New Zealand Air Ship strip, August 1909

[Click to see the full page cartoon.]
A charming satirical full-page comic strip depicting the New Zealand airship wave of 1909. Here’s an earlier article from the same paper.

Perhaps a symptom of an increasingly high-speed global media, the airships were also seen at this time in the UK, the US and over mainland Europe. Like the 20th century’s UFOs, the airship scare originated in the United States, in 1896.
The supernatural author HP Lovecraft – aged 19 and already grumpy – even wrote a letter to his local Providence newspaper in response to the 1909 flap:

“To the editor …

The general ignorance of the public as regards … science … has been noted and deplored… while in the business section of the city on Christmas Eve, about 6 P.M. the writer noticed excited groups of people on the street corners, and mystified individuals everywhere pointing to the western sky. … he beheld the planet Venus … the centre of attraction … it seems the general idea existed that the planet was nothing more than the searchlight from some airship… the writer heard remarks as to the perect control to which the aeroplane must be subject … and estimates of its distance above the earth varying in a half mile to two miles. When apprised of their error, the gentlemen of the aforementioned group exhibited only mild surprise.” (Found in an interesting essay at Airminded)

Plus ça change…

Thanks Gnat Ward for spotting this one!

About Mark

Author of 'Mirage Men' & 'Far Out' and publisher/editor at Strange Attractor Press.
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