UFO sightings were unexplainable by science until the invention of flying machines like airplanes, zeppelins, and hot air balloons were invented. Till then they were witnessed in awe and something magical, even leading to concepts like angels and demons. However, we see briefly how their appearances were recognized from the middle ages to the times of the world wars.
UFOs in the Middles Ages
As history advanced into the Middle Ages, accounts of UFO sightings became more detailed.
In 1322: "In the first hour of the night of November 4, there was seen in the sky over Uxbridge, England, a pillar of fire the size of a small boat, pallid and livid in color. It rose from the south, crossed the sky with slow and grave motions, and went north. Out of the front of the pillar, a fervent red flame burst forth with great beams of light. Its speed increased, and it flew through the air."
In 1387, England experienced an increase in the wave of UFO activities when citizens observed "a fire in the sky, like a burning and revolving wheel, or round barrel of flame, emitting fire from above, and others in the shape of a long fiery beam."
On April 14, 1561, numerous residents of Nuremberg, Germany, saw hundreds of spheres, globes, cylinders, and other strange-shaped objects flying in darting patterns across the sky, as if fighting each another. The sighting lasted about an hour and was described by witnesses as a "very frightful spectacle." An unknown artist recorded the event in a woodcarving, which shows the odd fleet of flying objects, including a few actually crashing to the Earth.
On August 7, 1566, Samuel Coccius of Basel, England, wrote that at sunrise "many large black globes were seen in the air, moving before the sun with great speed and turning against each other as if fighting." Coccius also memorialized the event in a woodcarving, which shows about 40 objects filling the sky as stunned observers look on.
Various astronomers have seen UFOs. The famous English astronomer, Edmund Halley, who discovered Halley's comet, also claims to have seen a UFO. In May of 1677, he and various other astronomers observed a "great light in the sky all over southern England, plenty of miles high." The light moved "with incredible speed, and was high in luminescence. It seemed to vanish leaving behind a pale white light. There were no hissing sounds and no explosion. "Was this a UFO or a meteor? Even Halley wasn't sure.
On July 9, 1686, Italian astronomer Gottfried Kirch observed a "burning globe" that was so bright "one could read without a candle." They used a telescope and estimated that the object was 30 miles above the surface of the earth. After about a minute, the light disappeared. Kirch later learned that other people miles away observed the same object earlier that evening.
Throughout the 1700s, the Gentleman's Magazine of England recorded numerous accounts, such as the following incredible sighting.
"In March, 1719, and again on 29 August, 1738, there appeared in the sky over England at 3 pm in the northeast a glowing ball, like a cone, with a jet of flame at the rear...It was like a cone of fire, ending in a sharp point, with a bright ball at the thicker end. The ball seemed to burst and go away in a jet of flame."
On January 2, 1749, three large spherical-shaped objects "like the moon" appeared over Japan, causing widespread riots. The government was forced to enact martial law to stop the panic. During this time, several Renaissance painters created works of art that contained images of typical flying saucers.
In 2003, researcher Matthew Hurley identified plenty of examples. A fifteenth-century painting by Italian artist Hirlandaio shows the Virgin Mary with a disk shaped object hovering in the sky. In the background, a man points at the object. Another sixteenth-century fresco shows a figure inside a flying object that is darting across the sky above a crowd of people.
UFOs in the 1800s
Sightings also continued strongly into the 1800s.
In July 1868, residents of Copiago, Chile, observed an unidentified "aerial construction" fly overhead. It was described as "having shiny scales and making a noise like a machine."
A dramatic account from the summer of 1883 was published in the West German periodical, Der Stern. According to the report, "All the children and the teacher in the public elementary school at Segeberg, saw in the sky six fiery balls, the size of full moons, traveling side by side, not swiftly, from north to south, on a clear and sunny day."
Despite the numerous numbers of sightings, most people still didn't view UFOs as aliens from space. More popular explanations included angels, demons, or signs from God or the Devil. At this time, humans had still not learned how to fly, so the idea of space-travel and life on other planets hadn't entered the public consciousness. It wasn't until airplanes and rockets were invented in the early twentieth century that people began to seriously consider that UFOs might be creatures from other planets.
In 1896, the United States experienced its first UFO wave when residents across northern New York reported seeing an 'airship' in the sky. The first sighting to gain widespread attention occurred on November 17, 1896. As reported in the Sacramento Bee: "Last evening between the hours of five and six o'clock, in the year of our Lord 1896, a most startling exhibition was seen in the sky in this city of Sacramento. People standing on the sidewalks at certain points in the city between the hours stated, saw coming through the sky over the housetops what appeared to them to be merely an electric arc lamp propelled by some mysterious force. It came out of the east and sailed unevenly toward the southwest, dropping now nearer to the Earth, and now suddenly rising into the air." Several witnesses said they also heard voices. Among the plenty of witnesses was the daughter of the mayor of Sacramento.
Over the next week, the mysterious airship continued to appear. Four days later, on November 22, 1896, dozens of passengers on an Oakland streetcar observed an object that looked like a 'wingless cigar'. The object emitted beams of light and traveled slowly overhead. Again, the account became front-page news. Before long, the wave spread across the United States, with thousands of people reporting the odd zeppelin-like objects. In some of the cases, witnesses encountered human-looking people who were dressed strangely and spoke unknown languages. At first, people assumed that these airships were coming from foreign countries, such as Cuba. Again, the idea of aliens visiting Earth from outer space was still largely unknown. Today, the mysterious airship wave remains unexplained. Some researchers believe that the sightings may have been the result of early undercover experiments with dirigibles, zeppelins, and other airships. And in fact, only six years later, on November 3, 1897, timber merchant David Schwarz of the Austro-Hungarian Empire invented and successfully flew an airship.
Other researchers have a stranger explanation for the airship mystery. They say that UFOs are actually putting on different masks for each culture, and may actually be some sort of Inter dimensional visitors and not extraterrestrials at all. The best evidence for this theory is the fact that UFOs seem to appear different in each culture. For example, the numerous cases of fairies and elves in the medieval times may not have been actual fairies and elves but actual aliens that people just thought were fairies or elves, or perhaps another mask worn by the interdimensional beings. Explanations for these phenomena aren't always easy.
Foo Fighters During World War II
During the middle of World War II in 1943 and 1944, numerous fighter pilots began to see what they called 'foo fighters', or small balls of light that followed their aircraft. At first, everyone assumed that the balls of light were secret German weapons. However, it was later discovered that German and Japanese pilots also encountered the odd balls of light and thought they were American or English secret weapons. Neither thought that they were extraterrestrials. Strangely, the foo fighters seldom attacked the planes, but instead flew behind them or whirled around them in curious patterns. They appeared alone or in groups. Although the United States military and the British military both launched investigations, but were unable to account for the odd sightings and they remain unexplained to this day.