TO GO THROUGH THE AIR
: A UFO VISION?
by Bill Chalker
COPYRIGHT 1998 - Bill Chalker
Fred Phillips in his libraryLife is full of many little pleasures. One of mine during the mid 1970s was spending time with Fred Phillips and his wonderful library. Fred was then honorary president of the Sydney based UFO Investigation Centre (UFOIC). While many of his ideas were a little quirky, he was a gentle soul and simply offered his thoughts as grist for the mind mill. Fred was also for me a link to the early days of Australian ufology and the possible occult dimensions of ufology, both of which he had extensive links to via his interests and acquaintances. So it was during one these reveries at his house in about 1975, that Fred asked me had I ever seen the document he handed me.
I had not seen it before. Fred was unsure of its origin, but the "copy" was found by him while he was organising papers for tax purposes for June Marsden, an acquaintance and local astrologer. On the copy was a hand written annotation - "Who sent this to me? Inside a New Zealand Trade Magazine, Dec (sic?) - 1958." This was written by June Marsden at the time she found it. The material, 15 pages of dotted type and sketches, described itself as a "Copy from the Memorandum Book of Fred Wm. Birmingham, the Engineer to the Council of Parramatta. A machine to go through the air. A.D. 1873". The contents purported to be an account by one Frederick William Birmingham, described as both an engineer, surveyor and local council alderman, of his observation, in July, 1868, of a peculiar "machine to go through the air" - a flying "ark". Birmingham describes the machine landing in Parramatta Park and how he was taken aboard it by it's operator - a "spirit" - and shown papers that would months later be of significance to him. Strange events followed including a daylight sighting in 1873 of a strange object in the sky, all of which the Birmingham of the text, took to have some meaning in what had become a quest to unravel the mystery behind the flying machine in his strange UFO "vision" of 1868.
The cover page indicated that 5 people were ostensibly involved in its preparation in various ways. The "group" consisted of T.V. Homan ("Co-ordination"), Mrs N. de Launte ("Manuscript"), Majorie Esling ("Caligraphy" (sic)), David Esling ("Drafting") and Judith Lambert ("Transcription"). Only T.V. Homan was known to have been a member of UFOIC. He in fact was for some time a sightings officer for the group during the sixties. He was a rather eccentric and secretive character, and had what I termed the "bower bird" syndrome, namely if it was interesting, like the bird, he would take it and line his "nest" - in this case a factory site he owned. A minor legend developed in my early days with UFOIC.
Tas HomanIt was thought, not entirely without foundation, that Tas Homan had secreted away some of the "pearls" of early UFO investigations for his own purposes. There were attempts by a number of the "new blood" of the group to extract some of this material. Not knowing what he had was a problem. I had some success with a 1969 movie footage of a possible UFO landing site. It was evident that Tas had never even looked at the film, despite having coveted it for some 5 years. The Birmingham manuscript was more difficult to unravel. Tas Homan told me on a number of occasions that the "copy" was an authentic copy of the original manuscript. However, he declined or could not tell me more, and would not confirm if he had the original.
The undated copy I now had was at least known to have been produced during the 1950s. Although somewhat sceptical of the authenticity of the account, I decided to document sections of the "Memorandum Book" in an accessible form (partly in an attempt to draw comment and possible clarification). Although I had the "Memorandum Book" copy in my possession for some years, other activities always largely managed to prevent me from carrying out my desire to confirm the possible historical validity of the Birmingham account.
Still, I wanted to see whether there was something of substance behind the Birmingham account. I wanted to find out whether, in the account, we had a factual description of real events, objective or otherwise. Because of the nature of the account, it may be relevant to our understanding of modern day UFO "contact" and "abduction" accounts. Was I dealing with a copy of a legitimate historical document or a literary hoax perpetrated more recently.
So a historical detective odyssey unravelled. I must admit that when I finally saw Birmingham's name on a legitimate historical document in the State library, I was very excited. I had confirmed that there actually was a real Frederick Birmingham and the hunt was on. An exhaustive and extensive search unravelled the following evidence.
Tas Homan acquired the manuscript, when it was given to him by a Mrs N. de Launte. Mr Homan came to know the de Launte family during the fifties, apparently because of his fringe interest in matters occult and spiritual.
Mrs de Launte obtained the original memorandum book from a Mr Wallace Haywood, a teacher, who lived in the Park, Parramatta, a street which ran along the south-western perimeter of Parramatta Park.
How Mr Haywood obtained the memorandum book is unclear, but it is known that it was in his family for quite a long time, either obtained directly or indirectly. It may be significant that Haywood's home was situated within a few hundred yards of "the highest part of the Parramatta Park" - Parramatta Park Hill - ostensibly the landing site of the ark in Birmingham's vision.
I tracked down Mrs Majorie Esling, who was listed as one of the people involved in preparing the document copy. Mrs. de Launte was her mother. She told me of the history of the Birmingham manuscript, as she was able to best remember it. Apparently some time during the 1940s, her mother, as a qualified nurse, was looking after Mrs Haywood, the wife of the Parramatta schoolteacher, Mr Wallace Haywood. Out of appreciation, Mr Haywood gave Mrs de Launte a small black book, which consisted of a cover made of imitation leather/oil skin, with an inlaid cross on the front. It was estimated to be about 6" x 4" in size, hand-written with pen and ink and supplemented with rough sketches.
Mrs Esling remembers her mother showing her the "memorandum book" from time to time, but she was not (and still was not at the time I spoke with her in 1980) particularly interested in its strange contents. She recollected that the little book described how the writer saw a strange "aircraft" over Parramatta, but noted that the account did not refer to it as a "flying saucer." The manuscript was obviously an old one, consistent with the dating of the account (1868-1873). The "memorandum book" was placed in a drawer and largely forgotten for a number of years, until the family made the acquaintance of Tasman V. Homan during the early 1950s.
Homan was both intrigued and impressed by the manuscript since to him it was very meaningful as a provocative historical description of a modern mystery that fascinated him deeply - flying saucers!
Although the de Launte/Esling family often made fun of Homan's "flying saucer" beliefs, they were sufficiently impressed by the depth of his interest to consider giving him the Birmingham manuscript. Mrs de Launte did finally give Homan the "memorandum book." The manuscript may have drifted into obscurity had not the account of the Parramatta surveyor held such sway over Homan.
Homan eventually went to the trouble of producing a "copy" of it. Although he lists Mrs de Launte, her daughter, Majorie Esling, and David Esling as having assisted in the production of this "copy" the family cannot recollect taking an active part in it. Mrs Esling does, however, remember the original book and her mother making a gift of it to Mr Homan. "Transcription" of the "copy" was also attributed to a Judith Lambert, who it seems, was both a writer and an acquaintance of Homan. As far as I have been able to determine, Homan's copy of the "memorandum book" remained among a small close group of acquaintances.
It had certainly not found its way into the literature. The manuscript would have probably remained unknown, had it not been accidentally "rediscovered" by Fred Phillips. He subsequently passed it on to me and since then parts of the account have percolated into the literature. On a number of occasions I asked Homan whether he had the original document. Typically he was either vague or furtive in his answers. When I learnt that Homan had died in 1981, I was advised of an apparent beneficiary of his estate who was overseas for a while. After writing some letters and making contact with the son of the "beneficiary" I found I could only wait till his return.
When he finally did I was frustrated to learn that he had secured unrelated material from Homan's estate and he gave me the name of another person who had been in Australia all along and who would have acquired his factory and any material stored at this site. I was distressed to learn from this second "beneficiary" that, yes, there had been some material, but that he had destroyed it soon after he had acquired it! He couldn't specifically recollect the contents of the material but to him it was of no use.
I was depressed and unapproachable for days. So, the original memorandum book either was destroyed after Homan died, or it was long since lost, or more remotely, it remains to be found. Should you ever come across a small black book, about 6" x 4" in size, with a cover made of imitation leather/oil skin, and an inlaid cross on the front, containing hand-written notes with pen and ink and rough sketches about "a machine to go through the air" at Parramatta and dated between 1868 and 1873, make sure you let me know!
FRED. WM. BIRMINGHAM - THE MAN:
I found that "Fred Wm. Birmingham" was a real person. The manuscript told me a few things about Fred. Wm. Birmingham. In 1872, Fred. Wm. Birmingham describes himself as "The Engineer to the Council of Parramatta. C.E. & Lic. Surveyor, Parramatta." From at least 1868 to 1873, he was living alone in a rented cottage in Duck's Lane, Parramatta. Before 1868, he had been "twice elected alderman of Parramatta" and by 1869 was working for the Parramatta Council on "the water works scheme for supplying Parramatta with water." What was historically confirmable of all this?
Parramatta Council aldermen 1870
Surprisingly, all of it turned out to be confirmed after detailed historical research! Not only was it proven that Birmingham, an engineer and surveyor, did live in Duck's Lane, Parramatta, between 1868 and 1873, as alleged in the Memorandum Book, but a detailed chronology of the man emerged, which was consistent with the individual described in the Memorandum Book. I was even able to determined, much to my surprise, that in the "rented cottage Duck's Lane," in which Birmingham experienced his "wonderful dream" of 1868, still existed today!
I was amazed to be able to stand on the verandah of the "rented cottage," under its "convex corrugated iron roof" and contemplate the reality of the "vision" on the night "of the 25th - 26th July Anno Domino, 1868."
Surprisingly, I found nothing in the "Memorandum Book of Fred. Wm. Birmingham... A.D. 1873," which was inconsistent with information known at that time in the 19th century. No apparent anachronism exists in the manuscript's text.
The allusion to Birmingham's surprise as to why the ark's furnishings were "extremely thick" and "very strong," and the references to rubber, steel, centrifugal pumps and "positive and negative electricity" are realistic for the period of the manuscript - 1868 to 1873.
Birmingham's surprise is consistent with the contemporary conviction that flight would only be achieved with lighter-than-air "machines," namely balloons, and later the "airships." Jules Verne in his prophetic book, "Robur the Conqueror" (or "The Clipper of the Clouds"), published in 1886, not only pre-empted the American "airship" waves in 1896 and 1897, but defined the future of "heavier-than-air" aerial machines.
The Memorandum Book is therefore consistent with the period in which it is based. Research has taken the established existence of the document, back at least to the early 1940s, when it was in the possession of the Parramatta school teacher. The case for the manuscript being what it purports to be - a Memorandum Book written by a Parramatta resident in 1873 - is, I believe, well established. The chance of it being a literary hoax perpetrated around the early 1940s or earlier, certainly seems quite remote.
(the headings throughout are mine):
The "Memorandum book, A.D. 1873" attributed to the hand of one "Fred. Wm. Birmingham, C.E. & Lic. Surveyor, Parramatta, Australia," gives an account of an "aerial machine" - "A machine to go through the air."
"On the night of the 25th - 26th July Anno Domino (original spelling) 1868, I had a wonderful dream - a vision..."
Birmingham described standing under the verandah of his rented cottage in Duck's Lane, Parramatta, when he saw up in the sky, to the north-east, the passage of a bizarre apparitional procession.
This consisted of "the Lord Bishop of Sydney's head in the air looking intently upon me in a frowning half laughing mood... I watched it intently and when it had travelled to the east it dimmed - just as one loses his focus by quickly drawing in or out the slide of a telescope." In the same manner, "the Premier's head twice appeared... this dimmed and again the Lord Bishop's head shone forth as it were looking intently and impeachingly upon me, and travelling southerly to about s.s-east." Birmingham dropped his gaze to ponder the extraordinary display.
"After some considerable time I determined to look at the head or heads again...," but they were gone. "A Machine to go through the Air." I retraced the course the head had taken and just in the spot where I first saw the head I saw an 'Ark' and while looking at it - moving along the same track as the head had taken - I said to myself aloud, 'Well that is a beautiful vessel.' I had no sooner ended the sentence than I was made aware that I was not alone, for to my right hand and a little to the rear of my frontage a distinct voice said, slowly - 'That's a machine to go through the air.'
"In a little time I replied - 'It appears to me more like a vessel for going upon the water, but, at all events, it's the loveliest thing I ever saw.' "I then felt that somehow or another the spirit and I were as it may have been spiritually on the highest part of the Parramatta Park." By this time, "the machine" had moved through the air in a zig-zag fashion, "then quite, stopped, the forward motion and descended some twenty feet or so as gently as a feather on the grass," at a distance of about 20 yards from Birmingham and the "spirit."
Birmingham described the ark in the following way: "...though a brown colour (rubber!) all over at a distance... its peculiar shapings are well impressioned upon my mind and the colour seemed to blend with faint, flitting shades of steel blue, below and appearing tremulous and like what one might term magnified scales on a large fish, the latter being as it were flying in the air, (the machine has not the shape of anything that has life)."
The "spirit" was described by Birmingham as being "like a neutral tint shade (white? - B.C.) and the shape of a man in his usual frock dress."
It said to him, "Have you a desire or do you wish to enter upon it?" Birmingham replied, "Yes."
"'Then come' - said the spirit, thereupon we were lifted off the grass and gently carried through the air and onto the upper part of the machine..."
Aboard the "Ark"
On the machine, the spirit showed Birmingham two cylinders, located at the front and back of it, indicating their purpose, "by downward motion of hand." The spirit beckoned the surveyor to enter the "pilot house" (as Birmingham termed a part of the machine) saying, "Step in." Birmingham described how he went down about three steep steps. They led into the pilot house room, which was about three and a half feet lower than the deck of the machine.
The only feature of the room was a table, about five feet by three and a half feet and two and a half feet high covered with material like oilskin, "or perhaps iron covered with rubber cloth tightly." About two feet separated the table and the walls of the room. Birmingham referred to how, "everything appeared very strong, the sides I noticed were extremely thick, about six inches - and I (then) wondered why they were so strong in 'a machine to go through the air'."
Standing alone at the rear end of the table, whereupon he rested one hand, Birmingham began to repent agreeing to "entering upon" the "ark." "I felt miserably queer - just like one who undertaking a billet or post he knows nothing of. So I remained for some considerable time, when I was aroused as it were from my reverie by the voice of the spirit on my right hand, who said, 'Here are some papers for your guidance'."
The hand of the spirit was resting on the table and within it were several printed papers. The first paper was covered with figures and formulae."...Thinking the formulae and figures of other kinds might be too intricate for my comprehension I said to the spirit - 'Oh! Will I want them?' The spirit replied slowly, but with marked emphasis, 'It is absolutely necessary that you should know these things, but, you can study them as you go on'."
Among the "figures and formulae," Birmingham saw, were the following: V = 550 + (500 aH)
"I again cast down my eyes between my hands as it were on the table and considering silently the words of the holy spirit and when I looked about I found I was alone in the ark! "So I fell, I suppose, into my usual sleeping state, and waking next morning deeply impressed with that vision of the night..."
Beyond the above experience, 1868 was "a most miserable year" for Birmingham. "I went about down hearted and with the remains of low fever - rheumatism, lumbago and the like." Early in 1869, Birmingham (formerly "twice elected alderman of Parramatta") was reading newly acquired engineering literature, to facilitate work on a report to the local council on "the waterworks scheme for supplying Parramatta with water" ("...many years surveying had made me quite rusty as to the little (engineering) I knew some 16 to 18 years before, I scraped up such useful information as I could speedily get or pay for").
Amongst the material he had bought and seen for the first time, were Molesworth's Engineering Tables for 1868. On page 137 of these tables, much to his surprise, Birmingham found the figures and formulae he had seen "in that vision of the night namely, 'July A.D. 1868'." They were present in connection with centrifugal pumps.
(Note: Janet and Colin Bord tracked down the Molesworth Tables for me. They could only find a 1863 edition, which had exactly the same equation on the same page number, so the possibility of precognition on Birmingham's part is not so apparent, although he wrote that he had not seen the tables before he acquired them after the vision - B.C.)
Birmingham pondered his "vision" occasionally but could only rationalise (to his own satisfaction at least) the first portion, namely that it reminded him "that I must serve God by conforming to the Christian doctrine and laws of his church. (Christ's Bride). As to the second portion of the vision I could not conclude what it meant - at least in any satisfactory way ('a machine to go through the air' - or in other words, the ark mentioned in the Book of Revelations!)"
Things did not end there for Fred. Wm. Birmingham.
The Opening Gate
On March 27, 1871, he was puzzled by what seemed to be opening and closing of the latch on his verandah gate by what seemed to be an unseen hand - poltergeist, spooks or just a coincidence? Birmingham continued to ponder the meaning of it all. "A thing to be accomplished" "Day by day and at night in my wakeful moments I have often rehearsed the wonderful dreams I have had, and coupling them one day with the vision of the Lord Bishop's head and the latch rising, I came down from the hill in the Parramatta Park firmly convinced that the vision was gradually unfolding itself and 'the machine to go through the air' was a thing (through God's mercy) to be accomplished.
"I sat down at the same end of the table where from I saw the latch rise, calculating pressures etc. and taking a match box in my hand and letting it drop on the table I said aloud 'But, how in the name of goodness can I overcome 'gravity'.' I instantly felt in my left air a sound like that produced by pressing a large sea shell close to one's ear, and the words 'Are not the sides greater than a third'.
Becoming excited and in great joy I said aloud, "Yes, and the sides and bottom working together can overcome the top'. This was the first practical clue as to forming the interior parts of the machine I saw in the vision of the aforenamed night 25th - 26th July, 1868. (About three years and nine months had passed away viz to the 15th April, 1872)."
"The most extraordinary cloud"
(And a UFO ?)
"My thoughts have been continually bent on unravelling and learning the matter, and the little monies I could spare went towards experimenting and each experiment learnt me something but, on the last of the three principal occasions, I was disappointed and felt unhappy and laid on my back on my 'couch' for a long time (some hours) thinking and when I had finished all of my thinking I said aloud to myself - 'Well, I don't care, I believe it firmly and try I will if I should fail a thousand times, to the day of my death I will believe in it'.
"So saying I threw myself on my feet and went out to the kitchen (at 7p.m.) and slowly took my evening meal. The sun was or had just set. My door was open and my eyes were toward the sky which was quite clear, excepting three small clouds of Van Dyke brown colour, in the south-west a little separate.
"The middle one being the largest, drew my attention and was without doubt, the most extraordinary cloud in its wonderful movements that I ever saw. I made a sketch of it which I keep because it is evidence that we are taught betimes by the great and good spirit." What followed has all the trappings of an unusual UFO sighting. It occurred on March 9, 1873, according to the memorandum book text.
Out of the middle "cloud" appeared two screw-like appendages, which projected downwards. Between these "screws" appeared a "second shape with like two flat necks on a turtle shaped body". How it came there puzzled Birmingham. The "necks" bent up as the screws rotated about seven times more. "As the screws reversed the neck(s) came down gradually to the horizontal position and after a few minutes (2 or 3 minutes) the screw part rotated the second time and reversed as before. After this double operation the 'turtle' disappeared, I then knew not where to.
"After a few minutes lapse of time I was astonished (and said aloud) 'Well I declare! The turtle is forming again', and sure enough, in the same shape and place it remained for a pause of a few minutes, and to my surprise the movements were exactly the same as the previous series, namely twice screwed and twice reversed all the same forms as before. "After a couple of minutes the turtle began to fade away and the last shred of it I saw winding around and going upwards to the middle cloud and to my surprise the two big three-threaded screws folded up like the arms of a bear and lost their shape in the middle cloud!
Just after this the whole three clouds which had remained stationary in the sky for, as truly as I can reckon, (without a clock or watch) twenty to twenty five minutes or so - moved quickly south-easterly, formed into one cloud and in about three minutes melted out of sight. This going away of the clouds was so quickly done that I had to rise quickly and step out of doors to watch them!" "There may be a meaning in all this"
"I thought silently over the thing that was shown one, and said I to myself 'How could these things be done!' So I concluded that the cloud material was worked upon by positive and negative electricity - for wind there was none seemingly - after some lapse of time I said to myself 'There may be a meaning in all this' - doubled over and twice each time. I then thought of Pharaoh's 'dream' of the fat and the lean kine - but said I (inwardly) 'Pharaoh's was a dream but this just now seen by me was in daylight!'
"It sunk as it were deep into my soul and I concluded that the thing was shown one by God, but I could not on that day unravel it - but my fixed belief then (and ever since) was that there was a meaning - a teaching for me in it."
There the account finishes.
I first presented my findings on my research into the Birmingham vision as a paper entitled "A UFO VISION? The mystery of "a machine to go through the air" 1873, Parramatta, New South Wales, Australia" presented at a national Australian UFO Conference late in 1980. It was published in the UFO Research Australia Newsletter (Vol.3, No.1, Jan-Feb 1982).
What has interested me is that despite almost 2 decades having passed much of what I wrote then holds even more so now. Many aspects of the Birmingham vision are common to the rich harvest of "contactee" stories of the 1950s, other "contact" tales and even "abductions." Some of these elements include "the invitation," "levitation," tours of the "machine," "alien tutelage," ESP, precognition or other faculties, disorientation and bizarre "follow up" experiences.
By all accounts I believe it is fair to say that the Birmingham vision of 1868, and subsequent events, embodied many of the features that appear time and time again in modern contact, contactee and abduction accounts.
Perhaps Birmingham's account not only mirrors modern accounts. We encounter tales of invitations by strange entities to go into unusual realms in aspects of shamanism, the stories of "aerial people" of the Middle Ages, fairy lore and the visionary sphere (with the latter consider A.E.'s evocative "visions in the air" of 1893 in his 1918 work "The Candle of Vision").
The bizarre nature of the Birmingham vision (the dream-like quality of the account, floating heads, spirits, flying, instantaneous relocation, poltergeists, voices and not-the-least - visions - all elements of dreams, psychotic episodes, hallucinations or other realities, depending where your preferences lie), does not, in my mind, lessen its relevancy to modern UFO accounts of contacts, contactees, abductions and the like. The impossible and the totally absurd are no longer strange bed fellows in today's UFO accounts.
Is the vision of Fred. Wm. Birmingham objective or subjective in nature? Does the Memorandum Book record a real physical event or is it principally psychological in origin? Perhaps the event had some physical basis, but was embroidered by fantasy and imagination. Probably most contactee, contact and abduction events of the modern era beg the same questions. It may be easy to dismiss the Birmingham account, since it is of an historical event and, therefore, alludes real critical inspection.
Afterall, the account is obviously a dream, delusion, vision or hallucination, the argument would go. However, I do not believe we can escape the remarkable degree of correspondence with contemporary UFO events. What one applies to the Birmingham vision could perhaps be equally applied to UFO events.
For example, in an Omni article, "Cartographer of Consciousness", in September, 1980, Brian Van der Horst, quotes Dr. Ronald Siegel: "We've found an uncanny parallel between the experiences of UFO abductees and the phenomena of drug induced visions. "That's not to detract from the romanticism or novelty of these visions or their utility in inspiring creative endeavours or giving support to transcendental experiences. But it is to say that they are very similar for all people..."
Hallucinations of this nature can be brought about by a range of events apart from drugs, including hypnagogic and hypnopompic states, fever delirium, epilepsy, psychotic states, sensory deprivation, electrical stimulation, and dizziness. Recollect that for Birmingham "1868 (was) a most miserable year" in that he "went about down-hearted and with the remains of a low fever..."
The specific content may differ, but the basic components of these visions will be the same for "Aboriginal men of high degree" (aboriginal shamans), a Parramatta surveyor in 1868 or 20th century UFO abductees. Contactee, contact and abduction experiences may be only human responses to the more objective aspects of the UFO phenomenon. I have little doubt that there are objective phenomena involved in the UFO mystery but, as researchers, we must be very cautious in deciding just where that stepping off point occurs between real objective physical events and the realms of imagination, fantasy and elsewhere.
However, I wrote in 1980 and I emphasis again now, until acceptable and testable physical evidence emerges for the reality of contactee, contact and abduction events, I prefer caution and suggest an open minded, but critical approach. I think known hypotheses such as psychological processes (that are well attested) should be seriously considered before we accept that such events represent "technology." At the moment, the evidence seems to be suggesting that the best fit hypothesis for these events will have some significant faculty of the human mind as its basis.
Some evidence suggests a rather strange reality may be involved that may go beyond the human condition.
With caution we may eventually be able to decide unambiguously whether contact and abduction accounts are genuine extensions of the apparently more objective manifestations of "mainstream" UFO activity. It is a quest for which any number of possibilities may eventuate. We should not rush towards judgement as the material we have before us is both fascinating and complex. The looking will surely be fascinating.
FROM TWILIGHT IN PARRAMATTA PARK:
Here once I fancied that the twilight made
All things unreal. The unearthly spell
Changed sloping lawns to meads of Asphodel,
And woes and joys in spirit-forms arrayed
Gave selfsame shadows through each darkling glade,
Till night dissolved them as it slowly fell.
- Hubert Young, 1933 Cumberland Argus
Quoted in "Focus on Parramatta" by Doris Sargeant (1972)
"...aghast the Children of man
Stood on the infinite Earth & saw these visions in the air...
But many stood silent, & busied in their families.
And many said, 'we see no visions in the darksome air'..."
- William Blake, 1797
"Now I a fourfold vision see,
And a fourfold vision is given to me:
'This fourfold in my supreme delight
And threefold in soft Beulah's night
And twofold Always. May God us keep
From single visions & Newton's sleep."
- William Blake, 1802
"Like a mirage that shows a magnificent city, the images of hallucinations are actually reflected images of real objects located elsewhere. The city is no less intriguing and no less worthy of study because it is not where we think it is. Further experiments will help localise it."
- Dr Ronald K. Siegel, Scientific American, October 1977
"The machine then, quite stopped, the forward motion and descended some twenty feet or so as gently as a feather onto the grass at P.P. (Parramatta Park)."
- Fred. Wm. Birmingham, Parramatta Park, 1868
The holder of Australia's first aerial pilot's licence was William E. Hart, a Parramatta dentist. He taught himself to fly a Bristol biplane well enough to qualify for the Royal Aero Club's Aviator's Certificate in November 1911. On June 29, 1912, Hart won Australia's first air race. He challenged the visiting American flier, "Wizard" Stone, to a twenty mile race for a stake of 250 pounds. Stone lost his way, landing at Lakemba, but Hart, a much less experienced pilot, finished the flight in 23 minutes and landed as planned in Parramatta Park.
Sir Hudson Fish's magnificent 1912 photo
of William Hart chasing a train
(State Library of NSW)More than 4 decades earlier a Parramatta surveyor had contemplated the meaning of a different "machine to go through the air" - one with striking implications for a modern day mystery that has taken hold - the UFO mystery and particularly the alien adbuction experience. "...I came down from the hill in the Parramatta Park firmly convinced that the vision was gradually unfolding itself and 'the machine to go through the air' was a thing (through God's mercy) to be accomplished."
- Fred. Wm. Birmingham, 1873.