“The stars are dancing in the sky”

July 2nd is World UFO Day.

Hans Glaser woodcut 1566 Nuremberg1561.jpg
Woodcut by Hans Glaser, 1566

My great-grandmother, Lottie, saw UFOs once. In July 1925 she was living in sin in  Glebe – a suburb of Sydney, Australia – in a narrow terrace house: the kind of  1920’s low-class workingman’s accommodation that today sells for AUD$1,460,000. My great-grandfather  Ed – still married to his wife back in NZ – worked as a barman, and enjoyed staying long past closing to drink with his cronies. Lottie was woken at 2am by a banging at the door. It was Ed, with his mate Les. They’d given up trying to work out how to get the door unlocked, and Ed stood by helplessly giggling as Les lay in the tiny vegetable patch, unable to get to his feet. They probably would have had more luck if they hadn’t been trying to unlock the kitchen door with a referee’s whistle.

The night was clear and crisp and bloody freezing (for Sydney). Lottie gave them both a piece of her mind, sent Ed inside to bed, and sent Les on his way. She hadn’t got halfway up the stairs when Les knocked frantically at the kitchen door again. Lottie was ready to wring his neck by now. She pulled the door open and Les grabbed her arm and pulled her into the tiny brick-enclosed backyard.

“Look,” said Les. “The stars are dancing in the sky.”

Lottie looked up, and in the sky above a handful of distant bright lights circled and swooped and dashed toward each other before swerving away. The night was silent. Les and Lottie watched for ten minutes, but it was cold and Lottie had to get up early to head to her job cleaning houses, so she shooed Les off home and took herself off to bed.

There were planes in Sydney in 1925. Only six years earlier Ross Smith and Keith Smith flew from England to Darwin in only 30 days! And three years later, in 1928, Bert Hinkler managed it in fifteen!

I don’t for one second believe that unexplained aerial phenomena are spaceships from other planets. It’s utterly illogical (okay, except for teasers. Teasers make sense.) But people do experience things that appear difficult to explain. And what are the chances that fix or six planes capable of carrying out night-time acrobatics were hot dogging it over Sydney in 1925?

I kind of like that there are still unknowns in our world.

 

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