improving and perfecting defective parts oi the machinery. He promises that ere long the public will have positive proof that the ship exists.

Attorney W. H. H. Hart is as enthusiastic over the airship in which he is interested as though the matter were that of praise instead of ridicule on the part of the unbelieving. He seems to be thoroughly convinced that he has a good thing, and if there are those who regard the whole affair as a hoax or a fake, Mr. Hart says they will have to remain in ignorance so much longer.

That it exists and has made successful flights be has no doubt, although he has not seen it.

Of those who are convinced that there is such a thing as an airship Mr. Hart said: "It will be a matter of only a very short time before they can say, 'I told you so.' Even if I had not personal knowledge, I would be very careful about branding the thing as a fake. The position of The CALL has been fair and impartial. It has simply published the statements of those who saw that which they believed to be an airship, and has made no attempt to convince the general public that these people were either fools or had wheels in their heads."

The attorney, in the course of a long conversation upon this all-important subject, explained a number of features that heretofore have not been made public. In the first place he gave the length of the airship as about 125 feet and of a width in proportion to its length. This corresponds to the statement of W. J. Taylor of East Oakland, who said the airship he saw on Wednesday evening looked like a large whale. Another important disclosure was that the inventor and Mr. Hurt nave already discussed a proposition to construct another airship of not over fifty feet in length, to be used for war purposes principally.

"The one the inventor has now," said Mr. Hart, "is too large and uses up too much power in running against the wind — that is, it presents too much surface to the wind — and the one we are thinking of constructing will carry the same apparatus and power. The amount of power now used to operate the big airship will last twice as long and do much more service if applied to a smaller ship."

"Do you seriously consider the building of another airship?" was asked. "Yes, if there is any inducement. I see in to-day's paper that the Cuban Junta wants to purchase Cuba's liberty from Spain for a hundred million dollars. Now our ship would secure the same results at a much less figure. I talked with the inventor yesterday morning and he said that if the Cubans would give him $10,000,000 be would wipe out the Spanish stronghold of Cuba."

"Would he demand the cash in advance or its equivalent in securities?"

"Oh, no. The new Cuban Government would be good for such a debt. All he would want would be the dynamite. He would furnish the rest and do the job."

The attorney spoke of how the inventor with his airship and deadly explosive would do the job with as little emotion as though it was a nest of rats instead of a city of wealth, power and beauty. Resuming, he said:

"If such an agreement or contract is made the airship can be taken to New York and shipped by steamer to Cuba. My suggestion is that it be landed not far from the scene of operations. I advised that a balloon be used to raise the airship to the desired height, so as to save the power stored in the storage battery. When the ship is raised to the desired height the balloon can be cut loose and the airship go about its business. When it gets through dropping dynamite into Havana it would still have plenty of power left to get back to where it started from."

"And the inventor will do this job for 110,000,000?"

"So he says. He asserts that he is not in need of money and that it will only take about thirty days to build a smaller airship. The material would cost considerable, as aluminum comes high. He could put the smaller ship into perfect working order for about $25,000 or $30,000, and I believe that he will construct such an airship before long."

The attorney was led off to the subject of the power need on the airship and, as before, he said that it is electricity stored in a storage battery. He has an interest, he said — a part interest — in a new storage battery so light that it practically overcomes one of the greatest obstacles of aerial navigation. Mr. Hart continued, saying:

"For a long time scientists puzzled their heads over the question how they could secure a large amount of power without carrying a large amount of weight. This has been accomplished in the Fargo storage battery in which I am interested. I can put in an airship a twenty horse power battery that will not weigh over 100 pounds that will run continuously for ten hours. It does not require any more power to run the airship that my client has operated lately."

"Has he a Fargo storage battery in his ship?"

'Well, I am not at liberty to state at present. The inventor of the Fargo storage battery and the inventor of the airship are personal friends, and as I was interested in the new battery it may account for my being called into the airship scheme. I do know that this battery would give all the power such an airship would require, and it can be easily charged from any common motor."

The destruction of Havana by an airship came once more before the eye of Mr. Hart, and he said that the charging of the storage batteries might be a matter of difficulty in the neighborhood of Havana. The destroyer would not dare to go too near to the Spanish fortifications, as it is not bullet-proof. It might be difficult to secure electricity in the little tropical island. The battery might possibly be charged on the deck of the steamer from a dynamo run by the steamer's engines, but even that would be attended by great risk considering the vigilance of the Spanish cruisers.

"Would not international complications arise out of an aerial warship leaving the United States to destroy a Spanish city in Cuba?"

"Oh, no, not at all. The parties could go outside of the jurisdiction on a chartered or purchased steamer and sign the contract and make all of the arrangements necessary. No, the United States would not become involved in any annoyance with Spain. At any rate, the inventor is ready to take the risk and send an airship to Cuba for war purposes as soon as the Junta is ready to talk business."

While much of this conversation was taking place Mr. Hart was at the Chutes showing his little boy the hot air balloon. After the huge smoke-filled bag had shot into the air with the daring athlete dangling to the end of the parachute crossbar, and the excitement was over, the attorney started for home. Just before entering the house he said: "You can tell the public that in a very short time it wi11 have positive proof that the airship is a reality and not a hoax. I assert this, although 1 have not yet seen my client's airship. I am convinced that it exists, for I know that the main obstacle, sufficient power, has been overcome, and that was all that has stood in the way of aerial navigation tor years past."

Several People Saw Lights Moving In the Air Above the City.

SAN JOSE, CAL, Nov. 26.— The mysterious airship, according to the statements of many persons of good standing, passed over this city again this evening about 7 o'clock. The lights of the machine alone a:e alleged to have been seen, but all of the parties who saw these from different quarters agree as to the character and course pursued by the supposed airship.

Robert Shiels, an employe of the San Jose Art Emporium, was on San Carlo street, near Eighth, in the company of two young ladies, when his attention was called to the moving light by persons residing in the neighborhood. Mr. Shiels claims to have previously been skeptical in regard to the airship, but stated positively that he is now satisfied he saw the lights of the machine.

He said he at first saw one light about the size of an ordinary arc electric lamp. He stood still and watched the light moving westerly. It began to lower and then two lights were visible. When it arose again only one light could be seen.

The machine, he said, eventually took a southerly course, again displaying two lights which were visible for some time and then disappeared in the distance. George Brasted said he saw the light from the Julian-street road about three miles from this city. His description of its size and course agreed with that given by Shiels.

S. S. Farley, proprietor of the Mayverne Creamery, saw one large light moving rapidly westward. A turn south was made when two lights were visible. Mr. Farley's wife, Percy Steeves and a Miss Harris, who are neighbors, were with him at the time the supposed airship (something missing - JT) and substantiate his statement.

Mrs. B. P. Young, who resides at 328 East San Carlos street, stated that her attention was called to the supposed airship by the son of Mrs. Parkinson, who resides opposite, and who was sent to her house to tell her the airship was passing over the city. She went to the door in company with her daughter and a young lady, a Normal student, and they saw the moving light as stated. Each of these persons is satisfied that the lights they saw were attached to an airship.

Several Believe That the Airship Was Over Los Angeles.

LOS ANGELES. Cal., Nov. 26. — The now thoroughly famous airship, which has interested so many people in Central California for many days and nights, has apparently passed over the Tehachapi range, and was seen in Southern California last night by at least three persons of excellent reputation for truth and veracity. One of these is George Smith, the book dealer off Second and Main streets, who insists that be saw the aerial navigator and its lights while on a Pasadena car last night. Others of the passengers, Smith believes, also beheld the remarkable sight. Walter F. Parker, secretary of Mayor Rader, insists that he saw the airship while star-gazing last night, and Robert Kern, the well-known boniface, also adds his testimonial to the general credence of the reports made. None of these gentlemen ever gaze on the wine when it's red, hence their story does not need an affidavit.

It is also reported that Frank Smith, a brakeman on the Santa Barbara local train, saw mysterious lights in the San Fernando Valley last evening. The brakeman concluded that the overhead lights were meteors, and therefore did not communicate with any one on the train about the matter, but the proximity of at least three lights at the same time, moving on parallel lines, impressed him with the idea that the sight was a remarkable one. On relating his observations to a fellow railroader here to-day, he was reminded of the airship of the bay region. He afterward secured copies of The Call, read up the whole story for the first time, and is now confident that the aerial navigator is what he saw.

A remarkable feature of all the stories is that the lights were all seen at the same time and each individual describes exactly what the others saw, viz.: triple lights dancing in a zigzag way and moving on parallel lines from northwest to southeast and passing over the mountains toward Riverside.

Saw a Bright Light.

PETALUMA. Cal.. Nov. 26.— Almost the entire population of Petaluma was on the streets last evening about 7:30 o'clock, watching a distant twinkling, brilliant light moving horizontally and southward as well, which, under telescopic scrutiny, further showed what was apparently a dark cigar-shaped body, which evidently carried the light, so, though skeptics are numerous no doubt Petaluma was treated to a far-away view of the much-talked-of airship.

Viewed the Airship.

ALAMEDA, Cal., Nov. 26— During the excitement of the past three evenings over the reported airship the wags have made life miserable for many of the Alamedans. Monday night Max Gundlach and J. A. Riley, two well-known businessmen, were upon the street corner with a section of tin-conductor of a gutter-pipe, looking through it and insisting that they had a telescope and could see the outline of the aerial monster. They refused to allow anyone to look into it until they had been paid. Being so well known no one hesitated to pay the price asked. The people taken in refused to divulge the sell to others and so the joke went on indefinitely.

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