Saturday, 18 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.

Two columnists in today's issue of Flight mention the airship mystery. Oiseau Bleu ('Bluebird'), the pseudonymous author of 'Eddies', a regular commentary on aviation matters, is 'wondering whether the mysterious Dover "aircraft" after all is found in the suggestion that the noises were due to a motor boat', p. 71. This appears to be the first (if uncredited) use of the local knowledge proffered by the Dover Express on last week.

In that case, where did the bright rapidly moving light come from? Could it have been supplied by imagination? If it indeed were a dirigible, where did it go to, for it is hardly conceivable, since it disappeared inland, that it could have continued its cruise without being noticed by other people.

Despite this scepticism, Oiseau Bleu thinks there's a problem either way:

the mere fact that there is apparently no definite evidence as to which it was goes to prove there is something radically wrong with our coast defence. Searchlights there are in plenty, both at Dover, and, for that matter, at Sheerness, but were they used?

Further down the same page, the other pseudonymous columnist, the appropriately named Will o-the-Wisp, takes a similar line. This column, 'Things we should like to know' is humorous and elliptical in style (example: 'What key is the chord of an aeroplane in. Is it governed by the pitch of the propeller'). The things which they would like to know about the scareships are:

How it is all these phantom airships can fly over fortified towns without being seen.

Have we any searchlights on the coast.

Will it be the same when it's the 'real thing.'

Who says we are not progressing? The War Office have rented one of the hangars at Eastbourne. Now we SHAN'T be long!

There is a critique of the state of Britain's air defences here. Whether the alleged humour adds or detracts from it is hard to say.

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