Subject: IUFO: Ancient Airships.

Subject: Ancient Airships.                             July 13, 2004.

  In the past I have reported on being given some reproductions of
ancient airships that were in the museum where I work.  I tuned
into them and gave my verbal report about them.  Two weeks ago I was
led to have the the pictures and information brought out to me and 
I went through them again.  I gave another verbal report and told the 
person in charge that I believe that a person made the paintings and 
they were renditions of the ancient aircraftes that were seen world
wide about 1900.  This person was a member of a group called the 
Sonora Aero Club and was financed by a group that had unlimited 
  I also stated that this craft was housed at an airport just South
of the Columbia, Calif. airport back then.  The airport that was used 
by the ancient aircraft is no longer in existence, as far as I 
know.  The person in charge of the museum said, "That is the 
conclusion we came to also.

  I had them make a copy of the material and they gave it to me.
It would be very hard for me to put this information on the internet
so hoped that something would happen so that the information would
be sent to me in simple text form so I could put it on the internet.
  During the next few days I found on the Internet three web sites
that contain most of that information and I have stated them on 
the end of this part of the material.  You might like to look up
this material because it does show the pictures of the ancient 
  Here is the information I found in the web sites.


  Subject: Dimension 1890s Airship Puzzle's Missing Piece
  1890s Airship Puzzle's Missing Piece
  In 1899, Charles Dellschau, a grouchy retired butcher, began to 
paint amazing airships. His intricate collages show shiplike decks 
supported by striped balloon pontoons; they show bright-colored 
helicopters and evil-looking striped dirigibles outfitted for w-r; 
they show crews of dapper little gentlemen accompanied by the 
occasional cat. Many pages are bedecked with little newspaper 
clippings about aviation, and text in his weird Germanic lettering
celebrates the pure, unexcelled marvelousness of the flying machines.

  Nearly a century later, folk-art collectors hold the works in 
high esteem. 
  A page from Dellschau's notebooks can fetch as much as $15,000, a
hefty price even in a booming market. A New York Times reviewer 
said that Dellschau possesses "a charming style that presages Monty
Python"; the Village Voice called the works "sweetly bizarre."
  It's hard to say what the old man would have made of such praise;
he doesn't seem to have thought of himself as an artist. It's not 
clear even whether he intended the notebooks for anyone's eyes but 
his own. The drawings are crudely sewn together with shoelaces and 
thread, and newsprint is glued on the edge of each leaf as a spine.
Watercolor airships occupy both sides of the pages.
  Taken at face value, Dellschau's collages document the feats of 
the Sonora Aero Club, a secretive group dedicated to the creation of
"aeros," or flying machines. In code, and bad spelling in both 
English and German, Dellschau recounted how, in his youth 50 years 
before, he and fellow club members gleefully ruled the skies of Gold
Rush California, piloting fantastical airships of their own 
  Perhaps the notebooks' tales were merely fictions, Dellschau's 
efforts to entertain himself. Perhaps the old man had grown a tad 
deranged. Or perhaps Dellschau was actually recounting the exploits
of his youth, embellishing here and there, but remaining somewhat 
faithful to the facts. Oddly, that last supposition -- the strangest
possibility of all -- seems the most likely. One line of thought 
even ties the Sonora club to a rash of UFOsightings.
  But untangling Dellschau's tale is a complicated matter, one that
involves penetrating many levels of s-crecy, including that of the 
very people trying to solve his riddles.
  The puzzle of Dellschau's aeros intrigues both art historians and
UFO enthusiasts. Not surprising, most of the hard facts come from 
the art world.
  Two years ago, William Steen, a mild-mannered frame designer at 
the Menil Collection, pieced together documents indicating the 
sketchy official outlines of Dellschau's life. Steen modestly claims
to be no scholar, but his four-sheet chronology of Dellschau's life
provides the most reliable biography available.
  Steen found the immigration record that shows Dellschau's 1853 
arrival in the United States. The young immigrant told officials 
that he was 25 years old; had been born in Brandenburg, Prussia; 
traveled here from Hamburg and listed his occupation as a farmer.
  Steen uncovered Dellschau's letter of citizenship, which traces 
his whereabouts to Harris County in 1856 and Fort Bend County in 
1860. Between those years, the historical documents are silent about
Dellschau's whereabouts. 
  And it's precisely during that gap that Dellschau claims the 
Sonora club's exploits took place. So far, Steen has not been able 
to locate documents showing that Dellschau even lived in California
in the 1850s. Nor do there seem to be credible reports of 
unidentified flying objects in the area. Dellschau rendered some 
comments in code. Apparently, whatever it was that he had to say 
was too private for his own notebooks.
  But where the historical records are silent, the artist's 
notebooks make noisy, extravagant claims. Dellschau represents 
himself as the club's draftsman and scribe, rather than as one of 
its inventors or fliers; he never draws himself aboard an aero. He
illustrates a remarkable number of designs -- maybe as many as 
100 -- for airships with names such as Aero Mio, Aero Trump, Aero 
Schnabel and Aero Mary. (There's even an Aero Jourdan.) All were 
powered by a secret formula that Dellschau called both "supe" and
"suppe"; it could both negate gravity and drive the ships' wheels,
side paddles and compressor motors.
  One drawing tells the story of Adolf Goetz's Aero Goeit, 
recklessly commandeered by an unskilled pilot; the airship got 
tangled in a Sequoia tree, and the interloper died of a broken 
neck. Another cautionary tale involves Jacob Mischer, a pilot who 
went down in flames in the Aero Gander; Dellschau hints that he was
sabotaged by other club members, who suspected him of using the 
aircraft to make money by hauling cargo.
  But most of the airships' flights were safe -- and great fun. 
Dellschau depicts his aviators enjoying hot breakfasts, and 
delights in enumerating the ships' clever gadgets. He often 
bedecked his watercolor paintings with little press clippings -- 
from Scientific American, the Houston Chronicle and an unidentified
German-language newspaper -- that recount air disasters; Dellschau
called them "press blooms." Against paintings of the Sonora club's 
successes, the clippings seem intended as an ironic counterpoint.
  Dellschau never seems to explain why the club worked so hard to 
protect its secrecy, but he shows the members going to great lengths
to do so. By day, the Aero Goeit was disguised as a gypsy wagon, so 
it could travel open roads undetected. Dellschau writes that a club
member was banned from developing a machine because he'd talked to
outsiders. And of course, even years after the club disbanded, many
of Dellschau's own comments are rendered in code. 
  Apparently, whatever it was that he had to say was too private 
even for his own notebooks.
  Often the drawings show the heroic Peter Mennis, pilot of the Aero
Goose and creator of the near-magical suppe. According to Dellschau's
notebooks, Mennis died in the 1860s, and without his secret formula,
the club could fly no longer and was forced to disband. In picture 
after picture, Dellschau laments ennis's demise. "Peter Mennis you 
are not forgotten," he writes in one; in another, "no more suppe."
  Could such wonders have happened? It's a difficult question. If 
the club were as secretive as Dellschau indicates, the California 
desert offered privacy. Sonora was a Gold Rush boomtown, six miles
south of Columbia, now the site of the Columbia Airport. The 
airport's land is isolated and flat -- ideal for testing aircraft 
-- and is surrounded by mostly hilly terrain.
  Dellschau's drawings show equipment that would have been 
revolutionary for the 1850s: gliding keels, revolving generators 
powered by a chemical reaction, bendable rubber joints, revolving 
shear blades, even a retractable landing gear. It was heady stuff,
highly advanced given the state of technology (the Wright Brothers 
didn't make their famous flight until 1903). But half a century 
later, when the old man actually made the drawings, many of those 
technologies had grown closer to reality.
  The historical record of Dellschau picks up again in 1861. A 
certificate from that year shows that Dellschau married Antonia 
Hilt, a widow with a four-year-old daughter, Elizabeth. It's not 
clear where Dellschau met and married her or where the family first
lived together.
  In 1865, they were living in Richmond, Texas, a haven for newly 
arrived Germans and Czechs. That year, Dellschau signed an amnesty 
oath, swearing that as a former member of the Confederacy, he 
wouldn't oppose the U.S. laws that freed slaves. (W.M. 
Von-Maszewski, the Texas historian who translated Dellschau's j
ournals, thinks he may have worked under the Confederates as a 
civilian.) According to that oath, Dellschau was a butcher. His 
height was five feet three inches; his hair, auburn; eyes, hazel; 
and complexion, fair. The one verifiable photo of Dellschau bears 
out that description and shows him to be a bit gruff and Teutonic,
with a large, round forehead beneath a line of receding hair and
with bushy eyebrows and a moustache that covers his mouth.
  Dellschau's wife, Antonia, bore him three children. In 1877, 
tragedy struck: Antonia died, and their six-year-old son, Edward,
died two weeks later. 
  Census records show that Dellschau remained in Richmond for a 
while afterward with his daughter Bertha.
  In 1889, the phone directory lists both Dellschau and Bertha in
Houston, living with Dellschau's stepdaughter, Elizabeth, and her
husband, Anton Stelzig, a harness- and saddle-maker and the founder
of the Western clothing store that still exists in Houston.

  (JW  These are the web sites that discuss the ancient airships.)

Part 1.

John Winston.

Subject: IUFO: Ancient Airships.  Part 2.

Subject: Ancient Airships.  Part 2.                    July 14, 2004.

  Here's a bit of personal information.  I work on tuesdays at the 
Tuolumne County Museum from about 10:00am to 12:00am.  It's in an old
jail, in Sonora, Calif. and if I come in a little late I take off 
early to make up for it.


  Sometime before 1892, Dellschau's daughter Bertha was diagnosed 
with tuberculosis and was institutionalized. By 1898, the sanatorium
wrote Dellschau that she wouldn't live much longer.
  For a few years after moving to Houston, Dellschau worked as a 
salesman and clerk for Stelzig's saddlery and harness business on 
Main Street, between Congress and Franklin. But the aging butcher 
-- in his late 50s when he moved to Houston -- never mastered work
in a service industry. "They sent him home," says Leo Stelzig Jr.,
Anton's grandson. "He was kind of abrupt and wasn't smooth with the
  It was then that Dellschau began to fill his days by filling his
  He wrote a two-part, 200-page journal and produced roughly 5,000 
ink-and-watercolor drawings before his death in 1923. By Steen's 
calculation, that works out to the furious rate of a drawing every 
day or two. "He had something to say," Steen concludes. "The most 
important thing in his life was his work."
  Leo Stelzig Jr. was two years old when Dellschau died and, as a 
boy, used to rummage through the attic looking for old letters whose
stamps could grace his collection. In the process, he came across 
Dellschau's belongings and marveled at the bizarre aeros.
  Dellschau's notebooks languished in the attic until sometime in 
the 1960s. 
  According to Steen's search of public records, the fire department
found the house a fire hazard and ordered that it be cleared of 
debris. A nurse who'd been hired to care for Anton Stelzig's two 
aging sisters attacked the job zealously and in the process 
consigned many of the Stelzigs' valuables to a trash heap on the 
curb. Among the losses were old World War I uniforms, some very old
records and -- worst of all -- Dellschau's notebooks. Now 74, Leo 
Stelzig shakes his head sadly as he recounts the nurse's words: "I 
took care of that mess and cleaned it all up."
  At the Washington Street dump, an unidentified trash man sold the
notebooks to junk man Fred Washington for $100. Washington took 
them to his O.K. Trading Center on Washington Avenue, where they lay
stacked on the floor, covered with a tarp because the building's 
roof leaked.
  In 1969, Mary Jane Victor was an art history student at the 
University of St. Thomas -- and a regular patron of the O.K. Trading
Center. She remembers being amazed to come across the scrapbooks.
  At the university art department, Victor was working for art 
patron Dominique de Menil, a Schlumberger heiress famous for her 
eye for surrealists and the primitive art that inspired them. Victor
promptly told de Menil about her find and put her in touch with the
junk dealer. Soon after, the heiress Washington paid $1,500 for 
four of the earliest notebooks.
  "Dellschau for her was an eccentric," recalls Steen. "She had a 
wonderful affinity for eccentrics." Half joking, she told Steen she
was especially drawn to the coded phrase "DM=XX" scrawled across the
top of many drawings. She thought DM stood for "Dominique de Menil."
And the rest somehow equaled her own death.
  Soon after de Menil acquired the notebooks, she exhibited some of 
their leaves in "Flight," a University of St. Thomas show on the 
subject. And it was there that Pete Navarro, one of the most dogged
investigators of Dellschau's mysteries, first encountered the aeros.
  Navarro, a Houston commercial artist, was intrigued by UFOs, 
especially by a mysterious rash of airship sightings near the turn 
of the century, not long before Dellschau began his drawings. 
Navarro read about the St. Thomas exhibition one morning at the 
breakfast table. And when he saw Dellschau's drawings, he felt 
there had to be a connection to the sightings.
  Ufologists believe that between November 1896 and April 1897, 
thousands of Americans in 18 states between California and Indiana
saw a curious dirigible-like flying machine floating eastward. No
physical evidence of a ship or a designer has ever surfaced, but 
newspapers such as the New York Times, Dallas Morning News, San 
Antonio Daily Express and Chicago Tribune devoted space to the 
sightings. In this century, authors Daniel Cohen and William 
Chariton have published books on the subject.
  The mysterious craft was first spotted on November 17, 1896, by 
R.L. Lowery, near a brewery in Sacramento, California. According to
various newspaper reports, the craft seemed to travel eastward. In 
spring, it was spotted in Texas.
  At 1:16 a.m. on April 17, 1897, the Reverend J.W. Smith saw what 
he thought was a shooting star in the night sky of Childress, 
Texas, then decided it was really a flying machine. Eventually he
recognized it as the much-discussed cigar-shaped airship.
  Four days after Smith's UFO sighting, the Houston Daily Post 
gave a lengthy account of his and other spottings of the same 
airship, a 30-foot-long skiff-shaped contraption outfitted with 
revolving wheels and sails.
  Jim Nelson, a farmer from Atlanta, Texas, recalled glimmers of 
red, green and blue lights and "a glaring gleam of white light" 
that shone directly in front of the airship. In Belton, a crowd 
witnessed the same vehicle the next night. They claimed its pilots 
spoke loudly as they flew overhead, but the ship's velocity was so 
great, their words were lost in the wind.
  According to other newspaper accounts, witnesses managed to talk 
with the pilots. Sometimes townspeople even came upon the crew 
members, who were apparently making repairs to their marvelous 
machine and were willing to chat.
  In 1972, three years after de Menil bought her four notebooks, 
Pete Navarro learned that more Dellschau notebooks were collecting
dust at Washington's junk shop. Nobody wanted them, so Navarro gave
the dealer $65 for one book. Hooked by what he saw, he returned 
and offered $500 more for the remaining seven.
  Navarro tried to sell four of the notebooks to de Menil; she 
chose not to buy them -- perhaps because she liked the work in her
own notebooks better. De Menil owned some of Dellschau's earliest
notebooks and believed that they included his best work. As the 
artist aged, his works grew looser, more expressionistic; de Menil
seems to have preferred his earlier precision.
  But for Navarro, the notebooks weren't about artistic quality; 
they were pieces of a historical puzzle. He visited Helen and Tommy
Britton, cousins of Leo Jr. Helen promised she'd try to find more 
books and pictures of Dellschau that were hidden around the family's
old house, but she died before she could locate anything. Navarro 
also talked to Tommy Britton, who was a preteen when Dellschau died.
Now in his 80s, he may be the last living relative who remembers 
Dellschau. (Britton couldn't be reached for this story.)
  After culling a vast number of such press clippings, Navarro 
created an elaborate map of every Texas sighting and wrote several
papers. Some are on file at the Houston Public Library's Texas 
archive; others are available on the Internet at
In "The Mysterious Mr. Wilson and the Books of Dellschau," 
co-written with UFO enthusiast Jimmy Ward, Navarro posits a 
connection between Dellschau's clandestine society and a mysterious 
pilot named Hiram Wilson mentioned in an article by the San Antonio
Daily Express on April 26, 1897, about a local airship sighting. The
article identifies the airship's occupants as Wilson, from Goshen, 
New York; his father, Willard H. Wilson, assistant master mechanic 
of the New York Central Railroad; and their co-pilot C.J. Walsh, 
an electrical engineer from San Francisco.
  In that story, Hiram Wilson divulged to witnesses that his airship
design came from an uncle. Navarro believes that the uncle could 
have been another Wilson -- the Sonora club member Tosh Wilson 
mentioned in one of Dellschau's watercolors. According to Navarro,
Dellschau's coded messages say that Tosh searched seven years to 
rediscover suppe, the lost fuel, and finally succeeded.
  Navarro has found no trace of a Hiram Wilson residing in Goshen.
But he does offer evidence of his presence at 1897 airship sightings
in Greenville, Texas (on April 16); near Lake Charles, Louisiana 
(on April 19); near Beaumont, --------valde, Texas (April 20); 
Lacoste, Texas (April 24); and Eagle Pass, Texas (April 24).
  On April 28, the Galveston Daily News ran the headline "Airship 
Inventor Wilson." The article reported the inventor's encounter with
one Captain Akers, a customs agent from Eagle Pass. Akers told the 
newspaper that Wilson "was a finely educated man about 24 years of 
age and seemed to have money with which to prosecute his 
  Based on such reports, Navarro proposes several scenarios. Perhaps
the ship spotted near San Antonio had been flown by both Hiram and
Willard Wilson. Or perhaps each pilot was steering his own airship
across Texas. (This would explain why witnesses living a distance
from one another offered simultaneous sightings of a man who 
identified himself as Wilson.) Navarro also speculates that one of
these Wilsons was the same Tosh Wilson who had once belonged to the 
Sonora Aero Club. In that scenario, Tosh would have been reliving 
the glory days Dellschau could only illustrate in his notebooks.
  To confirm the aero club's activities, Navarro has traveled to 
Sonora, talked to historians, searched the newspapers and even 
visited all the cemeteries. He found nothing. At times, he says, he
couldn't help thinking that Dellschau made everything up.
  Eventually, whether the Sonora club was a dream or real stopped 
mattering to Navarro. One day, he remembers being absorbed by a 
passage inscribed in one of the drawings: "Wonder Weaver, you will
unriddle my writings." Navarro grew convinced that he and his 
brother, Rudy, "were weaving wonders." He says of Dellschau, "Maybe
we had similar minds."
  To crack Dellschau's 40-symbol code, Navarro enlisted the help of
his brother, Rudy, and a couple who spoke German. He says the 
effort took only one month, but he won't release the key or a 
literal translation.
  Navarro will talk only about the same phrase that enchanted de 
Menil: "DM=XX." To Navarro, it stands for "NYMZA," an acronym for
a s-cret society that controlled the Sonora club's doings. Based 
on Navarro's papers, some ufologists have speculated that NYMZA 
was controlled by -- what else? -- aliens; Navarro doesn't buy 
that theory.

Part 2.

John Winston.

Subject:  Ancient Airships.  Part 3 of 3.              July 15, 2004.

  One of the reasons why I may be so interested in these ships is 
that while I was travelling in my car between Lompoc, Calif and 
Buellton, Calif., about 1962, I saw something that looked like one 
of these type crafts.  I was on the southern road of the two roads
that go between Lompoc and Buellton and was looking across an area
that has stands of eucalyptus trees planted in rows in the fields.
The object I saw was about 60 feet long with lights flashing and 
all sorts of protuberances sticking out from it's sides.  It was 
making a lot of noise and it was about 100 yards from me going 
about 30 miles an hour.  It was going away from me at an altitude
of about 300 feet.  It looked exactly like those flying machines 
that were in the science fiction movies taken from the writings 
of Jules Verne.  I was just getting started in my interest of 
flying saucers and never gave it much thought.  Now on to the 
last part of our subject at hand.


  Navarro explains that he's saving his best stuff for his 
collaborator, Dennis Crenshaw, who's writing a book called The 
Se-rets of Dellschau. But Steen, at the Menil, isn't convinced that
Navarro really deciphered the symbols. Steen once asked Navarro to 
translate the code; Navarro would tell him the meaning of only a 
couple of sentences.
  Navarro is clearly torn between showing off and keeping se-rets.
He's compiled a voluminous scrapbook titled "Dellschau's Aeros." He
proudly showed it to me. It's full of wild code translations and 
weird exegeses on the aeros and oddments that Dellschau just 
stuffed, unbound, in the notebooks: cartoons, a photocopy of 
Dellschau's marriage certificate, letters, maps, clippings and more
clippings about all manner of harebrained inventions. There's 
even a picture of Otto, Bavaria's Mad Monarch.
  But Navarro won't take his hands off the scrapbook. It, too, 
contains secr-ts, truths and tidbits linking Dellschau's club with 
the airship mystery. And for the moment, Navarro wants to keep the 
se-rets for himself.
  Slowly, though, other of Dellschau's sec-ets are revealing 
themselves. In early December, I asked Charles Stelzig -- Leo's son 
-- if his father had any of Dellschau's stuff. Charles turned up a 
boxful. He and I were the first to go through them since Leo Jr.'s 
stamp-collecting days. We found souvenir pictures of famous Germans;
one shows Wilhelm, Kaiser of Deutschland.
  And we found letters. Some, postmarked "Germany," are from a 
woman named Mary Sprengel. Another one is from Bertha Dellschau, 
written from the sanatorium. It begins, "Dear Papa."
  The box also held two antique photo albums crumbling at the touch.
Many of the photos show the logos of Berlin photographers. Are they
from long-lost relatives writing to Charles, long after Prussia 
became part of united Germany? 
  Another picture shows Mary Dellschau, the artist's daughter. And 
there are photos of young men, any one of whom could be Dellschau 
  We found more. A yellowed legal certificate in German script bears
the signatures of Friederike Wilhelmine and Heinrich Adolphe 
Dellschau, Charles's parents. In the middle of the page, they've 
written "Carl August Albert." Dated June 5, 1830, the document 
appears to be the artist's birth certificate.
  Other discoveries offered keys to Dellschau's work. Two receipts,
dated  1888 and 1889, showed Dellschau's payments to the New 
Orleans German Gazette. 
  Until now, no one has known which German-language newspaper he 
used in his collages; surely this is it.
  Last, more clippings surfaced. All are about inventions and cut 
in perfect squares like Dellschau's "press blooms." The most 
revealing boasts of "The S-cret of the Keel-y Motor." The article 
describes a force oddly reminiscent of suppe, Dellschau's miracle 
airship fuel. The Menil Collection still holds the four notebooks de
Menil bought and, in fact, showed them this fall, part of a show of
the de Menils' collection of folk art. Most of the time, though, the 
books sit locked in a humidity-controlled room upstairs, 
individually tucked in flat boxes.
  Museum authorities plan someday to hire a scholarly biographer to
study Dellschau. In the meantime, William Steen continues to 
unearth new pieces of information. He's now examining clues about 
the lives of Dellschau's daughters, Bertha and Mary.
  And in January, Steen plans a side trip to Sonora after retrieving
some Menil-owned Picassos on loan in a San Francisco exhibit. He 
hopes to get a feel for the Gold Rush era and perhaps even to 
uncover traces of the club's members.
  Recently he had Dellschau's journals translated from German into 
English.  Their 200 pages feature stories about members of the 
Sonora Aero Club, with very few illustrations. In these tales, 
Dellschau mentions a boarding house, complete with bar and dining 
room, where he and club buddies stayed.
  Something about the tales nags at Steen. "The more details I see
about Dellschau, the more convinced I am that a great deal of it 
is highly possible,"  he says. "Even though it's fantastic, it's 
more than just fairy tales."
  As for Pete Navarro, after trying to unravel the artist's secr-ts
for 25 years, he still has the dreamy-eyed look of someone 
possessed by a riddle. Over the years, he's sold all his Dellschau
notebooks because he needed the cash. 
  Four went to the San Antonio Museum Association in 1972 and are 
shared between the Witte and San Antonio Museum of Art. Two years
ago, Navarro sold his remaining four to the Ricco/Maresca Art 
Gallery in Manhattan.
  Those notebooks hold the artist's late work, from 1919 to 1923. 
Gallery director Stephen Romano says he's sold more than ten pieces;
Romano won't reveal the buyers' names but will say that a major 
law firm took three and that a stockbrocker, psychiatrist and film
editor have each bought one. In just the last year, the selling 
price for a single Dellschau has jumped $3,000, from  $12,000 to 
$15,000. Next year, the gallery plans to give the artist a one-man 

Part 3 of 3.

John Winston.