not russia related / random musings

Something amiss in M.—?

Gather ’round and I’ll tell you the tale of a midnight disturbance in J.T.-vale.

Well, technically it wasn’t quite midnight – more like 11:30pm. I was lying in bed trying to drift off to sleep, when from outside my window came the unmistakable hum of an aircraft. Big deal, you say. Considering how busy the skies are, there’s bound to be something flying at night. And right you are. But this aircraft sounded unlike any other one I’d heard in my life.

It wasn’t the boom of a jet, the chop of a helicopter, the whine of a Cessna, the rhythmic droning of a propeller plane, or the sputtering of an older model. It was a hum, low and even and strong. If it had propellers, I couldn’t hear them. Judging by the sound, I placed the aircraft somewhere above the treetops but not as high as helicopters typically fly.

(A good approximation of what it sounded like can be found in this track from Minecraft, at 0:02-0:08 and again from 0:12-0:23. Cut out some of the “bell” sounds and maybe switch the note to D.)

I slipped out of bed, donned some frayed slippers, and stepped out into the cool damp night. I didn’t take a flashlight or phone. The sky was stippled with stars and a few wispy clouds. Clear enough to see whatever was up there. The night was deathly quiet, save for the hum of the plane – even the crickets and neighborhood dogs had gone silent. Since my house lay at the bottom of a valley, bordered by trees on three sides, I ran up the hilltop to get a better view.

At first I didn’t see anything, but then – a piece of night sky detached itself from the darkness on my left and moved across my field of vision, not too far above the treetops. The hum grew louder, but I couldn’t see the routine flashing lights of a helicopter or passenger jet. Instead, it was almost as if the hull of the aircraft had been patterned to look like the stars around it (though it was slightly darker than the surrounding sky, so one could still make out its form). I stood on the hilltop and watched it for a few seconds. The aircraft passed over the treetops and out of sight, the hum receding into the distance with it.

Needless to say, I spent the remainder of the night scratching my head as to what I’d just seen.

The town of M.—, especially its rural quarters, is no stranger to odd aerial occurrences. In my 10+ years of living here, biplanes, triplanes, police helicopters, Ospreys, fighter jets, the ISS, blimps, and gliders have all graced the skies. I’ve watched jets flying in pairs behind my house and a police copter shine its spotlight onto a nearby cornfield at night, presumably looking for marijuana. In 2015, a WWII-era B-17 bomber was spotted flying over a residential area, and the local paper even wrote a story about it (the relic was being flown to a new hangar). Weirdest of all was an occurrence in April of this year: I was sitting in my room when a plane passed low over the house (unseen; sounded large, maybe smth. with four propellers), and at that very moment, my desktop, laptop, and cell phone all crashed/shut off. The two computers restarted once the plane was gone; I turned my phone on manually. (Coincidence?)

However, I’d never encountered a plane that sounded or looked like this before.

My explanation for what the strange aircraft might have been is twofold. First, there’s a small, privately-owned dirt airstrip on the south side of town. On clear days there’s a lot of activity, and people gather to watch Cessnas and biplanes take off. The aforementioned triplane uses this strip too. So the idea that the night-craft was a local enthusiast making a test flight with their new plane doesn’t seem too farfetched. However, the airstrip is small, and it doesn’t seem like it’s meant to handle planes as large as the mystery craft I saw. Why would a local enthusiast, even a wealthy one, want to buy such a large, complicated plane? Why would they fly it so late at night, and why would they want a hull and lights patterned to look like stars?

Hence I also suspect the night-craft might be of military origin. There is an Air Force base in my state, but it’s far to the northeast. I have seen jets and Ospreys pass over my house, but only during the day. Maybe the night-craft was an experimental/recon plane? That would explain everything from the strange noise and starry patterns to the need to fly it at night. But the presence of a weird military plane in little old M.— raises more questions than it answers…

So, what do you think I saw last night, readers? I’m not very knowledgeable about planes, but maybe one of you is. What kind of aircraft was it? Where might it have come from? And is there something amiss in M.—?

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6 thoughts on “Something amiss in M.—?

  1. plane coming in to land with engines idling or off (but would be far above treetop level in that case)
    drones can look like they’re moving in ways that seem unnatural if we’re used to planes, and make different buzz/hum sounds.

    hot air balloon? they can fly very low, move silently, and thus can appear over a tree and look suddenly large. the only sound is the burner, although you would presumably see that.

    air defense radars have been built in blimps recently.

    however, based on your description, i believe it is a UFO. if it happens again, take a pic 🙂

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  2. “It wasn’t the boom of a jet, the chop of a helicopter, the whine of a Cessna, the rhythmic droning of a propeller plane, or the sputtering of an older model. It was a hum, low and even and strong. If it had propellers, I couldn’t hear them. Judging by the sound, I placed the aircraft somewhere above the treetops but not as high as helicopters typically fly.

    […]

    Weirdest of all was an occurrence in April of this year: I was sitting in my room when a plane passed low over the house (unseen; sounded large, maybe smth. with four propellers), and at that very moment, my desktop, laptop, and cell phone all crashed/shut off. The two computers restarted once the plane was gone; I turned my phone on manually. (Coincidence?)

    […]

    So, what do you think I saw last night, readers? I’m not very knowledgeable about planes, but maybe one of you is. What kind of aircraft was it? Where might it have come from? And is there something amiss in M.—?”

    [Tinfoil hat mode: ON]

    https://scontent.cdninstagram.com/t51.2885-15/s640x640/sh0.08/e35/15338375_292005481195110_3310098825074442240_n.jpg?ig_cache_key=MTQwMTM0NzM3Mjg2NDM5Nzc1MA%3D%3D.2

    It’s parachronic UFO-like airship of his Imperial Majesty Norton I (Emperor of the United States and Protector of Mexico) breaking through space-time continuum to our turbulent present to MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!

    His Majesty Norton “has shed no blood, robbed no one, and despoiled no country, which is more than can be said for most fellows in the king line” – or so says the verdict on during his sanity’s hearings.

    Joshua Abraham Norton was born in Deptford (where Keith Marlowe was assassinated in 1593) on Valentine’s Day, 1819. His parents emigrated to South Africa in 1821, and after working as a ship’s chandler, Norton took ship for Rio and thence to San Francisco in the Golden Rush of 1849. In San Francisco, Norton prospered, buying five plots of land. By 1854, Norton was worth $250,000 – a considerable fortune. But he lost it all in a failed investment in rice futures – his ship came in, but it came in after three other ships had all dumped their cargoes of Peruvian rice, wiping out Norton’s investment. Lawsuits and other stock manipulations (and a brutal foreclosure on his mortgaged property by prominent San Francisco banker and future general William Tecumseh Sherman) left Norton bankrupt by August 1857. Norton couldn’t recover, and in September of 1859, with the city feverish after the assassination of Senator David Broderick by the lawyer David Terry, he realized that he could repair both his fortunes and those of the city by a sudden, dramatic act.

    He proclaimed himself Emperor.

    The papers printed Norton’s proclamations (dissolving Congress, firing Lincoln, calling upon the North and South to sign a truce, proclaiming religious unity, calming anti-Chinese rioters and working to improve conditions for all, etc, etc.) and when they ran short, made up their own Nortoniana to fill space and score political points. (Norton’s famous proclamation ordering the construction of a suspension bridge from San Francisco to Oakland is probably such a forgery, assuming that word means something in this context)/ Norton was able to make a tenuous living exchanging American coins for his own printed “imperial currency” in many denominations – the burgeoning tourist trade and many San Francisco bars and restaurants accepted Norton’s notes freely.

    Mark Twain, who lived near Norton, used the kindly Emperor as great copy and as a pointed contrast to railroad robber baron Leland Stanford. (Twain eventually based the character of the King in Huckleberry Finn on Norton). Norton acted, at all times, with dignity befitting the Emperor of America – for him it was no joke but the overriding condition of his life; possibly it was the only thing that made his near-total poverty tolerable. He continued to ride around the city on his bicycle, wearing a sword and a special Imperial uniform given him by the Presidio army base, attending public functions until he died of a cerebral hemorrhage on January 8, 1880 at 8:15 a.m. His funeral, at the Masonic Cemetery, was the largest the city had ever seen, attended by 10,000 people.

    The end? No – only the beginning! Norton ordered his subjects to support the inventor Frederick Marriot in his construction of a revolutionary airship. Marriot was a fellow Englishman, who emigrated to San Francisco the year before Norton assumed the purple. On July 3, 1869, Marriot tested the steam-driven hydrogen airship Avitor in an unmanned tethered flight around the Shellmount Park race track. A mysterious airship appeared over Galisteo Junction, New Mexico the year Norton died – and over his capital of San Francisco in 1896.

    Beginning in November of 1896, people started seeing things in the skies rather more often than before. These things were cigar-shaped, with red and green running lights and propellers. Sometimes they had wings, and other times they had searchlights, but the common term for them all was “airships”. Most of the sightings occurred in the Midwest (about a third of them in Michigan) or Texas – the east coast seems to have been pretty much immune, although an airship appeared over Washington, D.C. on April 15, 1897 (and over Iowa, Illinois, Michigan, South Dakota and Texas the same day, which gives a pretty good picture of the airship’s – or airships’ – range).

    Sightings of them were not limited just to the late XIX c. USA. From as early as March 29, 1880 (the first recorded sighting, almost certainly a hoax – but it did involve mysterious “Oriental” writing and happened in New Mexico) through 1892 scares on the German-Russian border, the 1909 wave in every English-speaking country till the 1912 reports all over Europe lasted this “Early age of UFO”.

    Many of the accounts report the airships’ pilots landing – witnesses overwhelmingly described these Gilded Age UFOnauts as “bearded men”, although occasionally there was one bearded man and a younger couple (man and woman) or a bearded man and three assistants in goggles and masks, or a lone bearded man, or very occasionally, three “Orientals”.

    The “Roswell” of the 1897 UFO wave was an airship crash on April 17, 1897 in Aurora, Texas. According to reports, the airship collided with a windmill and exploded, leaving “strange metal” debris and “papers in unknown hieroglyphics” on the person of the dead pilot, described as “not an inhabitant of this world”. The Aurora story was forgotten until 1967, when Jacques Vallee and Donald Hanlon published the old news story in a UFO bulletin.

    [Tinfoil hat mode: OFF]

    Only it was a hoax.

    A columnist of Dallas Morning News Frank Tolbert in his 1967 investigation turned up a great deal of evidence that many, if not all, airship sightings were hoaxes concocted by bored railroad telegraphers. This explanation has intriguing parallels with the modern Internet as a spawning ground for similar rumors, conspiracy theories, and craziness. one reason the telegraphers’ hoax was believed was their misappropriation of the name and reputation of a railman named (wait for it!) Joseph E. “Truthful” Scully. The appearance of a skeptical Scully being used to sell UFO romance 100 years early… “Coincidence? I don’t think so!” (c)

    The fact that POTUS McKinley was a Mason, and that the airship pilot who crashed in Aurora was buried in the Masonic Cemetery, or that William McKinley is assassinated in 1901, just eight months after Vice-President Theodore Roosevelt becomes a Mason are (of course!) pure coincidence.

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    • Eh, I’m still leaning toward the “rich guy on a joyride flight” hypothesis. UFO seems too out there (and credibility-damaging).

      Who are those people in the picture? Is there a reference I’m not getting?

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      • “Who are those people in the picture? Is there a reference I’m not getting?”

        X-Files? What – they became so obscure nowadaysm after their cult-classic statuf of 90s?!

        P.S. Hope you don’t think that I’m seriously subscribing to any conspiracy theories or paranormal. I just used an example from the “ancient history” to illustrate how consporatorial narratives could be easily constructed, maintained and dupe lots and lots of people.

        Oh, and because I kinda like Emperor Norton I. Why, my comp has several utilites named after him 😉

        Like

        • ‘X-Files? What – they became so obscure nowadays after their cult-classic status of 90s?!’

          I’ve never watched the X-Files. That’s probably why I didn’t get it.

          Like

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