Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Something Quick

Someone just sent me the following case, and it is interesting. Hope you think so too. The incident, if other resources have not contradicted it, could possibly be one of those rarest of UFOlogical birds: the pre-20th century UFO phenomenon in action. Well, here it is:

The Summer of 1851, the Hohen Tauren mountains in the Tyrolian Alps. On his normal summer vacation, high school history and geography "professor", Karl Schneider, was going to indulge in one of his great pleasures: a climb of a major alpine mountain. He began his climb at 4:30am and by 3pm had reached one of the little climbers' huts which were there as mountaineering shelters. He sat down on a stone to rest. The Sun was brilliantly shining without a cloud in the sky.

"Suddenly I heard a noise like a faint chord played on a distant organ. It grew in intensity until it became a loud humming. I looked up--- and there it was in the sky--- the object that I shall call a 'heavenly body' for want of a better word.

"It looked to me like a potter's wheel at first, flying through space, and it moved across the sky with unbelievable speed. It made a full circle, remaining in my view all that time, that is for the better part of a minute. It was silvery, but not made of silver, but a strange unknown metal that glittered in the sunlight and dazzled my eyes.

"It was round in shape, but slightly narrowing at one point, and from this narrowing point came a thick fog that sometimes looked like ordinary smoke, sometimes turned milky-white, and sometimes scintillated yellowish in the Sun."

When the thing had completed its circle for him, it "twisted" in the air and shot straight upwards and away. At that time Schneider noticed a sort of muzzle like the nose of a swordfish on the leading edge. On ascent, the rear area burst forth blue and red flames. Schneider admitted that he could not guess the thing's size, but said that if he had to guess, he'd say 100 meters in diameter or larger.

It was not until he returned down the mountain and discussed the sighting with friends and family, that the idea grew on him that he must have seen some machine from distant space. It became in his mind a "Sternenschiff", a Ship from the Stars.

Of course no one believed him, even his wife [although he had no reputation whatever for making things up, nor general tomfoolery, earlier]. Even Christian Churches railed against his idea of an outer space intelligence. Their narrowness was not ready to think about multiple "humans" all needing Christ-like visitations and redemptions. To his credit, Schneider never went back on his tale, even under extreme heat to do so. He returned many times to that little schutzhut to keep a lonely vigil in hopes of seeing the Starship again.

Well, if no one knows more: I like it.


  1. I like these pre-20th Century accounts for many reasons. They undercut that feverish urgency felt by many that UFOs represent something dark and oppressive. They may well be, for all we know, yet their presence for centuries suggests invasion isn't imminent. These older reports cut to the heart of the clannish belief systems that have developed around UFOs in the past decades.

    A reason for feeling uncomfortable with these apparently very old sightings is that notion of answers. A 60+ year old mystery seems somehow less daunting than one that's possibly hundreds of years older. I'm only half-joking.

    It's good to see you blogging again; I recently saved the entire blog for off-line browsing at conference visits (700mb).

  2. Thanks. I'm embarrassed about it, but I re-read some of the past stuff myself to refresh my memories [particularly about the non-UFO material] and stimulate a new thought once in a while. Pretty intellectually narcissistic, I guess.

    The better really-old cases have been fine with me and my very imperfect hypotheses about UFOs. Since I think that there are many highly advanced extraterrestrials in the galaxy, I believe that many of them have known about and monitored Earth as a "location-of-interest" for a long time. And, since I have crudely reasoned that it is none of those advanced ETs to interfere with our development in any substantial way, the "old-ness" and the similarly locally-overt-while-culturally-covert pattern of mysteriousness feels non-threatening and right in line.

    Cases like the 1851 case, and if it stands to scrutiny it is one of a handful of the best, are quite thrilling in a simple "wonderment" sort of way.

    p.s. as a wild sub-text to the plot: I am beginning to see the WW2 and 1947-1952+ flying disks and "military-technology-like" phenomenon, as the product of that rare other extraterrestrial element that Earth should experience once in a long period --- namely, the blundering through of a civilization "on its way up" the technological scale, but which isn't in the Big Boys' League yet and probably doesn't know anything more about them than we do. This minor ET civilization might have been the sort that the Keyhoe-an stage of UFOlogy was correct about [as well as the USAF} and therefore still crude enough to make a mistake [Roswell]. I doubt that this crew is still around, ever since the mid-50s.

  3. Sorry for the missing word above [site doesn't seem to want me to edit/correct my own blundering comments]. Sentence should read: " since I have crudely reasoned that it is in none of those advanced ETs' INTERESTS to interfere...."

  4. Hi Professor - please add a reference to a source. Not that I don't trust you but I don't trust you.

  5. Launceton Tasmanis, The Examiner, December 9, 1950.

    Your second comment might have been meant as a joke --- it was not taken as such, and more importantly was not necessary. I ALWAYS try to share information. Typical of the miserable state of non-collegiality in all these fields of study.

  6. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  7. The article source has typos. It should be Launceston, Tasmania. The original article can be read here:


  8. In 2011 I put quite some effort into trying to get more data on this alleged sighting, reported by one Robert Walters, but I drew a blank. I leave it to our Austrian ufological colleagues to find out the truth of it. I have a hunch though that it might not be as it was reported.

    Best regards,