As I was working on the articles about the Jefferson Airship crash, I wondered what was the difference between that event and the Aurora, Texas, crash. Both were reported in the newspaper which was supposed to add some credibility to the stories. But Aurora has been splashed all over the media since the 1960s including documentaries, magazine articles and mentions in books, and even a movie about the disaster. Jefferson is rarely mentioned and often relegated to a mere couple of sentences in obscure books or buried in the detail of more popular ones.
|Aurora, Texas. Photo only important to show that I was|
there. Photo copyright by Kevin Randle.
Here’s the thing. I have found more evidence for the Jefferson crash than for the Aurora crash. True, I interviewed several people who had lived in Aurora and Wise County, Texas, in 1897 but know of none who are alive today who would have seen the Jefferson crash. I was in Aurora, Texas, in the early 1970s, but knew virtually nothing about the Jefferson event until the last few days.
Now, we have great detail about Jefferson, Iowa. We have good descriptions of the craft, we have letters to the newspaper that describe the crash, and we even have illustrations that match those descriptions. For Aurora, we have none of that, other than the original newspaper article. There is no follow up on it, the descriptions are vague and the debris that had apparently been scattered all over the streets of Aurora has vanished into thin air.
If we are to look just at the documentation from 1897, then the Jefferson crash is the better tale. Again, I point to the letters printed in the newspaper written by witnesses who were there. In Aurora there is no such documentation. That, of course, gives the nod to Jefferson.
Even more important is the illustration that appeared in the Cedar Rapids newspaper three days later. It does set up something of a conundrum. How was
writer able to describe the object days before the illustration appeared? It is
a match and suggests a bit of reality… or a level of coordination between the
writer of the letter and those who were talking about the landed craft in
|The airship from the Cedar Rapids Gazette and|
as description in the Jefferson Bee.
At the other end of the spectrum, there are two books written about the history of Wise County, Texas, within a decade of the crash. Neither of those books mentions the Aurora crash, which, given the timing of it, should have had a prominent place in both those books. That it was not even mentioned is suggestive of a hoax rather than a real event.
I could mention that we do have names of real people in the Aurora case. T.J. Weems, however, was not a signal corps officer as reported but was the local blacksmith. That certainly does nothing for the veracity of the tale. Others who were identified turned out not to be what they were said to have been.
The names associated with the Jefferson crash are not identifiable as real people living in the area. George Washington was mentioned, but I thought this had more to do with Washington’s reputation for truthfulness than it did the name of the person who wrote the letter. George could not tell a lie, but it seemed the letter was full of them. Sort of ironic, I would say. In fact, that seems to be the very definition of irony.
Both events suggest that there was wreckage. In Jefferson, it was at the bottom of a huge crater created by the crash. In Aurora, the debris was dumped down a well, which is a good way to get rid of it, although not a very smart way. Searches of the well have produced no evidence that could be confirmed as having come from an advanced technology.
The real point here, however, is that there are many more details from the Jefferson crash than there are from Aurora. Had Jefferson been found by researchers in the 1960s, we might have seen all those documentaries, magazine articles, books, and the film made about Jefferson rather than Aurora. The Jefferson story is much more interesting.
In the 21st century, none of that is important. We know, today, that the Jefferson tale is a hoax, and the letters were written by people who might have been inspired by the newspaper… or the original article was inspired by those letters, which in turn, were inspired by the tales of the Great Airship. In fact, it seems that several tales from Iowa were linked and that might have given a note of credibility to the Jefferson story had we not already found those tales from Cedar Rapids and Waterloo to be hoaxes. That tales are all linked is important and everything resulting from that linkage collapses under dispassionate scrutiny.
I have said for decades that the Aurora crash is a hoax. Most accept that once they examine the evidence or the lack thereof. True, there are some hardcore believers, but for them, all the evidence of a hoax is just a CIA or Air Force plot to keep the truth hidden. In the case of these two crashes, the only truth is that sometimes newspapers get caught up in the moment. Sometimes their reporting is more with tongue in cheek than in the reality of a situation. And, sometimes, they just want to have some fun