Monday, 6 January 1913

This post is part of a series post-blogging the phantom airship scare of 1913. See here for an introduction to the series, and here for a conclusion.

The Times, 6 January 1913, 6

The Times (p. 6; above) has two paragraphs about the reported visit of an unknown flying machine to Dover at about 5am on Saturday morning, 4 January 1913, evidently coming from the direction of the Continent and heading north-east. It was seen by John Hobbs, a corporation employee (i.e. a council worker), though he heard it first:

His attention was first attracted by the noise of the motors, which is well known at Dover, and on looking in the direction from which the sound came he saw a light moving at a great speed from the direction of the sea. The throb of the engines as the machine passed over the town was very distinct.

Two other men, a tradesman named Langley and Police Constable Pierce, also heard the engine sounds though apparently did not see anything. The Times's correspondent in Dover adds that the shape of the machine could not be made out, but that 'owing to the fact that it carried a light and the noise of the engines it is believed to have been an airship and not an aeroplane'. The London Dundee Evening Telegraph and Post, p. 5, has much the same story, but adds a few details: for example that Hobbs was out 'inspecting the roads as to whether they required gravelling for the safety of traffic', which isn't really useful, and that the reason why the 'noise of the motors [...] is a well-known sound at Dover' (as The Times also said) is because 'there has been so much flying' there (presumably referring to the cross-Channel traffic), which is. The Evening Telegraph also adds that 'The wind at the time was blowing nearly half a gale from the westward':

It could only have been a powerfully-engined aircraft to have flown in such a wind, and daring airmanship was also involved in the flight.

The Manchester Courier, p. 7, somewhat more precisely puts the windspeed at 'nearly thirty miles an hour'. It also says that 'police officers', plural, heard the engine whereas the Times and the Evening News mention only one, but that might just be a misinterpretation as it doesn't mention the tradesman. However, the Manchester Guardian, p. 7, also says 'police officers'. It suggests that 'the remarkable thing' is that despite the airship last being seen heading inland, 'no report of her passing or landing has been received from anywhere'.

In introducing its account of the Dover incident, the Liverpool Echo, p. 3, asks 'Are we in danger of another "phantom airship" scare?' Only time will tell.

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