Every epoch, every age has its ticks, its quirks. The Victorian age had sightings too. Things in the sky seen by reputable witnesses. Things beyond the kin of scientists who called Victoria their sovereign. Sightings continued into the reign of the Queen’s son, Edward. In a London gentlemen’s club an official in the Ministry of Defense speaks with his dog’s body cum major domo.
The Man deriding those witnessing the phenom ran a new department . The unit he headed was called the committee for inquiry into Anomalous Ethereal Manifestations. Whitehall was concerned with the clamor being raised for an explanation. King Edward himself had seen several cigar shaped craft. He assumed they were inventions of the Brazilian Dumont, late of Paris, who’s craft were setting records in France. No, the King was told, Dumont didn’t trust the winds over the English channel and wouldn’t risk the crossing. The king ordered an investigation. This was the impetus for CIEM.
No less a personage than W.H.Smith, the First Lord of the Admiralty, while visiting Her Majesty’s ship HMS Pinafore, saw, thru the spyglass he invariably carried, a bright object moving across the sky. He described it to his aunts and sisters as appearing to be white and much like an elongated egg but of greater aspect. All on board corroborated Mr Smith’s sighting. Its always best to agree with a First Lord of HRM’s Navy. In private they thought he might be better cast as a character in some comic opera.
The greatest minds of the greatest country in the world, the United Kingdom, were coming up naught in their quest to understand the reports arriving daily. Disc forms with colored lights seen in North Umbria. Elongated egg (Tic Tac) seen over Ellenmorganthale by thousands of pilgrims. They were journeying to the shrine of our lady of the Dumovum. The military men on loan from the fleet (on loan to the committee) were sure an enemy was up to something….The Keiser or the Czar or the Pasha. Non state actors could,’t be ruled out after so many Jules Verne novels cast them as powerful villains with incredible machines.
Author’s note: I’d always thought Professor Langley was a complete goof. He was no engineer (scientist usually are not) and this showed in his designs….but he may well have accomplished the first human piloted flight in a heavier than air craft. But he wasn’t putting in the hours Wilbur and Orville did.
There may be a late Victorian steam punk story in here somewhere. I have been interested since my youth in the history of the development of electronics and aviation. Maybe some regurgitation of that? What if….
to be continued…when the muse strikes