While UFO sightings increased dramatically in 1947 in what is widely referred to as the Modern UFO Era, there were a plethora of such sightings in the first half of the twentieth century alone that would suggest a presence of these strange objects in the skies, not least the many airship sightings of the late 1890s and the early 1900s.
Over several articles, we will examine the first half of the twentieth century – the Pre-Roswell UFO Era – and examine some of the little-known sightings and reports that are on record during this time. Here we will examine the opening decade of the 1900s, which was much more active with reports of strange machine-like aerial objects than many of us might think. Furthermore, there is also a small abundance of encounters with strange humanoid figures and beastly-like creatures that may or may not be connected to these potential UFO sightings.
While we do not have time or space to examine each and every one of those sightings here, we will look at some of the most intriguing. And we will begin right at the start of the twentieth century.
- 1 Sightings Of The Very Early-1900s
- 2 Sightings Coming From All Over The World
- 3 Glowing Objects And Buzzing Sounds
- 4 A Case Of Alien Interaction In The Netherlands?
- 5 Strangely Shaped Meteors
- 6 Humanoid Encounters
- 7 The Huge Lake Monster Of Colombia
- 8 Further Global Sightings
- 9 A Distinct Increase In Aerial Activity
- 10 Brightly Glowing Cigar-Shaped Craft And Airship Sightings
- 11 An Opening Decade Busier Than Remembered
Sightings Of The Very Early-1900s
Sightings of strange aerial objects began – or continued from similar sightings of the 1800s – almost as soon as the twentieth century took hold. And a great many of these sightings occurred during the day, much like those in the late-1940s and early fifties of the Modern UFO Era. For example, in the early summer of 1900 in Caddwst in the United Kingdom, a 12-year-old girl reported seeing an object shaped like a disc, approximately 20 feet across, flying through the air while she was walking in woodland. Another daylight sighting of a similar flying object occurred several weeks later at a little after 7 am on 2nd August in Chignahuapan, Puebla, Mexico.
The following year, in January 1901 in Bournebrook in the United Kingdom, at around 8 pm, a local resident was in their garden when they spotted a craft in the sky that passed them at close range – so close, in fact, that they could see several humanoid occupants inside. Around the same time, one evening in New Haven, Missouri, three friends who were in woodland witnessed a disc-shaped object moving overhead.
Several weeks later, at around 1 pm on 7th March in Silver City, New Mexico, a local newspaper article reported a sighting of a “flying machine” that looked like “three cigar-shaped objects which seemed to be lashed together, the one hanging below the other two”.
In the summer of 1901, again in Bournebrook in the United Kingdom, a remarkably similar encounter unfolded as that in January. This time, at around 2 pm, a 10-year-old child saw an unidentified flying vehicle pass near their garden, and, as before, they too witnessed several humanoid figures inside it. At around 7:30 pm on 7th September, in Herbignac, Pays-de-la-Loire, France, two people reported seeing a strange object hovering overhead for around a minute before it disappeared.
As these early years of the 1900s unfolded, sightings of strange machine-like objects in the sky began to be reported from all over the planet.
Sightings Coming From All Over The World
In early 1902 in Boschof, Oranjevrystaat, South Africa, several strange “booms” were heard in succession over the region. What is perhaps interesting about this report is that it could suggest sonic booms of an unseen aerial vehicle (which clearly would not have been understood at the time). Several weeks later in Devon, England, Colonel Marwick witnessed several strange anomalies in the sky that he described as “highly colored objects like little suns or toy balloons”.
At 7:40 pm on 9th February in Paris, France, several of the city’s residents reported seeing a strange “meteor” that “turned, looped, and curved” before heading into the distance. Given the act of turning, we might suspect that what residents of Paris witnessed that evening was unlikely to have been a meteor.
Later in the same year, at a little after 3 am on 28th October in the Gulf of Guinea off the west coast of Africa, three crew members of the Fort Salisbury witnessed a “huge, dark object” ahead of them shining lights down toward the waters. The mystery object eventually disappeared below the waves.
Just over two weeks later, on 13th November in Harris Park in New South Wales in Australia, a local resident witnessed a strange object moving through the sky during a particularly heavy storm. The following week on 20th November in Adelaide in South Australia, two astronomers at an observatory witnessed a “brilliant globular light” that moved through the sky in an arc and was visible for around four minutes.
At around 11 pm in early 1903 in Argenteuil in France, five people witnessed a “red object” that was moving quickly through the sky, traveling approximately four miles in 20 minutes. One of the witnesses had with them a pair of binoculars and when they viewed the anomaly through them they were certain that it was not a balloon.
Around two months later on the evening of 17th March 1903 in Helmer, Indiana, an entire family watched a “glowing cigar-shaped object” hovering over nearby trees from their home. After several minutes, the witnesses made the decision to approach the strange vehicle. However, as they got closer it suddenly rose into the air and disappeared with a fast zig-zag motion.
At a little after 10 pm one evening in early 1904 in Rolling Prairie, Indiana, Tom Darby, along with his brother, and his mother, witnessed two “whitish-blue objects” a short distance ahead of their location, hovering around 10 feet from the ground. They then flew toward a nearby barn before eventually disappearing behind a hill.
Several weeks later, at just after 6 am on 28th February aboard the USS supply, several strange objects were witnessed by several of the crew.  The main witness, Lieutenant Frank H. Schofield, claimed that three bright red objects suddenly appeared in front of them just below the clouds. To begin with, the three objects approached the ship before beginning to ascend with increasing speed, appearing as if they were “heading away from the earth”. The objects appeared egg-shaped and remained in sight for just over two minutes.
Glowing Objects And Buzzing Sounds
As 1905 took hold, sightings of strange aerial machine-like vehicles only increased. In Cherbourg, France, for several weeks throughout the opening months of the year, an “oval, reddish colored object” hanging over the town. A planet or star was quickly ruled out as the object was only visible over this particular town. Around the same time in Bucovina, Romania, a retired doctor reported seeing a “brightly, glowing elongated saucer-shaped object” that was much larger than moon (appeared). The object continued through the sky and disappeared into the distance.
On the other side of the world, at around 1:30 am in Silshee, California, Mr. J.A. Jackson witnessed a strange bright light heading in his direction. As the lights came closer, Jackson could see that they belonged to an object that appeared like an airship only without a gas balloon. The same object was also witnessed by a local postmaster. To the north in Portland, Oregon, several reports were received of a “buzzing” object passing over the city. Across the Atlantic Ocean in Llangollen, Wales, several local residents saw a dark object overhead. Witnesses would recall that it appeared like a “huge, winged pig with webbed feet”.
One afternoon in April 1905 in Perm, Russia, a resident who was returning home from church witnessed a strange craft moving overhead. What’s more, they also reported seeing a humanoid figure seemingly controlling it.
Several weeks later, at 1 pm on 27th June at Andros Island in the Bahamas, an employee of the Atlantic Underwater Testing Evaluation Center was walking along the beach on their day off. Suddenly, the quiet and peacefulness was broken by the shouts of the coast guard who the witness could see was looking up to the sky. They looked in the same direction and saw a strange, metallic object moving overhead. It appeared to be circling the entire islands and was doing so at great speed and completely silently.
At around 1:30 am on 3rd August in Imperial Valley, California, according to the research files of John Keel, multiple residents of the region witnessed a bizarre object around 100 feet in length with “immense wings” that moved through the air with “undulating motion”. What’s more, it “emitted dazzling, blinding bright lights”. A short time later, in a nearby desert, three more people saw a similar object fly overhead.
A Case Of Alien Interaction In The Netherlands?
At around 10 pm on 2nd July 1905 in Heiden in the Netherlands, a young man named Soufian found himself in a bizarre scenario that he, at first, thought was an intense dream but was likely one of the first recorded alien encounters of the twentieth century. The account comes to us from the research files of Albert Rosales and is truly intriguing and disturbing in equal measure.
In the middle of the night, Saufian “awoke” to find himself looking down on himself lying in bed. Next to him was a humanoid figure, clearly female, who was looking over him. She was dressed in long robes and had distinctly pale gray colored skin.
The next thing he realized, the figure was directly over the top of him and was reaching down toward his chest. At the same time, he felt a sudden intense pain in his chest, as if the figure was physically moving his ribs. Although he couldn’t see what was taking place, he had the distinct feeling that this being had her hands inside his skin and chest. Furthermore, he had the feeling that he was physically paralyzed and unable to move, despite how much he felt he was struggling to do so inside.
Then, just like that, the pain was gone, and the female entity had vanished. Perhaps even more bizarre, rather than leap out of bed in shock, Soufian simply drifted off to sleep. When he awoke, he instantly remembered the incident. And what’s more, his entire torso ached intensely. When he examined his chest, he was both relieved and shocked to see there were no marking whatsoever. No scars, bruises, or even scratches. The pain lasted for several days before it eventually subsided.
It is not clear just what had taken place or why. If we assume the incident was something more than an intense dream, it would appear that some kind of alien interaction had taken place, either to plant some kind of tracking device in Soufian, or to correct something in his body. And if it is the latter, then we might ask, why had this apparent alien entity taken an interest in him in the first place?
Strangely Shaped Meteors
Sightings only increased in the second half of the first decade of the twentieth century. In early 1906, a crewman of the ship St. Andrew off the coast of Newfoundland in Canada witnessed “three meteors” enter the water ahead of the ship in a strangely controlled manner, not least as there appeared to be the exact same time in between the appearance of each object. The witness estimated that the objects in question were approximately five miles away from their vessel.
A moment after the third object had crashed into the water, another crew member called out. When the witness turned their attention to where the crew member was looking they saw another strange object, this one much closer around a mile away, moving through the sky with a strange zig-zag motion. As it was closer, the witness could see that the object was in the shape of a disc and appeared to be metallic. Furthermore, it was so bright that it illuminated a radius of tens of miles.
Around the same time in Mitchell, South Dakota, an incident unfolded that was reminiscent of the airship encounters a decade previously.  According to the report, a young boy named Herbert DeMott witnessed a strange airship land near the well on his family’s farmland. When he went to investigate, he claimed that the doors of the ship “rolled back” and several human-looking occupants invited him to sit inside, which he duly did.
The young boy claimed that the occupants spoke fluent English, and while they were welcoming, they refused to tell him where they were from. He further claimed that the object was pinned to the earth by the magnetism of the planet itself, something which was cut off by them flicking a lever. The occupants ultimately wished to extract water from the well (something which also showed up in many of the airship sightings) so they could use it to make electricity.
Another of Albert Rosales’ cases is a particularly intriguing encounter that unfolded in June 1906 in Bertha, Nebraska. On the night in question, a 17-year-old Swedish immigrant – Carlson – was on his way to a party by horse-drawn carriage. It was just before sunset, when Carlson spotted two “men” walking in front of them around half a mile away. He had the carriage catch up to them with the intention of seeing of they would like a lift, at least part of the way to wherever they were going.
However, as they approached, the horses suddenly began to become agitated, as if something about the two men made them anxious. Carlson ignored this to begin with, thinking his horse would settle down, and he called out to the two figures in front. As he did so, however, his horse came to a complete stop, and even made attempts to back up. Carlson managed to bring the horse under control, although it took him almost a minute to do so. Even stranger, when he looked back ahead of him, the two men had completely disappeared. As there was only open road and country around them, there was nowhere they could have hidden.
He took a moment to gather his thoughts and continued on his way to the public ball. He planned to see if he could spot the two mysterious strangers once there, but he failed to do so. Just who the two strangers were and whether they might have been extraterrestrial in nature remains unknown.
Around two months later, on 17th August 1906 in Orinoco, Indiana, a local resident named John Warner claimed to have seen an “airship” while sitting on his back porch.  According to the report, while Warner was on the back porch, the airship simply dropped into view a short distance away. Even stranger, the occupants of the airship called to him by name, even though he was certain that he didn’t know any of them and asked him which way they had to go to reach New York. He further recalled that the airship was a green color and contained bright green lights. With that, the airship headed away and disappeared into the distance. Warner, incidentally, was regarded as a credible and honest witness, and the sighting remains a complete mystery.
The following month in September in Syracuse, New York, an even more bizarre encounter unfolded.  According to an article in a local newspaper, Sackville Leyson, the president of the Society for Psychical Research claimed he had traveled to Mars by way of his psychic powers. He claimed that the planet was “surrounded by blood red clouds mixed with others of a greenish hue”. He then went on to say that there were two tribes on the red planet, one of which was extremely tall, while the other was made of much smaller beings. Of course, we are probably best served to treat this account with a pinch of salt.
In the summer of 1907 in Burlington, Vermont, several witnesses, including Bishop John Michaud, and the former governor Alexander Woodbury, witnessed a “torpedo-shaped UFO” which “exploded” into the skies of the town before hovering for several moments.  After several moments the object then took off and disappeared into the distance with great speed. Despite the multiple witnesses, no explanation was ever offered as to just what the strange object might have been.
The Huge Lake Monster Of Colombia
In October 1907 in Solimões das Águas in Colombia a truly bizarre and unsettling encounter unfolded, at least according to the account of German explorer, Franz Herrmann Schmidt, who along with Captain Rudolph Pfleng were exploring the region. They were 12 days into their trek when they and their guides found themselves in a remote valley that contained a shallow lake. To begin with, the entire group was excited at their discovery.
However, when they noticed several large, strange tracks leading to the water they began to contemplate what they might have been made by. When they examined some of the trees around the valley, they could see evidence that something had been using their leaves to feed on – and given that the lowest of these trees were around 14 feet high, that something must be large in size.
The team decided to make a camp in the valley, and the following day they returned to the waters to investigate further. It was while they were on the water in their canoes and boats that they heard a sudden loud splashing sound coming from the edge of the water. In panic, or perhaps because they were more than aware of what the cause of the splashing noise was than they had let on, began to take the boats to the middle of the lake, away from the water’s edge.
Schmidt would recall that there was “a large dark something half hidden among the branches shot up among them and there was a great commotion”. As this happened, the guides continued to paddle toward the middle of the lake and the commotion on the shore carried on, the cries of the monkeys that were themselves scared from the branches by this mysterious beast. Then, everything went quiet, and remained so for around 10 minutes.
After this temporary halt, the commotion started again, this time, with the cause of the disturbance emerging into the opening. Schmidt recalled that a “head appeared over the bushes” which was approximately “the size of a beer keg” and “shaped like that of a tapir”. He would further describe the eyes as “small and dull” and appeared like those “of an alligator”. A long snake-like neck stretched down, although the skin was “knotted like an alligator’s”.
Although the monstrous beast approached them, it appeared to Schmidt that it either hadn’t noticed them or was not concerned about their presence. It came to within 150 feet, with the witnesses and the guides remaining where they were, watching the events unfold. They could see more of the body at this stage, which appeared almost dinosaur-like.
Before the group could contemplate anything else, the two men began firing their rifles at the creature. They were certain that they were accurate with all of their shots, but it appeared none of the bullets caused any injury, and more appeared to annoy the creature than hurt it. After several moments, the creature dove under the water and began to swim away. The guides began to row again urgently wanting to get away from the water. They eventually reached the shore and ran from the water. When they looked back, the strange beast was nowhere to be seen.
Further Global Sightings
In early 1908, just off the coast of Delaware, the Mohican, and English ship captained by Captain Urghart, on its way to Philadelphia when a strange “thick, luminous cloud” appeared out of nowhere and surrounded the ship. Even stranger, this fog-like substance had a bizarre magnetic affect with the ship’s navigation equipment, even temporary “gluing” chains and other metallic objects to the deck of the vessel. After several minutes, the strange cloud rose into the air, eventually disappearing.
Around the same time over Bridgewater in Massachusetts, several local residents witnessed a “spherical black” object with a “brilliant spotlight” hovering overhead before disappearing into the distance. On the other side of the United States, again in early 1908 in Tacoma, Washington, a “reddish cigar-shaped” object was witnessed moving over the town. Several newspapers ran stories on the object, with some speculating that it was a “Japanese spy device” (of which there was, or is, no proof).
In the summer, at around 10:30 pm on 27th June in Aalborg in Denmark, multiple witnesses reported seeing “an object with lights and wings” moving over through the night sky. While the objects were a complete mystery, many people at the time (in Denmark) believed they were secret military aircraft of the British.
Several weeks later on 11th July in the Sikhote Mountains near Vladivostok in Russia, according to the research files of Charles Fort, a bizarre encounter with a strange humanoid took place. The witness was hiking through the area when he noticed a strange marking on the path in front of him that was similar, but not identical, to a human footprint. It was he was examining this strange print when his dog suddenly began growling, as if it sensed a danger nearby. As the witness scanned the area around him, he sensed something had just rushed into some nearby bushes.
After several moments he picked up a stone and tossed it toward the bushes to see what would happen. However, rather than something running out toward him, after the stone landed, he heard the sudden sound of wings flapping. Out of the bushes a monstrous winged creature rose into the air and then flew away over the river. When he later told local tribes of what he had seen, they claimed that many people had witnessed the strange creature over the years, with many, just like the witness, finding its footprints in the ground.
In October 1908 over the North Sea off the coast of Lowestoft in the United Kingdom when the crew of a fishing boat witnessed a “large star rising out of the water”. The curious object then headed in the direction of their vessel. In an attempt to communicate with the bizarre object, the witness fired a red flare into the air. To his surprise, the object sent its own beam of red light out, directly over the ship. He responded himself by firing a white flare, to which the aerial craft sent out a blue light. After several moments, the object – which the witness described as cigar-shaped – disappeared into the distance out to sea.
At around 11:30 pm in Ware, Massachusetts, a witness at an electric plant reported seeing a strangely shaped object moving through the sky. Even stranger, he claimed to see several occupants inside the object.
A Distinct Increase In Aerial Activity
The final year of the opening decade of the 1900s was arguably one of the busiest. Perhaps not least due to the airship sightings that swamped the United Kingdom during this time. There were, however, many other encounters on record during 1909.
According to the research and writings of archaeologist, Zacharie Rouzic, one of these intriguing incidents unfolded early in 1909 in Pont-Fetan-Levek in France. According to the account, one evening three friends were returning home after spending the evening in a nearby village when their attention was directed to “something white” at the side of the road near a hedge. One of the witnesses approached the hedge to see what the object was. However, before he reached it, the white glow suddenly rose into the air and ascended, growing larger as it did so.
Another encounter from early 1909 unfolded in Lloyds, Maryland when local farmer, Albert Evans, discovered several dead cattle while making his way along a dirt road one evening.  As he scanned the area following this morose find, he noticed a “half-man, half-beast” creature standing in one of the nearby fields. Due to the darkness of the evening Evans couldn’t make out any particular features, other than the figure was dark and was around seven feet tall.
Across the Atlantic Ocean around the same time, according to an account in the Scottish Daily Record, two 9-year-old boys – twin brothers – were at home alone playing waiting for their father – a gamekeeper – to return. However, as they played, the noticed “two little men” who seemingly walked straight past them and headed down the stairs. The boys recalled that the two men were only around a foot and a half tall, with grey hair, and wore strange tunics. They ultimately disappeared out of sight.
Around the same time in Bern, Switzerland, a 6-year-old girl was crossing the Aare River Bridge near her home on her way to meet her mother from work.  As she made her way across, though, she noticed a “strange figure of a woman, not very tall, and snow white” who “floated” in front of her and, at one point, passed by her side. The figure was “wrapped from top to toe in a very fine veil”. As the young girl stood, staring at this strange sight, she heard the calls of her mother and turned to see her approaching. She immediately pointed to the strange figure, which was still visible. However, the girl’s mother was unable to see it. After several moments, the figure moved away and disappeared.
A sighting of a UFO occurred in the spring of 1909 in Worcester, Massachusetts, when several local residents reported seeing a strange light heading in their direction. As it came closer, the witnesses could see that the light was part of a larger, black machine-like object that began to circle over the town. It remained in sight for several minutes before heading off into the distance.
A similar dark, elongated object was witnessed off the coast of the port city of Dong Hui in Vietnam by fishermen, who recalled that the object was brightly lit and remained in sight over the city for at least 10 minutes before it dove into the water and disappeared.
Brightly Glowing Cigar-Shaped Craft And Airship Sightings
Sightings of strange, anomalous flying vehicles only increased as the second half of 1909 unfolded. At around 9:20 am on 24th April 1909 in Florence, Italy, multiple witnesses observed a “white ovoid object” move over the city. It remained in sight for around a minute, and several of the witnesses even observed occupants inside, each wearing a tight-fitting white suit.
Several weeks later, at around 9 pm on 13th May in Kelmarsh England, according to a report in Flying Saucer Review, an oblong object, approximately 150 feet across, was observed by multiple witnesses. Like the sighting in Florence, several occupants were also seen inside the craft.
On the same night, 45 minutes later in King’s Lynn, also in England, a cigar-shaped object was witnessed moving overhead. The witness recalled it was so bright that it completely illuminated the entire area around him. The witness further recalled hearing a “whirring sound” that appeared to accompany the object, and he also observed two humanoid occupants in an undercarriage below the strange vehicle. It ultimately disappeared into the distance.
The following evening, also in England, this time in the town of Blyth, a witness reported seeing a cigar-shaped object over the waters of the North Sea. Furthermore, this object projected several beams of light to a ship below. After several moments, it suddenly “shot away” across the sky, eventually coming to a stop over another a ship around a mile away.
The following month, at just after 4 am on 16th June in Dong hoi Annam, a similar looking elongated object was witnessed moving through the sky by two fishermen. As it moved, its brightness lit up the town below. It remained in sight for just short of ten minutes. An almost identical sighting occurred the following month on 19th July in Oamaru, New Zealand, when three residents reported seeing a brightly lit object over the town. Four days later, also in New Zealand, in Kelso, at around 1 pm in the afternoon, several schoolchildren reported seeing an “airship” descend from the sky and “bob around” a short distance from the school yard before disappearing again.
On the same night, just before midnight in Kaka Point also in New Zealand, a group of teenagers who were playing on the beach at Kaka Point witnessed a strange “illuminated object” moving through the sky. The light from the object was bright enough to light up the ground below, including buildings. After circling around the beach, the object then turned and headed out to sea, disappearing into the distance.
On the evening of 22nd December in Worcester, Massachusetts, a similar object was witnessed moving over the city. Multiple residents witnessed the anomalous object, each saying that they witnessed strange beams of light being shone down toward the ground. After disappearing after a few minutes, it reappeared around two hours later. Even stranger, it was claimed in newspaper reports that the object crashed just to the west of Chicago later that evening. No wreckage, however, was ever found.
An Opening Decade Busier Than Remembered
As we can see, then, the opening years of the twentieth century were rife with strange sightings of aerial machine-like vehicles, as well as several encounters with bizarre beasts and humanoid entities. In short, although the Modern UFO Era began, at least officially, in the summer of 1947 and with it the notion of UFOs and visitors from other worlds entered into the public consciousness in earnest, it is clear that there was definitely a similar presence around the planet right from the start of the 1900s.
And we might imagine that these encounters stretch much further back into the previous centuries, especially during the times when record-keeping was not as accurate as it is today. Indeed, there are likely many, many sightings from hundreds of years ago of which there are no record and consequently, of which we will never know.
As we shall examine if upcoming articles, as the twentieth century unfolded, through two world wars and the temporary periods of peace and invention in between, these sightings only increased. And they did so on a global level. By examining these sightings and highlighting some of the same details that are found in the sightings of the Modern UFO Era of the second half of the twentieth century and the opening decades of the 2000s, we might build a fuller picture of the UFO and Alien Question.
The short video below examines strange sightings of bizarre objects from even further back in time that the twentieth century.
|↑1||Three Red Objects Sighted From USS Supply, NICAP http://www.nicap.org/040228pacific_dir.htm|
|↑2||The Democrat-Herald newspaper, August 27 1973|
|↑3||Saw An Airship, Columbus Republican, August 18, 1906 (page 5)|
|↑4||Emery County Progress, September 15 1906|
|↑5||The Burlington Free Press, June 3, 1907|
|↑6||Our Strange World, Mark Chorvinsky, Fate Magazine, Vol. 45, No. 8, August 1992|
|↑7||Daimonic Reality: A Field Guide to the Otherworld, Patrick Harpur, ISBN 9780937 663097|
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