Zoam Chomsky poo-poos the story, saying it's a newspaper creation: fraudulent reportage or a hoax.
If it is a hoaxed account, it's a delicious one, nicely done.
French skeptic Gilles Fernandez has provided much about the late 1800 airship stories, allowing that many were mistaken observations of the planet Venus, an interpretation that I find hard to take.
No matter what the truth is, the 1896 et al. reports, hoaxed or misinterpretations of Venus, or real, actual observations of something odd seen in the skies of America, fascinate, sociologically, psychologically, ufologically.
Should we dismiss the tales, because they are from a by-gone era?
RR http://ufocon.blogspot.com – The UFO Iconoclast(s)