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URECAT - UFO Related Entities Catalog

URECAT is a formal catalog of UFO related entities sightings reports with the goal of providing quality information for accurate studies of the topic. Additional information, corrections and reviews are welcome at patrick.gross@inbox.com, please state if you wish to be credited for your contribution or not. The main page of the URECAT catalog is here.

MAY 16, 1909, LOWESTOFT, SUFFOLK, U-K., MRS. WIGG:

Brief summary of the event and follow-up:

On May 22, 1909, the Norfolk News newspaper published a paper by their Lowestoft representative, about airship sightings including one on May 16, 1909, in Lowestoft, Suffolk, U-K.

In the early hours it passed over the town, apparently comin from the direction of the North Sea and flying at a fair speed in a south-westerly direction. Some of the inhabitants in the north part of the town distinctly heard a throbbing noise, others saw a brilliant light, and a lady living near Belle Vue Park in North Lowestoft was positively certain that she saw the airship between 1 and 2 a.m..

The lady, Mrs. Wigg, told the newspaper representative that she was awaked early by a noise similar to that of a motor car, and on looking through the window, which was immediately opposite her bed, she saw a dark object pass at a fairly quick speed and proceed in a south-westerly direction. It did not seem to be at a great height.

Asked if she could describe the object, she said it was bottle-shaped, in a horizontal position, and of considerable length. She also saw what appeared to be a man steering at the front of the machine. By a light in the bedroom she noticed that the time was 1.30.

Mr. Theo Plowman, who resided in the same house, added that at the same time he, in the next room, was dazzled by a brilliant light; which appeared to be that of a searchlight. A number of other people are reported to have had their attention attracted by vivid flashes of light, about the same time.

Basic information table:

Case number: URECAT-001475
Date of event: May 16, 1909
Earliest report of event: May 17, 1909
Delay of report: 1 day
Witness reported via: Not known, apparently told to journalist.
First alleged record by: Newspaper
First certain record by: Newspaper
First alleged record type: Newspaper.
First certain record type: Newspaper
This file created on: August 21, 2013
This file last updated on: August 21, 2013
Country of event: U-K.
State/Department: Suffolk
Type of location: Outside over city from bedroom.
Lighting conditions: Night
UFO observed: Yes
UFO arrival observed: No
UFO departure observed: Not reported
UFO/Entity Relation: Certain
Witnesses numbers: 1
Witnesses ages: Not reported. Adult or aged.
Witnesses types: Not reported. Woman.
Photograph(s): No.
Witnesses drawing: No.
Witnesses-approved drawing: No.
Number of entities: 1
Type of entities: Human
Entities height: Not reported
Entities outfit type: Not reported or not visible.
Entities outfit color: Not reported or not visible.
Entities skin color: Not reported or not visible.
Entities body: Not reported. Man.
Entities head: Not reported.
Entities eyes: Not reported or not visible.
Entities mouth: Not reported or not visible.
Entities nose: Not reported or not visible.
Entities feet: Not reported or not visible.
Entities arms: Not reported or not visible.
Entities fingers: Not reported or not visible.
Entities fingers number: Not reported or not visible.
Entities hair: Not reported.
Entities voice: None heard.
Entities actions: Is in UFO, steering it.
Entities/witness interactions: None.
Witness(es) reactions: Observed, went.
Witness(es) feelings: Not reported.
Witness(es) interpretation: Not reported.
Explanation category: Probable British airship.
Explanation certainty: High.

Narratives:

[Ref. nn1:] "NORFOLK NEWS" NEWSPAPER:

SEEN OVER LOWESTOFT.

DESCRIBED BY EYE-WITNESSES.

Writing on Sunday, out Lowestoft representative says: --

The airship which has been seen at intervals during the past fortnight in various parts of the Eastern Counties was observed in the early hours of this morning passing over the town. It had apparently come from the direction of the North Sea and was flying at a fair speed in a south-westerly direction. Some of the inhabitants in the north part of the town distinctly heard a throbbing noise, others saw a brilliant light, whilst a lady living near Belle Vue Park is positively certain that she saw the airship. As near as I can gather, it was between one and two o'clock this morning when the airship actually passed over the town.

Mrs. Wigg, residing in North Lowestoft, related the following story to me in an interview this morning. She said she was awaked early by a noise similar to that of a motor car, and on looking through the window, which was immediately opposite her bed, she saw a dark object pass at a fairly quick speed and proceed in a south-westerly direction. It did not seem to be at a great height.

Asked if she could describe the object, Mrs. Wigg said it was bottle-shaped, in a horizontal position, and of considerable length. She also saw what appeared to be a man steering at the front of the machine. By a light in the bedroom Mrs. Wigg noticed that the time was 1.30.

Mr. T. Plowman, who resided in the same house, added that at the same time he, in the next room, was dazzled by a brilliant light, which appeared to be that of a searchlight. A number of other people are reported to have had their attention attracted by vivid flashes of light, about the same time.

It may seem strange, but now that this flight of the mysterious airship over Lowestoft has become common talk, there are other residents who state that earlier in the month they saw the airship near the town. A well-known builder, whose story is confirmed by other member of his family, informed me that on the first Sunday in May - May 2nd - about 7.30 p.m., when at home, he was looking out of one of his window when he distinctly saw what he thought at the time was an airship sailing in the westerly direction.

"The airship," to give this gentleman's words, "was egg-shaped, with the larger end pointing skywards. It was dark at the time. But how I came to notice it was that, so far as I could judge, about ten miles to the West there was a dark bank of clouds. Above these there were bright clouds, and this airship was sailing between the two. It was going at a rapid rate, and passed quickly out of sight. I was so interested that I called my wife and children to the window, and they also distinctly saw the object in the distance."

[Ref. mb1:] MICHEL BOUGARD:

This ufologist indicates that on the night from May 15 to May 16, 1909 at 11:30, in Lowestoft, England, Mrs. Wiggs was awakened by the sound of an engine. Through the window she saw a dark object shaped like an "elongated bottle" pass quickly at low altitude in the south-west.

[Ref. jc1:] JEROME CLARK:

Jerome Clark indicates that in Lowestoft, Suffolk, U-K., on May 16, 1909 at 1:30 a.m. a Mrs. Wigg awoke to a motor car sound, and when she looked out the window she observed a long dark bottle-shaped object pass by at low altitude.

She thought she saw at the front of the craft a man steering it.

He adds that other persons in the neighborhood reported hearing engine sounds and flashing of lights at the same time.

The source is noted as the East Anglian Daily Times for May 18 and 19, 1909.

[Ref. dc1:] DAVID CLARKE:

[...]

In Lowestoft, Suffolk, at 2am, a number of people reported seeing what they described as "a brilliant light" and heard "a throbbing noise" as an airship moved in from the direction of the North Sea. Mrs. Wigg, a resident of North Lowestoft, told reporters she had been awakened by "a noise similar to that of a motorcar, and on looking through the window saw a dark object pass at a fairly quick speed and proceed in a south-westerly direction." Asked if she could describe the object, Mrs. Wigg said that it was "bottle-shaped, in a horizontal position, and of considerable length." She also claimed she spotted what appeared to be a man steering at the front of the machine. Another resident of the same house, Mr Theo Plowman, said that at around the same time he had been "dazzled by a brilliant light" which appeared to be that of a searchlight.

[...]

The source is indicated as "Eastern Daily Press (Norwich), East Anglian Daily Times, 17 May 1909."

[Ref. go1:] GODELIEVE VAN OVERMEIRE:

1909, May 15
GREAT BRITAIN, Lowestoft (Suffolk)
In the night, around 23:30 Mrs. Wigg was awakened by the sound of an engine. Through the window she then saw a dark object shaped like an oblong bottle passing fast and low toward the southwest. Several other people observed flashes of light and heard engine noises that night. (Michel BOUGARD: "La chronique des OVNI" - Delarge 1977, pp. 205-206.) (ACTUALLY see also ZEPPELIN from 1900 on, July 2)

[Ref. ud1:] "UFODNA" WEBSITE:

The website indicates that on 16 May 1909 at 01:30, in Lowestoft, UK, "An object was observed. Occupants of the craft were seen. Multiple independent witnesses. One object was observed by one female witness in a city (Wigg)."

The sources are indicated as "Webb, David, HUMCAT: Catalogue of Humanoid Reports", "FSR, FSR (formerly Flying Saucer Review) FSR, London, 1966", "Rogerson, Peter, World-Wide Catalog of Type 1 Reports", "Newspaper Clippings".

[Ref. js1:] JEAN SIDER:

Jean Sider indicates that on May 16, 1909, at 01:30 in Lowestoft, Suffolk, England, Mrs. Wicks was awakened by a noise similar to a car engine. Looking out of her bedroom window, she saw a black object speeding towards the southwest. It was not very high, in the shape of a bottle in a horizontal position, and had a considerable length. She also noticed what appeared to be a man at the front, directing the operation of the machine. Several other people reported seeing flashes of light or hearing noises at the same time.

Jean Sider indicates that the source is "FSR, vol. 17, number 1, 1971, p. 17, citing The East Anglian Daily Times, May 18, 1909".

[Ref. bh1:] BRETT HOLMAN:

Brett Holman indicates that on 16 May 1909 in Lowestoft at about 1.30am, a Mrs. Wigg was awakened by the sound of an engine outside; looking out her window she saw a dark, bottle-shaped airship as well as its pilot, flying southwest. In the same house, Mr. T. Plowman was dazzled by a brilliant light at this time, while a number of other people also saw a bright light.

He gives the source as "Norfolk News, 22 May 1909, p. 13."

[Ref. pr1:] PETER ROGERSON:

May 16 1909 0130 hrs

LOWESTOFT (SUFFOLK : ENGLAND)

Mrs. Wigg was awakened by a sound similar to that of a motor car. Through her window she observed a long, dark, bottle shaped object pass south west fairly quickly at low altitude. She saw what appeared to be a man steering at the front of the machine.

Carl Grove in FSR 17, 1p 17 citing East Anglian Daily Times of 18 + 19 May 1909

Points to consider:

During that 1909 "mysterious airship" flap of reports, various explanations were put forth: hoaxes, planets, stars, illusions, Chinese lanterns, advertising balloons, advertising airships, German airships on spying mission...

In the ufology literature, such reports were sometimes published as a way of saying that people invent or imagine things entirely, of imagine things by wrongly interpreting real stimuli such as astronomical object and phenomena, so that "modern UFOs" and these old "airship" reports are of the same "psycho-sociological" nature.

Other ufologists publish such reports with no comment at all, so that the reader may assume that they mean these are alien spaceships. Other still believe that some supernatural "force" acts on people to make them see things that may look like airship or UFOs but are something else; which they generally do not try to explain too much.

Apparently, only very few - if any - commenters seem to admit that there is a definite possibility that some of the people actually saw real airships, just like their description and interpretation suggests.

But there were real airship flying in England in 1909. The Army had operational airship, and several small companies built smaller experimental or advertising airship. The one reported here over Lowestoft may have been one of those.

Left: 27 meters-long non-rigid civilian airship built by the Spencer Brothers firm, rented by suffragette Muriel Matters for her women rights events. Photographed on February 16, 1909. Spencer Brothers built 5 similar airships in 1909.

In this case, Mrs. Wigg, the witness, reported one man only on board; which is quite compatible with such a small airship.

List of issues:

Id: Topic: Severity: Date noted: Raised by: Noted by: Description: Proposal: Status:
1 Data Medium August 21, 2013 Patrick Gross Patrick Gross Several newspaper sources not available. Help needed. Opened.
2 Ufology Severe August 21, 2013 Patrick Gross Patrick Gross No quantitative information, distance, duration... Help needed. Opened.

Evaluation:

Probable British airship.

Sources references:

* = Source I checked.
? = Source I am told about but could not check yet. Help appreciated.

Document history:

Authoring

Main Author: Patrick Gross
Contributors: None
Reviewers: None
Editor: Patrick Gross

Changes history

Version: Created/Changed By: Date: Change Description:
0.1 Patrick Gross August 21, 2013 Creation, [nn1], [mb1], [jc1], [go1], [dc1], [js1], [ud1], [bh1], [pr1].
1.0 Patrick Gross August 21, 2013 First published.

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This page was last updated on August 21, 2013